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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    9

    A $400 Purchase Question

    I am a photo newbie. I have $400 to spend towards bettering my photo gear. I have the A700 with the following lens, 18-70mm and 75-300mm Macro. I also have the Sony HVL-F56AM flash. I am currently using a Manfrotto monopod with the leg attachment. My question is, should I get a tripod or a better lens? I have kicked both around and have no clear answer. If I get a lens, I was looking at the Tamron 18-135mm Macro lens, but am also open to suggestions. Your input would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,562
    I don't know much except what I read but I asked a while back about a macro lens and was told to look at the Tamron Telephoto SP 90mm f/2.8 Di. I am sure Don will steer you in the right direction. I would deffitly go with a lens. Just my 2 cents.
    Frank
    http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38881
    Here is the link to my post.
    Sony A77
    Sony A580
    Sony A 100
    Maxxum 400si.
    Sony 18-70 Kit Lens
    Minolta AF 35-70
    Minolta AF 50 f/1.7
    Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 Di LD
    Tamron 60mm Macro
    Tamron 17-50 f/2.8
    Tamron 2x Converter
    Sony HVL-F42AM
    Quantaray 70-300 4.5-5.6 Macro
    Slingshot 200 Bag



    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22083244@N06/

    http://s305.photobucket.com/albums/nn219/sparkie1263/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,554

    Lightbulb Get a "good" digital lens

    Tremelle,

    The first question that comes to mind is, "What are you expecting to shoot with your camera?"

    The α700 is one of the most capable DSLRs available and to do it justice, you need to put a really decent lens on the front of it ... for shooting the "good stuff."

    That being said, the beauty of having the α700 is that it can often compensate for a lack of aperture of your lens, but if you mount a f/2.8 lens ... you can get some very good results.

    Optics:

    So, that being said, a TAMRON SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD Asperical (IF) will give you the most bang for your lens dollar. Quick and sharp to focus, and very usuable, indoors, on the α700. The 17-50mm f/2.8 is f/2.8 throughout the zoom. It does not darkeren up ... unless you want it to. It was designed specifically for use on APS-C sensors (the very kind the α700 has) and is of digitally intigrated design.

    The TAMRON lens you are asking about is the SP AF 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AD Aspherical (IF) ... is still a variable aperture ... which means that the longer you zoom your focal length, the darker the shot gets. That's a serious issue, indoors, without flash compensation. This lens (Model 90) was also designed for FILM SLRS, not Digital SLRS (it is not digitally intigrated design) ... so you may have issues with sharp focus, using it. If you seem to be getting a good deal on it, that's the reason. People in the know, KNOW it works sporatically ... and is not reliable on a DSLR.

    When it comes to TAMRON, look for Di (digitally intigrated design) or Di-II (lenses for Digital SLR Cameras Only) in the formal lens title.

    For your budget ... the improved lens 17-50mm f/2.8 will provide the best and sharpest return on your investment. The SONY 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 is not a lens that delivers anything you'll want to share, crop or increase in size. I and many other others have done more than a few tests with it. It gets shelved, just in case your replacement gets broken.

    Support issues:

    First ... do NOT trust that monopod with a footing. The reason that is there is for some added stability, but by no means, trust it with your camera balanced upon it, as you walk away. That's a formula for certain doom.

    A tripod is a device you still should be wary of, but is a far more stable platform to shoot from. You should, with a great deal of confidence, be able to walk away from it and it will keep your camera pointed in the same direction you left it for remote triggering through your "wireless' shutter release (take came with α700, but to use it, you pretty much MUST be directly in front of the camera and in "Remote Commander" drive mode. It's optical, not radio). Make sure the tripod is rated for 6-8 lbs, for use by a DSLR. Anything lighter and you risk leg collapse or failure.

    Once your hands steady up, the α700 can effectively eliminate the need for a tripod until you exceed such shutters speed as 1/15 sec or slower. That's an amazing slow speed and if you don't believe it ... shut off your "Super SteadyShot" for a few minutes and shoot some indoor shuff at 1/15 second (no flash, just the indoor lighting). Hold as still as you can ... and fire. It seems like a quick enough shot ... but, it's a lifetime to that sensor. Magnify your image ... and look close. Your highlights will be doing loops in your resultant image.

    Then, turn the "SSS" back on ... and shoot the same shot. Hold still and voila! Pinpoint highlights.

    Sample:

    My hands aren't bad at 1/15 sec ... I've been better. Here is a recent pair of comparison shots with the 17-50. I purposely set this up in MANUAL ... @ 50mm - f/4 - 1/15 sec - ISO-400 - WB=Tungsten (lit by a 250W lamp bulb about eight feet from subject.)

    Here's the entire image with Super SteadyShot On ... then Off:

    SSS On
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    SSS Off

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    Then ... the 100% image crops ... for a REALLY DETAILED LOOK at the image.

    SSS On
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    SSS Off

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    The EYES have it ... where the highlight is. That's the "truth" in a steady shot. I know it looks "defocused", but it is not. That is camera movement or "cameraman shake." Effectively the same thing you would get by using Photoshop to create a 1 to 2-pixel image blur. The lens was focused to the identical spot.

    The slow you go, the worse it gets. I know what you are thinking ... "Don, it's underexposed!"

    Well, remember, I was trying to emulate the lens you have ... and limited my aperture to f/4. So it's either I ramp up the ISO ... or take more time in the shot. Here's the time solution (100% crops, only)

    1/3 sec. SSS On
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    1/3 sec. SSS Off
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    You have probably noted that the camera overexposed them, according to the indicated "0" on the meter ... but, yeah ... those shots are pretty useless due to the obvious motion blur! So, why waste the time? Let's go back to 1/15 (slowest, best usable handheld speed) and ISO adjust for the exposure:

    I dropped the indicated exposure by two thirds on the meter and selected ISO-1600:

    ISO-1600 & SSS on
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    ISO 1600 & SSS off
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    Better overall exposure, and happily, still got some good hands! LOL

    Unfortunately, the noise begins to show up, in the shadows and the flat area in the mouth ... but hey, enjoy that camera ... it most definitely is one of the best available.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 05-26-2008 at 01:29 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    9
    So now I know I need both, a new lens and tripod. In your experienced opinion, which would "you" get first? If I had $800 then I would get both.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,554

    Lightbulb A quick, cheaper consideration

    I'd get the lens, it gets you the better image ... the tripod can wait.

    By the way, you can also probably pop for a $30 Slik mini-tripod (see below), it can offer some relief, if there is a table or other semi-flat surface to shoot from. It is small enough to fit in a lit larger camera bag and can provide substantial portable support in your photography.

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    Last edited by DonSchap; 05-28-2008 at 02:03 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    1,760
    Got A Good Case?

    Polarizing Filter?
    Extra Battery?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    9
    I have two cases. I have a Kata Rucksack for everyday carrying, and a Tenba bag that I will use when travelling since I can carry my laptop in the same bag.

    No filters since I am new to photography and don't understand their use as of yet.

    No extra battery yet either since I am not to a point of taking tons of pics on a day that taxes the battery.

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