First outing with the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED FX

After over a month of waiting, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED FX lens finally arrived. I had already sold my 35mm f/2 AF, and have been making do with the DX version. Oddly enough, I hesitated on buying the lens when the sale started in February, and by the time I did buy it, the lens was out of stock. Snooze you lose.

So it's off to the How Weird Street Faire (my first time) with the challenge of using a 35mm lens instead of the usual 70-200mm. It's difficult for me to get that close to a subject when taking a photo as I don't like to be in your face, but it's good to push yourself every now and then.

The results weren't bad. There were a few times when I was too far for my taste, and I had to crop the images to get the result I liked. The lens didn't disappoint though, with nice sharpness, acceptable OOF, and spot on AF. I like the results better than the AF version.

Next step is to try it out on the V1.

In the meanwhile, here are some choice shots from the event.

DX travel

I recently had the opportunity to spend a little over a week in the island paradise of Bali. Since this would be my first (and probably last) time there, I obsessed over what kit to bring for this one shot deal. I settled on bringing both the V1 and the D5200. 

Lenses became the next issue. I had two options for a wide lens on DX: the Sigma 12-24mm and the Nikon 18-55mm VR. I chose the latter as it gave me the option to go really wide (18mm FX equivalent) if needed. I ran a few tests at home and was satisfied with the result. For reach, I chose the 70-300mm VR as this would work well with both cameras.

Off I went on my long journey. First thing, the Sigma is a heavy lens. I'm used to traveling with the V1, which makes for a light and small kit. The Sigma weighs about as much as the whole V1 set. I did manage to fit most of the kit in a Lowepro Transit Sling 250.

Second issue: The Sigma has problems in the corners. The results were all over the place, varying with aperture and focal length, corner to corner. Sometimes one corner would be OK, then it would be bad on another photo, with the difference between the two being one or both of the two parameters. Yes, I should have tested this more before I made the trip, but I was pressed for time. And looking back at the test shots that I made, I can see the same issues, although not as bad.

Here's a sample taken with the Sigma at 24mm and f/8. Note how the three photos from the lower part of the image don't have the amount of detail that can be seen in the upper corners.

Third issue: Flare and the lack of a polarizer. The Sigma with its huge, curved front element is plagued by flare, even with the extra hood. This is a problem in an always-sunny, tropical location like Bali. I was also surprised to see vignetting in two corners with the extra hood attached. Keep in mind that I use this lens mostly on an FX body, and rarely use the extra hood. I thought it wouldn't be an issue on DX because of the sensor crop, but again I should have done more testing. Thankfully the lack of having a polarizer for the Sigma was solved by using the V1.

In hindsight, the 18-55mm would have been the better choice. There were very few instances when I needed to go really wide, and I could have just done a stitched shot instead.

Fourth issue: My 70-300mm VR won't VR with the D5200. Turns out VR doesn't work on the D3 either. It works fine on the V1 (which was the last body on which I used this lens); something to do with having VR always active that forces it to work. Not too much of an issue as I didn't hit any good surfing spots on this trip.

Overall, the bodies and lenses that I brought accomplished the task. Could the photos have been better? Yes, but it's too late for that. Lesson learned: don't use a once in a lifetime opportunity to test lens and body combinations.