Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘battery grip

Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X 535 PRO DX

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(Taken with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3)

My wife is keenly aware of my equipment wish list, and came home from work yesterday with several photographic goodies for me, including this fast telephoto from Tokina. My fast zoom kit is now complete, with three constant aperture lenses covering an 11-135mm (16.5-200mm full-frame equivalent) range.

What I love about my three-lens system is how compact the optics are compared to their full-frame counterparts. This 50-135mm f/2.8, for instance, is a lot smaller than I thought it would be at 5.32 inches in length, weighing 1.86 lbs. To get similar focal length coverage with a constant aperture on a full-frame Nikon camera, you’d need a lens like the $2400 Nikkor 70-200mm VRII, which is a whopping 8.1 inches long at a hefty 3.2 lbs. To me, this is a big advantage of the DX system: smaller, lighter optics that make for better mobility and portability. Not to mention affordability: I picked up all three of my third-party constant aperture zooms for less than the price of the new Nikkor 70-200 VRII alone (Tokina 11-16, Tamron 17-50 VC, Tokina 50-135).

I shot a bunch of images last night to make sure I had a good copy of the Tokina 50-135, and am astounded at the results so far. This is one sharp optic! It relies on my camera’s focus motor to drive focus, so it doesn’t focus as fast or as quiet as an AF-S lens. I find the focus motor in my D300s to be pretty fast, however, and had no problems tracking my dog around the house in low light.

(Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 at 85mm f/5 ISO400 1/60 Second)

Like my Tokina 11-16, this lens features very high quality construction, with a rugged all-metal casing and exceptional fit and finish. The zoom and focus rings are well-damped and move with buttery-smooth precision, and the included (but not removable) tripod collar is also a plus for me. What’s missing? VR and AF-S, but at the price I (er…the wife) paid, I think I can live without those features for now. I really hope Nikon releases some DX lenses in this range, but I’m not holding my breath!

There’s relatively little information on this Tokina on the internet incidentally, which I find strange since it’s so excellent. In fact, from the research I did before receiving it as a gift, it appears that Tokina discontinued this lens.

Update:

Want to see more images taken with the Tokina 50-135mm? Head on over to my Flickr page. I just got back from a trip to Japan, where I used this lens extensively. You can view my Japan set by clicking here. Enjoy!

The Grip!

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Nikon D300s + Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.4D at f/5.6, ISO200 1/200 Second, CLS triggered SB-900 camera left

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.4D at f/5.6, ISO200 1/200 Second, CLS triggered SB-900 camera left

Or as Joe McNally (my hero) would call it, “Da Grip.” One of the many things I learned from studying Joe’s work is a camera hand-holding technique that I’ve found to be very solid (above left). The shoulder makes a steady base for the camera to rest on top of and keeps the camera’s center of gravity close to the body. The left hand can brace the right hand for extra support, or can even roam free to hold an off camera speedlight. It’s a great technique if you want to get your flash off the hot shoe and create some directional light when you’re on the move, but there’s only one catch: you have to shoot left-eyed.

I’ve always naturally put my right eye up to the viewfinder, so it took some getting used to. But after forcing myself to use the technique for a while, using my left eye started to feel natural as well. The effort was worth it because once you lock the camera in the grip, you think “wow, this is rock-solid!” I’m pretty comfortable using either eye now. But one more thing is needed for this technique to work: a grip! What?

A battery grip, that is. Before very recently getting the MB-D10 battery grip for my D300s, I had trouble with “Da Grip.” Without it, the camera is not tall enough to rest on your shoulder and still get the viewfinder to your eye comfortably. The only solution is to raise your left shoulder, which makes it a less stable platform than when it’s relaxed.

I was hesitant about getting the MB-D10 for a while. It has, after all, turned my D300s into a giant, D3-sized monster. It’s also pretty expensive. But the added ergonomics, particularly when shooting in portrait orientation (above right), made it a worthwhile choice.

About the images above (a screen capture taken straight from Lightroom 3 Beta’s library module):

I took both of these shots in front of a mirror, which means I had to cover the pop-up flash in order to use it trigger the SB-900 I had off-camera, otherwise the commander pulse coming from the camera would have hit the glass and ruined the shot. So I used a hot shoe attachment that blocks the visible light coming from the pop-up but allows the infrared to pass right on through it, which the SB-900 can still see. It appears that some of the light bounced off of the back of this filter and hit me, however, heating up the right side of my face a little. I must say, the accessory looks a little goofy, especially in the image above right, where I look like some sort of weird cyborg.

So yesterday I had a day off (woohoo!). I spent the entire day with Suki and the camera (not the best combination if you want to concentrate on taking pictures), and we were all over the city! I look forward to uploading some images this weekend.

Written by Jonathan

December 4, 2009 at 10:54 am