Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tokina 11-16 F/2.8 DX ii lens review

Tokina 11-16 DX ii

 I just received my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II from Amazon. I usually don’t review lenses but I decided to review this one because I could only find a handful of reviews on it myself.

Tokina 11-16 DX ii next to tamron 18-270 and Rokinon 14
I own many wide angle lenses and I have tried to avoid buying this lens, but it fills a niche that no other lens I have can fill. Just so you know, I carry the Tokina 11-16 in my bag over my full frame14mm F/2.8, every nikon 18-whatever kit lens, Nikon's own 10-24, and Tamron's super zoom 18-270mm. 

 First off, this lens is not for everyone. Obviously, it is not a full frame lens (even though it fills the frame at 16mm.) This lens is also not for the casual photographer who wants another cool lens. In my opinion, this is a specific lens to fill a specific need; in my case, 
I needed it to be able to shoot SHARP pictures in LOW LIGHT from the front row of a wedding. 

IT IS WIDE! A kit 18-?? lens is just not wide enough to get an entire bridal party from the front row. I could use another wide lens but they are lacking in the areas bellow.

IT IS SHARP! Tamron, sigma, and Nikon all offer similar options. Nikon has a lens with more zoom range but at the cost of Sharpness. Tamron and Sigma offer some close competitors in zoom range and aperture but they are just not anywhere close to as sharp as this one.  My 14mm full frame lens is sharp, but shooting with a full frame lens on a DX camera kinda defeats the purpose of a wide angle...  Anyway, this lens is SHARP!

IT IS BRIGHT! At F/2.8 all the way through, I can let a good amount of light in. The kit lenses and many of the other zooms are F/3.5 or F/4 wide open, and when they are wide open, they arnt sharp. The Tokina is nice and bright, but also sharp wide open.

AUTO FOCUS is FAST. I wouldn't expect anything different from such a wide zoom. The focus is accurate and locks on quick. The push/pull mechanism they use to switch from manual to auto focus is weird and it takes some getting used to, but I rarely switch back and forth so it is a non-issue for me. This older Tokina 11-16 did not have an autofocus motor but this one does :)

It is heavier than a kit lens but it is nowhere near as heavy at my 70-200 F/2.8 so the weight does not bother me a bit.

I really don’t know why Tokina decided to make this a ZOOM lens, but I’ll take it :) 90% of the time, people buy a wide angle lens to be able to shoot at the widest angle possible... I guess it would bother me more if the lens wasn’t tack sharp or if it caused a variable aperture; Since the lens is sharp all the way through and has a consistent aperture, I actually like the little zoom I have.

This Tokina has very LOW DISTORTION. Straight lines stay straight. The only time I’ve noticed some small distortion is when the subject is in the far corner (but with a lens this wide, distortion is to be expected.) Some of the other competitors have much worse distortion. 

Tokina 11-16 DX ii vs. 18mm and 14mm
 This is just a comparison of a few different wide angle zooms. There is a HUGE difference in an 11mm lens and a 18mm lens.

This Tokina 11-16 F/2.8 DX ii lens is the best DX wide angle lens on the market now. No other lens can match it's sharpness, wide aperture, and price. At $750.00 it is cheaper than many of Nikon's lens but still out performs them. With the added addition of an autofocus motor, superior build quality, and this lens just being ridiculously sharp, this lens will fill a spot in my bag for a long time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How to photograph fireworks!

Fireworks are awesome.

I will tell you how to get great pictures of them. 

The beauty of taking pictures of fireworks is that you don’t have to fumble with settings, just set your camera on what I tell you, and shoot. 

First, you need a tripod. Without a tripod, it will be near impossible to hold your camera perfectly still. A shutter release cable or remote would also help, but is not necessary. Next, put your camera in the “M” mode. This is full manual mode (don’t be scared.) Since there are so many cameras, the next set of instructions will vary depending on the model. If you do not know how to do something, simply do a Google search for “how to change _(ISO, shutter speed, aperture)_ on _(Nikon D3100, Canon Rebel, etc…)_ and just put in your camera model. 

-Set your ISO to the lowest default setting (100 or 200)
-Set your shutter speed on 5 seconds
-Set your ISO on F/8
-Put your camera on manual focus and turn it all the way to infinity (either all the way to the right or left, it should be focused on things reallllly far away)
-Mount your camera on the tripod facing the fireworks.
-Plug in your cable or set your camera to remote mode (if you have one)

If you take a picture before it is dark, it will be super bright. Don’t worry, when it gets dark, you will be fine. When the firework first shoots off, hit your shutter button, your shutter will stay open for 5 seconds, capturing the entire flight and explosion of the fireworks. Experiment with different shutter speeds. If you change it to 30 seconds, you will capture every firework fired off within a 30 second time frame! 

 Try not to move your camera when pressing the shutter button. If you want your picture lighter or darker, change your aperture (smaller number=brighter picture)