Thursday, 27 January 2011

Nikkor 50mm f1.4D

I weakened, and I bought one.

Yes, I know I've already got the 50mm f1.8D. And yes, I love it, and use it all the time.

But... I've always been curious about the F1.4D version. It's supposed to be much better built than the f1.8 (although to be fair that wouldn't be hard), and given than it's three times the price, then it damn well should be!

More importantly, it's also supposed to be sharper than the f1.8 (at the wider f1.8 to f2.8 apertures, and with much creamier/smoother bokeh.
That's the stuff that really interests me.

I love my Nikkor f1.8D - and the f1.4D is supposedly all that, and more! Hey, I'm up for that.

I'm not interested in the 'newer' f1.4'G' series lens. By all accounts it's slightly slower focusing than the f1.4D - and I just don't like the way the newer 'G' primes look. Too smooth and sculptured. They just look too plasticky. I much prefer the aesthetics of these 'older' lenses. Oh and yeah, the 'G' lens is also about double the price! No thank you.

I'll let you know what I think after the lens arrives, and probably even do a quick comparison with the f1.8D since I'll have both fast 50's together at the same time. Cool!

Fisheye Fun

My Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye arrived today, and yep, it's FUN!

At 10mm you can fit a whole room in - including most of yourself if you're not too careful!

And it has that great fisheye look which, although admittedly can get old real quick, is also undoubtedly a unique spin on an otherwise dull image. This is just a snap of Emy in our lounge - literally the first shot I took with the lens on my D300, but it's also kinda neat. I love how you get sooooo much in, although when kept in the middle the 'subject' still looks relatively natural.  I can see the wedding potential already.

So I took the kids outside and fired another a few more quick shots. just to get a feel for the lens. Not surprisingly it's very snappy to focus, and beautifully sharp, especially in the centre, even wide open. I may not use this lens a lot, but I can tell I'm going to love the results when I do.

Another shot at 10mm - showing again how the central figures can stay reasonably normal, while the horizon and edges bend for the funky fisheye effect. Great portrait of the kids.

Never ask your son "How close can you get to my lens?"
"Is this close enough Dad?"

Seriously, how can you not have fun with this lens?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Tokina Fisheye for my D300

Digital has taken a back seat over the last few months as my passion for film photography has really blossomed. I've written extensively on my experiences over at and poor old digital hasn't got a look in!

That's not to say I haven't used my D300 - I shot my second wedding for the season last weekend, and am still all digital on a wedding shoot. I've also got a 'Trash the Dress' session booked in for next month, which will also be digital (although I may sneak some medium format film in there somewhere?). So while I might have been ranting and raving about film over the past few months, digital remains a big part of my work - and will remain so. I still love my Nikon D300.

So to that end, I've decided to give my D300 a little present - jut to say 'sorry' for neglecting it for so long  :-)  I've always yearned for a funky fisheye lens. Something compatible with my cropped sensor D300. When Brian and Emily Hatch visited from the States last year, I got to play with Brian's 16mm FX (Full frame) Nikkor Fisheye, and while I fell in love with it, it really wasn't fisheye enough on my crop sensor. To get true fisheye with a Nikkor lens, I'd need to get the 10.5mm DX lens, taking it back up to the 16mm of Brian's lens with the crop factor added in. But since a new 10.5mm costs over $1400.00NZ, that wasn't about to happen any time soon.

But there are decent alternatives in the third-party lens realm - probably the most tempting of which is the Tokina 10-17mm f3.5/4.5 DX fisheye - the world's only true fisheye zoom! Of the third-party offerings, the build quality of Tokina is legendary, and even though it isn't considered one of their 'pro' lenses, the 10-17mm still gets very good reviews for build quality.

I've been keeping an eye on the lens auctions recently, in the hope that a manual focus fisheye for either Olympus or Minolta would show up, even tough they are both as rare as hens teeth. Not surprisingly, nothing has. But what did pop up, at an amazing price, was a Tokina 10-17mm DX fisheye for Nikon. So I bought it.

What a sexy little lens it is! And most reviews are very positive - except for two things!

First, all the reviewers stress that this is a true fisheye lens, it hasn't been corrected for distortions in any way. Images, especially at the 10mm end, will distort wildly! Great, that's just what I want. You don't buy a fisheye to get rid of the fisheye look - you want to use it! Well at least I do. And yes, while I know that the fisheye thing can get madly overdone, I'm also willing to bet that when my brides see one or two fisheye images in their proof book they'll go nuts over them. I reckon I'll use it at least once for every wedding. And then there's my own landscape work as well. So the fisheye distortion argument doesn't phase me. This is a specialty lens to be used sparingly. Dually noted.

Second, and perhaps more damning, is the lenses tendency to purple fringe in places of high contrast within the image. While on the face of it this is a problem, the D300 (and other high-end nikon bodies) will actually reduce this problem 'in-camera' so I don't believe it will be as noticeable as many of the (Canon using) reviewers have suggested. It's also something that is fairly easy to fix in post processing as well. It does have an aspherical element to correct for aberrations, but that's a great big bulbous hunk of glass on the front of that lens, so it's not surprising it struggles a little with harsh light.

And while we're on the subject of the front element - it may have a tiny built-in hood, but the front stays mainly unprotected. No filters will fit on the front, and Tokina have not made any allowances for rear-fitting gels. No biggy, and I have seen a D.I.Y work around a landscape photographer posted on his blog if I want to go down that track. But I'm not worried, since I won't be using it for every shot. It is, as I've already pointed out, a specialty lens.

Can't wait for it to arrive. I'll definitely be posting some images and my initial thoughts on the lens when I've had a play with it on the D300. After 25+ years in photography, I'm finally going to own a fisheye lens. Yeeehaaaa!