Tag Archives: Nikon

Inside the Grand Mosque

Grand Mosque_02

During the National Day holidays a friend of mine arranged a trip for us to visit the Grand Mosque in Kuwait City. This was my second visit to the mosque and this time around I had a fish-eye lens in my bag to capture the enormous prayer hall inside.

Hajji Khalil Habash at the Grand Mosque

The guided tours are conducted by the group; “Western Perception of Islam” and our guide was a very knowledgeable gentleman by the name of Khalil Habash. You can see many videos on Youtube of the tour taken by tourists and here’s [a recent one].

The tour of the Grand Mosque is something that everyone living in Kuwait should take at least once. The rulers have spared no expense in creating this awe-inspiring and beautiful place of worship and it shows when you walk around the hall. Our guide, Mr. Habash, explained in great detail about the structure itself and its significance to both Kuwait and the Muslim world. We were a group of around 20 tourists from different countries and so the medium of communication was English.

Grand Mosque_10

This post contains photos taken with my D60 and also the GX1. On my first visit there I wasn’t able to capture the magnitude of the interior with my kit lens so on the second try I used a fisheye lens on my GX1 and that gave me satisfactory results.

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Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM

Sigma lens review

I recently got in touch with AAB World to get the new Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM (that’s a mouthful) for a review on the blog and they were glad to provide one. When Sigma announced this new lens there was a lot of buzz in the photography world as this was the fastest zoom lens for APSC sensor cameras ever! This new lens belongs to their ‘Art’ series and is really a high quality lens.

The lens is available for both Nikon and Canon mounts and they’re sold by AAB World, who are the local dealers for Sigma. The price is KWD 229.950 and comes with warranty and it’s not much more than buying from the US.

Now this post isn’t really about the technical aspects of the lens as there are better reviews like this one and an entertaining video review from Mr. Kai but rather what you can use this for in every day life. So I’ll focus on things like ‘What can you do with it?’ and ‘Why should you buy this lens?’. This is going to be a long post so click on through for the rest…

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Cheap Macro Fun with Reverse Rings and Extension Tubes

Sometime ago I had bought a lens reverse ring to convert my normal lens to shoot macro and I had posted my results in a previous post. Later on I also bought an extension tube to allow my lens to get closer to the subject. Both these solutions allow the shooter to get close to small objects and shoot macro but they’re hard to match the results you would get from shooting with a dedicated macro lens, like the famous Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Micro. I don’t shoot a lot of macro so spending around 900 US Dollars on it didn’t seem like a good idea.

The two accessories shown in the picture are linked below;

Fotodiox Reverse Ring [Amazon]
Fotodiox Extension Tube [Amazon]
What is Macro Photography? [Wiki]

So why would you buy a macro solution that doesn’t give the best results? Well I’ve had these things in my possession for a while now and the more I use them I more I find it interesting. I’ve listed some points based on my experience that may help you get some good shots.

1. They’re the cheapest way to shoot macro. Both the reverse ring and extension tubes combined cost me less than 20 KD whereas a proper macro like the Nikkor 105mm would be in the area of 300 KD.

2. Now this might be a drawback for some people but I like a good challenge. When you’re using a reverse ring or extension tube there’s no contact between the CPU contacts on the lens and camera body. That means you’re essentially shooting in full manual mode and you also have to figure out the optimum exposure to get the shot. Initially it was frustrating but when you get used to the camera you’ll automatically know how much you need to tweak the lens aperture, ISO and shutter speed to expose the frame.

3. When shooting macro the Depth of Field or DOF is extremely shallow and you’ll need a really small aperture to get a fly or ant in focus. Or you can just get enough DOF to focus on the head or eyes. The sharpness also suffers if you shoot at f/5.6 or lower.

4. Now this is a continuation of the previous point but it has to do with Lighting. When you stop down the lens to f/11 or higher the amount of light hitting your sensor decreases drastically and so
you’ll either have to shoot in broad daylight or get an off camera flash or ring lights. The insects shot here were all in daylight so I didn’t have to use a flash.

5. Moving subjects can be a real bitch to shoot if you’re shooting with a clumsy extension tube or reversed lens. All the shots on this page were shot hand-held and in order for me to avoid a blurry picture I had to resort to high ISOs. If you’re shooting an inanimate object or a dead insect it would be best to use a mini tripod like the one in the picture.

6. Changing lenses for changing scenarios is not really a bother but if you’re using one of these babies it involves some screwing and unscrewing to attach the tubes and rings to your existing lens. Using a dedicated macro lens is just a matter of twist on and go.

Conclusion: If you’re the type of person who’s OK with fiddling around with manual exposure and focus or if you just want to have some fun with your SLR then don’t think twice and just get both these accessories. Here’s some samples with the reverse ring and the tube. I’ve also mentioned the lens used for the photos. You can also click on the pictures below to see them in higher resolution.

Samples from the Fotodiox Reverse Ring and 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 combination

Peeking...

Leader

Samples from the Fotodiox Extension Tubes and 50mm f/1.8D combination

Fly Face

Fly rubbing feet

Google Plus Photowalk – Kuwait Edition

DSC_3497-tile

During the weekend I attended a photowalk organized by a group of photography enthusiasts, Kuwait Photographers on Google Plus. It was my first photowalk and was quite an enjoyable experience. If you haven’t heard of photowalking read [this]

DSC_3485

 

Due to unstable weather conditions and extreme heat it was decided to have the walk inside Avenues Mall and the organizer arranged for permission to shoot inside the mall. The mall authorities had some restrictions so we couldn’t shoot a lot of things inside the mall and there was a  time limit as well.

DSC_3595

You can browse the rest of my photos on my photo set on Flickr

The group had a varied set of gear from mobile phones to full frame DSLRs and even a rangefinder Leica M9!. I chose my Nikon body with my latest prime, an AFS 35mm 1.8G and it came in handy in the low light environment.

prime 35mm

Meike Battery Grip for Nikon D60

Meike Grip D60

Over the past couple of months I’d accepted a few projects that involved shooting over long periods of time and that meant shooting continuously in scenes with few chances of a battery change. Nikon originally didn’t make a battery grip for the D60 but there’re a lot of third party companies who make a compatible battery grip for this type of body.

 I looked at a lot of online reviews and the top contenders were Opteka, Targus and Meike. Ultimately I went with the Meike as I found it more suited to my usage and it didn’t have as many parts as the other brands. I also found that the textured pattern on the Meike grip was closer to my camera body texture.

Why do you need a vertical grip/ battery grip?
1. Do you shoot for long hours and go thru more than one battery per session?
2. Do you have large chubby hands and find that all your fingers don’t have room to grip on the camera body?
3. Do you shoot in portrait mode for the majority of your session?

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Why Do You Need a Fast Prime Lens?

A colleague of mine recently came across some pictures I’d taken during my 52 week project and was interested to know more about prime lenses.

I bought my ‘Nifty Fifty’ some time ago and so far its the best investment I’ve made for my camera.  I’m sure you’ll find tons of reviews and reams of information about the 50mm primes from both Nikon and Canon online but this is an  article of my own about these amazing lenses.

Why do you need a fast prime?

1. Let there be light!
A fast prime is the 50mm f/1.8 or 35mm f/1.8 is your best friend in low light situations. Where other lenses  struggle to bring enough light to your sensor at f/3.5 or f/5, you just need to dial it in to f/1.8 and you suddenly have enough light to get a faster shutter speed and a lower ISO. Both of which contribute greatly towards a sharper and cleaner image.

 

From Darkness

2. Keep it simple
Lenses with variable focal lengths may be versatile but they contain many glass elements and stabilizing mechanisms that add to the cost and complexity of the lenses. With a prime lens you’re getting a lens that’s made for a specific purpose and thats to get as much light as possible onto your film/sensor. A great prime lens doesn’t have to be expensive. In Kuwait you can get a Nikon 50mm 1.8D for as low as 31 KD or a 1.4D for 83KD.

 

Size matters

3. No distortions or aberrations
With my cheapo 18-55mm kit lens there’s a fair bit of distortion at the widest setting but when using my 50mm I’ve yet to see any purple fringing or distortions. It can best be described as what you would see with your own eyes.

Iftar Canon

4. Learn new ways to compose
With a fixed focal length lens you’re constrained to a certain angle of view and for me in most cases I take a few steps back or forwards to get what I want in my frame and take the shot. In some tight areas you’ll try to find a way to take the best possible within the space limitations and you’ll figure out new ways to compose your images.

R8 nose

5. Learn the basics!
Now this point is for some of my friends who’re afraid of manual lenses. Don’t be afraid of manual focus.  I too was initially aprehensive but once you get the hang of manual focus there’s no stopping you from taking great shots. Most cameras have a built in range finder or focus meter that will help you find the correct focus for the point that you’ve selected. Now when I use my 50mm 1.8 I hardly ever worry about getting an out of focus shot.

Waiting for a chance

6. BOKEH!
If there was only one reason I’d go for a prime, it would have to be Bokeh and that’s all. Prime lenses with rounded diaphrams give a beautiful blur to backgrounds and out of focus areas. You can get the same effect with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens but that beauty will set you back around 600 KD minimum whereas the prime is less than 50 KD.

Driving with Ganesh

Finally here’s a video on the subject by Mr. Kai

Another Full Moon Night

Full moon at different settings
View On Black

Just noticed that it was a full moon tonight and it’s been a while since I’ve taken out the old 55-200mm VR. As per a colleague’s inquiry I’ve also posted the camera settings so that it might come in useful. Click on the picture to see it in full size. All three frames were taken with the barrel resting on the roof of my car. I’ve also edited all three in exactly the same way in Lightroom so that details are consistent.

I think the results from f/11 give the most detail but f/8 is more brighter. Cropping the frames helps of bring in the moon a little close but it would be great to play with a full frame camera since you have so much more pixel real estate to work with.

Some of my previous moon shot posts;
Super Moon
Lunar Eclipse
Full Moon

 

Mathai Ashraf giveaway

Photography Discount Voucher Giveaway

I won this voucher in a contest last month and would like to give it away to one lucky winner. The voucher is from Ashraf & Co. and entitles you to a 20% discount on photography products at their stores. This is valid till the end of September.

All you have to do is drop a comment below and I’ll let Random.org select the winner like I did with the previous calendar giveaway. Draw will be on July 8th and is for residents of Kuwait only.

Update:

The winner selected from the list generated by Random.org is ‘Handy’

Holga-D60

Holga lens for Nikon – HL-N

I recently bought this lens on sale and tried it out during to weekend to see how it worked on my D60. If you haven’t heard of Holga cameras before read this [link] and see some [samples shots] with this lens. Holga cameras are made from plastic and even the lens is plastic, which gives them a characteristic look and some amount of vignetting and light leaks. On my D60 I didn’t get so much vignetting since mine is an APS-C sensor but if you try it on a full frame body like a D800 or D4 you’ll get copious amounts of vignetting.

If you’re thinking of buying this lens for your digital camera here’s a couple of things you need to know;
1. The lens is a constant f/8 aperture so you need lots of light or bump up your ISO to 1600 and above (this also gives a nice grainy effect)
2. The focus meter on your camera probably won’t work if you have this lens attached so use the guide markings on the lens body to ‘guesstimate’ the focal length.
3. There are no CPU contacts on the lens so the only option is to use it in manual mode otherwise you’ll get an error message on the display.

This is a cheap lens that you can experiment with and based on environmental conditions and your camera settings you’ll get some decent photos that you can use for prints. Check out the gallery below.

You can buy the Holga lens from their website [link]

 

Youtube [link]

Kuwait Zoo

A visit to the Zoo

Last weekend we made a little trip to the Zoo seeing as how it was bright an sunny that morning. I think its been a long time since my last visit but nothing much as changed at the zoo. It was a chance for me to take out my 55-200mm VR since I hardly ever use it nowadays. Here’s some of the good ones from the bunch.

 No interruptions

Eye of the Tiger

Hear me roar

Nasty bite

Reflection

Old Goat

Deer head shot

Wild necking

My daughter had a great time playing in the park.

Fun in the sun