Stratford upon Avon with Canon 5D Mk2

Thursday, 12 February 2009

A Stock trip to Stratford upon Avon with the Canon 5D Mk2, Sigma 12-24mm (Nikon Fit), Nikon 50mm f/1.2, and AF 85mm f/1.8 lenses with adaptors.

The purposes of this trip were:- To use a rare sunny day to get some stock images and to see how the 12-24 Sigma zoom worked on the Canon. I’d found a way to change the aperture on the lens, since it has no aperture ring. I won’t go into details save to mention that it involved a small piece of cardboard!!!

At this present time, with the rebuilding of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, the centre of Stratford upon Avon is a mess. God knows what all the tourists who come from all over the world think of it !

Still I got a useful picture of a crane with the 12-24. Also got some moody images of Holy Trinity church and the River Avon with some misty backlight.

The Sigma 12-24 zoom.

In many ways this is a remarkable lens. Its sheer scope is mind-boggling for someone brought up on film and medium-format. It would have been unthinkable some years ago, and the fact that it has virtually no barrel distortion if held straight & also virtually no CA makes it a remarkable piece of lens engineering. Its also light and offers the widest (non-fisheye) angle of view for any DSLR lens. (With full-frame) I’ve used one of these on a Kodak SLR/n, A Canon 5D, and 1DS Mk2 and the images it produces are always attention-grabbing.

The problem has always been the softness at the edges. A someone once commented “It is trying to take photographs sideways!!” so there are problems. However Nikon seemed to have solved that with the 14-24mm f/2.8 zoom. A wonderful lens but one that I can’t really consider because of the weight. My back is bad enough already without carting one of these around. Most of my travel/landscape work involves walking long distances, and often climbing hills and mountains so its out of the question.

The Sigma covers the same focal length and more but is nowhere near as sharp or even across the frame. To a certain extent extent the sharpness can be compensated for in Photoshop but the edges are distinctly soft unless f/11 or f/16 are used and even then they are not great. However it has produced many of my best selling images, because of the incredible angle of view, so I have persevered with them.

I have a Zeiss 18mm MF lens which is a lot better, though not perfect by any means, being noticeably softer at the edges. However since these edges are probably as sharp as the Sigma in the centre it is a superior lens.

But 18mm is not 12mm and that difference is everything in the world of ultra wide-angles. In odd moments I think that the Sigma has to go & I will get a 14-24, but then sense and a concern over my long term health prevails and I decide against it.

Despite all my reservations a Sigma 12-24 has been in my bag for 4 years now & will probably remain there.

Where it does come into its own is for property shoots. It is possible to shoot very small rooms with this lens and for that reason alone will probably be spared the ebay fate.

The Nikon 85mm f/1.8 performed extremely well. This is a wonderful lens. For something of this weight and price its an absolute gem.