Apologies to those who already saw this on the GT list, but I'll reach some other eyes this way.
In the very near future, I'm going to be placing a large order with B&H,
for a couple of lenses plus some accessories for my Canon D-SLRs. Does
anyone have informed advice on any of the following topics? Feel free
to email me privately if you doubt the list is interested in the answers.
1. First lens: the EF-S 17-85. I want to upgrade the 18-55 kit lens
from my original Digital Rebel, which has served me well taking very
wide angle shots, but frustrates me as a general use lens only going up
to 55. I'm just wondering if there are any specific reasons I'm missing
why I would not want this lens, or something I really should get
instead. (Tamron has an 18-200 which sounds wonderful, but I have its
sister the 28-300, and I've been unhappy with the sharpness of that lens
compared to the cheap Canon 75-300.)
2. Accompanying the 17-85 lens I'll be getting the lens hood, which
Canon is too effing cheap to include with the lens and instead wants $29
for a little bit of plastic. Does anyone know of an off-brand source
for a compatible hood that's less of a ripoff?
3. Second lens, the Tamron 200-500 f/6.3. I had one of these and it was
stolen. Unlike the 28-300, I found it a good lens, and I don't feel bad
about replacing it. Even if I had infinite money, I have not been able
to find anything optically better that's not also a lot heavier, and
since I want to carry it around while I'm hiking, weight is very
important. But if I'm missing a better way to achieve a minimum of 500mm
effective focal length with a usable aperture yielding a sharp image
without weighing much over 3 lbs., I'd like to know. Zeiss has a scope
with a camera eyepiece that makes me drool, but at about $1500 for the
scope and $2000 for the camera eyepiece, it's well out of my price
range. (If someone can point me to a setup that makes it practical to
use the camera I have with a spotting scope and focus the scope through
the camera viewfinder, rather than focusing the scope and hoping the
subject stays put while attaching the camera+adapter, I would consider it.)
4. The biggest problem I had with the Tamron 200-500 I had was carrying
it around. It's too long and heavy for me to be comfortable just
carrying the camera by the strap and letting it dangle from the mount.
Is there a product available that would let me attach a strap to the
tripod collar so I could carry the lens+camera around my neck?
Alternatively, can I modify the tripod collar at home to attach the
strap, or is this a Bad Idea?
5. Does anyone have a specific recommendation for a sensor cleaning kit
for the Canon 20D and Digital Rebel?
6. I also need a tripod, since the one I had was stolen at the same time
as the big lens. I want a sturdy professional carbon fiber tripod in
the $300 price range. The one I had was fairly satisfactory, but had
some minor annoyances -- it was a tilt and pan model rather than a ball
head, and it frustratingly didn't have detents for the level position
for either landscape or portrait orientation of the camera.
Unfortunately, I don't know enough about tripods to be able to tell what
I'm getting from a web page. I'm leaning to getting a Hakuba like the
one I had, but if someone can read my mind well enough to tell me that
such and such other model does everything that one does and also avoids
the limitations, I'd listen.
7. Is the Fog Eliminator Cloth (supposed to prevent condensation on the
lens) effective, useless, or (possibly) actively harmful? For $6 I'm
willing to risk useless, but it can't hurt to ask.
8. I'm strongly considering getting a vertical battery grip. Are there
any significant negatives to these beyond a little extra weight? Is
there any reason to believe that the Canon branded grip is worth the
extra $50 over the Targus?
9. Does anyone know a good place to go to get fresh foam for the case?
The perforated U-Pic foam that comes with the case is relatively easy to
shape, but tends to fall apart in use. If I got a block of
non-perforated foam, is there a better way to sculpt it than hacking
with an Xacto?
10. Is there a remote control that costs less than the Canon $50? Like
the lens hood, this seems like a ripoff. But before the tripod got
ripped off, I did come to realize that I should have one.
11. Not really relevant, since I've pretty much decided I can't afford
another camera body right now, but has anyone heard any good rumors
about a successor to the 30D which incorporates the self-cleaning image
sensor (and presumably larger size) of the latest Digital Rebel? Or
possibly something that combines the 1.6 multiplier of the APS-C sensor
size with some of the juicy features of the new 1D Mark III?