View Full Version : Workshop vs. lens

Cheryl Flory
03-07-2008, 02:52 PM
If on a limited budget, as most people are, would you suggest to someone who is still fairly new to photography to invest in a workshop or a better lens?

Right now I have only these two lenses: a Canon 28 - 135 IS, and a Canon EF 75-300 II. Neither of which are excellent lenses. I will be going to Florida at the end of the month and I would appreciate your ideas. This is a combination trip for my husband and I--a celebration of 25 years of him being in the ministry, our 30th wedding anniversary, the first vacation he has ever taken in 25 years, and even the honeymoon we didn't take due to college exams being the next day. lol. And now I want to add some great Florida photos!! lol.

So, which do you think? Workshop or a lens??


Harry Behret
03-07-2008, 03:25 PM
The best photographic expenditure I ever made was to take a workshop with Ron Reznick. That improved my photography more than any gear purchase I had made before or since.

JP Bruce
03-07-2008, 03:48 PM
I would vote for the workshop also. The workshop helps with technique and aspects of the subject. It will also help in deciding on what equipment you may want in the future. Look for a workshop in your area of interest and skill level. Enjoy what ever you do. It sounds like it is going to be a well earned break.

Steve Ashton
03-07-2008, 05:16 PM
Agree fully with JP Bruce. In addition you will meet some great new friends and you hobby will take on a whole new perspective. Relax and enjoy!!

Lana Hays
03-07-2008, 06:02 PM
I would definitely do a workshop. A good workshop will teach you techniques to make better images with the glass that you have as well as help you to decide what your next purchase should be. You should have a lot of fun and even develop some new friends that share in your passion.

03-07-2008, 06:20 PM
A skilled photographer can capture great photos with just about any gear but the best gear won't help an unskilled photographer. Take a workshop.

Ed Cordes
03-07-2008, 06:21 PM
Another vote for workshop! Use the opportunity to decide which lens you want to get when your cash loosens up again.

Ed Erkes
03-07-2008, 07:39 PM
Good glass will provide enjoyment and use for years to come. I've only been on one workshop in my life (an Art Morris Phototour to Florida). It was a very enjoyable experience, but I honestly didn't learn anything knew. Of course, I had been photographing nature already for 15+ years. I learned from books, articles, and observation of the works of photographers I admire. I think workshops are fine, but if on a limited budget, you should get the lens. You can't get the photos if you don't have the equipment you need; while there are many, many ways to learn how to improve your photgraphy without having to spend the big bucks for a workshop!

Ed Erkes

Maxis Gamez
03-07-2008, 07:58 PM
Another vote for workshop.

Eric Silvi
03-07-2008, 08:05 PM
Another one for the workshop. I've had many positive experiences by going to various workshops. A workshop will even help you decide what, if any lenses, you might want in the future.

Don Kates
03-08-2008, 10:24 AM
I would agree with Ed, but only you can decide what kind of learner you are. As a former university professor, I'm the last person to vote against formal instruction but I also know that for the right person, there are other alternatives. There are MANY excellent books out there that can provide good information for a fraction of the cost of workshops. Plus books will allow you to go back repeatedly and access the information if needed. There are also forums like these that can answer questions you may have, and I suspect a majority of the participants here would voluntarily provide you with additional information if you requested it.

As Ed said, nice glass will pay off for years to come. So will education, but as I said, there are other alternatives to workshop instruction. I would vote for buying the good glass, shooting with it for a while, study what others are doing, get some books, and ask ask ask questions. In the meantime, set a little money aside and if you feel that you eventually do need a workshop, then you will be able to go in with specific questions and goals regarding what you want out of it. I think that's the best way to get your money's worth from a workshop.

On the other hand, if you don't have some degree of self motivation, then a structured workshop may be the best choice.

I also believe that photographers need to be careful when implying to up and coming photographers that just about any gear can give you a great photograph. Good equipment is important as is the knowledge of how to use it.

03-08-2008, 11:18 AM
Hi Cheryl,
Here's another thought. Rent a long lens for the FL trip and take a workshop using that lens. You can rent a 500/4 for $265/week plus shipping from www.lensrentals.com (http://www.lensrentals.com). If your interest is more modest, a 400/5.6 is just $73/week including shipping. They're excellent to deal with and their equipment is immaculate. You can have them ship to a nearby PO or FedEx store in FL with instructions to "Hold for Pickup". When you're done, use the included prepaid return label and drop it off.

In my checkered past as an engineer, college professor, VP of Sales and business owner, I've found it useful to run a "rent or buy analysis" on every piece of capital equipment. Unless you're certain that bird photography is a long-term commitment, you may decide an 8.5 lbs lens is not for you. Also, keep in mind that a 500/4 will require a stout tripod and head, another $1000-$1500 investment.

03-08-2008, 11:58 AM
I would suggest an approach something like this. If you are fairly new to photography get some good books like the ones by John Shaw. While most of his books are on film everything in them is still relevant to digital. Learning to expose properly under various lighting conditions is very important. Learning the basics of good composition is also very important. Get the basics down before taking a workshop. Make sure you understand how your camera works - ALL of it. I've been to many workshops and seen too many participants come to them with brand new equipment that they don't know how to use. Most of their workshop is spent learning their camera and not learning the great photographic techniques being taught by the instructor.
I would hold off on getting an expensive lens till you know FOR SURE what type of photography really interests you the most. The suggestion of renting a lens is a very good idea. If the longest lens you now have is 300mm I would suggest renting a 400mm f5.6 or the 100-400mm zoom. Jumping to a 500mm would be too big a jump for someone that has not learned long lens technique. Using a 500mm requires, as was already mentioned, a very good tripod and a Gimbel head for BIF. Again another learning curve. So for now stick with a rented 400mm lens and start learning how to use a long lens before taking a workshop and learning that you haven't mastered the basics yet and most of what's being taught is going over your head because you're struggling with your equipment.
Once you have the basics mastered by all means take a good workshop. At that point you will know what kind of lens you want to invest in. You can still get a lot of photographs by doing research on where you will be visiting. Maybe contact a local Photo Club to get ideas of places to photograph and what time of day you be there etc.

Cheryl Flory
03-08-2008, 08:24 PM
Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I appreciate the time you took to reply.