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Topics - TWI by Dustin Abbott

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Reviews / First Look at the Samyang/Rokinon 50mm and 135mm Primes
« on: February 22, 2015, 08:50:49 AM »
Hi everyone.  I've just started the review process on the new 50mm f/1.4 and 135mm f/2.  The optics on the latter are extremely impressive.

Here's a first look at the lenses and some general impressions.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

P.S.  I'd appreciate some feedback on how to actually embed the YouTube video here to make is easier for everyone.

Post Processing / Processing Workflow Tutorial for Alien Skin Software
« on: February 17, 2015, 11:38:13 AM »
Hi everyone, I just did a new video tutorial article for Alien Skin software using a shot from the Canon 100-400L II + 1.4x teleconverter.  I used Exposure and Snap Art to take a simple high key shot of a horse into a painterly, classic finish.

Take look if you are interested:

Hi everyone, I did a controlled series yesterday where I took a ton of shots at all major apertures (f/2.8-f/11) on three lenses (ones that I had on hand):  the new Tamron SP 15-30 VC, the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, and Tamron's own 24-70 VC.  I have also recently reviewed both the Canon 16-35 f/4L and the Zeiss 15mm f/2.8, so those lenses are also fresh in mind, but I didn't have a copy on hand for a direct comparison here. 

I think you will find the results interesting.

P.S.  Can anyone tell me how to directly embed YouTube video here?

Reviews / Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Image Quality Examination
« on: February 13, 2015, 12:34:48 PM »
I did an in depth breakdown of the image quality from the new Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 VC lens with a number of crops and examination of what it all means.

I don't think that I am letting the cat out of the bag by saying that this is a very compelling lens.  My full review is yet to come, but for those of you looking for some early info, take a look at the article here:

P.S.  Here is a photo of me taken with the lens this morning as the sun rose out on a frozen river.  It was about 40 below...and my trigger finger is still a bit numb 5 hours later!

Reviews / Senal SMH-1000 Studio Monitor Headphones Review (Dustin Abbott)
« on: February 11, 2015, 11:37:02 AM »
Hi, everyone, if you are looking for a great set of studio/field monitor headphones (or just a great set of general purpose headphones), this relatively unknown brand has made a pretty fantastic pair.  I got some for myself after reviewing them because the sound is great (very neutral) and there is a lot of great little features.

Text review:
Video Review:

Reviews / RØDE SmartLav+ Lavalier Microphone Review by Dustin Abbott
« on: February 09, 2015, 09:19:52 AM »
Hi, everyone.  As many of you know, I do video reviews on YouTube as part of my review process.  I needed a decent lavalier mic solution for getting audio.  I settled on the RØDE SmartLav+.  Here's a review along with a breif video review to show its effectiveness in the field.

Full text review:
Video Review and Field Test:

Have any of you used the SmartLav+ (not to be confused with the previous SmarLav that didn't have as good of sound quality)?  What are your thoughts?

Reviews / Metz Mecablitz 64 AF-1 Flash Review by Dustin Abbott
« on: February 04, 2015, 09:47:33 PM »
Hello, everyone, a bit of deviation from some of the other kit, but I just posted a review of the Metz Mecablitz 64 AF-1 flash units this past week.  After doing a review for PhotoNews last year of these units I liked them well enough that I sold off my 580EXIIs and replaced them with the Metz units.  They are excellent flashes, and despite the drama at Metz right now I like them well enough that I may add another in the future.

Here's the link to the review:

Anyone else using these?  If so, what is your feedback?

Reviews / Review of the Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/50 ZE
« on: January 18, 2015, 04:45:37 PM »
I have just finished launching my review of the Zeiss Makro-Planar 50mm f/2 lens.  While this lens isn’t new, I think its versatility, compact size, and image quality still makes it a worthy contender even after the launch of the new Sigma and the Otus 55.  I had a lot of fun with this lens, particularly after I added an EG-S focus screen to one of my 6D bodies.

Written Review:
Video Review:
Image Gallery:

Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on the reviews. I'm launching the Zeiss Distagon 15mm f/2.8 review next, followed by the Canon 100-400L II (I'm having a blast with it right now!) and will have the upcoming Tamron 15-30 VC in hand at the beginning of February.  The 100-400LII and Tamron 15-30 VC are probably the two lenses I'm most excited about this year.

Hi, everyone, here's a little article I did for B&H's Explora e-zine.  I thought some of you might find some interest here.

It's about a little photography adventure in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada and why you should keep shooting even if the weather doesn't turn out as planned.

Reviews / Text and Video Review of the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T*
« on: December 05, 2014, 01:00:15 PM »
I just finished a review of the Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 as kind of a counterpoint to the Sigma 50 review.  The Zeiss is a few years older (2010) and a very different kind of lens.  It isn't nearly as sharp as the Sigma at wide apertures, but does have better bokeh and very nice "drawing.  If nothing else, it makes for yet another option in the 50mm market.

Written Review:
Image Gallery:
Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T* Review by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T* by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

Reviews / Samyang/Rokinon 24mm f/3.5 Tilt-Shift Review (Text + Video)
« on: November 20, 2014, 10:02:51 AM »
Hello, all.  I will be releasing a series of reviews over the next month or so.  Up first is the Samyang Rokinon 24mm f/3.5 Tilt-Shift.

Text Review:
Video Review:
Sample Gallery:

Larch Season by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

Reviews in the pipeline:  Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART (next week), Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T, Metz 64 AF-1 flash units, Vanguard ABEO Pro 283AT + GH-300T head, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4, Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM, and Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar.

Reviews / Dustin Abbott reviews the Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS for Mirrorless
« on: October 24, 2014, 02:03:32 PM »
Hello everyone,

My newest review, the Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS for Mirrorless systems, has just gone live.  I would be delighted for you to help me get the news out.  I liked this little wide angle option so much that I added it to my own kit.  I tested it on an EOS M body, but my observations cover the other mirrorless systems that this lens is available for.

The written review is here:
The video review is here:

Both have a lot of sample images and real world observations.  The written review also has linkage a gallery with a lot of images, including some full size samples for download.  Take a look!

Lens Image Gallery:

My Conclusion:  In summation, this lens is (at least to me) one of the most exciting options available in the EF-M mount. It is a lens well situated for producing some “WOW” pictures from this compact system (along with the other camera systems that it is produced for). It has a very nice build quality, well-functioning manual controls, and has exceptional image quality even wide open. It’s a great focal length, has great color rendition, and is a lot of fun to use. It’s greatest challenge is that Canon makes a great compact wide angle zoom that has AF, IS, and costs no more. But it’s greatest asset is a fully usable f/2 aperture that is 2+ stops faster than the Canon zoom. That made the difference for me; I added this lens to my own kit at the end of the review period. It really boils down to your own personal priorities. The good news: I don’t think you can really make a bad choice here. Just be prepared to do your own focusing if you choose the Rokinon.

Partly Sunny by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

EOS-M / Posted: Tamron 18-200mm VC for EOS M Review
« on: October 10, 2014, 09:58:32 AM »
Hello all.  This is a very interesting option for M owners because it provides both reasonable tele performance along with a truly all-in-one solution that is very portable (though the lens is on the large side for an EOS M).

The review post/links are here:

There is a written review, video review, and image gallery with some full size samples.

You can also go straight to the review site that has all of those links:

P.S.  I will be going live with the Rokinon 12mm f/2 lens in the next week or so.  #catoutofthebag - I liked it so much that I bought it and added it to my kit.

Reviews / Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Review (EOS M and NEX)
« on: October 10, 2014, 09:52:57 AM »
Here is a new review of the Tamron 18-200 VC for mirrorless bodies.  I was pretty impressed with this lens other than the fact that it is a bit on the large side for the tiny bodies it is mounting too.  I’ve done both a written review:

A video review:

And a lens image gallery with some samples/full size images for download:

For those of you with either an M or a NEX, this is a pretty compelling choice because the IQ is very good.  It makes for a really convenient all in one package or something to bring along to compliment a more focused DSLR setup (with primes, etc...)

The Moira River by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

Post Processing / Alien Skin Software piece on Workflow with Dustin Abbott
« on: September 26, 2014, 03:14:08 PM »
Here's a link to a recent piece that Alien Skin did on some of my workflow tutorials:

They look at two stages:  producing a natural HDR image (from this video @ and then a toning and processing tutorial where I convert that image into a high contrast monochrome using Alien Skin Exposure 6 (

You might find them beneficial...or not.  Take a look if interested.

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