A Vintage Railway Visit

Dotted around the country are Vintage Railway clubs. Dedicated to restoring and running various era railway equipment. The closet of the clubs is the Glen Afton Line run by a group of railways enthusiasts. The weather played ball for once and gave us a nice warm winter day.

The most difficult part of this visit was dealing with the very harsh light that the low winter sun angles were producing, creating very deep shadows and overly brightly lit areas. None the less I was still able to get some good images, which I can now compare with our visit from six years ago. You can see the earlier image series Easter Expedition here.

All the following images were taken using the Sigma 18-250mm f3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM lens. This was a better test for the lens than in the previous images, which had been shot in much better light.

Canon 700D f5.6 – 1/750sec – ISO400 – FL 106mm

This image had the train emerging from the deep shadows caused by the shade from the trees, with the white carriage on the right being overly bright and very distracting. Added to this was the fog lingering in the background trees.

The use of a white vignette instead of black lends itself to the image, given the color of the smoke from the train and the fog. It helps to soften the edges of the image and help the eye focus on the intended subject, in this case the train.




Canon 700D – f5.6 – 1/125 sec – ISO400 – FL 128mm



This image hasn’t had a vignette applied, the subject, in this case the stern look of the young engineer on the train’s footplate is the intended focus of the image. The effect of the steam billowing around the engine created a natural frame for the image. Something of a pleasant surprise when viewing the images during post processing.

Canon 700D – f9.5 – 1/250 sec – ISO 1600 – FL 51mm





The image at left while looking a little ordinary is in reality a lot more complex than one might think at first glance. It took a little convincing to get the camera to focus on the steam engine in the background that was being refilled with water. The camera kept wanting to focus on the foreground objects. I was pleased that I was able to get this image, compounding the camera issues was the fact that the train was in motion, therefore the distance to the background was constantly changing. The final image shows several reflections from the three glass surfaces. Including my hand holding the camera and a reflection of trees that are not actually part of the trees in the background but are located directly behind the camera.
Through the locomotive cab door, you can see a further two locomotives, one inside the workshop and one sitting in the light just outside the far end of the workshop, with a reflection of what is behind my position on the far right.

Canon 700D – f/8 – 1/500 sec- ISO 800 – FL 183mm

This photo was one of those occasions when you see the basic image you want but get so much more in return.
With this photo I like the interplay between the staff members, perhaps sharing an inside joke or relating a humorous anecdote. A case of being observant and aware of what’s around you. It would be so easy to miss this sort of photographic opportunity. Nice even lighting for this image which makes it easy to process.

Other settings of note were metering set to spot. I find that for almost all images when using a telephoto lens like the Sigma, Spot metering is generally the most useful, especially once you get past 50mm FL.

ISO was set to Auto 1600, and most images where shot using “P”Mode.

Interestingly there were very few cameras being used. Most people were using their phones or just enjoying the day. I did meet one lady whom I chatted to, that was using a Canon R10 with a 24-105 lens on it. Apart from myself she was the only person using a dedicated camera for the four and a half hours we were there. I have no doubt there would have been others, but they weren’t apparent at the time we were there. I will be adding more photos from this visit in the galleries section over the coming days so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, stay safe and Happy Snappin’

Dont forget to click on each image to get a full version of it.


One size fits all lens

Say hello to the Sigma 18-250mm f3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM lens.

Having recently bought another Canon 700D, which came with the 18-55 STM kit lens, and using it for a while I was feeling the need for a telephoto lens. Previously I had had an EF 70-300mm, an EF-S 55-250mm II lens and an EF-S 55 – 250 STM version. The EF-S lenses where really nice lenses, the STM version especially so with it being a very sharp and well stabilized lens.

Canon 18-200 Telephoto lens

I had for some time been looking at the Tamron 18-270 (appears to be no longer available) and the Tamron 18-300. The earlier versions of these lenses were the 16-270 & 16-300. At the time of writing this there is a 16-300 listed on TradeMe with a buy now price of $389.00NZD plus freight.

Tamron 18-300 Telephoto Lens

After reading and watching various reviews I decided that the Tamron’s weren’t really up to spec for me at least, therefore the search for a Sigma lens started. It very rapidly turned out that Sigma lenses are in short supply both in the used and new market. The lens I bought had been on for a few days and the seller had the “make an offer” section ticked. The asking price was $190.00NZD, I made an offer of $150.00NZD and this was accepted. It always pays’ to haggle a little if you can.

I inspected the lens on arrival, it came in its original box and packaging. Further inspection left me with the impression the lens had been very rarely if ever used. Zoom movement was very smooth if not a fraction stiff, there were no marks of any kind on the lens, and the mounting plate (steel) was completely unmarked. I’m not entirely sure this lens was ever used, it just seemed like it was straight from the factory, a very pleasing result.

The lens comes with a lock switch to keep it compact when not in use and to negate the lens creep this type of lens can exhibit, however as the lens barrel is still very firm this is unlikely at present. Some reviewers felt the image stabilization wasn’t the best with this lens but as the images shown here can attest to it being very good. All the images here are from this lens and the 700D and are handheld. I did use ISO 1600 & ISO 800 to help bump up shutter speed.

The lens is sharp over its range, which was a pleasant surprise, and the sweet spot appears to be F8 & F9.5 being the best apertures when you want good focus and detail. Focus is fast although my EF-S 55-250 STM lens was a touch faster, however, focus speed was fast and reliable. The focus ring does rotate when autofocusing, so you need to be mindful and keep your fingers clear, not a deal breaker, just something I needed to reacquaint myself with after being used to internally focusing lenses.

This lens is also significantly heavier than the EF-S 55-250 at nearly twice the weight of the Canon lens. Something to bear in mind. Being 62 mm in diameter and having a larger number of elements is what makes this lens heavier, the trade-off being the greater focal range in comparison to the Canon lens. I have previously owned the Canon EF-S 18-135 lens which is a couple of hundred grams lighter than the Sigma.

It’s fair to say that at this point I’m well pleased with my purchase. More so as camera manufactures have all but stopped making APSC DSLR’s. Even more problematic is the discontinuation of the lens line-up. The EF-S 55-250 is no longer available new ( at least here in New Zealand) nor is the EF-S 18-200. In fact, the biggest photo gear shop here in New Zealand now only carries six APSC lenses (for canon DSLR’s) and at least three of them I would classify as generally useless. To get a decent lens for an APSC camera you have to look to the used market. Getting a new lens means finding a store overseas that may still be holding some new stock. By the time you add freight and GST to the price you might well be put off the idea altogether. My feeling is the used market is going to be very busy over the next few years for both APSC DSLR bodies and lenses. Suffice to say I was really fortunate to find the lens I recently bought.

But how does it perform, very well as I mentioned earlier. These images are by no means the best, however they do serve to illustrate how the lens performed. All the images have been cropped between 30 to 60%, and processed with Photoscape. I dont know how he does it but the local chopper pilot just seems to know when to show up. I had been pondering what to shoot while having breakfast when I heard him fly over our house.

Broken Links

I’m currently working my way through several broken links. If you see a broken link, please let us know so we can correct it. The shift from akiwiretrospective.com to akiwiretrospective.wordpress.com has left broken links that we are now chasing down. It appears some images and content has also been missed, mostly stuff from several years ago, however we may miss the odd item so we would appreciate the heads up.

Update News.

Since my last two posts theres been some changes.


DPreview is still up and running. According to the latest update from them on May 11th there was still no confirmation as to when they would be shut down, or even if they will be shutdown. We will just have to wait and see. If you dont wish to continue using the DPreview forums you might want to head over to the DPrevived forums. This forum contains a good deal of the archive from DPreview forums and while the visual presentation is different from what you may be used to its a good place to check out. I’ve joined as I would rather stick to one main photography forum that bounce around on several, which I’ve done in the past.


Democracy Under Threat, refers to the undertaking of some of the changes being imposed on the UK motoring public and how it will affect them on a daily basis. While I see minor elements of this creeping into New Zealand, some of the proposed changes smack closely of Fascism, and government actively pursuing a policy to limit personal freedom of travel and movement.
In recent weeks there has been a concerted push back from the public and authorities are now having to reconsider there actions and proposed changes. I hope that we dont see this sort of intrusion by government here in New Zealand.


The Blog has had a bit of a refresh, hopefully you all like it. I have decided to keep it going as theres too many things happening in the world of photography to sit back and ignore, not the least of which is the insidious arrival of A.I. into the photographic realm, something I will be following very closely. At this point I see little of benefit for the average photographer and an absolute minefield for photographic freedom. I will be expanding more on that in future writings.