This week it’s not a photo from the Natural world as usual, it’s a photo of humans. I took that photo of my 11 years old girl at the Rossetti store with Mr. Sean, her pointe shoes needed some adjustments before her next ballet lesson.I love that store, it has a lot of “cachet”, very photogenic (It’s on St-Denis street). I waited until my girl talked to Mr. Sean to explain where her shoes were hurting her. The first shots were OK but then i saw their reflections in the mirror and zoomed my lens to a wider setting and adjusted my composition.
This week the temperature was up and down, the morning I took that shot it was very foggy and the Old Canal was particularly interesting. I waited until the sunrise so i would be able to include it in my composition. I didn’t push the contrast too much during the processing since I wanted to keep the mood of that morning.
Spring is coming and the Ice is melting on the lake, so I stopped on the shore of a lake to see if I could photograph something interesting. I found that ice pattern with an Eagle head that you can see in the upper right corner of the ice. I had to take the photo handheld at arms length, so I took short burst of 3 to 4 shots. When I took the photo I knew I wanted to convert it to B&W, I played with the curves and contrast as well as the dark slider in LR.
I love “Pancake” lenses because they don’t take too much space and don’t add a significant amount of weight in my camera bag ! A Pancake lens needs to have some compromise optically to be so small, so you can’t have it all for such a small lens and low price. Usually they are slower lenses, it’s inevitable if you want a pancake lens, if you want a fast lens it will be bigger and heavier. I’ve owned some Pancake lenses over the years, very good ones like the Fuji XF 27mm and some not so good like the Sony E-mount 16mm. Pentax makes some great Pancake lenses in the DA Limited series, currently I own the Pentax DA 40mm/2.8 XS which is a derivate of the Pentax DA 40mm/2.8 Limited but even smaller …. it’s the smallest lens available for an APS-C camera.
Canon finally came-up with two Pancake lenses, the 24mm STM and 40mm STM. For me the 24mm was more interesting since I already had the Pentax DA 40mm XS in my bag and also because of the close focusing ability of the 24mm which is interesting for it’s focal length. So I bought one last fall (2015) and I now have enough experience with it to share my thoughts with you.
The built quality is not as good as the Pentax Limited lenses which are all metal construction, even the front lens cap is made of metal. But for a plastic lens at that price it’s quite good, especially if you compare it to Canon’s 50mm/1.8 or the 18-55mm kit lenses !
The IQ of the Canon 24mm STM is quite good at normal distances and also at the closer focusing distances but some distortion can be seen. It’s not as good as my Pentax DA 40mm XS but it’s not the same focal length, maybe I should try a head to head battle between my Pentax and the Canon 40mm STM ( would have to buy one first) !!! So, in term of sharpness I would rate it as very good.
I find the new STM AF system “strange”, it take some times to get used to it, the lens tend to hunt in some situations. I’m using it mainly in LV and on a tripod so even if the AF is not top notch I don’t mind. Keep in mind that i’m using it on a 7D, so a more modern 70D or the new 80D certainly are better cameras to take advantage of the STM motor.
What I like about that lens is when i use it for “close-up” shots, it produces a feeling of being more intimate with the subject compared if I had used a longer lens like a 100mm Macro lens which produce a more compressed look due to being a telephoto lens. The minimum focusing distance of 0.16 meter gives you a maximum magnification of 0.27, which is very good for a 24mm lens. Most of the 24mm lenses don’t focus close enough, i think manufacturers could make an effort to design more lenses with a closer minimum focusing distance. Tamron new SP 35mm/1.8 VC and 45mm/1.8 VC are very good examples of lenses that focus closer than the competition and really interest me.
Update on CA
I wanted to update my review about the CA that I didn’t talked much about. It might not be evident on regular subjects or even on more prone subjects like high contrast but during this winter I was able to find some CA on ice and snow shots. Sure it’s not visible at regular viewing but when zooming in you will see it but it’s easy to correct in LR.
As you can see there is more to a lens than sharpness, sure I like very sharp lenses but when buying a lens i also look at the lens in general, not just how much details it can resolve. Usually i prefer a lens that will focus closer to a lens that is the sharpest lens on earth but can’t focus close enough for my needs. It’s because of my shooting style, it will probably be different for another photographer.
The more I use that lens on a crop sensor camera the more I realize that I like shooting at that focal length. It’s a very useful FOV and especially with the closer focusing of the 24mm STM it makes a great all around lens. I now see more and more potential photos as I become more familiar with it. At one moment it’s a “Wide angle” lens and then it becomes a Close-up lens.
Canon came out with a very good lens with some compromises (CA and distorsion), but because of it’s small size, very good IQ and minimum focusing distance, it now have a place in my camera bag with my other Pancake lens, the Pentax DA 40mm XS, especially since I paid less than 300$ Canadian for 2 lenses ! I can’t wait to use it for photographing Frogs up-close next summer and I think it will do a great job even if there is no IS incorporated. The only thing i’m missing now to take full advantage of it’s small size …… is a Canon SL1 !
I’m starting a new series of articles on tips to improve your photography, i will use photos that i took and show how i got them, how i made changes in the field to get what i wanted or how to improve them during the processing.
Little details can make-or-break a good shot, you have to pay attention in the field while you compose before you press the shutter button. If you wait until your subject have a better posture or better light falling on it, this is part of becoming a good photographer. Another way to improve a photo is during the post processing by adjusting the levels, color balance etc….. but also cropping to fine tune your composition.
I selected a photo of a Jaguar that i took at the Granby ZOO this week to show you some of the things that I did to end up with the finished shot. I had no choice but to shoot through a thick and dirty glass and handheld (I didn’t take my tripod with me). I used my Canon 7D with the 400mm/5.6 L, 1/250 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 400.
Yesterday it was -28°C (-38°C with the wind chill factor), a good occasion to go to the St-Louis river in Beauharnois to photograph the Mallard Ducks that stays there all winter. At these temperatures it’s important to be well dressed if you want to stay warm and keep shooting, especially your hands, i did put hand warmers in my mitts to keep my fingers warm.
First, here is some photos of the river to show you the habitat:
Since it was very cold, there was a thick layer of fog over the river and it was difficult to get accurate focus on the Ducks.
I also found Cedar leaves in the snow in the forested area along the river, so I took close-up shots.
I was walking along the old Canal Soulanges in Pointe-des-Cascades before going to work to see if I could find something interesting. I did took some shots but was not really satisfied, as I walked back to my truck I finally “saw” a good shot while looking at the water. The reflection of the old Lighthouse and a tree on the water’s surface, as a bonus the light inside the lighthouse was in function. I tried different ISO and F/stop to obtain the shutter speed I needed to blur the slow flowing water of the Canal.
The shot was taken with my Canon 7D and 10-18mm STM at 18mm, ISO 250, 1 sec. at f/9.