Skip to main content

YES! Sigma 14mm f1.8, Full Frame, Yes. Really.

When I first heard that Sigma were making a 14mm f1.8 Art my initial reaction was one of resentment, why are sigma creating more crop sensor ART lenses?
What about us poor sods waiting in the full frame (FF) world?. It seemed to good to be true to be a FF lens. But there was still the hope deep down, that just maybe, Sigma has been able to do something magical and bend the laws of physics and light to pull off the first 14mm f1.8 lens. After all companies are innovating in this space all the time right?, look at Canon with their fancy 11mm lens.

Then a few weeks ago the chatter started across various tog sites, rumours so wonderful they seemed to good to be true. The new 14mm was indeed going to be FF. At this point I like many others were hanging out on the edge of their seat, waiting for an official press release. Had Sigma done the impossible? Well it appeared they had when the offical word was given from Sigma. Since then specifications have been released, as well as sample pictures.

However, the story is not over. Possibly the most important piece of information is missing. How much is it going to cost? Surely bending the laws of physics and light comes at a cost? Now we wait, stuck in a holding pattern until Sigma release offical pricing. Oh course it does not stop people of speculating, so far I’ve seen people quote the lens as cheap as $800, and as much as $3000. Oh course I know a few people who are familiar with Sigma pricing, and they believe it should be around the $1500 mark (AUD).

So my name is number one of the order list (well at least here in my local town), and you can be assured that I will be testing it as soon as humanly possible. So until then, let us all keep calm and make sure your name is on a list somewhere, or you can wait for my review 🙂

What Lens for Astrophotography & Aurora?

It seems I can’t go a day without seeing this question at least asked once on a Facebook page or in a forum, so I thought I’d create the go to ‘list’ for lenses that are best suited for shooting the night sky and Aurora’s.

Of course there are many factors to consider when purchasing a lens so I have limited the list below to common lenses used and proven in the field. I have structured the list based on the angle of view and the type of body it will be used on either a full frame or crop. I am only focusing on Canon and Nikon, however brand like Samyang are universal, and can be purchased with mounts for Sony and others.

If you are looking for a lens for your camera this list would be a good starting point.

Lenses with a ‘B’ have a bulbous front element and standard 4×6 filters will not fit.

 Full Frame BodyCrop Body
Ultra WideSamyang 14mm f2.8 B
Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 B
Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 B
Canon 16-35mm II f2.8
Canon 14mm f2.8 B
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 B
Nikon 16-35mm f4.0
Sigma 15mm f2.8 (fisheye)
Zeiss 15mm f2.8
Samyang 8mm f2.8 B
Tokina 11-16mm f2.8
WideSamyang 24mm f1.4
Canon 24mm f1.4
Samyang 14mm f2.8 B
Samyang 16mm f2.0
Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 B
Sigma 18-35mm f1.8
Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 B
Canon 16-35mm II f2.8
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 B
Nikon 16-35mm f4.0
StandardSigma 35mm f1.4
Samyang 35mm f1.4
Samyang 50mm f1.4
Canon 50mm f1.4 / f1.8
Nikon 50mm f1.4 / f1.8
Samyang 24mm f1.4
Sigma 35mm f1.4
Samyang 35mm f1.4
Telephoto*Samyang 85mm f1.4Samyang 50mm f1.4
Canon 50mm f1.4 / f1.8
Nikon 50mm f1.4 / f1.8
Samyang 85mm f1.4

*Normally deeper space work or stitching involved requiring motorised mounts.

I can’t say it enough, foreground!

The other night I was out shooting an Aurora with a friend of mine, and we were discussing what can make or break a shot. What is it about some scenes that make a photograph popular?

To be honest the Aurora Australis is not all that hard to shoot, you join a Facebook page, find out when the actions happening and the weather is clear, then go out and setup your camera pointing south with the settings everyone is willing to freely give you. The result? Well we have all seen them, the countless shots from decks and backyards.

BPD_1844So, what am I waffling on about? Imagination, creativity, beauty and effort. Yes, effort. A good shot does not happen when you drive into a carpark and proceed to setup your camera next to your car. A good shot takes research, framing and most importantly good subject matter. A good Aurora is not good enough by itself (yes there are exceptions to the rule), a good shot draws you in on many layers, first it may be the Aurora, but then your eyes start to wander as you look at the other subject matter and composition.

It’s very important to make sure your shot is level, and you use the proven framing techniques, and that the rest of the shot enhances the main subject matter, in the case of an Aurora maybe it’s reflections on water, interesting foreground subject matter or some lovely rolling hills. Also, try to avoid to much subject matter drawing your else away from the central theme, or bad subject matter.

Anyone can shoot a car, anyone can even shoot a nice expensive and exotic car, but it’s never going to look nice unless you place the car in surroundings that enhance the featBPD_1843ures of the car, and of course, shot in a way that enhances the cars features.

In the days before digital cameras you knew you only had one, maybe two rolls of film for a shoot, consequently much more time was spent on planning and setting up shots. Today there seems to be this idea that quantity is going to make up for quality. Sometimes I may only shoot 6 pictures, and at most I generally never go over 50.

The best shots are always the ones that have been researched, pondered upon, then with the subject matter framed correctly.

Could you go out and ONLY take 24 different shots?

Sigma 16-20mm f2, Yes Please.

The rumor of the Sigma 16-20mm f2 ART lens has been circulating for over a year now, and it’s looking less likely that we will see it, for a number of reasons:

  • It was reported that if the lens were to be released it would have been announced last year.
  • A 16mm lens at f2, particularly to ART standard would be expensive, very expensive, and it would house some seriously big pieces of Glass. Even a 20mm f2 lens would rival others like Nikon’s 20mm f1.8 which is an expensive prime.
  • The 16-20mm may be considered to be a very short zoom range, and by it’s nature seem impractical. It’s understandable that the market for this lens may be small. If it was considered to be unprofitable I guess that would not produce it.

Well, the issues aside I personally would love to see f2 @ 16mm. I admit given it’s likely price tag it will have a very small market, mainly to those that shoot landscapes where there is little light. As a person who regularly shoots the night sky and the Aurora Australis I would love to see this lens.

So Sigma, if your reading this PLEASE produce this lens and if you need someone to test it I’m here waiting. 🙂 I’d be more than happy to shoot the southern sky and tell of it’s greatness; because lets face it, if it’s going to be an ART lens it’s going to be awesome.

‘How-to’ Aurora Forecast Video.

Hi Everyone,

I’ve created a basic video that explains how the forecast service works, and how to use it to determine if there are any Aurora ‘events’ due to arrive soon, like beams, of heightened activity.

The service has now been updated to support local time zone searching as well.

The Aurora Forecast Service

apple-touch-icon-152x152Because I shoot a lot of aurora’s I have created an Aurora Forecast Service.

The service gathers all available data from the ACE spacecraft, the GOES’s satellites, as well as local NOAA estimates and presents it to users to assist them by giving them a short aurora forecast. Normally the next hour.

IMG_3924The service is compatible with full screen mode on iOS and android devices, all you need to do is add it to your home screen for future use, and it will remove the pesky Safari URL bar and footer. 🙂

 

The service also allows you to report sightings of an aurora, which will be visible in real-time to other users of the service.

As well as real-time forecasting you can also view archived dates, include archived reports of aurora’s

 

 

The Tessellated Pavement, Tasmania

IMG_8241It’s taken me a while but last night the weather was favorable and I managed to finally get a reasonable Aurora over the ‘Pans’ at Eaglehawk neck. As an added bonus I also scored a little airglow as well, seen here as the green glow to the left of the picture 🙂

For these shots I used an ND Grad filter to darken the sky allowing more exposure in the foreground without overexposing the glow of the Aurora.

“The most well known example of a tessellated pavement is the Tessellated Pavement that is found at Lufra, Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula of Tasmania. This tessellated pavement consists of a marine platform on the shore of Pirates Bay, Tasmania. This example consists of two types of formations: a pan formation and a loaf formation.

IMG_8229The pan formation is a series of concave depressions in the rock that typically forms beyond the edge of the seashore. This part of the pavement dries out more at low tide than the portion abutting the seashore, allowing salt crystals to develop further; the surface of the “pans” therefore erodes more quickly than the joints, resulting in increasing concavity.

The loaf formations occur on the parts of the pavement closer to the seashore, which are immersed in water for longer periods of time. These parts of the pavement do not dry out so much, reducing the level of salt crystallization. Water, carrying abrasive sand, is typically channeled through the joints, causing them to erode faster than the rest of the pavement, leaving loaf-like structures protruding.”

-WikiPedia.

Reviewing the D810 and D610 Sensors.

Hi All,_MG_6790

So the new Nikon D750 is awesome right? But there seems to be some very conflicting information available on the internet.

Nikon have claimed that the new sensor in the D750 performs much better than the existing technology currently being used in the D8X0 and D6X0 cameras, particularly when it comes to low light and noise performance.

However Dx0’s testing revealed that the D750’s sensor is only just on par with the D610 and offers little advantage based on their testing.

So how do the D610 and the D810 compare to the new D750 for long exposures?

Well the data is in, head on over to the Long Exposure Sensor Test page for the results. Thanks again to Walch Optics for allowing me to run the tests.

“Someones up late”.

Iron Pot AuroraHad one of those nights last night where I could just not sleep, so I decided to head out and see if I could get a nice shot on a beach where I recalled someone had built a makeshift stick “hut”.

The beach faced north, so I knew if the Aurora Australis was active I’d have to do at least a 200 degree panorama to get it all in. In the end it was only four shots with my 16-35 lens.

I have titled it “Someones up late”.

Shot shows the Iron Pot lighthouse at the mouth of the Derwent River in Storm Bay with Bruny Island to the right (Tasmania). Pictured to the left is a single shot from the same location a little further down the beach.

Oblivious to the lights.

IMG_7875When your out shooting late at night you have a lot of time for thinking during exposures and between shots, especially if your by yourself. I often think of all those people at home, watching TV, or asleep in their beds, oblivious to what is going on around then, and the silent lights that weave across the night sky above them.

I think the mood in this shot sums up how I often think of those people. They are inside, working away or watching some program on TV. Meanwhile outside the lights are dancing in the sky and the stars are shining brightly on a perfectly clear and moonless night.

The picture was taken in Mortimer Bay (Tasmania). The photograph to the right was taken only a stones throw from the boat shed when the Aurora was a little more active.

%d bloggers like this: