New Lens: Samyang 14mm f/2.8. Correcting the Moustache Distortion

(Warning: Extreme levels of photo-nerd talk below)

With the acquisition of my Nikon D600 several months ago, the world of ultra wide angle photography opened up to me. At first, I thought I could make due with my excellent Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 DX wide angle lens. No – I’m not crazy, I really was using a DX lens on an FX body. The image circle projected by the 11-16mm when it is zoomed all the way out is large enough to cover a full frame sensor.

DSC_2113The Baldwin Steps, Toronto, ON. Image taken with a Nikon D600 and a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

The problem is that edge sharpness takes a nose dive, and the vignetting is terrible. And while the 11-16mm gave me beautiful images on my-6 megapixel D70, on a 24-megapixel D600, the limitations of this lens were apparent. It’s just not as sharp as I would want a lens to be. Since wide angle photography is something I enjoy, and I really want something sharp and wide. The old phrase “go big or go home” came to mind. Looks like it was time to buy a new lens.

Immediately, there were 3 options on my radar:

Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f2.8 Pro FX for Nikon
Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 G IF ED
Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 G IF ED

Continue reading New Lens: Samyang 14mm f/2.8. Correcting the Moustache Distortion

New Lens!

In my last post, I mentioned that I picked up a new lens.

I tried to tone-down my giddy excitement in that last post. I will be letting it all out in this post.

My 18-70mm 3.5-4.5G DX was sharp enough, it was fast enough, it was almost even enough; but damn! 50mm 1.8D prime, you make me so happy!

This is the most inexpensive lens Nikon makes. It is not a cheap lens. It is an inexpensive lens. It doesn’t cost very much, but it takes fantastic pictures.

It opens wide, all the way up to f/1.8, which is about 2 and a half stops better than any of my other lenses. The shallow depth of field this allows has given me a whole new world to explore.
Continue reading New Lens!

Photographing My Own Art (New Lens!)

If you like overly broad assumptions, than these next few paragraphs are for you:
There are two types of photographers: those who like to take pictures, and those who obsess over gear.

Some head out early in the morning, venture to remote locations during stormy weather, and wait there, hoping to capture something breathtaking. The others stay at home, count pixels, take pictures of charts, zoom up close and look for flaws in the gear.
(I’m leaving out the third kind: people who downloaded some nifty app for the iphone that automatically filters their images into something cool.)

The photographers who go out and take great images can look down on the gear-porn junkies; they buy all this expensive gear, and never use it to make images worth looking at. The technically minded gear-porn junkies look down at the photographers for buying gear that is 2% less sharp around the edges at certain f-stops while zoomed in all the way, when a better alternative is only two pay-cheques more expensive. And everyone looks down on the iphone photographers, because no one seems to notice that good images are all that matters.

I’m not really a photographer, so I guess I’m safe from being stuck in one of these groups I’ve just invented, but I can certainly understand the appeal of being obsessed with gear. Its objective. It’s easy. Taking a good image is hard. Powerful images have a certain quality that can’t be quantified. In the discussion over what makes an image worth looking at, aesthetics are lost in translation.
Continue reading Photographing My Own Art (New Lens!)