11 January

Real Life Review – The Legendary Nikon 14-24 f2.8 Lens (used on a Canon Body)

Thanks to GTA Lens Rentals for providing this lens for review.

The Legendary Nikon 14- 24 f2.8 lens

The Legendary Nikon 14- 24mm f2.8 lens

©Darwin Wiggett - Nikon and Canon as best friends

©Darwin Wiggett – Nikon and Canon as best friends

The Nikon 14-24mm f2.8, released in late 2007,  is the stuff of legend; it’s considered by almost everyone who has tried it to be sharpest wide angle zoom lens on the planet! Just do a search on the web and all reviews say the same thing, the lens is a freaking anomaly! Once you try it your definition of sharp is forever changed. The lens was such a game changer that many Canon shooters salivated in envy because, frankly, all of Canon’s wide angle zoom lenses  suck. Suddenly the market exploded with lens adapters so that Nikon lenses could be mounted on Canon cameras. I personally knew a half a dozen Canon landscape photographers who bought the lens and adapter. The introduction of the Nikon D800 in 2012 also caused shockwaves because of its 36 MP sensor. The file quality on the D800 is also legendary. Combine the D800 with the 14-24mm and you have a combo that makes many other camera and lens combos look like a Holga. At this point all my Canon landscape buddies with the 14-24mm lenses just switched to Nikon.

©Darwin Wiggett - Nikon 14 - 24mm lens on a Canon EOS-1ds Mark III

©Darwin Wiggett – Nikon 14-24mm lens on a Canon EOS-1ds Mark III

Why didn’t I make the same move as my buddies? Easy, I’m addicted to my Canon tilt-shift lenses for landscape photography. The creative advantages of tilt-shift lenses over a wide angle zoom are many including the ability to tilt the plane of focus, to shift for perspective control and to shift to make panoramic photos and mega-pixel stitches. Nikon’s tilt-shift lenses are not as versatile as Canon’s because Nikon does not not make the tilt and shift rotate independently like Canon does. Independent rotation of tilt and shift are critical for full creative potential of these lenses. As well Canon’s live view is better than Nikon’s (works in lower light and, displays the view at the widest aperture no matter what aperture you choose). Plus I find that I’m not a big fan of super wide lens (wider than 20mm) because the distortion just looks too gimmicky. A focal length of 24mm for me is the perfect wide angle: wide but still ‘real’ looking. And finally, with my Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens I can use my filter system and all the advantages that  filters offer me. It’s hard to filter that bulging front element of the Nikon 14-24mm lens and I know many photographers who have spent a fortune buying giant filter systems and contraptions to put filters on the 14-24mm lens; in the end most give up.

©Darwin Wiggett - My favorite landscape lens combo; the Canon 24mm TS-E with a Cokin Z-Pro filter holder, a polarizer and a grad filter.

©Darwin Wiggett – My favorite landscape lens combo: the Canon 24mm TS-E with a Cokin Z-Pro filter holder, a polarizer and a grad filter. Tilt to match plane of focus to subject plane and shift to correct keystone effects in the trees in the background.

So I’m happy with my camera and lens choice and out of the blue GTA Lens Rentals gives me a call asking if I want to try the Nikon 14-24mm lens with a Novoflex lens adapter for my Canon. Well gee, let me think. I get to play with a legendary lens and have an excuse to go and take photos. Well… let me think about it 😉

I’ll cut to the chase. The results were as good as all the hype suggests. This lens is freaky sharp. It’s as sharp as my beloved 24mm TS-E and as sharp as the 17mm TS-E. But with the Nikon you have focal lengths from 14 to 24mm with every single focal length on the lens razor sharp! After you use this lens you’ll see just how poor your regular zoom lenses really perform.

©Darwin Wiggett - the lens at14mm

©Darwin Wiggett – the lens at 14mm

©Darwin Wiggett - the lens at 24mm

©Darwin Wiggett – the lens at 24mm

Using the Nikon lens on a Canon body requires you focus manually with the Novaflex adapter set to move the aperture to wide open. I always used live view magnified to 5x for precise focus. After getting focus  I moved the adapter to stop down the lens (I usually set it in the middle of the range to give me something near f8, but you really never know what aperture you’re actually shooting at). I can see why my Canon buddies just went out and bought a D800 so that the workflow was much easier than using a lens adapter.

©Darwin Wiggett - The thumb control on the Novaflex adapter (blue) to control aperture. Works well but in cold weather is a literally a pain!

©Darwin Wiggett – The thumb control on the Novoflex adapter (blue) to control aperture. Works well but in cold weather is literally a pain!

So is a Nikon 14-24mm lens in my future? Not at all. The lens just does not fit my creative vision. I’m not a super wide angle dude. The creative advantages of tilt shift lenses are too alluring for me and I still love using filters. But for anyone curious about the 14-24mm and wants to see if it might be a tool for your creative vision I highly recommend a one week rental from GTA Lens Rentals . In fact, I think before buying any lens, rent it first; nothing worse than laying down big bucks for a lens that just doesn’t work for your style of photography.

©Darwin Wiggett - love it or hate it, keystoning is extreme at such a wide angle focal length!

©Darwin Wiggett – love it or hate it, keystoning is extreme at such a wide angle focal length!

©Darwin Wiggett - shot at 14mm to see what happens to the horizon

©Darwin Wiggett – shot at 14mm showing classic wide angle distortion 

15 November

Real Life Review – The Rokinon 24mm f3.5 Tilt Shift Lens – A Budget Lens with Big Performance?

Anyone who follows our work knows that Sam and I are crazy for the creative advantages of Tilt Shift lenses for our nature and landscape photography. We are not crazy for the price we have to pay for these specialty lenses though. The Nikon 24mm lens sells for $2200 while the Canon 24mm lens sells for about $2400. Ouch!

Enter the Rokinon/Samyang lens squeezing in at under $900 (street value) and we have a serious alternative to consider. But do you get what you pay for? Is the Rokinon a lesser version of the Nikon and Canon both of which are top drawer lenses in terms of quality? I took the Rokinon out for an oopoomoo Real Life Review during a 4-day trip to the Canadian Rockies. Read below to find out my thoughts on this lens.

The Rokinon 24mm Tilt shift lens - Great value but at what cost?

The Rokinon 24mm tilt shift lens – great value but at what cost?

Initial Impressions
Taking the lens out of the box, I really was surprised by how light and ‘plastic-y’ the lens felt. I am used to the heavy and robust Canon Tilt Shift 24mm f3.5 L II lens which is built like a tank. The Rokinon felt like a plastic toy in comparison.  I was also not impressed by the small tilt and shift knobs. I find the Canon knobs too small and the Rokinon knobs were much smaller than Canon’s! Not great for a working photographer from cold Canada where gloves are survival tools not shooting accessories! The version of the lens I received had small, grey post-like controls for tilt and shift and locking of these movements. Apparently newer versions of the lens have larger knobs (as shown above).

The one thing that did impress me a lot was the fact that the Rokinon lens has independent tilt and shift rotation which is totally cool. The Canon 17 and 24mm tilt shift (version II) lenses also have independent rotation of tilt and shift and I can’t stress enough how much I love and use that feature. The major drawback of Nikon’s suite of tilt shift lenses (and Canon’s older tilt shift lenses) is that the shift and tilt rotation are fixed to one another and this limits the creative effects you can do with these lenses.  Kudos to Rokinon for adding this much needed feature to their budget priced lens. Also kudos to Rokinon for making a lens with a big image circle that has the same degree of tilt and shift capabilities as the Canon 24mm tilt shift lens. Awesome!

©Darwin Wiggett - Here I used tilt to bring the entire subject plane into focus and shift to make a megapixel square image. In this case the shift and tilt on the Rokinon were in the same orientation.

©Darwin Wiggett – Here I used tilt to bring the entire subject plane into focus and shift to make a megapixel square image. In this case the shift and tilt on the Rokinon were in the same orientation.

In the Field with the Rokinon
One of the reasons the Rokinon is a less expensive lens than either the Canon or Nikon tilt shift lenses is that it has a manual aperture ring that is not coupled electronically with the camera body. What this means in practice is that you need to open the lens to f3.5 to do precise focus and tilt movements and then stop the aperture down to the shooting aperture you desire. With a Canon camera and a Canon tilt shift lens, you can set your aperture in advance to whatever aperture you desire. The camera viewfinder or Live View always shows you the view at widest aperture number (e.g. f3.5) making precise focus easy. Simply get focus and shoot no matter what aperture you choose to use in the end. With the Rokinon the process is two step: focus and tilt at f3.5 and then stop down to your shooting aperture and adjust your shutter speed in manual to get proper exposure.

I didn’t mind the extra step in workflow, but what I did mind was the design of the aperture ring right up against the focus ring. Often when I turned the aperture ring to the aperture I wanted to use (mostly f8), I accidentally also moved the focus ring! Drove me crazy! You have to be really careful when turning the aperture ring or else you will nudge the focus and ruin your precisely tilted and focused image.

The aperture ring on the Rokinon is thin and butted up against the focus ring. Even if you have small fingers chances are good you might nudge focus when adjusting aperture.

The aperture ring on the Rokinon is thin and butted up against the focus ring. Even if you have small fingers chances are good you might nudge focus when adjusting aperture.

But is it Sharp?
I can live with a slightly slower workflow, and having to be extra careful with the aperture and focus ring… but if the lens is not sharp what’s the point? OK , so what the verdict?

Well.. the Rokinon is definitely as sharp or sharper than the older Canon 24mm TS-E version I plus it has independent tilt and shift rotation and a bigger image circle and more degrees of tilt and shift. A used Canon 24mm TS-E version I costs about $900. For the same price you could have the Rokinon new and gain many creative advantages over the older Canon Tilt Shift lens. A no-brainer for sure!

If you own a Canon 17-40 f4 or a Canon 16-35mm f2.8 zoom lens, the Rokinon easily matches or surpasses the sharpness of these lenses especially when tilt is used to bring the entire subject plane into focus and an aperture of f8 to f11 is used for the shooting aperture. For me, as a landscape photographer, if I had to make a choice between either of the two wide angle Canon zooms or the Rokinon, I would take the Rokinon any day of the week (it’s just as sharp or sharper when stopped down but with all the creative advantages of a tilt shift lens). Canon’s two wide zooms are disappointing performers in my opinion especially for the price paid – but that is another story!

©Darwin Wiggett - shot with the Rokinon 24mm Tilt Shift lens at f8

©Darwin Wiggett – shot with the Rokinon 24mm Tilt Shift lens at f8

Sharpness in the foreground of the photo above - tilted to match subject plane and aperture of f8

Sharpness in the foreground of the photo above – tilted to get focus in the subject plane and shot at an aperture of f8

Sharpness in the background of the image above - tilted to match the subject plane at f8. these kinds of results can not be achieved with a wide angle zoom without focus stacking.

Sharpness in the background of the image above – tilted to match focus in the subject plane at f8. These kinds of results cannot be achieved with a wide angle zoom without focus stacking.

But can the Rokinon compare with the Canon 24mm TS-E f3.5L II? In a word — no. The Canon 24mm TS-E f3.5L II is my gold standard for sharpness in lenses. This lens continually amazes me with its sharpness throughout the aperture range; I rate the Canon lens as a 9.5 out of 10 in terms of sharpness and optical performance. The Rokinon is good but I would rate it as an 8 when used correctly and only when stopped down to f8 or f11. Check out the comparison shots below to see what I mean.

My nature lens chart for testing sharpness

My lens chart for testing sharpness 

Centre sharpness of the Rokinon (topt) and the Canon 24 mm tilt shift lens (bottom) at an aperture of f3.5. The Canon is harper; the Rokinon has a warmer colour cast

Centre sharpness of the Rokinon (topt) and the Canon 24 mm tilt shift lens (bottom) at an aperture of f3.5. The Canon is harper; the Rokinon has a warmer colour cast

Edge sharpness at f3.5 with the Rokinon (top) and the Canon (bottom) - a definite difference here!

Edge sharpness at f3.5 with the Rokinon (top) and the Canon (bottom) – a definite difference here!

At f8 the Rokinon (top) approaches the centre sharpness of the Canon lens (bottom) but the Canon lens still is slightly.

At f8 the Rokinon (top) approaches the centre sharpness of the Canon lens (bottom) but the Canon lens still is slightly sharper.

At f8 the Rokinon, the edge sharpness (top) improves drastically coming close to but not matching the Canon's edge sharpness at the same aperture (bottom).

At f8 the Rokinon, the edge sharpness (top) improves drastically coming close to but not matching the Canon’s edge sharpness at the same aperture (bottom).

Everything is relative. If you are used to and happy with the sharpness of the Canon 24-105mm f4L or the 16-35mm f2.8L then you will be thrilled with the sharpness of the Rokinon especially when stopped down to f8 or f11. At wider apertures the Rokinon is not too impressive in terms of sharpness especially at the edges of the frame.

I have been spoiled with a really great lens in the Canon 24mm TS-E f3.5L  which is tack at all apertures and from edge to edge. It’s hard for me to go to a lesser quality lens once you see just how sharp a great lens can be! the Rokinon is good but it just is not in the same league as the Canon 24mm TS-E f3.5 L II lens!

©Darwin Wiggett - Lower Waterfowl Lake, Banff National Park with the Rokinon 24mm tilt shift lens

©Darwin Wiggett – Lower Waterfowl Lake, Banff National Park with the Rokinon 24mm tilt shift lens at f8 – sharper than many wide angle zooms but not as sharp as the Canon TS-E 24mm f3.5L II lens

Conclusion
The Rokinon is great value in a lens. You get all the benefits of tilt and shift in an affordable lens that is as sharp or sharper (when used at f8 to f11) than most lenses that photographers use already. You have to put up with stopped down metering but this is not a deal breaker for an already manual lens workflow. If you are on a budget and want to get into the advantages of tilt and shift for landscape photography, then I recommend the Rokinon.

If you are planning to use a tilt shift lens as your prime dedicated landscape lens then I would recommend you save your pennies for the Canon 24mm f3.5L II lens simply because it is sharper and better built than the Rokinon. You get what you pay for with the Canon lens! I am not sure how well the Rokinon will hold up in hard constant use. The Canon lens has proven to be tough in my constant use of it in harsh environmental conditions. I would spend money on lenses over an upgrade to a camera body

If you own a Nikon camera, you have a conundrum: should you buy the Nikon 24 mm tilt shift lens and have slightly sharper images and better build than the Rokinon or invest in the Rokinon because it has independent rotation of tilt and shift which I think  is critical for landscape photography? Hmmm … a tough one to call for a Nikon shooter!

The good news is you can find used Rokinon tilt shift lenses out there for under $500 so you can dip your toes in tilt shift photography for relatively little cash giving you time to save up for the big name lenses if you decide you like tilt shift photography. Or maybe that Rokinon will meet all your needs. Like I said I have been spoiled by an exceptional lens in the Canon 24mm TS-E

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About our reviews:

We don’t get paid, get kickbacks, affiliate fees or have any personal benefit to do reviews on camera and lenses. We do it only for the benefit of our audience and to try out gear for ourselves. If you like our reviews and want to see more in the future then consider buying one of our eBooks to help support the site. To learn more about tilt shift photography sure to see our article Seven Advantages of Tilt Shift Lenses.

Thanks to Amplis Foto for lending us the Rokinon lens for testing.

©Darwin Wiggett - Rokinon 24mm lens at  f16 - shifted for panorama stitch.

©Darwin Wiggett – Rokinon 24mm lens at f16 – shifted for panorama stitch.

©Darwin Wiggett - A vertical panoram using the Rokinon 24mm lens at Mistaya Canyon in Banff National Park

©Darwin Wiggett – A vertical panorama using the Rokinon 24mm lens at Mistaya Canyon in Banff National Park.

©Darwin Wiggett - Rampart Ponds with the Rokinon 24mm tilt shift lean at f8 (tilted to focus the subject plane)

©Darwin Wiggett – Rampart Ponds with the Rokinon 24mm tilt shift lean at f8 (tilted to focus the subject plane) 

©Darwin Wiggett - Mistaya River in Banff National Park with the Rokinon 24mm tilt shift lens at f8 with shift and tilt.

©Darwin Wiggett – Mistaya River in Banff National Park with the Rokinon 24mm tilt shift lens at f8 with shift and tilt.

©Darwin Wiggett - Wilcox Pass, Jasper National PArk with the Rokinon tilt shift lens at f8 using tilt to focus the subject plane.

©Darwin Wiggett – Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park with the Rokinon tilt shift lens at f8 using tilt to focus the subject plane. 

©Darwin Wiggett - Creative effects using tilt with the Rokinon 24mm tilt shift lens.

©Darwin Wiggett – Creative effects using tilt with the Rokinon 24mm tilt shift lens.

 

1 November

Canon 17mm Tilt-Shift Lens and Sigma 150mm f2.8 Macro Lens for sale (plus more)

I am selling two specialty lenses, both for Canon EOS cameras.

Yes, I am giving up my Canon 17mm f4L tilt-shift lens. For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m a preaching disciple of the Tilt-Shift lens because I believe they are the absolute best lenses for landscape photography – see why here.

So why am I selling this super cool, ultra-wide tilt-shift lens? Well… for practical reasons. As cool as it is to own the 17mm tilt-shift lens, I find the 24mm tilt-shift lens more in line with my creative vision and personality. I’m not really an extreme wide-angle guy. Plus Samantha and I plan to do more assignment work with people and I really should get a more practical lens like the new Canon 24-70mm f2.8 zoom for that work. So my 17mm TS-E is looking for a home. Anyone who loves landscape photography and likes the look of a super wide angle lens will love this tack sharp, crazy and  creative lens. I will miss it!

To buy this lens new in Alberta will cost you $2725.00 which includes GST. I am selling mine (in excellent condition) for $2000.00 CAN firm (includes GST for Canadian clients, all the goodies in the original box, plus our Tilt-Shift eBook on CD). This includes shipping to anywhere in Canada or the USA. Please email me at darwin@oopoomoo.com if you are interested. This lens is now sold!

©Darwin Wiggett – Yoho NP taken with the 17mm tilt-shift lens

Also I have  a new, in-the-box (only used once) Sigma AF 150mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM APO Macro OS lens for sale (Canon mount). A long telephoto macro lens is a boon to anyone who wants to get close-ups of nature subjects but have a good working distance between the lens and the subject (especially important for rattlesnakes, poisonous spiders, and angry field mice). New, this lens in Alberta is $1300 with GST. This is the latest model with optical stabilization built in for hand-held shots. I am selling mine complete with original 10-year Canadian warranty for $900 CAN firm (includes GST for Canadian clients) and includes shipping to anywhere in Canada or the US. Please email me at darwin@oopoomoo.com if you are interested. SOLD!

Sigma-150mm-F2_8-DG-APO-Macro

©Darwin Wiggett – Rust patterns taken with the Sigma 150mm macro lens

Speaking of sales, the Cochrane Camera Club is having a huge Swap and Sale of used gear on November 10, 2012 at the Cochrane Alliance Church. This event is free to participate in or to attend. If you have gear you want to sell, tables are free; you just have to book a table. And of course if you are looking to buy, come with cash! All the information you need is on this downloadable PDF. Catherine will be there staffing our oopoomoo booth where we will have lots more goodies to sell then!

And finally, a friend in Whitehorse, Yukon is selling two really great fast telephoto lenses for Canon FD mount cameras such as the A-1, AE-1, F-1, or  T90. If you have a Canon film camera laying around and want a great wildlife lens here is your chance to get prime glass for cheap!

Tamron 300mm f2.8 lens in Canon FD mount = $750.00!

Canon 500mm f4.5L lens in Canon FD mount = $1000.00!

Contact Marge at margemacleod@hotmail.com for more information.

25 October

Huge News! I’m selling my Canon 17mm tilt-shift lens at the oopoomoo Iceland talk!

First things first: we have less than 10 spots available for our Twoonie Talk – Two Weeks in Iceland: Tales of (mis)-Adventure which will be held this Saturday (Oct. 27) at the Days Inn in Cochrane, Alberta from 2 – 4 pm. You do need to register in advance by sending us an email at info@oopoomoo.com. So bring your twoonie and come see our unpublished images and a video or two about our adventures in Iceland. For example, in a country with so little vegetation, where do you go when nature calls? Come and find out! (Note: this talk is now SOLD OUT)

Catherine, our assistant will also be making her speaking debut — no pressure Catherine 😉

©Samantha Chrysanthou – The elusive and rare Iceland outhouse!

And now… drum roll please. Believe it or not, I’m selling one of my tilt-shift lenses!!! I know, I can’t believe it either!

Yes, I am giving up my Canon 17mm f4L tilt-shift lens. For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m a preaching disciple of the Tilt-Shift lens because I believe they are the absolute best lenses for landscape photography – see why here.

So why am I selling this super cool, ultra-wide tilt-shift lens? Well… for practical reasons. As cool as it is to own the 17mm tilt-shift lens, I find the 24mm tilt-shift lens more in line with my creative vision and personality. I’m not really an extreme wide-angle guy. Plus Samantha and I plan to do more assignment work with people and I really should get a more practical lens like a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom for that work. So my 17mm TS-E is looking for a home. It will be at the Iceland Talk ready to be adopted by a loving owner. Register for the talk and come see this cute bug-eyed lens! 😉

To buy this lens new in Alberta will cost you $2725.00 with GST. I am selling mine (in excellent condition) for $2100.00 (includes GST, all the goodies in the original box plus our Tilt-Shift eBook on CD).

Here’s how it works: I’d rather not bother with mailing the lens, hence why I am selling it at our Twoonie Talk on Iceland on Saturday.  So, anyone seriously interested in obtaining this lens be sure to come to the Iceland Talk (and be ready to buy with cash!). I’ll sell the lens at the mid-break in the show (should be entertaining). If there’s more than one of ya, we’ll do a draw out of a hat from those of you who have cash in hand. This is a great chance to see the lens before you buy! Below are several images from Abraham Lake made with this lens.

©Darwin Wiggett – Ice Bubbles on Abraham Lake using the TS-E 17mm lens

©Darwin Wiggett – Snow Drifts and Mountain Shadows on Abraham Lake using the TS-E 17mm lens

©Darwin Wiggett – Lone Leaf on Abraham Lake using the 17mm TS-E lens

Also at the Iceland Talk I will have a new, in-the-box (only used once) Sigma AF 150mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM APO Macro OS lens for sale (Canon mount). A long telephoto macro lens is a boon to anyone who wants to get close-ups of nature subjects but have a good working distance between the lens and the subject (especially important for rattlesnakes, poisonous spiders, and angry field mice). New this lens is $1300 with GST. I am selling mine complete with original 10-year warranty for $1000 (includes GST). Come check it out! Same rules apply; I’ll sell it at mid-break.

©Darwin Wiggett – The super aggressive Spittoon plant photographed from a safe distance using the Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens.

And finally… speaking of sales, the Cochrane Camera Club is having a huge Swap and Sale of used gear on November 10, 2012 at the Cochrane Alliance Church. This event is free to participate in or to attend. If you have gear you want to sell, tables are free; you just have to book a table. And of course if you are looking to buy, come with cash! All the information you need is on this downloadable PDF. Catherine will be there staffing our oopoomoo booth where we will have lots more goodies to sell then!

©Darwin Wiggett – What will Samantha sell at the Cochrane Camera Club Swap and Sale on Novemeber 10, 2012?

3 August

New eBook – The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage for Outdoor and Nature Photographers

Well… it’s finally here! We have just released our long awaited eBook, The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage for Outdoor and Nature Photographers. For those of you who have no idea what these lenses are or why you might want to use them, we have summarized the reasons in our free article  Seven Advantages of Using Tilt-Shift Lenses.

I want to give a personal huge thanks to the two big brains behind the making of this eBook. First of all I give my giant gratitude to Stephen Desroches who is the designer behind all of our eBooks. Stephen has ramped things up a notch and made this eBook a beauty to behold! And without Stephen, the oopoomoo website would not exist in its present form. Stephen is the master of pixels and all things webby and he is a fantastic photographer and great guy! Sorry ladies he is already taken 😉

Finally, I want to thank the unsung hero of oopoomoo, my girl and partner in crime, Samantha Chrysanthou. Without Sam oopoomoo would not exist at all (it was her big-brained idea). And more to the point, this new eBook would not be as kick-ass as I think it is without Sam’s guidance and input. Sam has a gift for the big picture (pun intended) and although I was the one with the tilt-shift lenses and I knew intuitively how to use them, it was Sam who fished out of me information that could be used to teach others. Sam was the one who came up with the bend for background, focus for foreground workflow for using tilt. She also came up with the ‘plywood’ analogy we use in the eBook to help explain the difficult concept of plane of focus. Sam also borrowed my tilt-shift lenses and set out to make pictures specifically for this eBook. Finally, without Sam’s keen eye for writing and editing, this eBook would probably be a jumble of comma splices, dangling participles, incomplete sentences and inconsistent spellings. Thanks darling, nothing is sexier than a big-brained woman!

I’m going to go out on a limb here to brag that I think the oopoomoo team has created the best resource on the web for tilt-shift lenses. Behind the scenes making an eBook is a tonne of work and they take weeks to assemble (and that does not include the years of shooting and the experience it takes to know and teach a subject). If you like the eBook, you’ll make our day by sending a friend to our bookstore so they can check it out for themselves. Please respect our hard work and artistic copyright by not sharing your copy or pirating the eBook. Otherwise, we’ll have to get a job at the Golden Arches. Our future would be serving you Big Macs instead of big-brained eBooks! 😉

Thanks from the oopoomoo team for your continued support for what we do!

The creative brains of oopoomoo.

The creative brains of oopoomoo.

2 August

Free Tilt-Shift Instructional Videos: Part IV – Using Live View for Precise Tilt

In the video below, I show you how to use live view with a dSLR to help determine the precise amount of tilt needed to match the plane of focus with the subject plane. In our upcoming  eBook,  The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage for Outdoor and Nature Photography, Samantha and I have published a short-cut to get you to the right amount of tilt faster than using this live view method. But if precision is what you’re looking for and you have time (the scene isn’t running away), then this method is superior.

The new eBook on tilt-shift lenses has also just been released!

Here is the very ‘exciting’ photo that resulted from the video demo! 😉

Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens tilted so the plane of focus matched the subject plane and then shot at f8 for optimal resolution.

In the real world of landscape photography, replace this corrugated steel with a subject like a seashore, desert, ice or prairie landscape and the principle is the same: tilt so the plane of focus and main subject plane match. For example, in the photo below of a scene in Iceland, I tilted so the plane of focus matched the top of the grass-covered stone wall. I chose an aperture of  f8 not only for good resolution but to increase the depth of field in the photo to cover any areas of the scene that fell out of the subject plane (but most of the scene was pretty much in the same plane as the grassy wall).

Mývatn Iceland

1 August

Free Tilt-Shift Instructional Videos: Part III – Shift and Tilt Movements In Camera

Today we feature two videos: the first one shows how the basic shift and tilt movements of a tilt-shift lens looks through the camera. Our subject is a metal wall from the Nordegg Mine. See how shift and tilt alters the view of this ‘exciting’ subject!

The second video illustrates how we use tilt on the tilt-shift lens to alter the plane of focus to match the subject plane. What the heck does this mean? Watch the video to find out more.

Shot with a 24mm tilt-shift lens with no tilt at an aperture of f3.5; we only get a thin slice of focus!

Shot with a 24mm tilt-shift lens at f3.5 but, this time, the lens was tilted so that the plane of focus matched the subject plane. Now even at f3.5 the entire wall is sharp!

From a practical point of view we use tilt all the time in our landscape photos to ‘bend’ the plane of focus to match the subject plane. For example, in the image of the Iceland church below I used 90mm tilt-shift lens with the lens tilted down so that that lupines, church and mountain all aligned into one plane of focus. Without tilt, I would never achieve focus across the whole scene even with an aperture of f22!

By tilting the lens to match the subject plane and by using an aperture of f13 to add depth-of-field to areas falling out of the subject plane, I was able to get the lupines at my feet and the distant mountains all in focus even with a telephoto focal length (90mm).

Here is what the scene looked like with the lens tilted out of the subject plane!

The new eBook on tilt-shift lenses has also just been released!

31 July

Free Tilt-Shift Instructional Videos: Part II – Using Shift to Correct the Keystone Effect

In the photos and video below, Darwin and I show you how to use shift on a tilt-shift lens to correct a perspective effect that occurs with wide angle focal lengths known as keystoning. In the first photo, Darwin used a wide angle lens (a 24mm) to frame an old building at the Nordegg Mine. Any time a wide angle lens is pointed up to frame a subject (or pointed down) we get problems with straight lines in the scene not being parallel to the edges of the image frame. Look at how the building looks like it’s leaning into the frame: this keystoning can be corrected by making the camera back parallel to the building and then using shift on a tilt-shift lens to return the lens to the original composition. The second photo shows the corrected image using shift. Watch the video to see exactly what we did (warning: high cheese factor!)

By the way if you really, really want to be an expert using tilt-shift lenses, then we invite you to take part in our special one-on-one, hands-on tilt-shift lessons in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta (we meet in Bragg Creek). Complete one of these three-hour sessions with Darwin or me, and you’ll be a yogi-master of the tilt-shift lens! Cost for a private session is $300 plus GST. Grab a friend, share the session and pay less at $200 per person (max two participants per session). Contact us at info@oopoomoo.com to set up your session!

The new eBook on tilt-shift lenses has also just been released!

Available dates and times in August are as follows (1st come first served):

August 4: 9 AM – Noon (Full)

August 5: 9 AM – Noon (Full)

August 11: 9 AM – Noon or 3 – 6 PM

August 12: 9 AM – Noon or 3 – 6 PM

©Darwin Wiggett – Image shot with a 24mm lens tilt-shift lens without any shift correction.

©Darwin Wiggett – Image shot with a 24mm tilt-shift lens using shift to correct the keystone effect.

30 July

Free Tilt-Shift Instructional Videos: Part I – Basic Tilt-Shift Movements

In a few days we will launch our long asked for and long awaited eBook, The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage for Outdoor and Nature Photography. First, we want to thank our fantastic eBook design guru, Stephen Desroches, for an amazing job: this eBook is beautiful! I also want to thank Darwin, for letting me use his tilt shift lenses on occasion in preparation for this publication. 🙂 We hope that this eBook will demystify both the shift and tilt movements of this versatile lens as well as show how we use these specialty lenses as tools for creative outdoor photography. As part of our launch, Darwin and I have made a few instructional videos to supplement the detailed information contained in the eBook. These videos are free; and we’ll launch a new one daily over the next few days. We hope you enjoy!

A Canon TS-E 24mm lens tilted and shifted in the same axis

5 May

Beyond the Rectangle; There’s More to Photography than the 3:2 Ratio

This article was first published in the fall of 2010 in Outdoor Photography Canada magazine. Support a great photo magazine and get a subscription!

Beyond the Rectangle

When we think of a photograph, we envision a rectangular image. We capture our photographic vision constrained in rectangular frames with an aspect ratio of 3:2 (dSLR’s) or 4:3 (point-n-shoots). It’s a rare photographer that strays from the rectangle. Even the few photographers who use square format cameras most often crop their images after the fact to present the final work as a rectangle.

Scientists have determined that humans’ natural view of the world is a horizontal oval and as such a horizontal rectangular frame best approximates our world view. No wonder the vast majority of images are composed in horizontal format —  this is naturally the way we see the world.

The point of this article is simple: if you want to shake things up with your photographs, one of the easiest things to do is stay away from the everyday horizontal rectangle.

©Samanatha Chrysanthou - Flow Lake Trail, Kootenay NP

The image above shows the standard 3:2 format of most dSLR cameras.

Vertical Rectangles

Vertical images are less natural and less comfortable for us to view than are horizontal images. A vertical rectangle just by orientation creates visual tension so subjects that work with this tension will make the vertical photo all the more powerful. Most people prefer vertical images that are not too elongated; for example, the 4:3 ratio of the point-n-shoot or medium format camera better lends itself to vertical presentation than does the 3:2 format of 35mm. To really make a vertical image from a 35mm camera sing compositionally, you either need a naturally occurring vertical subject (human figure, trees, or tall buildings) or you need to have strong elements of design that take your eye through the picture space in a dynamic fashion.

For example in the photo below, the gravel path and the handrail create a line leading down the lake and to the large spruce tree on the left. The sense of movement in this image is amplified by the vertical rectangle which lends a powerful resonance to this photo.

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Johnson Lake, Banff NP

Squares

The square is one of the most difficult formats to successfully make a composition within because it is a very stable and symmetrical shape. If you have a subject matter that lends itself to perfect symmetry like a mirrored reflection of a lake or a perfectly circular and symmetrical flower, then a square frame works well to amplify this symmetry.

It’s hard to escape a square’s powerful geometry which forces viewers into the center of the frame. One of the ways around this problem is to use two different portions of the composition like the right side of the frame and the left side of the frame to bring the photo into symmetrical balance.

For example, in the photo bel0w, the square frame is split in the middle vertically with the canoe on the right side balancing the mountain on the left side. As well the big portion of sky in the upper right balances the big portion of water and rocks in the lower left.

©Darwin Wiggett - Lower Waterfowl Lake, Banff NP

The most obvious way to make square images is to crop your rectangular images to a perfect square. We prefer not to crop away pixels but build them up into a square. To do this, we take two rectangular photographs and stack them together to make a square. For example, in the canoe photo above, we made one horizontal image of the canoe and reflections and another horizontal image of the mountain and sky. In Photoshop it was easy to stitch the two images together using layers and blending the two layers together in the reflection along the far shoreline of the lake. Sometimes we will use panoramic stitching software to get the same result. We find that “Photo Merge” in Photoshop CS5 or CS6 work amazingly well to bring together two overlapping images. The key for a successful square stitch is to pay attention to the overall composition and then in getting the technical details of the two frames the same (use the same exposure and overlapping the two shots as precisely as you can).

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Goat Pond, Kananaskis Country

In the photo above, the foregrounds rocks in the lower right visually balance the weight of the mountain peaks in the upper left of the photo.

Long and Thin Rectangles – the Horizontal Panorama

Many photographers make panoramic images which are photos that have a rectangular frame at least 2:1 or longer in format. The horizontal panorama replicates how we see the world by restricting our view vertically and forcing us to scan the horizon from side-to-side. For a panorama to work successfully, the composition has to pull the eye across the frame in one direction or another. For instance, in the three photos below there are variations in tones and subject that pull the eye through the frame in a horizontal flow either from left to right or from right to left.

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Kicking Horse River, Yoho NP

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Prairie storm at sunset, Cochrane, Alberta

©Darwin Wiggett - Barn and wind turbines, Trochu, Alberta

Long and Thin Rectangles – the Vertical Panorama

A novel use of the panoramic rectangle is to use the format in vertical orientation. It takes a powerfully elongated subject to make a successful vertical panorama. Look for strong vertical lines in the landscape or sky to make a successful vertical pan. For example, in the photo below, the leading lines of the railroad tracks pulls the eye to the horizon and then up to the line of clouds in the sky.

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Railroad tracks in the prairie, Saskatchewan

In the next image the foreground, the leaning tree and the clouds form a zig-zag shape bouncing the eye through the frame from bottom to top.

©Darwin Wiggett - The Glory Hole, Jasper NP

To create vertical panoramas, we mostly use the shift feature on tilt-shift lenses to create these kinds of panoramic images. We have the camera in vertical (portrait) format and shift the lens down to make one image of the foreground followed by shifting the lens up to make another photo of the background and the sky. The two images need to overlap by 20% to 30%. We then take these two overlapping images and merge them into one final image using the Photo Merge command in Photoshop.

©Ghost Lake, Alberta

The Circle

Like the square, the circle works best with symmetrical and centred images and with subjects which have a circular shape to begin with. We also like using circles on images of texture to imply a sphere-shape like we see in the photo below. Most image software programs do not allow circular crops but many programs do allow circular selections. For example, in Photoshop we use the circular marquee tool to make a circular selection (hold down the shift key while using the tool to constrain the proportions to a perfect circle). One we have our circle selected, we simply invert the selection and delete the rest of the image and fill the empty space with pure white. When the image is printed onto paper or in a magazine, the pure white area takes on the colour of the print or magazine paper and the image looks like a circular crop.

©Darwin Wiggett

 

Conclusion

Look at your body of photographic work; if the vast majority of your photos are horizontal rectangles, then it might be time to shake up how you present your work to the world. Moving beyond the rectangle might help move your work beyond the predictable. Give it a shot; hey, it’s cool to be a square!

©Darwin Wiggett - Whitegoat Lakes, Kootenay Plains, Alberta

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