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General Photography DiscussionMy Reviews and Opinions

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TomCofer
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My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:33 pm

I feel like it's Christmas!
My recent tax refund allowed me to do a bit of photography gear shopping. Still, my budget is always tight, causing me to often settle for accessories that are off-brand, or last year's model.

Now that I've played with my toys a bit, I thought I'd offer up a bit of a personal review of the things I purchased. If anyone else would like to offer up a review of a product and would like to recommend it or warn folks to avoid it, feel free to do so here too. Please, no sponsored ads or posts of products that you are selling.

Note: My reviews are simply my opinions based on my experiences. You may or may not agree with them.
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

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Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:35 pm

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Lens:
This is probably one of the lowest priced L-series lenses available. The price drop is because this lens has been out for a good while and Canon has come out with newer variations, ones with image stabilization, and ones that open up wider.

This is my first L-series glass, and I'm loving it. All I have to compare it to is a used Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens. This lens covers a range that I need frequently, it's focus is fast and accurate, it produces a lot less CA than the cheaper lens, and it has a rugged/solid feel to it. It doesn't have the additional weight or costs of the newer variations.

It's a good bit heavier than my cheaper lenses and purchasing a tripod collar would probably be wise. Without the IS, you'll have to be pretty steady or use a tripod when using it at 200m. If doing weddings or a lot of indoor photography, going with the f/2.8 version with IS would probably be the smarter choice.

So...
If you are on a tight budget want to buy a high quality lens with a good range for various types of photography (other than landscape), this is a good one to start with.
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

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Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:36 pm

Vello VETCAW Tripod Collar A (for Canon):
As I stated, the 70-200mm lens has a bit of weight to it and I believe purchasing a tripod collar for it to be wise. This one appears to be just as solid as the Canon version, works well, and costs about a third of the price.
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

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Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:36 pm

Vello VECB100 QuickDraw Rotating Flash Bracket:
I wanted a flash bracket that would allow me to switch between portrait and landscape orientation quickly. This one is a bit bulky and doesn't allow for many adjustments, but it's smooth and simple. It feels pretty solid, gets the job done, and costs $20. The red plastic on the hotshoe screw give it a bit of a cheap look.
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

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Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:37 pm

Oben BE-117 Ball Head:
I think of this as a good middle-ground ball head. It's no Arca-Swiss, but it cost about $80 instead of hundreds. It does what it is supposed to. It moves smoothly and locks tight without slippage and has a 17lbs + rating.
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

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Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:40 pm

Kenko DG Auto Extension Tube Set (for the Canon):
Extension tubes are a great way to get your lens in closer to the subject for close-up and macro photography. BEWARE: Even though extension tubes are mostly just a spacer that goes between the camera and lens, features matter and you don't want to go too cheap here.

The Good: You can buy a whole set of these tubes for less than the price of one Canon 25mm tube. They are stackable and have lens contacts, allowing the lens and camera talk to each other to control focus and aperture. They work well with many lenses.

The Bad: They have a combination of plastic and metal construction, giving them a bit of a cheap feel. I'm not sure that I'd use them with much confidence if I were using a much heavier lens.

Overall: I'd recommend these tubes over using any of the cheaper ones out there. The cheaper ones tend to have poor or no lens contacts, causing them to be “dumb”, taking away all of the camera's control of focus and aperture. I've got a set of cheaper ones that have been collecting dust in my bag for a couple of years. They work great, but use caution if using a heavier lens.
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

thcofer@charter.net

Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:41 pm

Yongnuo YN600EX-RT Speedlite for Canon Cameras:
I bought two of these. They basically have the bells and whistles of the Canon 600EX-RT but cost less than a third of their price. ($124 vs. $469)

The Good: They are Canon compatible with radio control, E-TTL, infrared control, high-speed sync, Stroboscopic mode, and work as master or slave units. You can buy three of these instead of the Canon version and still have money left over.

The not so good: These flashes have a cheaper look and feel than my Canon flash. I expected and accepted that. I don't know how they would stand up to heavy use, being tossed around, or time. The user manual sucks! It lacks detailed information and is poorly translated. I used online video tutorials and the Canon's manual to figure out their settings and options.

Overall: They work well. If you are on a budget and want fairly cheap portable flashes, they are a good choice. If you have the money, need a flash that can handle hard use, and dependability is foremost, I'd suggest that you shell out the extra bucks for the Canon version.

Yongnuo YN-E3-RT Wireless Speedlite Transmitter for Canon Cameras:
This transmitter is Canon compatible and allows you to control off-camera shoe flashes from on top of the camera. It has the same controls as the Canon ST-E3-RT and costs less than a third of their price. ($80 vs. $240) My review of the Yongnuo Transmitter is almost a ditto of my review of their flash.

The Good: They are Canon compatible with radio control, E-TTL, infrared control, high-speed sync, Stroboscopic mode, and work to control your flash units. They work with both the Yongnuo and Canon flashes.

The not so good: It has a cheaper look and feel than the Canon transmitter. I expected and accepted that. I don't know how they would stand up to heavy use, being tossed around, or time. The user manual isn't as bad as the one for their flashes, but it still sucks. It lacks detailed information and is poorly translated. I used online video tutorials and the Canon's manual to figure out their settings and options.

Overall: It works well. If you are on a budget and want to control off-camera shoe flashes, it's a fairly good choice. If you have the money, need something that can handle hard use, and dependability is foremost, I'd suggest that you shell out the extra bucks for the Canon version.
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

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Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:43 pm

ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender 2 Large Reflector and Diffusion Panel:
I bought these as an alternative to my DYI reflector. I bought them separately instead of buying them as a kit. Doing so, I didn't receive the additional silver/black panel attachment, but I saved $5.

It has a solid construction and feel to it. It unpacks and lays flat easily, and it looks a heck of a lot better than my DYI reflector.

It's supposed fit “most” flashes. It does, but I'd like the strap to tighten up a bit more on the flash head. I suspect a bit of a wind might result in me chasing after the darn thing. Also, if I were to use it as a snoot, the reflector panel doesn't cover the head as well as I'd like and I believe there'd be a bit of light leak.

Overall I'm satisfied with it and it will do what I bought it for.
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

thcofer@charter.net

Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:43 pm

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Backpack for Pro DSLR Camera, 15” Laptop:
I wanted a perfect bag that would handle everything. This one may not be perfect, but for me, it comes pretty close.

I wanted a sturdy, roomy bag that I could pack two bodies with attached lenses, additional lenses, a flash, and other various stuff. I wanted a bag that I could throw on my back and take to the park for a mild hike. I wanted a bag that I could take with me for a trip to the zoo. I wanted a bag that I could take with me in the event that I shot another redneck wedding. I wanted a bag that wouldn't force me to leave behind something that I might need when I got to my destination.

This one pretty much covers all of that. It's a bit bulky and it isn't light, but it has plenty of room for my stuff. It has a very solid construction. The multiple sturdy straps that go across the back of it also allow the attachment of a tripod or just about anything else you would want to take. It even has a rain cover and cup holder. :D
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

thcofer@charter.net

Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: My Reviews and Opinions

Postby TomCofer » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:47 pm

Where to Buy:

This is a subject that could turn into a great debate, but this is only my opinion based on my experiences.

I'm not an E-Bay fan and I have tried to go with the “it's a lot cheaper here” thing, but usually ended up being sorry for doing so.

Now, when I shop for photography stuff, I stick with Adorama or B&H. Their prices are usually full retail unless there is a manufacture's discount or the item is a close-out. On the other hand, both of these places are great about product description, stating clearly if it is in stock, packaging, quick order turn around & shipping, and customer satisfaction.

When I want to purchase something, I usually check in both places. Some times one will offer free shipping where the other doesn't or one of them will offer an item as a bundle or package.

http://www.adorama.com

http://www.bhphotovideo.com
Redneck Enthusiast Photographer on a shoestring budget.

thcofer@charter.net

Failure means you tried. Success means you need to set higher goals for yourself.


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