Four 35mm Lenses Compared for Night Sky Photography

Four 35mm Lenses Compared for Night Sky Photography

In The Best Lenses for Night Photography, night sky specialist David Kingham recommended Rokinon lenses due to their lack of coma and low purchase/rental price. He has compared the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 with the recently-released Sigma 35mm f/1.4, along with the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 35mm f/1.4. See which one rises to the top! The Best 35mm for Night Photography by David Kingham  Here’s the lineup: Nikon 35mm f/1.4 Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Keep in mind that this test is for a specific style of night photography that captures the stars as points of light. This requires wide open apertures and high ISOs. You can see more of this style of night photography in my Nightscapes gallery. Coma Coma is an aberration that can make stars look more like streaks at the edge of the frame when shot wide open. I was surprised to find that all of these lenses performed very well as far as preventing coma goes. Rokinon 14 and 24mm lenses blow away their Nikon and Canon equivalents but at 35mms it’s a different story. The Nikon actually performed the best, followed by the Sigma. The Zeiss performed the worst and the Rokinon in between. None of them performed poorly in this area, though, so I wouldn’t base your buying/rental decision on this alone. Sharpness I was surprised by the lack of sharpness from the Zeiss in the center of the frame. Oddly, it’s sharper on the edges than the center. Based on this alone I can’t recommend the Zeiss for night photography. Overall the Sigma had the best sharpness, followed closely by the Rokinon. Vignetting There was not...
What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

Our new Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back is big, expensive, perhaps a little scary, and worth every penny if using it for the right assignment. We encourage renters to take advantage of Phase One’s training program if you are not already familiar with working with this system. Here’s some advice we’ve collected after using it ourselves. Stay tuned for sample images here on the blog! Difficulty Level Any reasonably seasoned shooter can handle the awesome power of medium format. The settings are just what you’d expect from a camera: AF/MF options, metering options, shutter/f-stop/and ISO control, etc. Working with the RAW files can be a challenge if you don’t have Capture One software. Handling the camera can be a challenge without an assistant because of its delicacy and bulk. In the right environment and with some patience, this camera will definitely introduce you to another level of imagery and is worth getting familiar with. What it Can Do: • Produce 10328 x 7760px images with the massive 80MP sensor. • Sync with strobes and flashes up to 1/800th of a second. • Maintain your focus point throughout camera position changes thanks to True Focus technology. • Shoot at the very low ISO 35. • Make you a sandwich. What it Can’t Do: • Video. • Be super reliable when not tethered. This camera only has 1 CF slot so tethering for image backup is a good idea. Also, the LCD preview isn’t a great visual guide – the Histogram is your friend here if you don’t have access to an external monitor. • Be easily hand-held. It’s...
Rely on Yourself, Not Gear: An Interview with Landscape Photographers Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou

Rely on Yourself, Not Gear: An Interview with Landscape Photographers Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou

Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou are full-time, professional photographers from Alberta, Canada. They are creative partners in life and work and enjoy sharing their photographic knowledge with other passionate shooters. Renowned for their accessible and fun teaching style, Darwin and Sam conduct workshops and teach seminars on all things photographic.

Featured Photographer Jay Patel

Featured Photographer Jay Patel

Technique, knowledge, inspiration – gain it all from seasoned photographers with years of experience and many tips to share with both burgeoning photographers and pros looking to gain a new perspective. Visit our entire collection of interviews, which are full of amazing images and valuable advice. Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places began early in childhood during numerous trips to some of the most breathtaking locations on the Indian subcontinent. His passion for magnificent places now manifests itself in a continuous search to capture nature’s majesty with his camera. Jay’s career in photography began in 2001 when he purchased his first digital SLR. He has since spent time reading photographic articles and studying the styles of great landscape photographers. He has had no formal education or training in photography. He hopes to provide inspiration for others who may also try to capture the nature of light through workshops, eBook, and tutorials he teaches with his wife, photographer Varina Patel. BL: What is your photographic specialty and how did you become interested in it? Patel: I never really took photography seriously until late 1999 when digital cameras were just coming onto the scene. I purchased my first Nikon 990 in late 1990, and fell in love with photography (something I always wanted to learn). I purchased my first DSLR in 2002 and started seriously pursuing landscape photography. BL: How long have you been teaching and/or writing about photography and how would you describe your teaching/writing style? Patel: I started teaching photography in 2005. My teaching style is very casual. When I am teaching, I attempt to strike a balance between simplicity, creativity and technical aspects of...
SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website

SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website

  Having a website to showcase your work on, or to allow potential clients to contact you through, is essential. Whether your website is simple and self made, a completely customized WordPress, or a template from SmugMug, there are some basics that all sites need to include in order to be successful. Here are SmugMug’s 9 must-haves for any photography website. SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website reprinted with permission  These days, everyone has a website and we think they’re great. But how do you know exactly what your friends, family and fans are really thinking when they see it? And if you’re a pro making money from your craft: Are you sure that your site is doing everything it can to get you clients and seal the deal? How much business are you losing from silly mistakes? After browsing tons of sites and hearing the advice from our marvelous team of Support Heroes, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you get the best, most effective and appealing website you  possibly can. Period. 1) Your Contact Information Omitting or hiding ways for people to reach you is a grave mistake, one that you may not even know you’re making. Think it through: If someone finds your site and wants to talk with you, how would they do it? If you forget to include your contact information (or hide it several clicks deep), would you expect them to spend more than 5 minutes hunting for it before they give up? Chances are you don’t even have that long before they move on. It’s true that putting your email address...
Moose Peterson’s Shooting Tips for the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 Super Telephoto Lens

Moose Peterson’s Shooting Tips for the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 Super Telephoto Lens

Moose Peterson is a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens, Lexar Elite Photographer, recipient of the John Muir Conservation Award, and a Research Associate with the Endangered Species Recovery Program. Moose has a passion for photographing wildlife and wild places and educating the public about our wild heritage. He has been published in over 142 magazines worldwide and is the author of 26 books, including Photographic FUNdamentals. Moose has shot with a lot of super telephoto lenses and the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 is among his favorites. See why in his quick review with sample images. The Amazing Nikon 800 f/5.6 AFS by Moose Peterson 800mms is a magical focal length that I had longed to see in the Nikon AFS line-up. It is one of Nikon’s sharpest lenses ever. The 800mm f/5.6 delivers such amazing image quality that it’s nearly disconcerting because it shows off any flaws in your photographic technique. You must use proper long lens technique when shooting the 800mm on a fantastic tripod properly situated on Earth. At 800mms, you have a very narrow depth of field especially when you’re shooting up close and personal. 800mm f/5.6 vs the 600mm f/4 The lens itself is just a tad longer and a tad heavier than the 600mm f/4. However, I feel it is also a tad better more balanced and a tad sharper. So with that said, you could go with the 600mm and a 1.4x teleconverter and be in the same ballpark as the 800mm but it’s not quite the same. We are splitting hairs here but that’s what we do in photography – we look for the right...
Break the Rules: An Interview with Landscape Photographer Varina Patel

Break the Rules: An Interview with Landscape Photographer Varina Patel

Varina Patel is a freelance wilderness and landscape photographer. She is drawn to the challenge of finding her next photograph and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively. Her photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world. She teaches workshops on landscape photography and processing along with her husband and colleague, photographer Jay Patel.

Quick Look at the Sony HVL-F60M Flash with LED Video Lights

Quick Look at the Sony HVL-F60M Flash with LED Video Lights

Sony has started releasing cameras and flashes with hot shoes that abandon the previous proprietary Minolta-style hot shoe which means the Sony HVL-F60 pairs well with the NEX line, the RX line, and the A99. This is also our first flash gun that is suitable for both photographers and videographers thanks to the inclusion of a mini LED panel on the flash head. Pros Versatility. Even if you aren’t a videographer, the LED option is neat. It can replicate small window light and is easy enough for a complete lighting neophyte. Menus are bright and easy to navigate/read. Accepts an off-camera cable and external battery pack. Built-in bounce, high-speed sync option (up to 1/2000th), TTL. Can be optically fired from your camera’s built in flash and the HVL-F60M can, in turn, fire other flashes. Cons No PC sync cable port. It’s kind of huge. The tilting is in clicks of 90º, 60º, 45º, and 30º and not in between. Can’t be used on your older Minolta-style hot shoes unless you have an adapter. Check this compatibility chart for more info. The off-camera cable and external battery pack ports are only compatible with Sony’s FA-CC1AM and FA-EB1AM, respectively. We’d recommend this flash for any Sony user, especially if you have been looking for something powerful for the little NEX or RX cameras. For the video users, the specs on the LED indicate that you can light your subject at about 6′ away on ISO 3200 and f/5.6. Just how WELL it lights your subject at that distance is uncertain and probably up to personal taste/artistic vision. Rent it and tell us...
5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell

5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell

Think your camera is your best friend? Think again. Heed these 5 warnings and better equip yourself with the knowledge needed to walk away with better images! Your camera is a marvel of amazing technology but you still need to use your brain when you shoot. Even if you’re in full Auto mode, don’t assume your camera knows what’s best for you! Here are five common bloopers and how to avoid getting tripped up on your next shoot. Lie #1: It’s Exposed Your camera has several automatic metering modes to help you catch the right amount of light without you needing to whip out the calculator. Are you using the right one? Spot, center-weighted, and multi-zone metering are great for many situations–so be sure you know which one is best for you. For example, you may want to over-expose when shooting in situations like snow to be sure you get that fluffy, clean white stuff you’re used to seeing. No one likes gray snow. Finally, let your artistic creativity be your guide. There’s no shame in flooding your summer portraits with light or even leaving in a bit of flare if you’re going for a sun-soaked, dreamy mood. Similarly, underexposing your shots is your key to super-dramatic clouds, abstract shadows, and gritty street shots. Click here for more info on metering modes and how they affect exposure. Lie #2: It’s in Focus Despite the reassuring “beep-beep!” of your AF system, there’s still a lot that can foil your focus. The most common culprit is motion blur if it’s too dark in the room. As a rule, you want your shutter speed to be...
Break Out of Your Routine: An Interview with Nature Photographer Jim Goldstein

Break Out of Your Routine: An Interview with Nature Photographer Jim Goldstein

Jim Goldstein is a professional photographer based out of San Francisco, California who specializes in outdoor and nature photography. Jim infuses elements of the natural world into his commercial and editorial work to express his passion about nature and the environment. A member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Jim produces the highest quality photography for both commercial clients and fine art photography collectors.