Nov 132007
 

The good news is, that this morning was cold but sunny and bright. The bad news is, that I was so late, I had to use the Underground. From that moment on the day deteriorated. While the train was in a station, I accidentally dropped the lens hood of my Nikon 18-200 VR. It rolled around between people’s feet, towards the open door, and came to a halt exactly on the gap between train and platform. I refused trying to rescue it 🙂

When I finally got out of work (extra early at 4pm, to get at least a bit of twilight), it just did not rain. Or so. You know these days when it’s windy and there are always some droplets in the air, coming at you horizontally? Rendering any umbrella completely useless? Well, such a day it had come to be.

It only turned better when at “blende 7“, one of my most favorite photo shops in Vienna, I got a new HB-35 (the lens hood) and for my 20/1.8 a new UV filter and a Canon lens cap. Why that, you wonder?

Now, Sigma lens caps are absolutely inferior. The first thing I do when I get a new Sigma lens, is to replace the front lens cap with a Nikon one. Nikon builds front lens caps that you can easily remove while having a lens hood on. Just as it should be. Well, Zeiss has a similar mechanism, but most brands seemingly not.

The only problem is, that the 20/1.8 has an 82mm thread, and Nikon has no 82mm lens hoods. Therefore this was the only Sigma lens that I had used with the original cap.

Whenever I buy a lens, I buy a UV filter for protection as well, and normally it’s a Hoya. Not because I like them so much, only because I like slim filters, and slim filters by B&W need a special lens cap. When I bought the 20/1.8, I could get no slim Hoya filter, so I ended up with a normal one, and because the B&W was so much more expensive than the cheap Hoya, I took the Hoya.

And exactly this combination was the problem. The 82mm Sigma lens cap extends farther into the lens than other lens caps, or the glass of the cheap 82mm Hoya farther to the front, or at one time I got dirt between filter and cap, or whatever, the lens cap scratched on the filter, directly or indirectly, and rubbed the multi-coating off. I was furious, but didn’t do anything about it for a long time. I simply used the filter as a lens cap, took it off for photographing, and that was it.

Today at the shop I finally fixed the problem. I got a normal size B&W UV filter (insanely expensive but of insane quality) and a Canon lens cap. The cap has the same mechanism as the Sigma, I have to take off the lens hood when I want to take off or replace the cap, but it does not scratch. 164 Euros for two pieces of plastic and a piece of glass, but I was happy.

Of course I had to use the 20/1.8 now. This is such a wonderful lens. It is only a medium-wide angle lens on a crop-factor camera, but it is incredibly fast, and what is more important, the minimum focusing distance of this lens is 20cm (7.9 inch), and that’s not from the front element but from the sensor plane, making it the only real wide-angle macro lens.

There have not been many survivors today. One of them is the night shot of a building in Seidengasse, taken with the Sigma 20/1.8 at f1.8, 1/15s and ISO 450, hand-held. It’s nothing special, but I like how welcoming the interior looks.

The other, of course, is the Image of the Day. Having nothing really satisfying, I took a chess board, a single knight, and many Go pieces, arranged them on the kitchen table, lit the scene with a single spotlight and the lamp above the table (yes, this one), and took the image, again with the Sigma 20/1.8 at f1.8, 1/500s and ISO 100.

What does it mean? I have no idea. I thought about photographing chess pieces, and then I suddenly had the vision of a mixup between Chess and Go, a war, and that Go would win. Basically I did not exactly pre-visualize the image, but I certainly felt it. The rest was only shuffling things around until they were right, and adding light for drama. Post-processing was done in Capture NX.

The Song of the Day is “Warrior” from Réjane Magloire’s 2005 album “Forbidden Opera“, a fusion between modern popular song and classical opera. Try at least track #1, “L’Amour”, for something instantly recognizable. You’ll love it or hate it 🙂

The sound sample this time is not from Amazon but from CD Baby, a company that sells CDs and MP3 downloads from independent labels. Some great stuff there. Very recommendable, and the sound samples are real long. Not the whole songs, but almost.

  5 Responses to “395 – The Warrior”

  1. >>What does it mean? I have no idea.< < It means when most people would have give up for the day you keep going until you have something you feel good about. Nicely done although I would not have bet on Go to win.

  2. Hate to admit it, but I’ve been taking pictures seriously for over fifty years! Yipes! Once upon a time I too bought UV filters to protect my large collection of first Miranda, then Hasselblad, and later Nikon lenses. There was a lot of expensive glass during my pro days.

    And yet, I had a lot of trouble maximizing contrast and sharpness (related problems from a perceptioin standpoint), until I realized that the UV filters were BIG contributors to my problem – particularly with zooms.

    Taking off the UVs resulted in appreciable differences, particularly in flat or oblique light. What I had done was to buy cheepie pieces of round glass to cover super expensive, carefully calibrated, computer designed lens assemblies. At that point, I stopped using any protective filters (althought I used appropriate specialty filters for the effects for which they were intended).

    And in the thirty or so years since I’ve gone bare, I’ve never scratched a lens. Never, not once, zilch, zero….

    Could it happen? Uh-huh. And I use lens caps obsessively. I don’t know what percentage of degradation filters create, but they must… they must.

    Now, suppose you do scratch your lens. Well think of the cool defraction effects you’ll get, not to mention diffusion. How bad can that be? Heh heh heh….

  3. Nice image, and I like how you rendered it in black and white. The plane of focus is insanely shallow and it has a lovely bokeh. (especially the foreground)

    I used to have a copy of the Sigma 20mm years ago (I believe I mentioned this already… or maybe not). But my copy was nothing approaching the quality of yours. In fact, I would not use it unless stopped down to at least f5.6, where it was ok. Yours seems to be wonderfully sharp wide-open. You gotta hate the sample variation. If I had bought from a reputable company and not ebay I would have tried returning it for another copy, instead I used it for a time and resold it. Your images with it always make me want to try another copy.

  4. (Eric) As much as I admit the randomness of my decision and that conceptually the war could have ended the other way, I have a little difficulty to imagine how I could have achieved any degree of drama with a Go piece lying dead 🙂

    (Ted) I suppose you are right. When I had only one lens, the 18-200, I depended strongly on it, and any damage would have been a problem, because at that time the lens was still very hard to get. In normal operation I see no difference between with filter and without, but I admit that the filter may have its share when it comes to flares and ghosts.

    Still, I feel better with filter. May be due to my habit of accidentally touching the front element 🙂

    (Michael) This is my second copy. The first had a severe front focus problem. It would not auto-focus to infinity below f8. It’s a sign of how I use this lens (mostly macro), that it took me two weeks to recognize 🙂

  5. Ted, I completely second you here. Not that I’ve been taking pictures seriously for fifty years. But I also started with having UV-filters in front of all lenses and haven’t scratched even a single lens since I decided to go naked. With a lens cap, of course, around my vitals. I don’t want to scare people off… 😉

    I have to admit, that it was mainly a financially motivated decision. Those high-quality UV-filters are so darn expensive – and you need to have one for each lens. Ouch…

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