Canon EOS System Explained and experience with rentacoder.com

I’ve completed an article for people who are building a Canon EOS system.  I call it “Canon EOS System Explained”.  One interesting aspect of this article is that I needed to get together data on all the components of the EOS system, i.e., the bodies, lenses, and flashes.  For each item, I needed the full name, the price, and the serial number on Amazon.com (so that people could click through and see reader reviews, buy the item, etc.).  I estimated that it would take me 10 hours to assemble these data by clicking around at Amazon.  It is a bit more involved than you’d think because for many of these items, Amazon requires you to “add item to cart to see price”.  Anyway, I put the project up on www.rentacoder.com and a guy from Pakistan did the job in two days for $10.  He made only a couple of mistakes.


I would appreciate comments/corrections on this draft article.  What is confusing?  What should I say more about?  Where are the typos?


Thanks in advance!

18 Comments

  1. Trevis Rothwell

    April 20, 2006 @ 12:09 am

    1

    Nicely done, Philip!

    The only thing I noticed right away was it would be nice to have more details about each lens. For some of them you list only the price (e.g., the 24-85mm). For others, you list the price and a bit of info about it. Although one might guess that the more expensive lenses are generally pretty good and the less expensive lenses are usually not good, having your opinion explicitly stated would probably help novice buyers.

    I bought my first SLR camera last year, and unwittingly bought a $200 70-300mm zoom lens. I actually thought it was surprisingly decent, but you also might want to include some more details about why someone might want to spend $1700 on a telephoto zoom lens when they can buy one for $200. Again, for the novice buyers who are just getting started, but not necessarily opposed to spending more money if it will buy something of value.

  2. Bas Scheffers

    April 20, 2006 @ 4:30 am

    2

    Nice overview. You may also want to add the EF-S 17-55/2.8. (available in May) This is the first lens Canon has brought out that, to me, makes their APS-C offerings stomachable.

  3. Jim

    April 20, 2006 @ 1:22 pm

    3

    I’m pleasantly surprised to see Pakistan mentioned an any other context than what we see in the news! Turns out it’s not all doom and gloom there after all. How can I access the project by the way on rentacode.com? Just curious.

  4. Tristan

    April 20, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

    4

    Muslims really do do it better.

  5. presidentpicker

    April 20, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

    5

    I work on a US government contract and our flagship security lady is from Pakistan – she is great. The security architect is a Ph.D. with a middle eastern sounding name but I’m not sure what country he is from. Also a good guy. Nothing to worry about. They are light years ahead in mental capacity from an average american project manager.

  6. Atilla

    April 20, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

    6

    Too bad he can’t do iDriving for NYC bus systems…

    How is it even possible that he’d do 10 hours of work for $10?

  7. Hubert Figuiere

    April 20, 2006 @ 5:47 pm

    7

    I second Bas: the 17-55 f2.8 is worth mentionning. But maybe Philip was waiting for the lens to be available first?

  8. Eric Gunnerson

    April 21, 2006 @ 11:44 am

    8

    I noticed that while you give different recommendations for small-sensor and full-sensor cameras, you don’t talk about the magnification factor.

    Also, a few comments on the average family starter system:

    1) (using lens measurements without the multiplier…) you don’t have anything between 30mm and 200mm. Okay, the 30 is really a 48, but that’s a fairly big hole. I think I’d consider something that covers that range, like the 28-135 F/3.5-5.6 IS USM ($479). Image quality isn’t quite up to the Sigma, but it’s a lot more versatile, and I think that’s more important to the average family. The wide-angle zoom is great for people who want a wide angle lens, but I’m not sure that most people take those kinds of shots.
    2) For a telephoto, the 70-200mm F4 L is a better choice. You may not be able to (or want to) move to get the subject size that you want, and most family sports shots tend to be fairly widely framed, of only because it takes a fair bit of skill to get things tightly framed during a fast-moving game. If it was for indoor use only, I might feel differently because of the usefulness of the extra speed.

    Nice article overall.

  9. Phil Atio

    April 23, 2006 @ 10:15 pm

    9

    Some folks might quibble with the article’s assertion that the 50mm f/1.4 offers “high quality … mechanical construction”. There is a lot of “play” in the focusing ring, imparting a “cheap” feel. Autofocus also isn’t as snappy as the best (non-L) USM lenses. I’ll concede that the lens is superb optically when stopped down to f/2.8 and OK at f/2. Still I think the 35mm f/1.4L is better because of its excellent optical performance wide open and vastly superior build quality.

  10. fu li chao

    April 24, 2006 @ 7:19 am

    10

    Last December I followed a photo.net‘s commentator’s advice in buying my Cannon telephoto lense. I researched on Amazon.com but I decided to go to my local camera shop to purchase it. Somehow the inability to do some “hands-on” testing myself prevented me from ordering from the website. How can you not test drive a car before purchase? I should like to make one comment: the “ideal lense” for one person really depends on what the suject matter is. I bought the telephoto lense to shoot street parades and my son’s sports event. The fact the it was advertised with “stabe without tripot” made me felt I made a good choice to shoot outdoor photos without huge tripot therefore easy mobility for moving to another location. If you want to take daily family snapshots of your friends and family members, perhaps telephoto 70-200 mm USM lense is not a good choice. See above comments by Eric Gunnerson also. (much to big and heavey to lug around). Thanks for the good info. I like Phillip’s style: why do it yourself when you can have someone in Parkinstain do it for ten dollars? I think it is most excellent summary of the current Cannon system.

  11. Andrew Cosgriff

    April 24, 2006 @ 8:06 pm

    11

    Great overview (i’ve already been pointing friends at it). One small nit to pick, though – I thought the small-sensor Canon DSLR bodies have a 1.6x crop factor, rather than the 1.5 you suggest at the top of the article?

    Thanks,
    Cos.

  12. Darren

    April 26, 2006 @ 8:22 pm

    12

    One correction: the 17-85IS lens is listed as $430. I’d love to buy it at this price, but I think it’s actually around $550 new on Amazon.

  13. John Gruber

    May 2, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

    13

    Regarding normal lenses for small sensors, you mention only the Sigma 30/1.4, and say “Canon does not bother to make a competitive lens”. But they do — the Canon’s 28/1.8 is very competitive with this Sigma. It’s equivalent to a 44mm perspective on a full-frame camera, it’s almost as fast, it’s USM, and it’s about the same price, $400.

    The Sigma looks like a good lens, but I recently bought the Canon 28/1.8, on the grounds that unlike the Sigma, the Canon will also work on full-frame EOS cameras.

  14. John Gruber

    May 2, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

    14

    Regarding normal lenses for small sensors, you mention only the Sigma 30/1.4, and say “Canon does not bother to make a competitive lens”. But they do — the Canon’s 28/1.8 is very competitive with this Sigma. It’s equivalent to a 44mm perspective on a full-frame camera, it’s almost as fast, it’s USM, and it’s about the same price, $400.

    The Sigma looks like a good lens, but I recently bought the Canon 28/1.8, on the grounds that unlike the Sigma, the Canon will also work on full-frame EOS cameras.

  15. One Stop Under

    May 7, 2006 @ 7:39 pm

    15

    I’d like to second John Gruber’s recommendation on the Canon 28mm f/1.8. I love this lens! It’s great for shooting parties, wedding receptions, and pretty much any other indoor/evening event.

  16. bill

    May 9, 2006 @ 1:57 am

    16

    Phil,
    Amazon has a free web service that make the entire Amazon catalog available to you. You can pull pricing data via SOAP or REST, instead of keep clicking on the Amazon web site to find the price.

    Bill

  17. Kurt Schroeder

    May 10, 2006 @ 11:01 am

    17

    Have you thought of sending the guy more money for the work? This makes me think of programming jobs that I would like to get done.

  18. Allan Karl

    May 10, 2006 @ 5:05 pm

    18

    While you mention the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM, $1150, I think a bit of explanation with Canon’s Difractive Optics might warrant a mention on this and the 400mm fixed telephoto.

    According to Canon:
    “Another world’s first in camera lens optical design, Canon introduced new DO technology in order to build a super telephoto that complements its latest compact film and digital SLR cameras. This cutting-edge technology employs diffractive optical elements that use the principle of diffraction to change the direction of a lightwave’s path. This revolutionary element has Aspherical characteristics, which help define superior maximum aperture image quality, as well as optical qualities superior to UD-glass to totally correct color fringing. The Multi-Layer Diffractive Optical Elements exhibit outstanding ability to correct chromatic aberrations (color defects), and are especially effective in super telephoto lens design, where these specific types of optical defects are most likely to happen. You can see how well the technology works in your own pictures by examining the straight edges of a subject. You will see a crisp clear edge without the telltale, prismatic color fringing that is visible with images shot using inferior optics.”

    I carried the former for nearly 20,000 miles while riding my motorcycle from Alaska to South America where space and weight are critical factors in choosing what to carry. The lens is no “L” but it’s incredibly sharp and delivers excellent color. I’d like to try the 400 for when I go to Africa, but a tele-converter may be more practical… we’ll see.

    Anyway, excellent overview on both articles. I’ve blogged it and will refer to it often.

    thanks Phil,

    /allan

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