I generally do MTF testing on multiple copies of a given lens so that I can present the averages, look at sample variation, and stuff like that. I'm always aware that looking at any single copy of a lens, especially a zoom lens, gives only a limited prediction of how other copies might look. But sometimes a limited prediction is still pretty exciting. As luck would have it, I was able to get a single copy of the Sigma 24-35mm f/2.0 DG HSM Art lens for testing today. It will be a week before we have enough copies to begin doing out multiple copy tests, so I thought I'd go ahead and post the results of the one copy. Continue reading →
We've finished, mostly, our fairly long series of articles on SLR prime lens variation. We started with prime lenses for several reasons. They are much quicker (and quicker is a relative term here) to test than zooms. They are simpler lenses and we expected that meant they would have less variation. We learned a lot doing the prime lenses and now feel we're ready to start looking into the more complex of zoom lenses. Continue reading →
We are currently teaming up with our friends over at Zacuto as a part of the #withmycamera Giveaway. Today, you can win a $600 LensRentals.com Rental Credit as well as a $1250 Zacuto Gift Card! Check out all the details here!
I think this would be a great opportunity to talk about one of my favorite ways in which Zacuto helps me get the job done. Two of my favorite products would have to be the Movi M5 and Canon C100. I shoot mostly weddings, so the C100 is the perfect option for me, with its Dual Pixel AF, C-log, built-in ND, and incredible low-light performance. The Movi M5 gives me an enormous amount of versatility on a wedding day, allowing me to have almost limitless creativity with my shots.
The AF on the C100 is really handy and works very well, though it's not perfect. When it works correctly, it allows me to achieve breathtaking shots, but when it doesn’t work correctly, it makes my shot completely unusable. During a wedding, I can’t always tell the bride and groom, “go back to 1.”
Brandon has accomplished much during his summer with us, including several things I never thought we'd be able to do. One of those things was measuring the MTF of supertelephoto lenses on our optical bench. A vertical bench just isn't designed to handle the mass of those big lenses and technically isn't supposed to be able to test anything over 200mm focal length. Brandon found some workarounds that allowed us to get accurate MTF readings on a number of supertelephoto lenses.
A week or so ago, I posted an article about some of the features on the Profoto B1 that separate it from the competition. Among those features, was High-Speed Sync, allowing you to use off camera lighting at shutter speeds faster than 1/200th of a second. Today, I would like to tell you about how to achieve that same goal, but with the use of one of my favorite tools - The Neutral Density Filter.
What is a Neutral Density Filter?
Typically, I’ve found the best way to describe a Neutral Density filter to photographers, is calling it a pair of sunglasses for your camera. It doesn’t add any color gradients to your images (or a good one won’t at least), but simply, just stops the amount of light coming into your camera lens. This can be effective for a lot of reasons. Landscape photographers often use them to create interesting effects using a long exposure. An ND filter allows you to stop down your shutter speed, and get super smooth water and clouds in images when extending the time the shutter is open. But the opposite is also true, and ND filter can allow you to open your aperture more, allowing for a shallow depth of field in your portrait work when lighting on location. This is how I often use ND filters for my work, and then compliment the subject with flattering light coming from off-camera flash.
Mastering the ND Filter Technique
Many people often ask me why I use ND filters in my work, and the answer I always give them is balance. When I began shooting outdoor portraits, I was frustrated that my skies were always white in color, instead of showing the great depth of blue that I often see. In order to fix that, I needed to find a way to balance the ambient light with flash, and began using an Alien Bee B800 with my work, however, this brought a whole new realm of problems for me. For one, in order to get the colors out of the sky, I often had to shoot at f/11+, cause my shutter speed was limited to 1/200th of a second (The max sync speed for most traditional strobes & flashes). The result was an image with everything in focus, and with no draw to the subject in the photo. So I went back to the drawing board.
Image Taken Using a 4-Stop ND Filter to balance Ambient and Artificial Light
ND Filter Allows me to Balance Lights on Location, Giving me a Shallow DOF
Teleconverter use and compatibility can easily get confusing. I'd like to shed some light on the subject for those looking to get more length out of their lenses without the extra weight or cost.
Teleconverters can add versatility to your camera bag by giving you extra length and a variety of looks out of lenses you already own. It can also mean a much lighter load to carry through a wildlife excursion or golf tournament.
We're nearing the end of the Varation series for prime lenses. If you are joining in late, you may want to go back to the original article for an introduction into the methods used. Today will look at the short telephoto group, lenses ranging in focal length from 85mm to 150mm. We've also included a summary table of all the lenses we've tested to date at the end of the article.
When we started this series, we introduced our methods using 24mm lenses, then followed up with looks at the 50mm and 35mm groups. Today we're going to go back to the wide-angle lenses; the ones we expect to have the most variation of all. We probably should call this post the Zeiss Invitational, since they have by far the most wide-angle options. We also left a couple of the 24mm 'ish' lenses out of our opening post, so this post will include some of those, too.
I get asked quite often what gear I recommend for shooting weddings. Almost always, recommend the same old tried and true things: high end bodies with good low light performance, f/2.8 zooms, and if you’re feeling frisky, fast aperture primes. But no one ever asks me about their second shooters. I gave up primary shooting weddings a while back, mostly because I don’t like the extra work and the extra responsibility. I do like shooting weddings, and I like having extra money, though. I’ve been fortunate enough to hook up with a great local wedding photographer, Josh Malahy with wellworn.co, and I’ve been second shooting for him for about three wedding seasons now. When I interviewed with him I asked if he had any gear requirements or expectations from me, and he said, “I have two rules. One, wear a suit. And two, don't shoot too much.” He likes my shooting style and gives me carte blanche to shoot with whatever I want, however I want, and I run with it.
My current go to setup is a Nikon D750 with 35mm and 85mm f/1.8 primes. For the most part, this covers me for just about everything. Often I’ll bring along a 58mm f/1.4 because I just love the way it renders, and the amazing 200mm f/2, because nothing else looks like a 200mm f/2.
I’ve said it hundreds of times now, I really love the Profoto B1. Years ago, I would use my Alien Bees strobes at a fraction of the price, and scoff at those who chose to go with the more expensive strobe solutions. I’d often laugh, and say light is light, and that if you need a 2 thousand dollar strobe to produce your work, there was something wrong. I've found however, the something wrong, was my mindset.
Now I’m not saying that you do need this expensive piece of gear to produce work. It’s easy to get wrapped into the mentality that your gear is somehow to be blamed for you not producing magazine quality work. However, the Profoto B1 is what I believe to be the best strobe on the market right now, and the reason isn’t the price, but all the features that it has that many other strobes do not. So let’s go over a quick overview of what sets the Profoto B1 apart from the rest. Continue reading →