As a photographer sometimes you will want new lenses. One decision you’ll need to make is whether to buy a lens from the camera manufacturer (such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc) or choose a company that specializes in lenses, like Tamron. In the interest of full disclosure, I have photographed images for a Tamron ad campaign and they are a MCP Blog Sponsor. That said, all opinions below are my own.
My primary camera is a Canon 5D MKIII. And I own both Canon and Tamron lens. I love shooting with prime lenses, when I have the time and conditions to switch lenses. They help achieve smooth bokeh and background blur at wide open apertures like f2.0. Often times though, I do not want to carry or switch lenses for street photography, travel photography, or lifestyle portraits. I want flexibility. And for me, a really sharp zoom lens with a constant aperture of f2.8 is perfect.
In 2012 and 2013, Tamron has introduced two incredible lenses in their lineup that I am ecstatic to own. The first was the 24-70 2.8 VC lens. A few images I photographed with this lens while in Australia were featured in Popular Photography last year. The second lens is the NEW SP 70-200MM F/2.8 Di VC USD.
I just recently got the lens and it’s been cold and snowy here. I’ve been getting emails and Facebook requests asking me for my opinions. Though I have not given the lens a complete workout, I did take it outside in the snow for a few snaps of my daughter and her friend. Though they were acting silly and the lighting was certainly not ideal, I think you’ll be able to see the sharpness, color rendition, and background blur.
In the photo above, the background blurs out very nicely. It’s hard to tell, if you did not know, if that is snow or sand behind her. Eyes are sharp as are the wisps of hair blowing in the wind.
- It’s fast. It was quick to focus and very responsive. It felt very similar to holding the Canon version that is $600-700 more.
- It’s black – yep – even you can observe that from the images. While this sounds like an odd point, sometimes the bright Canon L lenses draw more attention than you want. Also, the subjects “may” feel less intimidated.
- It’s big but not quite as big. All professional dSLR professional series 70-200 lenses are heavy and long. According to Pop Photo “this 3.32 pounder is actually several ounces lighter and about a quarter-inch shorter than the competition (Nikon/Canon).” Sweet – every ounce and inch counts when you are carrying a lens around at a wedding, sporting event, portrait session, etc… Either way, before buying a lens like this, if you’ve never used a long, heavy lens, you may want to try before you buy. The weight and size is due to the excellent optics/glass as well as the solid construction (or that’s my educated guess). According to Tamron’s site, the lens is 7.4″ and 51.9 ounces. My daughters joke with me that these lenses are the perfect weight for dumbbells. Um, no way!
- It’s stabilized. This is HUGE! If you take photos without a tripod, in lower light or where you need slower speeds, stabilization helps immensely. Tamron’s vibration compensation really works wonders.
Keep in mind, these are in large part “snapshots.” My daughter and her friend went out in 40 degree weather for maybe 5-10 minutes for me to take these images. They dressed in fun costumes for part of it. In this time I used the lens, it performed quickly, focus was spot on, the colors rich, and I was very happy with the results. I am definitely not a “technical” person, and do not shoot “objects” and magnify for edge loss and other details. There are dozens of sites that likely have reviewed the lens in that way. I can tell you, I am happy to have this in my camera bag and at $1,499 retail, it is a serious contender in the zoom telephoto arena.
Loving the colors and background blur. Considering the houses in my sub are fairly close together, this image at 2.8 really did nicely at losing the background. I am excited to get the lens into an open field where the background will fall away completely.
I also used this lens in and around some abandoned buildings in Detroit – here are a few graffiti and urban images.
That’s all for now. For more details on the Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 VC lens, visit Tamron USA here. Look for two exciting giveaways on the MCP Blog from Tamron coming late Spring and again this Fall of their newest lenses.
Going on a vacation is usually relaxing and rewarding. You get to spend time and have fun with those you love the most. But photographers often have some decisions to make and work ahead when they return from the trip.
Photographer decisions before the vacation:
- What camera should you bring to capture family vacation photos? Do you go all out and bring your professional dSLR or do you opt for a smaller point and shoot or even something in between?
- What lenses do you bring – and how many? Do you bring your primes for portraits or more flexible zoom lenses so you have less to carry and can cover a wider range of focal lengths?
- What camera bag will work best?
- What additional photography items should you bring?
After deciding on these things, and packing the gear with extra batteries and memory cards, it’s off to vacation. Every time I travel, I make these choices above. I consider my goals. Do I want primarily lifestyle snapshots vs portraits? Will I be photographing my surroundings, unique buildings, wildlife, etc. Who or what will my subjects be and what level of detail and skill do I want to exert on my time off?
The photography – my current choice:
For my most recent vacation, a 7-day Spring Break cruise on Celebrity Reflection, I was unplugged. No internet or phone, which means no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, and no email. I also wanted the photography to be truly snapshots of my time away. I was not aiming for canvases of my kids. I wanted to relax and capture what I wanted, when I wanted. Additionally I wanted to be able to hand my camera to my husband or a stranger and get in a couple photos. While I do not like being in photos, I know it is important. I wrote this article a while back and stressed the importance of getting in a few pictures now and then, especially ones with your family.
Late in 2012, I bought a camera that is the happy medium between my Canon 5D MKIII and a point and shoot – it is the Olympus OMD-EM5. It is a micro four-thirds camera – it is lighter, lacks a mirror (mirrorless) and is smaller than a dSLR. It has a 2x crop factor, which means all lenses are 2x the focal length (a 20mm lens is actually 40mm in view). I am loving it so far as I can switch lenses, shoot in manual or semi-auto modes like aperture priority – and have control over my images. Sure, there is more noise than my Canon. Sure, I don’t get quite the bokeh. But it is very good and ideal for 80-90% of the time when I am photographing my family, especially on vacation.
So, for the cruise, I brought this camera and a few lenses: a Panasonic 12-35 2.8 plus a few primes. But guess what stayed on my camera the whole time – the prime lens… It has the equivalent focal length of a 24-70.
No regrets leaving behind my SLR:
Looking back at the trip, I have no regrets about the camera I brought. To me, it was somewhat lightweight (though not pocketable), and it helped me get the type of images I was aiming for. Most importantly, it documented my trip. I was able to take it zip lining and was able to have fun and not only be viewed as “the photographer.”
After a trip, there’s so much to do, from unpacking and laundry, to checking thousands of emails. Having a memory card full of pictures may be daunting. I have a simple system worked out, and I fine-tune it every year… Here’s how I culled and editing all 500 images from our vacation.
Step 1: Load them on the computer
While unpacking, I took the SD Card and popped it in. By the time I unpacked and the laundry in, I was at my desk with all the files ready for viewing.
Step 2: Choose any I want to keep
I very quickly sort through the hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of images. I spend no more than 3-5 seconds per photo on this process. For these images, it’s an extreme – I either will keep or delete. I keep most, but delete any where I have multiple of the exact same thing, where eyes are closed, odd looks on the face, or where I am thinking “why did I take that?” I use the “P” and “X” method of culling in Lightroom. I have my CAP LOCK on so after clicking P for Pick or X for reject, it auto advances to the next image. Then I literally delete the rejected photos. If you are not quite brave enough, you can always just remove them from Lightroom, but keep the raw files.
Step 3: Quick Edits in Lightroom
Remember, these are snapshots. I edited all the chosen images with one to three clicks at most using the Enlighten Lightroom Presets. Let’s say I have 15 photos by the pool in similar light, I edit one and then sync the rest in that setting. And move on to the next. I go fast. The edits are not perfect, like what you might do for a client. Speed is the priority. I’d say the editing averages 10 seconds per photo since the synched ones bring the time down greatly. Then I export the photos to JPGs and if I want to share some on Facebook or elsewhere, I do a quick web resize with the FREE Facebook Fix for Photoshop.
If there are any photos I am in LOVE with, while going through the culling process, I might quickly hit the 5 key (for 5 star). This means I may want to do a few extras with either the adjustment brush or in Photoshop. And as you see above, I often share the photos with family, friends and Facebook by popping them into collage templates. See our Photoshop template actions for super quick collages. Or for Lightroom our Display It for Web or Present It for Print presets.
Past vacation and travel photography posts
Since what I bring and how I edit depends on the trip, here are a few past trips and vacation posts where you can read about the gear I chose or how I edited.
What Photoshop Actions To Buy To Edit Wildlife Photography
As I mentioned in last week’s edit, I love photographing wildlife. My go to lens is the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS through I am hoping Canon will release a new version of the 100-400 (and I will have my name on a wait list). While I never hunt, I did call a friend and said “I shot a deer and I may hang its head on my wall.” She knows me too well, and replied “with what lens…”
On my quest to get out from behind my computer more, I plan to photograph nature and wildlife in the upcoming months.
Editing Wildlife: What Photoshop Actions are Best?
Most of our Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets work equally well on outdoor nature images and animals and wildlife, as they do on portraits. I get emails all the time from pet photographers who use the Eye Doctor on every dog image.
Below I will demonstrate how our Photoshop actions can impact a few deer images.
- This edit was super fast. I’d say that I had two color versions and a black and white version in less than a minute.
For the first color edit, I wanted to maintain the subtle tones of winter. I used MCP Four Seasons Winter Whirlwind base action + Barren and turned off the black and white layer. I also ran Hemispheres at 25% to add light contrast and used Burn Me Up to darken selective spots in the background. The winter whirlwind base is amazing at pulling out detail from the image.
To get the B&W version, I just toggled the B&W layer I had turned off back on. Literally one click. I made snapshots of both and saved both.
I decided for fun, and to show you an alternate look, how you could make this photo look like it was a late Autumn snow versus mid winter. For this edit, I used the Autumn Equinox Base (also in the Four Seasons actions) and the look Jenna’s Jewels” on top of it to pop the color lightly. I then used the Fall Foliage action with a 30% opacity brush and selectively painted on a few of the tree limbs to alter the color tones further. It is a richer edit but less wintery.
I ended up taking the Winter looking versions a step further. I cropped in a bit more. Do you prefer the original or closer view? And I cloned out the branch that was in front of the deer’s neck. Here is the results. The cloning took about one minute using both the clone and patch tools.
If you are interested in seeing more edits on wildlife and nature, please add a comment and let us know. We’d love to hear which color you prefer or if you like the black and white version.