In order to prepare for my summertime super-shot photo in the Adirondacks, I needed a lens that possessed a wider angle than was previously in my arsenal. Right now, my widest camera lens is a Vivitar 19mm f/3.8, which is an amazing workhorse camera lens – but I not only needed a wider lens, I needed one that could provide more light into my camera.
Here’s the thing. When I mention “f-stops” in my camera lenses, the f-stop is the amount of light let in by the camera lens. The smaller the f-stop number, the more light gets in. An F/16 aperture is great for sunny days; an F/8 would let in too much light. And in nocturnal photography, you need an f-stop that’s as wide as possible. You can’t really get a decent star trail unless your camera lens can open up to at least f/2.8 … or wider. My old 50mm f/1.2 possessed the widest aperture in my arsenal; but the trade-off was that I could not get wide angle shots from it.
There’s another issue on the table. Or should I say i$$ue. If I want a lens with an ultra-wide-angle capability that also possesses a wide f-stop aperture, I’m looking at maybe $1,000 to start.
But then … with my searching here and there … I found this little bad boy.
It’s an Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. It was within my budget, and … as an added bonus … it’s a rectilinear lens. With a rectilinear lens, I can photograph a building without it looking as if it’s falling backwards upon itself, which would happen if I used a standard lens.
I ordered this lens in the “Blackstone” edition – magnesium casing, weatherproof seals, fluorescent engravings for nocturnal photography – and took it for a quick test on Sunday.
Since I had plans to travel to Rochester that Sunday, I pit-stopped along the way at my alma mater, Hamilton College, for a quick photo-shoot of the Hamilton College Chapel. First, I took a photo of the Chapel with my standard Nikon 50mm lens.
That’s a decent picture … but in order to get the whole Chapel in the frame, I had to shoot the image in “portrait” mode. And it almost looks as if the Chapel itself is sort of tilting backward … this can happen with standard lenses if you’re not perfectly positioned.
Now … from the very same spot … let’s shoot with the Irix lens. Disconnect the Nifty Fifty… slap on this super-ultrawide … and shoot.
God damn. From the exact same spot I photographed the previous image … now I can get the statue of Alexander Hamilton as he faces the Chapel; and I can also get the morning shadows from the trees! And this is in landscape mode, and I’m still getting the full length of the Chapel in the shot!!
And instantly my mind is already thinking … I can get a better shot if I’m not directly behind the trees. But that shadow idea … hmm…
I moved a few feet over to the right … tilted the camera to portrait mode. Let’s see if I can get Alexander Hamilton’s shadow in the frame with the Chapel. Trust me. I’m not throwing away my … shot.
Aligned myself … made sure Alexander Hamilton’s shadow was in the picture. Made sure Chuck Miller’s shadow was not in the picture. And …
Wow. This definitely has potential. If I can get the shadow of Alexander Hamilton’s statue and the Hamilton College Chapel in the same photo… on the first day of trial with this Irix lens…
Oh man can you imagine what I could pull off with some night shots in the Adirondacks with this bad boy???
This is gonna be good. I’m already excited for the possibilities.
Let’s do this. 😀