Testing the Samyang 14mm VDSLR Lens

Shining Tor

Okay, brace yourself folks, this could get a bit technical.

As a birthday treat to myself I’ve purchased a new lens, the Samyang VDSLR 14mm.

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This lens is part of a set made by Samyang (one of many names by the way, depending on which country you’re in) specifically for DSLR filmmaking. For the technical amongst you, the differences are:

  • Focus and aperture rings have teeth ready for use with a follow-focus.
  • Aperture ring moves smoothly with no ‘clicks‘ so you can change your exposure during the shot without it looking like you switched the lights on suddenly.
  • Markings are all on the side rather than on the top, so they’re easier to read if the camera is on a rig, jib, etc.
  • Aperture is measured in T stops rather than F stops – industry standard for filmmaking.
  • Focus travel is longer so focus puling…

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Long Weekend in Dublin

Last week it was my 45th birthday, so as a gift my brother Peter, and Sister Clare, chipped in for flights for the current Mrs Hughes and myself to go over to Ireland and spend the weekend with them.

After two hours of enforced shopping at Manchester Airport we were herded onto the Ryanair flight to Dublin. With a flight time of 35 minutes, we were barely in the air before it was announced that we were starting the approach to land. It seems we now live in an age where it’s quicker to fly hundreds of people across an expanse of sea to another country, than to check what’s in their shoes and bags.

Peter picked us up and after a couple of hours drinking tea and catching up at his, we all went off to the pub. I was on the Guinness (when in Rome) but Mrs Hughes asked for a fruit flavoured cider. When I asked the barman if he had any fruity ciders he looked at me as though I’d just asked him out for a date, shouting to Peter, “Where’d you get him from?

The lovely thing about visiting my family in Ireland, apart from how warm and friendly everyone is, is that it’s one of the few times Clare and I get to chill out and relax. We can stop and talk and recharge our batteries.

I only discovered the Irish side to my family a few years ago (I’ll save that story for another time) and we’ve been over to visit quite a few times since then, as well as an expedition to Australia to see two of my sisters. All I can say is how wonderful it’s been and how special they’ve all become to me, they don’t replace the family I grew up with, they are a great addition to them.

The next day we drank more tea and laughed and joked through the morning until Peter drove us to Howth for a walk round the harbour.

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Howth is a beautiful peninsular just north of Dublin with its own harbour and marina, famous for being the home of W. B. Yeats the poet. There’s lots of restaurants and lovely little market – listen to me, I’m starting to sound like a pensioner – anyway, the sun was shining and we enjoyed ourselves.

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Walking along the dockside, we took turns stopping Peter’s daughter, Layna, leaping off the edge into the sea and checked out the boats, we even saw a seal swimming lazily around the fishing boats looking for an easy meal.

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Howth has a scuba school and we popped in to ask about day trips. It turns out there’s a famous wreck not far away – we may be back soon with our kit.

Evening was a barbeque at Peter’s, with more of the family (John, Anne, Clare and Aunty Anne). Ger dispensed housing advice and we filled up on lots of meat and beer before Peter and I retired to the lounge to watch England get beaten by Italy – but still a great night.

Many thanks to Peter, Ger, Clare and everyone else for the perfect birthday present, I just hope we can return the favour soon.

Chris

London and Bond

Off to London, where the streets are paved with gold – apparently. Well according to Dick Whittington they are, and no-one argues with Dick right?

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It’s a sunny Sunday and it’s my birthday, so my wife Clare, number two son Elliott, and I jumped the train to ‘that London’ as we say up North.

Having based most of my personal philosophy on James Bond (hey, works for me!), Clare bought us tickets to see the ‘Bond in Motion’ exhibition at the London Film Museum. This has all the original cars, and a lot of props, storyboards, etc. from the Bond films and promised to be a great day for a hardened Bond fan such as myself.

The train journey from Stockport was enjoyable with Elliott and myself passing the time playing air hockey (Elliott won) and chess (I thrashed him) on my tablet.

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Once in London we decided to walk the short distance from Euston to Covent Garden so we could soak up a bit of the city and enjoy the sunny weather. Walking down the streets I am struck by many things. The history round every corner, the wealth (compared to the north, where even the rats have got second jobs) and all the tourists. We passed several theatres, the Drury Lane, Shaftesbury, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) where many great actors such as Peter O’Toole and John Thaw started out. And probably even more not so great, bitter actors, who ended up teaching drama at local comprehensives and shouting at their televisions whenever their classmates come on.

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Covent Garden was bustling and beautiful with street performers entertaining the crowds with tightrope walking, juggling and even opera. My favourite quote was from one performer, encouraging the crowd to put more money in his hat, “remember, the more you give, the more I get”. Fascinating and stimulating place. This is the only market I’ve ever been to where Chanel has a stall.

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We avoided buying any tourist tat, craft tat or expensive designer tat and navigated our way to the museum.

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The Bond exhibition lived up to its promise with all the iconic cars and much more, presented beautifully, but it was a bit short and over and done within 45 minutes. The London Museum of Film was actually just the Bond Exhibition which was a bit disappointing, considering the rich history of filmmaking in this country.

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Back into the blazing sunshine we wandered down to the river and across Wellington Bridge to the Southbank. In the distance we could see the new crop of skyscapers lifting the London skyline ever higher, dwarfing the history and reminding more of Singapore that England.

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Finding the National Film Theatre, the entrance from the embankment seemed to be through a restaurant, so we stopped for bite to eat before exploring deeper. My pulled pork burger (that sounds a bit rude doesn’t it – or is it just me?) was lovely, though the gherkin was so sour it did make my eyes swivel round in my head and invert my face for a minute or two.

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Finally we descended down into the London underground and squeezed onto the tube back to Euston, just in time to catch our train home.

There’s so much to do in ‘that London’ that it can be quite exhausting to try and pack it all in, but I think the trick for us is to pick one thing and focus on that. Luckily the Bond exhibition was good but short enough to allow us a bit a wander.

Look out London, we’ll be back.