Photos from SXSW 2008

Alex Russell Enjoying a Beer

As I do every March, headed down to Austin earlier this month for SXSW. I also brought my new camera along, a Canon 40D which I’ve had since around February. To go along with that, I rented Canon’s 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens from (an awesome online lens rental shop, if you ever need that kind of thing).

I had always heard generally good things about image-stabilization including some reports of being able to hand-hold shots down to 1/8 sec or even 1/4 sec. Given that I seem to encounter a fairly average amount of camera shake (as opposed to an extraordinarily low amount of it), I was cautiously optimistic about how much the image stabilization system might be able to help me.

In short, I couldn’t be more pleased. If the phrasing wasn’t so religiously-exclusive, I might even be tempted to call this the Jesuslens (see also: Jesusnoun.) Or, put another way, if this lens wasn’t around $1,000, I probably would have bought it by now. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I knew that I’d be hand-holding shots at SXSW and I was hoping that this lens would come through for me — it sure did. I managed several keepers at 1/8 sec. and even down to 1/6 sec.

With the aid of the back of a chair in my hotel room for additional sturdiness, I was also able to work through a set of four 1/2-second exposures of the Austin skyline which I then was able to stitch together to form a panoramic. (Incidentally, Photoshop CS3 is more intuitive than I thought it’d be for making panoramas. They’ve really improved that functionality over CS2.) I may have to try that panorama-thing more often — that was kinda fun.

3 thoughts on “Photos from SXSW 2008

  1. I had the 17-55 f/2.8 on the other side of the table as well :) Yes, it was expensive :\
    I’ve found that in that focal range you don’t need IS (or VR). I’ve yet to come out with any really blurry shots because it doesn’t have it… it’s really on the long ends that you have to start worrying about it. The 70-200 definitely needs it though, especially in conference rooms where lighting was harsh and I refused to use a flash on the speakers like some of those other photographers were doing… it seemed a little inappropriate.

    Nevertheless, you’ll never need IS outside in daylight :).

    One last thing, nice photos! They’ve all turned out great:)

  2. @Dustin: At first, I thought that you meant “on the other side of the table” metaphorically (since you shoot Nikon), but then I realized that you had a more literal meaning in mind ;).

    I’d agree entirely that IS/VR is of limited use in daylight — I think most of my shots outdoors were 1/200 sec or faster (even in the shade). Still, for those shots inside, especially those where the lighting called for shots at 1/15 or even slower, I was sure glad to have IS on that lens.

    All told, I’ll probably end up buying that lens eventually. (It is, after all, a really nice lens.) It’s just a matter of setting aside some savings over time so that it doesn’t deplete my bank account when I do end up buying it :).

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