A Wider View

   I am not that well practiced in landscape photography but I do enjoy it immensely. For a long time I have been needing a wide angle lens. Not just for landscapes but for everything. I like a wide perspective as I tend to enjoy photo journalism more than any other type of photography. That being said, the go to lens for a photo journalist would probably be a 50mm lens which I already have. This lens is kind of middle of the road in all aspects. It is a great lens and lives on my camera probably about 90% of the time. But again, I do love a wider perspective for a few reasons.

   For one, you don't need to stand as far from your subject with a wide angle lens to get them and their surroundings in the frame. In this photo to the right, I am basically at arms length away from the booth and I was able to capture everything about this man's work space. But there are other benefits too like being really small and light. These wide lenses also seem to transform a scene by giving you a feeling that you are seeing everything that is going on when the photo was taken.

   So as I said, I love wide angle shots. Before now I didn't have anything wider than a 50mm though. Actually, that is a lie. I did have a 35mm lens that I bought a long time ago for my Nikon D5000. Or was it my D3000? I don't know. But this lens was meant for those crop sensor cameras meaning that, on them, the field of view was actually more like 50mm on a non cropped full frame sensor camera. When I bought my full frame camera, I kept the 35mm thinking it would be fine. I was right and I was wrong. The lens worked just as it was intended to but since it was designed to be used on smaller sensors, there was a lot of vignetting (dark corners) when put on full frame. I was editing my photos that I took with that lens one day and noticed I had taken the same photo with both my 35 and 50. When I saw my edit of both they looked exactly the same. Because there was so much vignetting I was actually cropping the 35mm image so much to get rid of those dark corners that I was ending up with a 50mm field of view anyways. So I reluctantly sold my 35mm... I loved that lens but there was just no purpose for it unless I get another crop sensor body as a back up or something.

   So once I sold it, I had my 50mm as my widest lens. I knew this was going to be a problem, but I didn't know how much of one until I went on my trip to Taiwan. This photo on the left is from that trip. It was taken with my 50mm, the widest lens I owned. While it looked fine, there is a whole lot more to that place that wasn't represented because of my lack of a wider lens.

   Recently I was in Seoul and I decided to head to my favorite part where new and used camera gear is sold in Namdaemun. This place is awesome because there is just this long row of camera stores waiting for you to go and play with all the toys you can drool over. For camera geeks like me this is definitely our red light district. Anyways I went with the intention of getting a reasonable price on a used wide angle and it wasn't very hard to find one. I bought a Nikon 28mm f2.8D. An older lens, but that means nothing to me really, sometimes the older lenses are better. This one had a few superficial cracks on the body but the glass was fine.

   Unfortunately rain had me running for cover the whole weekend I was in Seoul and I inevitably didn't get to test my new toy much except for the last day I was there when it all cleared up. I grabbed a few shots here and there, but nothing I really thought was noteworthy.

   With that in mind I dedicated this whole weekend to just practicing with this lens. It really is a game changer when you switch from 50mm-200mm perspectives all the way down to 28mm. It requires a lot of practice which I was excited about as it kind of changes things up for me and keeps things fresh. Below I will include some shots taken with the 28mm this weekend. All shots in this blog post (except the Taiwan shot) were taken with the 28mm.

   Okay so what do I think of the lens? I am not too sure to be honest. I wasn't expecting this to be a top performing lens at all. It is quite an old lens and definitely not one of the best lenses Nikon has ever produced. With that said, it is not a very sharp lens. Especially in the corners but in all actuality I don't mind a slightly less sharp lens. There is some noticeable barrel distortion which I also don't mind. I mean, it is a wide angle after all. There is also a lot of vignetting and light fall off toward the edges. It is far better than the 35mm though and seems more... natural. The vignetting on the 35 just looked very harsh and dark. Vignetting on the 28mm just makes it look like an old lens, which it is. However, I was very shocked at how poorly it renders color, how terrible the contrast is, and the amount of terrible color fringing. These are not deal breakers, but it does mean that shooting something against a bright wall or something is not going to look good, and post processing to get colors and contrast right is going to be a bit tricky. Also, I don't know if it is my camera's light meter or the lens but my light meter keeps overexposing some scenes and underexposing others. Not by a lot but it is all over the place.

   Overall I am happy with the lens. If I had the money I would definitely get something better performing but I am happy nonetheless. Here are some shots I took this weekend with it. Tell me what you think about them.

Also I am going to try and post to my flickr and instagram more often so please do check that stuff out as well. If you like my photos please do me a solid and share my stuff with your friends and family, I'd like more viewers/readers if at all possible.