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
Transylvania University is a very difficult institution. Thankfully, the administration usually acknowledges that. Even in the monotony-filled finals week, some relief is provided. These daily “Stress-Fest” events–which take place the weekend leading up to and including finals week–are designed to counter the stress caused from term papers, final exams, and presentations expected out of all the students. Kicking off the week is a fun event called “Doggie De-Stress”. Special service dogs specifically trained as stress-relievers (don’t ask me how) are brought in from local organizations for students to pet, play with, and occasionally take on a brief walk.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t want dog saliva and hair all over my camera equipment, so I guess my “de-stressing” came in the form of taking pictures. 🙂 I’ll end this post with some of the pictures from the event. All photographs captured with the Sony NEX-7 and SLR Magic Noktor Hyperprime 50mm f/.95 at f/2. Shutter speeds stayed around 1/80-1/100 and ISOs ranged between 800-1600. No noise reduction applied. Also, I’m terrible with dog names, so I rarely knew what to caption these with.
I’m nearing the home stretch. This coming week is the last week of classes, and the next week consists of one final exam after another. After that? Christmas break! I hope to use this time not just to laze around for three weeks straight: I have all the technical pictures needed for writing the 70-210 f/4 E review, I have been shooting with the 50mm Noktor f/.95 for a while now and hope to thoroughly test it out, and I will post pretty regularly for the duration of the break.
That said, here and now I am still taking photographs, albeit not too many of the “artsy” style I like to capture. Here’s some from this past week I’d like to share. First up, from a Jazz/Percussion concert. Unfortunately, I didn’t see that my 180mm f/2.8 was set to f/4, but the stage was lit well-enough:
180mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/100
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. 🙂