Photography: Thought Of The Day

Tracksider 850x300-web

“It’s not what you’ve got, it’s how you use it…”

I was lucky enough to attend the first round of the BTCC at Brands Hatch this weekend. The weather was mostly fine and Brands looked in rude health.

On the Saturday – during the Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying session – I found myself in the centre of druids hairpin, always a fun place to shoot from. I’d attached my cheap, lightweight EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS II zoom lens to the camera, for its more useful focal-length coverage, compared to my 200mm prime. Thus allowing me to have fun with subject framing at close quarters.

I was intending to use the session to play with different compositions and get my panning technique back on point, after the winter lay-off from motorsport.

Then the sun came out and provided some lovely light, so I got busy with the shutter button.

Gradually slowing the shutter speed for a more dramatic motion effect – I didn’t expect a huge amount from this session, as I was just experimenting – but when I loaded up the RAW files in the evening I was pleasantly surprised.

Shot with Canon 550D and EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS II zoom at ISO100, F13, 1/80
Click to view larger; Shot with Canon 550D and EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS II zoom at 90mm, ISO100, F13, 1/80

In the nice light this little coke-can sized lightweight lens had rendered some really nice images, with sharp detail. Yeah, there were a few where it missed focus (I was using back-button servo AF and a little bit of manual), but most of the misses were down to my shoddy panning.

Shot with Canon 550D and EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS II zoom at 90mm, ISO100, F11, 1/60
Shot with Canon 550D and EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS II zoom at 90mm, ISO100, F11, 1/60

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere; for a long while I’ve considered investing in a 70-300mm F4-5.6 L lens. But being reminded of the results this little £150 lens can give, I really can’t justify spending £900 on the ‘L’ lens.

What would I gain? The focal length is similar, the aperture range the same. In this shooting scenario – using a narrow aperture to slow the shutter speed for panning – there would be little difference.

I’m sure contrast, AF speed and build quality are advantages with the ‘L’. But the reason I like the 55-250 is it weighs nothing (390grams compared to the L’s 1050g), so I can carry it all day without noticing.

Shot with Canon 550D and EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS II zoom at 135mm, ISO100, F8, 1/125
Shot with Canon 550D and EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS II zoom at 135mm, ISO100, F8, 1/125

I don’t use Image Stabilisation that much, so the better system in the 70-300 L isn’t a consideration for me.

I have the older mk II version of the EF-S 55-250 lens; but the newer STM version at the same price – but with improved AF motor – sounds like a steal to me.

So, the take away lesson for me was; you may covet thy neighbours great-white-lens, but getting the best out of what you have is satisfying and your back and wallet will thank you.

So get out there and shoot with what you’ve got!

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