I’m not going to shy away from saying this: correctly done panoramas are amazingly awesome. One of the neat features I like, and still occasionally use, on my NEX-7 is the built-in ‘sweep panorama’. It takes a succession of frames in the direction of your choice, and stitches them all together in-camera. Pretty cool right? Except, the photographer is limited to auto-ISO, the shutter speed is locked at 1/500 (for manual lenses), and the combining algorithms cut off a good portion of the top and bottom of whatever you were framing. Also, being limited to the JPEG filetype (instead of RAW), there is little room for post-processing, so scenes of dynamic range are almost impossible to accurately capture…
Ever since acquiring the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 back in the spring, I immediately wanted to get a “proper” tripod and head. The need for stable and reliable shooting was unobtainable in the small plastic Wally-World tripods; locking position accurately and eliminating camera shake for long exposures just didn’t work. So…after a lot of looking around for various tripod reviews, I decided on a fantastic combo, the Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod Legs and Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head. Both arrived in the mail today!
With camera and lens mounted, the whole set-up is over 13 pounds (enough weight to have great inertia for reducing camera shake), and the maximum height without extending the center column is right about eye level for me with camera mounted–a comfortably high 6’2″.
I may do a full review of this combo sometime, we’ll see. I’m just looking forward to never worrying about heavy camera shake again. At 450mm FoV, simply standing near a non-stabilized tripod (my old one) can induce severe motion jitter. No more.
IMPORTANT EDIT: I will not be doing a review of this tripod and geared head. There seem to be some quality control issues Manfrotto does not acknowledge.
Over the course of the past few weeks I have had the chance to really get acquainted with this lens. Though not my first manual focus Nikkor (that honor belongs to the excellent 50mm f/2 AI), this has become a favorite of mine recently, tending to stay on my NEX-7 about 70% of the time. Despite its minor flaws (which will be discussed in detail), this lens is dynamite. After some personal confusion in figuring out just what the lens could be used for (the 157mm equivalent is technically too long for normal portraits, and too short for a normal long telephoto), I happily found that it is quite perfect for both “up close and personal” portraits, as well as a useful lens for separating people from a crowd. This is obviously afforded by both the large maximum aperture and the focal length; at f/1.8 and at 15 feet, the depth of field (the amount of distance perpendicular to the lens that is in focus) is just over 5 inches. This in effect allows for the subject separation in the below shot:
So let’s dive deep into all the aspects of this fine legacy lens, shall we?