It’s that time again, the weekend update, right? Not exactly! Unlike previous weeks where I either haven’t had the time to go out on photowalks or have been taking pictures with multiple lenses, I looked back through my Lightroom catalogues and found that nearly every photograph I took this week was with the stunning Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AI-s! So, I’ll treat this post as a first impressions of the lens; though you’ll soon see, photographs here cover the typical gamut of my weekly style.
To sum up what the 85mm f/1.4 is in three words is simple: fast, long, (and) sharp! The maximum f/1.4 aperture provides not only excellent depth-of-field control, but also a lot of light to work with in all conditions. The 85mm focal length normally covers the “short portrait” field-of-view on a full-frame camera–but on APS-C, a very nice “long portrait” view, similar to a 135mm lens. Finally, this lens is killer-sharp, even wide-open! There are only two problems I’ve seen shooting at this exotic aperture, both of which are related. The difficulty in nailing focus is hard enough, but the gotcha is that anything that is even slightly out-of-focus is prone to heavy longitudinal aberrations. Thankfully, they can mostly be edited out, but it’s something to keep in mind. I’ve found the 85mm f/1.4 to really hit a sweet spot at about f/1.8, where it’s not only easier to focus, but the aberrations are also very manageable.
Also, the bokeh is simply beautiful. Hands-down amazing.
All of the following taken with the NEX-7, ranging from formal portraits to street photography to sports photography to stage photography (in that order!). What a mouthful!
85mm, ISO 100, f/2, 1/200
It’s been another busy (and cold) week here in Lexington, but not one where I have neglected photography. Allow me to get you caught up.
All of the following taken with the NEX-7. First up, Valentine’s Day was this past Thursday. I hope you all were able to spend it with your special someone!
105mm, ISO 100, f/4, 6 Seconds
Apart from holidays, I also took the stellar 105mm f/2.8 AI-s Micro Nikkor along for another photo-walk downtown. This one had to be cut short due to biting winds, but I still managed to find some interesting subjects and patterns along the way.
105mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/200, 1:2 Magnification
Now that school is back in full swing I will have to go back to my weekly update format for the near future. This way, I can have at the very least have a quality post every week filling you all in on my photography happenings. Special events and subjects (such as intermittent lens reviews and the like) will usually warrant their own post. For instance, in a couple weeks I’ll be doing a non-profit portrait session for a local organization that I will most likely be reporting back on here. Photos here and there (many of which will make it into these weekly posts) will be posted to my Google+ and Facebook pages, if you just can’t stand to go without photos from me every day.
But back to the update, I’ve used the 35mm f/1.8 OSS a little more now, and am still enjoying it thoroughly. I’m starting to be able to catch where the aberrations wide-open are, but for the most part I can edit them out, so it’s no big deal. The lens can work for full-body portraits if there is substantial distance between the subject and background, but you still won’t get near the subject separation like a 50mm f/1.4 will provide on a full-frame camera:
35mm, ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/250
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!
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
Let’s get this show on the road.
First up, some more thoughts on the Noktor Hyperprime 50mm f/.95 by SLR Magic. So far this lens seems to be a toss-up for me. The build is certainly impeccable, the operation is smooth, and hey! The amazing subject separation possible at f/.95 gives images that “full-frame” look along with supreme low-light capabilities! That comes at a cost, though. Detail is only fair in the center wide-open. As a subject moves away from the center of the frame, the total loss in sharpness is noticeable even at the image level. Throw in what appears to be pronounced field curvature, and the corners almost always look awful with this lens. Icing on the cake, contrast at f/.95 is pretty low (though, this can be helped somewhat in post-processing).
I haven’t really stopped it down that much to see how much the image improves at f/1.4 and f/2 (beyond that, what’s the point?), but if I don’t really see a marked improvement, I won’t see this lens getting a good recommendation from me. That said, I don’t tend to let technical issues get in the way of photography; I have taken it along with me the last couple of days to see how it fares in making images, wide-open for the most part. First up, at an art gallery:
50mm, ISO 100, f/.95, 1/80