Edward Steven Perry

Photographer who loves sharing everything he knows about anything

Category: Gear

Flashes

Nikon SB-900
Hands down the best flash out there.

  • Great light quality is always consistent.
  • Syncs with all Nikon lighting equipment flawlessly (as long as it’s in line-of-sight, infrared)
  • Can easily act as flash commander or be set to slave with a turn of a button. No searching menus.
  • The user interface is second to none. I am glad someone put lots of work into making this easy to use.

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Canon 580 EX II
Flash gun that attaches to Canon’s hotshoe. Decent flash but its’ menus and buttons make it a pain to use.

  • Frankly, I use it to trigger Nikon flashes via their SU-4 mode.

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L e n s e s

When selecting lenses know that there is no perfect lens because they are all perfect. Awwww, but it’s true! Even if it’s broken. “This lens is perfect when I want things out of focus.”, “I use this lens specifically for its lens flares and chromatic aberrations.” Everything has a purpose. The key is to know what situations to use them in. Too many see it the other way around. They buy or want a lens solely because of its properties like focal length or f-stop. Get a lens because you know how it will treat your compositions. Sure wide angles are great for landscapes but did you know that they allow you to get closer to subjects while retaining their environments? Or that the difference between many similar telephoto lenses isn’t how far they can see but their minimum focusing distances (Boom! macro photography)?

Part of planning my assignments is deciding a shot each lens and camera would be best. In this way, a lot of my shoots happen before I get there. When the time comes for taking a photo I can relax and not struggle with which lens to use or that the normal lens I am using has too shallow of a depth of field at 2.8. It’s beyond uncomfortable to ask a model to wait for just a second after every shot. It’s also irresponsible to gamble a historic event on a new medium format camera that I’ve never used. I mean, I heard someone did that once.

Hopefully this page will help figuring out what lenses do. And if it doesn’t please email me or comment on how I horrible I am doing.

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C A N O N  L E N S E S

some lenses can be moused over to see an example shot

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Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 L II USM

Very high quality images come from this lens, even at 2.8 it’s surprisingly sharp. My favorite use is shooting timelapses of wide landscapes. Keep in mind that at close distances the edges tend to distort. I sometimes end up with “egg-head” people if they venture too far to the corners. (For that reason I use Nikon’s 17-35 at close ranges. Nikon’s lens will still distort but less dramatically.) The lens is weather resistant except for the front element, you will need a filter to seal the part of the lens that sticks out slightly when zooming.

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Canon EF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM

Probably the most versatile lens I’ve ever used. This is my buddy. Everywhere I go he goes. The difference between the 24-70 and the 24-105 isn’t so much the 2.8 vs 4.0 (Cameras now have such high ISOs) nor is it an issue with image quality (which there is but not when talking about use). The difference is the environment in which I would use them. For me the extra reach at 105 really comes in handy when I am not sure of my environment (i.e. journalistic, street, documentary). But if I was doing a more familiar shoot and/or with lighting control, I’d go with 24-70 to take advantage of the great image quality. It’s about not which lens is better, it’s about which lens makes more sense for the situation.

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Canon Macro MP-65 65mm f2.8 1:1 – 5:1

Magical lens that allows me to see tiny worlds that exist on a speck of dust or clump of algae. It can reproduce an image not just life size but 5 times life size, it’s basically a microscope. The focus is VERY shallow and you may need to use photo-stacking tools to get a portrait of a dragon fly, but this lens is worth all the trouble. I have to admit that this was an impulse buy. A 5 month long impulse that had me searching from one side of the internet to the other for the best macro lens I could get. Though, in all my research the one thing that I didn’t think of looking up was how far away it could focus. Why would ? It’s for macro photography after all… well, with this lens I can see as far as 6 inches or so, maybe less. I always say, “Know why you are buying a lens.” I had no idea how specific I had gotten. Be careful out there, but this lens is awesome!

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The nature of our motivation determines the character of our work – Dahlia Lama

N I K O N  L E N S E S

some lenses can be moused over to see an example shot

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Nikon 14-24mm f2.8

Epic lens! I search for reasons to use this lens whenever possible. It’s my go to lens for wide angles of the night sky and landscapes in general. Keep in mind at 14mm and in close distances it distorts like crazy but that’s to be expected at 14mm.  The chromatic aberrations are minimal, sharpness is consistent, and it’s gorgeous. The only down side is that it’s heavy and not so great indoors (distortion). I usually have to plan its use instead of always having it available on me. Oh, and there’s no slot or threading for filters.

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Nikon 17-35mm f2.8

Being able to zoom fro 17-35 is very handy in composing wide angle shots. 14-24 is not nearly as useful as the 17-35 when dealing with dynamic and close range compositions. When I am shooting outdoors I use Canon’s 16-35 because, personally, I like how Canon reproduces colors. But when I am indoors I use Nikon’s 17-35 because it has low distortion at close ranges. This is definitely one of my favorite lenses.

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Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8

I use this lens almost exclusively with a lighting system. In the field I use Canon’s 24-105 over one shoulder and on my other shoulder I have a Nikon with a 17-24mm. The reason I do this is because it’s faster to have two cameras than switching lenses and the D700 that I use is better for low light photography. In this way I have most of my bases covered.

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Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8

This telephoto range is indispensable. I use this lens from portraits to stage events. The fixed f2.8 also helps keep the image sharp in low light. This particular lens is an oldie but a goodie. It’s outlasted two camera bodies and has survived multiple drops and one submersion. Even though there is a little bit of a rattle, it has super fast focus and awesome image quality. But it’s had its day. It lacks image stabilization which helps low light shooting handheld by at most a stop. It also weighs as much as a brick. I’d highly recommend a newer 80-200n with Image Stabilization.

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Being wrong is not the same as being creative. But if you aren’t okay with being wrong, you will not come up with anything original. – Sir Ken Robinson

N i k k o r   P r i m e   F i l m   L e n s e s

High quality lenses from days of yore. Excellent for beautiful DOF & bokeh. I especially use them in low light environments.

These lenses can be attached to any Nikon camera digital or film. They can also be attached to a Canon with an adaptor.

Completely manual focus. The focusing ring can spin for days, great for precise focusing at low apertures and video.

some lenses can be moused over to see an example shot

Nikkor 35mm f1.4
Full body portrait lens. Primary street photography lens. Very low distortion at edges.

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Nikkor 55mm f1.2

At f1.2 this lens can literally see in the dark. Very soft images wide open. Excellent detail stopped down at f4.

Nikkor 85mm f2
Primary portrait lens. Great for street photography.

Nikkor 105mm f2.5
Portrait lens. 105 is great to compress the background against the subject.

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Nikkor 200mm f4
Primarily used as a macro lens. I can get very close and extremely detailed images. Used with LiveView for precise focus.

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Cameras

Canon 5D Mark II

This is my trusty workhorse. Rain, shine, sleet or snow this camera pulls its weight in gold.

  • High Resolution – Great for when I am unsure of my composition and have to take a photo immediately. The higher res allows me to crop my composition without high loss in image quality.
  • Live-View – When I can’t physically see through the eye piece I can rely on this to frame my subjects. I can instantly see the adjustments I make to the White Balance in Kelvin. I can check my focus in high detail when I shoot  Macro photography or any precise focusing moments.
  • I love Canon’s user interface – This is a deal maker. The faster and more intuitive I can use something the more I can focus on the shoot.

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Nikon D700

The best camera I’ve ever used in low light environments. It is also the center piece of the best flash network I’ve ever used. The camera is solid. It’s been in all types of weather without issue.

  • Built in intervalometer – no need to carry around an attachment (ie. canon) when I want to create a timelapse.
  • Meta-Data support for non-cpu lenses – meaning it can be programed to interface with old film lenses and write that info on the exif.
  • Flash Commander in the pop-up flash – I’ve left my SU-800 at home a couple times but was saved by this feature to remotely control my flashes.
  • Low Light Sensitivity – I can shoot in more situations than I can with the 5D MII because of its low noise in the higher ISOs.

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Rolleiflex Tessar 75mm f3.5

Shooting with this camera is pure joy. I love knobs, dials, and buttons so for me this has it all. The processed film feels like I’m looking through a window. The detail and color (Fuji Velvia, Astia, and Provia) is astounding.

  • The best camera I have.
  • Scan in a slide and I’ll have over 130mb image to play endlessly in post.
  • Leaf shutter is near silent and creates no vibrations making it easy to capture longer shutter speeds handheld.
  • Sturdy as a tank. I’ve taken it around the world and once dropped it down an escalator

    d
    Here is some collector info:
    Rolleiflex f3.5 Tessar M-X E-V (1737690) TLR Bay I with Original Case, 1954

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Foldex 20 105mm Octvar ~f8

This was my first medium format camera. It had belonged to my grandfather since the late fifties. He also had a flash that went with the camera but I broke it after pretending it was a UFO. Though I grew up with the camera in my room, it wasn’t until after college that I first loaded film into it. When I did it felt complete.

  • Shutter two speeds Time (Bulb) and Interval (~50)
  • Creates a large 6cm x 9cm negative.
  • Smudgy viewfinder – just point and pray.
  • Single lens element that appears to have been made from the bottom of a clear medicine bottle.
  • Can be used to load 120 film onto 620 rolls.
  • User often forgets to advance the film resulting in wonderful double & triple exposures.
  • The camera with the most personality that I have ever used.
  • Made of tough temperature resistant non-recyclable early plastic called Bakelite.

Information on this camera is hard to come by, but I’ve seen three types:
1) 86mm Octvar Lens, metal film advance knobs ~1950-53.
2) Foldex 30, gray top instead of black, Steinheil Munchen 100mm f6.3 Cassar anastigmat type lens in a Vario shutter ~1953.
3) 105mm Octvar, black plastic film advance knobs ~1955.
The Foldex is a flash synced version. Some cameras that are called Rollex and Comet are the exact same camera but are not flash synced. I could be wrong on the dates but it’s the best I could gather from roaming the internets.

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Holga CFN 80mm f8

Its size makes it hard to carry another camera, and if you don’t pay attention it’ll take pictures of what it wants. It makes me feel like it grew up as an only child. Every Holga Lens is different, but they all produce dreamy images through its plastic lens. Which is why this Holga is two Holgas pieced together. The lens, nameplate, back, & flash knob are from my 1st Holga. I broke my first one but wanted to keep the lens.

  • Built-in flash with 4 color gel selectors (Clear, Red, Blue, Yellow)
  • Focus: Portrait (1-2m), Group (2-4m), Trees/Big Group (4-15m), Mountains (infinity). Don’t forget to focus!
  • Aperture: Cloudy (f8), Sunny (f11). These settings tend to reset themselves.
  • Shutter: Bulb, N (1/60). Attention: The shutter release is often pressed by accident.
  • Easy to take symmetrical double exposures because of its square image.
  • Easy to forget to advance film & produce unplanned double exposures.
  • Takes unique worthwhile photos through its plastic lens.

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Eastman Kodak No. 1 Pocket Camera f11 Meniscus Lens, 1926

While I’ve seen most versions of this camera with a sharper anastigmat lens, mine has an older meniscus type lens. I had originally thought the lens was missing its forward element but I did some internetting and found out that it’s a single concave lens element (have you ever seen a concave photo lens?) located behind the aperture and shutter blades. This was pretty common in most Kodak folding cameras of the time, but not so much with the No.1 Pocket Camera (not “vest pocket camera”, yes there is a difference).

  • Produces sharp centered images that increase dramatically with softness towards the edges.
  • Great for taking soft portraits
  • Not so great in producing sharp landscapes, but I use that to my advantage.
  • No.0 Kodex Shutter, Serial No. 27449
  • Shutter Settings: T, B, 1/25, 1/50
  • Aperture Settings: 1 (f11), 2 (f16), 3 (f22), 4 (f32)
  • Large 6cm x 9cm negatives.

This piece also has an octagon engraved nameplate bolted on the front of the folded camera which reads, “Virginia Berner – National City, Calif.” I tried my best (w/o spending money on background checks) to find this person or a descendent but to no avail.

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