There is a photographer I have been following around on DPReview.com for a while now who often posts threads detailing “my mind’s eye”. He tends to take pictures into his own digital darkroom and manipulates them to appear as super punchy, contrasty, and saturated works of art (though much of this is due to his need to print on canvas, where extra saturation, contrast, etc. is needed). I’m often interested in his manipulations, as they tend to not look like anything I personally would have seen (hence his originality) before or after taking the shot. For a frame of reference, he does post both the picture his camera took, before sharing his mind’s edited version.
Being red/green and blue/purple colorblind, I am at a relative disadvantage when it comes to true-to-life photo editing, as what I see is different than what most of the world sees. No, I don’t see in black-and-white (though that would sure make that style of photography easier!), but many times colors appear dull, lack contrast, and are difficult to distinguish from one another. If you have been paying attention to some of my previous posts, many of my edited photographs may appear very punchy and contrasty. Funny thing is to me, those edited pictures appear “normal”. It may not be true-to-life, but the edits I do make to photographs appear to me how I can only wish to see them in real life.
As promised, here is the last set from my weekend Renaissance fair outing. It turned out to be a lot more fun than I was expecting, and the people (and things) there were very interesting to photograph. The themes for set one and two were interesting people and things, respectively. This last theme really is just miscellaneous, as they don’t all fit into a specific category. Regardless, they’re worth sharing. :)
All of the following taken with the Nikon 100mm f/2.8 and NEX-7.
Firestream 100mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/800 (Monochrome)
Keeping this post short and sweet, but to get a few items of importance out of the way…I have updated a couple things on the site, most notably the recent 50mm f/1.8 E review. I found (after a helpful criticism from a reader) the reason behind the odd sharpness characteristic prominent at f/4-5.6 is due to a lens imperfection known as focus shift, where critical focus is not consistent from aperture to aperture. Thanks to another reader request, I also added a “sharpness at macro” section to the 105mm f/1.8 AI-s review.
Anyways, back to some pictures from a recent outing to a Renaissance fair (yes, I actually went to one. Go figure. hehe). Yesterday’s theme of “interesting people” (found in my first impressions of the 100mm f/2.8 E) is followed up today by “interesting things”. Not the most inventive title, but hey, what can I say. :)
All taken with the Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series-E, wide open, with the Sony NEX-7.
Yet another lens from the super-lightweight, ultra-compact, and bargain-bin cheap Nikon Series-E’s, the 100mm f/2.8 E so far has been a joy to shoot, almost as much so as the 50mm f/1.8 E. It shares all the same qualities of the other Series-E lenses, such as the black body, super-smooth focusing, and solid (yet plastic) build, but there is something different about this lens. The 100mm actually does very well wide-open, an attribute I wasn’t expecting after my times with the otherthreeprimes I have reviewed so far in the same series. As some may already know, wide-open performance is a big deal to me; I not only love to see sharpness (though it isn’t everything), but primarily, shallow depth of field photography is a style I have come to embrace. About the only times I stop down my lenses are if I: 1. Have to lower the shutter speed in too-bright light (such as trying to shoot at f/1.4 in daylight) 2. Need a larger depth of field for product shots (the shot above was taken at f/13, for instance) 3. Want to do a landscape (unfortunately those are few and far in between) and 4. The here-and-then moments I need critical sharpness for extreme cropping (the bee shot as one of my headers is one example). Other than that, when everything is blurred but the subject, that’s my realm of photography. :)
Back to the lens though, I believe I can say (so far, anyway) the 100mm f/2.8 E is one of the “sleeper” optics I was looking for in the Series-E lineup. I have only spent one day of shooting with the lens. However, it was at a Renaissance fair (yes…cliché, I know), and I shotover 900 pictures all at f/2.8. If that’s not a torture test for a lens’ performance wide-open, I don’t know what is. So many things can go wrong. Since more light is coming in, flare will be more problematic (which it is, though only in direct light, so far). Sharpness should be low (though it’s not). Finally, purple fringing should be terrible (it wasn’t).
“Fast 50′s” are a category of lens all by their own that needs little explanation. They are lenses meant to appeal to all markets of photographers, from casual to pro; choices from one manufacturer are numerous enough (Nikon alone has at least seven manual focus 50′s, and at least 5 autofocus 50′s). When all the other camera companies and third-party manufacturers’ fast 50′s are taken into account, the sheer amount of choice is daunting. For a lens to separate itself from the crowd, it has to have something special. For instance, the new SLR-Magic 50mm T0.95 Cine lens, reviewed back in February by Steve Huff, is one of the fastest 50mm lenses getting ready to be produced–faster than even the $11,000 Leica Noctilux (T-stops are faster than F-stops, that’s a concept to write about in and of itself…). That lens in particular is getting a lot of attention not only for its speed, but for its cost and performance compared to the Noctilux (will be priced around $5000 now).
Ah, getting into fast 50′s now, lenses such as these are simple optical formulas designed to be cheap to make, easy to get right, and small enough to be pocketable. Speaking of pocketable, the 50mm f/1.8 E really is a tiny lens. For perspective, the rear cap for it is almost as long as the lens itself! Anyways, instead of doing what is essentially a “second” impressions for this lens, I’m going to link you all to a previous post (click here) with pictures taken with the 50mm E, a little “micro” photo-walk I took a while back on campus. It’s micro because I only really walked around about 300 feet. :) I was just lazy that day. If you all insist though, for my impressions of the lens now: even with its quirks and limitations, the 50mm E is a good performer. Since it is the smallest and lightest lens I’ve ever used or seen, I will probably still keep it for a compact walk-around kit even if I get a better fast 50 (Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 AI-s, anyone?).
Review coming soon, possibly Friday night. Until then, sit tight, have a run through some of my previous stuff, and as always, have a great one. :D
Misplaced 135mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/2000 Orange partial color edited in LR 4
In an effort to inject a little creativity into my samples at the end of the 135mm f/2.8 Series-E review, I took it upon myself to do a solo photo-walk around town. Granted, my town isn’t exactly a great place for street photography, as “downtown” consists of about three blocks. Outside of that, suburbia. I figured this might present a great challenge, and I’m very glad I stood up to it. In addition to getting some great shots for the review (and this post), I ran into a photographer named Butch. With him were a few other photographers, part of the Central Kentucky Photo Group, a local internet-connected photo meet-up community. An organization like this is EXACTLY what I have been looking for, as I have always wanted to go on group photo walks in big(ger) cities in my state to give real street photography a try.
People love fast things. Fast cars, fast guns, fast internet. When it comes to lenses, it is the fast primes that often garner attention from the slower zooms that sit on many a DSLR. Unfortunately, the 135mm f/2.8 Series-E (for a history of the Series-E lenses, see here) is not one of those lenses. Despite its fast f/2.8 aperture, good reach (200mm FOV equiv on APS-C, 270mm on m4/3), and compact size, the 135mm–and other Series-E lenses–were largely considered dinky and consumerish. Due mostly to their sub-par build quality (at the time, compared to the AI-s counterparts), they never gained popularity with the masses. Good news for you and me, most of these lenses used the same (or similar) optical formulas as the AI-s lenses, and can be had at a bargain at your favorite online auction house. For instance, this lens goes for about $90/€71, while its AI-s counterpart regularly sells for at least twice the price. Though I do not have the AI-s version (yet), I have my doubts that it is twice-as-good as the Series-E version. Time will tell.
When most people think “fast telephoto”, they envision a large, heavy, and expensive lens that is suited for DSLR usage. Putting a 70-200 f/2.8 on a mirrorless camera seems silly for everyday shooting; though the weight advantage (the body) is still there over larger cameras, the size advantage is long gone. Part of the compact, lightweight, and inexpensive Series-E lenses by Nikon (more info here), the 135mm f/2.8 E is probably the cheapest, lightest, and smallest way to get a 135mm focal length lens (~200mm field of view on an APS-C sensor and ~270mm field of view on m4/3) with a fast f/2.8 aperture. This allows for greater light gathering and depth of field control than slower zooms–two factors that are extremely important to my photography.
In an effort to spruce up the website, I have uploaded a few tight crops (in the 9.5×2 ratio) into the banner at the top of your page that randomly changes as you either refresh or go to a new post/page. If you have a spare 10 seconds, I’d like to hear your opinion in this little poll, you can leave comments if you’d like if you had any other suggestions: