Ask The Desk: My Camera Equipment

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Andy Welfle best known for his pencil blog, Woodclinched, recently asked about my camera set-up. Its not something I normally talk about here but a lot of jobs require capturing images so I thought this was as good time to cover my hardware.

I actually use four different cameras depending on my circumstances. These have been accumulated over several years so don’t ever think you need to go out and buy four set-ups to get decent shots. Any one of these is a good place to start.

Canon T1i

My largest rig is kept mostly in my home office and is used for a good deal of the posts on the blog and for the shop. It is made up of:

Canon is up to a T5i version of the camera body, adding more, bigger, faster, and perks like built-in filters. Prior to inheriting the T1i from a friend (its on long-term loan) I’d been using a Canon Rebel XTi that I’d used for over 100K images before the light meter went out on it. It could probably be repaired, I just haven’t gotten around to it.

If you are considering the purchase of a dSLR, spend more money on the lens than the camera. And skip the kit lens. The Sigma lens I use almost exclusively. It works great is low light and built-in macro was just what I wanted. Its not the fastest auto focus lens in the world but my pens and inks don’t tend to run off that often. Sadly, its no longer in production, the closest alternative would probably be this 17-70mm f/2.8-4. If it ever came to it,  I’d probably end up replacing it with two different lenses — one macro lens and then a good quality standard zoom. I also use a stock Canon  EF 50mm lens f1.8 (that used to be sold with film cameras) as a great low light portrait lens and those can be snagged for about $125 new but can easily be found secondhand for less.

Olympus Pen E-P3

My travel kit is a smaller, less obtrusive set-up. This is a good quality camera for getting shots at antique shops, fairs, and general life stuff:

  • Olympus Pen E-P3
  • with a 17mm f2.8 pancake lens
  • and the stock 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 zoom lens

The only downside of the Olympus Pen is that I do not currently have a macro lens for it. There is currently only one macro lens available for the micro 4/3s mount and its quite expensive. Its hard to get good pictures of pens and other small items without one. I almost exclusively use the pancake lens because it will basically let me shoot in the dark. The image quality is excellent and great for everyday photography. There are of course some digital dirt at higher ISOs but what I lose in image quality, I make up for in portability and low profile handling. This camera is far less intrusive for people than a long lens dSLR.

Canon S90

I also keep a camera stashed at work for quick shots. It’s a Canon Powershot S90 (the newest version of this camera is now the S100). It also gets called into service when traveling or is just kept at the bottom of my bag. Its a great camera for its size and includes a macro feature for capturing close-up shots of pen nibs.

And the last camera is the one I always have with me, my iPhone. The lens quality on mobile phone cameras continue to improve so this is often a perfectly acceptable option. My iPhone 4s has an 8MP camera which is just slightly below the 10MP in my S90 though without the option for white balance adjustment, exposure compensation or shooting in RAW format. But still.. and there are some great, reasonably priced photo editing apps that can get me from shooting the photo to posting on Twitter, Flickr, Instagram or even the blog without ever having to sit down in front of my computer.

I use Aperture for the Mac for image processing and post full sized image to Flickr. I ted to shoot in RAW most often.

Please let me know if you have any other questions about my photos or camera equipment. I am, by no means, a pro but I can certainly give you any advice I have gleaned over many years of trial and error.

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  1. Interesting post! My wife and I have been using a Canon SD700 for our blogs, and we’re looking to upgrade. I’d been looking at the S100 (or S110, I can’t recall at the moment). It’s pretty good, huh? I’ve never used a DSLR, and I’m not really sure what to look for in one. We really only use the macro settings on our current camera.

    1. I think any of the Canon S series (S100 or 110, whichever is easiest to find at the moment) would be a great upgrade. If you are using macro features most often, that would be the best bang for your buck. Check for in-depth analysis on each camera model. You may find that you can get a great deal on last year’s model that will do everything you need. Thanks for the great comment!

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