AF-S Nikkor 20mm ƒ/1.8G on DX Bodies

Early this year, I acquired a used 20mm ƒ/1.8G Nikkor lens. I only have DX bodies and the 20mm works more like a wide-normal prime than an ultra-wide, as on FX.

Inauris Aurea | D7100 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED
20mm ƒ/1.8G Nikkor on a D7100. It’s big.

Why use 20mm ƒ/1.8G? on DX?

I had long wanted to have a small, fast 24mm prime for my DX bodies. While the 35mm ƒ/1.8 DX is compact enough, I don’t like it that much. The FoV (51mm FX equivalent) is too narrow for general photography and too wide for portraits. I do most of my portrait work with a 50mm ƒ/1.8G, so I need something to cover the wider end.

The 20mm is not a bad option. Its 30mm FX equivalent FoV actually matches that of some very popular smartphones, which is what I intended this lens for – having a smartphone camera equivalent with much superior image quality.

Continue reading “AF-S Nikkor 20mm ƒ/1.8G on DX Bodies”

Nikon D750 + 20mm f/1.8G Nikkor Tryout

A few days ago I got the opportunity to try out a Nikon D750, along with the new 20mm f/1.8G Nikkor lens. It wasn’t the best of times for trying out new toys for me, because of which I couldn’t get any presentable shots. I still got some shooting to do with it and I would go ahead to include those non-presentable shots anyway.

Nikon D750 with 20mm f/1.8G Nikkor
Nikon D750 with 20mm f/1.8G Nikkor

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Carrying Cameras

The Problem

One of the big issues I face while photographing outdoors is that of having to carry a big 1.5 kg camera, and usually additional lenses and accessories weighing another 1-2 kg, all the time while out shooting for the day. The default carrying solution – neck strap – has a couple of disadvantages:

  1. It’s extremely tiring for the neck muscles
  2. It’s very fiddly, and gets in the way too much

Most of you might already have faced problem #1. Problem #2 is something you might not realise, until you start shooting without the camera strap. I let my cameras go without the strap a couple of years ago, and now I can’t even think of having to shoot with the strap on the body.

For quite some time, I used to carry the camera in an unzipped LowePro AW Rezo 140 (discontinued) camera bag. It solved the problem of fidgety handling, but my neck still complained. Continue reading “Carrying Cameras”

Farewell, Photography

Update: I couldn’t stay away for long. That, and I conquered the sharpness gremlins plaguing my experience with the heavily used AF-S DX 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G VR.

Farewell, Photography

We had a good thing going for eight years or so, but it’s time now to bring it to a halt.

Back when I started, I had no dearth of time to give to myself and I had no one but myself to spend money on. It was meant to be all for fun, nothing serious.

Somewhere along the way, things became different. I still find some time but can’t give it to myself without some sense of guilt being felt or implied. I still have money but spending it on something that no one other than me values doesn’t seem to be sensible any more. The fun is still there but seriously, there’s too much disappointment to make it worthwhile.

Back when I started, digital cameras used to be rubbish. It took the right kind of knowledge and tools to make a picture look good. But if you had the right equipment and knowledge and tools, your photo could stand head and shoulders above the average in terms of IQ (Image Quality). That alone used to bring about a sense of achievement. Now though, you can’t achieve anything noticeable with just a good camera and a computer because digital cameras have matured. They all make stellar pictures compared to what the average camera captured in the previous decade.

Now that’s a really good thing for photography in general. It’s become more accessible to everyone and the general quality of photographs is increasing every year. Having access to a camera on the phones is also giving a lot of people a lot of practice. But herein lies a problem. Being a photography/camera buff today is like being an audiophile in the 80s – back then, good sets of speake

Sensor Format Blind Test

TL;DR

Rank the four shots below from best to worst. Mention the position as top-right, bottom-left, etc. Submit your ranking as a comment.

Sensor Format Blind Test
Rank the above images from best to worst. Mention positions as top-right, bottom-left, etc.

The Fuss

These are interesting times for camera enthusiasts. Digital cameras have advanced to a level where most cameras are capable of  publication quality snaps and you don’t even need to carry a camera to take good pictures, thanks to smartphones.

One big debate this has fuelled is regarding the importance of sensor size now. Some people believe, as they always have, that bigger is better and a full-frame sensor will always win.

Some people believe that beyond a certain threshold (1/1.7″? 1″? 4/3?) sensor size becomes irrelevant because the rules of equivalence (same DoF, same shutter speed, same FoV) dictate that all sensors will be operating in a similar fashion since they’re seeing the exact same amount of light, for the exact same amount of time.

Furthermore, it is argued that most pictures are never going to be printed and hung on walls. Instead, they will be viewed on phone, computer or TV screens at a nominal resolution of, currently, 2MP (HDTV resolution) or in future, 8MP (4k TV resolution). At such resolutions, minor differences in image quality become immaterial.

To find out how deep the shade of grey is between the black and white of FF supremacy vs. FF irrelevance, I’ve devised a simple test. The image you see above/below is a PNG screenshot of DPReview’s Studio Comparison Tool, loaded with camera test shots from cameras with different sensor sizes. I have chosen the web resolution from the tool to match the “common use” scenario, i.e., sharing pictures on the web.

Now, can you rank these shots from best to worst? Mention the position as top-right, bottom-left, etc. Submit your ranking as a comment below.

Sensor Format Blind Test
Rank the above images from best to worst. Mention positions as top-right, bottom-left, etc.

Once I have obtained enough responses, I’ll publish a summary and also reveal the link that will load this very comparison in DPReview’s Studio Comparison Tool, thereby revealing the cameras chosen.

Thanks in advance for participating!

Update: The poll is closed and the results are out!

Six Months with Nikon D7100

It’s been more than six months since I have had a Nikon D7100 for my own and I have been thinking of writing down my thoughts about the camera. However, these six months with the camera have been a bit of an up-and-down journey and it’s only now that I feel like I know the camera enough to write about it.

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The Lost Flickr of Hope

I woke up this Tuesday morning to a shock.

This bar is wrong in a lot of ways. The way it stands out in all its ugliness from the rest of the Flickr visual design speaks volumes about how it was executed (thoughtlessly, in a draconian way), how little the Flickr development team have a say in how things work (I can’t imagine a product owner who would allow such visual desecration of their product without a protest) and how little Yahoo! as a company cares about its vocal community (no attempt made by Flickr staff to respond to the outpour of grief in their help forum).

The newly redesigned Flickr reminded me that I’ve been on Flickr for a very, very long time – close to 9 years. My joining of Flickr pre-dates its acquisition by Yahoo!. I have been with Flickr through the several major design changes to its layout and functionality and through the waves of people from Flickr community leaving for other competitors. More importantly, I was generally quite vocal in my defence of Flickr and the changes it brought about. The only time I previously considered looking for alternatives was when the site had not received any significant updates in ages.

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 15.17.15

I think I was naïve. I think the people who left earlier had better foresight.

I revoked my Pro account yesterday. Barring a few days of discontinuity between manual renewals, this is the first time in 8 years or so that I’ve dropped to a free account on Flickr.

I don’t intend to continue with any more public photo uploads to Flickr. I haven’t decided which service to use next, partly because it’s a difficult choice. Flickr is a great website. Despite years of neglect in community building, it still has strong community participation. There are other photo hosting websites, other photo sharing websites and other online communities. But there’s none that brings all these aspects together the way Flickr does.

Looks like I will have to find not one but two alternatives – a showcase and a community to replace my daily Flickr fix with.

PS: Some people recommend deleting photos from Flickr or making them private to disallow Yahoo! from making advertising money from our pictures. However, I don’t think I’m going to do that. I don’t want to break the trust of scores of third party pages that have legitimately embedded my photos instead of just flicking them without credit.

From Shooting RAWs to Shooting JPEGs

To Shoot RAW or JPEG?

I have been shooting photographs regularly for over 7 years now. I spent the first year shooting with a 2 Megapixel phone camera. Since then, however, I’ve almost always had RAW capable cameras and shot RAW compulsively. And why not? I get 16x or 64x more colour depth than JPEGs. I don’t have to bother about setting the right white balance, contrast or sharpness. I don’t have to choose between monochrome and colour at the time of shooting. I can figure all of that out on the computer during RAW conversion and even try out different settings for the same picture at my leisure. Why would I give up all this and shoot JPEG?

Continue reading “From Shooting RAWs to Shooting JPEGs”