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Wellington Wedding and Portrait Photographer | Kent Photography | Kent Photography Blog: December 2010

December 30, 2010

Shooting with Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 – Choosing a wide angle lens?

Nikon users have the option to choose from some of the nicest wide angle zoom lenses such as the luxury 14-24mm f/2.8, 17-35mm f/2.8 or the new 16-35mm f/4 VR. For something light weight and smaller, there are the older 14mm f/2.8, 20mm f/2.8, 24mm f/2.8 or the recent release 24mm f/1.4 which I have wrote about here and here.

The 14-24mm is an amazing wide angle zoom lens which Canon lacks a counterpart of. It is known to its exceptional edge to edge sharpest and well control of distortion. It is a fairly new lens released back in 2007 together with the 24-70mm f/2.8. It has 2 ED elements, 3 aspherical lenses and nano crystal coating.

I also have the 270g Nikon 20mm f/2.8 as my travel light alternative to the 1000g 14-24mm. It is much smaller in size and very travel friendly. I prefer the 20mm over the 24mm since 20mm is about how wide our eyes can see (more) and it adds a little bit of that wide angle interestingness.

I have posted a comparison between the 14mm, 20mm and 24mm FOV perspective here.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 20mm f/2.8

The Nikon 14-24mm is known to be a superb lens for shooting landscape and interior, but it can be challenging to use at 14mm. Often, people think ultra wide angle is use to fit everything in the frame. While this is largely correct, shooting at ultra wide angle like 14mm is all about getting closer and closer,  if done correctly you will bring your audience into the photos through your lens. The idea is to get close to your subject to fill the frame, since everything is seen further away at such wide angle. Shooting wide angle requires special attention to composition and distortion, distortion along the edges stretches out objects on the sides and corners, so pay attention to what to frame at the edges.

A down side of the 14-24mm is that it is not easy to put a filter on, due to its huge front glass element and integrated lens hood. To get around it you need to use the Cokin X-Pro adaptor ring and filter holder, some people have done it, but it won’t be cheap. If you need a filter option, you can use the older 17-35mm f/2.8 which has a 77mm filter thread. As for myself, I am not too fuss over it, when I need to use filters, I will just switch to my Nikon 20mm f/2.8 and slap on the 62-77 step up adaptor to utilise my standard 77mm filters such as CPL and ND.

So how wide do you need?

From my point of view, anything above 24mm is not really that wide, but manufacturers still consider 24mm-35mm as wide angle. If you consider our eyes have a FOV coverage similar to a 20mm, then 17mm - 20mm is about as wide as you need for normal use. Down to 14mm is considered as ultra wide and shooting at 14mm is for special purposes. A lot of shooters have questioned whether one should pick the 14-24mm f/2.8, 16-35mm f/4 VR or 17-35mm f/2.8? My view on that is for normal wide angle use, pick the 16-35mm or 17-35mm, 16mm -17mm on FX is plenty wide enough, the 14-24mm is really a special purpose lens. You will know when you really need it. Then the next question is do you really need f/2.8, can you get away with f/4?

Here is a quick decision table. Note that you can either pick the Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 or Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR depending on the lowest aperture you need.


Sharpest wide angle lens Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
Needs to accept filter Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 or Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR
Light weight wide angle lens Nikon 20mm f/2.8 or Nikon 24mm f/2.8
Newer Lens Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 or Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR
Needs more zoom coverage Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 or Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR
Better return of investment Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
Cheaper wide angle lenses Nikon 20mm f/2.8, Nikon 24mm f/2.8, Nikon 20-35mm f/2.8 or Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5
Does not need to be f/2.8 Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR
Also use as a work around lens Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 or Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR
Prefer with VR Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR
Still thinking whether you need 14-24mm Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 or Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR

As I have mentioned before, with ultra wide angle, even the amazing Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 which is known to have the best control of distortion will still see some lens distortion. Nevertheless, it is very easy to correct the distortion using Photoshop, or other similar processing software.

Since it is that time of the year and this post will serve as my last post for the year 2010. So what’s better than wrapping up a great year of 2010 with some festive images taken with the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 @ ISO1600+, f/2.8.

If you mouse over the images, you can see the image before lens distortion correction is applied.

The distortion was corrected using auto profiled lens correction in Lightroom 3 based on the lens information stored in the EXIF. Also, you can perform lens correction using DxO Pro 6 or Photoshop.

Here is where the images were taken – The amazing Water Polo Hutt at Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand.


Thanks for visiting Kent Photography Blog, especially to those who visit regularly !!


Happy New Year !!


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December 19, 2010

Think Tank Retrospective 10

A couple of months back, I have tried out the Think Tank Retrospective 20, you can check out the post here. Personally, I find the Think Tank Retrospective 20 a little too big for my taste. While I prefer a more low profile shoulder bag, in some occasion I do want to carry the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII around. Fortunately, the Think Tank Retrospective series do come in a smaller version - the Think Tank Retrospective 10. The main differences being a couple of inches shorter  and you cannot fit the 70-200mm f/2.8 attached in the Retrospective 10.

Think Tank Retrospective 10

Think Tank Retrospective 20

Gear Profile:

  • 1 pro size DSLR with standard zoom lens attached and 1 - 3 additional lenses
  • 1 pro size DLSR (body only) in front pocket and 2 - 4 lenses in main compartment

Technical Specifications:
  • ID:  12” W x 9.5” H x 6” D (30.5 x 24 x 15.2 cm)*
  • OD:  13” W x 10.5” H x 7” D (33 x 26.7 x 17.8 cm)
  • Weight:  3 lbs (1.4 kg)

Gear Profile:

  • 1 pro size DSLR with up to a 70-200 f2.8 lens attached and 1 - 3 additional lenses
  • 1 pro size DLSR (body only) in front pocket and 2 - 4 lenses in main compartment, including a 70-200 f2.8

Technical Specifications:
  • ID:  12” W x 11.75” H x 6” D (30.5 x 29.8 x 15.2 cm)* 
  • OD:  13” W x 12.5” H x 7” D (33 x 31.7 x 17.8 cm)
  • Weight:  3.2 lbs (1.5 kg)

Unlike the Retrospective 20, the Retrospective 10 didn’t specify it can hold a 70-200mm f/2.8 in the main compartment, but I can confirm that the Retrospective 10 can still fit an unattached 70-200mm f/2.8.

I have been using the Lowepro Stealth Reporter D200 AW for a while now. It is the only shoulder bag that I think is low profile enough. I have tried the Crumpler 7 million dollar home previously, but it is still too big for my liking.

Despite the pick of the Lowepro Stealth Reporter D200 AW, it doesn’t fit the 70-200mm f/2.8, not to mention it doesn’t fit with the 24-70mm f/2.8 attached very well too. However, It is the only shoulder bag that I find comfortable to walk around with i.e. low profile enough.

Here is a side by side comparison with the Retrospective 10 and Stealth Reporter D200 AW. As shown, the Retrospective 10 is slightly taller so it can accommodate the 70-200mm f/2.8.

Left - Think Tank Retrospective 10 and Lowepro Stealth Reporter D200

Here is a re-cap of some of the nice features in the Retrospective 10 which I have already mentioned in the Think Tank Retrospective 20 post.

The padding from Think Tank is usually less compare to those from Lowepro. By that, the Retrospective camera bags are seen to be more collapsible and flexible. The style is similar to the Crumpler’s Millions dollars bags, utilising Velcro under the main flap. One of the notable feature on the main flap is the “sound silencers” which allows you to suppress the loud tearing sound Velcro makes.

One feature I like the most is the collapsible nylon pockets on both sides of the main compartment. These pockets are designed to store  flash units which makes them nice and tidy. You will notice that most of the hook and loop straps (Velcro)  can be tucked away for quicker access.

Another important feature of this bag is the very large organizer pocket inside the main compartment. It has plenty room for those spare batteries, CFs, cables, etc.

There is also an expandable front pocket (one for the Retrospective 10 and 20, two for the Retrospective 30, ) which is big enough for a spare pro size DSLR. For the Retrospective 10 or 20, you can actually fit an iPad or netbook there.

On both sides of the Retrospective, there are webbing loops which can be used to attach modular pouches. The pouches fit very securely to the webbing loops, I didn’t feel any swaying movement from the pouches when they were attached to the sides.

Here I have attached the lightning fast (left) and the lens changer 35 (right) to give me that extra holding capacity.

Think Tank Retrospective 10 and Modular components

In my previous Think Tank Retrospective 20 post, I have commented that the Think Tank Retrospective 20 is more comfortable than the Lowepro Stealth Reporter D200AW mainly due to how the strap is attached to the bag. This is also true for the Retrospective 10.

The canvas strap on the Retrospective 10 is nicely designed; the non slip material on the pad is much better than the one I have on my Lowepro Stealth Reporter. The strap is thick and integrated fully to the side of the bag (sewed from top all the way down to the bottom of the bag). The strap of the Retrospective distributes/secures the weight of the bag more evenly in comparison to the Lowepro Stealth Reporter. The Retrospective actually uses the whole width of the strap to loop through the side buckle while the Lowepro Stealth Reporter uses a “D ring” type of connection to the side which doesn’t distribute the weight that well.

Think Tank Retrospective 10 – fully integrated strap

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D200 AW – strap connected via a D-ring

So…here is the question, What can you fit in the Think Tank Retrospective 10?

Pretty much same as the Retrospection 20, click the below image to see the attached notes.

  • Nikon D700 + MB-D10 + Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 (attached)
  • Nikon 70-200mm VRII (left hand side compartment)
  • Nikon 24mm f/1.4 (right hand side compartment)
  • Nikon 85mmm f/1.4 (right hand side compartment)
  • Netbook (front pocket)
  • Think Tank Retrospective 10
    Here is how  the 24mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4 are stored in the side of the main compartment. 

Think Tank Retrospective 10 inner compartment

A common question I got asked was, “Does it fit the iPad?” The answer is Yes.

In fact you can fit the iPad in all three pockets of the Retrospective 10 (refer to below image), i.e. front pocket (top left), inner pocket (top right) and the back pocket.

The front pocket is even large enough to fit a Macbook Air (11”) (bottom left) and a Netbook (bottom right).

Fitting iPad, Macbook Air or Nebook in the Think Tank Retrospective 10

While the Retrospective 10 is not really water resist, mainly made out of classic cotton material, it comes with a seam-sealed rain cover for protection against wet condition. The Think Tank Retrospective 10 is a low profile shoulder bag that can fit a large amount of camera gear and accessories, specifically the 70-200mm f/2.8, as well as room for an iPad or netbook. It doesn’t particularly looks like a camera bag which conceals its appearance from the crowd. It is very comfortable to wear thanks to the integrated canvas strap with non-slip material on the pad to keep the entire strap on your shoulder. For extra holding capacity, it is possible to attach modular pouches to the webbing loops on the sides.

This is a keeper for me.


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December 7, 2010

Shooting with Nikon 24mm f/1.4

When shooting with prime lenses, you can't go wrong with the trinity combo made up of Nikon 24mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4. This is what we used on a recent birthday party. Actually, we did throw in the Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8 in the mix.

Nikon Fast Prime Trinty Setup

I was using the stunning Nikon 24mm f/1.4 for most of the time. It fitted comfortably in my hand, well balanced on a gripped Nikon D700. The build quality is also good, but it isn't anything like the 85mm f/1.4 D which would probably make a dent to the concrete floor.

The auto focus is quiet as expected from the AF-S silent wave motor. While the auto focus was fast enough for catching those curious babies dashing around, it was not as snappy as the 24-70mm f/2.8.

One of the features with G lenses is the ability to override auto focus by simply grabbing the focus ring. I didn't get to use it for this occasion but it is certainly a welcome addition when shooting under low light condition.

When shooting with a wide angle lens, sometimes you need to get fairly close to fill the frame with your subject. The 24mm f/1.4 has a minimum focus distance of 25cm, so you can actually get within inches to your subject. Of cause you won't get to macro magnification, but you can still get some decent magnification. see samples here. For comparison, the magnification reproduction ratio is 0.18x compare to 0.27x from the 24-70mm f/2.8.

The Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is a special lens that has the ability to create shallow wide angle DoF. It also captures 2-stops more light that the state of art 24-70mm f/2.8. The gives you the ability to lower your ISO or raise your shutter speed. In a recent party. I was able to shoot at ISO800 while keeping a relatively fast shutter speed using aperture f/1.4 - f/2. The sharpness also tends to be better when you stopped down to f/2 or more.

Here are some images.

The settings were ISO800, f/1.4-f/2, 1/125s-1/200s


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