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Saturday, 04 May 2013


I've found my spot at 50mm (normal), although I'm always tempted to play around more with a wide. About once a year, I'll take out my 35mm for a roll of film and tell myself I need to use it more. However, after going back to the 50mm, I realize that the 35mm offers a more novel rather than natural venture for my style.

On the other hand, I'll sporadically go on a 'need a 28mm' binge, thinking that maybe the 35mm is too long to effectively prod me towards increased wide angle usage. Halting this exploration, though, has been cost.

I recently bought a Soviet-era Jupiter-8 50mm; I would love it if a 28mm variant (as in cheap but adequate) existed, but no such luck.

To my horror, I actually quite like my Nikon 1. Then I notice that the Nikon seem to execute a plan exactly as you say: fix all these based on the focus length. (F1.8 for some prime down to an upcoming 85mm eqv; good tele up to 300 eqv and then 1xxx using FT1). But analysis like this, is it the right emphasis?

I have all the systems you mentioned there but I think the camera/lens are not important by itself (it is important but not by itself). It is the subject. Ignore those who buy 600 f4 for status and show off (and weight lifting exercise purpose), they have a purpose. As Thom has said, one may have to buy the biggest lens to photo the smallest thing.

In you article you mention about all these 35/50, ... mention cost as a key factor. But once you start the tele you shift to point that you cannot move (to change your position). This is the key. The subject you want to take, the situation you are in (except in studio) is not something you can choose. Hence, you get this 1.4 lens (not for DOF isolation) but for low night initially. You have those f2.8/f4 for indoor (and evening) sport. You have macro for macro purpose. You have the wide for indoor arch. The shift for product and landscape ... You have the I-give-you-the-len-just-to-carry 400F2.8/500f4/600f4 etc. for wide life that you cannot get close.

It is all about subject and the effect you are after (e.g. 85-105mm with De-focus effect but head features in right proportion), not about coverage.

It's OK, Dennis, I quite like my Nikon 1 (V1), too. I bought it because it had been marked way, way down and my funds are limited, but found a more capable, engaging camera than I expected. It's just so quick and accurate (at least in decent light) that I don't have to worry about it. The lenses are on the slow side, but quick to focus and very nicely made for their modest price tags, with metal barrels and mounts, even metal zoom rings in some, and very respectable Nikon optics. The 30-110mm (81-297mm-e) and 6.7-13mm (18-35mm-e) zooms are especially nice. There's also a new 85mm-e f/1.2 that looks good, but probably beyond my limited means for a focal length I don't love. If I shot portraits I'd be all over it. Maybe some year.

Nikon has been introducing several lenses per year and seems committed o the format, a very encouraging sign. I do wish they'd come out with a quickish 35mm-e and a macro lens of some sort, as both of those I'd buy if they were in line with their other prices, which run about 75% of Micro 4/3 equivalents (and are often better made). There is already a 50mm-e f/1.8, but I'd prefer something wider for my 'indoor' lens. Also nice is that they don't gouge for hoods, either including them or selling them at reasonable prices (Olympus, take notes).

Having three zooms that cover 18-297mm-e and fit in a small case is what makes this system so appealing to me. Image quality comparable to a good dslr of five years ago is good enough for now, and the speed and accuracy of the autoocus is outstanding. No one else has made an on-sensor pdaf system work so well (why, I donvt know). The controls are poorly designed, but I can live with that, and maybe by the time there is a V3 on clearance they will be better, because I won't be buying before then.

Through a glass darkly...we get to choose how we wish to see the world by the glass we choose. May your glass be rose coloured.

I'm a teacher, and the more I see great teachers at work the more I believe that great teachers are really good "guessers". They know from years of experience what will work well and what won't. For me, lens selection in photography is the same. The strongest work I see from photographers comes from their knowing and using the heck out of a lens. They become really good "guessers" at creating an image because of this hard-earned knowledge. From Weston's pepper, to Michael Kenna's landscapes, expert photographers exploit their knowledge of their chosen lens to guess well.

I chose my lenses to cover the photos I want to take: landscapes and portraits. And as a snapshooter turned enthusiast, I wanted manual focus lenses to teach me the basics. I ended up buying a Zeiss Distagon T* 4/18 and a Voigtlander Heliar Classic 75mm f/1.8. Since I didn't want to take the leap from a P&S to DSLR, I settled for the GXR-M as the only mirrorless camera I can afford which has a native M mount.

There's nothing like a prime, manual focus lens with an aperture ring and DOF markings to teach a beginner about focal length, angle of view, perspective and depth of field. The first lesson the Heliar taught me was finding myself backed against the wall with my subject across the short side (10 ft.) of our living room and still not get a proper head and shoulder portrait of my wife.

I also use it for "close-up" shots of my other favorite subject, mountains, because its mild telephoto focal length (112.5 mm-e on the GXR) doesn't foreshorten distances (perspective compression) markedly.

This shot below was taken with the Heliar on my GXR-M. Had I shot this with a wide angle lens, it would have taken me a 10 kilometer drive in my Landcruiser and a further five kilometer trek to get a picture of Mt. Amandewing's summit this size. How's that for an example of "zooming with one's feet" (and wheels)?

Here's a wide angle shot taken a few minutes earlier from the same vantage point using a Zeiss Distagon T* 4/18 (27 mm-e). The fog had drifted in while I was changing lenses in the car.

These two lenses (made in the same Cosina factory) are my two-lens outfit native to the GXR-M. I'm still saving up for a Zeiss normal lens for a more or less complete brace of M mount lenses. (I can't afford the longest telephoto available in M mount, e.g., the Tele-Elmar 135mm f/4, used.)

When the shutter of my M mount lens module broke down, I was forced to buy a GRD IV as my "back-up" while the former was being repaired under warranty (in Japan). Had I bought the GRD instead of the GXR as my first serious camera, I might have merrily moved along as a happy snapshooter, unburdened by the intricacies and contretemps of serious photography.

No regrets though. It took me some time before muscle memory made shifting gears with a stick-shift, "automatic". It's just that I find photography more difficult than driving (off-road driving in the boondocks and street racing in Manila included).

These last couple of questions are exactly what I was thinking when I bought my Leica. I had a bag of lenses which had served me well with film and I had some reservations on my Pentax glass. Not because they were bad -- but because they weren't consistent and I was working around them just once too often.

So, I bought the Leica. And now, my classic glass isn't quite there. My old 35/2 is fairly soft. Is it better than my Pentax 24/2? Probably. Is it Leica money better? No.


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