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.
A friend of ours was on her way through the hood and was able to stop by for a couple days visit. It was super fun to have Teresa and her (and our new) friend Talitha stop by. We haven’t hung out for many moons as Teresa and her husband have been living in New Zealand for a couple of years. Great to have them back in Canada! And, it was a grand occasion for me additionally because I got to play with the Nikon D800! Teresa is an awesome photographer now based out of Calgary, AB. Check her out at http://teresarehmann.com. We traded some photography as she needed some updated portraits and we needed a family photo that has all of us in it! bwahahhaah… 😎 And, I got to test the D800 extensively. And test I did, plugging all my lenses onto it and running it through it’s paces. I know the sensor is good. But I didn’t know it was THAT good. It is unbelievable. I’m really not exaggerating here. The image quality, the sharpness, the detail, the contrast, the colour, it’s nearly beyond description. And for what I do, portraits, landscapes and macro stuff, it’s a match made in heaven. HOWEVER. And it’s a big however, the files are so huge that they are unruly. We shot everything in RAW pretty much and editing them on my 3.06 iMac with 8 GB of RAM was painful. Slow. Excruciatingly so – packed in the whole Mac and needed a reset once. But it’s worth it! The images are unbelievable, especially with my 105mm macro lens. “Wicked sharp” has a whole new meaning to me! There’s just sooo much detail and nothing hides from that sensor. Probably need a new computer though . . . 😀
I was out and about the other night when the light was gloriously saturated and golden. I had a specific idea for a landscape photo in mind that involved a single tree on the horizon. It was already super yellow with the dappling of fall all around us and I wanted to nab it when it was side lit in golden light. I started out through the pasture that had become thick with latent clover seed that grew into giant plants. As I walked towards the tree, a herd of cows stood up in the clover and scared the you know what out of me! 😯 So I backed up and tried to make my way to the tree but the cows kept coming towards me. Must have been some protective moms in the crowd because they didn’t back away or run. So I skirted the top of a ravine and made my way over to where I wanted to take the shot. I also, oddly, decided to use only my 70-300 – not my usual landscape lens, but I wanted to see if I could get some more compression for the valley in the background. The cows provided some sweet serendipitous shots as they were back/side lit. Another good reminder to be open to whatever comes along in the photos. I tried to get a composition with the oil well, the cow and the valley to symbolize all the local industry. How symbolic of me! 😀
Everyone loves the moon! So here it is! 😆
I heard a really cool trick to know weather the moon is waxing or waning (getting fuller or going away). It’s DOC. If the moon is full on the right side, like the letter D, then it is waxing and getting fuller. Full moon is the O (no duh) and if the moon is full on the left side it is waning, like the letter C. So the next time you see the moon in it’s various lunar phases, just remember DOC and you’ll know what’s happening with our little pal the moon. And, you’ll be able to impress all your friends with your way cool knowledge of moon phases. 8)
Last night after another magical slow cooked dinner we decided to have a fire. After we got the s’more pit going, I looked up and noticed a
gaggle pride flock band murder of crows. I know why they call them a murder.They make so much obscene noise you want to murder them all! It was a toss up between the camera and a gun on this “shoot”. 😉 My theory is that there was something dead nearby because they and two hawks kept swooping in and out of the trees behind our house. Anyways, it was golden light and everything was rich in colour. Love it! Can’t beat it ever! I grabbed the 70-300 and nabbed a few shots before the light slinked away behind the horizon. It’s gyp that the sunsets aren’t lasting as long as they did even a few weeks ago. All of these shots (except the fire pit) are with the 70-300. You can see how longer glass gives you added compression and photo num nums. The power/telephone poles show this in the pics of the family. Even at f/5.6 0r f/8, they look compressed and bokehlicious. 8) And the shots of the lone yellow clover blossoms have sweet sweet bokeh at 300mm. That’s the added benefits of compression in images. If you’ve ever wondered why the vast majority of portrait photographers use that magical 70-200 lens, this is why.
I got up today and looked out and behold, there were tons of turkeys, struttin’ their stuff. I grabbed my camera, some camo and went belly crawling for a half mile or so. Last year, they were more tolerant of me and let me get a wee bit closer than they did this year. But it was warmer then than it is now. uggg, this weather is getting depressing. While I was out, it started to snow which was throwing off the autofocus of my 70-300. I missed some shots because of that and for that reason I’m selling a kidney on the black market to get a 300mm f/2.8 hehehehe.. 😉 Anyways, it’s true, in low light, that lens hunts for focus like Rita McNeil looking for prime rib in a buffet line. 🙂 But what can you do? I did do some manual focusing to try and nab the shots I was missing. Here’s the shots of the day. It’s funny how from 330 shots, I get 32 good ones. Roughly 10%
EDIT! Here’s a video of me gobbling! I’m the turkey whisperer.
Well, we finally got a nice day today. It took about 3.9 seconds to get out the door and out for a walk with the kids. Phoebe put her rubber boots on so she could giver down the street and straight through the puddles – every 3 year olds dream, right? 😉 I brought out the 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR lens for this little shoot today.
The reach is nice, especially for the reflection shots I *tried* to get but proved elusive and with lots of light you don’t need to worry about f stops as much. It’s always good to just get out and enjoy taking pictures! 🙂
My favorite image of the day was this one. It was taken after we got home and she was standing in the overhead garage door space. The lighting was super rad and I caught it out of the corner of my eye. I spun around and with the camera in continuous I banged off some shots. I just really love the beautiful contrast to the light, almost got a Rembrandt light pattern out of the deal! 🙂
I went out to my friend’s farm today trying to get some shots for our Photography Club assignment. The month of March was to be pictures of “pets.” So, I wanted to get some pet picks. What better place to nab pet pics than down on the farm?!
I was able to get some pretty cool action shots of the cats in the primordial battle with the dogs, fangs gnashing, claws swinging. Very cool stuff. Of course, I didn’t help matters by hissing and trying to get the dogs fired up. But hey, anything for a picture right? 😉 All the shots in the slideshow are either from my 70-300 f4.5-5.6 or my 105mm f/2.8 Macro.
It was a beautiful day with all kinds of glorious light!
One of the gaping holes on the Internet was a comparison of the 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens and the 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR lens. Fortunately, I was able to borrow the f/2.8 glass and compare it with my 70-300. And, I made a YouTube video of it to share the goodness. Both lenses are great, but they are definitely for different tasks. If I was a wedding or concert photographer in low lighting conditions, I’d want the f/2.8. But it is one heavy piece of glass and in my opinion isn’t as desirable as a walk-around street lens. Enter the 70-300. It’s waaay slower than the 70-200 (autofocus and aperture) but it’s lighter and more balanced on DX camera bodies. But alas, it sucks in low light, and the auto focus hunts around like a blind hyena. Anyways, here’s the video. 🙂
Recently on an episode of Fro Knows Photo, I watched the Fro & Greg edit a RAW file of some girl posed in a sitting position on a concrete ledge with a forest type background. At the end of the show, they were critiquing the shot such that it had been taken with a 50mm f/1.8 Canon. The general gist of what was said was that the bokeh on the 50mm 1.8 was not as pleasing as it could have been had the portrait been taken with a 70-200mm f/2.8.
Now, I happen to love 50mm primes. They are almost the perfect portrait lens on crop censor cameras, producing a sweet 75mm on my D300s. In fact, my new 50mm f/1.4 G lens should be arriving any day now. So while I wait, I decided to borrow a 70-200 f/2.8 lens from Jocelyn, setup my own miniature wedding photo shoot for John & Marsha and do a “which has better bokeh” test. 😉
There are two main things going on that we need to be aware of: Bokeh & Compression. Bokeh is the Japanese word for “stuff that is out of focus in a photo.” Compression is described as an effect produced by a long lens (longer than 35mm) that smooshes and flattens backgrounds. It gives the effect of even more buttery bokeh. There are some people who contest this as a myth though.
For simplicity’s sake, longer telephoto lenses *should* produce more pleasing bokeh because it is “compressed” in addition to being out of focus. This is where Greg was coming from on the Fro episode. So, let’s check the results of my mini-field test and you can make up your own conclusions.
The situation was that John and Marsha surrounded by background and foreground elements (pineapple, spiderplant, gerbs and a happy face flower resting on two toddler chairs and a brick wall). This simulates a wedding couple in a park area with some trees & shrubs and thick forest behind them. The lenses used were Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 105mm f/2.8 VR macro, and a 50mm f/1.8. All the lenses were mounted on a D300s on a tripod using mirror lock up and a cable release with VR off. Light levels and ISO remained constant. Distance was slightly changed to try and maintain similar perspective.
Here is a gallery of the results:
What do you think? Which lens has the most pleasing Bokeh? Which lens produces the most pleasing portrait? 🙂