Monday, January 30, 2012

First ND Attempt

For the first time, I was out shooting and decided to use my ND Filter. At this point, I only had my 4x ND and not the 9x ND, but believe me, that was plenty as you can see:
This was an 85 second exposure, and was only slightly edited from the original with some leveling. I'm really loving what the ND filters do.

Figuring out what your exposure should be is a real challenge, it's sort of trial and error. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New UWA (with issues): Tokina 16-28 f/2.8

In going full frame, I was looking for a good ultra wide angle lens. After reading stellar reviews on DXOMark on the Tokina 16-28 f/2.8 (it beat out the Canon 16-35 f/2.8, among others), and other sites and knowing the excellent reputation of the Tokina 11-16 on APS-C sensor sizes, I figured I'd give it a try. While sharp, the lens unfortunately has this really odd rainbow haloing problem around lights in dim lighting conditions (full res here):

On top of that, the lens is big, heavy, and the bulbous head cannot accept filters.

I guess it's back to the drawing board for another UWA. Maybe the Sigma 12-24 is in my future. If you have suggestions for full frame UWA, please let me know.

LensAlign Tool Review

Tiger from Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom
So, I tried LensAlign over the weekend. For those of you who are not familiar, due to minor differences in manufacturing, and lens and camera combinations, some lenses may exhibit “front” or “back” focusing. This is when you use the camera’s auto focus system, and it has a tendency to focus either in front or back of your desired target, giving your images a slightly soft appearance. LensAlign is a simple system to allow you to test your camera’s focusing capabilities and adjust it on a lens by lens basis (at least on my Canon 5D Mark 2). The setup is really simple - you set your camera up and shoot their little plastic box that has a ruler attached to it. When you shoot, you focus on a vertical plane of the box and then when you examine the shot, the ruler will show you if your lens is either front, back, or perfect focusing. 

It only takes about 20 minutes to set up, and it seemed to work very well in that, after I had my lenses adjusted, they seemed to focus on the test box very consistently. I haven’t yet tried them in a while. 
Which lenses needed the most correction? Well, the results are somewhat surprising for my Canon 24-70 f/2.8, a L series lens which I’m very very fond of and which gives me nearly flawless shots every time (at least to my naked eye):
  • Canon 24-70 f/2.8 = +9 
  • Canon 85 f/1.8 = +2
  • Sigma 50 f/1.4 = +12
  • Canon 70-200 f/4 IS = 0
  • Tokina 16-28 f/2.8 = +1

I had noticed that my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 had about a 25% bad focus rate when I was using f/1.4. I just chocked it up to using a very thin depth of field, but maybe the slight back focus had something to do with that. I’ll have to keep an eye on that moving forward. 

If any of you plan on trying it, make sure you watch the videos on the website first of Michael Tapes actually doing it. I fumbled through it with the instructions that came with it, and missed a few key steps that Michael does in his vids.

I've seen test charts that can do nearly the same thing, so if you're on the fence about spending money on one of these, you can most likely get similar results out of that technique.

So there you have it - I highly recommend this tool. In my experience in reading lots and lots of lens reviews, I’ve often heard complains about front and back focusing issues - LensAlign should fix a lot of those. 


Over the years, I'd like to think that I've accumulated photography knowledge that would be valuable to others. I figured I should start a blog to capture that information, so here goes.