Just before sunset a few days ago, a gorgeous double rainbow appeared over the San Francisco Bay. I happened to have a fisheye lens attached to my camera, so I ran outside and snapped the shot above.
The rainbow stuck around for a few minutes, so I had time to shoot using a few different setups.
There are many articles out there with tips about how to photograph rainbows; there’s nothing I can write about technique that hasn’t been covered, but I wanted to show what you can expect to get using a few different wide lenses.
What was surprising is that a 16mm lens on a full-frame camera (10mm on APS-C; 8mm on Micro Four Thirds) is not wide enough to capture a full double rainbow.
I didn’t have time to try a 12mm or 14mm lens, but I did shoot using a 16mm full-frame fisheye lens on the full-frame Sony a7R II, and a Rokinon 8mm II fisheye lens on a Sony a6500. You’ll notice that an iPhone (or other current smartphone) has no chance of capturing a full rainbow in a single shot, although sweeping a pano works well.
About the author: Eric Cheng is an award-winning photographer, technologist, drone expert, and author based in San Francisco, California. He has served as Director of Aerial Imaging at DJI and Director or Photography at Lytro. He currently serves as Facebook’s Head of Immersive Media. You can learn more about him, see his work, and connect with him through his website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This article was also published here.
Questions on the subject of lens choice are as limitless as lens choice itself. Show me 10 photographers and I’ll show you at least 11 divergent opinions on which lens is right for a particular type of photograph. On my sets and amongst the assistants, digital techs, and creatives I work with, a great deal of testing, experimenting, and spirited discussion goes on with respect to lens choice.
I almost never use autofocus lenses, preferring to explore the stripped down optical simplicity of manual focus lenses. There is a visceral connection I enjoy when I have a manual focus lens in my hand I don’t get with the fidgety automated chaos of an autofocus lens.
When it comes to which lenses are best for portrait photography, the short answer is that there is no such thing as a “best” lens for portrait photography or for any photography for that matter. A portrait is a subjective glimpse into a person’s soul. There is no one size fits all solution for which lens is best for a portrait.
The best lens is the one that works best to capture the essence of a particular subject. It’s up to each photographer to discover which lenses works to tell his or her story. That’s the philosophical side of the question.
In the meantime, life must go on, and in order to make photographs, we as photographers must make choices creatively and technically about the equipment we use to bring our creative visions to life.
Following is a list of my favorite 5 lenses currently on rotation in my kit. I use these lenses for everything—portraits, as well as landscapes, and technical composites of groups and other scenes.
Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux M ASPH II
This lens is tack sharp all the way through the entire aperture range, and wide open at 1.4 it has a 3-dimensional quality I can’t explain, but which I love. This lens is superb for any application. I use it on every shoot, especially for portraits with a more environmentally wide angle feel.
Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH Lens
50mm is a focal length often considered to be boring, but Leica has achieved something sublime with this 50mm lens. It has a magical, imitable quality no other lens I’ve ever used can duplicate. Without fail, I cover every set-up I shoot with this lens because I love it so much.
Leica Telephoto 75mm f/2.0 APO Summicron M Aspherical Manual Focus Lens
Perhaps the most obvious “portrait” focal length in my kit, this lens just has a beautiful quality that can only be described as cinematic. I won’t say more, other than it’s a must-have in any portrait photographer’s kit
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F-Mount
This lens is available in Canon or Nikon mount. I shoot Nikon, so I’m partial to the Nikon mount.
Zeiss uses the same vintage of glass in the Otus series lenses as they do in their world class cinema Mater Primes. With the 85mm Otus I get beautiful natural skin tones, and otherworldly out-of-focus background textures.
For a medium long lens, it’s hard to beat and I use it on every shoot with my Nikon D810. I’ve been able to eliminate medium format with this combination.
Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F-Mount
135mm is my favorite long focal length. Zeiss have achieved something special with this particular lens. It’s razor sharp, renders beautiful natural skin tones, and has the most beautiful out of focus background texture. Indispensable.
To me, lenses are like guitars. Each one has a particular look in the way that a guitar has a particular sound.
To that end, I don’t have just one lens that is perfect for all applications, I have a stable of lenses I rely on to help me capture the look and feel I’m after on a particular project. And as time goes by and my tastes change and evolve, so too do my lens choices.
I’ve found as I’ve matured that I’ve gravitated towards precision, quality, and simplicity in the lenses I use, and these 5 lenses are by far my staples.
About the author: Kurt Iswarienko is a Malibu, CA-based celebrity portrait and commercial photographer. To see more of his work, check out his website or give him a follow on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.
Venus Optics, creators of the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 with ‘close to zero distortion,’ are unveiling two new extreme lenses at Photokina. The Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D, the world’s fastest 15mm rectilinear lens for full-frame cameras, and the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT, the world’s widest f/2 Lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras.
Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D
The newest addition to the “close to zero distortion” lens family, Venus claims their Laowa 15mm f/2 is the world’s fastest rectilinear lens for full frame cameras. It was developed for the Sony FE mount and, like its 12mm brother, claims to produce close-to-zero optical distortion despite its wide field of view.
“Featuring the fastest f/2 aperture ever built with a 15mm lens, the new full frame E-mount lens is engineered for professionals to shoot impressive landscape, architecture and primary astro photos with great details,” writes Venus. “This is an every-day and must-buy lens that every Sony full frame mirrorless camera user should have one in his bag.”
Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT
Like the 15mm, the 7.5mm is all about adding yet another “world’s *fill in the blank*” title to the trophy case. Specifically, this 7.5mm f/2 is “the world’s widest f/2 rectilinear lens ever designed for Micro Four Thirds cameras.”
Featuring an extreme 110° angle of view, a small & lightweight design, and a blazing fast f/2 aperture, Venus Optics sees this lens as “an ideal option to pair up with drones for aerial photography.”
Both lenses will be available to order “in early 2017” but there are early prototypes out for testing at Photokina if you happen to be going to the trade show. No word yet on pricing.
Photokina is two short weeks away, and the product leaks are starting to come fast and furious. First up, Zeiss with three new lenses for its Milvus line: a 15mm f/2.8, an 18mm f/2.8, and a 135mm f/2.
The Milvus line of Canon and Nikon lenses—optimized for high-resolution DSLRs—launched a year ago this month, but it hasn’t really received any love since. To this day, the line consists of six lenses: a 21mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, 50mm f/2, and 100mm f/2. But that’s about to change.
Three new lenses are being added to the Milvus line, and Canon Watch has secured leaked product photos of all three! Check them out below.
Zeiss Milvus 15mm f/2.8
Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8
Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2
No specifications have been leaked for the new lenses, but we’re expecting the quality will be on-par with the current Milvus offerings.
But this leak does beg a question: is this lens line—soon-to-be, presumably, 9 prime lenses strong—becoming a bit overcrowded? Do photographers really need three different lenses to cover the range between 15mm and 21mm? We’ll let you answer that.