Photographer Maurizio tells us about
what draws him again and again to Icelandic photography and how he takes his Iceland photos in extremes of cold temperatures, darkeness and humidity.
SHOOTING ICE AND ROCK: AN ICELAND PHOTOGRAPHY
Although I was born in the beautiful island of Sardinia, I love the Arctic temperatures, and for some years I have been dedicating a portion of the year to a trip to the great north. My
first trip to Iceland was in 2015 and since then I cannot do without it. Sardinia, being an island in the Mediterranean, reaches very high temperatures and immediately after the summer I
organize myself for trips to the far north to get my fix of the intense cold and more amazing Iceland photos.
For my last trip, I was testing out the ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2.8 lens. I was extremely satisfied and amazed by the quality of this lens, both in night shots and in daytime shots.
Being a fixed lens allowed me to get good iceland photos of great overall quality, and above all it allowed me to have much less gear in my backpack. During this Icelandic tour, I put a
lot of pressure on the 18mm, using it in really demanding situations.
First Impressions of the ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2.8 lens – at night!
I start with this shot, made in Sardinia in the ancient theater of the submerged city of Nora. This photograph is a composite of several shots, six of the land and six of the sky. The
complexity of the final image is due to the combination of several photographs, but fortunately the 18mm has allowed me to get a good starting file with clear detail in the shadows
even though it was dark. None of the photos showed any aberrations thanks to the quality of ZEISS lenses which have zero distortion. Another factor that amazed me with this lens is
its sharpness. Unparalleled in my opinion, and you reach maximum precision thanks to its OLED display that allows you to read accurately the focal distance between the focus point and
infinity. In night photography this is normally very difficult to handle, because of the difficulty of focusing on dark subjects. Alternatively, you can focus on the stars, but you
can’t always get a good result.
My Iceland photography trip with the ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2.8 started inside this hidden waterfall. The experience was really fantastic. The weather-proofing of the optics prevented
the entry of water, while the intensity of the water droplets was truly remarkable. And what struck me most was the simplicity of cleaning the water drops off the lens. Ease of
focusing was another happy surprise. It was very precise from the first touch, so allowing me to easily get the perfect ‘hyperfocal effect’.
Another stunning aspect of the ZEISS Batis 18mm f / 2.8 is its compact design, perfectly conceived for a camera body like my Sony α7R II. The Sony α7R II is equipped with a 42.4
Megapixel BIONZ X sensor, which is not compatible with all lenses. The reason is very simple, the number of pixels is so high that if the lens is not equal to this resolution, you
lose detail. I tested the ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2.8 alongside other manufacturers’ lenses but none has reached the quality and detail of the ZEISS Batis.
Shooting the Northern Lights in Iceland
To make this panoramic shot of Kirkjufell, Iceland, I merged 4 shots to have a greater visual breadth, but I never imagined that I would get so much sharpness and clarity in the picture.
In my opinion, the high quality is given by 2 factors: the quality of the lenses and the low dispersion of the light.
During the Northern Lights, you can often find yourself faced with really complicated situations, with frequent changes of light and problems with focusing. All this was just a distant
memory, after setting the ISO and aligning my tripod, I made it very simple to focus by pressing the shutter button halfway. It did not seem possible as I could barely see the edges of
the mountains, but thanks to the brightness of the optics I could manage the focus without any problem even in such an extreme situation. And the resulting Iceland image is one of my
Iceland photography in extremes of temperature and humidity
Another aspect that has amazed me is the thermal seal of the optics. In the past I would never have managed to shoot for more than 2 hours without incurring lens fogging. While I was
taking these Iceland pictures, the wind chill temperature was -17 °C with a very high percentage of humidity. Everything around me was devoid of movement, and the air we breathed was as
sharp as razor blades. Despite this I spent from 9pm to 3am, without respite, pausing from time to time inside the car to warm up a bit. However, even in Iceland’s extreme climate, the
ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2.8 has proven to be effective and has handled the situation without any problem.
Ice on the beach, a classic Icelandic photo subject
I had the pleasure of testing the superior color rendering of the ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2.8 lens. To make these two shots I used a set of Nisi filters and a polarizer, and I found the
balance of light and tones was perfect. Whenever I look at these Iceland photos I relive the sensations I had while shooting when I stood there with my feet in the icy water. It can also
be seen how the lens has done justice to the block of ice, reflecting every detail.
In conclusion, I think the lens that every landscape photographer should have is a ZEISS Batis 18 mm f/2.8, because in any situation you will face you can rely on it to capture every
little detail of what you lived.
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