Tag Archives: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Latest Lovelies

I rarely capture photographs of the gear I use to capture photographs, but this year has seen some changes to my camera and lens rig.

These are two of my latest ‘lovelies’: a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM, which I purchased on 12/01/2017 to replace my long-serving Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM; and my much newer Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which I purchased on 23/06/2017.

Latest Lovelies

Latest Lovelies

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a substantial upgrade to my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, a 2008-vintage camera which I have been using since 2010. I will keep my 5D2, but the new 5D4 will be my main camera.

I am looking forward to taking advantage of the increased dynamic range and reduced high-ISO noise of this latest generation of full-frame Canon sensors.

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New NiSi Filters Ordered

Having recently replaced my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM with a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM, my Lee 100mm filter system was rendered obsolete.

Unfortunately, 100mm filters are not wide enough to work with the 14mm lens.  What I now need is 150mm filters, and I decided to invest in the NiSi 150mm filter system, which seems to be popular with landscape photographers.

Yesterday I ordered a filter holder specifically for my lens, a 150mm x 170mm 1.2 (four-stop) soft graduated neutral-density filter, a 150mm x 170mm 0.9 (three-stop) reverse graduated neutral-density filter, and a 150mm x 150mm 3.0 (ten-stop) neutral-density filter.

This lineup should nicely cover my needs.

Fortunately I was able to sell all of my other filters in one go (including some screw-on filters which were also surplus to my needs).

I am looking forward to picking up my new filters next week and putting them to use for some landscape photography and long-exposure cityscape photography.

Farewell, Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

Today I sold my Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens.

For a month or two, I had been thinking of offloading it, and once or twice previously, I had entertained the thought of selling it.

I was recently put into contact with someone who might be interested in it, and today the buyer collected it.

According to my lens utilisation statistics, it was my least used lens apart from my one-month-old Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM.

Looking at my images, I have only shot 10 images with it in the last five years. Two images per year is not much, and I only published a total of 36 images during the time I owned it.

I am just not a macro shooter at all, and I find macro photography too frustrating for my liking.

It is a stunning lens and is in near-mint condition, but it just is not the kind of lens I use much or really need (despite having owned it for over nine years), so it is better for it to be in the possession of someone who will exploit its capabilities.

I will use the money from its sale to fund my NiSi 150mm filter system.

My original intention was to replace the lens with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, but as nice as that lens is (I inspected one), it makes no sense at this point in time.

If I ever want a macro lens in the future, I’ll go and pick one up; but for now, the lack of a macro lens in my rig is not a hindrance.

With this most recent sale and last month’s replacement of my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM with a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM, that amounts to two lenses gone from my lineup in less than two months!

I have optimised my lens lineup in several ways, and I am content with what is now in my rig.

I would still like to replace my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM with a Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM, but for the foreseeable future, that notion will remain confined to the realm of wishful thinking.

New Lens: Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM

Today ushered in a new chapter in my photography, and simultaneously closed another.

A new lens joined its brethren here in my photography den; and an old friend parted ways.

Now, I am not one to buy gear very often.  My days of ‘Gear Acquisition Syndrome’ (GAS) are well and truly behind me; and I have settled on a photography rig which allows me to achieve what I want to achieve.

Being in a position whereby gear is not a limiting factor, is indeed a good position.  Sure, there is always something that would be nice to have; but something that is nice to have, as opposed to something that is necessary for my photographic objectives, is quite a different matter, particularly when it comes to spending money to placate a want rather than a need.

However, every now and then, a new piece of equipment joins my rig, often unexpectedly and rather suddenly.

Today, the spectacular Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens found its way into my rig under those very circumstances.

For some odd reason, I had read The Digital Picture‘s comprehensive review of this lens (amongst others) quite recently, and I had pondered, both recently and a number of times throughout the years, the possibility of replacing my beloved Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM with the wider, 14mm prime lens.

For years it was one of those “it would be nice…” scenarios, but today it became a reality.

At 4:16pm I declared that I was actually thinking about doing this.

At 5:33pm, l declared that I had actually done so.

I have never progressed from “I’m thinking about…” to “I just bought…” so rapidly.

The plan I had was to visit my main photographic supplier on my way elsewhere to see what kind of a deal I could get.  When I visit (which is maybe once every year or two), the guy there always recognises me, talks to me for a while, and gives me a good deal on anything I buy.

The visit was purely for research, but it went a bit further than that, as the lens was there (which I did not know before visiting), and the price was right.  I solved two ‘problems’ in one hit.

Firstly, he discounted the listed price of lens for me; and secondly, he gave me a good trade-in deal on my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM.

As the 14mm prime was intended to replace the zoom, I did not want to spend a significant amount up front and then need to sell my nine-year-old Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, which has recently been superseded by a Mark III version.  A trade-in was perfect.

The salesman was surprised at the remarkably good condition of my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, to which I responded by stating that I take good care of my gear.  Indeed, I do.

The combination of the initial discount and the trade-in value put the price firmly in the “I can do this right now” category rather than the “tempting, but I cannot justify the expense now” world of misery.

So, the deal was done.  My beloved Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens stayed in the shop, and a brand-new Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM departed with me.

I honestly did not plan any purchases this year at all, and while I periodically think about lenses and cameras I would like (there is always something), there is a massive difference between the wishful thought, and the cash-depleting reality.

So far, 2017 has started off quite nicely in the photography department, with two pleasing shoots having taken place.

Tonight, I had plans to expand upon that.  And now I was armed with a new lens and all the kid-in-a-candy-store excitement a new toy brings.

Some people’s photography becomes re-invigorated upon acquiring a new camera or lens; some people’s photography becomes re-invigorated as a result of shooting a pleasing image.  In my case, a combination of both scenarios was achieved tonight, and my initial impression of theCanon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM is that it is a brilliant lens.

I have shot extensively with my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens over the past nine years, and according to my lens utilisation statistics, it is my most frequently used lens.

However, I wanted an even wider lens for a more expansive view, and I also wanted to switch to a prime.  Most of my lenses are primes (now seven out of a total of eight), and even though the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM is a zoom, I rarely ever used its zoom capability, sticking fairly religiously to the 16mm setting, and at times forgetting that the lens’s focal length could be changed, which I realised after moving my tripod rig to a slightly different position.

So, now I have a new Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens which opens up new possibilities and has given me a psychological boost.  Additionally, I took it for a shoot only a few hours after purchasing it, and I landed a pleasing series of images (about which I will post separately).

I hope my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM finds its way into the home of someone who will love it as much as I did, and that it will bring years of rewarding images.

I look forward to getting back into photography, and a new lens may just help do that.

It’s Official: Kenya African Wildlife Photography Trip

A few months ago we booked another trip to Africa.

It’s been something we’ve wanted to do again since our first life-changing visit in October of 2012.

This time we are heading to the Maasai Mara region of Kenya, for some incredible wildlife encounters on an eight-day private photographic safari.

We are again going into the wilderness with our friend and guide Mario Moreno.

Also a few months ago, I bought 400mm f/2.8 lens for wildlife photography — actually, for this trip.  On the last trip, I took my 300/2.8, which was comfortably accommodated by my Lowepro Mini Trekker AW backpack.

Unfortunately, the 400/2.8 is a much larger lens, and the Mini Trekker AW cannot accommodate it.  Well, it can (barely), but there’s insufficient room for everything else I need.

In researching camera bags, I had two criteria:

  1. it had to accommodate the gear I need and want to take; and
  2. it had to be airline cabin-friendly.

I was pointed in the direction of the Lowepro Vertex 200 AW, and looked into this bag.  When I contacted Lowepro to enquire into whether it would accommodate a 400/2.8, I was told it would not.

Fortunately, that answer was wrong, as it very comfortably accommodates such a lens.

Today I headed into town with the lens and tried it out.  It was a perfect bag for my needs.

I brought it home and packed it with the gear I’m taking to Kenya:

  1. Canon EOS 5D Mark II;
  2. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM;
  3. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM;
  4. Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM;
  5. Canon Extender EF 1.4x II; and
  6. Canon Extender EF 2x II.

It all fits!

My 17″ MacBook Pro even fits into the laptop compartment, albeit somewhat snugly.  This means I will only need one bag, whereas last time I had a camera backpack and a laptop bag, which isn’t ideal when travelling internationally.

I am very pleased with the Lowepro Vertex 200 AW.  The build quality is excellent, as indeed it is with all Lowepro bags/cases I’ve owned; and the padding and straps in the waist area really make the fully-packed bag seem much lighter.

Here is a photo of the bag, packed with the bulk of the gear I’m taking to Kenya:

Lowepro Vertex 200 AW Packed for Africa

Lowepro Vertex 200 AW Packed for Africa

This bag will certainly make travelling internationally with bulky and heavy camera gear a much more pleasant experience.  It will also serve me well locally and on domestic trips, as since having the 400/2.8, I’ve not had a suitable method of carrying it.

I cannot wait for the Kenya trip, and to being in the wilderness for some incredible wildlife experiences.

New Camera Bag: Lowepro Nova 190 AW

After having ‘Lowepro bag for light travel’ on my list of things to buy for a year or two, today I finally purchased said camera bag.

Hitherto, my camera bag rig consisted of a Lowepro Mini Trekker AW and an often-used 12-year-old shoulder bag which needed replacement.  I also have a Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home (Canon EOS edition) which came with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, but it’s way too small to be practical, and being bright red, stands out from a thousand miles away.

The Mini Trekker AW is a fantastic backpack, and even accommodates my Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM along with camera, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and both the 1.4x and 2x tele-converters (even with smaller equipment, I can fit a lot into it), but I’m long past the point of wanting to carry a large-ish backpack around, and particularly when I travel (flying especially), I want a smaller shoulder-carry bag for my camera gear.  It was not unusual for my camera backpack to weigh 10kg when flying inter-state.

Today I brought home a new Lowepro Nova 190 AW.  Oddly enough, this was the bag I was considering the last time I looked into this issue and looked at bags.  I looked at the Lowepro Nova 200 AW, which is longer and deeper, but I found it to be too large, and in terms of size, it wasn’t a great deal different from my Mini Trekker, so I went back to the Nova 190 AW, which is more pleasant to carry around.

While the Nova 200 AW will hold more gear and would undoubtedly be a great bag, I wanted something smaller and less bulky.  The Nova 190 AW will easily hold the camera and three or four fast (ie, f/2 or faster) primes or two f/2.8 zooms.

Important to me was the bag’s ability to hold my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM.  The salesman in the store grabbed a 5D II and 70-200/2.8L (non-IS, but close enough in size), and the Nova 190 AW easily accommodated that rig, plus had plenty of room for another couple of decently sized primes or zooms.

For those unfamiliar with Lowepro nomenclature, AW designates ‘all-weather’, meaning the bag has an integrated rain cover.  As a seascaper, and one who tends to get rather wet, it’s important that my gear is protected, and the integrated rain cover will easily keep splashes and rain at bay.

I’ve just packed it, and it very nicely holds a good rig of equipment without being too heavy, or increasing in bulk due to the gear I’ve placed inside it.

At the moment, it contains my:

  1. Canon EOS 5D Mark II;
  2. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (including hood);
  3. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM (including hood);
  4. Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote Controller;
  5. Lee filter wallet containing GND4, GND8 and two ND8s;
  6. Lee filter holder and 82mm adapter ring;
  7. Hoya 82mm circular polarising filter;
  8. Hoya HMC 82mm ND8 filter;
  9. hotshoe-mounted spirit level;
  10. spare SanDisk Extreme III 4GB CompactFlash card;
  11. Princeton Tec FUEL headlamp + spare batteries;
  12. Lenspen;
  13. neoprene lens cleaning cloth;
  14. plastic bags and ziplock bags; and
  15. business cards.

Quite a lot of gear!

All in all, I am very happy with this bag, and I will keep it packed as above for the most part, as it contains my seascaping rig, plus my 85/1.2L II, which I don’t normally carry on ‘scape shoots, but which will give me extra reach when needed.  I can easily swap that for my Canon EOS 135mm f/2L USM if I want even more reach.

It’s just as easy to swap out some gear for a bag of fast primes and flashes.  It’s very versatile, holding a decent rig of equipment without being bulky or too heavy, and when it comes to flying, it consumes a lot less room in the overhead luggage compartments, or could just as easily sit under the seat in front of me.

My Lee filter wallet and the case for the filter holder both consume considerable space.  If I needed more room or wanted to take a 70-200/2.8 as well as my 16-35/2.8L II, I could find an alternative way of transporting the filters, as they are flat sheets of resin, measuring 6×4″ at the most, and could be stacked together with tissue paper separating them, and a ziplock bag containing the lot.

The Nova 190 AW offers plenty of options for configurability and holds a surprisingly large amount of equipment for its size.

It was definitely a good purchase; all I need to do now is head out for a shoot.  With my state of mind over the past three or four months, that’s proven to be more challenging than finding a suitable camera bag!

Kiama Dawn of Death

On 16/05/2010 my photography mate Peter and I headed down to Kiama for some dawn seascape photography.

Beyond the famous Kiama blow hole is a basalt rock headland extending a fair way out and affording some spectacular views from a reasonably high distance from the water.

The conditions that morning were somewhat deceptive.

That weekend, the swell had been quite large, and it had been reported on the news the previous day that teen solo sailor Jessica Watson had returned to Sydney in big seas.  Her little boat was being thrown around even in calmer waters.

On the morning of our shoot, the tide was nearly in.  The swell was a good three metres by my very rough estimate.

I photographed this image from the headland past the blow hole:

Kiama Dawn of Death

Kiama Dawn of Death

It was mere moments after the capture of this image that a very large wave pounded the side of the cliff below and sent a positively huge surge of water up and completely over me.

At the time of impact I was changing a filter, and the ocean was in my sights.  All of a sudden, I saw what was coming, and within seconds I recall a wall of water descending upon me from a great height, almost as if I had stood under a waterfall.  The force of the water was so strong that it nearly knocked me over.

The filter went flying, and both me and my camera rig got completely drenched.  There wasn’t a dry inch on me, and I was stunned by what had just happened.

I was completely caught out by the ocean, and it was an exercise that essentially cost me $4,000 in destroyed equipment, and could have cost me a whole lot more than money.

I earlier said that the conditions were deceptive.  We had been shooting on that cliff for a while, and had seen the ocean and the sets of waves rolling in.  In my image, a look at the rocks on which I was standing shows that there had been no recent contact with water.  We were reasonably high up from the water (10-15 metres by my estimate), so the conditions, despite the large swell and near-full tide, seemed safe.  I spend a lot of time by the ocean, and I certainly didn’t feel I was taking a risk being where I was at that moment.

I sure got it terribly wrong!

I think I was hit by what people call a “rogue wave”.  The ocean’s waves have typical cycles, with a larger set of waves coming in every so often.  Every 30-40 minutes or so, there can be a much larger wave.  Possibly a combination of a reasonably large wave and a faster-moving large wave converged and produced the “rogue” wave which hit me.  My recollection was that I was not directly hit by the wave; rather that the cliff face sustained the impact and what hit me was the splash.  Certainly it had a lot of force, as it nearly threw me off balance.

Such is the power of the ocean, and every now and then it decides to show us humans how small we really are.  Peter was quite lucky, as he was also on the cliff, but was around 10-15 metres back from where I was standing.  He was going to head over to where I was; what great fortune that he didn’t!

After the incident, I decided to get the hell out of there.  The gravity of the situation didn’t really dawn on me (pardon the pun) at first, and my concern was for my gear rather than the fact that I could have been swept off the cliff and down into the tumultuous conditions below, where being pounded against sharp rocks by a large swell was a very real possibility.

Within a short period of time, I knew my camera was written off, and my iPhone, which was on my belt and obscured by the jumper I was wearing, was also written off.  Miraculously my lens survived, and I also found my neutral-density filter which had gone flying out of my hands when I was struck.  It was on the rocks in the receding water a short distance away.

I was cold, wet, tired, shocked, and had a 90-minute drive home knowing that I would be up for around $4,000 to replace my dead camera and phone.

To give you an idea of the conditions that existed that day, here is another image taken earlier, looking out past the location at which I was standing when I was hit.

Illawarra Fury

Illawarra Fury

To give a sense of scale and location, the place where I was located when I was hit was just behind the part of the cliff on the left side of the frame, much closer to the splashing water than the edge of the image.

By my estimate, the height of the rocks on the left from which the which the water cascades, is a good four metres.

That small, vertical protrusion from the distance cliff, silhouetted against the clouds, is a beacon, about the height of a human, if not taller.  It’s been years since I’ve been out there, so I’m only going by memory.  Suffice it to say, the splashes from the ocean were large!

It was quite a dramatic morning that could have been a whole lot worse.

Fatalities:

  1. Canon EOS 5D
  2. Apple iPhone 3GS 32GB

Survivors:

  1. Me
  2. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
  3. Lee filters and filter holder
  4. Flash card with images to tell the story

I came out on top after all, but it forced some thinking, and I was inspired to write an article on tips for safe seascape photography.

Hopefully my experience will also be beneficial to the people who read about it, and will remind them that the ocean is very big, and we humans are very small.