First image from the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Fuji X-mount

•June 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I took delivery of my new Zeiss Touit 32/1.8 lens this morning from B&H. I couldn’t wait past the weekend so I had it overnighted. You see, when I’m impulse-buying photo gear, I have no patience. If I make a snap-decision, I want snap-delivery. I like to keep my gratification instant. The little Touit lens is well-built; very solid, as one would expect from Zeiss. And also, as I would expect from Zeiss, even their presentation oozed precision:

Carl Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 X-mount lens

Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 X-mount lens

I immediately mounted the Touit onto my X-E1 and ran around looking for something to make a picture of, and finally settled on making a picture of J. as she was having streaks put in her hair by Kim. I have a couple shoots lined up this weekend, so I will be sure to put the lens to the test then, but for now, I have to say that I’m already in love with the Zeiss Touit 32. It’s as sharp as you expect Zeiss to be, and smooth as butter. The AF works well, and is plenty fast enough for me tastes, and I’m used to shooting with Nikon D3 bodies. I’ll see if I can get a few more photos when we go out to dinner with some friends later this evening. Until now, here’s one pic:

Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Sample Image - Fuji X-E1

Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Sample Image (Fuji X-E1)

The Fiscal Cliff Doomsday Device

•December 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

As the so-called and duly-buzzworded “fiscal-cliff” looms closer, remember that this is not a “partisan” issue, but simply one of stupidity and greed. Why greed? Because if members of congress were really interested in motivating themselves to solve the budgetary problems at hand, instead of constructing an economic doomsday device that would send the entire nation into another recession, they could have simply forfeited their own pay and benefits until they solved the issue. But instead, they decided to hold the public over the fire while they steam along unaffected.

They aren’t really interested in solving problems thru compromise; they are all content to trudge on as-is, hoping one side will cave and the other will have their way. Congress is simply 535 infants, all holding their breath.

Things like this make me think that voting doesn’t really matter much. If both parties are this stupid, then there has got to be another solution. But what it it? Term limits? Caning? Caning sounds pretty good to me.

On Shooting Sports

•December 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment
OKC Barons goaltender Yann Danis get lit up against the San Antonio Rampage. Photo by Darren Abate

OKC Barons goaltender Yann Danis get lit up against the San Antonio Rampage. (Darren Abate/

Younger shooters often ask me for advice about shooting sports, because, well, I shoot a lot of sports. I always say that the most important thing is to know the game, because you essentially have to be able to predict the future. You have to know where the action is going to happen; if you wait for the action to happen, you will usually miss it. This image is a perfect example of that. I had to start shooting as soon as — if not before — the shot was taken in order to catch the puck in the net.

Click the link below to watch a highlight video from the Rampage game last night. This photo illustrates a goal that happened at 1:03 in the video. Watch how quickly it happens. If you wait for it, you’ll never capture it. BTW you can see me shooting thru the photo port in the glass after the score.


Photojournalist’s Log – Aug. 24th, 2012

•August 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I was looking forward to wrapping up a very busy week today, but it turned out that the end of my week became the middle, because I picked up a lot of work over the weekend and into Monday. I just wrapped three days of shooting for The Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio Campus, both stills and video. The CIA was holding the grand opening of their new Latin restaurant, called NAO, and wanted full documentation of the event, as well as stills and video of student chefs working in the kitchens, interiors and exteriors of the buildings, and coverage of celebrity chef appearances on campus.

The CIA is a regular client of mine, and I always love shooting there. I love the culinary arts, and if I weren’t a photographer, I would probably be a chef. It’s so interesting to spend time in the skills kitchen, absorbing knowledge while shooting. I always leave inspired to cook more, and then that all ends when I pass the Whataburger on my way home. One of these days, I’ll keep a well-stocked kitchen. Maybe.

Saturday, I have a morning assignment for the San Antonio Express-News, covering a mural project on the city’s West Side intended to cover up gang graffiti. In the afternoon, I’m manning the Glidecam for Sam Lerma’s video shoot for Gridiron, and then it’s more photo and video editing thru Sunday. Monday, I have an assignment for the Los Angeles Times, covering PTSD treatment and training for military dogs returning from service in Afghanistan. I’m really looking forward to that one; it should be very interesting. I can easily see how some spectacular and heartwarming pictures could be made.

For now, it’s back to transcoding and tagging video and photos.

The Switch from Canon to Nikon is Almost Complete

•March 29, 2012 • 1 Comment
AHL - San Antonio Rampage's Greg Rallo and Hamilton Bulldogs' Joonas Nattinen

San Antonio Rampage's Greg Rallo takes down Hamilton Bulldogs' Joonas Nattinen. (Darren Abate/
Nikon D3; Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S

To be honest, the switch is actually complete. I just have a few more items to get to finish out my Nikon collection, and my bag will be full, but for now I’m still borrowing a couple things from friends, namely a 70-200 VR and a flash. I have the rest, though. My second D3 body arrived today, and I shot hockey tonight with both of them.

The two D3 cameras are about 50,000 units apart in serial numbers, but for some reason, they shoot somewhat differently. The older camera handles better, which I thought was strange, as it also has a lot more pops on the shutter. Like, five time more. But, the controls and shutter release is more firm, and the image in the viewfinder is brighter and more neutral than the younger body, which has a warm tone to the pentaprism for some reason. Did Nikon switch components somewhere in the D3 production run? Does anyone know?

I am more happy with the switch to Nikon with every assignment. I find that the autofocus is more accurate on my D3’s than was any Canon I ever owned. I’m not saying Nikon is better, or whatever, but to each his own, and it seems that the Nikons are better-suited to me and my shooting style. I sure like their zoom lenses better, that’s for sure. I never liked Canon’s zooms, except for the 16-35/2.8L II, which was awesome. The Canon 70-200/2.8L IS was a complete dog for sports action. AF was never accurate. Good riddance to it.

So no, my bag holds two D3 bodies, a 17-35/2.8 D, an 80-200/2.8 D, and a 300/2.8 AF-S (which is a tank). I had a 28-70/2.8 D but I sent it back to KEH because I found that they had severely over-rated its condition; the thing wouldn’t even AF to infinity if it was zoomed out to 70mm. I’m still debating whether to order another one or to instead replace that focal length coverage with fast primes. With two bodies, I could probably keep the 17-35 on one and then have a 50/1.4 or 85/1.4 on the other. Maybe I’ll order a D800 when they ship and just have three bodies on me. Yeah, like a “real” photojournalist. Heh.

New Blog Site for Panasonic AF100 Users

•February 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I would like to announced that I’ve started a new blog for users and enthusiasts of the Panasonic AF100 HD video camera. It can be found at

Please come by and share in the knowledge. If you would like to send a link to AF100 footage for inclusion, send an email with  your link to AF100Central (at) gmail (daht) com.

AF100 Central

Panasonic AG-AF100 Users: It’s Firmware Update Time!

•February 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Panasonic AG-AF100 firmware updatePanasonic AF100 users, if you haven’t already heard, there is a firmware update available for your camera. The upgrade improves the color displayed in the LCD, as well as some problem with Mac operation. Something about a hidden file that Macs use. But the most important update is this: When you are using the camera in VFR (variable frame rate) mode, now there will be an icon in your viewfinder that tells you that audio is NOT being recorded. In case you weren’t aware, before the update, your audio meters would function as normal, even though your camera was not recording audio in VFR mode. This is a VERY important fix, because even if you are recording at the standard frame rate for your scene file when in VFR mode, the camera will still not record audio, UNLIKE the HPX170, which WOULD record audio when you put it back to your scene file’s frame rate after over or undercranking it. With the AF100, you actually have to go into the menu and turn off VFR mode in the scene file.

Click here to download the firmware update from Panasonic:


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