First of all I must wish you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2015. The New Year got off to roaring start for me - quite unexpectedly I had to go into hospital on the morning of New Year's Day for a minor operation. Nothing too horrible but let me say - uncomfortable. Anyway, I'm home now and sat with my feet up.
So, did you get any nice new/secondhand shiny photographic equipment for Christmas? My Mum gave me some money and with part of it I bought a set of 3 Extension Tubes for my Canon 40D. Extension tubes? Extension tubes? Yes, extension tubes - they usually come in sets of 3. Have you ever been caught in the situation where, no matter what you do, you cannot focus close enough to your subject - well, extension tubes help to solve this problem AND they are much cheaper than the megabucks alternative, ie. investment in a dedicated macro lens.
What do extension tubes do? Well, if you place an extension tube - or any combination of the 3 - between your camera body and lens, you can focus closer to your subject. There is no distortion because there is no glass involved, ie. extension tubes are hollow. Their sole purpose is to create distance between the lens and the camera sensor, thus allowing your lens to focus closer to your subject. I've not had a chance to use my set yet, but once I do, I will report back.
I'd also like to take the opportunity to talk about my tripod. I bought my Manfrotto MT190CXPRO3 Carbon Fibre some 12 months ago by mail order (after an advisory discussion with a salesman) from WEX Photographic - http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-manfrotto-190xpro3-carbon-fibre-tripod/p1543797- and have been using it on a regular basis. First of all I would say that the tripod by itself is light. However, the addition of a tripod head will determine just how light the final product will be. I am using a Heavy Duty Grip Ball Head with my tripod and I love the combination, even though the resultant combination is a bit on the heavy side: http://www.manfrotto.co.uk/product/861545/VGI322RC2/_/Heavy+Duty+Grip+Ball+Head
My tripod head is not light, but there again you wouldn't really expect it to be with a name that includes the words 'Heavy Duty'. The lighter version of the tripod head was not strong enough to hold my camera with its 70-200mm zoom lens attached, ie. the ball started to slip and therefore my camera gradually moved. So I gave the lighter version to a friend and invested in the heavier version and haven't looked back.
Just a couple of tips about using your tripod:
First tip - always extend the legs from the top, ie. using the thicker legs first - this leads to greater stability.
Second tip which no doubt you will have read many times before - buy cheap, buy twice. Been there, done that, regretted wasting my money. So always buy the best your can afford. Its better to save up and buy a good, strong, lighter tripod than a cheap one that weighs a ton. Why? Would you schlep your heavy tripod around with you? I doubt it. A tripod that lives in the boot of your car or, worse still, in your spare room buried beneath other stuff, is of no use to you, so what was the point in buying it? Oh yes, it was cheap. So save up and buy a strong, lighter, version and you will use it.
Oh and finally - Look after your three legged friend and it will serve you well.
I carried my tripod, together with its Grip Ball Head, and camera attached, up the 199 Steps at Whitby, Yorkshire and was able to take the photo below.
Well, that's it for this Friday.