Thursday, November 30, 2006

More on the Sigma 12-24 lens.

Marina Celebrations 2
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
I was very surprised to get a call from the Managing Director of Marina Waves - a very friendly lady. She had seen some of my Marina pictures and wanted to congratulate me and invite me for a party.
I went over and found lots of music and lights. I checked with the security guy and found that the party was for a new restaurant that was opening up. I could see a live band and lots of activity.
Unfortunately, I had a dinner engagement at 8 p.m., so I decided not to go inside.
I used the opportunity of flashing lights to take some pictures with the Sigma 12-24 wide angle lens.
I must admit I am falling in love with this lens.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

How wide is 12mm?

Wide-Angle View (12mm)
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
Short answer: Very wide!

I recently acquired the Sigma 12-24 wide angle lens. I was in two minds whether to pick up the newer 10-20 (which is wider) but is designed only for DX sensors. On the other hand the 12-24 will work fine with a full-frame sensor or even a film camera.
But my main reason for choosing the 12-24 over the wider counterpart was that the 12-24 feels solid and professional, while the 10-20 looks like a flimsy affair.

On my Nikon D70 (with it's 1.5 crop factor), the 12-24 translates into 18-36mm. So my question should really be "How wide is 18mm?".

Even at 18mm, the lens is very wide. It is like a whole new world opening up. Till now, I have been constrained by the lack of wide angle lens in my arsenal.

Now I am looking forward to creating some dramatic looking panaromic shots.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Camera advice

Dubai-Marriot Tower
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
I recently received an email from a friend.

"Hi Cajie
How have you been? Hope you had a great time in Dubai. I love the place, even though traffic is horrible.
I have a question. I know you don't care much about P&S camera's but after seeing your results with your Casio, Iam going to ask nonetheless. My sister needs to buy one. She's moved on from a Nikon Coolpix 2200. She now wants a new one. She's concerned about size and megapixels (she won't listen to me!! ) Could you please recommend one?
Oh and how about the new Nikon D40?. I was thinking of getting into amateur DSLR myself. What say?"

Yup, I enjoyed my time in Dubai. Connected with a very good friend who took me around. Now I am thinking of going back in Dec or Jan with my family. I have been to Dubai couple of times before but always for short business trips and never got time to look around.
Well, I am okay with P&S cameras because they serve a specific purpose and I always carry my Casio in my pocket because sometimes a photo oportunity turns up and it is better to take an average photo than no photo at all. And especially for ladies, they will want something that slips easily in their purse.
There is no specific P&S that is good. Just choose something that feels right in your hand. Current specs that will cost you in the 100 KD range ($300) is
- 6 megapixel
- 30fps video capture
- 2.5inch lcd monitor
- 3x to 4x optical zoom.
Panasonic has some interesting models that feature "Mega OIS" (optical image stabilization). If you can find a slim model that features OIS feature, I would advise to go for it - and you can pay around 20% premium for this feature.
As for the D40, before I left for Dubai, I had heard of the rumours and I see that they plan to release it in December. It is same as D50 minus some features - but the picture quality will be the same.
I would rather advise to go for a D50 with a 18-200 VR lens, and you will have an unbeatable photo-taking machine

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Photography in Dubai

Dubai-The Burj
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
I went for a business trip (Gitex 2006) and was in 2 minds whether to take my Nikon dSLR along. In the end, I decided to travel light and did not carry the big camera. Instead, I took along with me a Casio EX-Z600 - my pocket point & shoot.
I regretted the decision because there are so many amazing structures that look great at night.
I was doubtful whether the Casio was up to the task of taking decent night time shots. After fiddling around the menu, I found that the best results could be obtained by setting the camera in "Night Scene" mode and placing the camera on some sturdy surface and using the self-timer mode to ensure that the shutter release does not cause a blur.
On the bright side, I found a great offer for a 12-24mm Sigma lens. When I compared the price on Amazon, I found that I got it cheaper than Amazon!.
Next time, I am taking the d70 and all my wide-angle lenses.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Panning Technique

Red Bull Go Kart Action
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
Panning is a great way of showing subjects in motion, and to emphasize the movement of the subject. Regardless of how good you are, panning is always a hit-and-miss and you can expect some of the shots to come blurry. However, if you keep trying and follow a few simple guidelines, you should be rewarded with some great action shots.
1. Position yourself in such a way that the subject will pass directly in front of you.
2. Use a camera that supports manual focusing. If you shoot in auto-focus mode, the camera will take time acquiring focus and you will lose the shot or the focus will not be correct (unless you are using a high end professional camera). Also if you are using a small point & shoot camera, focusing is not such an issue because their tiny sensors mean the entire scene is in focus.
On the other hand, for a dSLR, the best thing to do is manually set the focus where you expect the subject to be. In this example, I focused as the drivers were passing me by, and made sure that they appeared sharp and not out-of-focus.
3. Next, you need to set you camera to shutter priority and select a slow shutter speed. A shutter speed of 1/15th to 1/30th of a second works best in these situations.
4. As the subject approaches you, follow the subject with the camera. When the subject is where the focus point is, click on the shutter button - BUT CONTINUE FOLLOWING THE SUBJECT!.
This is the key for great panning shots. As you click the shutter button, keep the camera following the subject. This way, the subject remains sharp, while the rest of the background gets blurred.
5. Practice, Practice!.