Image quality, weight and value for money. We have come to accept that most lenses are strong in only one or two of these three factors, that I personally focus on when researching lenses to buy. Sometimes though, we stumble upon a great lens design which is strong in all three. One of the prime examples of such a design is the “nifty fifty” – the 50mm f1.8 lens construction that many lens manufacturers provide. Another example is the 100mm (or sometimes 90mm) f2.8 macro lens. If you buy a nifty fifty or a 100mm macro lens you simply cannot go wrong – you will get a great and handy lens for your money, with great image quality.
The other day I was lucky enough to catch some Northern Lights over my hometown Stockholm. It is quite rare to see them here, especially on a full moon night, and with all the light pollution from the city. The experience of seeing and photographing Aurora Borealis inspired me to compile a video and this article with my 10 best quick tips to catch the northern lights with a camera.
Cameras and lenses are expensive. Really expensive. Even the cheapest entry-level DSLR kit today costs $500 and upwards. But what if you would buy the cheapest possible used DSLR? A camera that is over 10 years old? How would it stack up against today’s modern cameras? I was curious about this and decided to find out for myself.
After two weeks of watching classified ads closely, and missing a couple of good bargains because I wasn’t fast enough, I finally managed to purchase a Canon 400D (also known as Rebel XTi) with a battery grip and a Canon 50mm f1.8 II lens on it. All this for only $80. It seemed like a great deal to me. It even came with a 2GB CF card!
As my love for photography has increased over time, so has my love for manual focus lenses. Lenses such as the Samyang 135mm f2 provide unsurpassed sharpness and image quality, at a price much lower than its autofocus counterparts. Often you also save weight and size when switching to a manual lens. I switched my Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART for a Voigtländer Ultron 35mm f1.7, and got a lens that was just a fraction of the weight and size while maintaining comparable image quality and low light performance. Not to mention the joy when using manual lenses – the fact that you are forced to pause for 2-3 seconds whenever you take a photo, forcing you to consider the composition for a moment, often with better photos as a result.
There are several good lens options for macro photography. You could use extension tubes combined with a normal lens, which gives you some magnification. Or even better, you could reverse a normal lens, which combined with extension tubes gives even more magnification. The most convenient and flexible option though, especially for a beginner within macro photography, is to get a dedicated macro lens.
The most popular models come in focal lengths between 90-105 mm, and have 1:1 magnification. There are also shorter focal lengths such as 50 or 60 mm, but these have shorter working distances, which means you have to get very close to your subject, risking to scare it away. 1:1 magnification means that when you focus as closely as possible, your subject is as big on the sensor as it is in real life. So if you have a full frame sensor of 36×24 mm, it means that any insect you want to shoot that is 36 mm long, just about fits in your picture.
In the last year, I’ve walked probably more than 2000 miles with my camera. I love photo walks, because they are so meditative. There is also great excitement when you get home to look at the photos, to see if you caught any great ones. It adds a dimension of extra beauty and flow to your regular long walks. Following, are the seven most important lessons I have learned, when it comes to getting the best possible enjoyment and results from your photo walks.
There are plenty of opportunities for creative photos all around your home. And one pretty cool idea comes from a Swedish photographer Micael Widell. He uses a glass kettle of boiling water, speedlights with colored gels and a macro lens to get some abstract photos. There are plenty of ways to play with light here. Because of this and the unpredictable movement of water bubbles, you’ll get unique photos every time.
To achieve massive and creamy bokeh, one of the first things we learn is to use a wide aperture. But there are several other ways that might just as effective. Do you know them all?
Last summer I bought a macro lens. A normal one, giving 1x magnification. This means that your subject will be projected as big on the sensor as it is in real life. So if you shoot a bug that is 36mm long, it will completely cover a full frame sensor from side to side. I discovered that macro photography is just so much fun. It is much easier to take a cool looking macro photo than a cool looking street or landscape photo. I completely fell in love with macro photography.
But the summer of 2017 I felt that I wanted to take it to the next level: I wanted to try a super macro lens, with a magnification of 2x and beyond. I wanted to really get up close to insects and bugs. I made one!
Making custom bokeh for your lenses can be a fun project. Usually, photographers do it by crudely cutting shapes out of a piece of black card and taping it to the end of our lens. But this method doesn’t allow for a lot of detail or intricacy. There’s also the Bokeh Masters Kit, which comes with some interesting laser cut custom shapes, and a few spare discs to make your own.
But whether you make your own from scratch, or use the Bokeh Masters Kit, there is another way to make your own custom bokeh designs. This method from photographer Micael Widell uses sheets of transparencies along with a printer to create his custom shapes. And in this video, he shows you how he does it.