Saturday, April 9, 2016

3 Lenses that you can't live without ....

When some one start photography from a very basic level, kit lens & 50mm are the usual lenses we finds in our photography bags. But as we explore more and more … the need of the extra lenses becoming vital to improve your work. After going through many lenses, and many reviews from the internet …. it is clear that there are 3 focal length that one must own at all cost. If you don't have these 3 focal length ….. you are wasting your time and you should put your photography gears in a box and put in the basement. So what those 3 focal lengths are ….?

Here is the list 

  1. 35mm 
  2. 60mm
  3. 105mm 

So are these 3 focal lengths only one needed to be a better photographer? ….. well …..  YES to some extent but i still have to add few thing more to make my point (Some more info to come in next blog). There are 3 lenses which are "All Purpose Lenses" …. just like Swiss Army Knife. Let me explain how. 

The lenses that i am recommending here are the following, 

  1. Nikon 35mm f/2 D
  2. 60mm f/2.8 D Macro 
  3. Tokina 100mm f/2.8 D AT-X Pro Macro 

First of all ….. all above 3 lenses are cheap and the best when it comes to sharpness and built quality. The first 2 are Nikon F-Mount. The "03rd" one from Tokina can easily be available for the other mounts but it is mostly out of stock because of the high demand :) . 

35mm f/2D: If you ask world class Pro's choose only one lens and put it on the camera and shoot all day long ….. They straight away will say … 35mm …. Nikon is still making this old D-type lens because of some special reason. This lens provides far more close focus then any of the 35mm prime manufactured by Nikon itself (including new 35mm f/1.4G) or any other company …. which means better Bokeh. The sharpest …. colour rendition & depth you get by using this lens is far far better then any 35mm you ever finds out there. Provides around 52mm of angle of interception over DX (crop bodies). If you think its not wide enough …. then take 3 shots from left to right and stitch them in Lightroom …. now its much easier to do Panorama in the Adobe Creative Cloud system. 

60mm f/2.8 D Macro: This is literally a swiss army knife lens. means it multi-purpose lens. A perfect for macro …. Perfect for Portrait (both FX full frame & DX crop body …. Specially for DX bodies)  ….. Perfect normal photography lens. Yes its a perfect normal lens because in my opinion 45-60mm focal length is normal zoom lens. By the way, I  am not recommending the new G-Series because its expensive and its not as good as this old D type lens when it comes to built quality. This is a must own lens for my beloved Wedding Photographers.  There is a reason Nikon is still making this lens ….. yes its still current production lens from Nikon. If you use this lens on DX (crop bodies) it will provide 90mm equal angle of interception (yes …. its not 1.5x zoom technically speaking).    

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 D AT-X Pro Macro:  This is another macro lens and its sharpness …. colour rendition ….. micro contrast is through the roof. Good thing is that it is available for all major camera manufacture mounts. Its the best macro and portrait lens one can find at very cheap price. I usually don't recommend 03rd party lenses but this one is truly deserve to be "must own" lens because of its superior performance. Provides 150mm angle of interception over DX crop bodies. 

Bottom line:
The whole idea for sharing above 3 lenses is to provide the best available tools for your photography at the lowest price possible. Getting expensive gears are easy and any one can recommend that because its expensive and it is marketed well. But no one and i mean no one specially the Pro's out there going to recommend something like this which not only provides the best quality but also makes you invest less money. If you don't own any of the above 3 lenses ….. then its a wastage of time i guess. 

Happy Learning Guys ! 


Saturday, April 2, 2016

105mm Bokeh/Sharpness Showdown

Before we kick off, just like to clear that in the beginning that this blog for Nikon Lenses. So if you are any other brand user, you are still more then welcome and skip to the last to get some new to learn about lenses.

Recently i have an old vintage 105mm lens with some really top notch bokeh capability so i thought let me compare it with the rest of the 105mm i have. So here are the list of the 4 x 105 lenses from Nikon from old AI-S to the master of Bokeh.

1- AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor105mm f/2.8G IF-ED ($800)

2- Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 AI-S ($250-$300 at ebay depending on condition)

3- Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 AI-S ($400 - $550 at ebay depending on condition)

4- Nikkor 105mm f/2 DC ($1000 - $1200 depending from where you buying it)

In this blog i am trying to show you all the native sharpness and BOKEH capability of all 4 above lenses. I have used the Nikon D700 to get the sample shots with following parameters.

- The distance of the subject i shot was fixed which was 1 meter to have one reference distance for all. In this way, we can compare the Bokeh size and quality as well. 

- The white balance was fixed which was dialed in Kelvin "K" with value "5560". There is a specific reason why this value is dialed which we will discus later in future blogs.

- Shutter speed & ISO was fixed which was 1/160 & 6400 respectively.

- I used live view mode and used digital zoom to zoom in and then "manually focused" the subject. Reason is because out of 4, 2 lenses are manual focus mode so all have to be manual focused to eliminate the Auto Focus error when it comes to sharpness.

Now lets see the examples from STRAIGHT from the Camera. No post editing or retouching was done.

1- AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor105mm f/2.8G IF-ED (14 glass elements in 12 groups)

2- Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 AI-S (5 glass elements in 4 groups)

3- Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 AI-S (5 glass elements in 5 groups)

4- Nikkor 105mm f/2 DC (6 glass elements in 6 groups)

Ok guys .... all four examples are about Bokeh & Sharpness. All four shots were taken under ideal condition and circumstances. But why all 4 are different. Specially 2 are shinning and popping out from the screen .... and i am talking about f/2.5 AI-S & f/2 DC version. Frankly speaking, i am not happy at all with f/1.8 AI-S version at all. Its not as good as f/2.5 AI-S or f/2 DC.

But the question is why the very first 105mm f/2.8 Macro VR lens is not good as the others. And the answer is .... excessive glass elements inside the lens. Check the total number of glass elements of all the four lenses above so you will understand what i am going to talk next.

Remember .... GLASS IS EVIL.. The more the glass you have in the lens, the more "FLAT" image you will have. Its going to be like some one just iron the image and make it flat. There wont be good color rendition, color saturation, rendered depth and many other parameters will be missing because as know that light is composed of different wavelength of color (remember that prism-rainbow experiment of Physics in High School) ..... and these wavelengths gets effects when they go through more glass. Take it in this way ..... imagine what happened to your head when you hit it 14 times to a wall trying to get through it. You will be loosing your ability on every single hit and barely survive at the 14th wall. Same happens with light. Glass is "DI-Electric" capacitor which stops certain wavelengths of lights which ultimately loosing the quality of the image.

That's why i prefer to use old manual focus lenses which came with less number of glass and still producing some stunning images even on high resolution sensors. Now some of you will say .... what about Carl Ziess OTUS series. First off, its not available in 105mm focal length. The closes is 85mm which is also consist of 11 elements in 9 groups (still less then Nikon 105/2.8 VR Macro).

Lets cut to the chase ..... so who is the winner for the Bokeh and Sharpness???

My winners are

Sharpness: 105mm f/2.5 AI-S (BTW .... that's the same lens which took the famous Afghan Girl image by Steve McCurry for National Geographic)

Bokeh: 105mm f/2 DC (Sharpness is almost close to the 105/2.5 AI-S)

If you want both Sharpness and Bokeh in one package then 105mm f/1.8 AI-S is your lens. 

You can look above the high-res images of the all four lenses and decide by yourself which is right for you keeping Bokeh & Sharpness in mind. My purpose by sharing this blog is to share with you  There is a reason which i state above which is not only technical true but also economical at the same time. 105/2.5 AI-S is answer of it. If you want best Bokeh with AF and money is not a problem, then 105/2 DC is the answer. But if you want extreme Bokeh with sharpness which is kind a hard to attain in manual focus lens when shooting in close proximity then 105mm f/1.8 AI-S is the answer (Condition provided if you get a clean copy of it).

In the end, thanks for stopping by at my blog.

Happy learning guys.

Babar Swaleheen
Flickr 500px Youpic