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Friday, 30 November 2012


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You know, for just a couple thousand more dollars, 2+ stops less light, a couple extra pounds, and several months of patient waiting, you could get the recently announced Schneider 28mm f4.5 TS.

No more problems with the distortion correction panel. Plus, it'd be great weight-training. And tripod-training.

I like the color version of Lulu better (ok, kidding).

Sounds like you could use some kind of tilt shift, but I bet your software approach is easier.

My Mantra: It's a rare image that can't be improved by a little judcious cropping.

Didn't Roger Cicala at Lensrentals just have a lot of good things to say about the Sigma 35 mm f/1.4? Seems like it might be a reasonable choice if you didn't want to spend a bajillion dollars on the Nikon...

I see the D800 has a 1.2 crop mode in addition to a DX crop. A 1.2 with your 28 would get you 33.6 mm.

Why does the color of the siding change toward the top of the frame? Doesn't look like vignetting to me.

Oh, and by the way, it appears that your preference for B&W photos is more than offset by the paint on your house. ;-)

I believe I am in the silent minority: 28mm (in FF) is my favorite focal length. I love it; it's good for landscapes, it's good for people, it's good for "street". When I pick my camera, I take the 28mm (one of them) and then decide if I need more lenses for the outing. It really surprises me the apparent dislike that the majority of photographers have for that focal length.

I have too many 28mm lenses (mainly primes) yet I still long for the new Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS. If it were f/2 instead of f/2.8 I already would have bought it; being f/2.8 I am still debating.

Maybe I will follow TOP's chief's path and visit lensrentals for that little push that I need. But really, the last thing I need is another 28mm. Although with that IS and those MTF is still tempting...

Arsat makes a cheapish 35mm f/2.8 tilt-shift for Nikon. I know nothing about the quality, but that might solve both your problems at once.

Why crop? I think cropping is still bad. You can sort of always tell. Or at least, think you can.

It's like...why use a view camera? Because it leaves you with pretty much no options other than to take a picture. Thence: good pictures result. DSLRs already have way too many options. Being able to crop is just layering one more on top of all of them.

I'm surprised that you're not using the 1.2x crop mode. It shows up as crop lines in the viewfinder and makes your 28 into about a 35.

Mike, I have gone through the same process. I now use a 24mm and have been trying to learn to shoot with extra space to enable perspective correction. The thing one needs is a finder with the 35 mm portion outlined. I had a custom screen made with crop lines for my 5D2.

There are a couple of places that can do this for you online. I stayed with my 5D2 rather the the 5D3 because off the interchangeable screens. But I believe this can be done with non interchangeable screen cameras as well.

Distortion correction is a tricky thing especially coming from film where you expect 100% to be 100%. If you shoot JPEG, it is not a big deal and you pretty much deserve what you get for giving up the responsibility of interpreting the RAW image.
For me the big shock was giving up the interpretation of silver negatives and suddenly facing a literal color positive on the screen, where did the mystery go?
I use Lightroom for all of my RAW conversion and the Nikons (a D800E and a D3200 little buddy backup) are the only ones that I own that automatically show up in the distortion correction panel.
So with the Nikons I click to correct and it crops, no more 24mm but something else, at least I have the choice of click crop or not.
My Olympus and Panasonic cameras do not show up, so they do not get cropped or corrected post exposure. They have the correction baked in even with raw .
The Nikon allows you to bake it in the camera or not your choice.
That said I do not like the 2/3 format much prefer 4/3, wish the Nikon had an option for a 4/3 crop built in, don't like the 4/5 or the DX, 17x22 paper yields a beautiful 15x20 with that one inch border not so nice and neat at 3/2 format.
I have the 35 1.8 G DX lens for the D3200, works like a crazy beatnik on the D800E with FX, turn off auto detect, leave the distortion and your walking in Haight-Ashberry circa 1967.
Peace and love to you Mike for a speedy recovery.

It really doesn't matter (i.e. affect the point you're making) but the two pictures of the dog are from different originals - look at the tail(s) for example.

[Oops. You're right Jim. Fixed now. --Mike]

The one aspect of the d800 I'm finding hardest to get used to is that I can crop and still make a 16x20 with pixels to spare. So many years of having to shoot tight. The d800 is like walking around with a motorized speed graphic without the restrictions of super XX, a range finder that wasn't accurate after the camera was bumped, and of course, film holders. If I remember right the normal lens for a speed graphic was usually 135 rather than a more obvious 150 possibly for the same reason you like the 28 on your d800. With a 4x5 neg meant there was lots of information that could be cropped out without losing the resolution to make a good print.

Cool. I love how photography is this humble juxtaposition of the practical and the aesthetic all at once.

Rather than saying you are losing picture, admit you never had enough at the bottom originally. Before doing the distortion, copy the image and paste it to a larger background. With the picture on the upper layer, do the tilt correction. Flatten it. Then copy structure from both sides to fill in the missing bit at the bottom. On the left copy from above the traffic light and past it over the light, then crop along the left edge of the vertical wall. On the right side, copy the complete buttress and paste it over the far left side, then crop the right side along the buttress. Having done the tilt correction as a layer, you should have retained the complete blue sky above the roof line. For me, traffic lights and telephone pole with their wires, disfigure so many nice building photos. I like the tree branches spreading across the roof. I take it this was the feature that caught your eye.

When I shot film, I floated prints and dry mounted them under a mat overlay. So, I tried to get edges right from the start. But now in the digital realm I've learned to frame a bit wider since I now custom cut my window mat to overlap the print edges, using linen tape for mounting. This requires some extra room around the image borders.

In addition, now that digital editing is so easy, I no longer shoot with view cameras to fix converging verticals with buildings. Instead I can use my Leica M8.2, stand back and frame wider while holding the camera level, and crop later.

Unlike you, however, I generally stick with the 35 FOV, which on the cropped Leica requires use of my 28 (roughly 37mm FOV). It didn't take me long to adjust, but perhaps the Leica frame lines, which allow me to see outside the image edge, are useful in this regard.

I anticipate getting a 'full frame' (I hate that term) M at some point, and now that I've grown fond of my 28mm Leica lens, it will be interesting to see if I continue to use it or switch back to my 35.

Try the following exercise. Put a 20 or 21 on your D800. (Or the 21 summilux on a Leica...)

Now sometimes frame, and sometimes point. Sometimes just bang.

Edit heavily.

Very big file combined with quite wide lens allows for lots to be done "later".

If a 21 doesn't change your habit, try a 12/13/14 as appropriate for the camera...

Just a couple of thoughts on primes/zooms and the 28mm. I think Mike, that you're of an age when you were beginning to shoot, that Zooms weren't really a good alternative to primes. The first one I remember was a Nikkor 43-85mm or something in that range. I guess there were others--all very slow relative to the much faster primes and I recall with limited zoom range--2:1. None of the more common 3:1 or 4:1 fast ones today. As for the 28mm, I shot for so many years with Pentax and then FM2 bodies that I would carry 3 of them with 28mm, 50mm and 80-85mm lenses. I think many newspaper/documentary folks did similar things, varying the choice of lenses of course. Perhaps you have your own 28mm history as well. I only wish the bodies were lighter today for full frame digital.

"I only wish the bodies were lighter today for full frame digital."

I had lunch with a reader friend yesterday who brought a D600 along. I thought it was a really nice camera, and it's a very nice size and weight--really nothing you could reasonably complain about unless you need to carry the camera in a briefcase or purse. Check it out.


Yeah, I'm liking it too. Very versatile, as you say.


My first digital camera had a 4x3 aspect ratio. I did a LOT of shooting on that and cropping to the screen before I started printing any of it. Man was I upset that my perfectly composed 4x3 shots were unprintable on a 4x6 or 5x7 piece of paper. Like this one:


A 28mm is a good compromise lens. Back in the late Paleolithic, I used to shoot for a newspaper. In my exceptionally heavy Domke bag, I had 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 55mm 85mm 180mm and 300mm lenses -- plus 2 bodies and flashes and Quantum batteries and a kilo of film and.... you get the idea.

My chiropractor, whilst being happy that I was paying for the mortgage on his vacation home, suggested halve the weight of my bag.

So, I dumped the 20, 24 and 35 for a 28mm. It is wide enough to give good depth. but but doesn't distort too much -- especially for people pictures. I also kept the 85 and the 180 and bought a smaller bag.

My back felt better and I my pictures improved because I wasn't screwing around changing lenses -- and I could actually move around because back wasn't tied in knots.

As I became a better photographer, I because less gear obsessed. I could get a good shot using whatever I had.

BTW, I am glad to hear that you ER visit turned out okay.

Paul Crouse
Kyoto, Japan

Training yourself to do things is difficult, more difficult than having someone else train you. Try going out and only taking pictures for 2 or 3 days that are guaranteed to have perspective distortion. Don't take any other kind of picture. Limiting what you do to a narrow range is a little like what a trainer would force you to do, maybe. I'm just guessing here, but might be worth a try.

If you're planning to shoot more scenes requiring perspective corrections ask Santa for DxO's Viewpoint. It's a superb new tool for such chores, a step beyond the facilities in ACR and Lightroom.

In the days before zooms (in a land time forgot), I assumed that the 35mm focal length lens was the pressman's lens for the same cropping arguments. Even the most pissed photojournalist (as I said we're talking long ago) could get the subject somewhere in the frame with a 35mm lens, and it gave little distortion. With the final product a grainy B&W newsprint photo, quality was not much of an issue. I have nothing to support this thesis, but notably HCB used a 50mm. Also, I have never been able to get on with a 35mm, I'd even rather use a 24mm.

"I think Mike, that you're of an age when you were beginning to shoot, that Zooms weren't really a good alternative to primes."

Ya think? My first lens was this one:


A generous 16th birthday gift from my father. Although I think he bought it for me because he wanted one himself, and for most of my shooting I borrowed his primes if I could. Which included a 28mm f/1.8, come to think of it.


P.S. That lens weighed 39 ounces.

"I assumed that the 35mm focal length lens was the pressman's lens for the same cropping arguments. Even the most pissed photojournalist (as I said we're talking long ago) could get the subject somewhere in the frame with a 35mm lens, and it gave little distortion."

I remember reading a very old camera review--late '20s, early '30s--that referred to a 50mm lens as a "dramatic new wide angle lens." I'm paraphrasing, but not about the "wide angle" part.


Yeah, I really don't think like an art photographer when I'm taking pictures. I learned in college (when I was the main photographer for the alumni publications office) to frame loosely, and print full-frame (not filed out, just roughly) -- because the actual final work was the two-page spread, and my photo could be anything from all of it to 1 square inch of it, and what mattered most was how the spread as a whole looked. My photos were input to the page design process, not a work in their own right.

This attitude works well for event photos and such too -- even if I'm making the final decisions, being able to do so at leisure, rather than in a hurry, is good.

Except for the few devotees of the full-frame religion back in the 1970s (and that required ruining a negative carrier!), everybody shooting 35mm or 6x6 cropped. 35mm is 2:3, but 8x10 is 4:5; in general, below the view camera level, negative proportions didn't match print proportions. (Some people did cut paper down to print 6x6 square, though.)

This is one of the very few advantages of non 100% viewfinders (on a digital camera at least). Actually I got so used to getting more than the viewfinder could encompass, that when I finally got to a 100% viewfinder camera it took me some time to crop a bit looser, just in case I would need some extra space for editing reasons...

Wouldn't that be cool? A rangefinder like mode that would enable brightlines in the viewfinder and crop to the effective focal length?

It should be technically possible because they overlap a lcd already on the viewfinder on the D800, and it looks like it has enough pixels to burn ...


I think in your subconscience, you still want a leica with a 35mm Summicron, that's why you want to "see" wider, and put the frame where you wanty it.
However, by doing that, you are destroying the ultimate image quality of your shots. It is not, because the megapixels will not be enough, it is simply because the lens becomes a limiting factor more than you think. Just get a decent 35mm lens - I mean like the Distagon 35/2, and you will see why. It is not that image quality at these levels is so important, but then why lug around such a beast? You could do like Pinkhassov - get a pocketable camera, and get rid of the balast.

Isn't to be "loose" in photography just to relax and let your heart shoot away and turn off the analytical part of the brain? Give yourself a break, I doubt very much Pinkhassov suffers from the same anxiety as you.
Just be.
If the picture is good it won't matter one little bit if there's distortion or not.

[Anxiety? How do you get that? If there's anything I'm not anxious about, it's taking pictures. I'm if anything too relaxed and casual about it, I think. I'm just giving examples here. Don't read psychology into it. --Mike]

So, a looser-than-35, not a tight 35 exactly.

How about taking us back through why that sweet Pentax 21mm pancake (33-ish) was, I think you said, just a little too wide for comfort on your K-5? I'm just curious... since I find this ideal.

[As I pass 50 myself, I belatedly realise good health is something you do, not something you have - so, please keep well!]

That 28mm and 35mm lenses are different focal lengths hasn't been discussed here. I mean in terms of not just angle of view but in spatial depth. Perhaps the difference is too insignificant between the two but I always chose the 28 over 35 for that wider perspective across the piece.

Just to declare that I currently use a Fuji x100 with fixed 35 and haven't looked back. Dusty D80 anyone?

Norfolk, UK

Ps, Mike glad you're okay, take care, S

Perhaps you should ask Nikon to give you a custom function that masks the viewfinder but doesn't actually crop the recorded file (or crops only the JPG but not the RAW)? Should be an easy addition to the next firmware version if it doesn't already exist :).

Never cropping must be the most ridiculous affectation ever. Either you will (from time to time) be leaving stuff in the image that doesn't need to be there or you will be ignoring a good image just because the aspect ratio doesn't match the one that you shot. Sure, you might start to see the world in square format (for instance) and just know when you see a scene that will suit that format perfectly. But then a lot of good 4:5 or 3:2 pictures will pass you by because you refuse to see them. What a waste.

I just happen to think that the full frame color version totally kicks the cropped b&w in this case. The colors are awesome just by themselves and the blue of the wall being repeated in the line running to Lulu is just icing on top. Why don't you just try shooting wide and loose for a while but then not worry about cropping, correcting and all that?

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.

Mike, you referred to a 13x19 inch photo as being "smaller". That a 13x print is considered "small" doesn't jell within the grey matter wrinkles of my "healthy" brain. I guess I'm a dinosaur but I still think of an 8x10 inch print as being an "enlargement". When I printed in the darkroom, an 8x10 was standard and 11x14 inches was about as large as I would go. With digital, I've printed more 11x prints than 8x but I reserve the 13x printing for only a few pictures. I seldom see any photograph printed huge that looks as good as it does printed at a reasonable size, displayed well.

Robert Howell, I luv ya!

I used a 28mm Nikkor for a number years on one of two Nikkormats, the second with the excellent 105mm lens . Although I had a 35mm lens, it was not quite wide enough for those tight spots. The 24mm was a good lens but had too much perspective distortion, making people's heads near the edge of the frame egg-shaped. The 28mm was a good, inexpensive compromise. Shooting a lot of slide film at the time meant careful framing and attention to details. Nowadays, with digital cameras and great lenses, I defer most of my thinking to the computer knowing Photoshop can fix and enhance every image. The sad part is the joy of photography has gone and from time to time I pine for the 28mm, the Nikkormat and a roll of Kodachrome.

I like to frame as tight as I can in the camera because IMO when you crop you are leaving IQ on the table. Since I shoot in urban settings, keystoning is always an issue for me. (In film days I dealt with it by shooting with a PC-Nikkor, handheld, yet.) So I am training myself to anticipate the image loss that will result for PP keystone correction and frame the shot accordingly, but the skill is coming slowly. I guess I am encouraging you not to abandon your old shooting style, but just modify it for the digital technology. I believe the rigor of exact framing keeps your "seeing" sharp, and vice versa.

For examples of what can be done by cropping, take a look at the recent Pentti Sammallahti book. Most of the pictures seem to be cropped.

"How about taking us back through why that sweet Pentax 21mm pancake (33-ish) was, I think you said, just a little too wide for comfort on your K-5?"

Because I wasn't doing this then.


Always loved the 35mm lens because it was usually, at the dawn of time, the widest lens you could use and not get a bunch of distorted subjects, AND, it also seemed to match my own eye-sight for just looking at the field of something I was going to photograph. Rather have a 35mm and a 24mm than just a 28mm.

28mm for many years, was the most sold wide-angle lens. So the camera companies stats sort of dictate that this is what they'd be interested in making first in any new lens line. This would be an opportune time to remind people that, camera company advertising from the 60's and 70's notwithstanding, most professional photographers did NOT use 35! They used sheet film and 120. Period. The only professionals using 35mm were photojournalists and magazine shooters: the precise sub-group of professionals whose importance would most likely be blown out of proportion because they were constantly being touted in their own publications. There were exponentially far more wedding shooters grinding 120 out of Hasselblads and Rollei twin-lenses than any "pros" using 35mm at all.

Most 35mm users were amateurs and week-enders who were 'wowed' by the more pronounced wide-angle effects associated with the 28mm lens than the 35mm, and they liked the 'big' difference this lens made over the 50mm. But as professionals have said for years, shoot the scene, not the lens.

Most professionals regardless of camera used, do the majority of their work in the 35mm equivalent lens range of 35mm to 85mm (think Hasselblad 60mm to 150mm, or 4X5 approx 125mm to 240mm). I've always said, in modern digital parlance, I could do it mostly on a full frame digital that had a great 2.8 zoom in the 35mm to 85mm range. Beyond that, and usually for "effect" only; I could use a 500mm and a 20mm.

Now that most all camera manufacturing is driven by gross sales, most professionals are captive to the wants and needs of people who do NOT make their primary living in photography, so I can whistle up a tree all day waiting for the camera companies to make the lenses I want (APS-C, f/2.8 primes, in the 35mm and 85mm equivalents). In fact, I'm currently investigating the quality of the 4/3rds format, precisely because of the multiple format settings, and interest on single focal length lenses. And so far, I'm liking it...

BTW, did someone on here actually say "the limitations of Super XX"? Sad, sad....sniff...

"Never cropping must be the most ridiculous affectation ever."

That must be why Cartier-Bresson did it. He wanted to be ridiculous.


Yeah, shooting a bit loose, I hear you. I seem to shoot everything with a slight downward tilt to the right. No matter how hard I try to compensate by tilting up the other way...same slide to the right. Happy is the day when I look at an uncropped image in LR and see that I shot something level for a change.

Of course, Robert Frank never worried too much about keeping things level.

Dear Alan & Paul,

Alan meet Paul. Paul meet Alan.

Extremism in the pursuit of photographs **is** a vice.

pax / always-moderate(yah, sure) Ctein

David Dyer-Bennett said "Except for the few devotees of the full-frame religion back in the 1970s (and that required ruining a negative carrier!)...".

All I can say is that he obviously spent a lot of time back then looking in my kitchen (darkroom) window at night. He even got the part about me ruining a negative carrier right. Ah, those were the days.

These days I crop, often brutally.

"Alan meet Paul. Paul meet Alan."

Made me smile, too.


Whenever I leave with a camera and only one lens, that lens is a 28.

Ctein, what about extremism in pursuit of art?

Are you sure that, after dropping $3k on the body, that $700 vs. $1600 didn't have just the tiniest bit to do with going with 28 over 35? I sure know it would for me. ;-)

However, as a D300 shooter with thoughts of "someday" going to FX, that 28 appeals to me a lot, as does the new 85 f/1.8.

Dear DDB,

I'm one of those who filed out all his negative carriers, and even tapered, beveled and blackened the edges so they wouldn't cast shadows or reflections. It wasn't because I was a devotee of full frames; I don't think I've ever made a print in my life with a black border. It was because I didn't want the goddamn negative carrier deciding where the crop should be! And sometimes, whaddayaknow, there wasn't a crop and I really wanted to use 100% of the frame.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Recently I have decided to shoot square format again. Back when I shoot film (this seems a common phrase amongst your readers) I loved shooting squares with both a Yashica TLR and a Hasselblad 501C. I moved to digital and shot the 2:3 aspect ratio because I felt I couldn't afford to lose any pixels. However, now with 18 megapixels I can lose 6 and be ok, I don't print that big anyways. The most difficult part of the transition is shooting loose. Unlike 2:3 I am very exacting when it comes to composition with the square and not knowing exactly where it ends is frustrating. Although I'm getting better at estimating where those edges are going to be, I still sometimes keep switching the camera from landscape to portrait so get a better idea of where the cropping is going to happen.

On the other hand I've had a few pleasant surprises, where pictures worked better when using one of the far ends of the frame rather than the middle I had originally imagined.

It would have been much easier if you bought a Lecia M9 with a 35 mm lens instead- with the frame lines only accurate at 1 m focus your desired effect is automatic if generally unintentional...

Dear Mike,

I'm sorry, I misread your post.

Agree with Bear, Mike. Not sure why you didn't just buy a good M9 for $4K on the used market, rather than the Nikon.

p.s. HCB did crop when necessary. "Behind the Gare Saint- Lazare, 1932" is a famous example of rather heavy cropping.

"p.s. HCB did crop when necessary. "Behind the Gare Saint- Lazare, 1932" is a famous example of rather heavy cropping."

Yes, but it's "the exception that proves the rule."


Get a new focusing screen.

Now here's the hard part. Figure out how much room you want on the side, look at the focusing points or similar on the screen to get a good measure how where that is on the screen, left, right, top and bottom. Get a fine tip sharpie and a straight edge of some sort, draw the lines in. Compose to those lines.

Think of it like a rangefinder, a M6, you have a 28mm fov, and lines for your 35mm lens.

(I've had to do this repeatedly depending on my health insurance job of the moment so I remember to crop correctly. I like to fill the whole frame.)

I did the filed out negative carrier thing, but mainly because it let me have an actual edge to the picture if there was white sky/wall/seamless and could print all my photos the same size and never have to think about cropping. If I really needed to "crop" I'd just burn or dodge to pure black or white.

I'm also one of those people who has 6 copies of the same outfit so I don't have to decide what to wear in the morning for whatever that's worth.

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