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.
When asked what gear I use most for my work, I will first of all give tribute to the classic fifty and talk about how useful and versatile it is for my style of shooting. And yet I would never willingly rely on that lens alone, no matter how much I liked it. Nor should someone else, really. In this follow-up article I will describe the two most popular lens combinations used among professional wedding photographers. Both of these lens combinations are enough to cover the biggest part of the wedding and, in that context, can be called workhorse lenses. One of the duos is used primarily by fixed focal length lens shooters, the other is very successfully used by photographers who largely prefer zoom lenses. Each of the combinations has their advantages and disadvantages when compared to the other, but whether one is better than the other remains very subjective. Please note that lens choices presented below are a result of a mini-research, where we asked a number of wedding photographers what two lenses were their favorite / most used.
While talking about these lens combinations, I will also try to objectively highlight their biggest strengths and weaknesses when compared to each other.
The holidays are over, as sad as it may be. And that means it is time to get back to work! We start with some great news. Fujifilm has just announced (or, rather, confirmed, since we knew this lens was coming) the very hot Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens for its popular and desirable X-series compact camera system. For those who wonder, this is a proper, 85mm full-frame equivalent (84mm if you’re being pedantic) portrait lens with correspondingly fast aperture of f/1.2.
1) Overview and Specifications
It is not difficult to understand why such a lens is so important for any camera system, and especially for that which is based around APS-C sized sensors. 85mm f/1.4-1.8 class lenses are considered to be among the best, most versatile prime portrait optics. Not only do they sport a very useful focal length, generally thought to be not too long or too wide for close-up portraits, but the fast aperture also ensures plenty of creative opportunities to take advantage of. Of course, one could always use a 50mm f/1.4 class lens on a crop sensor camera for similar behavior and that is indeed something I have done in the past myself. And yet there was a problem. A 50mm lens acts much like a 75mm lens would on a full-frame camera, which sounds close enough to 85mm. In practice, I found 75mm equivalent to be a little too wide for close-up portraits, which would get distorted. That is why the new Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens will be so appreciated by professional photographers looking for a proper portrait lens. In terms of angle of view, it acts very similarly to how an 85mm lens would when mounted on a DSLR with a 35mm sensor. The maximum aperture of f/1.2 should prove useful in low-light situations, but what is more interesting is that the shallow depth of field capabilities of this lens are similar to an 85mm f/1.8 lens on a full-frame camera. This is the first lens with such parameters for APS-C sensor cameras – Fuji has done something much more experienced digital camera manufacturers have ignored for over a decade now. It is a good thing, and one that is slowly becoming a welcome trend.
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.
Lothlórien or Mordor, depending on whether you consider Nikon “the dark side” I guess! Been shooting with this combo for about a week now and I am amazed by the results. The Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G (see our lens page in the database) is just one of a kind…very few Nikkor lenses are capable of rendering such beautiful images. Lots of depth, color and beautiful bokeh, as illustrated in some of the images below. Sharpness in the center is also excellent when you nail focus, even wide open. Lola was a bit hesitant about the Df at first (she rarely parts with her Nikon D3s + Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G combo), but once she used it a couple of times on commercial shoots, she quickly changed her mind.
Image quality is stunning, especially when shooting in low light situations. Armed with a fast f/1.4 lens, you could literally shoot in dark with the Df and get amazing results. These are some of the images that we have captured so far and I am planning to take the Df to much more challenging lighting conditions this weekend and within the next couple of weeks. I am currently busy writing the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G review (now published). By now I have plenty of image samples to showcase its performance, along with other accompanying lab test data. The Nikon Df review should be posted within the next 2 weeks.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Now that the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G lens is out (check out our detailed preview), more and more information is showing up on this very interesting lens, including high resolution image samples. Unfortunately, Nikon did not provide any high-resolution images on its product page, so I thought it would be a good idea to post other images that I was able to find through Nikon Asia’s website. Although I thought that the sample images were not a very good representation of the lens performance (f/1.4 samples do not appear to be perfectly focused), the images definitely do have that 3D look to them. Bokeh looks exceptionally good, even stopped down to f/2! Check out the below high-resolution image samples:
Link to download the image | Shutter Speed: 1/1000, Aperture: f/2, ISO: 100
The most exciting announcement of the week for me personally, is the new Nikon 58mm f/1.4G, a lens that I have been waiting for many years now. This is a specialized, one of a kind lens that is basically the modern version of the Noct NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2, a legendary manual focus lens with extreme performance that still sells for over $3000 used today. Although Nikon currently offers two f/1.4 and f/1.8 modern 50mm primes with autofocus capability in its lens lineup, the 58mm f/1.4G is a lens at a whole different level that is specifically designed to yield maximum sharpness and microcontrast, along with beautiful bokeh at the maximum aperture of f/1.4.
As promised in my Nikon D800 for Wedding Photography article that I wrote a couple of days ago, I am continuing the series and this time with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G lens. As I noted in my Nikon 50mm f/1.8G review, Lola and I really love this lens for everyday and commercial photography. Because I was so impressed with the lens, I ended up replacing the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G with the f/1.8G version last year. While we still own the 50mm f/1.4G, we made it a backup lens, which is now pretty much permanently attached to the Nikon D700 (also used as a backup camera).