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Archive for January, 2011

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f2.8 XR Di-II LD Lens…

by on Jan.11, 2011, under Life, Photography

I went on a bit of an online shopping spree the past week. I ordered multiple photographic items from four different online stores (two on eBay).

First to arrive is my new Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f2.8 XR Di-II LD lens.

I was looking for a fast short zoom for my Nikon D90 camera – essentially looking for something to replace using my slow 18-200mm lens when shooting things like:
– indoors low light photography (e.g. school events)
– general walkaround use (especially when photographing the kids, candid portraits, etc) – maybe the lens to leave on the camera when I don’t have a specific photographic thing in mind
– sea/landscapes (I’d probably invest in something like a 0.9ND and 0.9GND which I could use with this lens – I also just ordered some step-up rings (e.g. 62-72, 67-77, 72-77, etc) so I’d probably be able to standardise on 77mm fixed filters in future? My current UWA (Ultra Wide Angle) lens – the Sigma 8-16mm whilst being uber wide has a very bulbous front element, a built in non removable petal hood and no front thread so kinda precludes using filters.

I tend to like using shallow depth of field a lot when shooting people, etc (which is partially why I so love my 50/1.4 – but using that lens indoors can get pretty restrictive and even for group shots of children outdoors it can require me to go back a very long way). I also want to use something sharper and faster than my 18-200.

The Nikon 17-55/2.8 (77mm thread 755g) is the standard bearer in this range – it is a DX only lens (so isn’t for full frame (FX) cameras – just crop sensor (DX) cameras). However it is over AUD$2,000 here in Australia, as low as AUD$1,350 grey market delivered or even around AUD$1,000 used.

I also looked at the Sigma 17-50/2.8 (as low as AUD$650) but in the end took the pragmatic route and opted for the Tamron 17-50/2.8 Non VC (67mm thread 434g) instead.

It retails here in Australia for around AUD$600-700 but I purchased it online for AUD$345 grey market delivered from eGlobal which basically ships in from their warehouse in Hong Kong. I must say that the ordering and delivery was outstanding – I ordered at 2:45PM on friday, it was dispatched at 8:45PM and I was sent a DHL tracking number and it arrived on my doorstep here in Sydney at 10AM on monday – can’t ask for much more than that!

This lens is actually the older of the Tamron 17-50mm/2.8 lenses, they have a newer model which has VC (Vibration Reduction) and is about $100 more expensive but apparently from all the online reviews the newer lens is actually optically inferior (less sharp) to the older model which is why I bought the older Non VC version.

Whilst this lens doesn’t have the build quality of the Nikon 17-55 and apparently pretty loud auto focusing (no ultrasonic motor) with no manual autofocus override (like the Nikon AF-S lenses) by all accounts it is supposed to be optically very close at a fraction of the cost. I guess only time and use will tell :). The only thing really that would concern me would be lots of hunting auto focus – I don’t need sports tracking but when I’m photographing something that isn’t moving too much in lower light conditions (and I generally use selected single focus point – on the eye/face for instance) I want it to focus accurately and reasonably quickly.

I’ll report more once I’ve had a chance to use it extensively 🙂

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Eating Out…

by on Jan.10, 2011, under Life, Photography

The girls and I went for dinner at a nice little Thai place we like to go to down at Milsons Point called Thai Fusion.

After dinner we walked up onto the Harbour Bridge and snapped this just before sunset.

NIKON D90 + 50.0 mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm, 1/60 sec at f / 4.5, ISO 1000

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Happy New Year!!! – Sydney New Years Eve 2010 Fireworks…

by on Jan.01, 2011, under Life, Photography

Our family along with some other friends went to Family Fun Night at North Sydney Olympic Pool for the earlier 9PM family fireworks on Sydney’s New Years Eve. This is really well organised with activities like circus, face painting, bands, clowns and of course swimming for the kids and then after dinner we can settle down for the 9PM fireworks action from a location just at the edge of the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge pilon and almost directly under the fireworks in the harbour and off the bridge.

Note: These images (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay gallery viewer.

A couple images near sunset from our location…

NIKON D90 + 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 112 mm, 1/2000 sec at f / 8, ISO 200

The harbour in twilight…

NIKON D90 + 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 32 mm, 1.3 sec at f / 9, ISO 200

This is my first attempt at taking fireworks photos with a D-SLR… the basic strategy of which is:

  1. Use a Tripod – a stable base is essential for these long exposures
  2. Set the camera to a low (camera default) ISO (in my case 200)
  3. Set the camera to Manual and use an Aperture of around f/8 to f/16 (e.g. f/11)
  4. If you have a remote shutter release (I have the wireless one) set the camera’s shutter speed to Bulb mode and use the release to time some 3 to 7 second exposures – timing the shutter opening to just before the fireworks explode and then close the shutter when they finish exploding. If you don’t have a remote release you can try using the self timer and start with something like a 4 second exposure. Adjust the exposure time to suit the conditions (you may need to use slightly shorter or longer depending on how bright things are)
  5. Using Manual mode will usually achieve this anyway but make sure your Flash is turned Off

NIKON D90 + 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48 mm, 2.7 sec at f / 11, ISO 200


NIKON D90 + 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 42 mm, 3.5 sec at f / 11, ISO 200

For the midnight fireworks display my eldest daughter and I drove to a spot in Greenwich we often go to. This is quite a bit further away from the harbour but it does allow you to view multiple displays from the same location. We also switched to the 70-300mm lens for this.

The view with the Sydney CBD in the background.

NIKON D90 + 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70 mm, 7.3 sec at f / 11, ISO 200

Two of my favourites from the night…

NIKON D90 + 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70 mm, 3.5 sec at f / 16, ISO 200


NIKON D90 + 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70 mm, 4.2 sec at f / 16, ISO 200

If you are interested in seeing a few more of the images from North Sydney and both fireworks you can see them at the following web gallery:

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