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
I may have stated in my last post that there would be no “weekend update” post today. Though that is technically the case, I was able to make some time to go on a much-needed photowalk with a friend downtown yesterday with my NEX-7 and trusty 105mm macro to get some more impressions on the lens for all types of photography. Just as I wrote about my “first” impressions with my 300mm f/2.8, I’ve had this wonderful macro for many months now, and it has been my go-to lens for product shots and “serious” macro work for its crazy edge-to-edge sharpness stopped down (just exactly how sharp remains to be determined via formal testing). However, with it’s fast f/2.8 aperture (providing the same shallow depth-of-field control as the 100mm f/2.8 Series-E), the 105mm f/2.8 can be used for anything from sports to portraits, if need be.
I hope to do some testing on this lens for the next few weeks when I can make some time, so don’t hold your breath for a full review by next weekend. All of the following taken near sunset through a walk in the city with the NEX-7 and this macro, handheld. First up, for most of the photowalk I had this strange fixation on seeing and capturing patterns. I’m not sure why, but so many stood out to me:
105mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/400
Okay, okay, so it’s 11:30 p.m. I’m not exactly “on time” for wishing the world a Happy Thanksgiving. Better late than never I suppose. The past couple weeks have been insanely busy on my end, what with term papers and big tests on top of multiple photo assignments (hence why there was no weekend update this past Sunday). But, the good news is that I hope to shoot with both the 70-210mm f/4 E and 50mm f/.95 Noktor HyperPrime this weekend, writing a review on one of them (not sure which, yet). Regardless, you all take care, and have a great Thanksgiving (all 30 minutes left of it!).
50mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/500 (Taken with the Noktor)
P.S. Amazon is running a super deal on the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 for E-mount. It’s $50 off the already amazingly low price of $200. I won’t be reviewing this lens since everyone and their mother knows how great this lens is if they own an e-mount camera, but for anyone who was previously not sure about this optic, at $150 it’s just more of a steal than it already was.
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
No pictures with the lens yet (I’ll get around to doing a first impressions after I’ve used this for a while with my photo assignments), but MAN! What a solid optic that just came in today! This lens sports the same aperture as the $10,000+ Leica Noctilux, but this sells for a 1/10th the price. Unfortunately, the couple minutes that I played with it so far show that the f/.95 aperture is only for depth-of-field. Due to the “small” APS-C sensor, anything past f/1.4 doesn’t gain any additional light gathering power for the sensor. Looking at a white wall, I would get a shutter speed of 1/60th at f/.95, and 1/50th at f/1.4. No big deal, because if this lens performs really well at f/1.4, I’ll be a happy camper.
Still though, this E-mount optic has the potential to really be an artist’s lens with it’s crazy depth-of-field and bokeh. I can’t wait to shoot with it (many thanks to Mike Sims for letting me test drive this bad-boy!). One thing of note, this lens is not to be confused with the $3500+ Noktor CINE 50mm T.95. They are completely different lenses.
Update: I’m not sure why SonyAlphaRumors featured this post on their page, calling it a “test” of this lens, as obviously there isn’t anything here save for some thoughts on what the lens may be capable of. However, I have shot with this lens a little bit now, and will have some first impressions of it in my next post. Sorry to keep you waiting.
Arguably the most versatile zoom, and lens, in the “consumer” Series-E by Nikon, the 70-210 f/4 also weighs in as the biggest and heaviest. At 25 ounces/730 grams, it’s over twice as heavy as the NEX-7. With that weight comes a useful 3x zoom, a fast f/4 constant aperture, and even a macro mode at 70mm (focusing down to 2 feet/.56 meters). With those features it becomes harder to complain about the front-heavy balancing, but it’s still there.
So far, I’m generally pleased with the optical performance. I haven’t had a chance yet to do any critical testing (or, photography in general) yet, but in real-world use, the f/4 aperture provides adequate depth-of-field control, and images appear pretty sharp straight from the start. With some chart shots, we’ll see just how much pixel-level detail gets resolved.
Until then, I took it out for a photowalk recently around town. I’ll finish up these quick impressions with 9 samples.
70mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/1600
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.
These won’t be first impressions (as I still need to work more on the Series-E zooms) of the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro AI-s. Instead, I’ll just share a few pictures taken recently. All handheld (working on using a tripod more!) with the NEX-7:
105mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/100
50% crop, this little guy is about two inches long
For my second entry in an ever-continuing series on what my mind sees in a photograph, rather than what the camera captures, I visualized something special in this “useless” out-of-focus and flat photograph of a stalk of grain:
The near-uniform background and lack of clarity made it perfect to turn into a watercolor painting. At least, to give it that effect after multiple edits:
A short post today, I know, and it has been a while since my last one. Rest assured, I have only been busy, but have many photos to share with you all (and am still working on the 300mm review). The above photographs were taken with a new (old) lens, the Nikon 105mm Micro-Nikkor f/2.8 AI-s.
It’s a killer optic. More to come from that later.
Thanks for dropping by guys and gals.
Well, first off, apologies for being two days late. To make a long story short, I have had some crazy work hours the past 5 days. Each day essentially went eat–>work–>eat–>sleep–>repeat, with no free time in-between. I’ll make up for the wait with some great photographs at the end.
Regardless, I’m back now, and ready to continue my exploration of the Series-E lenses. What you see above is the final prime in the “consumer-rated” series Nikon made accompanying their much more expensive AI-s counterparts. With a semi-wide (more like a short normal) field of view and not-so-fast maximum aperture on APS-C cameras, the 28mm E doesn’t seem to be a lens to write home about. Its close focus is about the same as the 35mm E, but with the wider angle, this lens doesn’t make as good as a “poor-man’s macro”. Unfortunately it also isn’t a very cheap lens either, most copies on eBay go for $100/€82 or more (though, the AI-s version usually sells for at least $250/€204).
What the 28mm E does do, is take pictures with a wider field of view than I’m used to. My previous widest lens was the aforementioned 35mm E, but this new personal record-holder gives photographs a completely different perspective. As some may know, shallow depth of field photography is something I love, but with this lens, getting that shallowness is only possible at, or near, close-focus. As such, framing is crucial. Any objects in normal distances better be appealing, I can’t blur them out even wide open!