My Nikon lens kit is a pretty basic, do anything kit. I don’t have any of Nikon’s Holy Trinity f/2.8 zooms because they are extremely heavy and expensive. Instead, I picked up the newer, sharper, cheaper, lighter & slower f/4 zooms. 16-35 & 70-200. I don’t have the 24-120 as to my eye, there is nothing interesting happening in those focal lengths. Same goes for the do-it-all, ever versatile, ready for anything 24-70. I’ll never buy it. Too close to uncle Bob’s kit lens focal lengths. Nothing cool optically is happening there. Wide and telephoto is where it is at.
That being said, I’m primarily a prime shooter. I just like them better. A little sharper glass. Lighter in the hand. Easier to transport. Etc, etc, etc #PrimePraise. So for my prime kit, I have a Nikkor 50mm 1.4G & 1.8D, 85mm 1.8G & 105mm 2.8G Macro (And the Fuji X100s at 35mm equivalent f/2). I didn’t have a fast wide angle lens though. I thought about picking up Nikon’s new 20mm 1.8G. It looks awesome. Nassim just got his review done, check it out here. It’s affordable and awesome, a true winner. But I am honestly tired of spending money on photography gear. And, even more so, I didn’t want the 1.8 form factor. The new G lenses are larger and bulkier. Optically better, but just also bigger. I didn’t want that.
I wanted to pretend I had a Leica. 😎 I love the smaller form factor of the rangefinder systems, another reason I love the Fuji so much. But I also have my trusty Nikon Df with all of its awesome old school film inspired manual controls. So I started to think about picking up an old school lens to match. Nikon made some really killer glass back in the day. No AF. No weather sealing. No Magical Nano Crystals. Just glass & metal. So I looked at a couple of fast(er) primes and I settled on the old 28mm Nikkor f/2.8 AI-S. The old lenses in this form factor take the small 52mm filers. They are light and pocketable, much like Fuji’s X-series lenses, but fit full frame sensors.
It’s a sweet gem of a lens. It’s eagle talon sharp, even wide open. Very little lens distortion. Hardly any Chromatic Aberration (unlike much of Nikon’s new G stuff). It as hard stops on each end of the focus which is great for locking the lens into infinity focus for landscapes and astro photography. It’s all sweet, smooth manual focus baby – which is a rather sucky experience on Nikon. They do give you the green-dot-O’-focus but it’s not as good as using focus peaking on the mirrorless cameras. However, the focus and distance marks are still engraved on the old lenses which is awesome, especially for a technique known as zone focusing.
I’d never heard of this before but stumbled across it while looking into the Street Photography Genre. Suffice it to say, in a world without modern Auto Focus, how would photogs get sharp shots in the fast paced, ever changing world of the street? They would stop down and preset the focus on their lenses. This would essentially give the photographer a “zone of focus” – an area in the photo that would have an acceptable level of sharpness. Say f/8 at 5 feet away. This gives you roughly 6 feet of in focus area to work with, 1.7 feet in front of the subject, 4.2 feet behind. You just had to get good at manually guessing how far your subject was from you when you made your shot. If they were in that 5 foot range, you’d nab the shot. It’s actually quicker than auto focus because you just pointed the camera and clicked the shutter button. That’s how they did it.
I wanted to try it out. But I don’t really live near any streets. LOL. 😎 I’ll try it for real when we go to the city. But it does work pretty good, especially with the Df’s low light capability. I can crank the ISO and still have clean images for the small f/8 & f/11 apertures.
Just compose and boom!
It’s a pretty cool technique. And you can do it on the cheap. I picked up the 28mm off eBay for like $250! I was leery of buying glass unseen off eBay and vowed never to do so. But I took a chance and it worked out great. The lens shipped from Japan and was in BETTER condition than what the seller had indicated. It’s essentially brand spankin’ new. Gotta love that!
Optically it’s really sharp, even wide open. I was blown away by the quality. Even on the D800, this puppy holds up. I thought that sensor would eat it for breakfast but it does a great job.
After a nice fire with our good neighbour last night, we looked up and realized that the stars were amazing! I mean, they always are but last night was tremendous on account of there was no moon. Awesome! I went and grabbed the old picture box and set it up after googling how to take photos of the Milky Way. Turns out ISO 3200 and 30″ exposure does nicely. After nabbing several cool pics of the Milky Way itself, I set the camera up to include some foreground nicery. There was a nearby tree that was conveniently being lit up by some RM yard lights across the valley from us. Made for a cool light painting effect without having to do any work. Bonus! 😎
In other news, my life is total upheaval at the moment. My main computer, my faithful 2008 iMac bit the dust this last week. Thankfully my backups all work and I didn’t lose any data. However, I’m down to living off of one Macbook Air with 128GB flash memory for storage. Umm, ya. It’s like packing up a mansion and cramming the contents into a pup tent. Not gonna happen. So, I’m stuck living off of external hard drives. Doh. It sucks. Plus, all the new Mac computers with the slick new Haswell chips are not out yet. Hopefully this month!! And I will order a new mac mini ASAP. I’m leaving iMacs behind and going for the 27″ Cinema Display (hopefully updated this month too with 4 or 5K resolution!) and a totally flash driven mac mini. Should be screamin fast for my needs. Anyways, until then, I wait. Editing on my 11″ MB Air…. 👿
Capitalizing on the dismal fog, I ran out and came across this blast from the past. What a location! Old smashed farm house, decrepit stone barn ruins, racoon tracks hither and thither… it was a regular haunt of jackals! I was testing the VR function of the 16-35mm lens as I went with no tripod but was still able to do these HDR mashups with very little ghosting. Cool! 😎 I was really diggin’ the high contrast black and white feel when I was editing these ones. Adds to the overall bleakness… 😉
Winter has moods all its own. It can be happy and vibrant with colours or it can be dismal and bleak with fog! Living in the prairies gives you a taste of everything – and if you don’t like it, just wait 20 minutes and it will change! 😉 I was able to get out for a little walk two days ago and today and nab some landscapes. It’s such a wild difference in the mood of the photos. We had some nice sun on the 1st which made for beautiful skies that were cheerful and bright. But today was pea-soup fog that didn’t let up all day. The photos are so bleak and void of life that it’s depressing! Capturing both moods makes for a “cool” contrast in prairie winter scenes. 😎
Here’s a fun wintertime thing! Get a spray bottle, mix up some food colouring and water then let your kids go hawg-wild painting the snow with colour! Just don’t use yellow. That’s free advice. 😎 It was all fun and games till the kids went graffiti-jimbo on us and painted the siding on Fonstad’s house. Not good. Notice Reg scrubbin’ like a mad fool to clean it off before it set! heheheehe… It did wash off. For the most part… Anyways, fun wintertime activity!
Avast ye skallywags! Cap’n Ozzy No-Beard bids ye walk the plank! Yar! 😎 Nobody can beat pirate parlance. In fact, if you goto your Facebook account settings (top right hand corner of the Facebook page) you can select Pirate English as your default language setting. Then all your Facebook stuff becomes “Update your Plunderin'” and “Bottle O’ messages” heehheheeh……. Anyways, the EFC Pirate party was yesterday. What a riot! Everyone had a real grog fest! Never in my day had I seen such a crew of swashbucklers! 😉
Quick walk out back with the dog today, try out the new lens in some light. I really dig how it handles color. All the oil pump photos aren’t edited at all (save the watermark). It renders the sky magnificently! 😎 The one of Ethan I plain screwed up the exposure. Left it on a previous setting and it blew out the rest of the shot except for him! Works as a high key black and white. hehehehehe…. 😉
Besides landscapes, the 16-35mm f/4 lens is a gem of an environmental portrait lens, giving loads of options for including the subject’s setting in the photo. Love this lens!!! 😎
Watch this 1981 video of the inventor of the environmental portrait Arnold Newman. He’s an inspiration and a photo genius!
I got up before the sunrise today! 😎 . . . only to get skunked by clouds and gloomy light. hehehehe…. always the way it goes. But I was able to make a couple of frames with the new lens. All the shots came out of the camera tack sharp from corner to corner at f/8. But they’re comparable wide open at f/4 too. The other thing is that the VR engine in the lens is quiet. Most of the time they warble and ping like a mouse was inside the lens doing a tap dance. But this thing is different. Sorry about the morbidity of the dead fox carcass in the road. But that’s life in the prairies in winter. Eat or be eaten!! 😉
Gear Acquisition Syndrome! Yeppers, got my new lens today. Came in a couple days from The Camera Store in Calgary and, no pay-pay to ship-ship! 😎 This Nikon 16-35mm f/4 AF-S VR G ED IF N Aspherical lens is a stunner! All the reviews I read about it said it is sharp and they ain’t kiddin’! It’s spooky sharp. It’s spooky sharp wide open at f/4. Not many lenses are this good at their base aperture but this one is. I did some lens tests and the AF is bang on. I nabbed some quick hand held no VR shots of the kids and they peeled out of camera TACK-Smurfing-SHARP. And, the colours are rendered beautifully. I took this one of Ethan and it is straight out of camera. No editing at all, watermark aside. The camera is set to neutral too so the picture control is zeroed out. This lens is fantastic. I can’t wait to go nab some landscape shots with it. 😀
I also picked up a ThinkTank Retrospective 20 bag too. It’s a sweet bag, built to last forever (like everything ThinkTank makes) and its the perfect bag for events or light trips where I don’t want to bring all o’ my kit. I can get at least 3 lenses into it and 2 flashes, as well as a whole host of other goodies. It’s the cat’s pyjamas.
So, my lens collection is almost complete, nearly all gold rings. I’m fully prepared to go full frame now as all my lenses are FX compatible going from 16mm all the way to 300mm! Pretty much ready for anything. That’s a nice milestone to reach. Full reviews (probably video) to follow on the lens for sure. Tons of great vids on the ThinkTank bag on YouTube. Check it out!