Monday, January 28, 2013

Test of Time Review: Canon EOS 20D

Originally released in 2004, the EOS 20D was a major step up from its predecessor the 10D. With increases in framerate, the introduction of the now commonplace 9-point AF system, an EF-S mount, and the first non-pro Canon body to feature instant startup, the 20D moved the XXD into semi-pro territory after the 300D rendered the 10D slightly redundant.But in the nearly 9 years since, its four direct descendants, the 7D, and even the T4i have matched or surpassed just about all of its features.

So what does the 20D still have going for it after all this time? Mainly price - it can be had for $150-$200 used, a pricepoint that no comparable body can approach presently. Anyone looking for a cheap backup or secondary can easily justify the cost, or someone with only a full-frame body might want to pick one up in order to have a dual-format setup without breaking the bank. With that said, read on to find out just how well it stands up against modern bodies, and whether or not the low pricepoint involves too many compromises for your needs.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 12-24 F/4 Review

The AT-X Pro DX 12-24 F/4 is one of Tokina's two entries into the APS-C ultrawide zoom category, the other being the more popular 11-16 2.8. Plenty of other competitors round out the category from both first and third-party manufacturers so I recommend checking those out as well to help you make your decision. This lens differs from the rest in that instead of starting at 10mm like almost all of its brethren, it begins at 12mm but goes all the way to 24mm on the tele end, allowing it to extend into 'normal' lens territory and compliment the 24-XX zooms very well. The lens in the following review was tested on a Canon 50D, 20D, 350D, and 5D (that last one wasn't a typo), and was purchased for $450 retail in 2012.

Reviews Inbound

Starting later today, there'll be a new reviews section of this site. My hope is to eventually get all my gear reviewed over the next several month. The first one will go up later today, and that's of the Tokina 12-24mm f/4 ultrawide, and moving forward from there in an order I haven't yet decided.

Body reviews will be a little different than at other online review hubs. Since I buy virtually all my gear used, and all my bodies are bought when they are at least 2 generation old, the reviews will instead focus on how they hold up today, against the current generation of DSLRs. Hopefully this will be of value to those who scour the used market or are just budget-limited.

Anyway, each review takes a while to complete, but I hope it'll be worth it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Consumer Lens Gap

Back in 2006, anyone with a full-frame (or even film) body had plenty of choices when it came to decent consumer-level zooms. Ignoring the existence of the 28-80, 28-90 etc, there was the 20-35 3.5-4.5, 24-85 3.5-4.5, 28-105 3.5-4.5, and 28-135 rounding out the wide angle and standard zooms. There was also a 28-200 superzoom, for better or for worse.

Fast forward to today, and the situation is very different. Anyone looking for a wide angle or travel zoom in a consumer price range is forced to look to third parties, since Canon doesn't offer anything. Meanwhile, anyone wanting a non-L standard zoom can choose the aging 28-135 or...the 28-135. The telephoto end is similarly sparse, with only the (awful) 75-300 and 70-300 IS to choose from as the 100-300 4.5-5.6 had been discontinued a few years back.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Buyer's Guide: A Review of Reviewers

If you're like me an often find yourself trying to research that new piece of gear, finding online reviews is probably the single most important factor in your decision least until you get a chance to try said item out yourself. That said, finding decent places can be a pain in the ass since Google results are flooded with dubious customer review sites that are of little to no help. To help you wade through the web's cesspool of reviews, here a bit of a compendium of what's out there:

Monday, January 14, 2013

How many licks does it take to get to the sensor of a camera?

Back in August 2012 I encountered the wonderful combination of a heatwave and an exceptionally boring weekend. I also had 3 camera bodies and a tub of ice cream lying around. Unfortunately this coincided with a shortage of cones and clean bowls, so it was only a matter of time before some MacGyver flashbacks forced the inevitable collision of food and surplus camera gear.

After a few minutes of careful thought (or lack thereof), I realized that an EF mount is almost the exact same diameter as a scoop of ice cream, thus making it a perfect cone substitute. Of course I had no intention of turning a camera body into a dairy infected brick, either. That made step one selecting my most expendable body, which in a collection consisting of a 5D, 50D, and 20D (review), was obviously the 20D. Next up was finding a way to ensure the camera would still be easy to clean and usable afterwards, yet still allow the ice cream to sit inside the lens mount. After raiding the kitchen I ended up with a few materials that would do the trick: