Well the lilies are out this time of year, specifically those in the warm yellow-to-red spectrum. Figure I would go ahead and just take some pictures to get it over with and move on, I’d rather not have flower shots in all my posts (though as new ones sprout up, they’ll probably find their way into the lens tests!).
So here are three. All of which were taken with the NEX-7 and Nikon 135mm f/2.8 Series-E (first impressions coming soon!) on a tripod.
135mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/2000
I’ll admit, the widest focal length in a prime lens I had ever shot up until now was 50mm. Due mostly to a lack of necessity I simply never purchased anything wider. Seeing as sports photography for the summer has generally dried up for me (which require the use of my telephoto primes), I feel that expanding my focal range on the wider end can also help me expand my creative possibilities. Using the 35mm focal length, new perspectives have opened up, wider shots are now possible, and the general feeling of attempting something different for my shooting keeps things interesting.
In this review, one of Nikon’s simplest (and cheapest) 35mm SLR lenses is put to the test on a modern APS-C camera, the Sony NEX-7 via an adapter. Part of Nikon’s Series-E lenses (for detailed info, see my first impressions of the lens and mir.com), the 35mm f/2.5 is an extremely lightweight, compact, and inexpensive optic; in good condition you should be able to find one for about $50/€40. The question is, can this little lens from the past stand up to a modern-day digital sensor? Let’s find out!
Back in the “glory days” of Nikon’s legendary AI-s lenses, which provided outstanding optical and mechanical quality to film SLRs, there were so many great optics to choose from. Though the zooms provided good results on film, it was the primes that have maintained much of their resale value, due to their still stellar performance on today’s digital cameras (that said, Nikon’s old zooms are still “good” for the most part). Even today, a full set of a supposed AI-s “dream-team”—such as the 24mm f/2, 50mm f/1.2, 85mm f/1.4, 105mm f/1.8, 135mm f/2, 180mm f/2.8 ED, and 300mm f/2.8 ED—will still set you back a very pretty penny (all depending on the condition of the lens and the current demand, of course). There was a problem for photographers who didn’t necessarily demand top-tier performance: there were no cheap AI-s lenses to be found, and third-party options were always hit-and-miss. For this crowd, who still wanted to buy Nikon, their only option was to save up and acquire one or two lenses in their kit—though in fairness this can help improve one’s photography in some ways. In 1979 Nikon finally made more affordable options to the “general photography” crowd, their Series-E line. A more thorough explanation can be seen here, but basically, the Series-E lenses use similar optical formulas as their AI-s Nikkor counterparts (worth noting that all Series-E lenses are technically “AI-s” in function), use some plastic in their construction, and can be had at a bargain in an online auction house of your choice.
50mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/800
I’m a Kentuckian. Call me silly, but until yesterday I had never visited Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Yes, I know; such an iconic area so close to home, seen by millions each year as the horses race along the track, and I had never been! By way of a of a side-trip I stopped by with family to get a glimpse at all the hubbub of the area, and boy, I wish I had gotten there earlier to see all what was going on, and I can’t wait to go back!
Seen here, the left hand is supporting the lens. Very important!
Despite its heft, size, and even cartoonishly disproportionate appearance, the Nikon 180mm f/2.8 AI-s ED is an odd, yet intriguing lens in use. It is one of the few hand-holdable, long, and FAST prime lenses that I know of, especially those made by Nikon (the only other one out there is the autofocus version of this lens!). What usually comes to mind for nowadays’ fast telephotos are the bulky 200mm f/2′s, the monster 300mm f/2.8′s, and even the gargantuan 400mm f/2.8′s. Though these lenses are indeed fast and long, they are far from being walk-around lenses; the main (if only) times they will be seen deployed in the field is on a monopod or tripod. The cost is nothing to sneeze at either, google any of these focal lengths and apertures and you will find lenses in the multi-thousands of dollars, even used. Though the 180mm is “only” an f/2.8, it is still very, very fast for its focal length.
Hello everyone! I didn’t want to leave anybody out in the cold with my absence these past few days. I’m busy finishing up the Nikon 180mm full review, will hopefully post that up by tomorrow afternoon. Thank you for your patience. In the meantime, just hang tight.