Sirui Tripod And Ball Head Reviews-A Solid Base For Your Camera

The following post originally appeared on my photography-centered blog a while ago (April 2012) but the information is still valid. Both Pam and I are still using the Sirui tripods we purchased back in 2012 and they are still performing great. If you are looking for a quality tripod at a good price, Sirui is definitely worth your consideration:

After I got back into photography in 2011 I began to consider what kind of quality tripod I would get to mount my cameras on. When it comes to tripods there are a lot of options out there across the price spectrum. I wanted a good, solid tripod but didn't have the budget for a Really Right Stuff setup (though they are fantastic products!). I did a lot of research on the various products that would fit my budget and came across a company called Sirui and after quite a bit of back and forth as well as reading user reviews I decided to go “all-in” with Sirui, a relatively new brand here in the US but popular in Asia and Europe for a while, and get tripods and ball heads for both Pam and I. For me, I ordered theirN-2204 carbon fiber tripod along with the K-20x Ball Head. I also purchased an aluminum legged tripod, theN-1004 4 section Aluminum Tripod with a K-10x ball head for Pam, who will be using a tripod much less than I will. If she really enjoys photography we can always upgrade to a carbon fiber tripod at a later date.

I received the tripods in late January and have had a chance to use them in a few different situations. I think I'm now familiar enough with them to give a fairly solid review. So, without further ado, here is my text review. Be sure to watch my video review at the bottom of this post for more specific information on how the tripods and ballheads work in real life.

What Is Included:

Both tripods, the N-1004 aluminum and N-2204 carbon fiber tripod come with:

  • A short center column
  • Custom carrying case
  • Padded shoulder strap
  • Wrist strap (for use with the mono-pod feature)
  • Tools

The ballheads come with a carrying case.

Features:

  • Tripod converts to monopod; center column can be attached for even more height
  • Legs fold up 180° for extra compactness
  • The center column can be inverted for unusual low angle shots
  • For speed and convenience, each leg has an automatic leg angle lock mechanism
  • Short center column is supplied for low angle or macro shooting.
  • 3 position leg angle for uneven terrain
  • N2 (Carbon Fiber) Series has retractable spiked feet for outdoor photography

The ballheads come with separate control knobs for panning and locking. There is a friction knob that allows you to pre-set the tension of the ballhead, allowing you to easily adjust the camera.

For more specifications, dimensions and other information on the tripods, check out these PDF's: (Tripods) & (Ballheads)

In Use:

This is ultimately the most important part. If the tripod and ballhead are difficult to operate or poorly designed, it doesn't matter at all what features it has. Fortunately, the Sirui tripods and ballheads have lived up to my expectations.

In the several situations that I have used the tripod and ball head they have performed as asked. The quick release legs on both the carbon and aluminum tripods are easy to operate and sure in their locking and unlocking. The diameter of the legs is reassuring (and larger in diameter than many budget brands) and the stability of the tripod is more than adequate. When the legs are adjusted and the ball head is locked in position, I don't fear that the camera is going to fall over at the lightest gust.

The construction of both the tripod and ball heads is very good. Tolerances are tight and everything moves with a purpose. The ball heads are smooth in their operation and are easy to adjust. The quality of construction is apparent and in the approximately 10 hours or so of actual use that both of us have put into these tripods & ball heads, we have found no defects or anything that needs adjusting.

In short, if you are looking for your first quality tripod and/or ball head, you should consider Sirui. They offer a well-made product with a high level of fit, finish and functionality at a competitive price. Both of us are looking forward to using these for a long time to come.

If you're interested in purchasing either of these tripods (or any other equipment) check out these links. You don't pay anymore to buy this way but you will help me offset the cost of maintaining this blog.

Sirui N2204 Carbon Fiber Tripod at Amazon

Sirui Products at Amazon

Develop Your Own Film Part One-Equipment And Chemicals-Episode 11

Have you wanted to develop your own film but were scared away by the thought that it was too difficult. Well, I'm here to say that developing your own film, especially black & white film, is easy and fun! I started using/developing film in the Fall of 2012 and really enjoy the process. I was a little intimidated with the process but after spending some time researching the process and a little practice I have been getting consistently good results. Believe me, if I can do it you can do it, it's not nearly as hard as it seems. This is part one of a three part series in helping you go from having never developed a roll of film "noob" to semi-experienced "home darkroom pro" who can share your film images with the world. Here's a breakdown of the parts:

1.This first part will cover the equipment (camera, film,developing tanks, etc.) and chemicals you'll need to get ready to develop your own film.

2. Part two will be a detailed walk-through of the film developing process with tips and suggestions that I've learned along the way.

3. Part three will be a quick review of how to scan your developed negatives into your computer so you can share them with the world.

OK, on to the fun!

Day 319-A Developing Interest

Get A Film Camera

Before you can develop your own film you first need a film camera. See Episode 3 for tips on purchasing your 1st film camera. I would recommend getting a 35mm slr. There are a lot of film cameras available so finding one isn't hard but you will want to do your research before purchasing.

Once you have your film camera...

Get Some Black & White Film

There is still a decent selection of black and white film, both in 35mm and 120 size. In the 18 months I've been shooting film I've come across a few that have become favorites of mine. Film is a very personal thing and every film has different qualities so what I like may not be what you end up liking. Here are some worthwhile films to consider when starting out. They are all good film and seem to develop well with a variety of developers:

100 Speed

1. Fuji Neopan Acros 100-($6.25/36 exposure roll) at Adorama

2.Kodak T-Max-($4.79/24 exposures, $4.95/36 exposures) at Amazon

3. Ilford FP4-($4.39/36 exposures) at Adorama

3. Ilford Delta 100-($4.50/24 exposures, $6.25/36 exposures) at Adorama

4. Kentmere 100-($2.95/24 exposures) at Adorama- a decent cheap film that I often use in my little Olympus point-n-shoot film camera. Get a roll or two of this to practice with before trying to develop a "real" roll of film with once-in-a-lifetime shots on it.

400 Speed

1.Ilford HP-5 Plus 400-($4.25/24 exposures, $6.25/36 exposures) at Amazon

2. Ilford Delta 400-($4.50/24 exposures, $6.29/36 exposures) at Adorama

3.Kodak T-Max 400-($5 for both 24 & 36 exposures) at Adorama

Time To Develop The Film-Equipment You Need

Once you have your camera and have shot a roll or two of B&W film you need to have some basic equipment/supplies in order to develop the film. I have listed the equipment I use, in the order I use it, in order to develop the film. I use a combination of Amazon and Adorama for nearly all of my photography supplies/equipment so the links listed below are from each site, depending on which one had the better price/shipping terms, etc. as best as I could. There are plenty of other photography supply options, just do a search and you'll come up with a lot of options.

Film Changing Bag (27x30)-($23.95) from Amazon-You will need a very dark place to transfer the film from the roll that you took out of the camera to the developing tank. A tabletop changing bag is a great way to accomplish this task.

Film Canister Opener-($14.95) from Adorama-If you're developing 35mm you'll need something to open the canister so you can load it on the reel. I hear this works great but I make do with a traditional bottle opener which is also very important for opening a bottle of tasty Craft Beer to enjoy while developing your film! :-)

Scissors-(FREE-hopefully you have some of these around the house!)-You'll need something to trim the film (and cut the end off of the 35mm roll) before loading it on the spool. I use a pair of regular kitchen scissors that have a blunt tip (better safe than sorry while working blind in a changing bag).

Paterson Universal tank and 2 reels-#115-($30.59) from Amazon-This is where you will put the film and chemicals. It has a plastic reel that you load the film on (inside the dark changing bag) and once the film is on the reel you put it in the tank and screw the top on. You can then do the rest of the development process in daylight because the tank is lightproof but allows chemical/water to be added.

Plastic Beaker Set - 5 Sizes - 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1000ml-($6.99) from Amazon-Developing film requires accurate measurements. To do this you will need some graduated containers. At this price you might even consider getting two sets of these so you can have some extra containers.

Chemical Stirring Paddle-($3.49) from Adorama

Norpro 243 3-Piece Plastic Funnel Set-($5.00) from Amazon

Plastic Transfer Pipettes 3ml, Gradulated, Pack of 100-($5.99) from Amazon-these will help you measure small quantities of liquid, like the Kodak Photo Flo listed below.

Chemical Storage Containers-($3.49 to $5.95 each) from Adorama

Chemicals

Developer-The developer is key to the whole process. There are many different developers, each with their own unique qualities, that people use. Once you get more experienced (and adventurous) you can experiment but for now you probably want one that is flexible and easy to use. I started out with Ilford Ilfosol-3-($8.50) from Adorama-it's a liquid developer that makes 1-2 gallons depending on dilution. After I ran out of that I bought some Kodak HC-110 but sadly it is not being made anymore so my next developer will probably be some  Kodak D-76-($5.79) from Adorama-D-76 is a powdered developer that makes up to 1 gallon and gets lots of rave reviews for its simplicity and effectiveness.

Ilford Ilfostop-($6.50/500ml bottle)-Once you are done with the developer you need to stop the process so you don't over develop. That's where the "Stop Bath" comes in. Some people just rinse the film in water but I prefer to use an actual chemical. Just about any stop will work.

Ilford Rapid Fix-($6.95/500ml bottle)

Kodak Photo Flo-A drop or two of this in the final rinse will help water sheet off of the film as its drying.-($8.00) at Adorama

Hanger w/Binder Clips (take an extra hanger from your closet and a couple of large binder clips from your desk-FREE)

Scissors to carefully cut the negatives-(hopefully you have a pair of these-FREE)

Negative archive sheets-(various sizes & prices) on Amazon

What's The Total Cost

After you get everything, the total cost for a couple rolls of film, the equipment and assorted chemicals should be around $150-$175, depending on where you get the equipment. That will be enough to get you through about 10-15 rolls of 35mm black and white film. After that you will need to re-stock the chemicals. The tank, beakers, changing bag, etc. will last a very long time. Near as I can quickly calculate, my approximate cost per roll of film to develop (including the roll of film) is about $6-$7, depending on the film. That works out to about 20-30 cents/frame, which isn't too bad considering the fun you'll have :-)

Stay tuned for part two which will cover the actual step-by-step process I use along with some tips and suggestions I have discovered along the way.

Happy Shooting! [post_bottom]

Buying Your First Film Camera-Podcast Episode 003

Buying a film camera can be a great way to improve your photography. If you've listened to Episode 2 you heard several key reasons why I think that shooting with a film camera is a great way to improve your skill as a photographer, no matter what your experience. If you are considering purchasing your very own analog camera, congratulations, you're on a path that you probably will never want to get off of!

Suggested First Vintage Film Cameras

a vintage Rolleicord Va film camera

If I've convinced you to take a look a adding a film camera to your arsenal, congratulations, I think you're making a wise decision. Now, what to buy? Obviously, I can't force you to buy one camera over another. Purchasing a vintage/old film camera is a very personal thing. But, based on my experience and those of some friends who shoot film, here are my suggestions on what film camera(s) to purchase when you are first starting out:

  • If you want to try medium format film photography, check out the Rolleicord-A classic medium format TLR (twin lens reflex) camera that can be purchased for a fair price. I got my Rolleicord Va for just under $180. I'd recommend one of the later models like the Va or Vb. Another option that many people seem to like is the Yashica-Mat. For either of these I'd suggest going completely "old skool" and get the models without a built-in light meter. You can pick one of those up separately.
  • If  you want a 35mm camera, I'd suggest you start out with a well-built SLR that has a wide availability of accessories. My 1st two choices would be a Canon AE-1 or one of the Olympus OM series. Both the Canon and Olympus are solid and should last you a long, long time if you take care of them.
  • If you want a "newer" 35mm film camera, you can pick up one of the many Canon or Nikon film SLR's that were originally sold in the 1990's. These might be a great choice if you currently have a digital SLR because there is a good chance you will have some lens "transportability" depending on the brand and model. You can get a perfectly capable Canon EOS for well under $100, which is a great deal. Nikon has similar models in the same basic price range.
  • If you want a brand spanking new, out of the box, 35mm film SLR, the Nikon FM-10 is one of the few, maybe the only, film SLR that's still made.

Where To Purchase Your Film Camera

There are a lot of options when it comes to purchasing film cameras, many are good, some are very very bad. Before you purchase a camera make sure to do your research. The vintage/older camera market is definitely a "buyer beware" situation and you should do whatever you can to increase the odds that you are dealing with a reputable seller.

KEH Camera is based here in the Atlanta area but sells worldwide via the web. While I haven't purchased anything from them yet, I have a lot of friends who have. They have a good stock of all kinds of cameras in various price ranges. At the least they are a good place to check when you are doing your research.

There are quite a few film cameras on Amazon, believe or not. You can find both new and used cameras.

Ebay is probably the biggest film, vintage camera marketplace. While there are a lot of potential cameras on Ebay you really need to be in the know in order to reduce the chances that you'll not get taken. I've been on Ebay since 1996 or so and have never had a problem but that's probably because I do a ton of research before I get into a potential bidding war on something. Patience is often a virtue when using Ebay.

Fred Miranda is a very active forum site that has a good marketplace. Many of the cameras seem to be newer/digital but it pays to check here if you are in the market.

Goodwill is an unexpected source of used/vintage camera equipment. I was introduced to their online shopping site by a friend and it definitely looks interesting. I haven't purchased anything yet but I'm sure I probably will :-)

There are many more places you can look for and purchase vintage film cameras. Do a Google search for whatever camera you're looking for and you will find many possibilities. Just be sure to do your research before laying down your hard-earned money.

I hope this post/podcast has inspired you to consider the opportunities that are offered by adding a film camera to your toolbox. I know I've immensely enjoyed shooting with my film cameras and I bet you will too.

Stay tuned for future episodes where I will go into more detail on various film cameras, techniques, developing your own film, etc. Until then...

Happy Shooting!

[post_bottom]

Is The New Year The Perfect Time For An Old Film Camera - Episode 002

Welcome to a brand new year! Everything is shiny new and ready to experience. Is the new year the time to pick up an old film camera and improve your photography? I think the answer should be a resounding YES!

What Was Once Old Is Now New

I know that's a weird question but I think it's a valid one. The New Year always gets us thinking about doing things better and trying something new. I'm here to suggest that if you are passionate about photography and haven't ever (or in a vary long time) captured images with a film camera, then I want to suggesting that you seriously think about it. There are several reasons I make this recommendation. Not the least of which is:

Shooting A Vintage Film Camera Will Improve Your Photography

Sometimes nothing but film will do

Film cameras are a different beast than digital cameras. Those differences can help you improve your photographic skill-set. In the last year of shooting film cameras in addition to digital, I have become a better photographer in several ways. I feel pretty confident that if you make the investment in film photography you will experience these same key benefits:

  • You are forced to slow down: Shooting a film camera means that in almost any situation you will be forced to slow down and pay more attention to what you are doing
  • Cost is a factor every time you press the shutter: This is a very important benefit. Film cameras cost hard-earned dollars every time you press the shutter. There's no re-usable 128 gig SD cards with an "old skool" film camera, so every image matters.
  • You have to be adaptable and flexible. With a film camera, there's no switching ISO from 100 to 25,000 in the middle of a roll of film. This means that you have to plan ahead and learn how to deal with surprises.
  • You will have a greater appreciation for your images: Because of the extra effort involved in film photography, every image you capture will be more valuable.
  • You will be part of the "cool crowd" :-) This is an important point because if you take on the challenge of shooting with a film camera, especially an older vintage camera like the Rolleicord, you will attract some attention. This is a great opportunity to spread the word about photography i general and film photography in particular.

I hope this has inspired you to at least consider the benefits you will receive when you introduce a film camera into your photography. I have realized a lot of benefit and I bet you will as well.

Stay tuned for the next episodes where I will go into more detail on some suggested first film cameras and my tips for purchasing a film camera online. Until then...

Happy New Year and Happy Shooting!

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More Film Cameras!-My Father's Nikkormat and Nikomat Vintage 35mm SLR's

My vintage camera collection just keeps growing! A couple weeks ago I added an Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR to my collection and now I have two more vintage film SLR's, a late 1960's (circa 1967-1968) era Nikkormat and Nikomat FTN. I picked these up while visiting my parents. These are fully manual cameras with built in light meters. In addition to the camera bodies I got a 50mm f/2 Nikkor lens and a 200mm f/4.5 telephoto. Here are both cameras and the 50mm lens: Nikkormat

These cameras were used by my Father to record thousands of family vacation, birthday,holiday and a bunch of other images (mostly all on slide film) over the course of my (and my Brother's) childhood. He switched to more automated film camera's in the mid 1980's and then digital in the early 2000's. He currently uses a Canon super-zoom and loves it.

From what I hear, these cameras are built like tanks, and I hope this is true. These two particular cameras are well used and have been all over the place (with some battle scars to prove it). These are definitely not in "like new" condition :-) As you can see in the images below, the Nikkormat has a fair amount of wear and tear on it. The Nikomat (the Japanese market version of the camera) has similar scrapes and scuffs:

There are some scrapes ans scuffs on the top of the Nikkormat from the nearly 25 years of use.

The front of the Nikkormat shows some brassing and deterioration of the leather cover.

They both seem to work fine but haven't been used in probably 20 years. I plan on taking the cameras to get a good CLA before using them.

I'm excited to take over the "care and feeding" of these cameras. Growing up, I have many memories of all of the trips that we took as a family and these cameras were always there to capture all the fun. There's a lot of history in these cameras and I  look forward to keeping the history going and making some great photographs with them!

If you are thinking about acquiring a vintage film camera, be sure to ask your family and friends if they have any analog cameras that they haven't used (and don't plan on using). You just might find some old "memory makers" that you can give new life to!

Initial Impressions And First Images From The Olympus OM-1

I got out with my "new to me" Olympus OM-1 this past Saturday and shot nearly a full roll of film (Kentmere 100) as a test of the camera. I was dying to try out the camera so I took a short walk over to a cemetery (bad joke, I know) near the house that has a lot of old grave-sites in it. This cemetery was where I took one of the earliest shots with my vintage Rolleicord, of a confederate soldier's grave. It wasn't the best light for making photographs but I wasn't really concerned about that as I was more interested in learning how to use the camera and making sure it worked. Here's an image of the developed negatives:

As I said above, the light was terrible and this was my 1st time using the Kentmere film, so I didn't quite know what to expect as far as developing went. I scanned in a few of the images to see what I got. Here's some images.

As we were walking to the cemetery I came across this sign:

Follow Instructions
Follow Instructions

I got this shot pretty much dialed in. The focus seems to be good, and you can see our reflection in the button!

A little while later we made it to the cemetery, where I shot the majority of the roll.

P.V. Singleton
P.V. Singleton

This is the grave of P.V. Singleton. I made a photograph of this same headstone last October when I got my Rolleicord: I think this image came out pretty well, especially considering the light. I need to get used to the focusing on the OM-1 but the result was pretty good.

_20131201
_20131201

Here's another headstone in the cemetery, appropriately named the "Singleton" cemetery. Nearly all the graves are of Singletons or what appears to be their extended family. I did a little better with the composition and sharpness in this one.

Some Quick Impressions

Now that I've used the Olympus OM-1 I feel very good about my decision to purchase the camera. The camera seems to operate exactly as it should. It is a well-built piece of equipment with a nice, solid feel to it. When you press the shutter there is a satisfying "click". All the switches and dials are tight and move with a purpose. The whole camera has a great "mechanical" feel to it that I don't think any DSLR can ever hope to replicate. That's one of the reasons I enjoy using these vintage cameras, because of their solid build and purposeful operation.

The lenses I got with the camera appear to be in very good shape as well. One thing that is a little different on this camera is that the shutter speed "dial" is on the lens itself, rather than on the camera body. It will take me some more time to get used to that but I don't see it as a negative, just different.

All in all, after shooting about 30 images with the camera, I'm a happy camper :-) The Olympus OM-1 is a fine example of analog camera equipment and I am looking forward to using it. I may do a more in-depth review of the camera after I've had some more time with it. Until then, if you are looking to try your hand at analog photography and want a single lens reflex camera, the Olympus OM-1 should be on your list!

My New Vintage Olympus OM-1 Camera-Or How I Deal With Yet Another Birthday

They say "time flies when you're having fun". Well I must be having a lot of fun because time is sure flying by! Yesterday was my 49th birthday. I can honestly say it's hard to believe that I'm closer to 70 than 25 but that's just the way it is. I always tend to think of myself as much younger than I really am, which I guess is a good thing. I always try to enjoy life as much as possible and one of the ways that I have really enjoyed life over the last few years is through photography. So I figured, "what better way to celebrate another year on this earth than to pick up another vintage film camera?" That's exactly what I did.

Since I got into film photography last year I've wanted to pick up an SLR. A few weeks ago I started my research in earnest and came upon the Olympus OM series as a worthy contender. I also had a friend who had a Nikon FM2 that I was very interested in. In the end, I decided to go with the OM-1 for my first vintage film SLR because I came across a camera that was for sale locally and came from a fellow Atlanta photographer who is very much into film cameras. He had the camera for about a year and had it recently "tuned up" and adjusted. In addition to the body, he had a 35mm f/2.8 and 75-150 f/4 Olympus lens for the camera. He also had a "vintage", light-teal colored camera bag which sealed the deal for me. :-) Here's an image of the camera along with some 35mm film I purchased. I'll use the film with the OM-1 as well as the Yashica Electro GSN Rangefinder that I got earlier this year,

 

I'm really looking forward to using this camera, especially as a "walk-around" camera. I think it will be a great complement to the Yashica and I see myself running a bunch of film through this camera. And, to be honest, I really can't think of a better way to enjoy the occasion of turning another year older than by doing something you enjoy, and film photography is definitely something that I'm currently enjoying very much!

I hope to get through a roll of B&W film this weekend. Stay tuned.......

Affordable Camera Lens Review: Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens

I recently purchased a new affordable lens for my Canon T3i camera, the Rokinon FE8M-C 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Lens (manufacturer site). After using the lens for almost 2 months in a variety of situations I wanted to give you a review of the lens and my impressions of how this affordable fisheye lens can help you become more creative with your photography. Here's a video review of the lens, followed by some sample images and more of my thoughts on this unique, and affordable, fisheye lens:

Sample Images

As a follow up to the video review I wanted to share some images I made with the Rokinon lens.

This 1st one is pretty much the first image I made with the lens right after I opened up the box and attached it to the T3i. I was about 6 inches away from the beer bottle when I took this:

Stone Ruination "Fish" IPA

As you can see, the lens has a super-wide field of view (just under 180 degrees)! The horizontal deck railing took on a very curved appearance. This is a neat effect, if you are wanting it, but you need to be aware of any horizontal or vertical lines when composing the shot because they will be distorted to some degree.

One of the things I'm hoping to do is use this fisheye lens to take shots of expansive landscapes, like the ones we see every time we visit places like Colorado or New Mexico. We haven't made it out there in the last few months but we were in North Carolina in August so I tested out the lens in more traditional landscape-type shot:

A New Day

I took this shot just after sunrise. The clouds were very interesting and the abandoned farm equipment caught my eye. The sky was very bright but the field was still fairly dark so I bracketed 3 shots and combined them in Nik's HDR Efex Pro to create the image you see above. I definitely captured a wide swath of landscape in this shot. My feet are just out of view on the bottom of the image (once again due to the nearly 180 degree field of view).

As many of you know, I really enjoy shooting old/classic/exotic cars. I figured the Rokinon lens would be a neat addition to my car show arsenal. Here's an image of a sweet Lamborghini with a great license plate.

BOOYAHH

The Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens was perfect for this car. I was about 2 feet away from the vehicle and the effect from the lens made the bright Orange Lamborghini look as over-the-top in the image as it was in person.

One thing to be aware of when using this lens, especially in a bright scene, is the chromatic aberration. If you look carefully at the bright section of sky in the image below, you can see some light purple fringing around the leaves. This is a fairly common occurrence with the lens but can usually be corrected in post processing applications like Lightroom.

_

I'll finish up the sample images with a couple more from a car-show. I think both of these are great examples of how you can use a fisheye lens like the Rokinon to make some very creative images.

Here's an old Mercury custom that I got up close and personal with using the lens. I processed it to give a bit of an over saturated, detailed appearance:

Big Orange Mercury

This 1950's Ford Country Sedan's driver's door made a perfect subject for the creative distortion that the fisheye lens can impart on an image:

A Day In The Country

The Final Word

Let's be honest, a fisheye lens is definitely something that is a bit limited in its use and falls, at least partly, in the "novelty lens" category. In the end, the Rokinon FE8M-C 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Lens (Amazon Link) is a pretty darn good lens at a very affordable price. You should be able to find one of these new for between $225-$275 depending on the store/time of year. The quality of the images it produces is very good and the creative options it adds to your "bag of tricks" is well worth the price of entry, in my opinion. Remember, this is an all manual lens (no autofocus here) that is made specifically for crop sensor cameras. The only blemish that I found was the lens' propensity to add a good amount of purple fringing in the bright sections of the image (think trees against a bright sky). I was aware of this before purchasing the lens, and while it is a bit of a hassle to correct, it is not a deal breaker for me.

I'm very glad I purchased this lens and I definitely look forward to using it in my photography. If you've never tried a fisheye lens before and want to explore the options without taking out a second mortgage, the Rokinon 8mm F3.5 fisheye lens is well worth trying.

Happy Shooting!

Support This Site. Buy The Lens Using The Links Below!

The Rokinon 8mm Fisheye at Adorama.

Amazon-Rokinon FE8M-C 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Lens for Canon - Black

 

 

Canon Powershot S100 Unboxing and Smell Test

As I said in my last post, I ordered a Canon PowerShot S100 to replace my beloved Powershot s95, which I lost while on a trip a couple of weeks ago. Based on my research, needs and budget, the S100 seemed like the right camera for me. Well, thanks to the magic of Amazon Prime ,I received my new camera in 2 days! Now it's time to see what the camera Looks like as well as give it the "all important" smell test:

I will post a proper review of the camera once I get a chance to use it and learn more about it. In the meantime be sure to check out the Flickr group, where you can post images to share with others as well as on our weekly (Friday evening) Google+ hangouts. If you want to participate/view the hangout live just follow me on Google+ or follow the Mark's Photography Spot page on Google+.

Happy Shooting!

I Lost My Powershot S95-Time To Upgrade The Point and Shoot Camera

The bad news: I lost my beloved Canon Powershot S95 point and shoot camera :-( The good news: I was forced to upgrade :-)

I guess it was bound to happen at some point. At least it wasn't my DSLR!

A couple weeks ago we met some friends in Asheville for a long weekend. Being the photography geek that I am I took up all my cameras both digital and film (you just never know when you might need a particular camera). One of those was my beloved Canon PowerShot S95. I've had the camera for just over 2 years and have used it a lot. It was the camera that got me through most of my Project 365 because of its small size and good image quality. I really depended on the S95 for go anywhere, high quality images. Like this:

Day 285-Red Maple Leaves On Grass

Or this:

The three chrome carb covers on this car's engine give off a triple reflection.

Needless to say, I was severely bummed when I discovered late last week that I most likely left the camera on the kitchen counter of the house we were renting. I contacted to owner but no luck, my S95 was gone!

After a couple hours of moping around, angry at myself for losing the camera, I came to my senses and realized that I could now "justify" getting a new camera. But which one? The choices are almost overwhelming.

After some research last weekend I decided that I wanted to keep the same basic form factor and features with the new camera that I had with the S95. That meant I was looking for something extremely portable with good image quality and the ability to shoot RAW files. And since I was upgrading there were a couple of things I had wished the S95 had, like zoom and continual auto-focus while shooting video. I also decided that I didn't want to spend a ton of money on the new camera. Those criteria quickly narrowed the list of potential candidates down to a few contenders and one outlier:

  1. The Nikon COOLPIX P330
  2. Canon's latest iteration of the S95, the Canon PowerShot S110
  3. The camera that came between the S95 and S110, the Canon PowerShot S100
  4. And finally, a "stretch" candidate, the Sony DSC-RX100

All four of these cameras could serve as a great replacement for the S95. The improvements in features, like true HD video and GPS/wireless, as well as image quality made them all very strong candidates. I was especially intrigued by the Sony, which is getting rave reviews for its image quality (from a much larger sensor). I almost blew my budget to buy the Sony because it seems to be a bit of a game changer. But the price on it was more than I could justify given that I have a nice DSLR.

In the end, I decided to go with the PowerShot S100 for these reasons:

  1. The camera has a lot of positive reviews from people who upgraded to it from the S95.
  2. I like the idea of having direct GPS tagging of images if I want.
  3. I like the form-factor of the camera. One of the best things about my dearly departed S95 was the fact that it was truly "pocketable" which made it the perfect go anywhere complement to my much larger Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR (which I highly recommend!).
  4. And finally, the price on the S100 was right. At under $300 it should meet my needs without breaking the bank.

I should have the camera within the week and will do an unboxing/review of it once I get the time.

Losing a camera you like really, really sucks. I sincerely hope none of you have to go through the experience. But, if the unthinkable happens you can always try to "make Lemonade from Lemons" and find a new camera that works for you. I think the secret is to define what you are really wanting/needing from the camera, set a realistic budget and then do the research. If you do all of that, finding a new camera should be easy.

Happy Shooting!