The editing is done, the orders are filled, and I have finally gotten caught up with the thousands of photos captured over the past few months! It has been a lot of fun, really. Over the course of pretty much no time at all, I have gone from not having a clue to what I was doing, to today really starting to utilize the intricate features of my camera and lenses, quirks and all. I can only hope it keeps getting better from here. 🙂
This set contains some of my best captures from the last game of the season in particular, along with a little update at the end. All taken with the NEX-7 and Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AI-s. Enjoy!
300mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1250
You know, it’s really not that big!
In an attempt to keep the review train chugging and rolling along, I finally acquired another long, fast, telephoto a couple weeks ago to fill the range in between my 105mm f/1.8 (review seen here) and 300mm f/2.8 (impressions/review coming later). This lens is the slightly-odd Nikon 180mm f/2.8 AI-s ED. It’s relatively small, not too heavy, and is pretty fast for its focal length. You put those three things together, it wouldn’t be expected to perform well wide open, right? Wrong! The “ED” abbreviation in the lens name stands for Nikon’s Extra-low Dispersion glass, which basically is just special glass that is extremely useful in long, fast telephotos to reduce secondary chromatic aberrations (notably purple fringing). My 300mm f/2.8 has an element of this glass, and it enables use wide-open, no problem! Purple fringing, compared to other fast primes without the ED glass, is negligible. This sort of performance is what other fast telephoto lenses can only dream of. Other lens companies can try—my old Tokina 80-200 f/2.8 that I no longer own had its own version of ED glass—but it wasn’t near up to the level of this lens at f/2.8 (though, in fairness, one lens is a zoom, the other a prime).
Hey guys, you might have gotten an email to my 105mm f/1.8 review that said it was password protected. I was testing out a couple more things, as well as getting feedback from some personal contacts. The review is now live and viewable to the public, see this link. Thank you for bearing with me! 🙂
Nikon 105mm f/1.8 mounted on a NEX-7 via Fotodiox PRO adapter
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:
105mm, ISO 100, f/2, 1/500
In this shot at the pixel level, the girl on the left is actually out of focus!
So let’s dive deep into all the aspects of this fine legacy lens, shall we?
Prompted by Nick Mayo’s new collaboration project (you should really join in on the community if you haven’t already), I took to the country over the weekend to attempt to capture fireflies at night. No, not in a jar, that’s kids stuff. I’m talking about 30-90 second exposures to get organic light trails from our little lightning bug friends. This adventure, with a fellow friend (also named Matthew) as my second pair of eyes, turned into getting many more shots that I’ll share with you below.
These captures were not exactly a walk in the park. Since the NEX-7’s EVF essentially goes black in low light–where here it was almost completely dark–all of the country shots were done blind, focusing and all. If it wasn’t for the hard infinity stop on my 50mm f/1.8’s focus ring, finding general focus would be next to impossible. This is indeed one of the few areas where an optical viewfinder will always be better than an EVF, but that’s a topic for another day.
And a note to myself, I need to get a remote for tripod shots so I don’t have to actually HOLD the shutter open for a minute and a half in bulb mode!
In this shot since I held the shutter open for 90 seconds, the landscape is blurred due to camera shake, yet the fireflies still remain as point sources of light, interestingly enough. Due to the short panoramic nature of this shot, it’s best seen full-size (click on it!).
50mm, f/1.8, ISO 400, 90 seconds
UPDATE: Full Review up and viewable HERE.
Though I have had this lens for well over a couple of weeks now, I never have really taken it out with the purpose of using it to its fullest, until yesterday. This is why these “first impressions” are coming so late, and the technical review to follow sometime later as well.
Part of the AI-s manual focus Nikkor lens family that Nikon produces (yes, you can still get some AI-s lenses–such as the 50mm f/1.2–brand new from Nikon), the 105mm f/1.8 is something of a gem. Taking into account just what it is–a short super fast telephoto on APS-C cameras–the 105mm is tiny. However, like all other AI-s lenses the 105mm is all metal and glass, built to an extremely high standard. It is quality and craftsmanship that has to be felt to believe. Though it is indeed heavy–coming in at about 20 ounces–unlike some of the plastic barreled lenses common today, there is something to be said to pick up a camera and be greeted by cold metal both on the camera (magnesium alloy) and the lens. Manual focus is smooth and dampened better than most lenses I have handled, and it better, since obviously this is a manual focus only lens!
Many, many photographs in this one. Instead of boring you with text at first, how’s about we just look at them and then talk!
All taken with NEX-7 and Nikon 105mm f/1.8 AI-s (which, by the way, first impressions will be tomorrow). No saturation has been added to any, only basic tonal curve adjustments.
Took a short little stroll around the campus to get some non-sports shots for a nice change of pace. I got out a little too late, the sun was just past the peak point in the golden hour, so many of the shadows were a tad too long. That said, I got some fun snaps that I was happy with.
All taken with the NEX-7 and Nikon 50mm f/1.8 E-series, the “do-it-all” lens:
Small mushroom patch in the making
As much of a joy as it is using manual lenses with my NEX-7, I would love to have the ease of autofocus in my near future. The only problem with getting a current native e-mount autofocus lens is they all employ the lesser Contrast Detect Auto Focus (CDAF, focus is found via contrast) rather than the more efficient and generally faster Phase Detect Auto Focus (PDAF, focus is found via distance tracking), the latter of which I am used to from previous cameras. Though in good light, CDAF is known to be accurate and fast, the scenarios where I would love to use it–focusing in low light and motion tracking–the system as a whole falters. It isn’t designed for focus tracking, and in low-light, there is no contrast to detect! This is put up beside PDAF, which all DSLRs use to some degree, and focusing on subjects in low light and in motion are a cinch.
Many apologies! I didn’t realize just how busy and caught up I have been lately, falling behind with keeping this blog up to date and on schedule. As such, I’ll let you all in on a little roadmap for new posts–a preview of sorts–before I get into the pictures below:
I’ll be posting some first impressions of the Nikon 105mm f/1.8 AI-s with the NEX-7 here in a couple of days before the review.
Next, will come a final post from the last baseball game of the season.
Following that, some ramblings I have planned out.
Finally, the full technical review of the 105mm f/1.8, here and/or at photojottings.com.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s get to some shots from the last softball game this year (captioned by yours truly)!
Get your game face on!