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
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.
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!
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!