Kicking off my continuing exploration of the “consumer-rated” Series-E lenses by Nikon, I have had the chance to play around with the small 75-150mm zoom for a little while now. What a change…I haven’t shot with a zoom since I last used my now-sold Tokina 80-200 f/2.8 5 months ago! Instead of needing to move back and forth to get composition just right, I now can just zoom in/out and snap (if I so choose). There are good and bad aspects to this style of shooting, but I won’t really get into detail about that here.
There are 8 lenses total in the “consumer” lineup of Nikon’s Series-E’s. You can take this post as a bit of a guide for help choosing which lens may be right for your photography. Lenses are arranged from wide-angle to telephoto. Links to the full reviews are located in the headings. Also, below two pictures are in a much bigger size than they are displayed here. Click on them to see more detail. First up, the 5 primes in the series:
It shouldn’t come to surprise anyone when I say I love the 100mm focal length on APS-C cameras. What should be an awkward length too long for “typical” portraits (usual range is 85-135 on 35mm camera), but too short for a long telephoto (those start around 180-200mm)–becomes an “up close and personal” portrait lens useful in separating subjects from a crowd, or emphasizing certain features of people. With a stop-and-a-third slower maximum aperture than my 105mm f/1.8 AI-s, the degree of separation on the 100mm f/2.8 E is somewhat less, and the “pop” starts to fade away (shallow depth of field is an aspect of photography I love to employ). Also, in low light and at max aperture, it can be a bummer to still have to either slow the shutter speeds (risking motion blur) to stay at low ISOs, or to raise the ISOs (resulting in more noise) to keep the shutter speed high. When shooting conditions go south, compromises have to be made. So be it.
Regardless, the 100mm f/2.8 E has to have redeeming qualities, right? You bet. I do like this lens very much, for reasons detailed below–so much so, I’m not particularly sure which lens (the 105mm or 100mm E) I enjoy the best overall. There’ll be a section discussing that near the end, but let’s get onto the meat-and-potatoes!
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.
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 other three primes 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 shot over 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).