Best Standard Zoom Lens for APS-C Sensor Camera

When we attend weddings as photographers, a common question we get asked by guests with APS-C Sensor (Crop Sensor) Camera who are just starting photography is “ Which lens should I buy?”. This question obviously depends on the photography style of the individual. However, as a starting point, a standard zoom lens is alway a good idea.

A fast standard zoom (constant f/2.8 and under) is the lens most people use for the majority of their shoot. It can deliver everything from wide angle to short telephoto focal length. This means a standard zoom lens is very versatile and allows individuals to test out their preferred style of photography.

Bear in mind an APS-C sensor camera has a crop factor of x1.5 and x1.6 on Nikon and Canon, respectively. This means your actual focal length on your APS-C camera will be multiplied by the crop factor. For example, a 23mm focal length will be 34.5mm on Nikon and 36.8mm on a Canon. Below are the three standard lens I would recommend for APS-C camera. While the Nikon and Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 are optically brilliant, I feel that they are both over-priced. Also in case you want to upgrade to a full frame camera in the future, I don’t suggest investing too much into lenses for an APS-C sensor camera.

 

Sigma 18-35 F1.8 DC HSM ART

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 SC HSM ART series was one the most exciting photography news in 2013. The worlds fastest zoom lens at present. The Sigma 18-35 features an aperture of f/1.8 along side with the ability to zoom and image stabilisation technology. This lens is specially designed for APS-C sensor camera.

sigma 11        IMG_312234

The build quality of this lens is very solid with majority of it made from metal construction. It comes with a metal mount which surrounds the contacts and a rear glass element. The focus and zoom are done internally which mean the front barrel of the lens will not turn nor come out during focusing and zooming. This a great feature to prevent dirt and dust getting into the lens element. Being able to internal focus also means you are able to use circular polariser without worrying about the front element of the lens turning which may potentially mess up your settings. Another plus about this lens in comparison with the other two lenses is that the rear element will only move 2-3mm while zooming from 18mm to 35mm. This is a great feature because the dust and dirt will not be able to settle inside of the tube easily. The only downside is that this lens is not weather sealed and cannot be used in the rain.

simga 33  967590

The focusing ring on this lens is smooth and yet has some resistance which means this lens will also be great for videos. One thing I like about the new generation Sigma lens is that you are able to adjust the resistance of the focusing ring and focusing speed with an external USB dock (to be purchased separately ~$100 USD). Therefore, you can customise the lens for your photography needs. In terms of the optical construction, the Sigma 18-35mm has 17 lens elements in 12 groups. It has a grant total of 5 low dispersion SLD glass elements and four aspherical elements. It also has 9 aperture blades which mean you get really round and smooth bokeh balls when you shoot wide open.

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 The image quality of this lens is exceptional even when you shoot at wide open (f/1.8). The image quality at the centre of the frame is fantastic with only a slight fall off at the edge of the frame (which is still excellent). Overall, this is a very good value to quality ratio lens.

Construction:

 12 Groups / 17 Elements
Angle of view:  76.5 – 44.2 degrees for APS-C Camera
Aperture:  Constant f/1.8 at all focal length
Minimum focusing distance:  0.28 m
Filter Size:  72 mm
Dimensions (Length x Diameter):  121 mm x 78 mm
Weight:  810g
Price:  ~$799 USD

 

Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM

Since the release of the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM in early 2010, it has been one of the most popular third party standard zoom lens for Nikon and Canon APS-C sensor camera. It was an upgrade of the Sigma 17-50 F2.8 with image-stabilisation feature.

sigma 3   Sigma 2

The build quality of this lens is average for its price tag despite the EX symbol which signifies it belongs to the Sigma high-end series. It comes with a metal mount and a 27mm diameter rear element. When zooming the lens from 17mm to 50mm, the rear element of the lens will move about 20mm into the lens which mean dust and dirt can get into the internal lens element easily. The front barrel of the lens will move out while zooming into the telephoto end (50mm). The front barrel is made out of plastic and will rotate when zooming in and out. This means you will have to adjust the circular polariser every time after zooming into the desire focal length. The auto focus of this lens is known to be quite fragile due to the externally focusing ring. This lens is also not weather sealed and is prone to water damage.

sigma 17-503164_sig17-50_bud

In terms of image quality, the Sigma 17-50 deliver is excellent and sharp even at wide open (f/2.8). When stopping down the aperture, the image becomes even sharper. It has two FLD glass elements and three aspherical elements. The also has 7 aperture blades which mean you get really reasonably round bokeh balls when you shoot wide open.

Construction:  13 Groups / 17 Elements
Angle of view:  72.4 – 27.9 degrees for APS-C Camera
Aperture:  Constant f/2.8 at all focal length
Minimum focusing distance:  0.28 m
Filter Size:  77 mm
Dimensions (Length x Diameter):  91.8 mm x 83.5 mm
Weight:  565g
Price:  ~$560 USD

 

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di II VC

The Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di II VC is the cheapest lens out of the three lenses I recommended. This is one of the most popular standard zoom lens for amateur photographers with an APS-C sensor camera. It features the famous Tamron image stabilisation technology. The image stabilisation of this lens is the best out of the three lenses here.

              tamron 1tamron 3

The build quality of this lens is a typical consumer grade zoom lens. The majority of this lens is plastic with a solid metal mount. The zoom ring is smooth. However, the focusing ring has a reasonable short path which means it might bit hard to manually focus accurately. The focusing of this lens are all done internally, therefore, the front element of this lens will not rotate when using circular polariser. The outstanding image stabilisation feature is fantastic for taking videos.

IMG_165046           img_structure

The image quality of this lens is the only downside. It is a bit soft when shooting wide open but can be improved when stopped down.  It has two low dispersion glass elements and three aspherical elements. The lens also has 7 aperture blades which mean you get really reasonably round bokeh balls when you shoot wide open.

Construction:  14 Groups / 19 Elements
Angle of view:  72.4 – 27.9 degrees for APS-C Camera
Aperture:  Constant f/2.8 at all focal length
Minimum focusing distance:  0.29 m
Filter Size:  72 mm
Dimensions (Length x Diameter):  80 mm x 95 mm
Weight:  570g
Price:  ~$350 USD

 

Summary 

Gretchen & Richie Wedding - Low Res-1

All Scores out of 5.

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Tips for newly engaged couples

 

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!

You’ve got the ring, you’ve got the man, what’s next?

There’s so many things to organise before the big day, but where do you start?

There are so many wedding magazines out there but now with the invention of the internet, check out blogs, Pinterest and other wedding websites for inspiration. Before you get carried away and purchase anything though, make sure you sort out the following first:

1. Budget

Work out the budget with your partner. Estimate how much everything will cost and stick close to it. Maybe even open up a seperate account to keep that budget in order! Here’s a good budget for a wedding.

http://www.realsimple.com/weddings/budget/wedding-budget-worksheet-00000000009135/

2. Set a date

When you are setting your date, think of family and friends who will be travelling to your wedding. Ensure it is a date that most people you invite overseas/nationwide can make it! Send your invitations (or save the date cards) early so guests can.. well… save your date. (At Fino Photography, we can take an engagement session for you with “Save the date” ideas – let us know if you wish to have this service). Once you pencil in a date, make sure you call up a few locations to ensure your top few choices are available for your preferred date. Draft up a small guest list while you are at it.

save the date

(Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

3. Research

Go online, look through wedding magazines, however you want to be inspired. Start calling up caterers for quotes, supplier quotes and get those creative juices running! Figure out a theme so you can work everything around it. Even start looking around for dresses so you can work a colour theme into your wedding. It can take awhile to find the perfect dress so start looking around early!

wedding magazine

(Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

And eventually, the Photographer – check out our Engagement and Wedding blogs to see if we fit your style!

Until next time…

Ciao for now:)

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Let’s be friends on Facebook!

So we’ve decided Fino Photography needed a Facebook page. We will post up some of our blog mentions including the tech tips but also inspiration or things we like! Maybe, from time to time, my dog will feature too, so there’s something for everyone!

Stop by, say Hi .. click on the link below to be our friend!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fino-Photography/459609800819709

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Nikon Df vs D610 – Which one is right for you?

Nikon-Df-vs-D610

The Nikon Df has been the hottest topic in the photography world in the past week. Thanks to Nikon’s excellent marketing strategy, the 6 official teasers slowly unveiling the retro looking stylish camera has caused much attention from photographers and enthusiasts. With the specs of the Df now available, one of the most talked about topic that I have noticed is the comparison between the Nikon Df with the Nikon D610. The Fino Photography team have taken a closer look at how these two cameras are stacking up against each other. This may also be helpful for those who are looking at getting a new FF DSLR and trying to figure out which camera is for you. Take a look at the following technical specs:

As you can see, the specification of the two cameras are very similar. However, the two cameras are indeed targeting two very different markets.

Sensor Resolution & ISO performance:

The Nikon Df features the Nikon flagship D4 sensor while the sensor inside the Nikon D610 is made by Sony. These two sensors are both terrific in their own unique way. With the D610, you gain a total of 8 megapixels which will result in images with better details. However, the Df lower resolution sensor will result in better high ISO performance. I am sure a lot of you will know how phenomenal the noise level at high ISO is for the D4 sensor. The native ISO on the D4 is 1 stop better than the D610 with the option of boosting it to ISO 204,800. The lower megapixel count of the Nikon Df will also produce a slightly smaller file which is great if you are dealing with a large amount of files.

Maximum Shutter Speed:

Both cameras have a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 which is one stop less than the Nikon D4 and D800 (1/8000). But let’s be real here, how often do you actually need 1/8000 sec shutter speed. I usually use a ND filter when it comes to using a fast prime at maximum aperture (f/1.4) anyway. Both cameras will perform just fine in the real world.

AF Focus point:

I think Nikon is trying to differentiate the market for the Df/ D610 and the D4. Having only 39 AF points with 9 cross-type that all concentrate at the centre of the frame, the Df and D610 are pretty much useless for a Wedding Photographer like me. We have tried using a D600 as a back up body and it isn’t the best when it comes to hunting focus and continuos focus when the bride walks down the aisle. The only good thing is that both cameras does continuos AF detection up to f/8.

Shooting speed:

Both cameras feature a reasonable shutter shooting speed at 5.5 FPS for the Df vs 6 FPS for the D610. Again, I don’t think many people will notice the difference in the real world. However, for sports or wildlife photographers, this might not be enough.

Maximum Flash Sync Speed:

The Nikon Df offers 1/250 while the Nikon 610 offers 1/200. The difference again is minimal.

Exposure bracketing & Exposure Compensation:

The Nikon Df does bracketing of +- 2 to 5 EV while the Nikon D610 does bracketing of +- 2 to 3 EV. However, the exposure compensation on the D610 is up to +-5 EV while the Nikon Df only goes up to +- 3EV. I guess you cannot have the best of two worlds.

Size, Weight, LCD Screen:

The two cameras are about the same in this aspect.

Battery:

This is a very interesting point to discuss. The Nikon Df uses the EN-EL14a battery which is what Nikon is using on their entry level DSLR. On the other hand, the Nikon D610 uses the EN-EL15 battery which is a standard Pro DSLR body battery (Same as the Nikon D800). So if you already own a D800, the D610 will win here as it takes the same battery as your other camera.

Even though the Df is using the DN-EL14a battery, the battery life for a DF is capable of taking 1400 shots. This is amazing considering the D600 can only take 900 shots with a bigger capacity battery.

Video

The Nikon Df does not have video function because Nikon is promoting it as the “Pure Photography” camera. I am sure the video feature is the matter of a firmware update as the two cameras feature the same processor. Funny thing is that a “Pure Photography” camera existed 5 years ago – known as the Nikon D700. (haha) We still use it for our wedding shoots.

Build Quality:

The Df is made in Japan while the D610 is made in Thailand. This might mean you are getting better Quality Assurance with the Df.  The Df even has the “Made in Japan” engraved at the top of the camera next to the ISO dial. Sometimes I wonder how much of the camera is made in Japan, surely a lot of the parts will be made in China. Oh well, at least you can show your friends the “MIJ” tag.

From photos, you can see the D610 has magnesium alloy covering the top and bottom of the camera while the Df is 3/4 magnesium alloy. This means the Df is slightly more robust than the D610. You can also see the Df has better weather sealing with O-rings on all dials. Therefore, better weather proof on the Df.

TS560x560    TS940x940

Handling and Control:

This topic is very subjective, it all depends on your photography style.

Personally, I think the dedicated AF-on button on the Df is good to have. However, as I am a manual shooter, I can easily program the AE-L button on the D610 to an “AF on” button. To someone who is an Aperture Priority user, the AE-L button is very important when it comes to recomposing a shot.

I really like the shutter speed dial, it enables you to change the shutter speed without turning on the camera. To a photographer who used film cameras, the layout of the dials and the buttons may be more convenient.  To me, Wedding Photography is about speed and we need to get the shot in a matter of seconds, therefore, I prefer having the front and back dial on the D610. My finger memory for using the front and back dials will allow me to quickly adjust the aperture for different creative shots while adjusting the shutter speed quickly to get the right exposure.

One really intuitive feature on the Df is the ISO and exposure compensation dials. It enables you to change ISO quickly and I would really like to see it on the next generation Nikon Pro DSLR cameras.

Who is the Df for?

In summary, I think the Df is a true street photography camera. The camera has very good high ISO performance and reasonably smaller compared to the D4. The 16.2 Megapixel sensor also means it requires less demand on the optical quality of lenses. Hence, your old AIS lens will perform well with it. Not to mention the Df will also meter with your old AIS lenses (great feature). Guess it’s time to dust off those old lenses:)

Who is the D610 for?

The D610 from my point is a better camera for Wedding photography despite the High ISO performance is not as good as the Df. The control on the D610 slightly is better due to the front and back dials. The optional vertical grip will also provide better balance when it comes to using big tele-photo lens.

The D610 will also be a better all around camera with more feathers such as video. The D610 is also 25% cheaper than the Df.

df vs d610

 

 

 

 

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Nikon Df Announced – Retro Style Full-Frame DSLR

It was probably the most exciting news for Nikon users this year. The Nikon retro style DSLR is finally announced after 6 teaser videos from Nikon which has resulted in a lot of noise in the photography world. The New Nikon Df comes in 2 different colours, Black and Silver. Both colours has it’s own character. I personally would prefer the silver one because it looks more retro.

Nikon-Df-blakc-and-silver

Nikon-Df-silver-frontNikon-Df-top

The Nikon Df comes with a standard F-mount which means you will be able to mount all your Nikon lens on it. It is also fully compatible metering with with your old  legendary AI lens ( Nikon 58mm f/1.2 Noct-NiKKOR and Nikon 50mm f/1.2 AIS). The control dials on the top of the camera to me, feels a bit of an over-load.

I have no doubt this is a very neat and fashionable camera. Nikon has definitely created this camera for a new market (Full Frame – Retro – DSLR). However, this comes with a price tag of $2750 USD for the body only and $3000 USD for a kit (Body + retro looking 50mm 1.8G lens).  For what it can offer, I feel that the new Nikon DF is slightly overpriced, so much that it is the same price as a Nikon D800.

Pros:  

  • Retro Style and very fashionable
  • Same Sensor as the Nikon flagship camera D4 which has exceptional high ISO performance
  • Made in Japan – means higher standard of manufacturing process
  • Dedicated ISO dial and exposure compensation dial
  • Fully compatible metering with legendary Nikon AI lenses
  • Compatible with all Nikon accessories

Cons:

  • Maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 (instead of 1/8000 on the D800 & D4)
  • 39 AF points (instead of 52 AF points on the D800 & D4)
  • Exposure compensation and Bracketing up to only +- 3EV ((instead of +- 5EV on the D800 & D4)
  • Only 1 SD card slot
  • No video
  • No built in camera flash
  • No vertical grip avalible
  • Overpriced

Who is this camera for??

The Nikon Df will be great for street photography and travelling due to it’s weight (765g which is the lightest FF DSLR made by Nikon). If you want to enjoy pure photography with no video function, this is the camera to get.

Who is this camera NOT for??

I think the Nikon Df is not ideal for professional work. With only 39 AF points, 1/4000 maximum shutter speed and only 1 SD card slot. This will not be a good wedding camera. The lack of vertical grip options also means the camera will be harder to balance (head heavy) with big tele-photo lens. If you want a backup camera for wedding, go get a D610.

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