Going Wide (Tokina 12-24 AT-X Pro)

It’s been quite awhile, hasn’t it! A couple weeks ago, I picked up a new lens to add to my collection. Introducing the Tokina 12-24mm f/4.0 wide angle!

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I’ve been lusting after a wide angle for some time now and I’d been considering this lens. At an MSRP of $399 for the initial AT-X Pro version ($499 for the AT-X Pro II) seemed a bargain compared to the $1000+ price tag of the Nikon equivalent. Even better, I got mine used from a local camera shop for less than that! A sucker for a good deal (and even nicer glass), I went ahead and picked it up. This would be my second piece of glass from Tokina, the first being the 100mm AT-X Pro Macro lens.

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Shooting in Macro

After almost a month of being on back order, my first macro lens arrived on my doorstep yesterday! This is also the first non-Nikkor lens I’ve purchased and instead is made by Tokina. After a lot of research and digging through reviews, I settled on a AT-X Pro D model featuring a 100mm focal length and f/2.8 maximum aperture (at full macro mode, it stops down to f/5.6).

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Nikon’s equivalent in this range is a 105mm f/2.8 with VR. Getting the first party lens comes at a price… The Nikkor cost over twice as much as the Tokina. While most reviews rate the Tokina a bit lower than the Nikkor (VR being the big differentiator), the difference in price makes the Tokina a much better bargain.

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Yoko plays dress-up

I came home the other day to find a package in my mailbox from the UK. Finally, some more clothing for Yoko and Rin had arrived! The set was made by the wonderful webmaster over at Dark Dolllhouse. The set is called Candy Dots (for good reason, I think) and is the first “custom” outfit I bought!

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Since Rin has pretty much gotten all the attention lately in terms of fancy outfits, Yoko decided to steal the set for herself!

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Dabbling in close-up photography

A couple weeks ago, I picked up a brand new Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens from Amazon to shoot with. Being used to various zooms, it was a bit of a change in shooting style going to a non-stabilized prime lens. Once I got used to it, I found that it produced far sharper images, wonderful background blur, and beautiful portraits. The somewhat short focal distance got me to thinking… how good would it be for doing close ups?

To find out, I signed up for a macro photography workshop at Daniel Stowe. The instructor walked us through some tips and showed us some (expensive) equipment that would help, then it was off to the field!

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My first attempts showed how sharp the lens is. These were taken at f/5.0 (and cropped a bit). I’m sure if I worked at it, I could get my reflection in those water droplets… Just as a quick note, all of the photos in this post will display the full sized counterparts when clicked. 🙂

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A week in Hawaii

First, a bit of business. Apparently I hit the 100 post mark without even realizing it. It was a great 100th post too, featuring Rin at the garden. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate hitting a milestone than with pictures of Rin. Smile

Moving on now to the main event! A couple weeks ago, I made a trip to the gorgeous state of Hawaii. This was purely for vacation, so I tried to leave work mostly behind. A trip wouldn’t be complete without a ton of photos and I’m happy to provide!

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Starting with this wonderful wide angle panorama of the Waikiki area from the top of Diamond Head crater. The hike was about an hour in each direction and offered some of the most spectacular views of downtown Honolulu. For this trip, we limited ourselves to staying on Oahu. Even though it’s an island, there was plenty to explore!

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Rin goes out

As I mentioned in my post last week, I live fairly close to a nice botanical garden. As a member, I get unlimited general admission and discounts to events and classes. After doing some scoping last week, I made plans to do another session this week. This time, Rin go to go along. I don’t have an actual carrying case or bag that will fit a Dollfie, however I did discover that one will fit in a backpack when placed in a sitting position. To keep the hair from going too out of place, I took a small towel and wrapped it around her upper body.

I figured I’d go with an early morning session, hoping there’d be less crowds to contend with, cooler weather, and generally less embarrassment over carrying a doll around in a public area. The garden is open 9am-5pm, so I got up early today and arrived shortly after 9. Of course, I didn’t make the direct correlation that today was Mother’s Day and the garden was offering free admission to mothers today. I was greeted with a small line waiting to get in. Scratch that last item off the list. Fortunately, it was still early enough where there weren’t a lot of people inside yet and I quickly set to work.

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I started with a couple test shots of some flowers in the orchid greenhouse. Confident that everything was fine and I’d established to onlookers that I was taking pictures, I opened up the backpack…

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Weekend visit to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

The weather was gorgeous in Charlotte this weekend, with temperatures slowly creeping up past the mid 80s. Summer isn’t quite in full swing yet, so I decided to take advantage and make a trip out to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. I grabbed the D50 and headed out.

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Sadly, one of the things I forgot to do was grab a shot of the front entrance. On the grounds, however, I did snap one of the greenhouse which is home to the garden’s fine collection of orchids. It wasn’t a completely cloud-free day, but I really enjoyed the cool breeze that came through.

 

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My first DSLR

Yesterday I brought home my very first DSLR camera. Someone at work had a used one up for sale and I jumped on the opportunity. Even though it’s an older model, it still has enough features to get me started.

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Behold, the 5-year old Nikon D50. The set I picked up included two lenses (18-55mm and 55-200mm), external flash, filters, and a bag. It was lightly used by the previous owner (~1400 shots total) and is in very good shape.

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Yoko Real Image Ver. review and Loot from January

Yes, I know, it’s almost February, so isn’t it too late to do a loot post for January? Nonsense! all of the new toys featured here arrived after the new year (despite shipping in December).

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I got two packages in earlier on, one from HLJ and one from AmiAmi. It was my first order from the latter, so was curious to check out their service level. So without further ado, let’s get to the goodies!

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Merri Kurismasu!

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Merry Christmas from Charlotte, North Carolina! Sadly, no snow here today, only rain. As with last year, some coworkers and I went to the Daniel Stowe Botanical garden to see the holiday light displays. I keep saying that I’ll bring a tripod or something with me to steady the camera, but alas, I forgot. It’s a step forward from last year, however, when I forgot the camera all together…. >.<

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