December 18, 2014, 06:50:09 PM

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Topics - TWI by Dustin Abbott

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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.

This is about a six minute video tutorial on how to easily blend multiple exposures into first a 32bit HDR, tone it in Adobe Camera Raw, and then convert it into a fully editable 16B file with the full range of the blended exposures.  Easy to use, and now that the there is the "Photography" option for Creative Cloud it is also a very reasonable way to get high end landscape imagery.

The link to the brief article and video tutorial is here:

Here is the image that we blend in the tutorial with no processing other the blend of three exposures:

I recognize that we are a Canon community, but I am interested in your reaction to the seemingly continual updates to Nikon's camera bodies (D810, D800E, D800S, D610, potential D620, etc...)  Their market strategy seems very different than Canon.  Canon never seems to be in a hurry to release new bodies (other than the Rebel series), and has often had at least 4 years between major model releases (more in the case of the 7D).

So, in your opinion, is Nikon's approach to continually releasing incremental upgrades to existing models a good thing or a bad thing?  I can see pros and cons, but as a consumer I'm not sure that I would be crazy about my camera being outmoded so quickly.  You would be stuck either using "inferior" tech or very possibly taking a pretty big financial hit because the resale value of your equipment has been eroded.  The thought of getting upgraded technology more quickly is also appealing, and I know that many of you feel that Canon's development cycles are often too long.

Your thoughts?

Reviews / Tamron 16-300 VC Review and Video Review
« on: August 29, 2014, 10:55:05 AM »
Hello, all.  Just completed a review of the new crop sensor all-in-one lens from Tamron, the 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD.  This lens has a massive 18.8x zoom range, and on a Canon crop has an 35mm equivalent 25.6-460mm range.  That is both wider and longer than all previous lenses of the type.  If you would like to read more about (or watch the video review), you can click here:

Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Review by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

P.S.  I have previously reviewed the 28-300 VC for full frame bodies, and B&H is currently sending me the 18-200 VC for EF-M mount that I will be reviewing (alongside the Samyang 12mm f/2 for EF-M and the 16-35mm f/4L IS).  Full plate for a bit, but the new reviews should start coming in about a month.  Somewhere in there Zeiss will be sending me the two Otus lenses for review (55 and 85mm).

Is there anything out there that hasn't been reviewed much that you guys want me to request in the future?  At this stage I can get just about anything for review (although some of the higher end superteles are a little more work to get).

I recently did a review/video review of the filter system made by Samyang for the 14mm f/2.8 lens from Samyang, Rokinon, Bower, etc...

The system works well, although Samyang's distribution in North America is basically nonexistent.  I had to use Ebay to get mine even though I work with the Rokinon distributor in North America.  I still have been unable to get the solid ND filter, but the ND grad is a treat for it.

Anyway, here's a link if you are interested.

I'd be interested in reading any of your own experiences with both getting and using the system.

Reviews / Quebec City and the new Tamron 28-300 VC as a Travel Lens
« on: August 18, 2014, 11:45:20 AM »
I recently did a review of the new Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens (someone posted a link here, but if you didn't see it you can find the review here:  It is an obvious choice for travel, but I hadn't actually traveled with the lens.  I just spent 4-5 days traveling to the beautiful Quebec City and used the Tamron almost exclusively.  This is a companion article with a lot of photos that show off the range and image quality of the lens in a variety of settings.  It is also a bit of a travelogue on Quebec City.


Hello everyone. I have a quick question for other wedding photographers.  I have done custom albums for several years.  Nice, leather bound, padded, etc...  I have a nice wide format printer and can produce really stunning prints because I control the whole workflow, so the albums look fab, but....

I find producing albums time consuming and because the albums themselves are expensive, the small margin makes it seem like it isn't hardly worth my time. 

How are the rest of you handling albums these days? Any tips?

Photography Technique / How (and Why) I Took the Shot #3: Inferno
« on: April 22, 2014, 10:43:09 AM »
Here's a third article from this series that mixes some light tutorials on both capture and post-processing.  Hopefully this will help to provide a little inspiration for those of you looking that are looking for it.

Inferno by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

"...I arose early on Good Friday morning, took a quick look out the window, and knew that I wouldn’t be going back to bed. You only have so many days with a fabulous dawn. After dressing and preparing my gear in haste, I traveled to a spot where I knew roughly what I would have to work with to enhance the great sky.

This is one of the keys to being a successful landscape photographer – scouting. Amazing skies don’t automatically produce amazing photos. I have seen some shots of fabulous skies that were completely ruined by the entirely uninteresting nature of the foreground.

Foreground matters.

This is doubly true if you use a wide angle lens and compose in a portrait orientation as I have done here. My 14mm lens has an incredibly wide angle of view, and composing like this means that the foreground is somewhat exaggerated. That exaggeration produces very visually compelling images…if the photographer does a good job of composing the shot. It also means that some serious thought needs to be put into the foreground and to visualize how the final shot will appear
to read more, click through here:

Here's a little technique article for those interested on utilizing a polarizer even in lower lighting conditions like indoor exhibits or (as the example photos in the article) an aquarium.

"...In the perfect world for photographers, it would always be “golden hour”.  The light would be soft and directional, making even mundane things appear rich and interesting.  But in the real world golden hour only comes (at best) twice a day, and often not at all.  Experienced photographers learn to use things like circular polarizers and ND (neutral density) filters to help control the light in less than ideal conditions.  These filters are particularly helpful when the light is more harsh and glaring.  I personally like to have a circular polarizer available for all my lenses.

But this little article isn’t about using a circular polarizer in a conventional way.

It’s about why I screw on a circular polarizer in a very dark place like interior spaces at zoos and, most recently, at an aquarium.  What?!!" read more click the link above...

Software & Accessories / Adding Punch through Exposure 5
« on: February 25, 2014, 09:40:43 AM »
Adding "Punch" Through Exposure

There are some people who make a very good living by buying somewhat rundown houses, renovating them, and then “flipping” them for a large profit.  Not everyone can do this.  Some people try it and discover somewhere during the renovation project that they have made a terrible decision.  But those that are successful often share a certain quality:  they can see the “bones” of a house.  They can look past the clutter and disrepair and visualize what the house could be.

This little article is about applying the same principle to photography.  As a professional photographer I take a lot of pictures, and most of the time I at least think I’ve taken a great shot when the shutter clicks.  Some photos are amazing all by themselves, but others are a lot like those rundown houses – they have good “bones”, but they are lacking a bit of punch.  I have enough experience with both photography and software that I can look at a photo and pre-visualize how it will look when I’m finished.  Experience has taught me how to achieve that vision most of the time, and a big part of getting the vision of the finished product out of my head and into reality is through the use of Alien Skin Exposure

To read more, click

You can also read a smaller version at the Alien Skin blog later today.  Enjoy

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