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Saturday, 26 October 2013


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I must admit, I somehow felt the odd one out as I read your post and the comments. I've never transitioned from the standard normal 50mm focal length in 35mm and all the other formats in both film and digital I own. Although I do enjoy the 40mm focal length I've got with my Panasonic GX1 and the marvelous 20mm pancake lens. Maybe it's time I tried something else? But my eye is so accustomed to the 50mm view I see it so well, I don't even have to lift the camera to my eye.

Like humans, chimps dissemble and plot for the overthrow of the boss.

It seems to me the further one gets from humans, the better things become.

When a bee does its waggle dance and says it's found a great source of nectar in such and such a place, none of the other bees think 'What's his game, what plot is he hatching?'

"How else would we be able to squabble endlessly over sharpness? Chimps can't do that."

But they are very good at appreciating very recent photos, on the rear camera screen. : ] Or do I mean, (:@

Your second paragraph couldn’t be better expressed.

I’d encourage everyone to find both their voice and a set of tools they’re comfortable with. You’ll have a more rewarding photographic experience and we’ll have a more diverse world of work to enjoy. That’s a win for everyone!

With that, this lover of wide-angle zooms will sign off…

"By the way, does anyone happen to know where I can find some technical background on the focusing mechanism Sigma's using in this lens?"

Mike, the one person I'd think to check with first is Roger Cicala at lensrentals.com

The Sigmas use a voice coil to position the lens focusing group.

probably something like this

or this

I'm no anthropologist or zoologist, but I'm 85% confident that chimps are a subset of apes, not a subset of monkeys.

Richard's quote reminded me of one attributed to Albert Einstein* in which it was related that he called photographers licht affen. [In English that translates into light monkeys.]

*Not sure all these quotes or words of wisdom from Mr. Einstein were actually said by him, but I"m sure you know how that goes.

I find it interesting that you need a short adjustment time when picking up the 60mm.

I have that feeling too; and on µ-4/3 it gives me a more narrow field-of-view.

But it is worth it, as it is a very nice lens.

The most significant change that seperated http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hominidae>hominins ("humans and closely related species") from the other hominoids ("apes") was switching to walking on two leg which we did almost 5 million years ago.

It freed up our hands so that, ultimately, we can use a camera. Talking didn't come until a lot later and is not needed for photography. Grunts work quite well.


"each time I go back to it there's always a very short adjustment time...it always feels a bit awkward right at first and takes me five or ten minutes to recalibrate"

This is even more fun for a street photographer when they move from "their regular lens" to a different focal length (especially if they go longer).

You can tell from the behavior they've done switched lenses too: see photo; raise camera; shuffle forward or back then take the shot. After a time you get back into "seeing" photos for the lens you have on the camera.

It's also odd how "selective attention" can act as a "zoom" for your eye chaning from wide to telephoto as you interest changes. I suspect a lot of photographs who just use primes train themselves away from this way of seeing the world so they can find shots for the lens they have on the camera.

I was going to suggest that you mount a 500/8 mirror lens to your camera for the next few months, but on further consideration I realized that you'd probably be writing nothing but articles on pool and coffee roasting as a result.

chimps are apes, great apes in fact, and our closest living relative.

I find the whole topic of what lenses people use and why fascinating (at least when there has been a selection process and not just "the camera was sold with this"). One case is how people use long lenses, as I had a 400 mm lens for years and then sold it when I finally decided that it's too much hassle to use it just for a few shots now and then. But some people do find a lot of use in longer lenses.

Another thing was when I bought a 15 mm for my Nex to have a decent wide, with the thought of cropping slightly, and ended up walking around with only a 15, doing all sorts of stuff. I used to prefer short teles, now I more often pick up a wide, trying to make photos that don't look like they've been shot with a superwide.

Another issue is the qualities and image properties of a lens. E.g. I like good manual focus and good micro contrast, while being painfully aware that those qualities will seldom be noticed in the resulting picture by the casual observer.

I didn't comment on the last post, but for several years I worked with a very well respected newspaper photographer who seemed to do almost everything with a 20 or a 300. He carried an 85 and 180 and would use them if he had to, but he was happier at the extremes.

My own Leica kit in those days was a 21 and 90, though I rarely used the 90. My last vacation the only lens I used was the Olympus 15mm f8 "body cap" lens (30mm equivalent)on a Panasonic GX1. Best and most relaxed family vacation photos I ever made.

I really hate it when the only question somebody has after looking to one of my pictures is "what lens did you use" (or another "technical" question). I don't care about technique very much, it should be only the meaning to get the result you want. And i am fully with you on your least sentence...there is no right or wrong. Your "game", your rules...

Hi Mike,
I like your picture of the fork, good lighting and tones, deceptively simple I suspect, so I hope you like the lens.

I know what's best for me lens-wise, so can't add anything to the conversation really. For a long time my default lens was an Adaptall 90mm macro, with a 21-35 zoom and 300mm tele as alternatives, and the standard 50mm for low light.
Now I'm digital it's 24-68-e (I'd prefer that to be 21mm-e though) and 75-300-e zooms, with a long tele for birding. The Adaptall 90 unfortunately has a hotspot on digital but the Adaptall 300mm gives me 450mm-e and a close focus at about 4 ft, so I still use that as a dragonfly lens.
I prefer details and subjects within their environment, so I tend towards teles, If you like to bring subjects to the fore of their environment you probably prefer wides, especially in urban settings.

I'm getting confused as to what focal length equates to what FOV nowadays, so I've used -e to denote FF equivalence.

A lot of my photography is seen on walks where it isn't possible to move position much, and if I do the perspective often changes too much from the image that made me stop, so I find a zoom on the camera and a zoom in a pocket is better than a bag full of lenses.

Best wishes phil

In my earliest days on the interwebs, I found I was often feeling personally criticized when somebody wrote about what they used, preferred, recommended, or didn't like. Why should I care what some complete stranger in Boise thought about what I shoot with? But I did. Thankfully, I got over that. Now I can read an article like yours and not feel like I have to defend my preference if it is different. People shouldn't see an article like yours on prime lenses as the opening salvo for a debate, but in on-line articles it seems they often do. Too bad. Good article, by the way.

Interested in hearing about the 60mm Sig, I have the 19mm and 30mm for my M4/3rd's, and both are fine lenses, if a little "loosey-goosey" (I bought them before the 'new' upgraded models that had more metal, but they were 100 bucks each!). The 60 would be a little long, but it's close focusing, so it might be great for portraits. I remember when I lot of guys bought the 135mm as their first telephoto because it was cheaper than the 85 and 100/105. Seems like in the early 70's, the cheapest alternatives you could get to a 50mm was a 28mm or 135mm. I don't know if it was the manufacturers were forcing sales in those catagory's, or they just were cheaper to produce.

'What I use is what you should use'

Well, I've never thought of my comments on various photo forums reflecting that. But by the time I first joined the online discussions I was in my 50's and had most of the "smart ass" aged out of me. Most offen now it's more like; "you might try this, and see how you like it"

Lens angle of view choices? Well I've tended to be middle of the road, 50~60mm on 24X36, only use a different lens if I cannot back up or move foward enough.

This whole issue of "preference" versus "the right way" is an interesting one, and the confusion between "what I prefer" and "what you should do" is the source of tremendous angst and friction among some gear-centric photographers.

The primes versus zooms business provides a fine example. I use both, and for various types of work I might prefer one or the other. Heck, sometimes for the same sort of work (street photography, for example) I'll choose zooms and sometimes primes! It is a matter of both preference and style I think, and the two are woven closely together. Although we (and I include myself here) like to imagine that our choices about such things are logical and rational, to a certain extent the logic and rationalizing are - admit it now! - done after the fact as a way of explaining our subjective preferences.

So, shoot zooms. Shoot primes. Shoot both. The problem occurs when one insists that one's own preference is The Best And Only Way, and it becomes worse when accompanied by Your Other Choice Is Foolish Or Worse. And the problem tends to spiral out of control. When someone insists - as, from time to time, a random person walk up and do while I'm out shooting - that lens/camera/tripod/subject choice A is a poor one and that his/her choice B is much better, it is so very hard to just not reply or to instead comment on the lovely weather. Even more difficult is to sit by silently when someone tells an eager beginner that they must, just must, I tell you!, choose option C and definitely not option D for their work.

The truths are - and all of us who make a lot of photographers and hang with a lot of productive photographers - that a) various people make a ton of different gear choices, b) lots of us use different kinds of gear for different kinds of shooting, c) some use the same basic gear for everything, and d) it is really a whole lot more interesting to talk about subjects and images and beautiful prints than to argue about lenses! ;-)

Take care,


Ah, the Sigma E mount focusing mechanism... it's done with magic. It's also that unsettling ka-thunk every time you move the thing. The 30mm does it too.

I know that this is about NEX6 wides and all...but for your kind of photography (slow, thoughtful, fine art), DP Merrills are great. They come in three flavours: 28/45/75, the last being exceptional for close ups too.

Mike wrote:
> By the way, does anyone happen to know where I can find some
> technical background on the focusing mechanism Sigma's using
> in this lens?

According to their website, the Sigma 60mm DN lenses uses "a quiet and powerful linear motor".

Sigma's linear motors might resemble those used in some Fujifilm lenses.

On Fujifilm's illustration, one can see:

1) a yellow-colored (copper wire?) electrical coil

2) a blue-colored, magnet pole piece, presumably consisting of two flat magnets, generating a magnetic field that's perpendicular to the electrical current circulating in the coil section sandwiched by said magnets.

The result would be the generation of a force that will tend to slide the coil and the magnet pole piece relative to each other.

Designs that use a more compact magnet shaft, instead of a sandwiching magnet, are also possible — see e.g. this Nikon patent.
Such a magnetic shaft must be imprinted with alternating NSNS... magnetic pole patterns, and its manufacturing might therefore be slightly more complicated than e.g. a flat two-magnet sandwich.

Note also that to generate a driving force with a simple magnetic shaft with alternating magnetic pole patterns, the sliding coil must be fed with an AC electrical current.

With Fujifilm's motor, OTOH, a simple DC current (which is generally easier to generate than AC on battery-powered platforms like digital cameras) should suffice.
Forward and backward sliding motions could be generated e.g. by using two separate linear motors, whose respective coils could be wired so that the DC currents circulate in opposite directions. Obviously, instead of the current direction, the magnet pole pieces could also be spatially flipped between the two linear motors — the result would be the same.

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