Thu, 07 Aug 2008

Blue Angels at Seafair 2008

On Sunday I took a couple hours to get out of the house and snap some pics of the Blue Angels from Mercer Island.

You can check out all of the pics by clicking on the image, which links to my photoset at Flickr.

Most pictures were taken with my 70-300mm 4-5.6IS/USM lens... However this outing really helped me see the shortcomings of the lens (warning: the remainder of this post consists of photo-geekery, safe to stop reading if this kind of stuff bores you :)...

Don't get me wrong, it is a quite excellent lens, particularly for the money. But here's where this lens, in my opinion, falls a bit short.

  • The lens has a maximum aperture of f4 at 70mm, and 5.6 at 300mm. This means keeping the lens in manual mode requires you adjust the ISO or exposure constantly if you have to dynamically zoom in/out. As a result all of the pics were taken in auto mode, which means that on my XTI, no RAW images (for maximum flexibility in digital post-processing).
  • The USM focus is really slow. If the autofocus happens to miss the object you're trying to focus on (like a fast flying jet), by the time it focuses close and goes back out far, the objective you're trying to shoot might be out of visual range.
  • When you spend over $500 on a lens from Canon, they really should throw in the lens hood. Or, put another way, if you're buying a lens, and it doesn't come with a hood, you're either getting somewhat false economy (considering Canon's high end lenses come with them, price comparisons of cheaper lenses against an L series should include a hood to compare apples to apples)
  • I didn't use a polarizing filter (I've yet to make a significant invest in any filters for my lenses) but I can see how it'd be frustrating to use one with this lens-- the front lens rotates as you zoom in/out, so adjusting the filter would be a pain during action photography.

I like the 70-300mm range that this lens provides as a "walk around" lens. Certainly the 70-300mm is no slouch for landscape or still photography, but for action shots, its no surprise that people opt for the faster L series lenses. I'm not frustrated enough that I'd consider replacing this lens with an L series lens (for one, most affordable lenses stop at 200mm, and I find the extra 100mm of zoom extremly useful)... but I might rent a lens for action photography in the future.

Khan Klatt

Khan Klatt's photo