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Here you will find some useful posts on choosing a location for your shoot, what to wear, client sessions and other random pieces I hope you will find interesting!

Swapping lenses - the Canon f4 7-200mm

I loved my Sigma f2.8 70-200mm lens.

It’s been through a lot with me. From wind, rain and hail at Sunderland AFC Ladies matches to the heat and dust of Kenya, it has served me well and got me some lovely photographs.

However it weighed a tonne. OK, I exaggerate, it’s 1.4kg but that’s almost the equivalent of a bag of flour, plus there’s the added weight of the Canon 5D MKIII along with that.

So while I enjoyed the photographs, I never enjoyed the experience of bringing it anywhere with me. I would need a backpack to spread the weight over both shoulders, but one wide enough to accommodate both lens and camera yet did not overwhelm me or get too heavy when full.

Then I discovered that not only was the Canon f4 70-200mm half the weight, but it had dropped in price. It was now selling on a par with what I could make by selling the Sigma.

In the back of my mind I was thinking “but it’s only f4, not f2.8!”. Thankfully my rational mind (yes, I do have one!) argued I wouldn’t notice the difference in the one less stop of light entering the camera and the optics from the Canon L series lens would be of a better quality anyway. Plus if it was lighter I wouldn’t find it as cumbersome to carry.

I sent off enquiries to photography exchange websites and Harrison Cameras not only gave me the best quote for the Sigma, but their price for the Canon was £43 cheaper than elsewhere!

Excitedly I agreed to the quote and ordered the f4. A few hours later when I checked the website, it was out of stock. Had I bought the last one?

The following day, the courier arrived to collect my Sigma and deliver the Canon at the same time. Eagerly I ripped open my new package.

I was astounded. Yes, I had briefly held this same lens that belonged to a member of the Sunderland Astronomical Society and marvelled at its size and weight, but now this was mine!

It’s so small and light! Alright, it’s not. It’s 17cm long yet strangely it looks comparatively small on the 5D! 

It has the added bonus of not looking stupidly huge on my dinky Canon 100D SLR, which means not only is it an even lighter setup to carry, but I get a bit extra zoom from the APOS sensor which turns it into a 112-320mm.

Plus, it fits into my new Peak Design Sling bag, either lengthways attached to a camera, or standing upright on its own - only just. The Sigma didn’t get anywhere near the Sling and I’m relieved. It would not have fitted. The extra 2cm would have made all the difference and had I kept the Sigma I may not have kept the Sling.

It remains to be seen how the f4 will handle the low light when Sunderland Ladies’ matches begin in September with evening kick-offs throughout winter instead of the summer afternoons of previous seasons.

However its first outing at a child’s photo shoot gave me some beautiful, clear photographs with nice bokeh, but it was the following day that the lens really showed its potential.

I took it to Butterfly World in Stockton with me. The butterflies were numerous, quick, flighty, beautiful, delicate and small. The greenhouse they are in can seem quite dark unless you have f1.8 or 800 ISO, but I wanted to see what my new lens could really do.

Even at f4 and ISO 400 I got a lot of good shots. On uploading them onto my computer and looking through them, there was one in particular that stood out.

Even zoomed right in the quality of the lens showed. There was some grain but otherwise the butterfly was sharp and detailed, much more so than I was used to getting from the Sigma.

It may be one photo out of 32 at 70mm, but it proves that if you can handle the lens properly and get everything just right, the rewards from it are substantial. Coupled with the 5D MKIII this is a happy marriage!

The original image.

The original image.

The cropped image!

The cropped image!

Everything about getting this lens has been fortuitous. I can’t even remember how I ended up looking at the lens and discovering the lower price. I was fortunate to find an exchange website that made the whole process a breeze and personal at the same time.

Finally I received the Everyday Sling Bag by Peak Design the day before the lens arrived. The f4 just fits inside and the weight is manageable for me along with a couple of other lenses as long as I don’t go overboard putting too much inside.

I only wish I had thought of making this change sooner, but you live and learn. :)