Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony – Thoughts and Field Test

The post Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony – Thoughts and Field Test appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Sigma-14-24mm-f-2-8-Lens-for-Sony-review

The Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 lens is a brand new ultra-wide-angle zoom lens intended for full-frame mirrorless cameras. Launched in August 2019, this lens follows in the footsteps of the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 prime lens. Similar to that lens, the Sigma 14-24mm is available for Sony E-Mount cameras, or L-Mount mirrorless cameras made by Panasonic, Sigma, and Leica. It is currently the widest and fastest full-frame zoom lens made for Sony E-Mount, with FE 12-24mm f/4 as the closest match.

In the DSLR world, the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens is no stranger. Nikon made its own version, and Sigma has been making this lens for full-frame DSLRs for a while now. But the 14-24mm focal range is indeed for special use cases, with most photographers preferring the 16-35mm range to meet their wide-angle needs. Tamron echoes this sentiment with the recent release of the 17-28mm f/2.8 E-Mount lens. So what sets the 14-24mm lens apart, and who is this lens for? Read on to find out!

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Technical specs

The Sigma 14-24mm has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a minimum aperture of f/22. It offers a 114.2 degree to 84.1-degree angle of view and has a minimum focusing distance of 11 inches (27.94 cm). This is an autofocus lens that also offers manual focus at the flip of a notch. There is no image stabilization or vibration reduction, making it unideal for video. It is on the larger side with dimensions of 3.35 x 5.16″ and a weight of 28.04 ounces. But it is slightly narrower and lighter in weight than its DSLR counterparts.

This lens is also weather-sealed, but the front lens element is curved and thus cannot be protected by standard screw-on UV filters. On that note, you also cannot use screw-on ND filters or polarizers with this lens either.

Currently, the lens retails for $1,399.00 USD. It’s not cheap, but it does cost less than the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 and the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8.

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Pros

Ultra-wide focal range

The biggest benefit of this lens its ultra-wide focal range. If you’re shooting in tight spaces or want to cram as much visual detail as possible in your image, this is the lens to use. It’s perfect for shooting architecture, real estate, or landscapes. However, ultra-wides can also be tricky to work with due to distortions (more on that below).

Solid build quality

Sigma declares this lens to be dustproof and splashproof (in other words, semi-weatherproof). The front lens also has a coating that repels water and oil. Given the heft of this lens, it indeed feels like it could withstand various outdoor environments, but I wouldn’t take it into a downpour.

Nice bokeh effects

With a relatively fast f/2.8 aperture, this lens is much faster than its wider yet slower cousin, the 12-24mm f/4. However, ultra-wide lenses are typically used for landscape and architecture, when you’ll be shooting an f/9 or f/11 to get as much of your scene in focus as possible. So whether you really need the f/2.8 aperture depends on what kind of photos you intend to shoot.

While ultra-wides are not a standard portrait or subject photography lens, the f/2.8 gives you a nice background blur if you prefer shooting wide. The smooth bokeh is thanks to the 11 rounded diaphragm blades, an increase to the 9 blades found in previous models.

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Cons

Large and heavy

Pretty much all f/2.8 lenses are larger and heavier than their slower counterparts, and this lens is no exception. It’s a big and bulky lens that you likely won’t use for casual travel photography, not just because of its size, but because the front element is completely exposed.

Distortion

All wide-angle lenses face the challenge of decreasing the amounts of barrel or pincushion distortion. In other words, the wider the lens, the more likely your vertical lines won’t be straight.

The Sigma 14-24mm handles this moderately. At its widest focal length, there is indeed some barrel distortion. For certain scenarios such as astrophotography or landscape photography, this is less of an issue. But for real estate, architecture, or anything that requires super straight vertical lines, this lens may not be the best choice.

You can, of course, attempt some perspective control in Photoshop.

Can’t use standard filters

As mentioned earlier, the front curve of this lens prevents standard ND filters or polarizers from being used. Sigma does say that the lens comes with a rear filter holder, but you would need to invest in this specific type of filter to make use of it. Standard filters that screw onto the front of the lens would not work.

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony – Thoughts and Field Test

Who is this lens for?

All in all, the 14-24mm f/2.8 is a specialty lens. At its widest focal length, there is typically quite a bit of barrel distortion. This makes for extra post-processing work for those trying to shoot real estate or architecture, but perspective control has improved in post-processing software.

While barrel distortion is less of an issue for landscape or astrophotography, this lens doesn’t allow you to attach screw-on ND filters and polarizers that are often needed when shooting outdoors. Sigma declares that the 14-24mm f/2.8 is intended to be “the definitive lens for astrophotography.” Unfortunately, it is not the season for night sky photos, so I was not able to test this aspect of this lens.

With all of that said, the image quality is fantastic. This lens produces tack-sharp images with excellent colors. It just requires a bit of extra work in post-production to make up for some of its shortcomings.

Would you buy this lens? Let me know in the comments below!

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony – Thoughts and Field Test Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony – Thoughts and Field Test Sigma-14-24mm-f-2-8-Lens-for-Sony-review Sigma-14-24mm-f-2-8-Lens-for-Sony-review Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony – Thoughts and Field Test Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony – Thoughts and Field Test

Watch Suzi’s video review

The post Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony – Thoughts and Field Test appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Speedlight vs Monolight on Location: See How They Compare [video]

The post Speedlight vs Monolight on Location: See How They Compare [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video from Adorama, Gavin Hoey compares speed light vs monolight on location.

In the test, he does three very common lighting scenarios. He uses the flashes as fill flash, overpowering ambient light, and high-speed-sync flash.

He uses model, Charlotte, for the demonstration.

Gavin uses the following gear for the shoot:

 

 

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A post shared by Gavin Hoey (@thegavinhoey) on

Scenario one: fill flash

First up, in the Speedlight vs Monolight comparison, Gavin uses the monolight.

Before taking any shots, he takes a meter reading of the ambient light. Then to get his flash to match those settings, rather than use trial and error (which you can do), he uses a light meter to take an accurate reading from his model’s chin. He then uses that to set the flash.

Settings: f/3.5 1/250th Sec ISO 200

Next, he uses the speedlight flash. He sets it up using the same light modifier that he uses with the mono light and puts it in the same position.

He takes another light meter reading of his model’s chin, and set’s his speedlight flash.

When comparing the photographs, it is difficult to see the difference between using the monolight and using the speedlight.

Scenario two: overpowering the ambient light

Settings: f/16 1/250th sec ISO 200

In this scenario, Gavin runs the flash at full power to see what sort of aperture he can get out of the flash.

When doing a light meter reading, he gets an aperture of f/22 at the flash’s full-power setting.

Because he doesn’t want to waste the flash battery power and have a longer recycle time, he drops the flash to half power, which gives him an aperture of f/16.

He tests the camera settings without flash first to see how dramatic the sky looks. Then he turns the flash on to get some dramatic shots.

Gavin then swaps the flash over to the Speedlight, again using the same modifier and distance. The meter reading with the speedlight gives f/11, and the speedlight is set to full power.

In the side by side comparison, Gavin prefers the speedlight version over the monolight (what do you think?). But he prefers the flexibility, faster recycle times, power usage etc. of the monolight.

Scenario three: high-speed-sync flash

High-speed-sync flash strobes the light rapidly, meaning you get less power out of the lights. It is used for a shallow depth of field, so Gavin switches to a 25mm f/1.2 lens and shoots at f/1.2.

Firstly, Gavin turns off the flash and dials in f/1.2 and his flash sync speed of 1/250th of a second and then takes a picture of his model, Charlotte, to see what he gets at those settings.

While his model is quite well exposed at those settings, the background is overexposed, so Gavin tries 1/4000th of a second shutter speed, which gives him more detail in the background.

Most light meters won’t work with high-speed sync, so Gavin uses trial and error to set the flash to light Charlotte. He settles with 1/16th power.

Settings: f/1.2, 1/4000th sec, ISO 200.

He then tries the same settings with the speedlight flash with the flash at half-power.

While the flash does well to light the model, it struggles to keep up when shooting a number of shots in quick succession. He managed to get 18 photos in a row before the speedlight stopped working. This was actually the recycle time getting much longer.

Conclusion

If you have lots of high-speed-sync photos to take on location, you are better off with a monolight.

Variables: how far flash is from the subject, amount of ambient light, and softbox.

What are your thoughts on the comparisons? Which do you think wins in the speedlight vs monolight comparison? Share in the comments!

 

You may also like:

 

The post Speedlight vs Monolight on Location: See How They Compare [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Review: Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens for Sony E-Mount

The post Review: Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens for Sony E-Mount appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

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Considering the amount of articles I’ve written about shallow depth of field, it is safe to say that anything wider than f/1.8 is my sweet spot. However, Sony has found itself severely lacking in my favorite fast aperture: f/1.2. Well, my friends, Sigma has come to save the day with the brand new Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens for Sony E Mount! It’s the fastest autofocus lens available for Sony mirrorless cameras to date.

I had the pleasure of taking this lens out for a spin on my Sony A7r IV and Sony A7r III and making all of my creamy bokeh dreams come true.

Lens build

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Upon first glance, this lens is large and heavy. Many people wouldn’t realize this is a wide-angle 35mm focal length. The weight is a bit daunting when you use a mirrorless system, especially since one of the big selling points of mirrorless is the small size of the camera. However, the benefit of mirrorless is that all you’re carrying is the weight of the lens, which I don’t mind.

The weight of the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 ART lens is very worthwhile. The following are the reasons why.

In true ART fashion, the lens is solid, sturdy, and what I’d consider shock-resistant. Give it a bump, you’ll see (no, please don’t do that intentionally!). The lens features a dust and splash-proof structure with additional water and oil-repellent coating on the frontmost surface of the lens. I can personally attest to these, having already taken this optic out in some dire conditions. I put lenses through the wringer, and if they can’t survive me, they aren’t a worthy build!

Also, akin to the ART line is the beautiful glass that is vibrant, sharp, clear, and perfect. It’s very reminiscent of the Canon L-series glass, which I was obsessed with, and was thrilled to find similar in the Sigma ART line.

Lens features

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If you’re a native Sony G-Master user who picks up the Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART lens for the first time, you’ll likely see a familiar feature – an aperture ring. This smooth and easy to use manual adjustment of the aperture is quite a useful feature (especially for those who dabble in video and cinema).

Additionally, what’s really interesting about this lens is the ability to click/de-click the aperture ring, allowing complete silence or clicks to let you know you have turned the ring.

The inclusion of the AFL button adds to the lens’s functionality as you can assign it to various operations.

Lens communication

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You don’t invest thousands of dollars on a camera like the Sony Alpha to not use those features, yes? So why would you grab a lens that isn’t compatible? You just don’t. As such, my deal breaker is whether or not the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 ART lens can speak the Alpha’s native tongue (being a non-Sony-brand lens).

Well, the answer is one that I certainly hoped for: The Sigma is fluent in Sony speak!

As one of the first ART lenses designed exclusively with mirrorless in mind, it’s communication with the popular Sony mirrorless system is key (considering the lens only comes in Sony E mount and L mount). All autofocus features (including eye-tracking [human and animal] and AI autofocus) translate brilliantly between the camera body and optics.

Autofocus

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First of all, the autofocus of the Sony Alpha 7r IV and 7r III are just fantastic. Paired with this lens that is great at communicating with the camera, and you have a recipe for winning. My photo sessions have been so much smoother as a result.

Autofocus has been fast, accurate, and a dream. I have had a hard time putting this lens down, and can always find at least one excuse to bring it along for the ride.

I’ve gone as far as to shoot canine sports with it, even though a focal length of 35mm requires me to get closer to my subject than I’d usually like. However, it’s well worth it for that creamy bokeh, because canine agility fields tend to be quite cluttered with obstacles (which makes for a busy frame without the bokeh).

Whether your subject is running at you, away from you, or to the side, there is no discrepancy in autofocus.

Sharpness

Review: Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens for Sony E-Mount

Edge to edge sharpness doesn’t even begin to describe how crystal clear the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 ART lens is. If I closed my eyes, I’d swear I was shooting with Canon L glass. The ART glass has been truly tremendous, especially in recent lens releases.

I found that my subject was just as sharp in the center point as any corners. This is great for those that want to take advantage of the 35mm focal length width and do some off-center frames.

The full-frame capability gives it a further wow factor. When attached to my Sony A7r IV – a 60+ megapixel camera – the images viewed on a massive print-calibrated 4k screen equals some jaw-dropping moments. Pairing tack sharpness with this lens’s visual sharpness results in an image that would make even the ultimate pixel peepers happy. From my own use, I’d say peak sharpness was around f/2.0 – f/2.8.

What you see is what you get, as the sharpness translated to prints beautifully.

Bokeh

Review: Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens for Sony E-Mount

You don’t buy an f1.2 lens not to use it at its widest aperture! It took a bit of effort on my part to ever take it off f/1.2.

The bokeh is creamy, beautiful, and completely effortless. The subject separation is superb, and the client’s response to these magical images is pure bliss. I loved using this lens with cluttered backgrounds as the distraction smoothed away. Even when the aperture is widened to f/2.8, the bokeh continues to be smooth and satisfying.

There is some slight vignetting at the corners, but I quite enjoy this look and add a bit more of it in post-production. Those photographers that are miffed by vignetting may not be too thrilled. However, the 35mm wide focal length does allow for a wee bit of cropping so you can remedy that situation with some corner snips.

The bokeh balls produced with the Sigma 35mm f1.2 lens are very smooth and lovely. You won’t find yourself trapped with no onion-ring bokeh in the editing room, as seen in many other types of similar lenses.

Chromatic aberration

Review: Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens for Sony E-Mount

Much to my positive surprise, I have not experienced any chromatic aberration or fringing with this lens – even on extremely contrasting subjects. This tends to be a common problem with very wide apertures. Whatever magic Sigma did to this particular lens clearly works because I have yet to encounter fringing.

With that said, I’m not saying there isn’t going to be fringing in some peculiar situations, but just that I have not yet personally encountered it. I have encountered fringing immediately with several f/1.4 and f/1.8 lenses from Sony (even the G-Master), unfortunately.

Pros

Review: Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens for Sony E-Mount

  • Fast and beautiful f/1.2 wide aperture.
  • Full-frame lens.
  • Physical aperture ring with click/de-click switch.
  • Excellent communication between Sony E-mount cameras and this Sigma lens.
  • Beautiful creamy bokeh with no onion-ring issues.
  • Fast autofocus and vibrant output.
  • Little to no chromatic aberration.
  • Price is still very competitive, despite being in the four-digit range.

Cons

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  • Heavy, bulky, and large for a 35mm lens (especially on a mirrorless system).
  • Only available in Sony E-Mount and in Sigma/Leica/Panasonic L-Mount (the lens is designed exclusively for mirrorless systems. Some may see this as a con if they don’t own a mirrorless system).

Conclusion

Review: Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens for Sony E-Mount

Sigma 35mm f/1.2 Art Lens Review: Conclusion

My final thought is simple: “this lens will be permanently attached to one of my mirrorless cameras.” The investment is well worth the amount of use you’ll likely get out of this lens, even if you don’t shoot at extremely wide apertures such as f/1.2. I have always found it more worthwhile to invest in lenses that grant you more options and versatility rather than less.

The Sigma 35mm f/1.2 Art Lens can easily become a staple of any kit, with an incredibly vast array of uses from portraits, pets, events, fine art, and everything in between. With the popularity of prime lenses, this one is definitely a top contender.

Have you used the Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

The post Review: Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART Lens for Sony E-Mount appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion?

The post The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

olympus-tough-tg-6-review

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is the perfect camera for the adventurous soul.

Like a wilderness travel guide, the TG-6 pulls you into the micro world, under the water, and down deeper trails than you would ever take your clunky DSLR down. You can trust the Olympus Tough TG-6 out in the wild because it’s built strong and made for adventure. It’s even tough enough to let your kids use it.

Moreover, it’s really small, so it doesn’t hinder your adventure for even a moment. And it’s so capable it will inspire adventures you hadn’t planned.

This review is about what the Olympus Tough TG-6 will let you do as a photographer and how the pictures look.

TG-6 small size

An evening adventure used to mean hauling a heavy bag filled with gear. I never knew which gear I would need for sure, so I always brought too much. Eventually, I just stopped going on spontaneous adventures because it became too much of a chore. The Olympus Tough TG-6 replaces all that stuff I used to haul around. Gear is no longer the hindrance it used to be.

The technical specs

The reason why so many people are excited about the Olympus Tough TG-6 is the impressive list of technical specs.

  • F2.0 wide-angle lens (the aperture narrows as you zoom)
  • 20 frames per second
  • Underwater modes
  • Microscope mode
  • In-camera focus stacking
  • Scene selection
  • Aperture mode
  • RAW capture
  • 4K video
  • Waterproof
  • Shockproof
  • Dustproof
  • Crushproof
  • Freezeproof

Of course, the reason this list of specs is so exciting is because of what they’ll let you do with this camera as a photographer.

“No photographer is as good as the simplest camera.” – Edward Steichen

When you read camera reviews, you want to know what a camera is capable of and how great the picture quality will be.

Don’t forget that a camera only has to be so good and then the rest is up to you. The world’s greatest camera isn’t much good in the hands of a person that knows nothing about light, moment, or composition. Look for a camera that meets your general needs, then up your game as a photographer.

The most famous photographs were made with cameras that we would consider inferior by today’s standards. A beautiful photograph transcends the technology it was made with.

In the end, it’s not about the technical specs of a camera, but what those technical specs let us do as creative people and photographers.

The TG-6 has an impressive resume. Let’s see what it can help us do.

Adventure photography olympus tg-6

Aperture: f/2.0, Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec, ISO: 3200

When my first child was born I was just becoming the photographer I had always wanted to be. I couldn’t wait to take him on adventures with me as he grew. Ironically, it was a bag filled with too much gear and too many options that held me back from adventures with my kids. The TG-6 is everything I always wanted and fits in my pocket. It practically pushes us out the door and into the world.

“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” – Steve McCurry

What if you could shrink yourself?

It is captivating to suddenly see the world through a magnifying glass or microscope – to see tiny details blown up big. You may not be able to shrink yourself, but you can enter the micro world with the Olympus Tough TG-6.

Microscope mode

With the TG-6, you can get insanely close and discover the mystery and beauty in the fine details of everyday objects. You’ll be exploring the world in a way you haven’t done since science class.

The micro world offers you an infinite number of things to photograph. Look around you right now. There are so many things that you would never photograph on their own, but you can dive in microscopically to a new world and become enamored with the beauty of fine details.

insect macro photography

If you’ve got the courage, the TG-6 will bring you up close and personal with insects.

 

The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion?

 

The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion?

 

macro mode fine detail

The TG-6 can capture incredibly fine detail that the human eye overlooks.

 

The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion? The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion? The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion?

 

Berry macro photography

F/3.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 800

The problem with close-up photography

One of the biggest problems you’re going to run into with close-up photography is a shallow depth of field. You may take a photo of a flower, and nothing more than the edge of a petal is in focus. This is frustrating when you want more of that tiny object to be in focus.

How “focus bracketing” solves the problem

One way to deal with this is to take a series of photos at different focus points (focus bracketing), and later combine them in Photoshop in a process called focus stacking. The end result is an image with more depth of field than is possible in a single photo. If you’re a serious macro photographer, this is an amazing option. But it’s a labor-intensive process and you’re not likely going to do it on a whim while on a nature hike.

But the amazing thing about the Olympus Tough TG-6 is that it can actually do both the focus bracketing and focus stacking for you – all in-camera!

Let the Olympus Tough TG-6 do the Photoshop work for you

The photos below illustrate the frustration of such a shallow depth of field in close-up or macro photography. But they also illustrate the power of the TG-6’s in-camera focus stacking.

Olympus TG-6 focus stacking feature

The photo on the left is a single exposure with a shallow depth of field, while the photo on the right is the result of several photos with varying focus points stacked together into one image.

 

Focus Stacking with the Olympus TG-6

On the left, only a small portion of the leaf is in focus. But using the focus stacking option on the TG-6, the photo on the right is almost entirely in focus.

Normally, you need a dedicated macro lens if you want to take close-up, macro, or microscopic photos. That means a financial investment and another lens in your bag. But the TG-6 has this capability built-in. The close-up function is worth the cost of the camera.

Get in, the water’s nice!

You’re missing so much fun if you can’t take your camera into, or at least near, the water.

Generally, an underwater housing is expensive and might limit your access to camera settings. Best case scenario, you invest a lot of money to get your camera into the water. But this is a lot to invest and most people won’t do it on a whim. You’ve got to be sure you want to be in the water a lot to make it worth the investment.

With the Olympus Tough TG-6, you don’t need to think twice; just get in!

Having a camera that can get wet means you can get into the splash zone. Don’t photograph puddle-jumping-kids from a distance; get close and get wet!

Get underwater and explore fish from their world.

Don’t stand on the shore with dry feet to photograph the sunset; hit the waves.

The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion? The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion? The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion? The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion?

 

Olympus TG-6 underwater mode

My kids and I discovered a stream filled with salmon. I knew it was the perfect chance to try out the TG-6 underwater.

A couple of years ago, I stepped into a river with one camera in my hand and one around my neck. I was photographing people back on the shore and kept crouching a little to go for a lower angle. Every time that I crouched down for a great low angle, I was unknowingly dunking the camera around my neck into the water. Goodbye, Fuji x100s.

The irony is that I had an underwater case for my x100s. But it’s so clumsy to use in the case that it hinders my photography.

You no longer need to be nervous around the water with your camera – the TG-6 is completely waterproof and pulls you right in.

A good motivator

If it hasn’t happened yet, the day will come when you lose your drive and inspiration as a photographer.

At first, the thought of packing up all your gear and lugging it around will overwhelm you. Especially because you know you won’t even be happy with the pictures you take.

Then, even just the thought of picking up your camera will depress you.

You lose your drive, your inspiration, and eventually your will as a photographer.

You’ve already learned that new gear is not the answer to this depressing dry period you’re going through. But that’s because most gear is the wrong gear for you.

The TG-6 isn’t just a new camera, it’s a passport to new lands. It’s like slinging on a backpack and heading out to discover the world. It sits there looking at you, hoping you will take it out to play. Photography doesn’t have to feel like a burden anymore.

TG-6 photography inspiration

“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ~ Bilbo Baggins

Leave the Olympus TG-6 laying around

When my camera is in the bag, it never gets used. I prefer to leave it out with the lens cap off and the power button left on so that I’m ready to make a photograph at a moment’s notice.

But when I leave my cameras lying around, my wife doesn’t like the clutter (even though she loves the photos that result from the clutter).
Not to mention that leaving expensive cameras around is a hazard with a house full of kids and their rowdy friends.

The TG-6 has become our dedicated “leave it laying around the house” camera. It’s so small that it doesn’t bother my wife. It’s there when we need it. And, it’s so tough we don’t mind the kids using it.

I’m capturing many more moments now that I’ve got a dedicated “everyday life camera.”

Olympus TG-6 capturing candid moments

 

Window light candid moments with the Olympus TG-6

 

Black and white photography wit hthe Olympus TG-6

So tough I let the kids use it

One of the things that first attracted me to the Olympus Tough cameras is that I can let my kids use them. The TG-6 is waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, crushproof and freezeproof. Which means it’s also kid-proof.

TG-6 great for kids

I love to look at the photos my kids have taken. It’s inspiring to see what captures their attention enough to take a picture.

 

Olympus TG-6 dustproof

When my kids ask to use the camera while they explore sand dunes and lakes, I have no problem handing them the TG-6 to use.

Essential modes

After using the Olympus Tough TG-6 for about a month, I’ve figured out my favorite combination of settings for everyday use; P mode.

I want a certain amount of control over ISO, aperture and shutter speed because I understand how they affect my photo. But I don’t want to overthink these settings and miss the beauty of the moment.

In P mode, the camera will choose the shutter speed and aperture for you. All you have to think about is ISO (but you can select auto ISO if you wish).

With a few minor adjustments in P mode, I can make the TG-6 do exactly what I want it to.

In the menu, I set the minimum shutter speed to 1/125th. I want the camera to set the shutter speed for me, but I don’t want it to go any slower than this.

I select auto ISO, but I set the maximum ISO to 1600. I don’t want the ISO to go any higher than that because of the noise issues.

While it’s balancing the settings out, the TG-6 will always favor a lower ISO and only raise it if it needs to. Eventually, if it’s dark enough, it will go below your minimum shutter speed in order to achieve a good exposure.

Here’s the best part; in P mode, you have direct access to exposure compensation with the camera dial. Your camera will hardly ever get the exposure just as you want it. So use the exposure compensation feature to brighten or darken the photo before you take the picture.

There is no full-manual mode on this camera. But if you know what you’re doing, you can still take full control.

TG-6 exposure compensation feature

Processing RAW files

Using Lightroom 6, I am unable to edit the RAW files from the TG-6. However, Olympus provides free editing software called, Olympus Workspace.

Because of this camera’s smaller sensor size (and difficulty capturing extreme dynamic range), I am not putting much hope in the RAW files. RAW + JPG capture is a great option. Get the best exposure you can in order to have the highest quality JPG file, and keep the RAW file in case of an emergency.

Even heroes have a weakness

There are three main weaknesses that I have discovered with the Olympus Tough TG-6.

Lens Flare

I love playing with lens flare and I quickly discovered that is almost impossible to do with the TG-6. This is the strangest lens flare that I have ever seen. It’s discouraging, but I’ll have to learn to make compelling photographers without lens flare.

Oympus TG-6 lens flare

Noise

The Olympus Tough TG-6 produces a lot of noise in high ISO, low light photos.

The following photos are lit with a small-screen TV and/or a lamp.

High ISO

This photo was lit with a lamp. you can see the grainy discoloration in the white blanket. The ISO is 3200.

High ISO noise

This is a close-up of the white blanket in the previous photo.

 

High ISO noise

This photo is lit with the light from a TV and a small light in the next room over. The ISO was 3200.

High ISO noise

Close up of high ISO noise

You can see the grain and discoloration in his skin.

The following photos are backlit with dim light from a living room window.

Bright light high ISO noise

Again, the ISO was set at 3200. Because the light is brighter, there isn’t as much noise and discoloration. But there is a lack of crispness to the photo.

 

High ISO and window light

But I was shocked to capture this photo with lots of movement at ISO 3200 because it looks so crisp.

Sharp in bright light

You’ll have to get used to keeping your ISO at 1600 or lower (you’ll need a steady hand for the slow shutter speed that results).

But in bright light, with a low ISO, the TG-6 is nice and sharp.

A sharp photo with low ISO

So the Olympus Tough TG-6 is weak under extreme lighting conditions, but so are many other cameras. For many of us, high ISO with low noise is the last frontier on the technological side of photography.

We can strengthen the TG-6 by post-processing the photo with a program such as Lightroom. Keep your ISO to 1600 or lower when possible, and convert to black and white when suitable.

No control over shutter speed

At first, I thought it was a problem that there was no shutter speed mode on the TG-6. But then I realized that it wasn’t really necessary. You just have to know how to work around it.

If you want a quick shutter speed to freeze the action, use sports mode.

If you want a slow shutter speed to capture motion blur then you need to understand how to force the camera to produce a slow shutter speed.

Suppose you want to capture a silky waterfall photo. Normally, you need control over your shutter speed to make it go slow enough to capture the motion. But with the TG-6 you don’t have control over the shutter speed.

Or, do you?

When you understand ISO and aperture then you do have control over the shutter speed.

Olympus TG-6 slow shutte speed silky waterfall

In order to get silky waterfalls, you need a slow shutter speed. You can force your camera to choose a slow shutter speed by lowering your ISO and closing your aperture.

Choose an ISO of 100. Choose an aperture of f18. This will effectively choke out the light and force the TG-6 to slow down the shutter speed to let more light in. The slow shutter speed will produce a silky waterfall.

So the lack of control over shutter speed isn’t a big problem.

Olympus TOUGH TG-6

The greatest weakness

As photographers, we can find moments so powerful that lens flare isn’t necessary. And, we can look for moments so strong that the viewer will overlook high ISO noise in the photo. Whatever the shortcomings of our cameras, we as photographers always fall shorter. Whatever their weaknesses, our cameras are just fine. We need to increase our skills and know that, even if there was a perfect camera, it could only be used by an imperfect photographer.

The power of the Olympus Tough TG-6 is not merely in its technology. The power is in what that technology allows us to do. This is a camera that will nudge you every time you walk by. It’s like a kid who wants to be played with or a dog that wants to be taken out for a run. Come on, just a quick adventure?

A countless number of moments pass us every day. They become almost infinite in size when we consider their range from wide-angle to microscopic. When you’ve got a camera like the TG-6 in your pocket, it’s not so hard to make those moments hold still.

Have you used the Olympus Tough TG-6 camera? Would a camera like this make you take more photos? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

The post The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Camera Review – A Perfect Adventure Companion? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

Review: Laowa 17mm f1.8 Lens with Micro-Four-Thirds Mount

The post Review: Laowa 17mm f1.8 Lens with Micro-Four-Thirds Mount appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mark C Hughes.

review-laowa-17mm-f1.8-lens-MFT

review-laowa-17mm-f1.8-lens-MFT

The new Laowa 17mm f1.8 lens for MFT

There are a lot of gear reviews for new photography gear. Many focus on technical specifications and others focus on sharpness and precision of the optics. I had a chance to spend a few weeks with the Laowa 17mm f1.8 lens for Micro-Four-Thirds (MFT) mount. This is a bit of a different lens that requires a slightly different approach to a review. I am hoping this approach will help you decide if this is a lens for you.

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The New Laowa 17mm f1.8 lens is a fully manual compact design with metal construction, a small metal hood and clear markings on the barrel

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This lens fits 46mm threaded filters (common for MFT)

Technical Specifications

I will run through the technical specifications of the Laowa 17mm f1.8 lens as they have some interesting but limited impact on this review (aside from the price). As a 17mm lens on an MFT mount, this has a corresponding field of view that corresponds to a 34mm lens on a full-frame (FF) sensor (65 degrees). The lens has nine elements in seven groups with a seven-bladed iris. The filter diameter is 46 mm, and the weight is 172g. It is not weather-sealed, and the MSRP is $149USD.

Image: Works great even in low light conditions

Works great even in low light conditions

Practical details

Aside from the mathematics of technical specifications, I think a lens review should provide more practical details. Details that describe the intangibles about the lens. Things you only realize when you have the lens in your hand or on your camera.

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Perfectly balanced with smaller MFT camera bodies like the Pen F

For starters, this is a completely manual lens with manual focus and manual aperture control.

It is a small but solid – really solid – lens with metal construction and even a small metal lens hood (not much shading from this guy). This lens does not feel plastic-y in any way shape or form. The movement of the aperture ring and focus control feels great, and the aperture ring has quiet click settings (it is not clickless but moves easy) and the markings on the focus ring are clear.

This lens feels like something from the best film era vintage lenses and is well-sized to match the size of smaller MFT camera bodies.

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Works well with the Olympus EM5 MK II

Focal range

At 34mm FF equivalent, the Laowa 17mm f1.8 is a prime lens size that, along with a 50mm FF equivalent, should be in any photographer’s bag. Some famous photographers have operated with only lenses in this range. At a 34mm FF equivalent, it provides a relatively wide field of view and a more forgiving range for focus. Wider lenses tend to be more forgiving when trying to focus them. With the manual focus on this lens, not getting focus perfect can still result in usable images.

Image: Because it has a wide field of view, you can get pretty close.

Because it has a wide field of view, you can get pretty close.

Image: Once the focus is set, the lens performs well.

Once the focus is set, the lens performs well.

Sharpness

As for image quality, the lens does reasonably well. It is not the sharpest (even when you nail focus) and it is clear that when fully wide open, the lens is sharper in the center of the image but softer at the edges. Saying this doesn’t really describe the image results from this lens. The image is sharp where it needs to be and softer where is it okay to be softer. The look from the lens is great. In addition, the seven-bladed iris produces very nice starbursts when closed down for night shots of light sources.

Image: Even with close-ups, there are little problems resolving the images and little vignetting.

Even with close-ups, there are little problems resolving the images and little vignetting.

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The seven-bladed iris allows for very nice starbursts at night

Size

As for size and usability, this Laowa 17mm f1.8 lens fits smaller MFT bodies really well (like a Pen F) and looks a little dwarfed on a bigger body (like an EM1X). Not only does this lens fit well on smaller bodies, but it looks entirely old school like the cameras that are going for that stylistic approach.

I had many people asking me if I was shooting with a film camera when I had this lens on my Pen F. I seemed to reinforce this feeling when I tried to focus and take a photograph and took forever. This is not a run-and-gun lens.

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The lens is small and can seem overly-small on larger MFT bodies

Old-school feel and slow approach to photography

I am old enough to have shot film with manual film cameras. I thought I had left that all behind to use all the technical horsepower in modern cameras to really nail technically-challenging circumstances trying to get the best images. As a consequence, I had forgotten about the slower process of taking photographs when all you had was a split prism and a needle for a light meter.

When you connect a manual lens on an MFT camera, you operate primarily with the histogram/light meter to get a good exposure. You have to think about ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and focus. It takes time.

Image: Fun to experiment with when you have the time

Fun to experiment with when you have the time

Slow photography is like slow food

I remember years ago traveling in Italy and going to a slow food restaurant.

The whole concept with slow food is to make it more of an experience and to take time to savor the flavors and textures. I think shooting with a manual lens is similar. It means that you are shooting slower and have to think way more about your images – no run and gun.

Slow photography is forced on you when you shoot with this type of lens. With cell phones, you pull them out and shoot. You barely focus. There is no thought to the process, and maybe that means that people can focus on the subject matter of their images. However, at other times, it means that you really aren’t thinking much about the images you are taking.

Image: Despite being quite a wide lens, there is little obvious distortion with the Laowa 17mm f1.8...

Despite being quite a wide lens, there is little obvious distortion with the Laowa 17mm f1.8 lens.

Nailing focus

Trying to nail focus with a manual focus lens also means you have to slow down. Back in the old manual focus film camera days, you had split prisms and micro prisms in your viewfinder to help you get your focus right. These tools are not available on modern digital cameras.

However, with mirrorless bodies on MFT cameras, you have other tools at your disposal including magnification and focus peaking. I was able to custom set my camera’s buttons to allow me to set one button for magnification and another for focus peaking. It’s still not fast, but it worked fairly well.

Image: Even for moving subjects, such as from a balloon, once you have your exposure and focus set,...

Even for moving subjects, such as from a balloon, once you have your exposure and focus set, it performs like any other lens.

This magic of this type of lens is that you need to slow down and think about the image you are composing. You need to think about everything from ISO to aperture to shutter speed and finally focus. If any are off, you can instantly see that you have screwed up. If you think back to the film days, it wouldn’t be until you got your images developed that you would know you messed up. When I was using this lens, I knew immediately when I screwed up, even when I thought I had all the settings right.

Image: Limited distortion even for buildings

Limited distortion even for buildings

That process of slowing down and understanding what you are doing was a great deal of fun. The lens was wide enough and fast enough (aperture wise, not in any other way) that I would feel comfortable taking only this lens out to take some shots.

Not for the faint of heart

Slow means you can’t shoot fast. This seems obvious, but when someone says to you, “take our picture, “…they pose and wait for you. This lens will not do that quickly, regardless of how good you are.

You can take portraits, but you need to plan the shots and be ready when the opportunity comes up. An old street photography trick used to be to set your exposure with an intermediate aperture, put your focus at 3 feet, and point and shoot. In practice, this is not quite so simple. Nailing the exposure is a little trickier because you need to be looking through the lens to get the exposure balanced.

Image: This lens is great to travel with because of its width and small size

This lens is great to travel with because of its width and small size

The Results

I really enjoyed the Laowa 17mm f1.8 prime lens. I have other similar prime lenses, but all are equipped with autofocus and electronic apertures. They also feel pretty plastic. They are more expensive, but sharper. This lens feels great, is super-solid, shoots well and needs lots of attention to your images. It forces you to shoot like a photographer. You feel like a photographer. It also makes you look like a photographer.

At $149 USD, the Laowa 17mm f1.8 lens is quite the value. My images turned out great and I fell in love with taking slower pictures again. I had a chance to slow down and smell the roses, or in this case, take more deliberate thoughtful images.

Would you use a lens like this? Share with us in the comments below.

The post Review: Laowa 17mm f1.8 Lens with Micro-Four-Thirds Mount appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mark C Hughes.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony Review

The post Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN (sony, Leica) is the latest addition to Sigma’s Contemporary lens line. Launched in July 2019, this lens is available as Sony E-mount or Leica L-mount. The latter mount is of particular interest as the new L-mount is compatible with Panasonic and Leica full-frame cameras, plus Sigma’s own forthcoming L-mount mirrorless cameras. I got my hands on an E-mount version and tested the lens with my Sony A7RIII. Here are my thoughts.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Specs

The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which may be a disappointment for photographers used to having at least an f/1.8 on their prime lenses. It also is a fairly expensive lens given its $549 price tag. However, this lens makes amends when it comes to size and the build quality.

Size

Compared to other Sigma prime lenses such as the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Nikon, Canon, Sony), this lens is significantly smaller and more lightweight. It weighs 7.5 ounces (half of the aforementioned 35mm) and comes in at less than 2-inches long. This makes the 45mm much more portable and discreet when compared to Sigma’s other Art lens primes that all have an f/1.4 aperture, but are significantly larger and heavier.

This compact size is closer to that of the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Both were my longtime favorite prime lenses when I shot with Canon DSLRs. The beauty about this size is that it feels very balanced when attached to a full-frame camera, whether it be my old Canon 5D Mark III or my new Sony A7RIII. With that said, this lens puzzles me when I compare it to other similar lenses that I’ve owned.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 (left), Fujifilm 35mm f/2 (center), and Sony 55mm f/1.8 (right).

Build quality

It’s hard to ignore the design of this lens, which is both visually eye-catching and functional. There are two physical rings – the outermost ring controls the focus and the innermost ring selects the aperture, similar to how a Fujifilm lens performs. Choosing the aperture via the lens can take some getting used to, but it’s a wonderful way to interact with your camera. There’s also a switch to toggle autofocus or manual focus. The lens itself is made mostly of metal, and it includes a lens hood that is also made of metal. There is also weather sealing on the mount of the lens to keep dust and dirt at a minimal.

Shooting experience

45mm is an interesting focal length. It sits comfortably between two of the most popular focal lengths out there: the 35mm and 50mm. Not too wide or too narrow, 45mm gives you a range that feels natural, yet intentional. Autofocus on this lens is fast, accurate, and very quiet thanks to a fast-stepping motor.

If you shoot on a Sony full-frame mirrorless camera, you may also be familiar with the feature of flipping between shooting in full-frame and APS-C mode. While the latter does crop and shrink your images, it gives you the ability to shoot at a slightly zoomed-in focal length. This, in turn, gives you at least two focal lengths to shoot from, and it is one of my favorite features of my Sony A7RIII.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Image quality

The images captured by the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens result in very consistent color, tones, and sharpness. This lens has a rounded seven-blade diaphragm that renders a smooth, shallow depth of field. There is a minimum focusing distance of 9.4 inches, giving this 45mm decent macro capabilities.

In Conclusion

Overall, I had a very positive experience shooting with this Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens. The compact size complemented the Sony A7RIII perfectly, making it a very portable unit. I usually have a 24-70mm f/2.8 or 55mm f/1.8 glued to my camera when shooting in low lighting scenarios. Thus, the 45mm’s f/2.8 aperture did not hinder me much. However, there is something to be said about having a faster aperture, especially in low light conditions.

If you enjoy shooting with a versatile prime lens that is reasonably fast but very portable, this Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens might be the lens for you.

What are your first impressions of the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens? Would you purchase it? Why or why not?

Sample photo gallery

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

 

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony

The post Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Canon 11-24mm F/4L Lens Review

The post Canon 11-24mm F/4L Lens Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

Following the release news of the Canon EF 11-24mm F/4L USM Lens, came countless sleepless nights of research and reading reviews. At the end of that process, all I could safely decipher was that it was the new dream lens of the landscape photographer in me.

Canon 11-24 mm F/4L Lens Review

The build

The moment you pick up this lens, the weight surprises you. It’s quite hefty and you notice every ounce of the approximate (just over) two-and-a-half pounds. The entire build of the lens screams quality too. Like other Canon lenses, the manual focus and zoom rings move smoothly and feel natural. Not a lens you want to be cumbersome with, so this was an important feature for me when working with such weight. You can make easy focal adjustments, as the zoom moves through the entire focal range with a small turn. When behind the lens, the AF/MF is also easily accessible.

Canon 11-24mm F/4L Lens Review

The bulbous front element blooms with authority and still makes me nervous enough to cover it almost immediately when not in use. I am not reassured by the presence of the fixed hood that is meant to protect the imposing glass. However, I am glad it is there. The signature red ring around the front always sets expectations of promised image quality and Canon has delivered.

Image: Size comparatives from left to right: Canon 85mm F/1.2 L, Canon 11-24mm F4 L, Canon 135mm F2...

Size comparatives from left to right: Canon 85mm F/1.2 L, Canon 11-24mm F4 L, Canon 135mm F2 L

What works

The Canon EF 11-24mm is benchmarked as the widest ultra-wide rectilinear lens compatible with full-frame DSLRs, since the Sigma 12-24mm F/4.5-5.6 lens. Thus barrel distortion is minimal throughout the range, and straight lines in your subject are not compromised (and appear straight). The most distortion you would find occurs at around 11mm and 12mm and compared to any other lens at this focal range, it is minimal. Of note, distortion seems non-existent between 15-24mm.

Canon 11-24mm F/4L Lens Review

By comparison, yes the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye is wider, but as is the signature of fisheye lenses, it outputs barrel-distorted images and your straight lines curve. The exception is if your line is directly center of your frame.

The lens is quiet and focuses quickly. Most impressively though, it is super sharp, even at the corners! Added to sharp images; the contrast is nice and balanced. If you have used other ultra-wides, you will admire the difference in the output. The image quality is simply amazing!

Canon 11-24mm F/4L Lens Review

The angle of view on a full-frame, coupled with the minimal distortion, makes it great for indoor architectural spaces. The need for a lens like this to be F/2.8 eludes me, as F/4 feels more than adequate.

What could be better

If you are looking at this beauty, the two major drawbacks may reside in price and weight. It is an expensive lens and certainly not in everyone’s price range. However, it’s a great investment if you do professional architectural and landscape photography. In these areas, the minimal distortion works in your favor. There is no other lens that performs like this lens at the wider end.

Canon 11-24 mm F/4L Lens Review

It is a large, heavy lens that will make you think twice before packing it for travel – you know you want it with you, oh but that weight! Even worse, it is front heavy, so you will want to be extra cautious when out in the field.

The front cap feels inadequate, as it struggles to cover the hood. There are also spaces where it clasps (when aligned) that leave room for dust to get into the front. After all the time they spent on this lens, the front cap feels like an afterthought.

Canon 11-24mm F/4L Lens Review

There is also a noticeable amount of vignetting at 11mm and also some color fringing. Both are easy to fix in post-processing, without loss of your image quality. For an ultra-wide lens though, the falloff (or darkened corners) is negligible.

Conclusion

The Canon EF 11-24mm F/4L is a truly magnificent lens for a landscape or architectural photographer. It is well-built, heavy, sharp, quiet and expensive. One thing for certain though, it is the only one of its kind and a signature Canon lens.

Have you used this lens? What are your thoughts? Share with us in the comments.

 

canon-11-24mm-f4-lens-review

The post Canon 11-24mm F/4L Lens Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

Gear Review: 4 New K&F Concept Filters Put to the Test

The post Gear Review: 4 New K&F Concept Filters Put to the Test appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kav Dadfar.

I have always been an advocate of carrying as little camera equipment as possible. In fact, most people are surprised to hear how little I carry with me on any trip. Besides the obvious weight to carry, it also means more things to lose or have stolen. But whilst carrying less is always better, there are some things that I simply can’t live without. Filters are one of the sets of accessories that I always take with me as they are essential for my photography. So when given four new K&F Concept filters recently, I was very excited to put them to the test.

k&f-concept-filters-put-to-the-test

Why should you use filters?

As advanced as digital cameras are these days, they still occasionally need some help to capture photos the way you want. Often the big issue in photography is light. Too much of it, not enough, too harsh, in the wrong place…if only you could control outdoor light like in a studio.

Filters can help a photographer control light in varied circumstances. There are lots of filters that all fill different objectives. Two of the most common filters are neutral density filters and polarizing filters.

Polarizing filters

Polarizing filters help to remove unwanted reflections from non-metallic surfaces. For example, if you are photographing water or through glass, they can help ensure you keep reflections to a minimum. In addition to this, they also help to boost the saturation in images (especially blues and greens). So, they are very useful for photographing things like waterfalls.

Neutral Density filters

Neutral Density filters help to reduce the amount of light that enters the camera. This allows you to select a slower shutter speed to create motion blur (when photographing water during the day or moving clouds). However, even in day to day photography, you may sometimes find ND filters useful to help avoid overexposure at wide apertures.

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Square filters vs screw-on filters

There are two types of filters these days – square filters and screw-on filters.

Square filters are either square or rectangle and attach to a holder attached to your camera. As the name suggests, screw-on filters screw onto your lens directly.

There are pros and cons for using both. Historically, I have always used square filters, so this was a good test to see how I get on with using screw-on filters instead.

Gear Review: 4 New K&F Concept Filters Put to the Test

The filters tested

The four filters tested for this article are:

 

Packaging

My first impression of the filters was of the beautiful and secure packaging they arrive in. They come in a hard cardboard box with the filter itself placed in a hard plastic case inside the cardboard box. The filter is further protected inside the plastic box wrapped in a plastic bag and placed on a piece of foam. The plastic box that they come in makes them really easy to get in out to use when needed as the lid flips open. The circular polarizing filter comes in a slightly different plastic box which twists open but is still secure inside due to some rubber ridges. This stops the filter rattling around the case.

I will need to stick some small stickers on the plastic boxes and write the filter on them to make them easier to find – something that is currently lacking on the plastic boxes. Other than that, the packing is very impressive.

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k&f-concept-filters-put-to-the-test

Build and ease of use

The frames of all of the filters, except the circular polarizer filter, are made from an aluminum alloy (the polarizer filter has extra-tough magnalium). Even though they are very slim in design, they certainly feel rigid with no real bending even when forced.

The glass itself on all the filters is coated optical glass (to help reduce reflections) that is waterproof and scratch-resistant.

k&f-concept-filters-put-to-the-test

Performance

Overall, all of the filters performed very well. As someone who has always used square filters, I was skeptical about the quality and how they would affect the image. I deliberately headed out during early afternoon as I wanted to test these filters in harsh light. Below are the images taken using these filters.

Gear Review: 4 New K&F Concept Filters Put to the Test

Circular Polarizer Filters

I conducted the first test with the circular polarizer. Below are two images taken from the same place only seconds apart. The image on the left was with no filter. In the image on the right, you can see how the reflection from the water has been removed using the K&F Polarizer Filter. In addition, you can see a boost in the blue in the sky a little. There is a very slight vignette on the top left corner, but this is so minor that it can easily be removed in post-production.

Gear Review: 4 New K&F Concept Filters Put to the Test

ND2-ND32 Neutral Density

I conducted the next tests with the two ND filters. Both filters easily screwed in and were subsequently easy to remove with no jamming at all. Both filters performed very well with no color casting or vignetting. I also didn’t come across the X cross-issue that might sometimes occur with variable ND filters.

Image: From the left: ND2, ND4, ND8, ND16, ND32

From the left: ND2, ND4, ND8, ND16, ND32

ND8-ND128 Neutral Density

The thing that I found so useful with these variable filters is the ease of transporting them and the amount of space saved in my camera bag. To be able to carry two ND filters that cover such a wide range is definitely something I feel is worth including in my camera bag.

Image: From the left: ND8, ND16, ND32, ND64, ND128

From the left: ND8, ND16, ND32, ND64, ND128

ND2-ND32 Neutral Density and Circular Polarizing

The final filter tested was the ND filter with the circular polarizing filter. Whilst I was really impressed with the other filters, this is the one that I really found useful. Normally in a situation like this, I screw on my circular polarizing filter, then screw in my filter holder ring, put the holder on, and add the filters I need before I’m ready to shoot.

This filter does all of that. You can see below how using the filter gives you a longer shutter speed to achieve smooth water, and also removes much of the reflection as well. This helps bring out the details on the river bed.

Image: No filter on the left, ND16, ND32

No filter on the left, ND16, ND32

Conclusion

As mentioned, I have always been skeptical of using circular or screw-in filters. However, I am thoroughly impressed with the K&F Concept filters I tested out. The image quality is superb and the added benefit of just using one filter and adjusting the gradient without having to stack filters is really useful.

The thing that really impressed me about these filters is how premium they look, feel, and perform. In fact, I did not notice any difference between these K&F Concept filters and my very expensive current square filters.

Another huge benefit of these filters is the cost. For example, at the time of writing the 5-stop variable ND and CPL filter is priced at $89.99. In other words, you are getting six filters for that price. Individually purchasing good quality filters will be a lot more expensive. This will obviously help anyone starting out and wanting to build their accessories up without spending a small fortune. I, for one, will be adding these filters to my collection.

Note: The author was given the K&F Concept filters free of charge to test out. But he is not paid or affiliated with K&F Concept and his review is honest and unbiased and based his personal experience of using the products.

 

k&f-concept-filters

The post Gear Review: 4 New K&F Concept Filters Put to the Test appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kav Dadfar.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

The post Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

I’ve evaluated and reviewed quite a few lenses over the years – twenty-three to be exact. Throughout those reviews, I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter many that were good, a few that were great, and an oh-so limited few that were absolutely magic. Yet, I can honestly say that I have never experienced the overwhelmingly universal praise and excited electricity surrounding a freshly released lens as I have witnessed with the new Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Di USD (for Canon, Nikon). This is the prime lens that is currently wowing the masses with its mind-bending sharpness and wide-open f/1.4 speed.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Ironically enough, this little beauty marks the 40th Anniversary of Tamron’s “Superior Performance” line of lenses. Tamron has specifically geared all of the glass in SP line towards meeting the needs of discerning professional photographers.

So, needless to say, whenever I get the chance to review any new SP lens from Tamron, I always feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Would the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 live up to the hype? Could it? I was incredibly curious to find out, and, of course, I want you to come along for the ride.

Out of the box

First things first; this is a gorgeous lens. It possesses a clean and simplistic style which in my experience has been the hallmark of virtually all of the modern SP line. The lens itself is a velvety deep satin black with white lettering and, of course, that signature metallic-colored ring finishes off the minimalist design.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

There isn’t a lot to see here aside from the focusing ring (which is nicely rubberized), and the AF/MF switch. Oddly enough, the SP 35mm F/1.4 lacks the Vibration Control functionality which leaves quite a bit of open real estate on the lens body.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

I say the absence of Tamron’s proprietary VC image stabilization is odd not because it will necessarily be missed on a lens of this focal length, but instead because it is present on the close cousin of this lens – Tamron’s 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Canon, Nikon, Sony). The exclusion of VC on this 35mm could very well be a weight-saving measure to avoid making an already robust lens heavier. More on this in just a bit.

This lens includes generous moisture sealing throughout, which if you’ve read any of my other reviews of Tamron glass, you’ll know that I absolutely love. There’s just something extremely comforting about the physical presence of that rubber gasket at the rear of the lens.

Image: Image courtesy of Tamron

Image courtesy of Tamron

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

It also comes with a very nice storage bag.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Overall, it’s safe to say that the look of the new SP 35mm lens impressed me right out of the gate.

Here’s the list of specifications for the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD courtesy of Tamron:

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

As you can see, this is not a feather-weight prime lens. The 35mm F/1.4 with the lens hood comes in weighing just shy of 2lbs(907g) on my home scales. That makes for a hearty setup when mounted on larger DSLR cameras.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

With that said, the overall balance of the lens, when mated to a Canon 5D MK III, is remarkably pleasant. It’s not light, but it’s not overly bulky either. Take into account the fact that the lens houses 14 elements, and you become somewhat surprised that it doesn’t weigh more.

That lens hood though…

“But Adam…it’s only a lens hood. Do you really think it’s worth its own section?”

Yes, yes, I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand how trivial this may very well be, and it’s most certainly only my highly subjective…borderline neurotic…opinion.

Tamron has recently introduced a locking mechanism to some of its new lenses. This is the second time I’ve encounter this hooded curiosity from Tamron with the first being the 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon, Nikon).

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

In short, I’m conflicted. Of course, the goal of this feature is to keep your lens hood from accidentally popping off your camera. The issue I see with this is that such a static locking mechanism could possibly lead to a broken lens hood, or worse, breakage of the front mount of the lens barrel. Instead of the lens hood simply popping off, there could ultimately be a situation where “something’s gotta give” should a substantial impact occur. What’s more, the need to depress a button to remove the hood is just a little tedious. Then again, I must say the locking mechanism is finely executed and works quite well for its purpose. It’s a feature that I could come to enjoy, but for the time being, not so much.

Relax. I’m finished talking about the lens hood.

A fresh take on Autofocus

Newly introduced with the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 is a revamped mechanism that supposedly aids in more speedy and less noisy autofocusing. It’s called the Dynamic Rolling-Cam System.

Image: Image courtesy of Tamron

Image courtesy of Tamron

Not only is that a pretty cool name but the Dynamic Rolling-cam System assists Tamron’s already capable Ultrasonic Silent Drive AF with moving that large f/1.4 focusing unit and is reported to make the entire AF experience of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 much more reliable. I tested the AF with my Canon 5D MK III and my trusty Canon 7D Mk1. In both cases, the AF of the lens was quite snappy and accurate, even in low contrasted scenes. This lens also features a full-time manual focus override so that you can easily tweak focus manually while still in AF mode.

Performance and image quality

If you’ve heard anything about this lens already then you probably know it’s reported to be sharp – I mean scary sharp – with beautifully creamy bokeh and superb contrast. Well, it’s all true. So if you want to take my word for it, feel free to skip down to the sample images. If not, keep reading.

Sharpness

Yep. The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 is exquisitely sharp even wide-open at f/1.4. The center is tack sharp with only a minuscule softening at the corners. At smaller apertures beyond f/2, this lens absolutely shines with virtually no vignetting past that aperture mark as well – virtually zero distortion. Also of note is that as you move toward f/16, there are majestically pronounced starbursts at point sources of light.

Color and Contrast

Colors pop wonderfully with this 35mm lens. Equally, the contrast is great, and I noticed no chromatic aberrations even at f/1.4. I wasn’t as overly impressed with this area of the lens as some have been, but it truly does produce some beautifully contrasted photos with perfectly adequate color separation. Tamron has also introduced the second generation of their BBAR element coating which is purported to reduce ghosting and flare greatly.

Here are a few sample images for your inspection. There have been no adjustments to sharpness, color (except WB) or contrast.

Image: F/8

F/8

 

Image: F/4.5

F/4.5

 

Image: F/8

F/8

 

Image: F/16

F/16

 

Image: F/1.8

F/1.8

 

Image: F/1.8

F/1.8

 

Image: F/2.8

F/2.8

 

Image: F/1.8

F/1.8

 

Image: F/2.8

F/2.8

 

Image: F/1.8

F/1.8

 

Image: F/13

F/13

 

Image: F/2.8

F/2.8

 

Image: F/4.5

F/4.5

 

Image: F/1.4

F/1.4

I’ve also put together a full-length video review of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 if you would like to dig a little deeper into the characteristics of this lens.

Final Thoughts on the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4…

What else can I say about the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 lens? Fortunately enough for both of us, the results from this lens happily speak for themselves. I’ll admit that going into this review I had already been bombarded with tales of its sharpness and high contrast, so the bar was set alarmingly high. So high in fact, that I was concerned that I would be let down by the performance of this lens once I actually used it. Banish all such thoughts!

The SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD from Tamron is a perfectly executed fast prime. It combines all the best attributes of fine glass and bundles them into a sleek looking package that performs fantastically. It’s a fast focusing beauty that would be right at home in the field or on the street.

The best part? It will set you back considerably less than some other lenses in its class. At the time of this review, the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 sells for $899US.

Have you used the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 lens? Do you have any other “go-to” prime lenses that you absolutely love keeping in your bag? Let us know in the comments!

 

dps-tamron-sp-35mm-f-1-4-lens-review

The post Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

The post Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

I’ve evaluated and reviewed quite a few lenses over the years – twenty-three to be exact. Throughout those reviews, I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter many that were good, a few that were great, and an oh-so limited few that were absolutely magic. Yet, I can honestly say that I have never experienced the overwhelmingly universal praise and excited electricity surrounding a freshly released lens as I have witnessed with the new Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Di USD (for Canon, Nikon). This is the prime lens that is currently wowing the masses with its mind-bending sharpness and wide-open f/1.4 speed.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Ironically enough, this little beauty marks the 40th Anniversary of Tamron’s “Superior Performance” line of lenses. Tamron has specifically geared all of the glass in SP line towards meeting the needs of discerning professional photographers.

So, needless to say, whenever I get the chance to review any new SP lens from Tamron, I always feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Would the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 live up to the hype? Could it? I was incredibly curious to find out, and, of course, I want you to come along for the ride.

Out of the box

First things first; this is a gorgeous lens. It possesses a clean and simplistic style which in my experience has been the hallmark of virtually all of the modern SP line. The lens itself is a velvety deep satin black with white lettering and, of course, that signature metallic-colored ring finishes off the minimalist design.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

There isn’t a lot to see here aside from the focusing ring (which is nicely rubberized), and the AF/MF switch. Oddly enough, the SP 35mm F/1.4 lacks the Vibration Control functionality which leaves quite a bit of open real estate on the lens body.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

I say the absence of Tamron’s proprietary VC image stabilization is odd not because it will necessarily be missed on a lens of this focal length, but instead because it is present on the close cousin of this lens – Tamron’s 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Canon, Nikon, Sony). The exclusion of VC on this 35mm could very well be a weight-saving measure to avoid making an already robust lens heavier. More on this in just a bit.

This lens includes generous moisture sealing throughout, which if you’ve read any of my other reviews of Tamron glass, you’ll know that I absolutely love. There’s just something extremely comforting about the physical presence of that rubber gasket at the rear of the lens.

Image: Image courtesy of Tamron

Image courtesy of Tamron

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

It also comes with a very nice storage bag.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Overall, it’s safe to say that the look of the new SP 35mm lens impressed me right out of the gate.

Here’s the list of specifications for the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD courtesy of Tamron:

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

As you can see, this is not a feather-weight prime lens. The 35mm F/1.4 with the lens hood comes in weighing just shy of 2lbs(907g) on my home scales. That makes for a hearty setup when mounted on larger DSLR cameras.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

With that said, the overall balance of the lens, when mated to a Canon 5D MK III, is remarkably pleasant. It’s not light, but it’s not overly bulky either. Take into account the fact that the lens houses 14 elements, and you become somewhat surprised that it doesn’t weigh more.

That lens hood though…

“But Adam…it’s only a lens hood. Do you really think it’s worth its own section?”

Yes, yes, I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand how trivial this may very well be, and it’s most certainly only my highly subjective…borderline neurotic…opinion.

Tamron has recently introduced a locking mechanism to some of its new lenses. This is the second time I’ve encounter this hooded curiosity from Tamron with the first being the 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon, Nikon).

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

In short, I’m conflicted. Of course, the goal of this feature is to keep your lens hood from accidentally popping off your camera. The issue I see with this is that such a static locking mechanism could possibly lead to a broken lens hood, or worse, breakage of the front mount of the lens barrel. Instead of the lens hood simply popping off, there could ultimately be a situation where “something’s gotta give” should a substantial impact occur. What’s more, the need to depress a button to remove the hood is just a little tedious. Then again, I must say the locking mechanism is finely executed and works quite well for its purpose. It’s a feature that I could come to enjoy, but for the time being, not so much.

Relax. I’m finished talking about the lens hood.

A fresh take on Autofocus

Newly introduced with the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 is a revamped mechanism that supposedly aids in more speedy and less noisy autofocusing. It’s called the Dynamic Rolling-Cam System.

Image: Image courtesy of Tamron

Image courtesy of Tamron

Not only is that a pretty cool name but the Dynamic Rolling-cam System assists Tamron’s already capable Ultrasonic Silent Drive AF with moving that large f/1.4 focusing unit and is reported to make the entire AF experience of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 much more reliable. I tested the AF with my Canon 5D MK III and my trusty Canon 7D Mk1. In both cases, the AF of the lens was quite snappy and accurate, even in low contrasted scenes. This lens also features a full-time manual focus override so that you can easily tweak focus manually while still in AF mode.

Performance and image quality

If you’ve heard anything about this lens already then you probably know it’s reported to be sharp – I mean scary sharp – with beautifully creamy bokeh and superb contrast. Well, it’s all true. So if you want to take my word for it, feel free to skip down to the sample images. If not, keep reading.

Sharpness

Yep. The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 is exquisitely sharp even wide-open at f/1.4. The center is tack sharp with only a minuscule softening at the corners. At smaller apertures beyond f/2, this lens absolutely shines with virtually no vignetting past that aperture mark as well – virtually zero distortion. Also of note is that as you move toward f/16, there are majestically pronounced starbursts at point sources of light.

Color and Contrast

Colors pop wonderfully with this 35mm lens. Equally, the contrast is great, and I noticed no chromatic aberrations even at f/1.4. I wasn’t as overly impressed with this area of the lens as some have been, but it truly does produce some beautifully contrasted photos with perfectly adequate color separation. Tamron has also introduced the second generation of their BBAR element coating which is purported to reduce ghosting and flare greatly.

Here are a few sample images for your inspection. There have been no adjustments to sharpness, color (except WB) or contrast.

Image: F/8

F/8

 

Image: F/4.5

F/4.5

 

Image: F/8

F/8

 

Image: F/16

F/16

 

Image: F/1.8

F/1.8

 

Image: F/1.8

F/1.8

 

Image: F/2.8

F/2.8

 

Image: F/1.8

F/1.8

 

Image: F/2.8

F/2.8

 

Image: F/1.8

F/1.8

 

Image: F/13

F/13

 

Image: F/2.8

F/2.8

 

Image: F/4.5

F/4.5

 

Image: F/1.4

F/1.4

I’ve also put together a full-length video review of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 if you would like to dig a little deeper into the characteristics of this lens.

Final Thoughts on the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4…

What else can I say about the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 lens? Fortunately enough for both of us, the results from this lens happily speak for themselves. I’ll admit that going into this review I had already been bombarded with tales of its sharpness and high contrast, so the bar was set alarmingly high. So high in fact, that I was concerned that I would be let down by the performance of this lens once I actually used it. Banish all such thoughts!

The SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD from Tamron is a perfectly executed fast prime. It combines all the best attributes of fine glass and bundles them into a sleek looking package that performs fantastically. It’s a fast focusing beauty that would be right at home in the field or on the street.

The best part? It will set you back considerably less than some other lenses in its class. At the time of this review, the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 sells for $899US.

Have you used the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 lens? Do you have any other “go-to” prime lenses that you absolutely love keeping in your bag? Let us know in the comments!

 

dps-tamron-sp-35mm-f-1-4-lens-review

The post Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

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