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.
Hardly a surprise to most of you, but my favorite, most cherished duo for professional work is a fast fifty on a 35mm sensor camera (my absolute favorite is still the RZ67), and it really makes no difference which fast fifty on which camera. I even wrote an article about it, and it was one of those articles I enjoyed writing the most in all my time working here at Photography Life with Nasim and the other brilliant members of our team.
Why am I saying all this? After I wrote the “Fifty for Creativity” article, I promised myself to use the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D lens more. Much more. I promised myself I would almost force myself to switch from the fifty, push myself out of my comfort zone and just learn it. You see, I love that lens. I really, really do. I love that it’s soft in the corners (which it really is), I love its character, heft, size and feel. On top of that, I think it is one of the most beautiful autofocus lenses Nikon has ever made, perhaps even the most beautiful. It’s so well proportioned, so well balanced on my D700 (especially without the hood), that even if it were a poor lens, it’d be a thing of beauty and I’d want to own it for that reason alone. But it’s not a poor lens. It’s a bloody brilliant lens (and, as most such things, it has several irritating flaws that you just learn to accept).
Having said that, going out of comfort zone is not an easy thing to do. After using the 85mm more and more of the time, I come back to that small, light, inconspicuous AF-S 50mm f/1.4G and it feels like… coming back home. It’s somehow right. As before there is this quiet voice in my head saying I would most likely prefer a 35mm equivalent even more, especially in conjunction with the 85mm lens – it’s one of the most popular, classic lens duos, after all – but until I buy into the Fujifilm system and get myself the XF 23mm f/1.4R, best I stay away from the temptation and gladly accept there is nothing better for me than a classic fifty.
And so, before I can share my thoughts on the 85mm focal length (one thing I can tell for certain, it is astonishing for portraits, but, naturally, not nearly as versatile as a “shorter” lens), I thought I’d give the 50mm focal length some more deserved attention, only this time with less words accompanying the images. But more than that, I’d like to use this article as an opportunity to ask you to share some of your work as well, something I feel we don’t do nearly as often as we should.
Let us know of your favorite lens and camera combination, one that just gets out of your way and lets you do your thing without distraction, one that feels best in hand, acts as an extension of your mind. Write us a few words about it, of how you’ve began learning it, of how you’ve started growing, of how it, perhaps, helped you shift focus from the technical part of photography towards the creative and forget if pixels ever mattered.
Showcasing your work is important, so link away, my friends, link away! This is the time when you should not be timid. :)
A side note: for the curious among you, all of these were taken with the AF-S 50mm f/1.4G lens mounted on a Nikon D700 camera. All Images Copyright ©Romanas Naryškin, All Rights Reserved. Copying or reproduction is not permitted without written permission from the author.