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Thread: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

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    flipmode's Avatar
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    new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Ok, so I'm trying to decide between purchasing a new desktop or buying my first "L" lens. Right now I'm working on my laptop which is about 4 years old, but still in good condition. My motivation to upgrade is based on more speed and capacity to handle larger rendering jobs as I'm doing more retouching plus working with more third party plug-ins.

    On the other hand, the 24-70mm f/2.8L lens is very tempting. I do mostly portrait photography and so this lens (from what I've read) would be a great addition. And so I'm trying to determine if I should push the envelope by not upgrading my PC right now and just get the lens or vice-versa. Both are about the same in price ($1100-$1200).

    I know ultimately it comes down to my choice but I'm curious as to what you guys would choose or your logic behind it. Perhaps it will help me think of an area I'm over looking.

    thanks

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    I do mostly portrait photography and so this lens (from what I've read) would be a great addition.
    Depends on the portraiture Chris; for head and shoulders, 24-70 is too short in my opinion - I use a 70-200 for that. Also - for what it's worth - I think Canon will upgrade the 24-70 to a 24-70 IS sooner rather than later (if for no other reason than it's LONG over-due).

    How about a 24-105? - on a crop-factor camera that would give you a LOT of portrait versatility.

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Great point Colin. That was another lens I was considering. Looking back at most of my portraits, I do tend to shoot more head and shoulders. So in essence what you're saying is that the 70mm length lacks compression? Anything I should consider regarding the loss of a stop? Also, do you mind elaborating a little on the "a lot of portrait versatility" part?

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    New computer. No good having great pictures if you can't do anything with them. Buy the components online and build it yourself. Far cheaper and you'll get a better machine.

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    By both, you can get a decent desktop for under $400.00.

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    By both, you can get a decent desktop for under $400.00.
    Ditto

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    Great point Colin. That was another lens I was considering. Looking back at most of my portraits, I do tend to shoot more head and shoulders. So in essence what you're saying is that the 70mm length lacks compression? Anything I should consider regarding the loss of a stop? Also, do you mind elaborating a little on the "a lot of portrait versatility" part?
    Hi Chris,

    In the studio I shoot head and shoulders with either the 70-200 or 135/2.0 - keep in mind that I'm shooting FF though. With a 24-105 on a crop this would give you something in the region of 40mm to 170. Keeping in mind that I'm not often shooting in the 170 - 200mm range, hence the reason that I think the 24-105 would be long enough at the long end, and no disadvantage with respect to the 24-70 at the short end.

    With respect to the 1 stop drop in light ... (a) you can easily up the ISO by a stop, and (b) you'll be shooting most portraiture at F5.6 -> F11 anyway (in the studio F11 is the minimum ... Sometimes I'm at F22 or even beyond).

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    The 24-105 lens is certainly well constructed but I have had very variable results from it when used on a 40D.

    My earlier post Lens hood shapes

    Some people give it a good rating, which is why I purchased one; but although I have had some success, I appear to be getting a lot more rejects and softness issues compared with my other lenses.

    I am currently waiting for the final test results from a Canon repair company so at the moment I can't really say whether I have a questionable quality lens or there is something wrong with my operating technique.

    But unless I can overcome the problem I suspect that I will be looking for a replacement soon.

    Chris, That is a difficult decision but I suppose the main question is which of those alternatives is currently causing you the most problems and slowness/quality issues. And although new camera gear is always tempting the 'base station' shouldn't be neglected.

    But I suppose in reality, only you can answer that question.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 27th February 2011 at 10:53 AM. Reason: extra line

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Quote Originally Posted by whited3 View Post
    New computer. No good having great pictures if you can't do anything with them. Buy the components online and build it yourself. Far cheaper and you'll get a better machine.
    Cheaper if you know how to fix it; I have a terrible memory, a brain injury actually, so when mine went down and I needed to know DOS, only to get CHKDSK to work I completely forgot how. The chap who came round took a sharp intake of breath; didn't know hypertransport, or any of the things I luckily wrote down, and I had to pay him 60 per hour to do things I should have known how to do.
    In the end he just set it up and I paid for one hour spending six more on it myself. But given the choice I would go for a manufacturers machine, some have half price deals and you get an operating system thrown in.
    But if you do go down the build it yourself route, carefully research coolers because not all work and expect to do a spot of filing to get it too fit. More cores doesn't equal faster and they use a lot of juice, always use the very best heat grease like arctic silver very sparingly and remove the plastic film from the cooler; choose enough memory ram and HD, you need at least 4 GB for windows 7 and make sure it will keep up with the processor, and choose power using Amps, 34 sounds nice.
    If you get an nVidia graphics card the digits are **00, the first is the series like series 8*00 and the second is half the number of processors like 16 processors *800.
    Avoid AMD processors ending in 50 and get a good case.
    Much easier to buy a manufacturers model

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    thanks guys for the replies. Both are more of a "want" than a "need" right now. Neither is really causing me any problems. My laptop runs fine as I keep it pretty lean. I can use more RAM, and a faster processor for more extensive retouch work I do but I can deal with it for now. As far a lens, I don't have good "glass" yet so this would be my first one.

    Unfortunately I cannot afford both and can only choose one right now. As someone pointed out, there are desktops for $500 but I'm opting for i7 processor, 9 gigs RAM, and 1TB HD, and a good video card, plus a decent monitor. So that'll run me about $1000-$1200. I'm sure I can probably shave a few hundred off that cost by building it myself, which may be an alternate route to go.

    Thanks Colin for sharing elaborating, and Geoff for your experiences with your copy. Also thanks Arith for all the pc tips you provided. I might have to come back to you for more since you definitely seem to know your stuff.

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    I just thought of something...Colin or anyone else, would you still recommend the 24-105 if eventually I'm also looking to purchase the 70-200mm?

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    I just thought of something...Colin or anyone else, would you still recommend the 24-105 if eventually I'm also looking to purchase the 70-200mm?
    Probably not to be honest.

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Hi Cris...

    To answer your question with any hope of accuracy, I would think that we should know what lens you are shooting with at the present time. If you are "making do" with the 18-55mm kit lens or the 50mm f/1.8 Mk-II (nifty fifty) I would say, get a new lens by all means! Any other decision would be predicated on with what lens you are shooting now...

    I absolutely love the quality I get from my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens. The f/4L IS has rounded aperture blades which produce a very nice bokeh. The new 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS Mk-II has incorporated rounded blades but, both the price and the size and weight of that lens are overly large. The f/4L IS would blow your entire budget but, it is besides a nice portrait lens, one of the best lenses that Canon has ever produced...

    On the other hand lenses for portraits do not usually need absolute tack sharpness. In fact Canon markets a 135mm soft focus lens which in addition to normally sharp imagery produces images of varying degrees of diffusion.

    Diffusion can also be achieved with filters. There are several different types and they are available very inexpensively on the used market. Many years ago, we used to employ clear glass filters with petroleum jelly smeared on them (what a mess) for diffusion. However, IMO, shooting for a reasonably sharp image is the way to go. You can always soften the image in post processing but, you cannot sharpen an image which has been diffused. That is why, IMO, the used diffusion filters are selling for such low prices these days. You can probably buy a 8-track player quite cheap also since both the diffusion filters and the 8-tracks are pretty obsolete...

    Along with Colin, I like using a longer focal length lens for my portraits. You do however, need enough shooting space to be able to effectively use a long lens. If you are shooting portraits in your living room, you may not have enough subject to camera distance. remember, you also need room behind the subject and room to stand behind the camera.

    The nice thing about head and shoulder formal or informal portraiture is that you can normally choose your shooting distance (given you have sufficient space). This allows you to use a prime lens if you desire. A prime lens of 85-100mm on a 1.6x camera makes a nice head and shoulders lens...

    Here are some thoughts regarding portrait lenses if money is a limiting factor (when isn't it?)...

    I picked up a used 90mm f/2.8 Tamron Macro AF SP lens on eBay USA for a hundred U.S. dollars plus a bit more for shipping. This is the model previous to the present Tamron offering. It is a great portrait lens because of its really nice smooth bokeh. The lens is nicknamed the "Portrait Macro". These lenses are occasionally found on eBay for a hundred to a hundred and fifty dollars and are quite a bargain...

    The Canon 85mm f/1.8 and 100mm f/2 primes are great portrait lenses when you have the space to use them...

    The 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS) lens is usually available at a decent price. In fact I have a nice copy for sale right now and could make you a good price. The non-IS lens doesn't have the new rounded aperture blades but produces pretty decent bokeh, never-the-less. The lack of IS capability is no problem when shooting indoors with strobes and shooting outdoors in decent light or with a support like a tripod or monopod...

    Finally, the 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens is often maligned but, is a pretty solid performer and can be available at a rather low price on the used market since it has been sold as a "kit-lens" with various Canon cameras. It has quite a decent image quality when shooting in the area of f/8 to f/11. The IS may be of an older type but, it still works to a certain degree. This would not be my first choice in a lens but, it is often bargain priced...

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for your input. I'm currently shooting with my 18-55mm, 55-250mm, 50mm f/1.8, and 100mm f/2.8 macro.

    I've been debating between the 24-70 and 24-105 but then started to consider future purchases such as the 70-200 f/2.8 IS. So I'm thinking maybe the 24-70 now, then 70-200 which combined would give me a nice range?

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Chris... Your 100mm macro should make an excellent head and shoulders portrait lens. Providing, of course, you have room enough in which to shoot. As with the 90mm Tamron macro, the portraits using the macro (except for portraits of craggy old men like me) would need to be softened a bit. However, that is easy to do in either Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Portrait Professional or most other editing programs. Although I have not used it, your 55-250mm should not be too shabby either at focal lengths of 80-100mm give or take...

    Lots of posters on various forums sing the praises of very fast apertures for portraits. I can understand wanting to throw the background out of focus, but I have never liked razor thin DOF in which one end of the nose is in focus and the ear is OOF or visa-versa.

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    I'm currently shooting with my 18-55mm, 55-250mm, 50mm f/1.8, and 100mm f/2.8 macro.
    New computer!
    And/Or a new big (23+") decent (IPS) screen to go with laptop.

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    Ok, so I'm trying to decide between purchasing a new desktop or buying my first "L" lens. Right now I'm working on my laptop which is about 4 years old, but still in good condition. My motivation to upgrade is based on more speed and capacity to handle larger rendering jobs as I'm doing more retouching plus working with more third party plug-ins.

    On the other hand, the 24-70mm f/2.8L lens is very tempting. I do mostly portrait photography and so this lens (from what I've read) would be a great addition. And so I'm trying to determine if I should push the envelope by not upgrading my PC right now and just get the lens or vice-versa. Both are about the same in price ($1100-$1200).

    I know ultimately it comes down to my choice but I'm curious as to what you guys would choose or your logic behind it. Perhaps it will help me think of an area I'm over looking.

    thanks
    which ever will pay for itself faster.
    personally, i dont do any profesional/paid photography so i might upgrade the computer....if its really that slow.
    though, if it really is that slow, i might 1st look in to what i can upgrade. RAM is a really good and cheap upgrade.
    youll be surprised at the performance to price ratio of that single component.

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    Re: new computer or first "L" lens? What would you choose?

    Dave brought up a point I am going to explore a bit. Check to see if your ram can be upgraded in that lattop. Check to see if you can allocate more virtual memory to the system through use of an external drive (Sometimes, just moving all your pictures to the external can free up some virtual memory.) Check to see if you can attach an external monitor to the laptop.

    Now, granted that doing all that can add up to a couple of, or three, hundred, it is still a cheaper "get along" for awhile and might leave you enough to get your lens now.

    Pops

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