Lens News

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George Schaub  |  Aug 12, 2013  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2013  |  4 comments

There’s something about a fixed focal length lens that brings the photographer out in me. It forces me to move in and back from compositions without resorting to a zoom. Yes, there are times when a zoom is most appreciated—especially the fast constant aperture zooms now available—but a prime puts me in a mindset that a zoom has yet to match.

Jack Neubart  |  May 06, 2013  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2013  |  3 comments

The difference between a “constant” aperture zoom and other standard zooms is that when you increase the focal length on the standard zoom the maximum aperture narrows. This might make the difference between being able to hand hold or not when zooming in, and may indeed force the use of higher ISOs. Known as “fast” lenses, constant aperture zooms are pricier and bulkier than their variable-aperture counterparts. And to sweeten the pot, we’ve seen more and more fast lenses with built-in image stabilization, which gets you even more low light and steady shot capability.

C.A. Boylan  |  Feb 07, 2013  |  First Published: Jan 01, 2013  |  0 comments

Lensbaby Spark
Created for young photo enthusiasts, the Lensbaby Spark is a fun and affordable lens that offers Lensbaby effects for just $80. Made for use with Canon and Nikon D-SLR cameras, this 50mm f/5.6 lens features a multi-coated glass doublet and a focusing range of 13” to infinity. This manual focus lens offers a sharp sweet spot surrounded by soft blur. The Spark is compatible with the Lensbaby Optic Swap System and all of the Lensbaby 37mm threaded accessory lenses.

CA Boylan  |  Dec 14, 2012  |  1 comments

The Sigma APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens boasts the company’s proprietary Optical Stabilizer (OS) technology and a wide f/2.8 aperture. The OS feature is said to allow the use of shutter speeds approximately four stops slower than would otherwise be possible, enabling handheld, close-up photography.

Edited by George Schaub  |  Sep 18, 2012  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2012  |  3 comments

Every year the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA), a worldwide association of photo and imaging magazine editors, meets to pick the Best of Class in a wide range of photo categories. As the sole US member of the association, Shutterbug joins editors from Europe, Asia, and Africa in the nominating, judging, and selection process. One of the most exciting aspects of photography today is the constant advancement of technology and design, and this year’s Top Products reflect that spirit and those accomplishments, including new categories of Video D-SLR and Mobile App. Editor George Schaub joins all fellow TIPA members in congratulating those selected to receive the prestigious TIPA award. (To learn more about TIPA, please visit the website at: www.tipa.com.)

C.A. Boylan  |  Sep 24, 2012  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2012  |  0 comments

These fashionable, durable, and discreet Messenger bags are available in three sizes. Each features a wide main access compartment with a “dual mode” flap that offers security and a quiet working mode, a wide shoulder strap, stretch pockets, and a grab handle. The model 250 and 150 offer a padded laptop/tablet compartment. The model 250 is large enough to easily hold a pro D-SLR camera, three to four lenses, and an iPad or 13” laptop. The retail value is $79.99. The model 150 can hold a D-SLR camera, two to three lenses, and an iPad. The retail value is $69.99. The model 100 can hold a compact D-SLR or mirrorless camera with a lens attached. The retail value is $59.99.

Steve Bedell  |  Aug 09, 2012  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2012  |  0 comments

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lens (average price: $969 on various Internet sites) is designed for full-frame cameras; with an APS-C multiply by your usual factor. At about 25 oz, I’d describe the lens as substantial, but not hefty. One of the reasons for the weight is the build—11 elements in eight groups, including the use of SLD glass, Sigma speak for Special Low Dispersion. The big chunk of glass on the end requires a 77mm filter. As to handling, Sigma has gone from their black “crinkle” finish to a smooth black rubberized finish that feels great to the touch. It’s plastic, not metal, but based on my experience with previous Sigma lenses, I’ve found them to be built to professional standards and can take a lot of abuse.

Stan Trzoniec  |  Jun 06, 2012  |  First Published: May 01, 2012  |  0 comments

Out of all the telephoto focal lengths, the 400mm is my favorite, so I looked forward to Canon’s updated 400mm f/2.8L. At about $11,499 list price (slightly less on searched street prices) it’s for those who absolutely need a fast, fixed focal length lens in their still and/or video work, and that’s work that pays well.

George Schaub  |  Jun 15, 2012  |  First Published: May 01, 2012  |  0 comments

There are three main elements in depth of field—focal length, aperture, and distance to subject—and depth of field is a very important part of a 2D photograph. It’s how we judge scale (or are fooled by it), how we note the importance of certain subjects within the frame, and how we define content and context in the scene. With these three controls, and using various points of view, it seems we have infinite variations to choose from, and that’s part of the creative play of photography. Now you can add a fourth element to the mix—tilts that range from mild to extreme and that create “slices” of sharpness within the frame. The tool that helps us create that effect is the latest optic from Lensbaby, which they dub the Edge 80.

Jack Neubart, Editor  |  Jun 18, 2012  |  First Published: May 01, 2012  |  0 comments

Every year manufacturers and distributors unveil new products at trade show events. They see these shows as the best venues to garner the attention of the gathered members of their industries and to show them their latest wares. In the photo industry this has traditionally been the annual Photo Marketing Association (PMA) Show, which we have always covered. This year that event was subsumed into the larger Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

George Schaub  |  Apr 11, 2012  |  0 comments

The new super wide angle Distagon T* f/2.8 15mm lens for Canon and Nikon mounts is neither lightweight nor inexpensive (1.6 lb for Nikon, 1.8 lb for Canon mount, $2950) but what you get from this manual focus lens is exceptional image quality and facility that is perhaps unmatched by any other lens in its focal length class. With a 95mm filter thread and integral and fully compatible lens shade, the lens offers an extraordinary 110-degree angle of view that is pleasure to work with on a wide variety of subjects. The fast f/2.8 aperture is matched on the narrow end by a minimum aperture of f/22, which at 15mm means there’s potential for extraordinary depth of field effects using the 10-inch closest focusing range. While decidedly not a portrait lens, the 15mm is ideal for landscape, street photography and creative advertising work, as well as architectural and urban photography, as I discovered in mybrief time working with it.

Stan Trzoniec  |  May 16, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2012  |  0 comments

There are two general classifications of lenses that define how you use them in the field—zooms and single focal length, the former being a variable focal length lens that has many convenient advantages, and the latter being a single focal length that, in the group we’re covering here, is what’s known as a “fast” lens. Fast doesn’t mean that it focuses quicker than its zoom cousins, though it might—it usually means that it offers a wide maximum aperture, anywhere from f/1.2 to f/2.8, and that aperture stays put, unlike some zooms where the aperture varies by going narrower as you zoom into longer focal lengths. And to help refine the group we’re covering here we’re also topping out the focal length at 50mm, which makes these lenses prime for street and low-light photography, candid and photojournalism work.

Jack Neubart  |  Nov 22, 2011  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2011  |  1 comments

The 85mm VR Micro Nikkor ($529.95, MSRP) benefits from next-generation VR II technology and is stated to deliver usable results at up to four steps below the optimum shutter speed. Keep in mind that we’re dealing with a DX-dedicated lens for an APS-C sensor camera (like my D300). So the optimum shutter speed when shooting handheld and without VR on translates into 1/(Lens Focal Length x Sensor Factor), or 1⁄85mm x 1.5, or 1⁄125 sec (rounded off). (Because this is a DX lens and this is Nikon, the multiplication factor is 1.5, so the effective focal length is approximately 128mm.)

Stan Trzoniec  |  Sep 09, 2011  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2011  |  0 comments

With the availability of sky-high ISOs on digital cameras and VR on slower lenses, some have argued that it’s not practical or economical to work with fast, prime lenses anymore. On the other hand, lenses like the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED (list: $2200) and 50mm f/1.4G (list: $485) serve a distinct purpose for not only the obvious low-light advantages but also for the very, very shallow depth of field they can deliver.

Steve Bedell  |  Sep 14, 2011  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2011  |  0 comments

I really like extreme lenses. Extremely wide, extremely fast, and extremely long lenses will all allow you to create unique images that stand out from the crowd. When I heard about the Sigma 8-16mm lens I wanted to get my hands on one and start shooting, so I asked my editor if I could borrow one from Sigma for testing. He wanted to know what I was going to do with it, so naturally I told him: take portraits. You might, as he did, find this a little odd—taking portraits with a wide-angle lens, and a very wide lens at that. After all, don’t photographers usually use long lenses for portraits?

 

Why are photographers taught to use long lenses for portraits? There are four basic tenets behind this reasoning: narrow angle of view, shallow depth of field, flattering perspective, and a comfortable working distance between you and your subject. However, flip these “rules” on their head and you’ll see why I like working with wides: wide angle of view, great potential depth of field, unique perspective, and, oddly enough, working right in your subject’s face. In short, I use the special nature of a wide lens to give my portraits a new and unique look.

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