Let’s Share Some Photography

I am a big supporter of the “get to know your gear” opinion. I strongly believe that the more you use something, the better you learn to take full advantage of the strengths of that particular piece of equipment, and the better you learn to manage its shortcomings without even thinking about it. To a point where they just disappear, in fact, and make the statement that gear does not matter as truthful as it is. Gear does not matter (to an extent), but knowing it and liking it does. This, I think, it the crucial link between equipment and photography itself.

Classic 50mm (11)

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art prime lens that was announced on January 6, 2014 for Sigma SA, Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony A mounts. Ever since Sigma announced its new “Art” lens line, it has been releasing superb new lenses and updates. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art received the highest praise from us at Photography Life, especially after we compared it to the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G and other 35mm lenses in our extensive review. So when I first found out that Sigma had plans to update its existing Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, I got really excited, since I knew that the new Art-series lens would not disappoint. It has been too long since both Nikon and Canon updated their 50mm f/1.4 primes. In the case with Nikon, its newer 50mm f/1.8G yields better sharpness than the bigger and heavier 50mm f/1.4G. In short, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G is just not good enough for modern high resolution sensors and its performance at maximum aperture is rather disappointing (and the Canon 50mm f/1.4 is quite similar in that regard). The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art announcement was very timely, because it hits a sweet spot between the sub-par 50mm f/1.4 Nikon and Canon lenses, and the exotic manual focus Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Lens Announcement

We sort of missed the new Sigma 50mm lens in the sea of recent announcements. And we should not have. Because, despite that, like its predecessor, it is very heavy by 50mm f/1.4 class standards and very big, this is not an old lens in a new frock. The Sigma 50m f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a completely new and very complex design. Worth your attention? Perhaps, if you are into the classic fifty. And, if recent Sigma lenses are of any indication (Nasim adored the 35mm f/1.4 Art), it should be extremely good.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

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Nikon 58mm f/1.4G Review

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This is an in-depth review of the new, much anticipated Nikon 58mm f/1.4G professional prime lens that was announced on October 17, 2013 along with the Nikon D5300 DSLR. Similar to the legendary classic, the NOCT Nikkor 58mm f/1.2, the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G is a specialized lens for such needs as portraiture, street, event / wedding photography and astrophotography. Thanks to its fast aperture of f/1.4 and a complex optical formula using aspherical elements, nano crystal coat and super integrated coating, along with a fast silent wave autofocus motor, the lens is also ideal for low-light photography needs. Unlike many of the Nikkor lenses that are optimized for maximum sharpness, the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G is the first modern lens of its kind that focuses on producing aesthetically pleasing images, rather than purely focusing on sharpness. I had a pleasure of shooting with this lens for the last 3 months and I wanted to get a full understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, especially when compared to the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and f/1.8G lenses that I have been relying on for my photography needs. In this review, I will not only provide an in-depth analysis of the lens, but will also compare it head to head against Nikon’s 50mm prime lenses and the Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 lens that I have been testing in parallel.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4G

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A Fifty for Creativity

Even just a few hours ago, I was once again asked by a reader what lenses do I use most for my wedding photography. The answer is and always has been the same for my wedding, family or general photography needs – a classic fifty. I am sure hardly anyone will find this at all surprising, because fast 50mm fixed focal length lenses have become a legend of sorts. Ask any photographer and he will tell you – that is one of the two most versatile fixed focal length lenses you can buy (the other being a 35mm lens). It is time we back up that claim with actual photographs, and plenty of them. Is there a single reason for it being so versatile? No. Rather, it is a combination of various characteristics and generally pleasing manner of “drawing” the photograph that, even today with all the amazing zoom lenses, makes it such a sought-after lens.

A Fifty for Creativity

Naturally, the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G is not the only lens I own and use, but I really do feel this particular focal length deserves a separate article just to show how truly special it is. I adore it. More than that, my warm feelings towards such a lens are not dictated by raw technical characteristics, rather how much it resonates with the way I previsualize my work. And that is why, instead of boring you to death with technicalities, I will gladly let photographs do most of the talking for a change.

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Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition Lens Overview

Along with the highly anticipated Nikon Df camera, Nikon has also introduced the restyled Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens. Such a move might be slightly confusing at first, because Nikon already has a new AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens in its line-up. So, are there any improvements with this new lens? In short – no. At least not from the optical performance stand-point.

Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.8G Special Edition lens

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Nikon 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S Review

This is an review of the classic Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S by one of our readers, Christian Duguay from Montreal, Canada. A quick note from Nasim: while I was going through testing some of the older manual focus lenses (including the 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S), Christian contacted me via email and sent some of his thoughts on the lens. After a couple of emails back and forth, I requested him to write a review of the lens, so that we could share it with our readers. Christian accepted the challenge and we both agreed that it could be a good idea if we both worked on it – I would provide all optical test results, while he would write the text and provide sample images. So in a way, this is a collaborative effort between the two of us. Enjoy!

Nikon 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S

1) Overview and Specifications

When I read a few weeks ago at Photography Life that Nasim wanted to review some of the Nikkor Ai-S manual focus lenses, I was really pleased by the idea. In fact, I was longing for that since the summer of 2012. At that time, I was looking for a 28mm prime and although Nikon had launched a new 28mm f/1.8G in April of that year, I opted for an all-manual f/2.8 Ai-S lens. The reviews I read about it were interesting and convincing, so I decided to order one new from the US, because it was not available in Canada. When I received the lens, I was totally amazed by its high quality, intrinsic beauty and special craftsmanship. This was my first contact with these old Nikkor Ai-S lenses.

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Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Lens Announced

We’ve known that Zeiss was working on a special lens for a while now and finally the super-prime Distagon 55mm f/1.4 has been officially announced. Looking at the two basic parameters – focal length and aperture – there isn’t really anything all that special about it, just another normal prime with slightly more reach than usual. Yet there are several hints that point out neither focal length nor aperture tell the whole story. This lens is big, heavy and complex. It is also manual focus only. But the most shocking aspect is the price of $4000.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 Lens ZF.2

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Which Nikon Prime Lens to Buy First?

Buying a DSLR often means having several accessories to go with it, among which are lenses. But choosing your first lens isn’t easy – there are so many choices available at so many different price points, which can make it quite confusing for a beginner to find a lens for a particular need. In this article, I will discuss several budget Nikon fast prime lenses most suitable as a first step into the fixed focal length world. Which Nikon prime should you buy first? Which one would make the most sense? You need a lens to stay on your camera for years to come, you need it to be good for family portraits and some occasional snaps. Or maybe even for your future photography business – who knows?

Which Nikon Prime Lens to Buy First?

Well, read on as I highlight the strengths of each affordable fast prime Nikon has to offer. I hope this article will help you with this tough choice most of us had to make at one point or another.

1) Why Buy a New Lens?

So you bought yourself a brand spanking new DSLR and now you want better pictures. Where do you start? When our images do not turn out good, we usually blame the camera, without even having the patience and time to learn how to use it. Do you find yourself using the camera in Auto mode all the time? If yes, then why don’t you first educate yourself and learn what those other “PASM” modes are for? We have plenty of beginner tutorials on this website and our photography tips for beginners page is a good place to start.

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Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 for Nikon 1 Announcement

In the recent sea of announcements, with such cameras as Sony A99, NEX-6, and Nikon D600 receiving all the attention (understandable, of course), it’s very easy not to notice the small things. But then, small things make the bigger ones complete.

Today, along with the attention-grabbing Nikon D600, Nikkor 1 18.5mm f/1.8 prime lens was also announced, expanding the growing Nikon 1 lens arsenal. This lens will act roughly as a normal 50mm f/1.8 lens would on a full-frame camera (such as the great Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G) in terms of angle of view and light gathering (aperture speed). I see it as an extremely welcome addition to the line, complimenting the 10mm f/2.8 lens very well. Both for my personal work and weddings, a 50mm lens proved to be the most versatile so far, and with the 18.5 f/1.8 for Nikon 1 introduced, this mirrorless system has suddenly became much more attractive to me. If only Nikon 1 V1 was (much) cheaper. :)

Nikkor 1 18.5mm f/1.8 lens

What I reluctantly didn’t mention at first was that it will not act nearly as a normal fast prime lens would on a full-frame camera in terms of depth of field. Due to the small CX sensor (2.7x crop factor) of Nikon 1 system, depth of field is greatly enlarged because of the shorter focal length (or longer focus distance, depends on how you look at it) needed for the same magnification as compared to a 50mm f/1.8 mounted on a, say, D700. As it happens, tiny depth of field, along with great dynamic range and low-light performance, is one of the most attractive points when it comes to fast lenses. But does that mean there’s no more use for large depth of field? I don’t think so. I personally believe that it takes a lot of skill to use larger depth of field in such instances as wedding photography, and it’s also great for street and travel photography.

But then, you know who you are and what you want. If you found Nikon 1 system to suit you well, this lens is likely going to be a great companion, especially at a low price of around $190.

Pre-order Links

We trust the largest photo reseller, B&H, the most when it comes to gear purchase. Here are some links if you want to pre-order the new lens for your Nikon 1 camera:

  • A black 18.5mm f/1.8 lens for your black Nikon 1 camera ($186.95)
  • A silver 18.5mm f/1.8 lens for your silver Nikon 1 camera ($186.95)
  • A white 18.5mm f/1.8 lens for your white Nikon 1 camera ($186.95)
  • Of course, you don’t have to match them if you don’t want to. That would turn heads, wouldn’t it?
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