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Member Since 19 Dec 2015
Offline Last Active Jan 06 2022 01:29 AM

#48573 Norway in July

Posted by banffdude on 18 May 2017 - 01:53 PM

Ok cheating a bit here a little IR to help pass the time



Flor & Fjære Stavanger

Attached Thumbnails

  • Stavanger Gardens.jpg

#48571 Help with Sigma Dock for my 7200

Posted by banffdude on 18 May 2017 - 01:37 PM

Hi and Welcome


I'll try not to turn this into a wall of text or an epic tale in line with The lord of the Rings, but I make no promises :)


My previous camera was a D90 (converted to IR) and I also upgraded to a D7200 a little over a year ago and it is a great camera, especially for the price.


At the start of the year I also purchased the Sigma 18-35 art Plus the USB dock.


Obviously, you have done some reading, as you are under the impression that you HAVE to fine tune the lens with the dock, let me put this right, if you have a good copy of the lens there is no need.

That lens when it is right is unbelievable sharp and I love it.


The Dock is there for when focus maybe is a little out, and the only way to test is to take test shots at different ranges and focal lengths all at f1.8 and view the sharpness.

If it is a little out for your taste or a lot out, and believe me , there is not a lot of DOF at 1.8 you can plug the lens into the dock open the software and adjust the calibration at set focal lengths and focal distance (this requires a lot a patience and test shots).

The idea is that not only will you adjust the focus for those lengths but the curve generated will fill in the gaps and it will generate sharp focus across the board.


Well to be honest, I believe the dock probably does a fantastic job on a prime lens, but on zooms, in my experience the results are unpredictable with razor sharpness at 20mm and out of focus at infinity (but please bear in mind, that I  am not an expert in this field and I may have been doing something unbelievable stupid).


As you can tell, I did have focus issues and spent a lot of hours taking test shots and using the dock and I could not get a consistent focus.

In the end I spoke to Sigma UK who were great , and sent the lens and camera back to them , which they then recalibrated lens to body, and after getting it back I can only say I love the sharpness they got out of it.


However, in fairness to Sigma, I must point out , that at the end of the day there may not have been an issue with the lens after all. I recently purchased the Nikon 200-500 5.6 (my most expensive lens purchase ever) and had focus issues. It resulted in my sending both the camera and lens back to Nikon under warranty for repair, where they found (yes you guessed it) the camera AF was not standard.


I now have the camera and lens back and the images are waaaay better and sharp, but as yet due to work constraints, I have not had a chance to test the 18-35 which I strongly suspect will now need to be recalibrated by Sigma with an apology from me for wasting their time and offering to pay for the work :(


I should now stop waffling and give it to you straight, the 18-35 is a superb lens and I truly love it, and it has opened my eyes to the quality of the Art lenses with my contemplating  getting both the new 14mm 1.8 when it is released for Astro and the 85 mm 1.4.


The only thing is , in my opininion, there is no need to get the USB dock unless you are going to go with primes in the future as, if there is a problem with the 18-35 from new, I would just send it into Sigma under warranty for calibration, just be sure that it is the lens and not your camera.


If you are going to be buying more SIgma Art lenses, then it may well be worth it, from my point of view, I have no regrets buying the USB dock as a) it is not expensive and B) there are at least two Art primes I am looking to purchase, the quality is that good.


And do I love my 18-35? YES, I just wish it could have been 14-50 but I'm not sure if that is possible or if I would be able to lift it :)


Hope this helped


'And he lived happily to the end of his days'

#39393 Song Title Game

Posted by banffdude on 05 June 2016 - 03:41 PM

Go Wild in the country


Bow Wow Wow

#39288 Song Title Game

Posted by banffdude on 01 June 2016 - 04:15 PM

You took the words right out of my mouth (hot summer night)




P.S. Excellent call on Breaking Glass, superb album.

#39199 Song Title Game

Posted by banffdude on 30 May 2016 - 04:01 PM

Thanks for that Merco, opportunity for one of my favourite singers


The night they drove old Dixie down


Joan Baez

#39198 Macro - why oh why did I do it!

Posted by banffdude on 30 May 2016 - 03:56 PM

Banffdude ... good to meet another Albertan (?) in here but, if you are in the Scottish Banff, just as good ;-)


Anyway, at my web site I have prepared a page summarizing methods I use to get very nice macro shots:




You might find something useful in there.


Macro photography is difficult owing primarily to the almost non-existent depth of field. There are ways around this (as described in the article) or through proper selection of what's important and optimizing focus for that, you can draw attention away from out-of-focus parts of the subect or even make of them a virtue.


Best wishes,





I'm afraid I'm not an Albertan or a Scottish Banffer (though I wish I was the former)


I spent 6 months in Banff in 04/05 for the Ski season and then back again in 08/09 for a month (CSIA exams)


It's the place I'd most like to be on the planet, unfortunately, there's not a lot of call for my line of work in Banff and the tourism rates of pay aren't great.


However, I like to get back when I can, hence I'm back again this Christmas for 3 weeks :) and boy am I looking forward to skiing Lake Louise once again, I've even just purchased my 16/17 season pass to take advantage of the early season price.


Thanks for the link, it all helps to try to get to grips with macro a dark and dangerous art in my opinion ;)


Better practice my Canadian, everything is always Awesome!

#39196 Macro 2 The Wrath of Jim

Posted by banffdude on 30 May 2016 - 03:46 PM

Hi all


Following on from the helpful advice from members last week, I again went out into the wilds of Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire to see if I could put into practice those things discussed.


Well, it's still as hard as ever chasing Live bugs and my patience is still not the greatest, however, I think there was definitely some improvement, though the keeper rate is as sucky as ever, though that is to be expected.


I'd appreciate it if you would take a little time to take a look at my latest efforts and give your feedback, especially, on any ways to improve post processing which is a major week point for me.


In this instance, I have kept it simple so all hints and tips are welcome, including feedback on what you do or don't like.


The following link takes you straight to a Flickr album just containing the images concerned.







#39125 Over exposed in Auto mode

Posted by banffdude on 27 May 2016 - 03:43 PM

Hmm I just found this.


As I never use full auto but generally Aperture priority so hadn't realised the following.


It appears the flash popping up may well be normal when using Auto mode. If anyone has access to a D5000 it would be nice to check and confirm the statement below.


'The camera's built in flash pops up automatically and fires whenever you snap a photograph, even in places (like a football-arena) where the subject is very far away and the flash is useless. This rule is in place to make sure you use flash in dark light. However, it only happens when the camera is in one of the point & shoot exposure modes. To override this behaviour, select one of these exposure modes: Manual (M), Aperture priority (A), Shutter priority (S) or Programmed auto (P).'

#39056 Macro - why oh why did I do it!

Posted by banffdude on 24 May 2016 - 12:24 AM

Hi Esrandall


thanks for the feedback.


I like your idea of moving the Dandelion to one side, it's all to easy to get carried away in the moment and grab the photo, this is that patience thing that I really need to work on ;)


I also agree on your statement about the composition being more of a close up shot, again, I think on day one with the shiny new lens I just went 'Snap happy' as I wanted to see how it all worked and how close I could get.

Next time out, I will be thinking a little more about what I am doing, however, that has to be cross referenced against how much time I have, because these bugs for some selfish reason won't co-operate with me and insist on moving just at the wrong moment.


The one I was least happy with was obviously the moving bee, blurred wings etc. That was taken in flight and I completely agree higher ISO and a burst should help freeze them. However, would your recommend autofocus for that? I found manual focus whilst trying to track a fast moving insect was a nightmare,


Thanks again for the comments, they have been most helpful.


I now completely, understand the comments above about the keeper ratio being in the region of 1 in 30! :D

#39042 Focal lengths

Posted by banffdude on 23 May 2016 - 12:35 PM

Looks like you got lots of answers (this one comes up quite a lot). :D


However, this may help you get your head around it a little better.




this little link, allows you to see the different fields of view when mixing and matching FX and DX lenses and bodies


I found it very helpful to have an idea of what to expect from any given lens on my camera.


Hope it helps

#39026 Macro - why oh why did I do it!

Posted by banffdude on 23 May 2016 - 12:36 AM

Hi Esrandall


Thanks for the confirmation that the lens was heavy, I was starting to think that I was becoming a wuss ;)


It is a marvelous lens and it is without a doubt my favourite, but boy do you notice the weight of it.


The best of the images are below, if anyone would care to comment or make suggestions)


From my own point of view I could have arranged composition better, the bee has some sort of reflection on its back (probably the lens) and I wish I'd tried another angle.


The red bug ,that was the best I could get as he kept moving, so an increase in shutter speed along with flash may help.


The Dandelion, any help here would be appreciated as I can never seem to get a good image of these, though in this instance I think composition and increased shutter speed would have helped as it is fuzzy on the extremes.


Any suggestions for post processing would be helpful as it is an area that I don't use much, these all had very minor sharpening from jpeg and minor tweaking.





Attached Thumbnails

  • Bee.jpg
  • Dandelion Clock.jpg
  • Red Bug.jpg
  • Striped bug.jpg

#39003 Macro - why oh why did I do it!

Posted by banffdude on 22 May 2016 - 10:09 AM

It's funny you should ask about knowing a location.


There is a place that I was going to head out to soon, it's an old Victorian mansion complete with a walled flower garden and they keep bees there too.


If it's a sunny day, the whole place is buzzing with bees, dragonflies (though they are a bit to fast for me at present), butterflies, all sorts of things.


However, it's another month until everything starts to bloom at which point I will spend the day there, hopefully a little wiser on the macro front.


As you say, I could set up a tripod, however, I am wondering if a monopod may work a little better though I may still have focus issues due to having to depress the shutter,  as I have  found, even the slightest movement at macro level can ruin a shot.


A Tripod may be better in that environment as I could use the shutter release cable and stake out a spot I think will be visited a lot.


I guess I'd better get some practice in beforehand.


As for the keeper rate on that last outing, I'll be honest I'm not sure any of them could be classified as a real keeper, top 5 for the day is probably the best I can say. But they at least weren't truly terrible.


I may look at them in the future and think 'Keeper? what was i thinking' lol

#38999 Macro - why oh why did I do it!

Posted by banffdude on 22 May 2016 - 08:32 AM



Thanks for that, I hadn't dreamed of pushing the ISO to 4000, but that's pretty impressive.


It's nice to know how far you can possibly dial it up.

#38996 Macro - why oh why did I do it!

Posted by banffdude on 22 May 2016 - 08:01 AM

Thanks for the info on the SG-31R, this is a piece of kit I didn't know existed.


I've just done a very quick read up on HSS and it appears that I have opened up another can of worms lol


Not only is Macro hard work but it looks as if I should get myself updated on using speedlights, something I have avoided too date lol.

#38990 Macro - why oh why did I do it!

Posted by banffdude on 22 May 2016 - 06:25 AM

Hi all


I think the title says it all really ;)


I have long admired some of the fantastic images of bugs and flowers that people have been producing in the area of Macro photography.


I knew I couldn't get such images myself with the 18-105 kit lens or the 18-300 as they couldn't focus close enough.


So, armed with this knowledge and some money in my pocket, I set forth to the shopping mall and purchased a shiny new Sigma 150mm 2.8 macro lens, I mean that's all you need to take such wonderful macro images right?


Oh boy, was I wrong! My apologies to all those who are good at this, you have obviously spent a lot of time developing the skills to do it, and I seriously did not appreciate this beforehand.


I have spent one day out with the lens, bug hunting in the wild and it has been a painful lesson, after clicking 60 or so images I got 5 that I could just about keep, and to be honest, I'm not really happy with them either ;) .


So what did I learn?


1. Moving bugs are a nightmare, the speed and random directions of travel are enough to make you scream.


2. Depth of field, oh my god, how do you ever get a whole bug in focus, it's always parts razor sharp others completely blurred, this is stopped down to f16 / f22


3. Depth of field again, the lens is heavy (1.5k) for hand holding with razor thin depth of field, my BREATHING alters the focus on a second by second focus.


4. You need lots of light, those critters move, I need a minimum of 1/250 due to the focal length of the lens alone, but being stopped down I don't know if its out of focus because of me, the critter moving or the damned wind!! (the merest breeze can create mayhem).


5. Manual focus only, auto just doesn't cut it , jury is still out on whether the OS should be on or off due to the reasons above. So far I've been shooting without it.


6.Tripod use, just too clumsy in the field, I ended up using it more like a monopod when chasing bugs.


7. Composition.

    you do have to pay attention to this from day one, I didn't, and the results showed, I got too keen on chasing the photo and didn't think about the setting.


8. Patience, patience and yet more patience (definitely need to work on this)


9. if the object can't move, it's better but boring



After all the above I also managed to learn 2 further things


1. Even with all the trials and tribulations of my first day of Macro photography, I thoroughly enjoyed the day, infuriating as it could be, I can only get better.


2. I need advise from those who do this well. :D



So, I would really appreciate it if any of you who are good at macro wouldn't mind sharing a few tips.


After my debacle, I'm happy to accept any words of wisdom out there, especially, on lighting, depth of field, focus and speed  lol


However, this isn't just about my attempts, if anyone else out there wants to share their experiences good or bad please do, as they say 'Misery loves company' :D


BTW, if anyone wants to see the best of the bunch and would care to critique / make suggestions please do, you can find the images here.


I won't be offended as tbh, the day did not go well even for a first attempt lol