Thursday, 8 May 2008

Nikon 24mm PC-E lens

Well I have been lucky enough to get my hands on one of the first 24mm PC-E lenses in the country and boy am I pleased. It is another amazing lens, the folk at Nikon have really been pulling out the stops recently with the D3, the 14-24 and 24-70 zooms and now the 24mm PC-E. What does PC-E mean well from the post on nomenclature here you will remember that the PC stands for perspective control where we can adjust the effects of perspective in an image by shifting the lens in relation to the sensor. With this new PC lens we can not only shift the lens (up and down/left and right) like on earlier PC lenses we can also swing the lens to adjust where the plane of focus lies. This is similar to the 85mm PC lens but in a much more usable length for landscape photographers. Now the E part of the name refers to the Electromagnetic Diaphragm. This clever bit of electronics allows the lens to close down the aperture automatically once the lens has been shifted. In older lenses you had to manually closed down the lens and work in full manual mode as the lens is literally broken in two pieces when you sift. The entire lens is on one side of the tilt shit mechanism than the camera body not allowing for any electronic or mechanical connection. Very good for slow folk like me who always forgot to shut down on the 28mm PC lens.

The 24mm is a better focal length for my style of shooting and although a very specialized lens there is room for it in my bag. Not only can you use it to create images with no perspective distortion and extended depth of field you can use it to create huge panoramas mimicking the field of view of the human eye by creating panos with more height. 'Standard' panos are wide but the human eye has a big vertical field of view as well normally missing on panoramic images. Using the 24mm PC-E to create a top and bottom row of images for the panorama we can create a taller image more natural and pleasing to the eye. (examples to follow)

Below is an example of the tilt used to extend the depth of field(DOF). What we are doing when tilting the lens is changing the direction that the DOF (technically the Plane of Focus) extends from the camera. Normally the DOF is parallel to the camera body but shifting the lens changes the angle alowing us to get more of a flat object in focus.

In the above image we have about 4cm of sharp focus, the lens was set wide open at f3.5 and focused on the 60cm mark. Thats not fair you say, stop down. Okay.
Here the lens is stopped down to f16, the DOF extend from the front of the shot to about th 43cm mark. The first lens cap is acceptably sharp but not tack sharp. Not bad with our focus at the 60cm mark again set at 35cm on the lens.

But look now, back at f3.5 we have sharpness from the 67cm mark well beyond the second lens cap at the 30cm mark. Great for extending depth of field while keeping up shutter speeds, awesome for shooting scenic wild flower fields in the breeze. Cannot wait for spring.

Catch you soon.


All images captured with D3 and 24mm PC-E lens

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