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
16mm, ISO 1250, f/2.8, 1/1000
Despite a whole year since my last go-around at CP+, it seems that just a short while ago I was ranting and raving about the latest A7rii and GM lens tech at Sony’s crowded booth. This time around, there were not as many bombshell products to shake up the exhibition hall at Yokohama Porta. The general atmosphere was thankfully much less chaotic as a result, and it gave me a chance to move around and get to see a good deal more than last years’ hour-long product lines. Continue Reading
16mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/100
Well, day by day, I’m still editing and posting up what’s left of my previous photo excursions into the late November/early December time of year here in Japan. As the chill of winter starts to set in, the flora all around is slowly dying off, with colors fading and leaves falling to be swept up the next day. Pretty soon, the hum-drum of my least favorite season will take over for a few months, leaving me a bit more time to a) Sleep in more b) Work on some lens/gear reviews and c) Hopefully sleep in again some more! Of course, when the cold does get here to stay, I will make my best effort to get some snow shots, maybe even as far north as Hokkaido’s epic snow villages if I get a 3-day weekend.
But, if my current photos have anything to say about it, that time has not yet come! Right near the peak of Fall color in Tokyo, some friends and I headed on a late afternoon trip to the 143-acre Shinjuku National Garden to catch some late November sights. I did not realize just how impressively the park expands into about a third of the size of New York’s Central Park. As are many things in Japan, however, the park is very space-efficient and contains many smaller vistas and gardens for visitors to enjoy, in addition to vast stretches of open field for picnicking and recreational sports. At the super-reasonable 200¥ admission price, I’ll likely see myself coming back again later next year. All photos below with the NEX-7 and Rokinon 16mm f/2, Zeiss Touit 32mm, and Laowa 105mm T3.2 (the last of which I really, really am trying to find time to review!). Continue Reading
105mm, ISO 100, T3.2, 1/125
As many of my online followers and subscribers have probably noticed, I was conspicuously absent for most of the month of September. To make a long story shorter, I have been dealing with some health issues that prevent me from getting the energy needed to go out and make photos. What a shame, too, given that September was the last full month of warm weather here in Japan. As the calendar changes to October, I can already feel the cool Fall breeze setting in. With any luck, though, I’ll beat my current condition and get back to my shutter-happy self sooner rather than later. After all, with Fall comes lovely color changes in the trees, and the temples here in Japan are absolutely surrounded by flora! Continue Reading
Godaido Hall Approach
16mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/500, in-camera panorama
It isn’t every day that you get to hike up a mountain to see a temple nestled in the clouds. But, that’s exactly what I did during a brief trip in July to Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture in the northern Tohoku region of Japan! In the few days I spent in the city to meet a new friend and explore the area, I experienced enough to make it feel like a nice mini-vacation! Continue Reading
Just a quick post before I go on another trip, my Laowa 105mm f/2(T3.2) STF lens came in a couple weeks ago. I have not had many opportunities to shoot with it (arrived AFTER I left for Osaka, unfortunately), though I put together this little hands-on to give you all a look at how it feels and operates in the hand. Enjoy!
(1080/60p for best quality)