(Click questions to see my answers)
• What Camera Settings Should I Use? (blog entry)
• What Is 'Aperture'? (and what does it do?) (blog entry)
• How Does Shutter Speed Affect My Images? (blog entry)
• Sharpness, or Lack Therof (blog entry)
• What About the Millimeters? (blog entry)
• What Is a 'Stop'? (blog entry)
• Should I buy the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III?
• Should I buy the Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro lens?
• How Can I Organize My Photos?
• Should I Upgrade My Camera? (blog entry)
Should I buy the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III?Answer: If you want to.
I'm asked this almost daily, mainly because people have viewed my photos taken with this lens. They say, "I don't have enough money to buy a more expensive lens. Will this one take good pictures?"
(1) It's the lowest priced telephoto-zoom lens that Canon makes.
(1) known for "soft" images in the 250-300mm range.
(2) will focus slowly compared to higher-priced lenses.
(3) minimum focus distance is 4.9 feet, so you can't make macro images with it.
(4) not weather sealed.
(5) a "slow" lens, meaning its maximum aperture if f/4, so it's not good in low-light situations.
(6) a variable aperture lens, meaning that the f-number will change as you zoom.
Conclusion: If you have any thoughts/hopes of someday taking professional images, skip this one and save for the 70-200mm f/2.8L series, or something even better. But if (1) you're positive that you just need a telephoto lens for personal use, (2) you will only take pictures in the day time, and (3) you won't blame me for your bad photos, then by all means buy this lens. I got some great photos with it before I sold it cheap. :-)
Should I buy the Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro lens?Answer: If you want to. (Are you seeing a trend here?)
(1) the lowest-priced 1:1 macro lens I know of.
(2) will make razor-sharp images, especially when stopped down a little.
(3) not heavy, unlike many macro lenses.
(4) makes images with excellent color/contrast.
(5) makes nicely rounded, smooth "bokeh".
(6) 50mm length combined with f/2.8 aperture make it a great portait lens.
(7) has a "limiter" switch when you don't want to use the full macro range.
(1) Because of its short focal length, the lens has to be very close to a subject for true macro (1:1)
(So if you want to shoot dangerous, flying insects, you'll need a longer lens.)
(2) It comes with a screw-on lens hood. When the hood is attached, you cannot put the lens cap in place.
(Solution: I bought an extra lens cap, slightly larger, which fits on the lens hood.)
Conclusion: I have no complaints with this lens whatsoever. Anyone wanting crisp macro shots of non-moving subjects would be happy with this entry from Sigma. You'll only be disappointed if you want something it's not made for.
How Can I Organize My Photos?Answer: I've answered this more fully in a blog entry.
I have seen far too many computers filled with files that the owner has no idea how to access. Read the blog post I linked to above and see if my system works for you. If it doesn't, try your own system. But you definitely should have a system.
Possible Systems for Organization:
(1) by Date. (This is my preferred method; see my blog entry.
(2) by Subject Type.
(3) by Location.
Conclusion: If you can't be bothered to have a systematic file structure on your computer, then only you are to blame when you can't find your images later. No special software is necessary; your computer came with folder structure abilities pre-installed.
It is also a good idea to back up your images (and other important files) to another location, in case your hard drive fails or becomes corrupt. Options include CDs/DVDs, external hard drives, and online backups.
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