Taking Fresh Stock

All images Nikon D800E Sigma 12-24mm zoom

One of the advantages of using all the cameras and lenses I have, is that when you look at a portfolio of my pictures on a stock photography web site, there is a wide variety of formats, shapes and overall 'looks'. There may be advantages to all your images looking similar in some kinds of photography (though off hand I can't think of any!) but its definitely a disadvantage for stock. 

A wide variety of subjects is obviously a good idea, and within that, a subject approached in a different way, with different lenses, different cameras etc. is also likely to help with sales. Yesterday with that in mind I went out with my Sigma 12-24mm on the D800E, to give a fresh look at a place I've visited and photographed many times.

The 12-24mm certainly has a unique way of representing the world, particularly at 12mm and the perspective it offers is one that I like. In the past I've always sold these lenses on. To be honest its often because the images it produces do need a lot of work. There's an awful lot in there most of all, and a lot of it has to be edited out. Then there are flares, and the lens is prone to CA and fringing when used at certain angles to the sun, so overall the images take me a while to get right. However, there is no denying that they look different and its always interesting to see an image that is impossible to see with the naked eye. 

I've also been working with two other combinations, both with the Fuji X-E1. There is good and bad news on these. The first is with my Nikon 55-200mm zoom, via a Kipon adapter.

The good news is that the quality is excellent, the bad news is that, hand held, its very difficult to focus the lens. This is because the movement when the zoom is extended makes 'seeing' the correct focus difficult and secondly the manual focus ring has very little travel and its very easy to go past the point of focus. I took a few pictures with this combination and several weren't in focus. So this is a combination I won't be using a lot except occasionally on a tripod.

The last combination is with my Nikon 35mm f/1.8 on the X-E1.

This was much easier to focus and the results were very high quality. The images were very sharp and I would think equally as good as the Fuji 35mm prime. However this focal length is duplicated by my 18-55mm Fuji zoom and the only reason to use it in preference to that is if I wanted a faster lens. 

So some different lens / camera combinations over the past few days. The Fuji / Nikon combinations won't get used a lot and my hopes for a light telephoto option with the 55-200mm didn't actually work in practice. There is the Fuji zoom apparently coming in May, but it is substantially heavier, so I was hoping that the Nikon alternative would work. However the difficulties of focusing it have made me virtually rule it out as an option. 

One other thing I should mention, is what do Fuji (and also Panasonic and Olympus) have against focus peaking? Do they actively want to discourage manual focusing? Because I can't think of any other reason why its not included. Its technology that has been around in video cameras for a long time and I can't imagine that its either difficult to include or particularly expensive, so why isn't it included in the Fuji X-series or m4/3 cameras? Fuji have some rangefinder like arrangement on the X100s, which since its a fixed lens camera with AF strikes me as somewhat superfluous. It would be really useful on the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 and its certainly something that people in the forums have been calling for, as indeed they have with m4/3 cameras. There is obviously some reluctance to include this and I'm not sure I have even a guess as to why its not there. It would make using MF lenses much easier. I live in hope.

Finally I processed these Fuji files using the latest official ACR in Photoshop CS6. 7.4. It is supposed to have marginally improved performace with Fuji X-Trans files and Dpreview described it as 'the differences are very subtle'. Well they are too subtle for me. Either my pixel-peeping skills are diminishing or there isn't any difference at all. If there is I can't see it. 

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