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Photography

I like taking lots of photos, and I get a lot of questions on the gear I use – both for everyday photos for the blog, as well as on trips.  So here’s the complete rundown.

Cameras

First up are the cameras I use.  By and large, I use two cameras.  A little point and shoot for everyday stuff, and then a digital SLR (DSLR) camera for prettier photography.

Normal everyday shots:

Lumix TS-3 Waterproof Camera

P1090524

The little pocket sized Lumix is the camera I take running, cycling and swimming.  It’s waterproof down to 4 meters, which is basically all I need for everyday use (or beach use).  While the shutter speed isn’t the fastest out there, it works well for virtually everything.  I noticed the TS-4 is out now, and a bit cheaper than the TS-3, plus there’s also some even cheaper variants within the same product line, so you may want to check that out instead.  All my images taken with this camera start with ‘P####’, if you’re curious which are which (I use the original name in all photos on the blog).

P1110086

Travel & Trips and/or Really Nice Looking shots:

Canon 7D DSLR Camera Canon 7D DSLR:

IMG_1102(Canon 7D, 10mm @ F9, 1/250s at ISO-100, -.3)

canon7d

This is my new best friend.  I’ve been using DSLR cameras for years now, and this one came out this past October.  It does both still photography, as well as HD video (1080p & 720p).  I find it great for quickly swapping back and forth between taking short videos and taking incredibly clear photos.  If you’re looking for a cheaper option (at less than half the price), my girlfriend has the Canon T1i camera, which includes 720p HD video as well as all the usual photography stuffs.

All my images taken with the 7D (or other DSLR’s I use) start with ‘IMG_####’.  I also have an older Canon XTi as well that sorta floats around the house.

Lenses:

I originally had the Canon Digital Rebel (300D), which uses any EOS SLR lens.  Over time I upgraded the camera body to the XTi, and now the 7D.  The lenses are compatible with all of these.  Here’s what I use the, in order of using it the most, to least:

50mm F1.8 This is my favorite lens.  Virtually all of my cooking photos are taken using this. It’s got incredible depth of field for less than $100.  There’s a F1.2 and F1.4 version that are great…but again, the F1.8 is only $90ish and awesome.

IMG_4732[2](Canon 7D, 50mm @ F1.8, 1/60s at ISO-500)

Canon 10-22 EF-S F3.5-4.5 – I got this at the same time as the 7D, and it’s quickly become a great travel lens.  It’s a wide angle, but it works really well in low light, and produces very sharp shots.

IMG_4278(Canon 7D, 22mm @ F4.5, 1/30s at ISO-1250)

Canon 17-40 F/4L – While this overlaps a bit with the 10-22, it’s a great walkaround lens, and similar in zoom to the 18-55 included stock on many Canon’s – though with incredible optics.  Of primary importance to me is that it works in my underwater case (noted below).

IMG_0473 (Canon 7D with 17-40, 25mm @ F/10, 1/250s at ISO-100, –.3)

Canon 75-300 Image Stabilized – This is my primary lens for any long range shots.  I mostly use this overseas, especially in Africa.  While the 75-300 is no longer made, the 70-300 is still made – so I linked to that instead.  Also note that there is the image stabilized version (IS) and one without IS.  For shooting on the 300-side of things, I can’t recommend the IS enough, it really helps to make super crisp pictures.

IMG_5081A(Canon XTi, 270mm @ F9, 1/640s at ISO-400, -.3)

Sigma 70-200 2.8 EX DG II – This lens is great for sports photography, and is very comparable in many ways to the L-series 70-200 offered, but without the expense.  I also use it in Africa a bit, but because of it’s weight and girth, don’t generally take it on international trips (except Africa).

IMG_0660(Canon XTi, 76mm @ F2.8, 1/1000s at ISO-100)

Sigma Fisheye 15mm 2.8EX – I got this back a number of years ago because I thought it would be fun.  And it is fun.  But it’s also not very sharp, and honestly a bit of a waste of money.  Get the Canon 10-22 instead.  But…it’s fun…occasionally. ;)

IMG_7592 (Canon XTi with Sigma 15mm @ F13, 1/650s at ISO-400, –.3)

Other Camera Equipment

There’s a lot of other random things I use, but here are the big ones:

‘Timelapse machine’ (aka Intervolometer) – I use this to create time-lapse sequences, like the one below.  The model I linked to is the official Canon model.  But for about a 1/3rd of the price you can get a generic one, I have one of those for the XTi, and it works just fine and dandy.

2009 Army 10 Miler Timelapse from Ray Maker on Vimeo.

Gorilla Pods (Tripods) – I take this EVERYWHERE in my backpack.  I originally had a smaller non-DSLR model (and still do), but it just won’t hold the weight of the DSLR in all conditions, so I picked up the DSLR model and it’s been awesome.

Ikelite Underwater Case – For any underwater photography I do, I use this camera case.  It sucks it’s so expensive – and sucks even more than if you try and rent one, it almost will cost just as much as the case itself.  Kinda stupid.  I use a DS-51 substrobe with it.  But I do love the case…

IMG_0745A(Canon 7D with 10-22, 14mm @ F/6.3, 1/100s at ISO-100)

Finally…feel free to post any questions below, and I’ll try and answer them as soon as possible.

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19 Comments

  1. What kind of flash do you use for day to day shots?

    Reply
  2. Just the built-in. For night indoor shots I usually get creative and try and bounce it off stuff using a sheet of paper (cheap, I know). Though, I read a few articles on a recent trip about the Speedlites, and am probably going to go that direction here soon.

    Reply
  3. nah…i don’t plan on posting a photography post…no biggie…

    sweet post..good to see some of your particular favorite lenses….thanks Ray

    Reply
  4. Katia

    Hi, thanks so much for this fantastic site! I am wondering if you bike with your SLR camera and what bag/carrier you use then.

    Reply
  5. Hi Katia-

    Nope, for pretty much everything on the bike I use either the Optio W90, or the iPhone 4.

    There are some occasions for product reviews where I’ll use the DSLR (7D) mostly because I’m usually working in low light or high speed situations where a DSLR really excels…and point and shoots usualy falter.

    Hope this helps!

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Thanks, that helps. Katia

    Reply
  7. Great site !
    How do you carry your camera while swimming in the sea ?
    Thanks

    Reply
  8. For my little Optio – If I’m wearing a wetsuit, then I just slip it right down the neck a few inches – it easily holds there. If I’m not wearing a wetsuit, then I’ll put it on the inside of my swimsuit (jammers typically).

    For the DSLR, I use an underwater housing that’s about the size of a basketball, so it has two handles on it to hold on.

    Reply
  9. is the W90 good for snorkeling?

    Reply
  10. Yup, works great for snorkeling – I use it quite often for that.

    Reply
  11. I was interested in the Optio W90 and wondered if you had any non-water photography lighting issues with it. Some reviews have commented on it having decreased quality in anything but bright light. Thanks

    Reply
  12. Alan

    You have posted all the cameras and lenses, but what about the setup to take pictures of the products, such as lights and flashes. Which do you use or do you have any suggestions?

    Reply
  13. Still loving the site, came here after a link from your 910XT swim page, and I hate to point it out (but I’m going to just because its the first big, bold, underlined word…

    “Cameras”? Really? :)

    I’m sure that the reason it stands out is because the rest of the site has such good grammar!

    Reply
  14. Doh. Fixed!

    Reply
  15. Todd

    Ray, you really helped me with the Olympus. We love it! The kids can’t break it either!

    My next question is about a bike cam. I want to take pictures and video of our cycling team. All I seem to see is video. What do you recommend?

    Reply
  16. Your photography is great. I have the iphone which I love taking pictures with, but your bigger cannon SLR takes great shots. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  17. Hi Ray,

    just curious of your opinion on something. :)

    I’ve been using my Canon EOS350D (with kitlens) for years now, no fancy photoshoots or anything. Just standard photography on vacation and stuff.

    One downside to even the smalller dslr’s: they’re pretty big and I found myself not wanting to carry it around anymore and thinking: ‘there must be something smaller nowadays that makes nice photographs?’.

    Well, there are multiple options with the Canon Powershot SX260HS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 standing out for me.

    However: do you think the difference between a compact camera (such as Canon or the Panasonic) and my EOS350D is still that much favour of my current camera to not get a compact camera and stick with my EOS or would I be okay with buying a compact camera? :)

    Would I for example be able to make these pictures with a compact cam: link to 18a.nl or link to 18a.nl ?

    Curious of what your opinion is. :)

    Reply
  18. Hi Errrwin-

    It’s tough, as much as I’d love to fully replace my DSLR from a size standpoint – doing so in quality just doesn’t generally work out. There are some solid cameras out there, and I love the Lumix that I have (albeit the waterproof one, so slightly lesser in quality than the TZ30).

    Looking at those photos, I’d say that about 50-60% I could get away with the Lumix (at least the model I have), but some would require a DSLR. I’ve been looking at some of the mirrorless systems lately – love those, just not yet 100% sold on it. Looking forward to seeing how some of the normal user shots look from the upcoming Canon mirrorless.

    Reply
  19. Amazing photos!

    Reply

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