I like to take photos while out mountain biking. Trouble is our trails are 95% inside the dark forest. Add in the element of speed and this makes for some challenging photography. My point and shoot camera is only good for still photos and even then it’s not awesome. I carry around a Canon DSLR sometimes, but have been using the mediocre 18-55mm kit lens which at least gets me a photo, but leaves a lot to be desired due to the high ISO settings and slower shutter speeds I have to use.
If you click on the two images above you can see them in larger sizes and compare them fairly well.
I’ve been debating what to do about my camera gear going forward. One thought is to stick with the DSLR because it works really well, lots of accessories are available for it and they are priced pretty well. The other is to switch over to one of the smaller interchangeable lens cameras that are giving the DSLRs a run for their money. They are smaller and perform nearly as well as a DSLR. The main downsides are they are pricey and I am not certain of their low light performance relative to my DSLR. Although I hear good things and I think they’d be worth a try.
Having bought a new mountain bike this year I decided not to splash out for a new camera system. My Canon DSLR is still rocking and rolling nicely despite being banged around in my pack on many rides. It’s paid for and takes great photos. At least great enough that the camera is not holding me back. Except for the kit lens. To be fair the kit lens meets my needs when outside in some decent sunlight, but it struggles in the forest trying to capture riding action.
So I decided to try out a faster lens. I settled on the Canon 28mm f/1.8 USM prime lens. Since it does not zoom I have to zoom by walking forwards and back to compose the shot. It also doesn’t have image stabilization. But, I had to stick to a reasonable budget so I couldn’t have everything. Canon does offer a professional series of lens that are reputed to blow your mind in performance and in cost. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that sort of money on a lens that’s going to get bashed around the forest.
All the photos in this post are from the new lens except the 2nd from the top. So far I am pretty pleased. The field of view is decent [45mm full frame equivalent] given our tight and twisty trails. I miss the zoom, but that’s an acceptable price to pay for better quality photos. I am able to reduce the ISO and increase the speed on my photos significantly compared to the kit lens.
The new lens is fairly small and not super heavy. My Canon DSLR is mostly plastic so it’s not awful to carry around. Together they weigh 875g with a filter and lens cap. I’ve started leaving my camera bag at home and just throwing the DSLR into my hydration pack. This reduces the bulk considerably and does drop some weight since I am not carrying a spare battery or any extra accessories. The trade off is less protection, but like my mountain bike this camera was bought to be used not to be kept perfect forever.
I’m still interested in a smaller mirrorless camera, but I’ll just keep researching them and push that purchase to 2015. They’ll only get better and to be honest I haven’t figured out which one is the best choice for me yet. I’m not an expert photographer so a lot of the techy info flies over my head and I have to really work to get it all straight. Luckily I know a few great photogs that I can learn from by seeing what they decide to use!
One other low light avenue I am going to explore is using remote triggers on external flashes to add light to my shots. I’m not sure how I will like that, but it seems worth the effort to try a few times and see. Particularly in the winter when the forest is uber dark and natural light is very hard to come by.
I think that will be the extent of my investment in my DSLR. It’s solid and it works for me. I’ll just use it until I find something that promises to perform as well in a smaller/lighter package or the DSLR is killed in action.