Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today's walk report: 072914, new lens test.


September 2011 I decided to protect a certain level of sanity in my life by purchasing my 1st DSLR camera. I won't explain how or why I thought this might be necessary but I will say I was right. Application-wise I thought I was buying it mostly for shooting video with plans to "rig out" the camera, taking pictures was only a secondary plus. The thing is I have always had a fascination with and love for photography. As a child there were cameras lying around the house, usually with temporarily forgotten film inside. I played with them--even though I didn't have permission. Over the years my passion for taking pictures had its ups and downs including periods of total abstinence. Anyway, the purchase of a Canon T3i in 2011 created a whole new "exposure" for me in picture taking. I fell back in love with photography and there has been very little video work--however, I am planing to revisit that in earnest once again. Soon.

The reason for starting this post with the word "finally" is I finally got an ultra-wide lens for the Canon T5i I now use. There were 2 lenses I had cravings for right from the get go in 2011. One was a decent telephoto and that turned out to be a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM in June of 2012, the other was going to be an ultra-wide, but I got distracted. Something else I was interested in during my "wonder years" was making small things big. Or at least bigger. Whether it was a microscope or a magnifying glass I wanted to see the tiny stuff I couldn't otherwise see. I entered the world of macro-photography with a surprisingly nice and low cost solution, December 2012. I added this close-up lens to the 70-300mm, creating an entry-level exploration into macro photography. These two lenses continue to be my favorite "run and gun" solution on walks. Despite owning "fanny packs," lens holsters and camera bags, I don't like carrying much equipment on walks.

I further dodged an ultra-wide acquisition in February 2013 by stepping deeper into the macro world when I purchased a Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens. That's my 2nd favorite walking lens, not only for great macro shots but also because it makes me look more closely for photo opportunities than I do with an 18-55mm or the 70-300mm with the close-up. I introspectively search for interesting angles on small stuff. I've learned to think "small." It's a whole different level of observing.

There was another obstacle to the ultra-wide. It was the price point of this lens. I believe the 10-22mm was over $700 retail back in 2011 but even at the current $650 price tag I cringed. Enter the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM, introduced in May of this year (2014) and just recently available for purchase. I hemmed and hawed over this purchase too. It probably went in and out of e-tailer shopping carts a dozen times before I pulled the trigger. I also read just about everything I could find reviewing the lens and debating the acquisition. I even learned how to read a MDF (Modulation Transfer Function) chart, at least, adequately. This has to do with graphing out the optical performance potential of a lens, plotting contrast and resolution of a lens from the center to its edges. You can read more here.  There's also a YouTube video which appears to have been hijacked by someone available here.

Here's the MDF chart for the $650 Canon 10-22mm lens.

And here's the MDF chart for the $299 Canon 10-18mm lens.

Even if you only pick up on the very basics of reading this chart you can see that on some levels the less expensive 10-18mm lens outperforms the older, much more expensive 10-22mm. Granted there are other things to consider in buying a lens, like how it's constructed (the 10-18mm is mostly plastic), lens speed and there is the additional 4mm. For example, a 4mm add to on a 300mm lens doesn't amount to much but going from 18mm to 22mm may be significant. Conversely, the newer 10-18mm has both IS (Image Stabilization) and STM (Stepper motor) features. For the most part I balance price vs. performance. I have to, maybe you do too.

Onto the walks...

Yes plural, my girl Doc and I decided to take a short AM walk just so I could go out and play. By noon that day we were hitting temps over 90º F so there wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for prolonging our walk into that. We decided early to take two shorter walks and catch the sunset that evening. These walks took place 072514, my 1st outings with the new lens.

The A.M. walk started about 9:30. We already had a long day going since we were getting up to watch the Tour de France about 4 A.M. It was also already 77º and climbing. The sun was a little too obvious and I am not using a lens hood. All images shown were shot at 10mm unless otherwise indicated.

Botanical garden, south end.
Shooting up the southern path @ 16mm.
The pond, home of Kevin the wonder frog.
Facing south @ 15mm.
Commemorative fountain @ 12mm.
Looking up into a palo verde tree @ 11mm.
Walk #2, into the sunset.

A 2 image panoramic stitch both shots at 10mm with significant overlap.

Looking north-east.

That's all... thanks for stopping by. Early A.M., beat the summer heat, walk reports are forthcoming.

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