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Messages - TWI by Dustin Abbott

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Reviews / Re: 35/2 IS Review by Dustin Abbott
« on: April 27, 2014, 12:48:56 PM »
OK Dustin,
One more question as I'm probably going to pull the trigger on my next lens in the next few weeks. The Canon's price drop pushed you to seriously consider the 35/2. So my question is, if the Canon stayed at its original price or was the same price as the Sigma today, and you had to make the decision, all over, which would you choose? I understand there were many factors governing your choice and that price was only one them. Just curious how much of an impact price was.

I probably wouldn't have bought either of them.  I don't think the Canon is worth $849, even though it is my choice of the two.  I'd have stuck with my Tamron 24-70 VC and looked in a different direction.  I suspect I'll be having a similar debate regarding the Sigma 50 vs. a new Canon IS prime before long.

Lenses / Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« on: April 22, 2014, 01:21:20 PM »
I don't disagree with what you are saying at all, but I understand the conundrum as a reviewer.  These days it seems like most reviews are published before retail copies are technically available.  Waiting until the lens launches to the public means that you lose the early momentum/hits that are so important to building a brand and a website.

Thus the suggestion to test additional lens(es) purchased through normal retail channels, once they become available.

I do appreciate the quandary, but I'd argue that merely adds another potential source of bias (and please note the use of the word potential).  If delivering an early review to gain momentum/hits is that important (and I'm sure it is), what if the review is negative?  It seems possible that a negative review would result in the reviewer not getting an advance copy of the next lens from that manufacturer, and thus losing out on the momentum/hits for the next round.

The full text of the review indicates a 40% AF miss rate in formal testing, and includes statements like, "...the longer I focus tested this lens, the less sure I was about its focus accuracy," and, "Sometimes, most images are properly focused and when my shots counted, this lens delivered. But sometimes, more images are out of focus than I am comfortable with."  To me, that does not equate to, "...occasional AF inconsistency."  Which of those statements made it into the concluding paragraph of the review, which is the part most likely to be picked up and quoted, as it was in this post by CRguy?

Your points about the potential on a negative review are very solid.  It seems that most lenses these days are pretty decent, although I try to be equally transparent about what I perceive as weaknesses in them.  I've never had any issues with the people I deal with, but I'm also small potatoes. 

Lenses / Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« on: April 22, 2014, 12:14:42 PM »
Quote from: Bryan @ TDP
Below I share ten 100% crops from one of the more-formal focus tests I performed. The subject is a large book properly aligned with the camera at a relatively close focus distance. Starting with a slightly defocused lens, each shot was autofocused using the center AF point that was very comfortably and completely covered by the book. The first 5 and last 5 images from this particular test are presented below and are representative of the larger test group. … The camera was a tripod-mounted EOS 5D Mark III with mirror lockup and the 2-sec self-timer in use.

Of those 10 shots, 4 are sufficiently OOF as to be unusable (3, 4, 6, 10).  A 60% hit rate with a static subject and a tripod-mounted camera, particularly one with an excellent AF system, does not inspire confidence. 

Also, this is a departure from the norm for Bryan's lens tests (and one, frankly, with which I'm not too pleased):

Quote from: Bryan @ TDP
My evaluation lens was a short term loan from Sigma, as they offered the production-grade lens before it was commercially available.

Any time a manufacturer supplies a product to a well-known reviewer, a big unanswered question is whether the provided copy is truly representative of units purchased retail.  Clearly, it would be in Sigma's best interest to pre-test a batch of them and pick the best copy they can find for review (in fact, they are supposed to generate measured MTFs for every lens they produce, so they have the data already).

I've always felt that one of the strengths of Bryan's reviews (in addition to their thoroughness and readability) is that he purchases review copies through standard retail channels (B&H may put him near the top of the preorder queue, but that's fine), and therefore avoids the potential confound of bias introduced by testing a 'hand-picked' lens from the manufacturer.  I hope Bryan chooses to test one or more copies of the lens purchased retail to see if the results align with the copy provided by Sigma.

I don't disagree with what you are saying at all, but I understand the conundrum as a reviewer.  These days it seems like most reviews are published before retail copies are technically available.  Waiting until the lens launches to the public means that you lose the early momentum/hits that are so important to building a brand and a website.

I don't have an "in" with Sigma, so I am waiting for a copy to be provided to me from a retailer for review right now...and it's taking a while.

P.S.  Your point about the AF is very well and clearly stated.  That's a problem...and not a small one, particularly if one intends to use this lens commercially.  You could by with it doing portraiture, but certainly not event work.

Lenses / Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« on: April 22, 2014, 11:19:12 AM »
The review was great to read, and I really liked the look of the headshot of Brianna.  The AF inconsistency is a bit of concern, though.  Always enjoy Bryan's reviews.

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: http://dustinabbott.net/2014/04/how-and-why-i-took-the-shot-3-inferno/

Here's a new Helios shot from this week:

Old Growth, New Growth by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

The Helios is such a great old lens that it hardly seems fair to post shots from it, but since I paid about $25 shipped from Russia, it definitely qualifies as old and cheap!

Old Growth, New Growth by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

Reviews / Re: 35/2 IS Review by Dustin Abbott
« on: April 18, 2014, 10:29:23 AM »
For the record, I disagree with the "Sigma is clinical" assessment. I've seen a lot of images that look wonderful from that lens. I lean towards the Canon mostly because they both look great and the price difference is significant.

From some of the images that I have seen posted on the web the out of focus or 'bokeh' of the Sigma has, on first impression, looked really good. However I think that the transition from in and out of focus is quite abrupt, at least when compared with the 35L. That lens has a proper ground glass aspherical element, and I do find that on lenses when this is used there is a more 'glassy' or 'liquid' quality to the out of focus area. I'm guessing that the Sigma is pretty highly corrected for chromatic aberration to get the sharpness, and I'm sure it doesn't use a ground glass aspherical element, and the out of focus is a little more 'plasticy'. ( I'm being really scientific here).

I wonder if this is what Dustin is relating to ?

The EF 35 IS will use a moulded element, but as with the other Canon mid range primes the bokeh transition is good. Pretty clever stuff for such a sharp lens.

You've expressed it better than what I could have.  The Sigma is unquestionably one of the finest lenses produced thus far in terms of absolute sharpness.  I personally would trade a little of that sharpness for a smoother transition into defocus, but that is a matter of preference.  I find the 35IS does this very nicely, and so it was my choice.

Reviews / Re: 35/2 IS Review by Dustin Abbott
« on: April 17, 2014, 03:44:48 PM »
Reading your review for the third time. Seriously considering this lens. On my third read, you are starting to sound like a pirate  ;)

"The Sigma is incredibly sharp, but to me eye it seems like there is an imbalance between sharpness and “creaminess” in the defocused region."

Ayyyy, ye caught me, matey...

Reviews / Re: 35/2 IS Review by Dustin Abbott
« on: April 17, 2014, 08:29:08 AM »

As always, thanks for an awesome, down to earth review. You always get me thinking.

I will say I was a bit disappointed in your YouTube review. Not in the content, but in your voice! In my mind's ear, I assumed you would sound like you were off the set of Strange Brew (you are from Canada, right?) so this Southern Illinois accent you are sporting threw me off  ;D https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZCI39NWZ5g

Seriously, thanks for the incredible effort I'm sure it took you to pull this off.

Oh, I do have a question. As a fellow 6D shooter, I am curious to know if, with available light, you use the other focus points outside of the center one. Do you ever find yourself locking in focus with the center and recomposing? Personally, I am embarrassed to say that I am just starting to experiment with my other focus points.

Southern Illinois?  That's interesting.  I was actually born in California, raised in Arizona, and have been in Ontario (Canada) for the last nearly 17 years.  Maybe all of that = Southern Illinois. :)

I do use the outer focus points at times.  I almost never have all point activated.  I primarily do use the center point and recompose, but I don't hesitate to use other focus points when I am shooting more deliberately. 

Reviews / Re: 35/2 IS Review by Dustin Abbott
« on: April 15, 2014, 08:39:55 AM »

Glorious Decay by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

Very nice photo Dustin - I don't have experience with the Sigma 35 1.4 Art, but that photo looks pretty good to me!  However, I wonder if the Tamron 24-70 VC could have produced something pretty similar?  I don't believe my Sigma 24-70 2.8 could - it's just not that sharp at 2.8.

More than you might think.  You could achieve a similiarly shallow DOF by shooting near the minimum focus distance and zooming in to 70mm, but that would change the framing.  The 35mm is sharper (though the Tamron is no slouch).  The bokeh is also a bit softer with the prime. 

Still, I know what you are saying.  If you owned none of the options, I would say the Tamron is the most versatile tool, and I have been really pleased with my results from it.  I just enjoy primes, though, and I have enjoyed having the 35IS in addition to the Tamron.

Reviews / Re: 35/2 IS Review by Dustin Abbott
« on: April 13, 2014, 02:51:14 PM »
Another nice review by Dustin. I do like seeing what a lens can do when it's not just shooting a test chart!

My (very much unprofessional) $0.02 ... I currently have the 35IS and it's growing on me, but I'd call it a very nice lens rather than an amazing one. 

Perhaps my biggest reservation about the 35IS relates to the 40mm pancake.  Comparing them:
- my feeling is the 35IS is a little sharper, but there's not a whole lot in it
- my feeling is the 35IS has slightly better colour and contrast, but there's not a lot in it
- my thinking is the 35IS has slightly nicer bokeh, but there's not a whole lot in it
- the 35IS has noticeably faster and quieter AF - but that's not to say the pancake is bad in those respects, so query how much difference this is likely to make in practice (no doubt it depends in large part on what you're shooting)
- the 35IS feels more substantial and hence makes you think it may have better build quality - but I have no idea whether, in reality, the 35IS is likely to be any more durable.  (In this case I strongly suspect it is likely to be more durable than the pancake, but all the same I get sick of reading lens reviews which seem to equate weight with build quality, and conclude anything light weight is lesser quality.  Isn't that like saying something made of steel is always a higher build quality than something made of titanium or carbon fibre?)
- of course, the 35IS has a one stop aperture advantage (which you'd rather have than not), and IS (worth at least another 3 stops - which allows you the choice of longer shutter times or lower ISO)
- the 35IS has 67 filter thread, which means you may already have filters you can use on it (unlikely with the pancake)
- the extra 5 mm of width (in the focal length) is noticeable on the 35IS but again, it's not very different - and to the extent there is a difference, each has its pros and cons
- much better focus ring

Weighed against that, the 35IS is around 3x more expensive than the pancake, substantially larger and over 2.5x heavier (even if it still ranks as a relatively small and light lens in the bigger scheme of things).

So, my question remains about the value of the 35IS compared with the pancake.  The 35IS clearly offers more flexibility in that if you want to be able to handhold shots of still subjects in low light, the 35IS is way in front.  If you're subject is moving, the 35IS still has the advantage but the gap is much closer.  If you have enough light though, the 35IS's IQ advantage doesn't seem to be that great really, so if you're using it in well lit conditions, it's less clear to me whether that advantage is worth the extra cost/weight/size.

Put another way, and taking the position most people can hand hold a 35mm or 40mm lens at 1/60 second in most circumstances (noting the debate in one of the other message threads about whether 1/focal length is a suitable guide or if these days it's closer to 1/double the focal length, I'll use a compromise here), if you'll use the lens in circumstances where you want to handhold shots at shutter times longer than 1/60 second, the 35IS offers a clear advantage (and more so as you get into the 1/30 second range and longer).  Otherwise, though, you're paying quite a lot more for only extra stop of shallow depth of field ability, and a few other things which may be of limited practical value to some people (eg the better AF).

Even so, I'm enjoying shooting with the 35IS at the moment.  That could be just the "new toy" effect though - I'll see over the next few months how much use it gets.  I do agree though with person above who commented on how small the 6D becomes with the pancake on it - which is of value to me, given I tend to use this lens as a general walk around lens.

Dustin, if you have time, it would be great to hear your thoughts on what you see the 35IS adding to your kit compared with the 40 pancake, and also compared with your Tamron 24-70 VC.

I don't disagree with you whole line of logic here, which is the primary reason that I parted with the earlier version of the 35mm f/2.  It needed to be frequently stopped down to f/2.8 anyway, so the light advantage was diminished vs. the 40mm. 

Still, I do have all three lenses, and I find that the images from the 35IS are just enough "extra-special" that I prefer them.  Here is a guy that has used the 35IS both often and well:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/michael_kafka/.  His images, in part, sold me on the fact that the 35IS could do some special things.

Here's the thing:  zooms are tools.  I just got back from traveling out of the country to shoot a wedding.  I took two zooms of the f/2.8 variety (Tamrons, actually).  Both stabilized.  Between the two lenses I could shoot just about every shot imaginable.  The flexibility of a zoom means that you get the shots you need when the pressure is up.

But primes are fun.  I own primes because I love photography.  You take a little more time with a prime, and you have to think a little more, but you get images that remind you of why you love photography.  Unique images.  More creative images.  Right now at home we are slowly trudging out of winter and there isn't much to shoot.  But I can go out and shoot something simple like this old leaf, have fun processing it, and then share an image that a lot of people will like.  That is the joy of a prime lens.

Glorious Decay by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott, on Flickr

6D Sample Images / Re: Shooting in Namibia with the Canon EOS 6D
« on: April 13, 2014, 02:39:13 PM »
Some pretty images, Craig.  The 6D/70-300L is definitely part of my travel rotation.  Look forward to your return!

Reviews / Re: 35/2 IS Review by Dustin Abbott
« on: April 12, 2014, 09:42:28 AM »
Thanks Mac, I had noticed that too, it is on the press release I linked to earlier, I had just read through the whole thing and realised where some confusion might have arisen originally.

Like I said, I wasn't trying to make an issue of it, just pointing out a simple E&O.

P.S. How's that 1DX coming on? Notice much difference between it and the 5D MkIII files?

I've made some minor revisions.  Thanks for the feedback.

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