Nikon 16-35mm f/4 & Heliopan 10 Stop ND Filter

Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens

This is a sharp lens, Probably not as sharp as the 14-24mm at the corners but still happy with the sharpness. However, the is definitely noticeable barrel distortion at the wide end, around 16-18mm. I don’t have this problem with my 14-24mm.


Here are some shots I took with the lens, coupled with a Heliopan 10 stop ND filter, at Turimetta Beach last weekend.







The results were tack sharp with zero colour cast. I really love long exposures and its effect on water.


There is noticeable barrel distortion at the wide end. This was taken at 16mm, notice the distortion of the horizon and where it starts dipping at either end.

Fixed using CS4
No biggie, easily fixed in CS4 using Filter>Distort>Lens Correction. Used +8 and did a little cropping and alignment of the horizon. LR 3 can also be used to correct any lens distortion.

Fixed using PTLens
The example below was fixed using PTLens. I used the plug-in for CS4 instead of the stand alone app. I like the way it fixes the distortion. The difference is subtle but it is there. See if you can spot the difference. PTLens is very easy to install and use.

Thanks again Andy for the heads up on PTLens.


I was interested in seeing if this lens was any good at doing panoramas. So I did a couple in both landscape and portrait modes.

ISO 200 f8 1/400 16mm

Distortion fixed using PTLens.

This 180° panorama consist of 5 separate frames in portrait mode. Each frame contains 3 separate exposures (-1, 0 +1). This was then fused/blended using Photomatix Pro and stitched together in CS4 and tweaked in LR 2.7. Actual size is 5759 x 2881.

ISO 200 f8 1/400 35mm
This 180° panorama consist of 7 separate frames in landscape mode. Each frame contains 3 separate exposures (-1, 0 +1). This was then fused/blended using Photomatix Pro and stitched together in CS4 and tweaked in LR 2.7. Actual size is 10985 x 2373.
I am very happy with how both the panoramas turned out.


If you are still trying to decide whether to get this lens (16-35mm) or the 14-24mm. I recommend that you get this one. It is tack sharp, cheaper and much lighter. This would be an excellent lens for travelling.

It is also much easier to get filters for this lens. You can use either screw-on filters, as it has a 77mm thread, or opt for square/rectangular filters made by Lee or Cokin.

If I didn’t already have the 14-24mm I’d be happy with just this lens. Besides being tack sharp, I really like the colours and contrast this lens produces.

Turimetta Beach – North Narrabeen

Map picture


Sydney Vivid Festival - 2010

Thanks Mr. B for organising the “usual suspects” to shoot this year’s Sydney Vivid Festival. We met outside McDonalds in Circular Quay and things didn’t look promising as it had been drizzling all day. I was pleasantly surprise with the large, than normal, turnout considering the crappy weather. It has been quite awhile since we had almost everyone turned up for one of these sessions. Except three, who piked out, as they didn’t want to get wet, you know who you are.

We decided to start off at St. Mary’s Cathedral and work our way down to the Sydney Opera House. It was still drizzling so I put on my rain poncho which became a mini portable sauna and the humidity was getting higher the longer I walked. However, it did keep me and my camera bag dry. The rain miraculously stopped when we got to St. Mary’s Cathedral. Hmm, wondered if it was the praying or cursing?

St. Mary’s Cathedral

LT3_13628-2 LT3_13647

LT3_13629 LT3_13667

LT3_13694 LT3_13657

Some of the guys decided to do some impromptu light painting with the free torch given by the festival’s organiser. All these shots were taken with my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.

We took a break and had dinner at Wagamama, Have to say that I wasn’t overly impressed with the food, Their ramen was rubbish and wasn’t cheap. This is not the worst food ever but definitely not the best either. Anyway, after dinner we headed off down to the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Opera House






This is how the images are projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House.



All the shots of the Sydney Opera House were taken with my Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. I will upgrade to a Nikon 70-200mm when they bring out a f/4 VR II version.

The original plan was to head back towards Hyde Park Barracks but most of them were complaining that it was too cold and tired to carry on and just wanted to go home. Looks like we have to come back another night to finish the shoot.


Heliopan 10 Stop ND Filter Testing

I have always wanted to try long exposure shots in daylight so I finally decided to bite the bullet and splurge on a 10 stop ND filter. The Hoya ND400 and B+W 110 are the ND filters of choice for most people on Flickr and the forums. I could’ve gotten the Hoya locally but it was only a 9 stop ND filter, so I decided on the B+W 110.  Do you think I could find one? These suckers are in high demand as there appears to be a worldwide shortage until further notice.



ISO 100 | 50mm | f/22 @ 77secs

After some more research I found another 10 stop ND filter from a company called Heliopan, apparently these guys are huge in the cinema world but I’ve never heard of them. Anyway, to cut a long story short, they have an excellent reputation for quality and they make decent ND filters and CPL filters.  They were not cheap at $158 AUD shipped to my front door from the UK (Teamwork ).


ISO 100 | 50mm | f/22 @ 25secs

It has been hard to get out and test them as it has been raining heavily in Sydney for the last few weeks. Finally managed to out on Saturday afternoon when the weather was sunny instead of the forecasted rain all weekend. However, the change did come later in the day.


ISO 100 | 50mm | f/22 @ 25secs


ISO 100 | 50mm | f/22 @ 25secs

I cranked down the ISO on my D700 to 100 (Lo1.0) instead of the default ISO 200 so that I could doubled my exposure time. I also used f/16 – f/22 to maximise my exposure time.



ISO 100 | 50mm | f/22 @ 75secs

I put the D700 into manual mode. I then compose/focus without the ND filter and take note of the exposure time. I turn AF off and screwed the ND filter on. Using the NDCalc app on my iPhone, I enter the exposure reading (without filter) and select ND 3.0 (10 stops) and it calculates the optimum exposure time required for a 10 stop ND filter.

I use bulb mode with the aid of a remote release cable with the aid of a countdown timer (NDCalc) to let me know when to release the trigger.



ISO 100 | 50mm | f/22 @ 30secs


ISO 100 | 50mm | f/22 @ 30secs

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test it with my Nikon 14-24mm lens for obvious reasons. The only other options were either my Sigma 70-200mm or Nikon 50mm lens. I decided on the 50mm, as the 70-200m was too long, but had to get a 52mm to 77mm step-up ring. I am seriously considering getting the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens.

I have to say so far I am super impressed with the results and there is no colour cast,  which I do get when using Cokin ND or ND Grad filters. I really love the LE effect on the water. Further testing will be required with an UWA lens. :-)

Bare Island  –  La Perouse


Map picture