First off, a HUGE thank you to Mike Sims for sending me this brand new optic to test out–especially for allowing me to shoot with it for so long. I can’t do much to thank him except to suggest you check out his Flickr, 500px, and Google+ accounts! Click here for my first impressions of the lens.
IMPORTANT: If you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, please reference this post first!
f/.95. Wow! It goes without saying, but that’s fast for ANY lens. Technically, this aperture delivers over four times as much light to a sensor as a standard 50mm f/2. But let me get this crucial fact out of the way, the Noktor HyperPrime 50mm f/.95 does not give a photographer ultra low-light capabilities as much as the aperture value suggests. Any additional light-gathering power stops at around f/1.2-1.3; wider than that, and an APS-C camera simply doesn’t meter any faster shutter speeds. I have read on multiple forums that this isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. Some photographers, when using a lens with an f/1.2 maximum aperture report that the camera’s metering doesn’t change even from wide-open to f/1.4. A reader has informed me this is due to a documented condition where a sensor’s microlenses cannot transmit any more light to each pixel than that microlens’ f/stop, regardless of the larger lens’ aperture. Keep in mind that in regards to depth-of-field, f/.95 is definitely true–we’ll examine that later.
The Noktor is a lens that doesn’t exactly establish itself as a normal prime: on APS-C, it gives a field of view similar to that of a 75mm f/1.4 lens on 35mm film (if such as lens has ever existed?). In other words, the Noktor is a short portrait prime capable of extremely pleasant subject separation even at a distance. In all honesty, images shot at f/.95 really have that “full-frame” look simply because of this “pop”. But does this very shallow depth-of-field advantage come at a cost? Let’s find out! Continue Reading
Another quick post for today. When I stepped outside after the last game of the tournament I shot last week, I passed by multiple berry trees (probably not the right name) on my way to the car. These familiar trees ripen their berries for months before birds start to pick them off for the winter. I happened to come across a feeding frenzy of THOUSANDS of birds on this particular day (first day after the winter solstice, actually). Starlings and robins made up the majority, but peppered in the mix were a number of other more exotic birds I don’t typically see out and about.
Unfortunately for me, the longest lens I brought along was the 105mm f/1.8 AI-s; in other words, I was grossly ill-equipped for birding. Thanks not only to the “cropability” of the NEX-7′s sensor, but also to the birds’ ignorance of me, I was able to get close enough for some interesting shots. Because of the cold, however, my battery ran out on me while I was shooting. I believe it’s time to purchase a second battery soon…
105mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1250
105mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1250
105mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/400
105mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/160
105mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/200
That’s all for this post guys and gals, thanks for dropping by! Still working on that Noktor review. Should have it up pretty soon. :)
Just a quick update post, I have added the three zooms to the page detailing the general strengths and weaknesses of the entire 8-lens Series-E lineup by Nikon. The 6-month journey of photographing with these lenses, beginning with the 50mm f/1.8, has been a great exercise in technical lens reviewing and photographic artistry. All journeys have to come to an end, however, and this one is no different. One of the questions I have been asked on multiple occasions is “what lenses are YOU going to keep?” To be blunt and simple, the 50mm f/1.8 is the only Series-E I will hold on to and still use. The tiny nifty 50 is still the best example of a lens meeting my 4 “shootability” pillars in a legacy lens. Though most of the Series-E’s are optically great, their focal range overlaps with all of my primes that I enjoy using. Despite going through the review process of three zooms, I STILL couldn’t shake my prime-shooting habits. Zooms always stayed either at the wide or telephoto end, myself “zooming” with my feet to get the composition I wanted. So it stands, the other four primes have long been sold, and the remaining three zooms will find their way to eBay soon enough. :)
That’s all for this post guys and gals, thanks for dropping by!
What a pleasant surprise it was to see my new 35mm f/1.8 OSS arrive Christmas Eve! After a few months of waiting, this highly anticipated optic is now in my hands for testing. The 35mm f/1.8 OSS fills a crucial gap for many NEX owners looking for a fast, optically great, and truly “standard” (the field of view on APS-C is 52.5mm in 35mm-format terms) lens. It just so happens this lens is also tiny, as well as coming with optical stabilization. That last part was actually the very first thing I wanted to look at with this lens–not only can it help drop shutter speeds without motion blur and lower the ISO in stills photography, but it makes handheld video extremely smooth and free from normal handheld jitters. To test this out, I brought along this lens and the NEX-7 to a Christmas Eve celebration where my sister was performing one of her contemporary worship songs. All was recorded at f/1.8 in the 24p mode at 1/25th shutter speed, with the ISO at a low 400. The obvious parts of camera shake were user error (adjusting my grip on the camera), but even then, they aren’t as jerky as they would be with a non-stabilized lens. 1080p for best quality. :)
Seeing as I have only had the 35mm f/1.8 OSS for a day now, I won’t call this post a true first impressions. This is more of an “early look” of sorts. :) One photo I do want to share from the lens is a shot of our Christmas tree. For a bit of originality this Christmas, I decided to print off some 8x10s of my photos over the past year to give to the family. Avid readers on this site will recognize all of these shots!
Under the Tree
35mm, ISO 400, f/2.2, 1/2 second (handheld!)
That’s all for this post guys and gals, I hope everyone reading this has a Merry Christmas or is enjoying whatever holiday they are celebrating with family and friends. The next “big” post should be that 50mm f/.95 HyperPrime. :)
This month marks the one-year anniversary when I started sports photography. Back in the “early days”, I shot all my basketball pictures with a d300 and a super-old Nikon 50mm f/2 AI under the basket. My Tokina 80-200mm f/2.8 AT-X I had simply wasn’t fast enough in the relatively dim indoor court. With my limited outfit, I still managed to get some great shots, ones that I can still look back on and be proud of; shooting wide-open enabled me to generally stay in between ISO 1600-3200 at 1/500. This was enough to stop motion okay, but the spherical aberration from shooting at f/2 kept shots from “popping”. For a lot of my shots, some heavy editing was required, whether that be editing exposure to make things contrastier and sharper, or heavily cropping shots that the 50mm length just couldn’t reach.
One year later, I was highly looking forward to shooting basketball with my NEX-7 with my “new” fast legacy lenses, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI and Nikon 105mm f/1.8 AI-s; both of which perform exceptionally well at f/2 for low-light. Since the NEX-7 seems to match the d300 in terms of high ISO performance up to ISO 3200 and at twice the resolution, I not only have more room for liberal cropping, but even uncropped images retain more detail!
The following twelve images were captured from a three-day basketball tournament at my university. In order to upload the photos in time for my supervisor, I was only able to photograph the first half; halftime and the second half was always used for sorting and editing my photographs for export. All photos captured with the NEX-7 and the aforementioned lenses at f/2. Women’s shots were all at ISO 1600 and 1/500, while the men’s shots were mostly at ISO 3200 and 1/640-1/800. Most shots do not have any noise reduction applied, and some are heavily cropped. Other than that, enjoy some action pictures! :)
Whew…it’s been awhile since my last lens review—I’ll admit to that! The rigors of school this past semester have just been too much to handle when combined with the upkeep of personal photography and this website. Even on this short break of mine, sports assignments and a faulty internet connection do their best to keep me from posting new content. I do try to still find free time. :)
If you are unfamiliar with my review methods, please see this post first!
The 70-210mm f/4 E by Nikon is the last “consumer” zoom to be reviewed in my long journey of working with this series of lenses over the past months. As some readers may know, I have a general negative bias towards zoom lenses. This is not from an image quality standpoint (though prime lenses tend to perform better anyway)—rather, when artistry is taken into account. A photographer can easily get lazy with composition when all they have to do is zoom in and out with the lens rather than their feet. This is more true with the 70-210mm with its 3x zoom range compared to the 2x zoom range of the 70-150mm f/3.5 and 36-72mm f/3.5. Generally speaking, however, this lens is by all means a telephoto (especially on APS-C or smaller sensor-cameras), so its use still is limited.
Supposedly this lens’ optics were used in Nikon’s first autofocus telephoto zoom, the Nikon 70-210mm f/4 AF. Does this mean its performance was superb even by non-Series-E standards? Let’s take a look! Continue Reading
As luck would have it, I currently cannot write any detailed posts for the site yet. Upon returning home for Christmas break (and after the dreadful finals week), I have found my internet to be…sporadic at best. Currently it goes in and out every few minutes; rendering the uploading of photos and saving of posts useless. The only reason I’m writing this post now is that I am on location for a sports shoot, waiting for all my photos to export to my supervisor. Luckily there’s a bit of wi-fi I’ve hopped on to. I really do hate this happening, seeing as one of the biggest things I was looking forward to coming back home for a few weeks was to not only take photographs but to also share them on this site!
Regardless, I do have a quick photo I can share before I have to leave the building, one of the shots from the game tonight. I am photographing a basketball tournament for my university, with at least 3 more games over the next couple of days. I can’t wait to get back into the groove of basketball shooting, as well as getting my internet fixed soon! Once it is, count on a basketball-filled post (among other things). :)
50mm, ISO 1600, f/2, 1/500
Transylvania University is a very difficult institution. Thankfully, the administration usually acknowledges that. Even in the monotony-filled finals week, some relief is provided. These daily “Stress-Fest” events–which take place the weekend leading up to and including finals week–are designed to counter the stress caused from term papers, final exams, and presentations expected out of all the students. Kicking off the week is a fun event called “Doggie De-Stress”. Special service dogs specifically trained as stress-relievers (don’t ask me how) are brought in from local organizations for students to pet, play with, and occasionally take on a brief walk.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t want dog saliva and hair all over my camera equipment, so I guess my “de-stressing” came in the form of taking pictures. :) I’ll end this post with some of the pictures from the event. All photographs captured with the Sony NEX-7 and SLR Magic Noktor Hyperprime 50mm f/.95 at f/2. Shutter speeds stayed around 1/80-1/100 and ISOs ranged between 800-1600. No noise reduction applied. Also, I’m terrible with dog names, so I rarely knew what to caption these with.
The home stretch is now over. This coming week I go into full-on finals mode. With that comes the promise of few photographic opportunities. I do have one assignment that I look forward to taking and hopefully sharing with you all, though I have to keep my mouth shut on it for now. :)
But back to this post! I return to a familiar subject for manipulation today: cloud formations. It seems every time I look up in the sky, the combination of air and water vapor always manages to form different shapes and colors—no two days are alike. But as I’ve mentioned before, clouds can be extremely difficult to photograph properly. Usually when they fill the frame the end result is just a dull wish-washy mess with no sense of direction.
Just a bunch of grey…
I know what I saw in this strange sunset cloud formation, forming a natural pattern in the sky. I envisioned a natural cotton blanket in the sky lit from below by the warm sun. Some contrast and saturation adjustments later…and…
Blanket in the Sky
70mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/800
That’s it for this look into what my mind sees guys and gals, thanks for dropping by! I hope to have one more post this week before the series of steady posts returns for Christmas break (70-210mm f/4 and 50mm f/.95…I’m looking at you). Should be fun, and I can’t wait to get back into it!
I’m nearing the home stretch. This coming week is the last week of classes, and the next week consists of one final exam after another. After that? Christmas break! I hope to use this time not just to laze around for three weeks straight: I have all the technical pictures needed for writing the 70-210 f/4 E review, I have been shooting with the 50mm Noktor f/.95 for a while now and hope to thoroughly test it out, and I will post pretty regularly for the duration of the break.
That said, here and now I am still taking photographs, albeit not too many of the “artsy” style I like to capture. Here’s some from this past week I’d like to share. First up, from a Jazz/Percussion concert. Unfortunately, I didn’t see that my 180mm f/2.8 was set to f/4, but the stage was lit well-enough:
180mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/100