My First Lens Upgrade: EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

I just upgraded my Rebel T2i’s lens from the kit lens EF-S 18-55m IS to EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. The day before, I was about to buy the Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical (IF) MACRO, which I really took time to research beforehand prior to making my final decision to buy as my all-around lens. I also had done my rounds at the malls and other department stores that sell lenses and I knew of one which had one in its stock.

As luck would have it, the remaining Tamron unit turned out to be defective. The focus ring turns in stops and starts (so un-smooth), which even a beginner like me feels really wrong. (The store hasn’t returned it to wherever they bought it from. Are they hoping they could still fool someone to buy that defective unit?) I was kinda crestfallen in that I’d been anticipating to spend the rest of the day shooting with it. Another store (in the other mall) promises to deliver within 3 days if I order it. Nah, can’t wait for 3 more days. So, back to the (google) research board I went, with an iron intent to get myself a new lens not a day later than tomorrow. With my first encounter of a Tamron lens being so very un-satisfactory, I got dis-illusioned and now doubted the quality of all other non-Canon lenses. So, I did not even care to check out the Sigma lenses anymore.

I momentarily entertained the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS, which is cheaper and so within my budget. Thing is, I thought I wouldn’t want to be changing lenses during shooting sessions. My goal, after all, as a photo hobbyist, is to have an all-around lens I can use for almost all situations. So, I finally decided to go for the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. The price is just a bit over thrice the 55-250mm but I feel it will serve my purposes very adequately. It also is bigger in diameter and length than the kit lens, which makes my Rebel T2i appear a little more serious-looking. Plus, I added a lens hood (EW-78D) to it. Now, my camera looks pro. Yup, only the camera, I must hasten to admit. (There’s an affordable really pro-looking lens, the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto lens but it takes a really pro hand to handle it as it doesn’t have Image Stabilization).

Test Shots

Here are a few test shots using the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. I was mainly concerned with checking the zoom capacity and quality of the lens. So, don’t look for quality of composition, or whatever criteria you have in mind. In fact, the amateur in me showed after I took the first set below and realized that I had not changed the ISO which had been set the night before at 400. Grrr.

Back Office View

At 18mm: View from the rear of the new (under construction) office building
At 50mm
At <strong>200mm</strong>
At 200mm

Closing Time @ Dunkin’

At 28mm. Nearing closing time at Dunkin'
At 200mm

The Equipment

Hereunder are the equipment I used (pictures not mine).

The Canon Rebel T2i
The EF-S 18-200mm IS
The Canon EW-78D Lens Hood

The Alternatives

The Tamron 18-270mm. Great range, affordable price.
The Sigma 18-200mm. Works with Canon cameras, very affordable.

JJC Lens Hood (replaces EW-78D)

Really, had that Tamron unit at the mall been not defective, I would have bought it right away. Anyway, I got the EFS18-200mm IS now, and I’m loving’ it. 🙂 Be showing off more photos soon.

What I Think About Shooting In RAW

I learned about shooting in RAW format a couple of weeks after first using my Canon Rebel T2i. I used to output only jpeg photos from my Canon camera (jpeg being its default). Of course, as I want my pics to be as perfect as possible (who doesn’t?), I try to adjust them in photoshop, taking care to make the results as natural-looking as I can. Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I don’t fall for pictures that don’t look as natural as the ones a naked eye sees on the actual scene. Taking long exposures of waterfalls for instance produce silky smooth water, but that’s not what you actually see in real life. The resulting picture thus, though pleasing to the eye, looks so artificial and so not real. Well, it’s cool the first time, but after seeing so many pictures with this effect, it starts to loose its appeal.

I learned that taking photos in RAW format gives me so much control over my final output. In the past, film photography requires one to make the exposure just right and the focus perfect before pressing the shutter. After that, there’s not much you can do to the final output. In the digital era, software like photoshop can give you a second chance at making the output approach perfection. And if you opt to shoot using the RAW format, you actually gain even more control over the whole process.

The more I shoot in RAW, the more I realized that my progress at mastering the fine aspects of photography seemed stunted and slow. I found that I (beginner as I am) have become so dependent on the knowledge that I can just adjust my pictures later, thus making me take for granted such practices as carefully analysing the available light and adjusting my camera to compensate for such conditions. All I’m watching out for are minimizing camera shake (though Image Stabilization [IS] almost takes care of it all), making the proper composition, and adjusting for proper field depth.

My idea now is to go back to shooting in JPEG, so that I’m forced to really take care of the analysis of the subject, the surrounding area, the light sources, and making the corresponding fine adjustments in the camera. I do have the luxury of doing this because I’m not shooting photos for clients. I’m only shooting for myself (and only when I feel like it) as photography is totally just a hobby of mine. Perhaps after some time (years?), I’d finally (if ever) acquire the finesse that pro photographers have. Then, maybe I’d go back to shooting in RAW. That way, there’s no chance I’d output less than perfect photographs. Perhaps, I’d also go for one Canon lecturer’s advice to get me a monitor calibration tool (e.g. Spider 3 Pro or Elite). Then perhaps I’ll entertain thoughts of going beyond hobby photography.

So, what do I think of RAW? It’s the final tool for perfection. I should use it but not depend on it.

Hereunder are some pictures which I took in RAW format and then adjusted using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional.

View From My Office Window
Rufus And Kitty
Yummy Corn

Note: This is only a rambling of one who’s just beginning to learn photography. The photos above (even after the adjustments) are definitely not perfect (this, my amateur mind suspects even this early), composition-wise, lighting-wise, whatever. If you have any violent reactions and have to speak your mind, make it constructive so I’ll learn how to do things better.

My New Canon Rebel T2i

Just got my new Canon Rebel T2i yesterday evening right after work. This is not just ‘my new camera’. It’s my very first DSLR camera ever. I’ve had cameras before but all of them were the point and shoot kind.

I don’t know if it’s their standard procedure but I feel that the store clerk may have read through me clearly when, prior to the payment at the cashier, he invited me over to a table and gave me a demo of the Canon Rebel T2i – from assembling the sling, taking off the lens cap, down to how to press the shutter. I didn’t know my ignorance about dslr cameras was that transparent. I thought I sounded pro when I dropped some pro-sounding words, e.g. when I inquired about available macro glasses (intentionally using the word ‘glasses’ instead of ‘lenses’, as suggested by Scott Kelby), and carbon fiber tripods.

Well, I couldn’t contain my excitement I couldn’t sit still while I waited a little over an hour to fully charge the new (partly charged) battery at home. I devoured the manual and run smack into technical photo jargon, e.g. aperture priority, shutter priority, white balance, etc. It particularly took some time to get the confusion out of aperture value and actual aperture ‘open-ness’.

Needless to say, I took some shots at the nearest things I could shoot at. Here are a few of them.

These are some of the things I found inside the box (except the Scott Kelby book).

My daughter’s Minnie Mouse on the wall.

I took a lot of pictures without taking thought about choice of subjects. Hell, I took pictures of the trash bin, my toes, the laundry bin, the inside of the cabinet, the kids, my wife, you name it.

Today, while I waited for my turn at the dentist’s office, I took the liberty of taking some shots inside her receiving room.

As of now, I’m still shooting mostly with the mode dial set to P (Program AE), where the camera sets the shutter speed and aperture automatically. Even now, I’m still exploring the rebel. I’m setting my mind on messing up with apertures and shutter speed and manual focus soon. And I’m looking forward to the free photography seminar the sales clerk at Canon told me about, which he said is tentatively set around the second week of November.

Diving Into Digital SLR Photography

Just days prior to my acquisition of my very first DSLR camera, and thus soon taking the plunge into digital slr photography, I wasn’t able to help myself from buying a couple of books on digital slr photography, “The Digital Photography Book” volume 1 and volume 2 by Scott Kelby. As this is my first foray into this jungle, I’m not sure if Scott Kelby is considered a cool author in the photography world. (If he is, then I must have been guided into making him my first photography books’ author). These books actually also come as a 3-book series boxed set but I opted to buy only the first two, thinking that as a first-timer, I may have to spend a lot of time reading and experiencing whatever knowledge and wisdom is in books 1 and 2.

I have pored through book 1 and has so far been enlightened on a lot of points I have earlier been ignorant about. The book was formatted in such a way that it provided easy reading for me and Mr. Kelby simply spewed out tips and tricks that other photographers would probably prefer to just keep to themselves. I like his injection of humor and I indeed got into a lot of “Oh, so that’s how they do it…” moments.

I now see photographers as artists and not just dumb clickers who point and shoot. When I say photographer, I mean of course the ones who make digital slr photography a serious business, or at least a serious hobby. I understand for instance how they mind those little artifacts that we laymen wouldn’t have minded having in our pictures. I understand why they lug around those bulky-looking tripods wherever they go. Inspite of their fine artistic hands and fingers, they don’t trust that those wouldn’t create even the minutest shake that could snatch away perfection out of their final output. They have to use tripods. And some go as far as choosing tripods made with carbon fiber to dampen even the humanly undetectable vibrations.

Of course, there are instances where they couldn’t use tripods.Well, they got tricks to compensate. In wedding settings inside churches for instance, they would increase their ISO settings just enough so that noise is kept to a minimum and use their fastest lens to minimize the effects of hand shake. Kelby btw showed a technique of holding the camera to add extra stability and thus minimize hand shake, in the absence of a tripod.

After reading the book, I thought of increasing my budget in order to accomodate additional gadgets e.g. some particular glasses for specific purposes. No, actually I plan to buy those extra glasses some other time. These little beasts are not cheap, you know. I just have to type out these sentences to show that I use ‘glasses’ instead of ‘lenses’. Kelby says I’d sound more non-amateurish if I do that. Wait, will I sound professional if I include, say, ‘white balance’ and ‘f-stops’ whenever I talk about pictures?

At this point though, I still don’t agree with a photographer’s trick in shooting waterfalls where the output shows a very fine water flow that almost makes the water look like thick mist. It still just looks so artificial to me. This seems to be a standard among them, however, as I always see these effects in all exhibits I see where waterfalls or water is featured. Me, I still prefer to be able to see actual droplets and coarse splashes. Wow, I’m yet to enter the portals of digital slr photography and I’m already a rebel.

Now, I’m literally kicking-eager to go to the Canon outlet to get my camera. Oh no, not the skyhigh-priced ones. As I’m an absolute first timer and the budget is sorta tight, I’d settle, for now, for a Canon Rebel, the E0S 550D. I suppose this will turn out to be cool enough for my amateurish purposes. Earlier, I had set my sights on the new 60D. However some friends tell me to start off with the Rebel and that, should I pursue this art further later, I can upgrade to something even better than the 60D or 7D (or the Mark units, chill), or perhaps jump to the Nikon wagon altogether.

Bugs Bunny Poster Available

For all you Bugs Bunny poster enthusiasts, here is a list of available cool bugs bunny posters from amazon. This is in response to a stats-wise enthusiastic response to my earlier photo light box feature ‘bugs bunny poster‘ post.

Bugs Bunny Poster

A 27 X 40 sized poster of bugs bunny available in framed blackwood, laminated, or unframed.

Bugs Bunny in Concert 1956 27×40 MOVIE POSTER

FREE Penny Lane Gifts magnet with every poster purchase! This Bugs Bunny “Looney Tunes” vintage fractal poster is approx. 24” x 36”

Bugs Bunny – Looney Tunes – Vintage Fractal Poster

Looney Tunes Poster WITH Bugs Bunny WITH Tazmanian Devil AND Daffy Duck! A very rare poster which was printed in 1999. Approximate size: 24″ x 36″.

Looney Tunes Poster~ Bugs Bunny~ Tazmanian Devil~ Daffy Duck~ Rare Poster!!~ Printed in 1999!!~ Approx 24″ x 36″

12″ X 20″ wide poster with Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird. NEW!!!

LOONEY TUNES ~ Bugs Bunny ~ Tweety Bird ~ NEW POSTER(Size 12″x20″)

Bugs Bunny Poster Montage

A cool Bugs Bunny Montage. One of a kind. Should you find one like this in any store, it’s a poor imitation.This is the original. From a distance, this looks like a regular Bugs Bunny picture, but when you look closer, it’s actually composed of mini-pictures that are about 1 inch X 1 inch with remarkably fine detail. The mini-pictures are hundreds of actual scenes from all the classic 1960s and 1970s most famous cartoons including Bullwinkle, Pink Panther ,Speed Racer, and lots more. The artist gathered and arranged these very meticulously. No frame is ever used more than once and no color was adjusted to any individual frame. This is for the true collector. The entire item is 35 inches X 24 inches on real durable canvas.

Bugs Bunny Canvas Poster

Now Why Is This Bugs Bunny Picture Considered R a c i s t ?

Photo Light Box: February

I just renewed my interest in learning illustrator as I thought it would go nicely with whatever skills I already have with photoshop. The tutorial I saved on my hard drive is about making shiny marbles or balls. So, I thought I’ll just publish a photo light box feature of some of the work I did after following the tutorial. It’s really not something that would dazzle anyone but it’s cool to see the first time.

February being the month of love (well, Valentine’s day happens to fall on this month, though any month would do), here’s what I came up with using the technique discussed in the illustrator tutorial I downloaded. I created the basic shapes in Illustrator and just exported it to photoshop to apply the finish I desired.

I also dabbled a bit on how my blog’s logo would look inside a shiny ball. Uhmmm, still can’t say if it would look good.

I hope my enthusiasm for learning illustrator would hold even after this first output. I have a variety of interests but I can’t stay focused on one long enough to really make something worthwhile before the next thing gets my attention. Attention deficit? More like impatience. Illustrator just happens to have a slightly steeper learning curve than photoshop I suppose. Thus, after an hour of tinkering with it, I can only show some pathetic excuse for a digital art. But I guess the time wasted was a lot more enjoyable than the same amount of time miserably failing at coming up with an idea for something to write about for my next post. Anyway, I hope to learn enough of illustrator to be able to come up with art like collisiontheory’s. It’s when I bumped into his work sometime ago that actually inspired me to learn illustrator in the first place. And then maybe later on, I could also earn a little with this skill, the way he did with his.

Bugs Bunny Poster

(Loosen up everyone. Drop that load and let’s get a few light moments.)

Photo Light Box Feature Today

I’m changing my planned ‘photo fun‘ feature name into ‘photo light box‘ for reasons some of you might have an idea about. This photo light box feature will every now and then appear in this blog especially during times when I feel like indulging in my love for creating some form of art out of existing photos or other art forms.

Bugs Bunny Poster: The Boxer


Check out previews of Bugs Bunny posters you can buy at this link: Bugs Bunny Posters Available.

The subject today is one of my kids’ favorite characters. My son still got a bugs bunny poster up in our room. And this bugs bunny poster (not the one above), if I remember right, was given to him way back when he was 5 years old. In this little work, I’ve

randomly thought of boxing as the surrounding circumstance for bugs. I could get stoned by other parents for this but I don’t see so much violence in the resulting pic anyway especially with that famous grin firmly fixed on the Bug’s face implying he’s having fun with this lucky boxer. Speaking of violence, I suppose there is more violence in Bug’s actual tv series than on this bugs bunny poster feature. Want to see more violence openly shown to kids? Watch more cartoons, e.g. Tom & Jerry. 😉

Bugs Bunny Poster: Santa Bugs

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Again, you can check out some Bugs Bunny posters you can buy at this link: Bugs Bunny Posters Available.