Schlachtensee Panorama

The higher resolution version of the Schlachtensee Pano shot / panorama from early February. This was a magic week. Temperatures and light were just perfect and the ice was incredible untouched. This pano is from the P3A.

For those not familiar with the Berlin south west. The Schlachtensee region is known in Berlin as the area where the people who love dogs used to have some conflicts with those that go for a run and/or the other way around.  I think the conflict has been cooling down now somewhat fortunately! In summer its great to have a swim here early in the morning. Skating in winter only works every 5-10years – so these days in February were kind of unique. (Pano from 4 different shots: resampled to 4300×1300).

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Wave-Tube Power

The wave gallery from 2015 is online now. A selection of the best 300 shots mainly captured at the baltic sea and at the north sea coast of Skagen/Denmark in July/August 2015. Some shots were done with the Aquatech ELITE sports housing setup. This is a very small subset of lots of images. In summer 2015 I spend a lot of time in the waves testing perspectives, lenses and various exposure speeds with the D800. The online selection comes from the 10.5mm fisheye, the 14-24 wide and from the 300mm f2.8 – I never really managed to keep up with the constant stream of RAW files that summer. So over NewYear I made a first selection and finished last weekend with this extended gallery. This was a huge project in 2015 and I hope to extend this  with some new ideas in summer 16 on Crozon at the Atlantic coast.

Gallery goes here

http://soeren.zenfolio.com/wavetubing2015

Some “Micro-Waves” shots from Skagen are here:

http://soeren.zenfolio.com/microwaves

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Underwater Worlds

Hab mal das verlängerte Wochenende genutzt, um das Aquatech Gehäuse etwas im Uferbereich einzusetzen. War eigentlich schon zu Ostern dieses Jahr auf der Agenda, aber dann konnte Aquatech das Gehäuse ja erst mit 5 Wochen Verzögerung liefern.

Also östlich der Müritz die herrliche Havel Quellregion für ein langes Wochenende mit der Family besucht und lange kalt baden gewesen bis mich die Kälte wieder in die Wäsche – und zum Kaminfeuer getrieben hat – Ist recht schwierig ein Bild sauber zu komponieren, wenn man durch das Wasser von seitlich/oben auf den Objektiv-Port schaut. Man kann erkennen wenn Pflanzen den Port von der Sonne abschatten, aber die präzise Positionierung ist praktisch nicht möglich ohne Sucherkontrolle. Die Ergebnisse sind aber ganz ordentlich, wenn man sich die Bedingungen klar macht. Man entwickelt ein Gefühl für die Perspektive. Wichtig ist auf jeden Fall sich im Wasser absolut langsam und vorsichtig zu bewegen, damit man keinen Schlamm/Sand vom Grund aufwirbelt. Aufsteigende Blasen vom Seegrund sind ganz klasse als grafische Elemente, aber das Timing für das Bild ist schwierig und mit den Blasen kommen auch andere Partikel hochgeschwommen. Eine Zeit lang schwamm mir immer ein Fischschwarm hinterher, aber hier muss man sich wohl noch erheblich ruhiger verhalten, auch den Schwarm vor der Sonne zu positionieren wollte nicht recht gelingen :) – naja und irgendwann wurde es dann echt kalt. Im Oktober nehme ich dann meinen Neo mit – die Wassertemperaturen sind nicht mehr so nett.

Kleine Galerie später – hier schonmal eine Vorschau (hier: Dambecker See/MVP):

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 mtk

The Sharpness & Darkness Queen – the Nikkor AFS 14-24 mm f2.8G

Nikon AFS 14-24 mm f2.8G: This lens is the end of the (endless) search for the perfect wide angle lens. Its as simple as that. Get this one and stop (and forget) all the testing : ).  Since photography went digital a sharp wide angle has been like the mythical unicorn – it just wasnt there anywhere. The 14-24 is the magical solution for all that wanted this full frame edge-sharp wide angle lens. The wide open performance without any degradation in  sharpness etc.

In short:

+ Sharp wide open in the center and in the far corners,

+ sharp at 14 mm,
+ sharp at 20 mm and
+ nearly as sharp at 24 mm though it wee bit softer in the edge than at 20 mm,
+ creates nice sun stars closed down,
+ has (on the D800) only minimal CAs at 14 mm (that can be easily corrected in post),
+ focus is fast and silent,
+ build is absolute top notch (the lens virtually melts with a D3 – there are no mount tolerances),
+ manual focus is super smooth without any glide coupling offsets.

 

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Front element is protuding and exposed to some degree at 14 mm setting.

 

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With the heavy duty Single Digit Nikons the 14-24 just pairs perfectly and weight balance is nice.

 

The lens is heavy but sits in your hand like a tool that asks to be used with precision and knowledge – somehow just stimulating.
The lens has low coma at f2.8 –  so,  for night time photography this is just the dream of “shooting a wideangle without need to close the aperture” coming true because the f2.8 shots at iso1600 wide open are in no way a compromise. So far my experiences with all wide angles were always a mixed bag. The fixed focal lenses with 20 mm and less did not deliver (Nikon 20 mm f2.8 AIS, 18 mm, 14 mm and the Voigtländer 20 mm f3.5 or the Sigma alternatives were not much better). Some praised the new Zeiss ZF 15 mm and the legend – the older Zeiss ZF 21 mm f2.8 but they sell for the same or higher price, no AF and only one focal length, other alternative at least for the night time photogs: Rokinon (also known as Samyang). Rokinons are very affordable priced and are nicely coma corrected. A great start would be the 14 mm Rokinon.
On the plus side for the 14-24: it also works nicely with an IR converted camera. There is no hotspot with this lens.
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If you have to use a wide angel lens wide open, than the 14-24 is the tool that will deliver.  The edges will even improve sligthly if you close the lens down to f4 and f5.6 though hardly in a range that is very much relevant.
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Only “problem” with the lens is its big front glass – you pay for the uncompromised engineering of this construction unaffected by accountancy or management restrictions. This is a product of a 100% performance oriented and engineering dominated design decisions.
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Minor moanings:
– the lens cap is a problem – I just dont like that solution – it just shouldnt be slip on, they could have easily created a locking mechanism that
snuck fits on the sun shade.
– And for some a problem: no easy filter solution – you have to get the big special 1424 designs – expensive and huge glas plates.
– The lens can also show some strange flare  when you directly shoot into the sun. It creates rainbow like reflections that are hard to remove.
So overall the best around for the available light freakes, indoor interior, astro photographers, star trail and polar light /aurora photography or for night time shots of urban scenes, light house shots at night and so on – you get the message. If you only need a coma free lens for astro shots I would suggest the 14 mm Rokinon, but if the lens is to be used also for other applications than the 1424 will deliver. I sold my old Tokina 124 DX lens and will also leave the Nikkor 28 mm f2.0. That feeling of wide open top performance makes me even rethink if I shouldnt sell my Nikkor 20 mm. … mmh the 20 is sooo small its just a very different horse ähem pony maybe.
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Some shots from this year:

 

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Pretty much the perfect lens for fireworks at 24 mm but occasional you will likely grab the 24-70 for these events.

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Full frame 14 mm shot at f22 – sun in the corner with strong flare.

 

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Subset from the full frame shot above – the color halos are nasty, but you can avoid them easily when you change the direction of the lens a wee bit. Therefore here I really just wanted to show how it could look like if you do not take care but it is avoidable.

 

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14-24 and back online

Back from the summer break – what a summer! Did some nice shots with the Nikkor 14-24 f2.8G. This lens seems to be worth every penny (but if you spend so much pennies for a lens – than this is a good thing! isn’t it?  : ). I will have some more thoughts about the lens but here are some uncommented samples from the last weeks. If you havnt been a wide angle fan so far than you become one with that piece of glass. At least thats my impression.

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Erste (Segel)-Saison Wochenenden

Die Segelsaison in Berlin startet ja doch erstmal recht durchwachsen – wenig Wind und pünktlich zum WE auch dunkel winterlich beim WannseePokal. So ist ja mal Zeit etwas an den Teleconvertern zu feilen. Normalerweise sollte man ja keine Teleconverter kombinieren. Die modernen TCs sind jedoch derartig gut geworden, dass man das durchaus mal probieren kann: im Bild unten der Mond mittels 300 mm f2.8 + TC20eIII + TC14eII und stärkerer Crop vom D800 Sensor. Die Auflösung ist aber ganz ordentlich, wenn man auf f11 abblendet. Das Ganze ergibt eine 900 mm Optik und per 1.5 APS-C crop dann für 15 MP auf der D800 ein 1350 mm Äquivalent. Gar nicht so übel. Scharf fokussieren geht allerdings nur noch per Lifeview, da die Kombination aus irgendeinem Grunde immer etwas falsch liegt. Wer das nachmachen will muss aber am objektivseitigen Mount des TC14e den Sperrnippel wegfeilen. Der verhindert nämlich genau solche Kombinationen. Das macht man am Besten mit einem Dremel und bei demontiertem TC-Lensmount.

Moon on 300mm+TC20+TC14
Moon on 300mm+TC20+TC14

Nikon D800 – Pixels vers. Speed?

The Nikon D800 arrived at my door steps some days ago. As a late adopter none of the classic problems whatsoever (no left sensor issue, 10pin seems sturdy so far, no freezing of the software). Serial is 6097xxxx. Will do some testing at the next weekend (Eastern). Might be the next illusion of “the last camera” we buy. But first impressions are very good. With a Lexar 1000x the buffer seems to be ready as fast as with the D3. But compared to the D700 the ergonomic changes are a head scratcher. Mmh wait … the pixels, yes sooo plenty  – resolution at service. But I have more to comment in a week or so.

So long, Sören

Some “work of art” stuff:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Megapixel race restarted – Nikon announced the D800/E

Well its out – Nikon just announced the new Nikon D800 / D800E. A full frame DSLR with a whopping resolution of 36.3 Megapixels (FX) and 15.4 Megapixels (DX crop).

This will obviously lead the pack of the most recent  new camera announcements. I am definitely in the market this year for a new DSLR – my old 12 Megapixels (DX) cameras got a bit dated.  However, who really needs 36 MP in a DSLR? Likely the wedding and studio photogs will be happy placing orders – some of the nature photographers will also be in the game.  But somehow I am wondering if 36 MP are indeed needed.

Right now the resolution jump asks for new bigger CF cards, new hard discs, possibly upgrade of computer performance and new processing techniques/Software upgrade and some fine-tuning of the lens arsenal. I can see a lot of lenses that  do not manage to reproduce the high resolution of the sensor especially at the edge of the imaging circle and used wide open.

Being focused on sports photography  I am feeling much more attracted by the  D4 imaging performance – speed and high ISO quality with a modest resolution boost will have an higher impact on the imaging/visual power. Unfortunately the D4 will come with a hefty price tag. Having 36 MP at hand (with the D800) is somehow thrilling but the implications (ISO quality, continuous shooting speed, buffer size, post production work flow etc.) have to be balanced up against the resolution advantage. Imo this result is not as clear as the marketing makes us believe. For the movie centered people this body (and the D4) is the one to get. For those DX format shooters the funny thing is you are gaining resolution when switching to the DX mode. So the D800 is the natural upgrade path for all the D300 owners (as long as we havnt seen the DX D400 – and a potential D600 :)). Who knows. At least Nikons performance after quake/tsunami/flood (in Thailand) is remarkable!

mtk, Sören