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Wednesday, 16 February 2011


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The Nikon 28 1.4 D has been discontinued. The focus action on that lens has always been a bit slow. Nikon has since come out with the 24 1.4 and the wonderful 35 1.4.

Peter's work from Egypt is spectacular. Thanks to you both.

If he likes the D3 then the D3s will blow him away, I have been using it for over a year now and can do half my portraits available light. Its amazing. How many D3s owners does it take to change a light bulb ?... none,, just crank up the ISO.

The 28 f1.4 is discontinued, and is rare and expensive used. However, Nikon now has a new 24 f1.4 and 35 f1.4 as replacements. They are terrific, but not cheap.:-(

I would love to hear Pete opine on how life is different in the AF world than when he was doing this with manual focus lenses. We have grown used to AF but photojournalists like Peter did brilliant work with fast, manual focus primes.

And that same low-light performance is available for a lot less $$ with the D700. Showing my photographer friends the D700's ability to take usable shots in near darkness feels almost like doing parlor tricks. I use it quite a lot for concerts and candid portraits at social events in available light. If it only had much less shutter/mirror noise . . . (No doubt many readers already know the D700 and that it is likely to be replaced soon.)

The 28mm f/1.4D is the stuff dreams are made of. A used one will set you back at least $3000 as very few were made. It was discontinued several years ago, and the demand keeps rising, even with the recent release of the 24mm f/1.4G

Indeed the Nikkor 28mm f1.4 is discontinued. I owned one and it got me some pictures. I sold mine several years ago, for $1000 to a friend, just about the time they went ballistic on eBay. Now they are going for three times that amount. (Shows what a smart marketer I am.)

But lament not. The current generation of f1.4 Nikkors (the 24mm, 35mm and 85mm which I now own) are superior. And Peter is right on the D3. Gets me pictures when nothing else will.

Quite a lot of the daylight photos look as if they were taken with cloud white balance on a sunny day, leading to an unpleasant sort of over-warmness... unless Egypt really looks like this. Having a look at the EXIF header he does indeed turn out to have set his own white balance rather than use auto. I prefer my Nikon's auto white balance.

I shoot the D700, often in low light; the D3 is slightly better, even, they say.

But the D700 is spectacular. It's a bit of an exaggeration, but the joke was "3200 is the new 400" -- i.e., an ISO I was willing to use casually for record and journalistic shots, not something one would only touch when pressed into a corner and desperate.

It opens up all sorts of possibilities for recording things more like they really were, and without being so blatantly obvious about it.

Asking for chapter and verse on the AF 28 f1.4D--a daring thing to do, given the debates over the "mythic" nature of its reputation among Nikon cognoscenti.

Ah, the Nikon D3. The first "available darkness" camera... :)

Glad to see there are still pro photogs who shoot in the manner of David Douglas Duncan.

Makes me feel better about my choosing to shoot pretty much exclusively in available light (particularly after Jay McNally implied--tongue in cheek--in "Hot Shoe Diaries" that available-light shooters are stone-age tree-worshippers...)

One big reason I went to Olympus when it came time to go digital. Liked those fast constant-aperture zooms.

>his lens currently has a balky focus ring

The Nikkor 28/1.4 is a really great lens, but was designed for film and in some ways isn't as good as the 24 and 35mm AF-S lenses Nikon released recently.

Mechanically, the AF/MF switch is a radial clutch, and the clutch ring is prone to cracking around the mounting screws. This makes the ring refuse to stay put. Nikon no longer have replacement parts. My guess is that this is what's happened to peter's lens.


Thanks for getting this information. In the literary celebrity business, Sartre smoking Gitaines was considered important, so Peter's lenses are part of the story of these pictures. But the comments to his photos are as interesting as the photos. As much as I love these Egypt Turleys, I can understand the detractors, too. In a sense, the photos are good but the feeling of having seen them one time too many persists. Or the criticism that the uprising was better covered in video. Would you consider writing a piece on what is good photograph (or an iconic one) when everything is flickered, iphoned, or otherwise frozen in pixels? Do you feel you've seen it all before, even the glorious images of Charles Cramer? And if this is an age of photo-fatigue, what do we do?

"as a reporter he feels it's important to record the light that is there in the scene"

I wonder why he uses a cloudy white balance all the time then? That is not exactly recording reality, especially for the night images.

Jan, are you sure? Isn't this white balance closer to the perceived reality than a perfect neutral one? I also think he simply used a sunny (and not cloudy) setting. Personally I usually dislike correcting the color balance of the artificial light in documentary work: that looks factitious to me.

My guess about white balance is that he's shooting into the light a lot, and is setting the WB to avoid making everything (particularly skin tones) blue in the shadows. That's an eminently reasonable approach, particularly if you want to avoid auto WB so that there is greater consistency across many shots.

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