Fast wide-angle lens

So, I’ve been working down in London for a couple of weeks and, as a result, even though I’m still hugely overdrawn and in debt, I can now see a way to paying it all off, something which eluded me as recently as three weeks ago.

As a result, as always happens when I know that I’ll have money coming in soon, I got credit card happy. Lots of little treats all week (books, meals out), plus one very big treat: the lens I have been lusting after for many months now, a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM. I got it second hand (a mere £690, including hood) from the Camera Café in Museum Street.

My only problem was that, for once, I was travelling without my camera (I had a lot of other stuff to take to London, and my back has been playing up so I wanted to keep my kit to a minimum). Plus what started out as a 2 day placement stretched out to 9 days in a row. So I’ve been carrying this lens around with me, itching to use it, but with no camera to put it on.

I’m back home now, and initial results are… interesting. With such a wide aperture, auto-focus is an absolute pig, and manual focus at f/1.4  with a crop digital viewfinder is next to impossible, but it’s a challenge – I need to improve my focusing skills anyway, and this is an ideal way to do it. I may get myself an ST-E2 to help with those dark moments, but ultimately I’d like to get better at getting a proper feel for focusing distances, and doing it manually as much as possible.

I’ve been feeling a bit ambiguous about my recent use of Flash – the results look great, but somehow it feels like I’m not being entirely true to my roots. The f/1.4 gives me a chance to go out and try some flash-free photography again with more flexibility. I shall try to avoid the flash as much as possible for the next month or two, and see where the ambient light takes me…

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8 thoughts on “Fast wide-angle lens

  1. Hi Dan, all sounds intriguing. Doubt if I’ll ever get my head round all the techno of pro-photography, even though I’ll be studying it at uni soon! Here’s some more pics taken with my snappy Fujifilm A310 and doctored in Picasa’s free software. http://picasaweb.google.com/jbdpics/PhotoRefinementsExperiments
    Good enough for my needs. Feel free to comment please! I do appreciate good photography and you’re a good exponent of it for sure. Sounds like your ways of spending money are similar to mine though?!!

  2. “I’m back home now, and initial results are… interesting. With such a wide aperture, auto-focus is an absolute pig, and manual focus at f/1.4 with a crop digital viewfinder is next to impossible, but it’s a challenge”

    That sounds tricky Reading a comment on David Solomons Flickr stream thingy, I think that Maciej Dakowicz uses some flavour of f1.4 lens for his night-time Cardiff pictures.

    Anyway, what are you doing wasting money on eating out – I have a ridiculous print sale on! It’s an investment.

  3. Wow, thanks Paul – I hadn’t spotted that on Hey Hot Shot (had seen the winners, and been gutted not to be among them). This makes life worth living again!

    From memory, I think Maciej uses a 30mm or 35mm f/1.4, check the image properties on some of his night shots and you’ll see it there. Of course, on my 1.6 crop, the 24mm equates to about the same focal length as Maciej’s lens on his 5D.

  4. congrats on your new lense.
    24mm at f1.4!!! green with envy.

    i’ve been shooting on the street at night at f1.4, using briggate’s sigma 30mm. auto focus seems to be working fine, although the beam of light that the d40x throws out when auto-focusing sometimes gives the game away when trying to frame a candid shot. (i’m getting proficient at targeting an equidistant elbow though).

    also been using the 50mm at f1.8 which works out ok at ISO1600,
    the 1.4 allows me to shoot at ISO800 though, which is nice 🙂

    the 50mm has no auto focus on my d40x, and although frustrating at first has definitely improved my manual focusing techniques!!! so much more satisfying when you are doing it all by yourself…

    good luck with your experiments dan.

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