First shooting trips with the new gear

I recently bought a Canon 10D and a Canon 70-200 4.0L. The former is an upgrade from the excellent D30 from 2000. The latter is a new lens covering a range I did not previously have. It was tough deciding between the 4.0L and the 2.8L IS — in the end the lower immediate cost and size difference (the 4.0L is smaller, lighter, and about 1/3 the cost) tipped the decision to the 4.0L. I may eventually get the 2.8L IS, but not at the same time I’m also upgrading my digital SLR… Today (July 4, 2003) was the first real trip out with the new gear. I took the 10D/70-200 out a few times last week but less than an hour each time and mainly to familiarize myself with the new UI. The UI on the 10D is similar enough to the D30 to make me think I already knew how to use it .. and different enough for that to be untrue.

The camera’s detailed technical specs are described in DPReview’s 10D review. A summary is: It’s nice. It focuses noticeably faster than the D30.

I walked around downtown Santa Barbara and along the waterfront for a few hours snapping photos with the 70-200 f4, my older sigma 17-35, and the 28-135 IS. It was the first time I really used more than one lens in a single trip and I carried a lot more gear than I usually do. Carrying more gear was an experiment to see if I’d actually switch lenses — I did. The 28-135 choice was mostly because it fit into the shoulder bag which was more handy than the backpack where the 70-200 was stowed. I probably wouldn’t have used the 28-135 at all if I hadn’t been in a hurry to switch from the 17-35 to something with more telephoto. The 70-200 f4L is nice. It on the 10D focuses fast and is very smooth to use.

This was also the first time I really used the 17-35 on a digital SLR — I hardly ever got it out to use on the D30, I had convinced myself it was too annoying to carry two lenses and knew I wanted telephoto often enough that just the 17-35 wasn’t enough range. Today I realized: I miss wide-angle. It’s fun. I’ll be shooting more with it in the future.

I shot a lot from the hip with it — those experiments worked a lot better than my similar attempts to do so with the 28-135. They did not, however, turn out very well.

I haven’t finished going through the shots from this afternoon yet.

Tonight I went to the Goleta fireworks display with my new tripod (which I had not yet used outside — it was a Christmas present) and set up along the sidewalk. I started out with the 70-200 on the camera but switched to the 17-35 once the fireworks started after seeing how much of the sky had fireworks.

It was fun; it was also the first time I used the cable release in bulb mode so I could manually control when the shutter opened and closed without using a timer. I experimented with exposure settings and lengths and tried to time having the shutter open for when the pretty colors were visible.

I settled into a pattern of holding the shutter open during the ‘shoot up’ phase of the rocket and through the explosion and fade-out, trying to get one or two bursts in each frame. More than that and they blurred together and /or blew out. Some exposures were more successful than others.

Once I had an aperature and ISO that seemed to be working for the typical burst I settled into controlling the shutter and watching the fireworks without paying much attention to the shots in the review window. It might have been nice to have something with a bigger screen to review the shots on while I was fine-tuning, but I already had more gear than I had carried in the afternoon (everything i had then plus the tripod).

I think this shoot was pretty successful, especially for a first attempt.