When we were planning our trip to Yosemite, I realized that when we drove there from the airport, we’d be going right by borrowlenses.com. I had heard of them through their ads on various photo blogs. This seemed like a good chance to try them out and to add some interesting lenses to my arsenal before getting to Yosemite.
Their new office is just off the 101 in San Carlos. It’s an unprepossessing place.
But the people inside were very helpful.
These are the two lenses I rented:
The one on the left is the Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR.It’s an odd lenses. That’s an amazing zoom range, but it has its costs. Because it uses the old screw style AF and it’s moving a lot of glass around, the autofocus is really slow and it gets confused easily. In addition, switching it between auto and manual focus is pretty awkward. It’s also pretty heavy. We took to calling it Big Bertha on some of our longer, high altitude hikes. But it was a lot of fun to play with, and it did allow me to get shots like this one:
The lens on the right is a Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 DX. That goes much wider than any of my lenses. In fact, at 10mm, the field of view is more than 100 degrees. Using a lens that wide really requires you to think differently. I’m not sure that a week was enough time to wrap my head around it. It’s really neat how it can give you a lot of open space to play with in a shot like this:
But composing the shot gets very tricky. I spent a lot of time peering though the viewfinder and moving around to try to get the foreground and background into the right relationship. That’s actually not a good way to do it on the top of some of the cliffs in Yosemite.
The other interesting thing about this lens is that it can be very sensitive to getting your camera square and level. It keeps straight lines straight, but only if they’re exactly aligned with the image viewport. Look at the logs on the ground in this picture:
Because they’re at a slight angle, they end up curved in the picture.You can also see some interesting effects in the length of the branches on the two sides of the tree on the left. I think that it would take me quite a while to get good with a lens this wide, but it seems like it might be an interesting challenge.
Anyways, borrowlenses.com gave me an easy and inexpensive way to learn about some new lenses and to have some fun playing with them.