Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Travel Jitters

Friday, July 26th, 2013

I am not a big fan of travelling. I like going to interesting places and taking photos there, but when I like being able to go home after one or two days to get back to my routine. One of my friends has had to deal with me after being away from home for more than a few days and it’s never pretty. So when I say that I am travelling to Africa to spend almost two weeks travelling around the continent in the wild, I say it with a mixture of excitement and dread.

I am excited to think about what kind of landscapes, people and animals I’m going to come across, and what kin of photographs I am going to come home with. I am, however, dreading the inevitable homesickness that is going to come along with being so far away from home.

I’m going to be passing through South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, which covers some amazing scenery and, if we’re lucky, I will be there in time to see the bird migration.

I’m travelling fairly light in terms of photo gear: My 500D with 24-70mm f/2.8 and a Samyang 14mm f/2.8, My C-POL and ND8 filters, my laptop, and my trusty Yashica Electro 35 with a dozen rolls of film.

I am not sure what internet arrangements will be available during the trip, but assuming I come across a decent connection I will be updating Pants-Man with posts (hopefully) full of photos as I go.

This is only a quick post while I am charging my laptop up, but hopefully I will be updating the page here again soon.

Facebook No More

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Recently I’ve done what seems to many to be unthinkable: I have deactivated my Facebook account.

This will be the third time I’ve done it and the third time I’ve vowed to walk away, and instead spend my time doing something more productive. I don’t know how successful I will be, but time will tell. So far I’ve been away from it for two weeks and everything is going well.

I’ve been on the Facebook bandwagon since 2005 or so, and up until recently I’ve never taken it very seriously. It was a convenient way to keep in touch with my friends when we left school and scattered across the east coast to attend university or pursue careers, and it was very good at doing that. I can confidently say it’s one of the main reasons I’ve kept in touch with many of the people I went to school with, as they infrequently come back to our home town and I rarely leave to visit them thanks to work and family obligations.

Sadly though, in the last few months I find myself getting obsessed, browsing through profiles of people I’ve known, people I’ve met and people I don’t even like. Tonight I had the realisation that in the end I am getting nothing out of Facebook anymore: I can contact my close friends by phone or by e-mail which is more private and much more personal. For the rest of the people I networked with on Facebook, I rarely actually contributed anything beyond interesting youtube videos and the occasional photo. Both of which I can continue to serve up here, and hopefully generate more regular posts.

So what to do with all of my spare time I have now? My intention is to get out there and start taking more photos. I recently bought a Yashica-C TLR fairly cheap on eBay, and beyond shooting a roll of film to make sure it worked I haven’t taken it out too much despite having 14 rolls of Kodak Tmax 100 to put through it. I also bought a Canon EOS 3 recently that I’ve only run a few rolls of Fomapan 100 through that I plan on shooting some portraits and landscapes with, a Yashica Electro 35 that I want to take into a larger town nearby and shoot some street with and my trusty Spotmatic, that I’ve recently adjusted and need to test to see that it is working OK.

I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time recently hanging out at the used bookshop here in town, so I will hopefully have a few new old books to read.

Finally, today marks the first day of my leave from work. Six weeks of it. I applied for this leave about 12 months ago, as a friend and I were planning to do an epic motorcycle ride across Australia from East to West coast and back again over 4-5 weeks. Sadly, he had some things come up and had to pull out of the trip. I considered my options for a week or so before deciding not to do the trip without him, partly because we each have some of the essential gear for the trip that I would have trouble carrying by myself, partly beause the Nullarbor is not a stretch of road I feel comfortable riding by myself with a heavily loaded motorcycle, and partly because this whole trip has been his idea and I wouldn’t feel right going myself while he could not. I do have another ride in mind, that I will go on either by myself or with my mate depending on his availability, planned for a week or two towards the end of my leave.

So there it is, some past, some current and some future news. Depending on my availability tomorrow I hope to shoot a few rolls in the Yashica C and have them developed tomorrow night, fingers crossed.

Finally, here’s a shot from the test roll I ran through my Yashica C:

Yashica C - Yashikor 80mm f3.5 - Kodak Tmax 100 in Ilfosol-3

New Camera Lenses: Where Does My Money Go?

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

For the past 18 months I have been playing around with a Canon EOS 500D, taking photos around my town and generally having fun. Up until recently the only lenses I had to suit it were the kit lenses, an EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS, an EF-S 55-200mm F4-5.6 and an EF 50mm F1.8. They are all decent lenses, and they’ve served me well so far but I felt like it was time to invest in some decent glass.

My main reason for having an SLR is for travel photography while touring on the motorcycle, and for street photography when I can drag myself out of the house. So this mainly consists of landscapes while travelling and the majority of the remaining shots not requiring very high focal lengths. I’ve had my heart set on a Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8L lens for almost a year now, and I was planning on buying one with my tax return this year (along with all the other photography gear I need for an upcoming holiday). Unluckily, I didn’t count on the tax office deducting a large chunk of my return this year to repay my university loans. This mean I couldn’t afford the Canon lens. I still needed something though, and after looking around on B&H for a few days I settled on the Sigma equivalent, the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM, and a Bower 14mm f2.8 Wide Angle.

I have had these lenses for 3 weeks now and I can say with complete conviction that the Sigma lens isn’t performing anywhere close to the standard I expected. I know a lot of people who already own a pile of L-series lenses will say “That’s what you get for buying an third-party lens”, but I spent some time comparing these lenses, and comparing the specifications side by side one could be forgiven for expecting them to be of similar performance. Both have Ultrasonic autofocus, both have an aperture of 2.8 across the zoom range, and both are priced at $US1400 retail. This isn’t consumer price-territory. The most glaring issue I have with the Sigma is the autofocus. It’s a common complaint with this lens, and a few minutes with Google will reveal hundreds of instances of people having trouble with the autofocus performance of this lens. In my case, it’s neither consistent or accurate, sometimes it will focus forwards of what I am actually focusing on and other times it will focus too far. Switching off the autofocus is the best thing I did, and focusing by eye instantly increased the sharpness of the photos coming out of the camera. This lens is sharp and optically I cannot fault it, there is very little distortion or aberration in any of the images I shot with it. I was really suprised.

But that’s not what I paid for. I already have several manual lenses that perform just as well as this lens optically, and they did not cost me over $1000. What I paid for is a lens that is just as sharp as those older lenses with the convenience of fast, quiet and accurate autofocus. The time I have to spend focusing with this lens means many shots will simply be missed, or won’t be captured in anything other than a blurry approximation of what I wanted when I was looking through the viewfinder.

I e-mailed Sigma and after showing them some example of the lazy autofocus their solution is to send the lens, and my camera, to their service centre in this region for calibration. After considering it for a few days I said Poppy to that and I’m sending it back to B&H for a refund and I’m buying the Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8L like I planned to in the first place. While I did get the lens for $US899, quite a lot cheaper than the $US1400 retail price quoted by Sigma, I still have had to pay over $200 in import taxes, and I am looking at another $100 in postage to get this lemon back to B&H. All this has taught me is that if I’m going to buy a electronic lens for my camera I am better off in the long run buying one from the camera manufacturer.

I did mention earlier I also got another lens, a Bower 14mm f2.8 Wide Angle. After reading my experiences and how I feel about the Sigma, anyone would think I would want to return this lens with the Sigma and get the Canon EF 14mm f2.8L II USM wide angle. Certainly the Canon is the better performer, and with USM autofocus it’s easier and faster to use, and at 650g it’s near enough to make no difference to the Bowers 600g. But the Canon lens costs $US2239, more than 5 times the price of the Bower which costs a mere $US419. It performs well enough for what I want it for which is mainly landscapes, but it’s also quite reasonable up close as well:

Quite Reasonable

I’ve only just started playing with this lens but every time I take it out I love it just a little bit more. The manual focusing and aperture control take a little while for anyone who hasn’t used a manual lens to get confident with, but that’s really only a small issue when you’re getting a lens that has the potential to perform very well while costing what is practically peanuts compared to similar lenses. Unlike the Sigma where I really need the autofocus to be fast and accurate to avoid missing shots, I really only want this lens for landscapes so I can afford to stand there for half an hour taking photos and adjusting settings without a problem. If you need a lens that you can just bring up to your face and shoot with minimal fiddling around then this lens probably isn’t for you, but for me, it’s perfect.

Camerapedia Addon For Firefox

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I have been hammering eBay lately buying broken cameras for salvaging parts for a camera I am currently restoring, but I am constantly distracted by the other bargains I find along the way. One thing that has annoyed me a few times is finding an auction with only minutes left, and missing out because I was poking through Google results while researching the camera being sold. To make things a bit easier for myself I whipped up a Camerapedia addon for the Firefox Search Bar so I can quickly check Camerapedia for camera details.

It’s simple. I have been using it for a few weeks now and I haven’t run into any major issues. Hopefully it helps a few people out somewhere along the line.

It can be downloaded HERE

Update: Reviewed and ready to go.