Longtime followers of my website may know that the 105mm focal length is one I have gravitated towards for many years of my photography. From my beginnings with the classic Nikon 105mm f/1.8 AI-s, I enjoyed the pleasure of dabbling with other lenses such as the up-close Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 AI-s and even the super-compact Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series-E. All three of these lenses provide a medium-long telephoto on the APS-c cameras I used them on, and they all served their uses in my photography. In fact, I still dust off the Micro 105mm f/2.8 for all of my product shots! However, until late last year, I had all but abandoned the focal length for general photography and transitioned to the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AI-s instead for my moderate telephoto needs. The 85mm has less chromatic aberration than the 105mm f/1.8 at equivalent apertures, focuses close enough for quasi-macro shots, and provides much more separation than the Series-E lens ever could.
At the same time, there was always a lens that intrigued me in the Sony lineup: the 135mm f/2.8 STF. With a special apodization element, the lens rendered out-of-focus backgrounds unbelievably smooth, giving “creamy bokeh” a whole new meaning. Even ignoring the current $1400 price tag, the lens wouldn’t make a lot of sense for my style of shooting on an APS-c camera. So for a while, the 85mm f/1.4 remained my go-to for low-light medium telephoto work. That is, until Venus Optics came onto the scene with their unique 105mm f/2 STF lens in mid-2016, promising the same kind of bokeh-smoothing effect with its own apodization element, all at a moderate price tag of $700! At this price point, and with these kinds of features, the obvious curiosity concerns its performance wide open as well as the effectiveness of its apodization element. Does it deliver? Read on to find out! As always, if you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, check out this post first! Continue Reading
Koishikawa Korakuen Viewpoint
32mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/2000, 46 images stitched
Whew! I can definitely call this year’s Sakura coverage a success on my end. After scoping out locales in Yokohama and executing my photography plans at the right time, it was just a matter of a few more days before the area’s cherry blossoms would begin to fall to the ground, almost all at once! In an effort to get more of the “big-city” picture, I managed to catch time for one last trip for hanami-hunting, this time in everyone’s favorite megacity, Tokyo! Continue Reading
Zao Snow Monsters
iPhone 6s Plus
“Durr! Where have you been the past couple months!”–I can hear some of my followers asking already. First off, despite some more ‘fun’ with my terrible knees, I am in fact not dead. Second, I have been quite alive and busy in February and March, though not just in the usual photographic sense you may expect! Continue Reading
105mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1000
The spirit and tone of sightseeing varies greatly depending on who you are with, the weather of the day, as well as whether or not you brought a camera along. The last time I visited Kamakura, my camera gear had not yet arrived to Japan. Granted, it was also December, and a little too cold14 to be holding a camera all day. For a long time, I wanted to go back to this historically significant city and take a closer look around with my trusty camera in tow. Continue Reading
The Future of Optics? We’ll see…
Well hello there, what a long time it’s been since I’ve written to all you awesome readers! Last time I checked in, I was already on my way to basic training to join the United States Navy. Fast forward nine months, and I’ve found myself stationed smack dab in the middle of any photographer’s/tech geek’s heaven, Japan! I couldn’t have been more excited to actually live in another country, in all its 14-hour time jet-lagged glory. Finally, I can experience a whole different society, culture, and region that is farther than I could have every hoped to travel to in the U.S.
Though I will not turn this post into a traveler’s experience, I will say I love it here in Japan so far. The food is always great, the people are ridiculously nice and amiable, the weather is mild, and there are an infinite amount of possibilities to spend my free time amid a language I…unfortunately…am still far off from understanding. Oh, and the technology, Japan has lots of that too, which brings me back to the post at hand. There’s a lot to get through, from the guns-blazing Sony GM lineup, to compact primes, to the ridiculous ZY 135mm f/1.4, so grab a seat and let’s all geek out over photography gear after the jump! Continue Reading