TAMRON SP 90MM f2.8 VC macro – Tested

Have been hearing a lot of good things about this lens since my days as a beginner. Some photographers don’t think twice before rating this lens above similar calibre lenses made by Nikon & Canon. Got to test this glass on my recent trip to Agumbe and here’s my take on it…..

Being an engineer, I love to deep dive into technical aspects of almost anything but here I’ll try to keep it simple. I shall avoid using high sounding technical terms like MTF curves, number of elements and their placement, the various glass coatings…etc etc etc which most reviewers talk about and is greek to most of the beginners who are already lost in the maze of photography terms like aperture, iso, shutter speed, camera modes, focus modes, DOF etc. Here’s my take on this lens in a language which I hope most amateurs will understand.

This lens is sharp and the sharpness can be compared with that of a Micro Nikkor 105mm VR. It is considerably sharp even when it is wide open at f2.8. The image of the Lizard shared below was shot at f3.8. It doubles up as a wonderful portrait lens as well. Macro photography is all about manual focus but still, the AF is brilliant even in low light and I won’t think twice before saying that it is faster than the Nikkor 105mm. The Tamron 90mm is about 170gm lighter in weight than the Nikkor 105mm. The Vibration Control (VC) is extremely efficient. The Tamron SP 90mm f2.8 macro is absolute value for money. It comes at almost half the price of a Micro Nikkor 105mm, f2.8 so it is lighter on the pocket as well. Following are a few images shot with this lens with exif data.

Yellow Bush FrogEXIF : f8 | 1/160 | ISO 800 | built in flash fired at 1/4 power | handheld |

snake1

EXIF : f11 | 1/160 | ISO 800 | built in flash fired at 1/8 power | handheld |

lizard

EXIF : f3.8 | 1/160 | ISO 800 | Handheld |

All the shots where the built in flash was used could have come out even more sharper had i used an external flash (which i forgot to carry on this trip ). External flashes are more powerful and can allow the use of narrower apertures to get a deeper DOF. The quality of light they emit is also much better than that of a built in flash.

I hope this review will be of some help to friends who are planning to buy a macro lens. Happy Clicking !!!

 

 

 

 

 

Agumbe – The perfect monsoon getaway

IMAG0873
Many of us wildlife enthusiasts usually consider monsoons as off season and anxiously wait for the National Parks to reopen. There is one beautiful place in the wild which comes alive during monsoons and is home to some of the most amazing species of reptiles, arachnids & amphibians. The BIG LITTLE WORLD as I call it. Agumbe rainforest (a UNESCO heritage site) is located in the rich verdant hills of the Western Ghats. The complex rainforest ecosystem of Agumbe nurtures an incredible spectrum of biodiversity. The soothing melody of bird calls that enliven the densely foliaged canopies of interwoven trees. Rapid brooks making way over & around the rocks and boulders on which, tiny colourful frogs croak and dance away to glory. An explorer’s paradise, Agumbe is an ultimate detsination to delve deep into the BIG LITTLE WORLD.

WHEN TO GO??

The best time to visit Agumbe is August-September.

 

WHERE TO STAY???

We stayed at the KALINGA CENTRE FOR RAINFOREST ECOLOGY (KCRE). A very basic set up with tented accomodation. Very basic and raw but absolutely adventurous. There is no electricity and the facility is powered by solar panels. So, it is important to have extra batteries for your equipment. Charging facility is although available for a few hours during the day. The naturalist at KCRE Mr. Udit is a living encylclopedia of rainforest biodiversity. Presentations on various topics like species of snakes found in the western ghats, snake-bites, anti-venoms etc are organised and are very informative and captivating. Keeping in mind the limited resources available, the hospitatily extended by their staff was worth appreciating.

IMAG0876

 

HOW TO REACH??

Our trip was impromptu with hardly any time to plan the trip. we didn’t have any option but to drive 900km all the way to Agumbe from Hyderabad. Other than a few bad patches on the route, the drive was pretty comfortable. The serpentine ghats, amazing vistas and some lovely music made it a drive to remember. Otherwise, Agumbe is well connected by road and rail. The closest airports are Bangalore : 370 Km & Mangalore : 110 Km.

 

WHAT TO DO??

There cannot be a better place to do macro photography. I would suggest that you leave all your long lenses behind and just carry a macro preferably with a good external flash. A wide-angle or simply a kit lens & a sturdy tripod will surely be handy to shoot some landscapes. DO NOT forget to carry a good torch light for the night treks. Also carry rain covers to protect yourself and your equipment. Sighting birds in this area itself is extremely difficult as canopies are very dense. Photographing them is difinitely not easy. Agumbe is all about macro and landscapes. So travel light and give some rest to the bazookas. Instead, carry some extra clothing because once wet your clothes remain damp for weeks. Everything comes at a price and the currency here is your blood…expensive??…then better carry a few pairs of leech socks or gaters.

More details about the campsite available on their website www.kalingacre.com

SIGMA CORP ANNOUNCES THE SIGMA 150-600MM f5-6.3 DG OS HSM

 

 

 

Sigma-150-600mm-DG-OS-HSM-extended

 

The new Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM belongs to the Sports category of the Global Vision line.

Seeing a new telephoto zoom lens is not surprising, but we were not expecting an exact match to Tamron’s lens in terms of range and aperture. Although the Sigma lens is not any faster, the company chose to go higher end on a few aspects, targeting professionals. This is why the lens is included in the Sports category, and not Contemporary.

More information is coming on the new 1.4× and 2× teleconverters as well.

Highlights

  • The lens is larger and heavier than the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 due to bigger glass elements.
  • It features weather sealing.
  • AF and OS have been optimized (see below).

Specs

The specs of the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 are included between brackets for comparison.

  • Construction: 24 elements, 16 groups (20 elements, 13 groups)
  • Filter diameter: 105 mm (95mm)
  • Minimum focusing distance: 260 cm (270 cm)
  • Dimensions: 121 x 290.2 mm (105.6 x 257.8 mm)
  • Aperture blades: 9, rounded (9, rounded)
  • Maximum magnification: 1:5 (1:5)
  • Weight: 2860 g / 100.88 oz.  (1951 g / 68.8 oz.)
  • Available mounts (at launch): Canon, Nikon, Sigma (Canon, Nikon, Sony)
  • Expected price: around $2,000 − seems high to me even considering the advanced optics, but we’ll see (the Tamron costs $1,069)

 

 

 

Basics of Photography By Ashok Kandimalla

Learning photography cannot get simpler than this. I would also go on to the extent of saying, if you cannot learn photography even after reading this book then just forget about photography. Basics of Photography by Mr. Ashok Kandimalla has been thoughtfully compiled to help beginners understand the various concepts of photography in very simple language.  Ashok Sir needs no introduction. Smart Photography magazine has been continuously publishing his photography lessons for many years now and numerous beginners have benefitted from it. Ashok Sir is the person from whom I learnt my photography. So here is your chance to master the art of photography. Get your copy now !!!! It’s gonna change the way you look at cameras and photography forever.

BASICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY – an e-book

By Mr. Ashok Kandimalla

Contents

  1. What is a Camera and Types of Cameras: Various parts of a camera, their function, types of cameras (P&S, bridge, DSLR, CSC, etc.), which is the best camera for you.
  2. Fundamentals of Lenses and Types of Lenses: Basic concepts like focal length, f/ number, different parts of a lens, cropping factor, types of lenses like telephoto lenses, wide-angle lenses, zoom lenses, zoom ratio, parfocal and vari-focal zooms, fixed and variable aperture zooms, special purpose lenses like macro, fish-eye,  T/S,  etc., tele-converters, exposure issues when using these, image stabilization,  choosing a lens, etc.
  3. Pixel Count and Print Size: What is pixel count and how is it different from resolution, relationship between pixel count and print size, interpolation,  sensor sizes, large vs small sensors, angle of view, how many pixels does film have.
  4. File Formats: Description of various file formats like Raw, JPEG, etc., their relative merits, what does compression and size in images mean, etc.
  5. Exposure Modes, Controls and Meters: Concept of stop and EV, reciprocity, description of exposure modes (A, S, P, M modes), difference between auto and manual modes, scene exposure modes, when to use which exposure mode, use of mode dial, metering modes (matrix/ evaluative spot, etc.), exposure compensation, bracketing, etc.
  6. Metering:  The basic meter calibration to mid tone, dynamic range and brightness range,   how to recognize scenes that will make your camera give wrong exposures, how to handle high contrast scenes, use the spot meter, the metering mantra and intro to HDR.
  7. Histogram and Highlight Warning:  Operation of these two tools, how to use them to get correct exposure always.
  8. White Balance: Concept of color temperature, what is white balance and how it affects your images, fine tuning white balance.
  9. Defects in lenses:  Various distortions and aberrations in lenses, how they affect your image.
  10. Perspective:  Concept of perspective, its role in creating depth, how to use perspective to your advantage, how perspective is independent of focal length, perspective and distortion, how to avoid leaning lines when photographing buildings.
  11. Depth of Field (DOF): What is DOF, factors that control DOF, how is DOF independent of focal length, how magnification affects DOF, DOF when photographing macro subjects, hyper focal distance, intro to focus stacking to extend DOF.
  12. Flash (Part I): Explanation of Guide number, triggering,  synchronization,  X-Sync, high speed sync, use of built-in flash, dedicated and non-dedicated flashes,  their  merits and demerits, slave flashes, light modifiers.
  13. Flash (Part Il):  Different flash modes like red-eye reduction, slow sync, 2nd curtain sync, repeating (multi) flash, TTL (normal and balanced), manual flash, off camera flash, setting up wire-less flash, etc.
  14. Elements of Composition (Part I):   What is composition, subject and its placement, rule of thirds, lines and shapes, leading lines, space in an image, frames, etc.
  15. Elements of Composition (Part II):  Texture, patterns, creation of depth, analyzing a picture, tips for composing a picture.

 

Total pages: 168

 

Price:  Only Rs. 300/- (Approximately, the price may vary slightly due to exchange variations) or US $ 5

 

Link to purchase:  http://beta.magzter.com/books/Basics-Of-Photography

 

This eBook needs an Apple iPad or an Android device (phone or tablet) and a free app “Magzter” to read.

 

Magzter for Android download: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dci.magzter&hl=en

 

Magzter for iPad download: https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/magzter-magazine-book-store/id412163953?mt=8

 

Delivering a talk on Bird Photography at ANDHRA PRADESH PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY (APPS)

Will be delivering a talk on Bird photography at the ANDHRA PRADESH PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY (APPS) tomorrow (Sat, 8th Feb, 7pm onwards) at Chaitanya Vidyalaya, Opp Indira Park, Hyderabad. Digital projection of my images, discussion on various techniques & sharing my on-field experiences. There will also be a question & answer session. Friends who are interested can attend and interact. Entry is free and those who are not members of APPS can also attend.