[Con't. from the last post]
...So anyway, speaking of my abnormal fondness for primes over zooms and my healthy but not norm...er, average brain, I think I owe some of you an explanation. Or at least that small subset of you who might be curious. If you're not one of those, you have my permission to skip this.
You might have noticed that I've been gassing on since forever about liking 35mm lenses, yet I bought a 28mm for my latest camera.
Here's the reason.
'Kay. You start out with the 24x36mm sensor and 36 million pixels. The D800 has a "DX Mode," meaning you can set the sensor manually to capture FX (full frame) or DX (APS-C), or you can set it to auto-detect and it will switch to DX mode when you mount a DX lens. In DX mode, the 28mm ƒ/1.8G is a 42mm-equivalent lens. And on the D800, even in DX mode you still have 15MP. Which is plenty for smaller prints—say on 13x19" paper. Which is all I'm planning to make.
Meaning, if I shoot with a 28mm and crop substantially, but not all the way to DX, somewhere in there is the same angle of view as a 35mm lens. Example:
I suspect I've cropped this one in even a little past 35mm field-of-view (FoV).
For many years, I printed 35mm "full frame," all the way out to the film edge. (That's what "full frame" used to mean, by the way.) That's why I disliked 93% finders in SLRs...those supposedly showed you the same amount of the picture as a mounted slide, but for full-frame B&W prints what it meant was that there were sometimes surprises on the negative, things you didn't see in the viewfinder when you took the shot.
That's why I liked 100% finders, or as close as I could get.
So for years I learned to frame very tightly and very precisely, to the point that I do it without thinking now.
What I'm trying to do at the moment is trying to retrain myself, to shoot looser, and leave some air around the edges, so I have room to crop later.
Which brings up the question, why not just get a 35mm lens and continue to frame tightly? Well, it's what I've been doing up till now. It's very natural to me and I'm happy with it. But here's why (I know some of you don't need this explained. I'm explaining this in a bit more detail for the benefit of those who might not know it all yet):
This is the distortion correction panel in ACR. Your chosen Editor might look different, but I suspect you have the same controls. And of course when you correct perspective distortion in software, you lose some of the picture...
Note what's going on at the bottom of the frame; when you re-crop to a rectangle, you're going to lose a fair amount on the sides of the picture.
Hence, the need to back off, shoot looser, and leave more air. In the old days, I couldn't crop (that is, if I wanted to print full frame, to the blackline). Now, I have to crop—sometimes (when I want to use distortion correction in post). Can I re-learn to shoot differently? I don't know.
Old dogs, etc.
The problem is that when I put the 28mm on the camera, I do exactly what I've always done: frame tightly, all the way out to the edges. Only with a somewhat wider FoV.
So far, I remember to step back and leave cropping room sometimes; but old habits are hard to break, and I'd say that at best I've been able to remember to "shoot looser" about half the time. So far.
Anyway, this is just an experiment. I'm just going to try it for a while, and see how it goes. (I do that a lot, obviously. Always setting myself little "exercises.") Maybe I'll go back to a 35mm and framing tightly, I don't know.
Anyway, that's the reason "why the 28mm."
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Auntipode: "You decided to shoot with a 28mm and crop in post process rather than tightly frame in camera with a 35mm...therefore you needed your head examined? :-) "
Jonas: "Doesn't the D800 also have a 1.2x mode, 25 Mpix? That brings you to 34mm-e or so."
Mike replies: It does, but that doesn't help. The crop modes actually crop what's recorded, and what I need is the opposite—a bit of excess area in the image.
I actually have no trouble doing it—when I remember to do it. It's just remembering that's tough.
Robert Howell: "Jayzuz Mike, give yerseff a brekk. Complicated ain't nississarally butter. Do'ou have a cell phone handy? A snap shoota'? Take it down a notch or two. Hearts only last so long eh fella? The light will always be there. Sleep Data, sleep. Go to Paris."
Mike replies: You misspelled...oh, never mind.
Joe: "I've been going through the same process, also with the D800. But I don't do much perspective correction. Instead, I had begun to believe that I shoot too tight in general. I started to look at the images I was bringing home and wishing I could step back a few paces.
"Back when I started shooting digital and had all those free shutter releases to play with, I always shot wide and cropped. But over time as I tried to print larger and larger, I began to regret losing all those pixels, and I eventually got to the point where I framed everything exactly as I wanted it in the final image. I conserved pixels as if they cost money. I never cropped.
"But lately I've decided that I should begin to emulate some favorite photographers who love lots of space around their subjects, and I've been training myself to shoot much wider. And because it's with a D800, I feel much freer to do some cropping when necessary. It's both unsettling and thrilling to shoot in a way that your gut tells you is wrong.
"It's all about training your eye to do these things without thinking, to get to the point where your gut tells you it's right, and I'm starting to get there. I still hesitate to crop in post-production—some part of me is still imagining a 40-inch wide print and how much I'll regret losing those pixels. But I've started to change the way I think.
"It's quite gratifying."
Dogman (partial comment): "When I first started shooting, back in the Jurassic Age, the 35mm frame drove me nuts. Color snapshots coming back from the processor left stuff out of the edges of the picture, slide mounts cropped out part of the photo and I had to file out the negative carrier to get the edges of the frame when I printed my black and whites photos in the darkroom. I was using Nikon F cameras with 100% viewfinders. This all changed whenever I bought a Leica rangefinder and the bright lines were only a best guess of what would actually be in the final photograph. I learned to shoot much looser and crop as necessary in the darkroom. It was a bit liberating to know your composition didn't solely depend on the instant, that your framing could be contemplated and refined later on."