Originally Posted by Trekchick
paid 579 for this lens, brand new, with a 2 year warranty.
That's a fair price. B+H sells the imported version of the lens (same exact lens, but with no US warranty) for $574.95. They sell the US version for $595. That's one thing good about B+H: they clearly identify their "gray market" stock from their US-warranted stock.
So, I finally got around to looking at the lens you actually bought--I didn't even realize it was an IS lens! It's got a terrific focal-length range, and
it has image stabilization! That's a lot of lens for under $600. You'll be able to get those super-wide shots (where shallow-depth-of-field is commonly not often used anyway), and those long, 300mm-full-frame-equivalent tele shots. At the long end of the lens, you should still have a narrow-enough field of view to accomplish some arty shallow-focus images, even at f/5.6, providing your background is far away.
For a one-lens pack, your Canon 18mm-200mm is great. And, at only 1.3 lbs., I consider that very lightweight. My "thrasher" DSLR is my old Nikon D70, and the "vacation" lens I usually pack with it is the Nikkor 18mm-70mm f/3.5-f/4.5 (non-VR, but it is an S-lens with an internal focus motor).
So, forget about lenses for awhile, and concentrate on learning your exposure modes and controls. Most cameras have several metering modes, and you may use a combination of those modes on any given situation. I often switch between spot meter mode, and what Nikon calls its "matrix metering" mode, which is especially useful when employing fill-flash. Also, different shooters have different preferences, but I typically shoot aperture-priority 100% of the time.
I really think you'll have the most fun trying that fill-flash thing. Just try underexposing your ambient exposure for a few frames--it's digital, so it costs nothing to experiment. Using only your built-in flash, your subject will have to be fairly close, since your built-in flash isn't very effective beyond about 15 feet. And, again, you'll typically have to dial down your flash output by -0.3 to -0.7 EV. Since it's digital, you can review, and simply adjust until it just "looks right."
Also, I usually have my fill flash always turned on anyway ("forced" on, when using my point-and-shoot) whenever I'm shooting people outdoors (when closer than 15 feet). It fills in the shadows on your subjects, lowering your scene contrast for more optimal use of your camera's dynamic range.
Oh, yeah. One more thing . . . this is one of the few times that I sometimes shoot in shutter-priority. This is mainly because all focal-plane shutter cameras (DSLRs) have a maximum flash synch speed. This ranges anywhere from 125th/sec. to 1/500th/sec., depending on the camera model. This is probably your biggest limitation when shooting daylight, exterior fill-flash, since there's often just too much light out there.
3. Off-camera flash:
Also, pdxammo's beautiful strobe-assisted photography isn't necessarily out of your reach! Since you're kinda set with your 18mm-200mm lens for now, you may want to consider an accessory flash. Buy only a Canon-branded flash, so that you will benefit from the most Canon-to-Canon exposure connectivity. You'll also want a remote TTL (cabled or wireless) so you can do some off-camera flash photography with computer-assisted flash exposure control.
Once you get that, you'll be able to experiment with off-camera flash work where the light is no longer coming from directly above your lens. With a modern TTL-connected flash, you can easily balance your fill-flash exposure with your ambient exposure by adjusting both exposure controls, and reviewing your images to correct. It's a great way to introduce a lot of color contrast and chroma saturation into your images, in-camera. Capturing the most dynamic images in-camera will always be superior to images exposed with less dynamic range, altered later in Photoshop.
[Sorry for the "information overload" you may be experiencing, but I had a couple hours of downtime before my next shoot . . . ]Edited by studio460 - 4/11/10 at 11:19pm