Thursday, 31 March 2016

Samyang 14 mm lens

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Aspherical Nikon (AE)

Shetland has wide open skies that are just waiting to be photographed either day or night. One thing you want to do is have the biggest view and you can only do this with a full frame camera.

For sometime I have been saving for and have just bought the Nikon D610 with a 14 mm Samyang Lens.

By doing this I also had to update from Lightroom 4 to 6 as the camera wasn't recognized in the old software.

                                                                                                           St Ninian's Isle

For many years I have used a cropped DX Nikon camera with the Tokina 11-16 mm wide angle lens which has been very good. There has always been something missing, a wider view either to capture the Milky way or a dramatic sky.

                                                                                                                Lerwick Museum

I had read many reviews on the Samyang 14mm lens, its the same lens as the Rokinon, Vivitar and Opticka 14mm. For the money it has had some top reviews but some have said you have to watch out for soft edges.


The lens arrived and I was soon out undertaking test shots and instantly you could see very soft corners, which was nearly blurred. I sent this back and ask if others they had were from the same batch, they said not so asked for a replacement which came quick. Exactly the same problem occurred on the second lens, so this went back. I received excellent service from the seller not his problem, the lenses were below par.

I then move onto Amazon with a high turnover on lenses. This came in a different box, sealed with a 5 year guarantee so i was optimistic. Straight away it appeared sharp on the rear screen, so I did more test shots even though the weather wasn't great and downloaded them to find the corners were actually alot better, so third time lucky.

I was out that night hoping for an aurora or stars but neither appeared so I had to make do with some low light photos near the harbour. I was very impressed , it was very sharp at f/5.6 to f/8 and easy to find the focus (manual) with the chip (AE) in the Nikon version. (Canon have just released an AE version)

I didn't find flare a problem like some and it revealed pleasing colours and contrast. It covers around 115 degrees, so you get lots in . Then a better clear night arrived and I was out photographing the aurora and stars- you can see more examples on my last blog. I will also be looking at taking more landscapes with this lens

You have to get used to being close to objects, its all about getting to grips with the enormous field of view. I work alot with an 800 mm lens doing wildlife photos ( so the field of view is about 2 degrees - some difference.

                    One of the first ones received but was very soft in the corners at f/8 - this bottom left

I decided to get the new filter holder for the Samyang 14mm lens, mine from Slovenia. It arrived quickly well packed and for 10euro it was an excellent find. Most in the UK come in around £27. One thing though, it is massive.

You have to fit an attachment over the lens hood, then attach the filter holder from the back of the lens, which I am not too keen on doing as it means you have to detach the lens allowing possible dust into the camera.

Another issue might be the wind, here in Shetland it can always be a problem, and with a massive hood it is going to collect alot of wind and could become unstable even if using a tripod, more later.

The other day we went to a very interesting talk on the moon, given by Mike Briemann and his wife Anna. Rather than delivering it the conventional way Mike brought a number of models made on his 3D printer together with video and slides, it worked very well

                                          A landscape photo at Nibon with the 14 mm Samyang lens

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Activity again

Its been a great week in Shetland and the rest of Scotland for seeing the Aurora. Judging by the number of photos I have seen on Facebook a good part of the population has been out taking photos. The weather has played a part with a run of three excellent nights, clear, still and reasonably warm.

                                                                               St Ninians Looking north to Bigton & Ireland

The only draw back was a half moon, although there was some benefit as it tended to light the foreground.

Although we have been  restricted with the times we could go out, due to concerts, it is still great to be outside any night. Tuesday night we managed an hour out at St Ninian's, but the main activity seemed to be after midnight.

Wednesday we got out slightly earlier due to a shorter concert but the largest activity was about 1/2 hour before we started photographing down at Mareel, it was already fading when we started. The forecast had been for the greatest activity to be between 9-12 midnight, you just need to have the time to be out ready. On the way back from Lerwick we did see one burst of very bright activity as we passed Sound.

                                                                                                       Looking north from St Ninian's

The KP level had been 5 on Tuesday and Wednesday, but in Shetland people didn't seem to capture the colour as further south on mainland Scotland. March and September are the best months for seeing the aurora here as the earth tilts towards the sun providing the biggest contact with any solar flare.

With several alerts during the day with a KP 5+ you always want night to come sooner, but the nights in Shetland are drawing out quickly so it becomes darker later and will not be helped by the change, on Saturday 26 March when the clocks go forward.

The Aurora  is possibly the main item on a person's bucket list, it was on mine but even though we have seen it more than two dozen times since we moved here back in 2014 we never fail to be impressed.

                                                               Lerwick - Aurora still visible even with light Pollution

Don't forget tonight is Earth Hour a global event when people turn off their lights for an hour between 8.30- 9.30 pm. This is to show that we care about the future of our planet. Now 172 countries are taking part. It first started back in 2007 in Sydney Australia and is expanding all the time

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Opportunity missed

What can you do when you have guests and you find out that a massive 6.7 kp aurora is taking place outside.

Well not alot until they leave, but peaking outside you could see some activity behind the clouds.

This is the first time I have seen the aurora over a light polluted area. It was so bright green but i missed the colours which had taken place earlier that evening. Not the best aurora I have photographed but never the less still spectacular

 I couldn't really jump in the car and head out but I did go to the bottom of the road and looked out west

 Cloud was coming over and eventually the aurora was lost behind the grey mass. Further south in Scotland a great display took place, many colours visible. Many nights we miss out when a massive aurora takes place as we have cloud cover

The best time and the biggest auroras for us in the UK, tend to take place either in March or September when the earth is turned towards the sun

The following night I was out and only found a weak aurora , just a thin green band across the northern sky, still great to see