We’ve had a week of fog and unseasonably warm weather here in Southern Ontario. This Saturday I took advantage of the moody atmosphere to grab a few photos. The first two are from a walk at RIM Park with the D750 and AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR (a lens I’ll talk about soon).
The night shots are from the X100s. Lately I’ve been playing with the X100s in full manual mode (AF, shutter and aperture). It’s slowed down my shooting but I’ve enjoyed having full control and better consistency from shot to shot. My method is to first set exposure for the scene using the LCD in the view finder and then switch to the optical view. To focus, turning the focus ring on the lens activates the virtual split prism, where the centre of the image is magnified and superimposed with a split image generated from the AF phase-detection sensors. Focus is achieved when the split image is aligned.
In the past month I’ve sold off the majority of my DX lenses. The fantastic Tokina 11-16/2.8. The go-anywhere 35/1.8. The reliable and bullet-proof 17-55/2.8. And the D7000. I just didn’t have the money and space to have redundant systems. What I was left with was four prime lenses covering a range of 35 to 85mm, not exactly a dire situation as these are the focal lengths I have always used the most. Still, I needed something wider than 35mm. My choices were:
The affordable, small, light Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 with no VR, no nanocoating, no constant aperture.
The middle man Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR N, a lens with mixed reviews but with great build quality.
The Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8, a fast and affordable lens.
The ultimate. The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 N. This lens truly is the best wide angle lens you can buy for any system. But it’s big, heavy, bulbous.
What I’ve realized in collecting lenses is that the famous saying is completely true. The best lens is the one you have with you. Sure, I could have invested the money and bought the 14-24. But it’s size and weight would keep it out of my camera bag for most of the times I would want a wide-angle lens: when traveling or hiking. Instead I chose the new 18-35, a lens that costs and weighs less than half that of the 14-24. And I have no regrets.
The 18-35 weighs less than my f/1.4 primes and it’s about the same size. It’s as sharp as I would ever want. AF is fast enough and completely reliable. The negative features of the lens, some distortion and vignetting, are easily fixed in post processing. Chromatic aberrations are negligible.
This is a lens that I can keep in my camera bag without feeling weighted down. I can see bringing it with me on every adventure I take.
This week’s oldie-but-goodie comes from August 2007, back when I was first learning to light with external flashes. Jeff and I were on a photo walk and came across this piece of public art outside of the Waterloo Library.
Being a bit foggy out I thought that backlighting the art would give a cool effect, with the metal plate becoming a dark aperture and the figure inside being lit from behind. I set a Vivitar 285HV behind the piece and triggered it with a cheapo Ebay trigger. The moisture in the air caught some of the light and gave a cool starry look.
Final settings were Pentax *ist DS (my first digital camera) with DA 16-45mm f/4 at 31mm f/5 1/50s ISO 1600 + lots of tweaking in Photoshop CS3.
Here’s a photo I took at Halloween in 2011, late at night on our way home from a party. Mitzy had spent a solid week making her Fantastic Mrs. Fox costume and I’d had a hard time getting just the right photograph of it. It was a misty night, and cold, but I convinced Mitzy to stay in the parking lot across the street from our apartment while I grabbed a tripod. I positioned her under the street light and took just one shot.
D300s on tripod with AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 38mm f/4 1/4s ISO400
While driving home from my Dad’s on a dreary, foggy day the sun poked through the clouds just a bit when we neared Belfountain, ON. Mitzy and I pulled off to grab a shot at my favourite lookout. On the way down the trail I stopped to take this photo, both on the Bronica and on the D300s. Since I only had the 35mm f/1.8 I had to stitch multiple shots (at least 20) into a panorama.
I’m not totally happy with how the perspective turned out, but I really like the magical feeling of the treetops and the contrast down below.
Multishot panorama near Devil’s Pulpit.