photography & instagram

on lenses and landscapes

12.07.17

this post is sponsored by Nikon

As you may have seen on my Instagram account, last month Nikon challenged me to try out one of their lenses for a landscape challenge. Now I’m going to be honest and say I thought long and hard about whether to accept the challenge as my usual DSLR camera is not a Nikon. It’s a Canon. And I felt a little loyalty to the camera I chose to use in my everyday work.

But then, why not try it out? I chose to buy a Canon camera 4 years ago and once the investment is made, switching brands becomes a very costly business. Especially if you have splashed out on lenses. However, Nikon offered to send me a camera body and lens to try and I thought, you know what, it would be amazing to be able to compare it because that’s not usually an option open to most of us. And perhaps it might be useful to others too, and so I agreed with Nikon that I would accept the challenge of lenses and landscapes, and what I write here will be entirely my own words, my opinion.

And I do like a challenge…

Before we begin, let me tell you about the camera. I am using a Nikon D500 which is a cropped sensor DSLR and a Nikkor 16-35mm lens. However because the camera has a cropped sensor, this makes the lens equivalent to 24-52mm. And just a note that all the images in this post can be enlarged by clicking on them – if you’d like a closer look!

So what are my thoughts on this camera? I have had it now for around 6 weeks and I can honestly say I am beginning to love it. To start with it baffled me, through absolutely no fault of it’s own. Mainly because all the key functions and set up are completely different to my usual camera. The terminology Nikon use is different and that’s not a problem, I just had to learn which term means what. It takes a few weeks to get the feel of any new camera. And I have been using this almost exclusively since it arrived.

Some of the first photos I took with it are far from perfect, I began on fully auto then I had a bit of a play around with settings. As I’ve said many times I very much learn through doing rather than sitting and reading manuals first (though I do refer to them for setup). I find it easier to work out why a photo I took did or didn’t work and learn from the shots I miss as much as those that work.

But since then, I’ve grown to love this camera. Actually those key functions that I found irritating to begin with are completely logical. It is incredibly user friendly. Adjusting the settings is straightforward and the information screen on the top of the body is helpful.

As for the images it captures, well you can decide for yourself but I think they are clear and sharp. Those that haven’t been are more down to user error than camera capability. The camera is reliable and performs well in low light. Yes it’s bulky but so is any camera of this spec.

It also has some extra features I love, like a flip up screen that makes taking photos of tabletops – or indeed anything the involves a tripod and the camera lens facing down – so easy. You won’t need a high stool to reach the screen and check your framing/images. I’m not usually a huge fan of gimmicks but this is so handy.

And then I can take a photo from my phone without the need for extra equipment. The Nikon phone app is brilliant and so easy to use. Not that I often want to get in the frame but there was one particular shoot I was doing recently that required me to sit a long way from the camera and – no extra gadget or remote needed – I could focus and snap from where I sat. Perfect. (And the result is here if you’re interested.)

And as for the lens I was challenged to try out? Well that I can’t fault. I am seriously impressed at its consistently sharp captures, helped I’m sure by it’s built in image stabilisation. The colour rendition is excellent. Not all lenses are created equal and this is – in my opinion – a great one.

As an aside I would really like to see how the camera performs with a wider angle lens, whether there is any distortion, as this performs as a 24mm at widest. That though is for another day and with another lens.

of lenses with cash back…

One last thing to note, Nikon are currently offering cash back on purchases of new lenses, you can find the full details HERE.

So how about some of the images I have captured with it?  Let’s begin with the week it arrived when I took it to the Cotswolds – and hardly used it for taking photos, I spent more time setting it up and understanding it. But here are the few photos I did take. Just one outing on a misty morning in Castle Combe.

Then I treated it to a trip up north to Scotland.

4/5 of the below images were taken in Glen Etive early one morning, I’ve never seen such calm water on a loch. Not to mention the low mist that clung to the ground on the drive to the loch. The 5th image was taken on the journey from coast to coast on the day I arrived. It just so happened to coincide with the most beautiful pastel sunset too, well worth pulling the car over for.

But Scotland is photogenic anyway so how to test the lens on something a little more everyday? I decided to take it to Friston Forest, which is very close to my home and full of the colours of autumn. I was gaining more confidence with the camera by now and started playing more with the depth of field and narrower angle of the lens – the fern was taken at the full 52mm. The leaf at the wider angle 24mm.

The light was lovely that morning and just a hint of it through the trees creates a little magic all of its own.

I have been using long exposures in my photographs for a long time, not to capture movement but to make the most of light on a dull day. Many of the still life photographs I post are taken with a shutter speed slower than you might expect, usually around 1-3 seconds, so I was really keen to see how the Nikon performed. Of course it’s long been on my ‘to photograph’ list to capture the movement of water, to create a dreamlike quality of misty waves. So here we go…

I used a 6 stop ND filter on the lens for this and the light was low already as it was maybe half an hour before sunset. Each is taken with a 10-13 second exposure. Of course the images could be framed with more interest/still elements but time was short and my youngest was keen on getting her shoes wet so, yes, next time…

An ND filter – if you aren’t sure – is kind of like sunglasses for your camera lens. It allows the shutter to remain open for longer without over exposing areas of the photograph.

of lenses and landscapes

My conclusion is this, the Nikon D500 is a brilliant camera. Its user friendly, it captures amazing images, it’s performed well in each situation to which I have applied it and as yet I can’t find anything I really don’t like about it. The colour it captures is wonderful, and I am all about the colour in between the white…

Does it trump my other camera? In some ways yes indeed and in other ways perhaps not. In my opinion they are both brilliant cameras and I am completely happy with either. My real quandary now is in which full frame camera should I invest when it’s time to upgrade..

J x

P.S. you can see all I have taken with this camera/lens and posted to Instagram here

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7 comments on “on lenses and landscapes”

  1. Thank you for the information on the Nikon. I have been shooting with a Canon 35mm and then a DSLR for years and have a number of friends trying to convince me to go to Nikon.
    I appreciate your unbiased opinion.
    Beautiful images.

    1. You’re very welcome Sandie! It is hard to know whether to make the switch without trying them both isn’t it? Overall they are both great cameras but honestly, I haven’t used the Canon since I received the Nikon, I find the sharpness is more consistent with Nikon and it is easy to navigate the settings.
      But then it really depends on how many lenses you have/use and the expense of replacing them also doesn’t it?

  2. These are lovely! I need a new camera so this article is a gift from you to me! Used to have a Canon then later a Nikon, both film cameras. Need a digital now, and loved reading your comments as I already lean toward Nikon. Thank you for the commentary and gorgeous photos. You have a great eye!

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