Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm always thinking ahead!

A few weeks ago I posted about my plans for my next purchases. Forget all that (not completely). I have my eye on a new, more exciting lens in the form of the Carl Zeiss 2/100! Raymond has made his review of this particular lens after Carl Zeiss loaned the lens to him (such a lucky guy!). Again, he amazed me with his photos!

As much as I want the Makro-Planar 2/100, do I need it? Most people buy this lens for portraits and macro work. I have the Nikon 85mm for portraits, and I don't really do macro (but I would like to explore this part of photography in the near future). What does the Makro-Planar can do that my 85 can't? Focus closer. My CZ 2/35 focuses close too, down to 0.3 meters. And I really enjoy going up close to subjects. The 2/100 focuses as near as 0.44 meters. The 85mm has a minimum focusing distance of 0.85 meters. So, not only is the 2/100 longer than the 85mm, it could also focus closer, therefore able to make subjects look bigger in photos. The 2/100 is not really a macro lens because it has a maximum magnification of 'only' 1:2, but that's close enough for me. And if I'm going to be shooting macros, what better lens is there besides the 2/100? Anyway, I shall not get too ahead of myself. The next purchase probably won't happen until at least the middle of the year, hopefully I'll have more money by then!

When you think you know it all....

....think again!

I have recently concluded that I don't know my 85mm well enough. So I made a bold decision to explore my neighbourhood with that particular lens....when the sun was up high and blinding me with its explosive light, in the middle of the day! My mom was surprised too, but nobody was as surprised as I was!

When the Carl Zeiss 2/35 arrived in November last year, it was easy to fall in love with it. Because it was so precise, down to every last detail. The colours are surreal, the build is magnificent, the contrast is right on the money. The 85 on the other hand, is a shy little newcomer. While the colours are terrific, the focal length is so different than what I'm used to. Therefore, I realized that I don't know this lens well enough to create the results that I wanted. It was time to get to know this baby, and nourish it till it blossoms. I went out yesterday and snap as much as I could. I was happy with what I was getting!

Enjoy the photos :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The new addition to the camera bag

The new kid on the block
Originally uploaded by Ahmad Ihsan
Do first impressions matter that much? In most cases, without a doubt! My first impression of my new lens, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8D was positive, mostly. It didn't have the superb build quality of my CZ 2/35, not its manual-focusing feel, nor does it have a world-renown lens element inside it like the T* coatings in the CZ 2/35. But, it does have a metal lens hood, which to me is better than the one that came with the Zeiss. At first I thought it was silly to have a plastic lens with a metal lens hood. It is, but what if the lens is made of metal too? No thank you! $$$$

Another thing I quickly noticed (while I was at the shop trying the lens itself in fact) was that there is no damping whatsoever when it comes to focusing! I know this even before I went to the store, but of course, after comparing it to my CZ 2/35, I wasn't pleased. But that's something I have to live with. After all, I am thinking of shooting portraits with this lens, and fast auto-focus is the way to go for me when it comes to portraits, and boy does this lens deliver on that front! Really fast focusing indeed. Might not be as fast as the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, but think about the price difference between the two.

The thing I found most depressing was that this lens is really really boring to photograph!! When I was working on my review of the CZ 2/35, I had fun taking photos of it. The markings on the lens is beautifully engraved and had that 'wow' factor. It also forced me to be more creative and to work more with natural light. In the end, I captured a lot of photos of it in a matter of minutes. But that wasn't the case with the 85 f/1.8. It was just too boring and I didn't enjoy taking pictures of it. It was like I had to pay someone to take pictures of the lens, and I wasn't excited about it one bit. The end product? I captured a lowly 5 photos of it.

However, that is not why I bought the lens. So, I have to slowly love this lens and make full use of it. The CZ 2/35 was easy to adore, it was very inviting and carried the whole package. The Nikon 85mm f/1.8D, not so much. It plays hard to get, and carries with it a lot of surprises. We'll see how the relationship develops!

Some updates!

After some hard thinking, I decided to deactivate my Twitter account. I had enough of seeing younger blokes complain about their school, friends and family. Seriously, what a disgrace to see all that! I also thought I wouldn't be using it much anyway, knowing that I'm heading off to college in the next couple of months and things will get busier around me. Anyhow, I will make another account if there's a need for it.

Next, the new purchase, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8. I went for it and bought this lens for my portrait needs, and in that aspect, it thrives. Really nice bokeh and softness. What I have to get use to is knowing that generally all (or most) 85mm's share a common behaviour, referred to as 'spherical aberration'. Of course, this lens could be an exception of this behaviour, and may suffer from focusing issues instead. I'll test it with my tripod and see if that is true.

As for next purchases, I'm undecided between a telephoto zoom or a wide-angle prime. The Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 or the Voigtlander 20mm f/3.5. Both are cheap compared to the other models in their respective categories but are very capable and surpasses most of their rivals in terms of image quality and handling. In the Tamron's case, its optically excellent, but suffers from poor autofocusing speed. The Voigtlander is made by Cosina, the same company that produces Carl Zeiss lenses, so optically and mechanically they are excellent. I'm not sure which lens will I go for first, but I'll definitely add them both to my camera bag. And I'll finish it off with the Zeiss 1.4/50, and stay quiet for a few years, promise. - that is if no other lenses attract my attention with amazing quality and low prices!

If you have any advice on how I can use my new 85mm with minimal fuss, please drop a comment down below!

and Happy Valentines day for those who are celebrating!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cameron Highlands - Photos

My parents decided to head to Cameron Highlands for the recent Chinese New Year break and I have to say it was a good short holiday. Unfortunately, I had to have a bad fever. Anyway, I had a good time there, 3 days was enough to bring back all the memories from previous visits. The last time I was there was when I was 13, or was it 14? Yeah. At the time, I was using film cameras. So this was my first visit with digital cameras!

We left on Thursday morning, the traffic was horrible. At some point, I thought snails and turtles would outrun all the cars on the highway. We were moving pathetically slow. Right there and then, I wish the car could have turned into a helicopter and fly straight to Cameron Highlands! We arrived in early evening. What would be ideal to have after a long tiring journey? Scones and tea !

Friday was when all the photo-snapping begun. We went to a place called Cactus Valley. I remember taking photos of all the cacti with my Lomography Fisheye and Canon EOS 300 the last time I was there. There was also a place with lots of flowers (forgot the name of it, really!). Oh before we left, we had more scones, strawberry sundae and a fine strawberry milkshake!

CZ 2/35 - f/4 @ 1/2000sec
Nothing was going on much on Saturday. We left at noon for my grandma's house, didn't take pictures there, oddly enough.

Here are the photos :)

CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @1/1250sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/640sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/800sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/500sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/800sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/800sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/500sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/400sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/2000sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/2000sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/1250sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/1000sec
CZ 2/35 - f/2.8 @ 1/2500sec
70-200mm @ 200mm, f/4 @ 1/4000sec
70-200mm @ 200mm, f/2.8 @ 1/2000sec
Nikon 85mm f/1.8D - f/2.5 @ 1/2500sec
Nikon 85mm f/1.8D - f/2.5 @ 1/6400sec
Nikon 85mm f/1.8D - f/2.5 @ 1/400sec
My mom! - Nikon 85mm f/1.8D - f/3.5 @ 1/500sec
Unprocessed! the 85mm produces very natural colours. - ff/2.2 @ 1/2000sec
Unprocessed! the 85mm produces very natural colours. - f/3.5 @ 1/500sec
CZ 2/35 - f/3.2 @ 1/800sec
CZ 2/35 - f/6.3 @ 1/250sec