Gaspar Island is one of the three islands collectively known as “Tres Reyes” (Three Kings), the other two being Melchor and Baltazar (three kings who visited Jesus in Bethlehem). Of the three islands, Gaspar is the biggest and the only one with a community. All three islands are rocky (rock cliffs) and the community in the island lives in the only beach wide enough to accommodate houses.
As I said in my previous post, the island is beautiful – very clear waters and very good for snorkeling but not very good for taking pictures (unless underwater). The beach is fine but no particular foreground item to anchor a landscape photo. Here are the very few “good” pictures I took in the island.
A boatman. The photo was auto-exposed for the sea but in editing, I found that the clouds are more interesting, so I pulled back the highlights through a graduated filter and used Nik’s Color Efex for detail extraction. The result is one where visible vertical banding is obvious but a more interest photo without the clouds.
Three Kids Playing. These are kids from the community who are living in the island. Shot with the Canon 15-85 and not very very sharp. I had to dial up both clarity and contrast to make it better.
This is a stretch of sand jutting out to sea. The community living there are mostly fisherfolk, hence, the boats.
This is the beach where we camped. I’m not particularly fond of the picture as it has that almost-garish HDR look (through detail extractor, pull back of highlights, graduated filter) but I think it was a necessity considering that the clouds are the most interest part of the pictures.
As for the beach, it was made of mostly dead corals and seashells and a little painful to walk on barefooted.
For this trip, I brought the 7D and 15-85, 10-22 and 50mm 1.4. I did not bother changing lenses as I was not inspired by the landscape. Also, the Canon 15-85mm seems to be not as sharp as before. Pictures don’t seem to have the same amount of details as before. I’m not sure if the lens elements moved or the camera’s AF has misaligned or I’m seeing better pictures with the Olympus OM-D.
Anyway, Eman had better luck using his Nikon D5200 and Samyang 8mm fisheye (wonderful wonderful lens).
Our beach camp at night * The clear waters around the island.
This is one of Eman’s pictures of me in Calaguas (not uploaded to Facebook). Fortunately, I have copies of photos in Calaguas. 🙂
The sun was really strong and this was me hiding from the sun.
Shot with Nikon D5100 and Samyang 85mm at 2.8 (very very sharp lens).
This is the last official day of work before Christmas day. Everyone’s busy with Christmas stuff (we had our Christmas party last night and children’s Christmas party today).
This picture is a lucky accident. I was shooting the balloon but the autofocus did not lock on it and locked on the clown in the background instead (I was using a Nikon D5100 and I’m not very familiar with it and changing focus point is too much of a bother). Only back home did I see that this is a worthwhile photo.
Samyang 85mm f1.4 Aspherical is one of the affordable lenses from Korean lens maker Samyang. Like the Samyang 8mm fisheye this lens is manual focus only and is available in various mounts. I bought the Nikon AE (auto exposure) version since I want to future proof my lenses (in the event that I decide to switch to Nikon). The lens is being used by Eman most of the time and all the pictures here were shot by him (except for the test shot).
On a full frame camera, this will be a true 85mm but used on a Canon APS-C, it provides an equivalent field of view of 135mm and 127.5mm on a Nikon DX.
The lens is built nicely and has similar to the build quality of the 8mm fisheye. There is a manual aperture ring on lens mount side which is easy to move. Then the rubber focus ring which is nicely damped (very very stiff on first and now is moving smoothly). I think the lens is made mostly of metal and is heavy for its size. As a 1.4 lens, it also has a very large front lens and is nice to through and look at.
The lens also includes a hood made of hard plastic, a front cap and a rear cap. The Nikon AE version has electrical contacts so you can control the aperture from the camera (aperture ring must be set to smallest otherwise it will show an error on the camera). The Canon version has no contacts whatsoever. When I’m using these Samyang lenses, I use them through a Nikon lens to Canon EOS adapter which works quite well (for Samyang lenses at least – Nikon G lenses cannot be closed or opened with the adapter I have).
The only bad thing I can say about the lens build quality is the unfortunate design of the lens cap and the hood. With the hood on, you cannot put or remove the lens cap and this makes it annoying. Other than that, the lens is nicely built.
Sharpness and Optical Quality
This is an informal test of the lens wide open (f1.4). The reddish part is not chromatic aberration but a discoloration of the mat.
The pictures show that the lens is very sharp wide open from the center to the corner. The corner even seems sharper than the center (possibly this is due to my focusing as the mat is not parallel to the sensor plane and I might have focused a little to the front). It only gets sharper as the lens is stopped down (taking in mind the effect of diffraction). The lens also has a nice contrast and nice color rendition.
The real enemy against sharpness is that it’s manual focus and at f1.4 and at 16mp or 18mp, focus has to be very precise. Focusing through a viewfinder (particularly in the small pentamirror of the Nikon D5100) is hard and will need a very good eyesight. Focusing through a magnified live view is easier but this makes it slower and more unstable (plus framing will be affected). The focusing ring is nice but I wish the focus path is longer (I think around 90-120 degree from minimum focus to infinity).
The lens is very good for bokeh-licious portraits but its very bad for macros (closeups). The minimum focus distance allows for I think only 10% magnification so a kit lens will do a closeup picture much much better.
Well, here are the pictures (all taken by Eman, some edited by me). Very good sharpness and the thin DOF makes the subject pop (assuming you can get the correct focus). Almost all of these were taken at f1.4 with one or two taken at f1.6 or f2.0.
I guess the pictures say it all, this is a very sharp lens, even wide open. It’s also relatively cheap (as far as lenses go). The only drawback is that it is manual focus and at 85mm f1.4, this is not a very easy thing to do. Unlike the 8mm fisheye which basically has a relatively large apparent DOF (I basically shoot that lens at f8 and focus 2ft away), focusing is much more critical and much harder to achieve in this lens.
Is this a good value?
If you’re after pure image quality, then yes! Based on some reviews I read, it is sharper than the Canon 85mm 1.2L and probably as sharp (or sharper) than the Nikon 85mm 1.4G and those lenses cost 4 times as much.
If you’re after an overall easier lens to shoot, then probably no. The Canon 85mm 1.8 and Nikon 1.8G is not that much more expensive (a little less than Php4000 or US$100 more than this lens).
So, the decision is up to you.
December 13 was Tiny’s birthday. We already celebrated her birthday in Calaguas but this is her birthday dinner. Since majority of us works in Makati, we opted to have her birthday dinner in Ayala Triangle and also to see the light show there.
The light show is prepared by the city of Makati and whoever maintains the Ayala triangle. It is a show of blinking christmas lights in sync with christmas tunes. A feast for the eyes.
All the pictures here were shot with Nikon D5100 and Samyang 85mm f1.4.
A security guard in Ayala Triangle, Makati City during the nightly light show. Shot with Nikon D5100 with Samyang 85mm at f2.
September 1, 2012
A return to my beloved alma mater, University of the Philippines – Diliman. This was supposed to be a photowalk but because we scheduled it late (and we arrived later) and since the sky decided to dump some water, it turned out more to be a food trip with some photos shot. Only four of us went there – Tiny, Elaine, Oyet and myself.
For this supposed photowalk, I brought three lenses – the Canon 15-85mm, Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Samyang 8mm fisheye. However because of the rain, we weren’t able to shoot when the sun is still up so we just went and eat in Rodic’s.
We decided to take some shots of the UP Chapel but there was a mass being held (second time to try and take some pics in the chapel but was foiled by an ongoing mass). We then just went to Quezon Hall.
Quezon Hall is the perfect place to try my fisheye lens as it was built in a Neoclassical design with columns and lots of straight elements – more things to bend and curve.
It was already dark when we reached it. Luckily, I brought my tripod so I can take long exposures (and thus use the base ISO).
From the pictures, the Samyang 8mm is a wonderful lens, very sharp even at the corners. However, the circumstances make it rather difficult to use.
It was dark and focusing through the viewfinder is not easy. Focusing through the LCD is also difficult as the LCD will basically show a very dark picture. Opening the lens to f3.5 makes it more bearable but still difficult.
Aperture is changed in the lens and focusing is done manually on the fisheye. This would have been ok in well-lighted places but in the dark, I can barely see the numbers on the aperture ring (which is exacerbated by the fact that the aperture ring is very close to the camera body (and is partially hidden from above by the prism hump and popup flash).
For easier focusing, I just set the aperture to f/11 (or what I think is f/11, can’t really see due to the dark) and set focus to what I think is appropriate (about 1.5 to 3 meters).
Tiny has just bought a Nikon D3200 and I had her shoot the fisheye (I bought a Nikon AE version and use an adapter to use it on my Canon 7D). It’s much easier to use it on the Nikon since focusing is done wide open and aperture is controlled through the camera (which is easier to see on the camera’s LCD screen rather than fumble in the dark on the aperture ring).
I get to try for a few shots the Nikon D3200 and I was amazed by the pictures. The outcome looks great on the camera’s LCD. I don’t know if this is because of higher screen resolution (compared to my 7D) or if the picture is really much better.
The picture also seems much much brighter than the pictures coming from my 7D. Again, I’m not sure if this is due to a better LCD screen or a better sensor.
I don’t like the quick menu of the D3200, however, requires additional button press to change settings and a lot of space is wasted for a representation of the aperture changes. I also can’t seem to find how to use auto ISO in PASM.
But all in all, it seems like a good camera and I’ll try it again in the future (and probably buy one if I have the money).
Another difficulty I experienced is not due to the lens but to my camera. Setting up for a low or high angle shot is difficult using a fixed screen or the viewfinder. I miss my 60D’s vari-angle tilting LCD for composition. (If the D3200 had a tilting screen, I’d probably grab one now).
So what do I think of the Samyang lens? I love it! For the price, a wonderful lens. Very sharp (if properly focused). Not so good, there always seem to be minor flare. Not so good, non-circular six-bladed aperture (but then, the Canon 10-22mm also has this). I look forward to taking more pictures with this lens.
It’s been a week since I bought my Samyang 8mm Fisheye. Reasons why I bought the lens in Nikon mount is to be able to use it both in Canon and Nikon AND because it will offer a wider field of view in a Nikon DX.
Here are some shots to show how the field of view of the lens looks in Canon and Nikon APS-C cameras.
Though the framing are not exactly the same, it is noticeable that the field of view is much wider on the Nikon camera than it is on a Canon camera. (Canon has a crop factor of 1.6 while Nikon has 1.5). There is also flare as the sun is in the picture.
The barrel distortion of fisheyes may not always work and the picture can be turned to rectilinear using the Lightroom profile for Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens.
Here is how the “corrected” pictures appear:
For comparison, here is a shot of an ultrawide rectilinear lens (Canon 10-22mm):
The straightened image for Nikon is still wider than the Canon’s and both are wider than the Canon 10-22 at 10mm. However, the left and right sides of the pictures are much much softer due to the stretching of the picture.
Compared to Samyang, there is a less noticeable flare (reddish hexagon on the third tricycle). I’m not sure if this is due to better flare control or because the sun is not directly in the picture (compared to Samyang).
To get better average resolution in the straightened picture, the Samyang straightened image can be cropped (to remove soft corners). Here is the same picture as the one above (Canon mount) cropped with same FOV as Canon 10-22mm at 10mm.
However, corners are not the same as those shot with the rectilinear lens:
The corners of the Canon 10-22mm are much sharper. However, the ones from Samyang are also good considering that picture was de-fished (stretching the pixels at the corners) and cropped heavily (will have far fewer pixels from the 18MP of 7D than the crop of the rectilinear lens).
*All images shot without Lightroom correction (except for defishing).
Pretty Obvious Conclusions:
1. Samyang 8mm Fisheye provides wider field of view on Nikon DX than on Canon APS-C (due to Canon’s slightly smaller sensor size) . Hmmmm, might get a Nikon DX body.
2. Defished fisheye image from Samyang is still very wide, wider than the widest rectilinear lens from Canon (10-22) and probably even wider than the widest rectilinear APS-C lens (Sigma 8-16mm). However, left and right corners will be much softer due to stretching of pixels necessary in defishing but center will be sharper.
3. If rectilinear images are needed, a rectilinear lens is still better. The defished image can be a substitute, esp. if the output will be small and corner sharpness are not primary concern but it will not be better.
Now, where to get the money for a Nikon DX body…