Whether your a photographer, a videographer, or any kind of visual creative, I think everyone at some point has spent an afternoon or two sitting on their front porch, sipping an iced tea and dreaming about how cool it would be to use one of those super telephoto lenses with the gazillion dollar price tags, or the famed 85mm 1.2L, or maybe one of those new tilt/shift lenses. Well what if I told you that all of that is possible…without taking out a second mortgage on the house?

In this edition of On The Cheap, we’re going to show you how a handy little program put out by the two major camera manufacturers (Canon and Nikon) can make all those sunny afternoon day dreams a reality. Enter the Canon Professional Service and Nikon Professional Service.

I’ll start by saying that being a Canon shooter who lives in Canada, I’m well versed in the Canadian CPS system and that’s what I’ll mainly be referring to. I’ve had a few colleagues who shoot Nikon say that the two programs are quite similar, but let us know if there’s something that doesn’t translate fully to the NPS or CPS(USA) side of things!

Here’s a ten second break down on the CPS program:

  • There’s two levels, Gold and Platinum… you want Platinum
  • You gain access to every professional lens that Canon currently makes for rental or to “Test Drive”
  • If the gear you own breaks, you get a 30% service discount, rush turn around time and equipment loaners so you’re never without the gear you need
  • When you first sign up, you get a pretty swanky “Welcome Kit” that includes some books, an official CPS  membership card, a dorky hat, 2 of the best straps I’ve ever used and THE best lens cleaning cloth mankind has ever created (not joking)
  • $100 for Gold Membership and $250 for Platinum

Ya $250 sounds a little steep, but we wouldn’t have put this post in our On The Cheap area of our site if it wasn’t going to save you a good chunk of change. The cost of admission can pay it self off the first time you use the service. Take for example the 400mm 2.8L IS lens we brought in the other week. We had that lens for roughly 4 days and that “test drive” plus the overnight shipping cost us nothing. Whereas if we were to have rented that same lens from a popular lens rental company, it would have run us $262 for the rental plus $104 for shipping($366 total rental cost). Initial cost of joining the CPS program…more than paid for.

Here’s a quick mash up video from the two shoots we used that 400mm lens for. One was a good ol’ rodeo and the other was a “Japanese Day” event. The 400mm 2.8L lens allowed us to get MUCH closer to the action then we ever could have with our own gear. My goal was to get extremely tight crops so the amount of focus and strength that the subjects were exuding could really be felt by the viewer. Oh and don’t forget to crank up the volume! :)

Fun With 400 Mill (imeter lenses)! from Lines | To Create on Vimeo.

The bit that I mentioned about discounted service is the other big money saver. My wife Beth and I were in the Vancouver area getting ready to shoot a wedding when her 5D MK II just died…it looked as though either the shutter, or the mirror box had packed it in the day before a wedding! Not good. The blood pressure rose rather quickly. The great part is that in a dire situation like that, CPS has got your back. The second you let them know what’s happened, they send off a service loaner of the same camera model so it will be in your hands in less than 24 hours typically. You send them your camera (all the shipping is free remember) and use theirs until yours arrives back on your doorstep a few days later. Nice. Our camera ended up needing an entirely new mirror box assembly and a few other little things worked on. The total bill for that was about $180 with the CPS discount. I’m not sure how much that would have been normally, but I was pretty happy with the cost of that repair!

If you make money with your photography, you can apply for the platinum membership and in my opinion, between the lens “test drives” and the piece of mind of knowing that Canon has my back if something breaks, you’d be silly no to. You can check out more information at one of the two links below.

Canon Professional Service

Nikon Professional Service

I mean really, having a Canon Professional Service card in your wallet is just plain cool, right? Right. Check it out and see if it’s worth it for you.

Here’s a still image from the rodeo that was taken over 100 feet away. Ah, so crisp.

That’s this weeks On The Cheap. Thanks for reading/watching!



When the man in brown showed up at my door with a parcel from good ‘ol Tennessee two days before our scheduled shoot at Nakiska Mountain…I was a happy camper. The mere thought of hauling the Mini Lithiums portly big brother  (The Vagabond II) up and around the mountain made my back ache. So lifting that light, little, lithium power pack from its packaging and realizing that this thing weighs less than most camera set ups I use almost made me giggle out loud. Almost.

So we all know the Mini Lithium is small, portable and cheap, but can it deliver the goods? In a word – Yes. Check out our video review for a look at how this little thing held up on a cold, windy, mountain shoot!

More info, plus some shots from the photo shoot after the jump… [click to continue…]


Like Us? We Probably Like You!

by admin on 02.23.11

Hey Everyone! We’re excited to announce our “Like-us-on-facebook-and-we’ll-give-you-free-stuff” giveaway! We want to get our Fan Page rockin so we’re giving all our fans a chance to win a $1700 fine art collective wall piece comprise of four 16″ x 24″ prints!

All you have to do is hit the “Like” on our facebook page anytime from now until May 6th for a chance to win.


This is… Lines | To Create

by admin on 02.23.11

Well, here we go! Today marks the official launch of Lines | To Create and to say we’re excited would be a pretty major understatement. It’s been a lot of work, but boy has it been worth it.

So before we make you nauseous with our unbridled giddiness, here’s the gist of this company and website:

If you’re looking for a team of young, bold, visual creatives who can get the message across to your target audience via photography, design and video, this is the place for you. We’re your new best friends.

If you’re a fellow creative who enjoys a good gear review, a behind the scenes info post here and there, or just sitting back and watching a little visuals company grow from the comfort of your bean bag chair, this is the place for you.

So what’s coming up in the first couple weeks at Lines | To Create? We’ve got a mountain top gear review, a HUGE like-us-on-facebook-and-we’ll-give-you-free-stuff giveaway, a quick video tip that’s sure to save you some cash on your next shoot and a mini BTS look at a recent portrait session with musician Daniel English. It’s gonna be a busy one!

To keep up to date with all the newest posts this week and in the future, be sure to subscribe via RSS, or Facebook, or Twitter, or heck even all three if you’re feeling saucy.

See you tomorrow!


Nakiska Alpine Ski Shoot Preview

by admin on 02.23.11

Last week Keenan, Dylan and I headed down to Nakiska Ski resort for what was supposed to be a simple racing shoot, but things quickly ramped up into a ridiculously busy weekend of capturing racing photos, gear reviews (of the Vagabond Mini Lithium..which is awesome by the way), mountain top portrait shoots and more. It was rather crazy, but the good kind of crazy. We’ll have more on this shoot coming up, but here are a couple quick shots for you to peruse.

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