Before and after sample images and tech talk about the Cokin clear sky filter. A must have for astro and deep space photography. Words and photos by Ambassador Stan Moniz.Read More
First impressions with the Tokina Firin 100mm Macro
The Tokina Firin 100mm macro is FINALLY here! I’ve been waiting a long time for Tokina to build a macro lens for the Sony e-mount system similar to the ones they made for the Canon and Nikon cameras.
Before I moved onto the Sony system, I shot with a Nikon d7100 and my favorite lens at that time to shoot ocean photography with was the Tokina 100 f2.8 macro! A lot of time has passed since then and I found myself really missing that lens. Having the Firin 100mm in my hands today felt so amazing since it has been 9 years since I envisioned this lens becoming a reality for my Sony e-mount cameras.
Even after having only shot with it for one day, I have fallen in love with this lens all over again. As good as it was for the Nikon system, it is even better attached onto my Sony camera. It’s crazy SHARP! Rather than just telling you, I’ve included real world photos and video taken with this lens. The Tokina Firin macro is as sharp as they come! This will be an on-going gallery of my favorite images shot with the new Tokina Firin 100mm macro. As you can see, I don’t have too many macro shots other than photos of my cats. Trust me, they are coming! Please do return from time to time to check in on the sample images.
Here’s a few first impressions about this new addition to the Tokina line up.
For video use, this lens is a WINNER! The focus throw is so smooth. Focus racking is also extremely smooth and will make for some very interesting cinematic imagery.
The image color rendering is astounding and it both beautiful and true to life. I was able to really push and pull these photo in editing like I do with some of my favorite lenses including the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 and Sony Gmaster 24mm f1.4.
Let’s talk about the focal distance from your subject matter. This lens will achieve life - size reproduction (1:1) at 11.8 inches from the sensor plane and provides a comfortable 4.5 inches of working distance from your subject. This means no more lens shadows on your subject when you’re working close. This is a game changer! I’m already planning my next portrait shoot with this lens.
Bokeh Bokeh BOKEH! This lens has a beautiful drop off. Shooting wide open at F2.8 is so dreamy. Like I mentioned before, not only will this lens be great for separating your subject from the background in photos, but will provide all my videographer friends with that buttery cinematic with a very smooth focus throw..
Weight and size. The Tokina Firin 100mm in my opinion is a perfect balance on my Sony full frame e-mount cameras. It’s lighter and smaller then the amazing Sony 90mm macro and coming in at $599, this lens is definitely a steal! If you’re on a budget and can’t afford the Sony G 90mm pricing of around $1,400, this lens is a no-brainer.
Food for thought for you astrophotographers out there that use star trackers. This lens is razor sharp wide open at f2.8 with no noticeable chromatic aberration. Because of how light weight and balanced this lens is on the Sony e-mount cameras, I truly feel like the Firin 100mm will be a great addition for deep space photography. I can’t wait until the new moon cycle kicks back in to test this out.
Until next time guys, I hope you enjoy these sample images and video I shot featuring the Tokina Firin 100mm macro for the Sony e-mount system. Do return from time to time as I will be adding more images shot with the Firin 100mm. I’m very excited to have Tokina taking steps into the mirrorless world. As always, if you have any comments or questions, leave them here or feel free to reach out. I will me more then happy to help out.
Lets just start to say what’s not to like about a lens that is built like a tank, so small in size and comes in at a whopping 15.70 ounces! A lens that is so sharp wide open at f1.4 producing ideal points of light in the very extreme corners with little to no and I can emphasize the NO signs of Sagittal flare. Its a dream come true for a astrophotographer I tell you!
100 % crop in of top right corner from photo above.
Absolutely beautiful @f1.4!
It really does feel like Sony tailored this 24mm f1.4 especially for the astrophotographer community. This lens answers the call for a really fast wide angle lens that can REALLY produce superior results. Seeing is believing and I am confident that when the word gets around of how TRULY amazing this Gmaster 24mm f1.4 is, it will be called the holy grail of lenses for astrophotography.
The lens is truly a piece of engineering genus with its magic coming from new Sony technology. It introduces two XA (extreme aspherical) elements to the mix which significantly control spherical aberrations for a high degree of image sharpness and clarity. I can’t begin to tell you how blown away I was when shooting with the 24mm f1.4.
Yes, the points of light tighten up in the corners when stopped down as you can see in the pictures provided below. But, I honestly can’t believe this lens is sharper at f1.4 than most 2.8 lens out there. It’s pretty darn mind blowing to say the least. This allows me to capture the night sky wide open at f1.4 with confidence at a lower ISO while taking full advantage of the Sony a7rIII dynamic range. It results in a much cleaner image after editing has been completed. Stressing yet again it is a astrophotographers dream lens come true.
All images above were captured at 20 seconds / ISO 800 / incandescent color balance. F stop cycling from f1.4 - 2.8. Same Adobe LightRoom edit was applied to all images. Some simple adjustments and a exposure boast of + 1.5.
Not only is this 24mm f1.4 the king of spectacular night photos, it excels across the board as a excellent lens for surf, landscape and even in the professional world of video. I’ve used it already on some commercial video projects and I can’t leave home without it now. With its de-clickable aperture ring, its focus hold button and buttery smooth aperture ring, it stands as one of my new favorite pieces of glass to reach for while shooting video.
I love this lens to death! I give it a genuine 10+ across the board! If you are looking for proof, here are those images you have been waiting for to see for yourself. I’ve tested all the brands in this 24mm range category and trust me, no other 24mm f1.4 comes close! The Sagittal flare and comet-like stars while wide open on all the other competitors are so bad that you have to stop them down greatly to even come close to what the Gmaster can produce at f1.4. This is by far the first 24mm that can produce ideal next to perfect points of light wide open at f1.4.
If you are considering purchasing the Sony Gmaster 24mm f1.4, I stand by my statement that it’s worth every penny! And again I would greatly appreciate it if you could please use the affiliate links provided in the story as they cost you nothing extra and it allows me to keep doing what I’m doing. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. I would be more then happy to help you out.
Until next time, happy shooting!
Long time followers of my blog will know that Iceland is one of my favorite travel destinations. I had the opportunity to visit again, this time bringing my wife along for the first time. This was my fifth time to the land of fire and ice, and in all my time traveling, I have accumulated some helpful travel tips that I would like to share with you.
1. Unlimited Internet…Anywhere!
A big downfall when traveling abroad is not having access to your standard phone network. That means you have to wait for wifi access back at the hotel to share all your amazing travel experiences with family, friends and social media. The good news is Iceland offers a service where you can rent a small device that is a portable wifi hotspot, giving you access to Facebook, Instagram, and in my wife’s case, Pokemon Go, anywhere. Up to 10 devices can connect simultaneously and the rental comes with a USB charger.
You can reserve one of these little gizmos at the following website:
Be sure to prepay on the website. We chose the option for $10 a day.
We picked ours up at the Dunkin’ Donuts inside Keflavik airport as soon as we got off the plane. Once powered on, you connect your phone to the wifi signal like any other device and enter in the password provided on the packaging. Make sure you follow the directions on the packaging and register your Trawire device on their website before leaving the airport. I recommend having a USB adaptor for your vehicle’s cigarette lighter. That allowed us to charge the Trawire while driving so it never died on us. Be advised, the device you are getting is not new. Ours was pretty scratched and beat up but that did not affect its functionality at all.
To return it at the end of your trip, simply insert it into the prepaid envelope and mail it in one of the red drop boxes marked “Posturinn”. There is one located near the check-in area for Icelandic Air near the airport’s entrance.
2. Combating Unpredictable Weather
Iceland’s weather is known for being unpredictable and can change rapidly and drastically. This can make planning your excursions difficult, especially if you’re trying to glimpse the Northern lights in Iceland’s notoriously overcast skies. Give yourself a fighting chance by using the following websites and apps for the most up to date forecasts on weather patterns and the auroras. Also DO NOT forget to visit the tourist information sign before exiting the airport as it gives you basically all the information you need to a safe and happy adventure in the land of fire and ice.
The website https://www.vedur.is/ also provides weather updates that are constantly updated throughout the day. This is especially helpful since the weather can go from sunny to stormy in a matter of minutes.
If you’re looking to chase the auroras, I recommend downloading the phone app appropriately names Aurora. I find it’s the most accurate app that forecasts the aurora’s location and intensity and can really help make your hunting expedition a successful one. Aurora is free on the Apple app store and Google Play.
3. Quicker Car Rentals
Every time I go to Iceland, I try to save money by finding the cheapest car rental available. They are all inevitably off site, meaning a shuttle is required to get to the rental branch from the airport. The problem is that the wait for a shuttle can sometimes be an hour or more, and lines at the branch can mean waiting another hour just to sit with a representative and process the necessary paperwork. When you’re tired and jetlagged from a long flight, the last thing you want to do is wait around for a shuttle. I recommend renting from an in-house rental company for faster service.
Hertz, Europcar, Avis and Budget all have rental counters in the arrivals section of the airport. Lines tend to not be as long and you can get your rental immediately without waiting for a shuttle.
If you are looking to rent a camper van, renting off site is unfortunately your only option. I have used both Kuku Campers and Go Campers which provide modified campers that have a built in kitchen and sleeping area make them an alternative to staying in a hotel. While this is a great alternative for travelers that want to see many of Iceland’s attractions that are separated by large distances, know that the initial wait to get your rental may be a long one.
Check out these sites below for more details on renting campers in Iceland!
4. Use Gas Cards, Avoid The Fees!
I have made the mistake in the past of using my credit card to pay directly at the pump. Depending on your credit or debit card, using it at the pump can result in hefty transaction fees. The pump also requires a pin, even for a credit card, and some American credit cards don’t have pins. A solution for this is to buy a prepaid gas card inside the gas station. We bought gas at N1 where their cards come in 3000, 5000 and 10,000 isk increments. This is especially handy if you’re travelling with a group of friends who are all pitching in for gas. Everyone can buy their own gas card and use it accordingly. It really helps to keep track of how much everyone contributed to the tank.
Once purchased, simply insert the card face up with the N1 logo facing left into the appropriate slot in the kiosk outside Input your pump number and pump your gas as normal.
5. Planning Your Trip To Blue Lagoon
This trip marks my first trip to Iceland’s world famous Blue Lagoon. While booking ahead of time is not required, it is highly recommended since it will guarantee access to the Lagoon at a specific time. The starting rate is about $60 which will get you access to the Lagoon and includes a drink at the bar. Yes, there is a bar in the lagoon. You also get to try on their standard silica face mask for free. My wife and I booked the premium package which starts at about $80 and provides the additional perks of a robe and flip flops, an extra drink, and the option to try a different facial mask in the lagoon.
They are very strict about not entering the lagoon until your appointed time, so although we arrived an hour early, we were not admitted until 15 minutes prior. A microchipped bracelet is issued that acts as a key to your locker in the changing room. It is also scanned at the bar and any drinks consumed over your assigned limit will be recorded on the bracelet and billed to you prior to leaving the resort.
Our time slot was for 4pm, which turned out to be a good time because it allowed us to see a beautiful sunset in the lagoon and made for some fantastic photos. Waterproof plastic phone protectors are available for purchase that will allow you to still use your phone while in the water and will save it if it accidentally goes for a swim. I shot all photo and video on the Sony RX0, which is a very small, high end waterproof camera perfect for situations like these.
The lagoon is definitely a change of pace from the epic landscapes I prefer to photograph, by my experience there was definitely an amazing one and absolutely worth the money. I recommend everyone make it a part of their Iceland visit, but it does require some planning ahead.
Bonus tip! Be A Responsible Tourist
In the arrivals section of the Keflavik airport is a small kiosk that invites you to take the responsible traveler’s pledge. It lists some do’s and don’ts of being a good traveler and I recommend everybody read it and take the pledge! Iceland is a beautiful place and should be treated with respect. Please don’t be “that guy” that gives visiting tourists a bad reputation!
If you enjoyed this article and are interested in purchasing the gear used to create these memories and helpful tips please use the links provided. You can also visit my gear page here. It won't cost you a penny more and you will be helping me continue to bring you stories of exploration and inspiration. Thanks again!