Samyang 14mm F2.8 – Nikon Mount – ED AS IF UMC

16.01.15, London -  Samyang 14mm F2.8 ED AS IF UMC Ultra Wide Angle Lens on the Nikon FX Mount. After using 24-70 F2.8mm and going wide with 20mm F2.8 I wanted to go even wider to the widest possible and that was pushing me to the 14mm. I didn’t have the budget neither a wish to put that much into a lens which would not see the light of the day in regular use and not be used extensively to be given a price of a Nikon ultra wides. I decided to move off the Nikon to give myself a chance to try something different.

With the valid reasons that ultra wide justifies you more in the travel scenarios and ultra wide scenarios which works awesome on the big MegaPixels guzzlers like Nikon D800\D800E\D810. I took a jump and ordered the new Samyang 14mm F2.8 via Amazon UK and it was sharp for a normal delivery cycle. Second day on the Free delivery is a good service. It didn’t put a hole in my savings as it was moderately priced for a wide angle F2.8. It is nearly 1/5th price of a Nikon F2.8. I will not call it a downside if you are using manual on such wide angle as you are possibly not going to do action shots that requires you to sharp focus on the moving objects. I have grown up through the ages as a child using the manual focus lenses and it doesn’t stops me from going back to Manual focus again. It is a old school thought but in all honesty that price makes me have a kick and put it to the test.

On the first impressions, out of the box – It is a very good quality light and solidly put together lens. The petal hood is plastic but well covered in its shell to avoid any damages to the lens. I do love the way you feel when you hold it. Here is the small unboxing video of it.

In terms of sharpness and quality of the images – there is indeed a flaw around the lines. You do not get the same straight lines but that is the case in all the ultra wide angle lenses. Here is the sample image at F2.8 without any editting and straight from the sensor of 36mpx D810.

Samyang 14mm F2.8 Original Sample Image
Original Image from the Samyang 14mm F2.8 – Unedited mounted on the Nikon D810 at ISO 100. Handheld.

With low to medium light I do not find this lens to be any problems with Fringing. I would certainly see a different aspect when I would have to test this in the sunny day against the fringing. There is a slight moderation with edges that they are not sharp as you would expect them to be but if you look in the image above in its full resoltion I do not find this to be an issue in my perspective. Also the FX sensors offers huge potential to crop your image to the likings. Looking at the sharpness perspective if you look at the sign posts – there lines and the sharpness of the text is as clear as you would like it to be. The lens weighs in at 530gms for Nikon mount. Canon mount is 552gms.

In terms of using this lens for video\Cine use there is another version which is similar or actually less than the price of the photo lens and the difference is in the focus ring on cine is different and it is measured in T points instead of F point.

Happy to answer any questions you may have and feel free to share the article and give me thumbs up if you liked the video or needs any additional inputs.

XC ADV – The Story Begins.

The commitment to myself to seek what I have left behind in the time and be myself is back. I want to do what I love and live doing what I love. There will always be challenging along the way but that is what we all have in our lives. We love to live these challenges and challenge ourselves to the goals we want to achieve.

As in my last blog post, I mentioned the about the XC Adv. The story begins – I don’t know how far, how exciting and how boring this will get but this has begun. My long wish to prepare a motorcycle meant for my needs has started its beginning. It has been long search to get started with it in first place. I am athletic build with 1.78m and 70kgs that needs something light to take me across places fast, light and easy to handle. My choice between the motorcycles has been based on lots of help from Walter Colebatch and the likes of other adventure motorcyclist including the rally and world touring peeps.

A very interesting point of view was what I used to have in my life about a decade ago – the lighter you go – the faster you will be. This is not just applicable in one respect of weight but overall planning of your trip. Everything adds up from one to another to the next. The weight of the bike should be something that is reasonably manageable by you in any or most of the conditions you are in without the help of anyone in miles of no human reach. The big adventure bikes never were in my league with pure reason being they are not manageable at any extent in a solo long ride if the terrain is more than rough surface. I wanted a bike to meet my demands that fulfill my needs in terms of weight, reliability and capability of going beyond European tarmac. The list was pretty neat with what my options are – 650cc or 690cc.

The reliability being a big concern with travelling to the far away regions becomes a big issue if your motorcycle is little more than simple and more complicated with advanced technology. They do not make life easier rather hellish if you are stuck in middle of nowhere. KTM690 is an ideal bike but the reliability and few other concerns puts me off where as BMW 650 is tested for its reliability and comparably lot lighter than 690 in long run solo terminology of adventure travels. Although BMW 650 strikes each to each variants available. You can get the F650Gs, Sertao, Fundro 650 and the limited few which were produced as X-series. In the very obvious between the 650cc – the search has been for the lightest and that was none other than G650 Cross Country rather the name came up as XC. With a dry weight of just around 150kgs I know it would be ideal as pointed out the expert Walter himself.

It was not an easy one to begin with. On the first search that is the end of December 2014, I found no XC available in whole of UK be it a dealer or be it a private seller. The search moved on to the next available market – the EU Continent. The search was not an easier one as most common online platforms returned nothing and then few local searches from a help of Austrian friend and Belgian friend pointed me to German\Austria\NL market with few to look at. They all wanted an excess of £3000/- which sure was not my range to begin with. I was looking for a bike that is probably as old as 2007 and not a whole lot of mileage in between all these 7years. None to the point that would interest me as most were over in excess of 30,000kms. I found one in north of Italy with a private seller asking about 3800Eu. with 500kms but he never responded back to the emails or the calls hence it was over.

Two weeks in the hunt, 2015 has clocked itself in the new dates. Happy New Year, the search is still on and not a single one selling in UK. The limited production of these bikes was an interesting point that BMW never focussed on the sales of X series as these were not the market sellers for BMW potential adventure aimed buyers. BMW has made its name for selling the big boxers and not really the low spec 650’s. 650’s have been there since long time and have made its market in lower numbers compared to the 1200’s of big twin boxers. Rather I call them big boobs of BMW in the bike porno language. The first week went on and I was closing on the European market but kept myself on the hold. Not to jump the gun of crossing into the Continent as it would mean more expenses – bringing the bike, changing the currency, transporting the bike and all the paperwork to follow.

Second week on – the casual search back on online platforms – Ebay – None, Gumtree – Hey Hey (someone is selling one). I have located the first BMW G650 X Country in the UK. The seller was asking about the price I was looking for and it was 12000miles on the odometer so it would have equated to the lowest kind of mileage I was able to get compared to EU sellers. I weighed in my options to compare the other and I was well in my reach to find the bike I wanted. This just was the beginning of the whole XC Adv Story now.

BMW G650 Cross Country
Bike Search – After 3 weeks.

I contacted the seller, tried to see if we can reach a lower price than the asking but it was more or less the same as I would have not realised it until late that I ended up buying a bike which added a nearly £450 in terms of the van hire, diesel and simple transfer from A to B. I found the bike in South Devon, Somerset. I gave in the deposit to the guy to ensure that it was already locked to my name before anyone else points a finger on it. It was a long journey to begin with and added to that was the 100mph+ winds. I decided to stop in at Bristol to use it as split stop instead of doing a long 500miles in a single day.

Collection
500 miles return to gather the XC and back to base.

10.01.15 – Hiring an Enterprise Van was not  big deal but I must advice every one of checking the windscreen as I feel I have cheated. Anyways more on that later. I hired the van as they offered to pick me up from the home. It was nearly 10.30am by the time I reached home from sorting out all the paperwork at van hire and I had to take a small bicycle to be offered to a little girl who I knew would love it in her coming years.
Enterprise Van Hire

It was nearly 1100hrs by the time I could hit the road and the scare of 100mph+ winds was slowly calming down. I was all set ready to leave and resetting the trip meter on the van was the first thing that was on my mind to keep the distance tracked.

Odometer
A boring drive basically between A1M, M25, M4 upto Bristol where my first stop came as I have some family so I could have used it to my advantage. Driving a van is no wonder lot more relaxed than riding a small car for longer distances. The sitting posture really defines your change of comfort and alertness level at all times.  140miles – 2hour15mins. Not too bad considering that driving a van is lot relaxed.
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Destination was still another 110miles or so miles away. The weather was bit calm and the long empty stretches of M5 was like driving into the endless road that won’t come to an end. It was boring as well which eventually led us to A38 and into the South Brent from where the first glimpse of the XC was becoming more and more visible in my mind. Long stretches of M5

Finally, we reached the destination and the first view of the XC was captured. It wasn’t a clear first view but there was not much to it. It has been in the garage for a while and something to do with battery was mentioned. I didn’t took a big note on it but it started so I counted on it at that time.
BMW G650XC

It was a very kind and a warm welcome from Peter, who has kept the bike since number of years and was not very first owner. He had some very interesting bikes for anyone keen on the history of two strokes. I have not seen so many two strokes in the same garage as many he had to share. There was an enthusiasm and the wonderful biker brotherhood going on. He was eager to know what all I am planning to do with the bike. The idea of knowing that an XC can go lot more farther is just a spark for the excitement.
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There were few that I would have liked to share here a quick note and it was just amazing fun to see them in full working conditions. Impressed is just a small word but the interest that we had in common was a good factor for making this XC story even more exciting – the story from the beginning is a fun if it was more than just a buy and sell deal.
Blog03

Few more wonderful bikes to look at. There is another amazing Yamaha 125 LC two-stroke which was a gem in its wonderful condition. Although I loved the small 50cc Honda which was used by his son when he was learning two wheels.
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I did find myself excited meeting Peter and no wonder it has a perfect recipe for the excitement. A lot of time spent in talks and sharing what XC is capable of with its power range. Ah well we shall get loading the bike into the van and strapping it down. Peter was really kind in his welcome and his passion is reflected in his love for his wheels.
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At 12226miles, it has had a new life embedded into its new making. XC that shall see the light of the world from the shades of the garage. This should move itself into a new category among the few others known for what they are. Blog05loaded

All strapped and ready to go.

I was glad to have not attempted this within a day as it would have been a good 24hours through the day making it back to base. Tonight it is a halt in Bristol with a last 140miles to base next morning.

11.01.15 Making it to the base, I rested long as I slept like a baby last night. Morning was an easy one and still lazy to do get back on the road but I knew it was to be done before it gets dark as I rather should make the most of the daylight. Days aren’t long in January added with the bad weather not a good idea.  In all this while, I have been in contact with Erik(Expert at its trade) from NL -to update that I have been on my way. Blog06

A little break at Reading services, M4 – 435miles into the journey of the XC without being added to its own odo has been quite remarkable so far.
Blog07 M4break

Not a cm has moved on the bike :D It is well and truly locked into its place. Blog08 lock

Another distance before it can be unleashed and unstrapped into its new base. The journey amounted to a total of 507miles from base to base so it has not been so bad with a day in between.
Blog09 base

The interesting long journey with few stops has finally come to the rest. It was now time to make the face to face introduction between the Fz6 Chini and XC Adv on the outside while the Fz6 waits and watches the unloading of the XC Adv.
Blog10 base
The power of single 650 vs the inline fours of 600 is pretty much incomparable. The 650 shall set an example of unseen and unknown while the 600 has been ruling the roads for the last 63000miles of European smooth terrains.
Blog12 baseThis marks the base to base journey of making the XC Adv limelight of the stories ahead.

Interestingly, as I previously mentioned about the van rentals – I was quite stunned when a chap at the rental mentioned about the chip. It was barely 2cms with a slight 2cm line appearing near the base of the windshield. It just took me by surprise because I am quite sure when the van was given to me – the lady who let it rent to me didn’t check the screen and neither did I – so validly I was at the fault but gobsmacked me doesn’t believe it was me. It became a well in excess of £400 for the van hire and the fuel in total amounting to lot more than expected. There was no fun part in the end as it left me bitter!

Just a learning, that rentals should be more carefully sought out in future if you are to take one. It just was no fun that you return it as you got it and took the hit of more than you expected it to be. Rant over.

Story continues …..

Adventure

2015 : The first post and something not like a resolution but rather like a need to change. I have been stuck in the customs of being the usual which is not me and I should get back to what I am used to be in my own skin. I know I am not one of the many who revel their lives in comfort of 9-5, luxuries of high profiles, endless followers and enjoying their fames of whatever they can mould their followers into.

The time to be who I am and where I belong is here and is right now running through my head, my blood and my body – CHANGE. I need this time for myself to get back to what I have loved doing over the years – Travel – Click – Be Happy – Be the Hippy Happy Nomad adventurer. The theme of life needs to come back to life. I have been stuck in the comforts of western life for too long. I need that to change to accept and respect what life has to offer. The comforts have made me become weak and nimble. I need to reconvene myself with the nature to be in sync with myself.

The project XC has taken over. I know I have this urge to go and travel so let this be NOW. This moment of now has been initiated. Last two weeks I have been digging around looking at where can I find this XC – the one that Walter Colebatch has been inspiring me about. I need this to happen and I want it to there. So for those who don’t have an idea what I am talking about – It is to do with searching a right motorcycle, in this case a BMW G650 Cross Country also known as XC. Once I have the right one, preparing it over period of time and then planning to go where my heart belongs – the real world away from the civilisation of masses and arrogant people which the cities turn them into.

I have been riding up and down the Indian Himalayas over the period of years that I spent in India in my earlier life. Since year 2000 till 2008 I have racked up several thousands of kilometers riding solo, with a friend, doing a two-up as well as doing endless longest rides of more than 24hours. Age does catch up and body does start to make you feel that you don’t have the same youth but the power of mind can take you anywhere again. So this is the moment to bring this change in life and do what I love. Prepare a motorcycle that can handle the Adventures, the rough terrains, those water crossings, the language barrier and the cultural clash over the years. I need to see these people with a difference – where life, culture and aspects of life make you feel the importance of your life. Riding in UK\EU over the last 6.5yrs is a cream that anyone who wants to do it can do it. The last 75,000miles in Europe has been an ease which didn’t include seeing the happiness, the adventure and the real friendly world – I don’t deny of some exceptions but generally – the world is not same when you live in the western perimeters of modern life. Everyone is connected but more disconnected than ever. The advent of technology has not connected but rather disconnected us from each other in a way bigger than anything else ever did in the past history of our existence.

Note to self :
XC secured on 08.01.15
XC Collection on 10.01.15

2014 is over.

Yes, the year that was in a way not the year I would have liked it to be. It is gone and it is over.

2014 : The good riddance

Almost that time of the year when it’s time to look back and ponder. Things really moved and indeed made a whole lot of difference. Bringing it all back I guess this is where another year ends. It’s been a year of learning. Learning to understand the people, the games they play and how they make you feel. It’s something too late to understand but better now then never.
Few lessons to myself:
Rule #1 -You can’t make friends where you work. They are your mates who watch out your weaknesses to step on you so they can move ahead. You have colleagues who you can call friends till the point you are going for drinks after work, the team dinners and anything which includes socialising from the point of corporate socialising. Anything beyond is your foolishness to be aware of your environment. When you get told make friends, it has a sweet meaning – get your job done and move off. Just as you would in terms – make friends.
Rule #2 – Don’t bother to be in this Rat Race. The point well concluded of the first point this is a rat race. If you’re happy to be who you are you will sooner or later realise you have killed a part of yourself to be a rat in this race. This world is a one created to be watched played and executed to the needs of the greedy executioners who have the power of replacing, removing or multiplying you. The end result is a bigger understanding of how it all works. It’s like a game of chess but more so you can call it Politics of playful.
Rule #3 – Don’t kill yourself – You will understand that all those around you who appears, talk and openly say a lot more about being friends are more or less just interested in your strengths and weaknesses to be able to step on you. You start to generate this stress inside you to understand what is going around you. You start a battle which will kill you. Stop fighting and be who you are. You may not be that best for other expectations but hey you know it inside you. Work on yourself for yourself others will always be insistent on what they expect from you. Stop looking, listening and idolising others. Be your own best to be who you are. Lock this in every scenario of life.

Rule #4 – Acceptance- your life depends on it. Your whole attitude of living will work around this logic.

Rule #5 – Travel Travel Travel… and shoot shoot shoot the shutters… Time to look ahead.