AF-S Nikkor 105mm 1:1.4E Mini Review

Well I finally bit the bullet and despite owning the wonderful 85mm 1.4G I went and slapped down rather a sizeable number of notes to acquire the Nikon AF-S-Nikkor 105mm 1:1.4E. I had read a number of conflicting reviews about this lens but I went against my better judgement and bought it. Do I regret it? In a word – No… In several words – It is a fantastic portrait lens when it is focussing… extremely irritating when not. You see it just feels horrendously slow compared with a lot of the other modern Nikon lenses (let alone the new crop of mirrorless ones) and its low light performance leaves a lot to be desired for a lens of this price level. It is almost as slow as a medium format lens which would be its direct competition in terms of what it achieves in terms of “look” when shooting wide open. I would guess that for anyone who’s sole purpose is to shoot portraits, it won’t matter as much but for me shooting as quickly as I do it feels really sluggish. Will I keep it despite this? Yes… The results are definitely worth it to me for particular situations.

If you own the 85mm then quite honestly it is a personal decision as to whether you actually really need it. It gives a little more separation than the 85 and its nice to have that if you shoot full length portraits for instance. If you want the absolute best results from a portrait lens then this is up there with the best and arguably better in some regards. It is very sharp wide open and by F2.8 is super sharp. The bokeh is a bit jittery at f1.4 depending on the background but as smooth as you will get but F2.8. It gives great separation to your subject if you shoot wide open with a very nice contrasty image. Its difficult to nail focus perfectly when shooting a portrait wide open so you have to be aware that any movement from you or your subject will throw it out and I do mean any small movement. You have a sliver of depth of field to play with. This lens is not for close focussing as it only gets to about a metre away from the subject.

Shot at F2.8

This is a beast of an optic. It is a very large lens and its not light, although on any pro body will feel well balanced with it. The construction of the lens is solid but it seems that the body is polycarbonate and not metal which is the case with the modern Nikon lenses. For this price level it feels a bit bog standard compared to the build for instance a Sigma Art lens. By comparison it feels plasticy.

So, the bottom line is you should consider this lens if you primarily shoot portraits and dont mind a bit of distance between you and the subject. It will give you some memorable images if used correctly.

I have included a few portrait shots I did recently of a very well built and exceptionally nice chap called Jake Cushway who very kindly let me use them to illustrate this post.

Lensbaby Velvet 56 f/1.6 (Nikon) mini review

 

I bought this lens last year and I must admit I haven’t used it all that much so far. This is mainly due to the fact that for the kind of work I do it is a little bit cumbersome as it requires manual focusing and doesn’t fit into my workflow easily. As far as focussing is concerned – it has a very smooth long travel gearing which does allow for very fine focus adjustments. The barrel is very smooth and as its a Metal lens it feels like a quality bit of kit with a good weight.

The lens has a very nice “Velvety” bokeh and a diffusion in the focussed areas when wide open. This I am told is not out of focus but rather a diffused effect. It is not something one can replicate in photoshop as it is not blur…it is a rather unique aspect to this lens alone.

To really utilise this lens to its best the subject has to be in the centre of the frame as that is the area that remains in focus so if you like to offset things you are photographing then you will have to place the subject in the centre and crop afterwards as I have done on the following images (albeit the subject was not dead centre):

Here is an example of a model full length at around f2.8 to give you an idea of why its not so good for Fashion:

It is however very ethereal for abstract imagery:

On the whole it is an interesting and characterful lens that has some interesting potential applications for creative use. I am sure there are people out there that would find this a very pleasing and interesting tool.

I have included a few images that give you some idea of the transition in the diffused areas of the frame shot at F11, F5,6, F2.8 and F1.6 respectively below:

 

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peak design everyday messenger bag review…

I will start out and say that this bag is by far the best bag I have ever used….bar none! An enormous amount of thought has gone into its design and its materials as well as the quality. Its not the cheapest out there but it is the best.

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The bag is particularly suited to my default travel Olympus Micro 4/3rds kit. I have just about everything I need and there is still room for another lens or two.fullsizerender-6

The back pockets contain a 17″ laptop plus an iPad air2.

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Very clever pockets on either side take mobile phones and keys and the one handed clasp system is secure and a pleasure to use. There are numerous very clever pockets which are very usefully placed such as the red pocket below which I use for passports which is accessible from the quick access zipper on top of the bag. As you can see – the divider system is also very flexible and lightweight allowing for lenses to be stacked.

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As you can see here – all this fits into the bag with ease…5 lenses and a body with grip; iPad air2 and a 17″ MacBook pro with power brick; various batteries; carry strap; iPhone; lots of bits and pieces and a set of keys

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The one thing I forgot to photograph is a very flexible strap system with various configurations that you can see on the Peak Design website

I am so happy with this bag that I felt compelled to tell you all about it. Don’t even think twice about buying one if you are in the market for a new bag.

 

Parallax Art Show

Flo Dron modelling in a fashion photo by Marc Rogoff

I will be showing a series of images at the Parallax Art Fair on the 13 and 14th February. There are an interesting selection of artists showing there so if you can make it along it will be a worthwhile event. Do come along. Also if you get a chance to sign to sign up to my mailing list then please click here to do so – there is a 5% discount on unframed prints for anyone who does so.