Camera Gear

It slightly bugs me that the first thing a lot of people ask about my photography is what camera I use. I tend to think that it’s the photographer that counts rather than which particular machine you use, but, still, it’s a popular question and so here is the answer.


FEATURES: Reasonably compact (by SLR standards!), simple and quick to use, intelligent feature-set

After my positive experience with the EOS300, this was the obvious choice for my first digital camera. And the first thing to say is that there’s nothing wrong with the 300D, it’s just that…

It took me over a year to figure out what all the buttons on the 300 were for. It didn’t take me that long to find the limitations in the 300D, which is odd as it’s a better camera in almost every respect. The worst is the start-up time. Five seconds doesn’t sound much, but it’s enough to miss some once-in-a-lifetime snaps.

The rest are really irritations and, perhaps, an indication that I should have gone for the next model up. Things such as the flash sync only being 1/125, and the auto-exposure settings being lost when you switch the camera off but the frame-advance mode being remembered…

So really the 300D is a fine camera and it’s my demands that have risen more quickly than my ability to pay for them!


FEATURES: Small, light and with a surprising number of features given the price.

This was my first SLR camera. I didn’t really know what I was looking for in a camera, so I went into a camera shop and had a quick play with all the machines in my price range and the EOS300 was what I came away with. I still think that it was a good choice.

It’s small and light, the buttons seem to fall in places where my fingers expect them. It’s quick and easy to use, partly because of its limited feature-set compared with modern digital cameras but mainly because of an intelligent design.

EF-S 17-85mm IS

This is my most expensive lens and it shows. It’s the heaviest, the most solidly built and handles better than the others.

Functionality-wise it has the full-time manual focus that I’d read about but never understood what it meant (you can tweak the focus without switching into MF mode). Of course the Image Stabaliser is the main feature and all I can say is that it works as advertised, even if it does make you a little queasy using it. Non-motion sickness or something.

And the image quality is better than anything other than my poor, underused prime lens. It is expensive for what it is and only works on EF-S bodies, but if you want a more useful focal range than the 17-40L and the image stabiliser is useful it should be on your short-list.

EF 28-90 USM

This is the standard lens for my EOS300. I’ve also used it as a “portrait” lens on my EOS300D. It’s light, covers a good focal range and has managed to remain intact despite being carelessly treated in all conditions from -10C to 40C.

The image quality puts it firmly in the “good for the price” category.

EF-S 18-55mm

In absolute terms this isn’t a great lens, but it represents great value for money. Glass that gets as wide as 18mm is normally hugely expensive and that’s what you’d ordinarily be looking at if you the equivalent of 28mm on a digital body.

It’s reasonably fast to focus, is quiet and durable. Undoubtably worth the money.

70-300mm APO

I always thought that a lens this long would come in useful but in practice I find that I go for more wide-angle shots than telephoto. So when I say that this is probably my least-used lens it’s not a reflection on Sigma.

In fact it’s a nice lens. It feels more solid than anything of Canons save the 17-85mm and optics are sound. Even the macro mode has been useful on occasion.

Its shortcomings are common to all lenses of this focal-length and price-point: the widest apperure isn’t very big meaning that it’s only usable in very bright conditions or with fast film.