6.04.2014

Is a lens alone enough reason to get into a system? Maybe.

The Samsung 85mm 1.4 lens.
©2014 Kirk Tuck
www.visual sciencelab.blogspot.com

Downtown communications...
©2014 Kirk Tuck
www.visual sciencelab.blogspot.com

I recently discovered that the lens I've had in my equipment drawer for a couple months now may be the most fun 85mm 1.4 lens I've had the pleasure to own. It's solid and externally boring but it makes images that I find exactly in line with what I want. Longer than normal (120+ equiv.) Incredibly detailed and sharp in the middle, wide open. But is that enough to buy into a system?

When I was growing up in photography there were tons of photographers whose daily bread was made shooting Nikons and Canons. But a large number of them also had an additional camera around their necks. It was a Leica M3 or M2 or maybe an M4 and they generally had one lens for it. The guys who liked portraits had a 50mm Summicron and the people who were more inclined to shoot traditional photojournalism generally opted for a 35mm Summicron. No big system investment. A lot of the cameras were bought used. But the little outlier camera and lens was generally thought to be the shooter's "personal camera" or "art camera." The mechanism that aligned with his core vision. 

Now I am certainly not comparing the consumer-aimed Samsung NX30 camera to a Leica M3 but I must admit that even in my fervor to make the Panasonic GH4 and its family my primary shooting system I am happy to have the option of sticking a very well made 85mm 1.4 on the front of a camera with a slightly larger (and very detailed) sensor for shooting portraits. The combo of the NX30 and the 85mm has yielded some nice portraits for me and as soon as one of my clients makes their selections and launches some of the new people images on their websites I'll share them with you. 

While it is mentally convenient to "lock into" a system it's also nice to have options. The Samsung 85mm 1.4 is an option I like. Now I am waiting to see if the rumors are true. Will they introduce a professional caliber NX-1 at Photokina? Will it feature 4K video? Will it be affordable? 

In the meantime I'm heading back into the giant time vacuum that is known as Final Cut Pro to finish up a long and hesitant edit on a project. Hesitant because when given a huge range of choices it's alway harder to start.....

12 comments:

Nigel said...

This makes absolute sense to me.

My own current compromise is the GX7 with assorted lenses, and the Sigma DP3 Merrill.

Kirk Tuck said...

Full disclosure: I was always one of those guys stumbling around with a Leica, front and center on my chest, other brands hanging on my shoulders...

Mr said...

WHOA that lens is FAT!
i like it! its even more MR MAGOO than my oly 75/1.8!

Claire said...

The only lens I can think of compelling enough to get into anything, is the Navitar TV lens 75/1.3. Thank God it's a C mount and can be adapted to pretty much anything. More seriously, as much as I loved the PL25/1.4 I backed off m4/3 pretty quickly as it didn't rock my boat. But I doubt not the NX8/1.4 is great, now I wish Samsung would make a serious camera to go behind it...

Anonymous said...

That thing looks more out of proportion than a Canon 50mm f/0,95 did on a model 7 rangefinder.

I'm a big believer in using the right tool for the job. If the 85mm f/14 or a Samsug works better than a 45mm or 75mm on M4/3 just use it. No explanation needed other "than it-just-works."

Chuck

Rufus said...

If you had discovered the Zeiss Sony 85mm 1.4 you would have held on to one of your Sony A77 or A99's.

It is a stupendous lens. Its just makes things look so good.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Rufus, While I didn't own the 85mm Alpha Zeiss I did own the manual focus one made for Canon and I always had a lot of trouble shooting at wider apertures because of focus shift. Bad focus shift. It worked fine in Live View but the Live View on the Canon 5D2 (my last foray into Canon) sucked and was pretty much useless for portrait shooting.

The Samsung is very easy to use and, so far, the combo of 85+NX30 hasn't missed on AF...

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Rufus, While I didn't own the 85mm Alpha Zeiss I did own the manual focus one made for Canon and I always had a lot of trouble shooting at wider apertures because of focus shift. Bad focus shift. It worked fine in Live View but the Live View on the Canon 5D2 (my last foray into Canon) sucked and was pretty much useless for portrait shooting.

The Samsung is very easy to use and, so far, the combo of 85+NX30 hasn't missed on AF...

Anonymous said...

From my understanding, one of reasons for a rangefinder as a second camera was for the more accurate focusing for wide angle lenses, or in low light situations.

It wasn't always easy to accurately focus reflex lenses when wide open, and especially wide angle lenses, hence the array of different focusing aids built into screens over the years.

Kirk Tuck said...

Naw. We knew how to use hyper focal distance and other quick focus methods with our wides. We generally were shooting color chrome for clients in our big cameras and Tri-X in our little cameras. But you are correct that the focusing accuracy of the Leica M's was not dependent on focal length and was quick and easy.

Paul Gero said...

Kirk,
I've used that 85 1.4 Samsung and I agree, it's a brute and wonderfully sharp.

I hope that Samsung beefs up the mount on that lens though...I thought the pin holding it when I tested the NX20 a couple of years ago was a bit puny for a lens of that size, stature and price.

Nice to hear what's happening in your life...congrats on Ben's graduation!

Anonymous said...

I just need to see more pics from the samsung 85mm and also the 45mm I have the nx300 and I need another lense ASAP !