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Things I learned shooting the rodeo...

I didn't do that well on a lot of the exposures; there are quite a few over-exposed images, and a lot that are missing detail in the shadows.

Now there are two reasons for this.

One is just the environment. The events are taking place between 9:00am and 5:00pm. It's August. It's California. The light is bright and harsh. Not much one can do about that.

The other is a bit of stupidity. I decided to shoot using a shutter-priority AE mode, with a high shutter speed to guarantee that I could stop the action. Sounds good, no? No. I've got under 2 stops of exposure latitude in the lens when it's racked out (f/3.5-f/8). I should have gone with the aperture-priority AE mode, set a wide-ish aperture (say f/4) which would have still forced the high shutter speeds I wanted, but given the AE a bit more latitude.

What else did I learn?

Well, it was reinforced to me why I want to upgrade to a dSLR.

I want something with more exposure latitude in the lens, 4 stops would be nice. I want a lens I can open out far enough to blur out the background. I can get both for a reasonable price in a 50mm prime (which makes a good long-ish lens for portrait shooting on an APS-C or DX format camera).

I want a zoom that I can just grab and change, not something servo-driven.

I want faster (smarter) and more accurate AF and AE.

I want less shutter lag.

I want off-camera flash.

After spending a few hours at Keeble & Shuchat on Saturday, it's down to (probably, I'll have to wait until the production models deliver and see what they're really like) the Canon EOS 50D or the Nikon D90. The 40D and the D80 (which are very close in form-factor to the upcoming models) were both pretty comfortable to hold and use. The Rebel XSi just doesn't fit in my hands. The Olympus E-520 and E-3 are interesting (and the E-520 would be a relative bargain) and the Olympus Digital Zuiko lenses are really nice, but I've got to think about whether or not I'm willing to give up the option of the really fast primes available for the other brands.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 2nd, 2008 07:43 am (UTC)
You can also get the blurred background by using a long zoom. The longer the zoom, the less depth of field. I'm not sure you would have done any better with A mode than with S mode. Since you can't use a fill flash, your rodeo shots are going to lack shadow detail no matter what you do.

All the things you want are the things which made me spend too much $$ on a DSLR, and I don't regret it. 50mm is good in theory, but you may find a 60mm macro-capable is more versatile - good for portraits and macro, with a wide max f-stop.

Let me know if you want to play with my mothballed D80, I can bring it to BASFA next week with an adequate zoom. 28-200 I think.
Sep. 2nd, 2008 07:58 am (UTC)
There's a Leica/Panasonic 25/1.4 (e.g. 50mm) By all accounts, the performance is stellar. It's a bit largish, comparing to the teeny Leica M 50/1.4, but not too bad comparing to SLR 50s.

Get the D90 and you can shoot videos of cowboys!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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