2.09.2013

Blowing out backgrounds with the new lens.


I was photographing people at Garrido's Restaurant last nigh and I found myself using the new 85mm t1.5 Rokinon lens almost exclusively. Part of the reason was pragmatic. We didn't want to have to model release everyone in the restaurant and we didn't want to interrupt peoples' dining experiences so we left the lights in the case and depended on the fast lens to carve out the sharp main subjects from a soft and impressionistic background. In the late afternoon there was still some reflected daylight boosting the illumination in the restaurant, but we quickly lost that. I started shooting at ISO 800 and progressively made my way to ISO 3200. I was doing the work handheld, depending on nearly wide open apertures and the built-in Super Steady Shot IS built into the Sony a99 camera.


All of these images were shot around t 2.0 or, at the most, t 2.8. I tried to prop my elbows on bar tops and table tops to help stabilize the camera and I worked as diligently as I could with shutter speeds that ranged from 1/60th at the beginning of the shoot to 1/15th at the end of the evening.
The EVF in the a99 was a handy thing to have. I depended on seeing the color balance in the finder and making corrections more or less on the fly. It was also great to see how the frames would look at their shooting apertures as I worked, without having to "chimp."


In the last three days I've shot over 1,000 raw frames with the Rokinon 85mm Cine t 1.5 lens and I'm very happy with its performance. One of my projects involved shooting the front panels of exotic servers and I stopped down to f16 to make sure my images were sharp front to back. At f16 I saw no obvious sharpness reduction from diffraction and the files looked great. On this job I worked at the opposite end of the aperture ring and I found that whatever I focused on turned out to be sharp and contrasty even wide open or near wide opening. All in all it's very good performance for a high speed optic at a bargain basement price.

More to come soon.






11 comments:

Peter F. said...

Kirk, Is peaking helpful for you in these situations. I ask because I found with my NEX6 and Legacy lenses when shooting the grandkids indoors that often the peeking outlined the head but just wouldn't point out the eyes unless the kids were looking exactly at me and then it seemed to notice the contrast between the iris and the whites of the eyes. But otherwise I had to focus just a "smidgeon" closer than the circle of red "peeking" that surrounded the head. That's not a complaint. If use the nikkor 56mm on the NEX6 bothered me I'd just grab my E-M6 plus 45mm. But I am having fun with the manual focus plus the cool flash that I can bounce off the ceiling!

Peter F.

Peter F.

Kirk Tuck said...

for the most part focus peaking works great. If the image is critical to a project I'll push the enlarge button twice and fine focus at a higher magnification.

waardij said...

I do not think image stabilization will work with the Rokinon, there is no electrical connection, so the camera can not know the focal length. Furthermore I am still a bit surprised with your disappointment with the center sharpness of the ZA. Mine is really great, although I tend to use it at f2 and 2.8, just like you did with the Rokinon. The later is unbeatable price wise.

Kirk Tuck said...

The IS works just fine. As to the relative value and sharpness differences of both lenses I encourage a direct, side by side comparison. What you have in hand may seem great until you directly compare it with something else...

Tom Judd said...

Is Austin awash with beautiful women, or are you just very good at finding them? Or is the "bartender" a model?
In any case, keep blogging. Fun to read!

Kirk Tuck said...

Austin is over run with the most beautiful people in the entire country. It always has been. We try not to talk about it or every single guy in the country would try to move here. Oh, wait, they already are.....

Kirk Tuck said...

Tom, how can I take you seriously as a photographer if you ask about the beautiful woman before you mention the attributes of the len's bokeh??? Kidding. Just kidding.

waardij said...

sorry if I gave the impression that I doubt your personal observation. But there is something like production spread and the Rokinon (as far as I know the same as the Samyang 85mm), does not score brilliant in test (wide open), like the one of PhotoZone. in that test, also comparative, it scored less than the ZA lens.
about the IS. as far as I know, but please correct me if I am wrong, the Rokinon 85mm is not electronically coupled,in alpha mount (I know it is in Nikon mount). and when this is the case, the camera does simply not know what lens is on the camera. if I remember correctly, the default for the a900 was 50mm, and I assume this is the same for the a99. this would mean that the camera compensates movement as if a 50mm lens was used. this will help some, but it will not compensate movement fully.

Kirk Tuck said...

I pretty much agree that there's bound to be a lot more variation in QC in a $350 product. That's almost certain. And I'll also agree that IS can be fine tuned when the camera knows what focal length is used. I don't think the IS thing is a deal killer but I do recommend testing new lenses before you hit the end of the return period. Even some of the big names screw up from time to time...

Brook said...

I really like these photos and what stands out to me is how you were able to get them so unobtrusively. I am also intrigued a camera so advanced can work so well with a lens so basic.

Russ Fortson said...

I'm not familiar with the Sony system, but doesn't the camera ask you for a focal length if it can't determine it? That's how both my Pentax and Olympus cameras do it if they can't determine focal length.

Great site, BTW. I usually learn something, and I'm always entertained.