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Lens Test: New Lens #37638
12/08/11 03:43 PM
12/08/11 03:43 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline OP
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Jim Garvie  Offline OP
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Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
As we look forward to 2012, I'm reassessing my needs in terms of both camera and lenses based on what's currently booked and likely to be booked over the next few months. My first acquisition was the 7D and I'm very pleased with it overall. My next purchase, just received last evening, was a Canon 28-135 F3.5-5.6 IS lens. And because it arrived last evening, I decided to put it through my typical lens testing regime to make sure all was well.

This lens may seem a bit add at first glance. I owned a version of this lens in 2008 and eventually sold it to buy my trusty EF-S 17-55 F2.8 IS -- a great lens that has served me very well. However, the 17-55 is ideal for shooting show formals but is actually too sharp for studio portraits of people and not long enough for show candids. When I went back and looked at both the shows I shot with the 28-135 in 2008, and the studio work, I really liked the color, contrast and overall IQ of the lens and, especially, how flattering it was to skin wide open in my studio work. And, stopped down, it's plenty sharp. I had 4 covers published in 2008 and all were shot with that lens.

So, to help finance the 7D, I sold the 17-55 and have replaced it as my "normal" lens with the 28-135. After I completed my round of tests with fences, brick walls, and other banal stuff, I took the lens out for a quick sampling of some of the things I typically shoot when I'm not working -- macro or semi-macro shots of flowers etc. These images were all shot in my back yard and they are all "native" with no extension rings or close-up lenses. Just the 28-135.

First up, a lovely blue flower that continues to bloom now well into the Fall. I can't remember the name for the life of me but I love those blooms. Focus was on the inside of the flower.



Next, the Hybiscus that flanks our driveway, also still in bloom. Focus on the gold stalks.



As I was shooting, I noticed a Black Vulture circling overhead and decided it would be a good idea to get back into my exercise program smile.



And lastly, there are the Lady Margaret Scarlett Passion Flowers blooming like crazy along the fences. This shot is focused on the top stamen.



And this shot is focused on the body of the flower, the white part.



So, this particular lens has passed my tests and is now part of the kit. Next up for purchase is the Canon EF 70-200 F4.0L IS which is planned for purchase right after Xmas. That will give me two zooms that should be able to handle 99% of the work I have booked as well as all the personal shooting needs I have in the short-term. Anything outside of those situations I can handle with a rental.

Hope you enjoy my "test shoot".

Jim

Last edited by jimgarvie; 12/08/11 09:21 PM.

Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: Lens Test: New Lens [Re: Jim Garvie] #37649
12/09/11 10:30 AM
12/09/11 10:30 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline
I
James Morrissey  Offline
I
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
Hey Jim,

You brought up some interesting points in this. For example, I have never thought of a lens being too sharp for portraits. Admittedly I often will go back and retouch a portrait with a blur layer, but I usually do all that in pp. Can you talk a bit more about your thoughts on this?

James

Re: Lens Test: New Lens [Re: James Morrissey] #37652
12/09/11 12:15 PM
12/09/11 12:15 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline OP
Addict
Jim Garvie  Offline OP
Addict

Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
James,
Canon has a 135mm F2.8 soft focus lens that was made just for portraiture. And in my old corporate portrait studio days, we'd put some diffusion material over the lens -- usually a nylon stocking -- to soften the wrinkles and laugh-lines. So, it's nothing new. If you're shooting babies, you don't have to worry about skin. They have wonderfully soft, smooth skin. But as we get older, the "character" lines appear and there's a bunch of retouching software out there just for the purpose of softening those lines and smoothing out skin blemishes.

When I shoot animals, I'm interested in sharp images. So, I'm almost always shooting at F8.0 in the studio. But for people, I'll dial down the strobes and open up the lens to get a softer image. Here's a portrait from 2007 taken with the 28-135 but shot at F8.0 because there was a difference in the plane of focus between mom and baby. However, I shot this in RAW and applied no sharpening in PP to maintain the softness. That's the other thing I'll do when shooting people. Shoot RAW and no sharpening in post.



I think we all tend to get all wound up in how sharp our lenses are and how many lines they can resolve on an ISO 12233 Chart. And, yes, that's important. But what distinguished the great glass of years ago -- Leica, Contax, Zeiss -- wasn't just resolution. It was the depth of color and the micro-contrast of those lenses. Frankly, it's what separates L-Glass in the Canon line from the rest of the consumer/prosumer lenses. So when I look for a lens, I'm looking for the character of the images that lens can produce. Which is why the 28-135 caught my eye. I was looking over a bunch of files from 2007 through 2010 and the images taken with that particular lens caught my eye. They had a certain depth that stood out from the other images.

The fact that the lens is a bit soft wide open is not a huge problem since I'll be using it primarily in the studio or outside for show candids. In those environments, I can stop it down or control the light to take advantage of that softness. As I said, sharpness is good. But sometimes, softness isn't all that bad wink.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz

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