The Photography Gear Episode [IP65]

Photography is really about lighting, composition, and subject, but in this episode we throw the creative stuff to the wind and spend some time nerding out on photo gear.

What’s in this episode

  • Recommendations for low cost wide angle lenses for Canon
  • What are the REAL differences between Canon and Nikon cameras?
  • If Canon photographers should use the Magic Lantern firmware
  • Information about choosing a tripod collar for your lens
  • Suggestions on whether it’s better to upgrade a camera or buy a new lens
  • and more!

Resources mentioned in this episode

  • Jim’s doodad of the week: The Light Blaster (You’ll be entered to win a Light Blaster just by leaving any comment below!)
  • The new Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS USM lens which was announced this week (inexpensive wide angle lens for Canon full frame cameras)
  • The new Canon 10-18mm lens which was announced this week (landscape lens for crop sensor cameras) at only $300!
  • The Tokina 16-28mm lens is a great option for extremely sharp results for a wide angle lens.  See the Canon version here and the Nikon version here.
  • Join the Improve Photography Travel Group specific to the Oregon trip here, or join the group for the Iceland trip here.  Photography workshops are really expensive, so I’m going on these trips with readers of Improve Photography all around the world to give you a workshop-like experience for free!  It doesn’t cost anything to go on a trip with the travel group–just pay for your own travel expenses and come join us.
  • Submit Questions for the Podcast

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For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page. You can see all the previous episodes of the Improve Photography Podcast here.


  1. bill kocken

    Love the podcast. I listen to several photo podcasts, and this is my favorite.

  2. Tyson

    Great podcast my photography improves with every episode, thanks for all the hard work

  3. Ken O'Byrne

    Great podcast as always, Jim! That Light Blaster sounds really interesting. Also, I really love contests! I don’t know how hard it is to run them, but it sure is fun for us when you do. :-)

  4. Shaun Mullins

    I’m writing to address the effectiveness of using Canon teleconverters. It seems that the vast majority of reviewers really dislike the image quality they get with a teleconverter. I have been really experimenting and practicing with teleconverters over the past couple years and have come to LOVE the results with Canon’s prime telephoto lenses. On Canon’s 300mm f/4L IS, I have shot with both the 1.4x II and the 2x II with great results. What is even more incredible is that I have also discovered that in good light, great results can be achieved with stacked 1.4x & 2x teleconverters on that lens. That gives me 840mm on a 5D Mark II for less than $2k. In practice, there is really no comparison between a properly executed teleconverter shot and a cropped image from a lesser focal length; especially when printing large.

    An example of a stacked tele shot is on my G+ at the website address I listed.

    From my experimentation & practice, the keys to image quality in this combination are:
    1) You need a subject that is relatively still to allow the necessary workflow with manual focus
    sturdy tripod & ball head. With the 300 f4L, I turn off IS when on a tripod.
    2) Live view mode (eliminates mirror slap vibration & gives detailed manual focus control when zoomed in)
    3) Stop down 1 stop beyond the wide-open effective f-stop of the combination (I use f/11 when using f/4 lens with 1.4x & 2x stacked)
    4) Increase ISO as necessary to get fast enough shutter speeds for the focal length (840mm).
    5) Use super long lens technique when shooting. I rest my left hand on the top of the lens and hold the camera grip to activate the shutter.
    6) Bear in mind that depth of field is not really based on the aperture setting with a teleconverter. It really decreases the depth of field by the multiplication factor. Therefore, 840mm at “f/11” really provides DOF of 840mm at approximately f/7. That DOF is razor thin, so exact focus and lack of forward/backward subject movement become extremely critical.

  5. Shaun Mullins

    Correction to the above:
    The stacked 1.4x & 2x on an f/4 lens makes f/11 the effective “wide-open” aperture (losing 3 stops). I get the best results at f/16 with that combo.
    Important note: The camera only recognizes that the 2x is mounted when stacking and the metadata shows 600mm. The camera will also allow selection of f/8 in this combo, which leads to really poor sharpness if selected. f/11 is definitely usable though and I have shot a lot of high image quality stacked shots at that aperture as well. f/16 is the sweet spot though.

    Here is a direct link to the full-res at f/16 on G+:

  6. Lynn Zimmerman

    I’m finally caught up listening to all your podcasts… a wealth of information for all levels of photographers. Thanks a million!

  7. Fernando Alvarado

    Probably a little late on the Light Blaster contest. It looks like a cool toy among the many that are out there. Did I say toy I meant tool. Appreciate your energy.

  8. Adin Putnam

    I have been a listener for over a year, and have to say that I have learned more here then any other single source. Well done! Awesome podcast. Thanks!

  9. Carl Copeland

    Awesome Podcast!!! Have been a student and love the website and the information that you offer…

    Thanks for everything and continue to do!!!

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