Sometimes I like to post stuff just because it's fun. Like really beautiful women and very narrow depth of field. Makes the committed m4:3 users "jaw clench."

Jana helped me by modeling in the studio for my book on LED lighting. You can still buy the book here. It's a fun read. But her "audition" took place on a hot Sunday in the middle of a blistering, record setting Summer afternoon. We met for coffee at Little City Coffee house on Congress Ave., just south of the capitol building. We proceeded to shoot outside, in the heat.

I shot pretty much everything that afternoon with the Canon 5D mk2 and a lens I actually miss, the 100mm f2. It's a lens I tried always to shoot at f2 or f2.8. I doubt the aperture gizmo in the camera ever introduced the lens to anything smaller than f8.

We stayed in the open shade or under covered shade for the hour or so that we worked at making photographs. Jana graduated from UT two years ago and is now working for some powerhouse marketing company on the east coast. She was ultimately professional in every aspect of every project we worked together on.

I liked the fact that she understood advertising and marketing so well. It made her work as a photographic model or talent that much more convincing.

Seeing this image again makes me want to rush out the door, hop in the car and go to Precision Camera to buy a Nikon D610 body and a 105mm f2.0 DC Nikon lens. Same look with an even better sensor. The problem with impulses like that always comes later when I find that the system back or front focuses and does it in a non-linear fashion. That's what effectively killed my enthusiastically sought after relationship with the 85mm 1.4 Zeiss lens for Canon. Wonderful combination if you are lucky enough to get a pair with no focus shift and no crazy back focusing. Nothing makes you look like a dumb ass photographer more than an  image of what could be a beautiful girl whose ears are sharply defined while her eyes and lips look like soft focus mush.

Oh, now I remember why I love shooting with the Panasonic GH4......


Dave Jenkins said...

Cool. I just bought a Canon 100mm f2 a few days ago to use on my 6D. I had one in the late '90s. Wish I had kept it.

Bill Uzzell said...

Beautiful feel to the portrait - great emotion. I love the FF, wide aperture look also, and fortunately I have had no front or back focus issues with either the Canon 100 f2, or the 135 f2 on my 6D (and as you, I rarely shoot those lenses smaller than f4). Mirrorless does pretty much put that potential issue to rest, though, so I understand!

Anonymous said...

What is your opinion of the Nikon 85mm f1.8g lens?
DxO rates it extremely highly..

Markus Spring said...

Yes, I loved my Minolta 1.4/85mm on my A700, but focus was far from reliable. The 1.8/45mm on the OM-D is so much better in this respect - and no slouch in all others. It almost makes me forget that I won't get *that* shallow DOF with it.

Anonymous said...

"The problem with impulses like that always comes later when I find that the system back or front focuses and does it in a non-linear fashion."

That was the final straw that finally broke the camel's back in my case, and made me abandon dSLR's and embrace mirrorless in 2011. Nothing against SLR tech per se, I've used it since 1983, but life goes on, and frustration helps in moving on with the tide of natural selection.

Nevertheless, you don't have to give up that classic 100 mm (FF) look, even if you let go of the dSLR's. I think it would be a bit narrow-sighted to imply that in 2014.

Nowadays we've got choice, we've got the Sony A7 line for both photos and video, we've got the Leica M line if you're well off, and we've got Zeiss, Voigtländer, Samyang, Leica, Nikon, Canon and Sony glass to use with those. More native choices coming all the time.
It doesn't really matter how you feel about Sony or Leica cameras, but the fact is you can have the full frame look without most of the SLR niggles. This is just the beginning, and there will be more choice later, no doubt from other brands, too. Along with the multitude of choices in the APS-C category, which is still very useful, too.

There's nothing wrong in loving (to shoot with) the mFT system, it has is own perks, but once again, mirrorless does not equal mFT, nor does it equal small size.
There are other good reasons to lose the mirror box beyond the size reduction, and that's why the industry is moving to that direction eventually, with or without Canikon.

Saul Molloy said...

Kirk...this could be your perfect Nocticron puchasing opportunity! Actually I still have that lens and use it on my old 40D. It really is a fabulous piece of kit.

Rufus said...

Nice. I can relate to your desire to jump out and get a FF Nikon and fast tele prime.

I have been blown away by the quality and rendering from the new Sigma Art lenses on Nikon. They are ultra nice, zeiss-like lenses.

Whats more, Sigma will sell you a cheap gadget that you plug the lens into which allows you to fine tune the AF so it is "just so". Voila! Flaky, inconsistent focusing is eradicated. It is a cool new technology.

Ian Butterworth said...

You're inspiring me to get out and take some photos!

She's certainly a beautiful woman but there is so much done by the photographer to get the woman to pose. There are (according to a quick Google search) 43 muscles in the face and I don't know if that counts the iris.

All these muscles plus those in the body have to be getting the right signals from the subjects heart and brain to enable the subtle body language that makes a portrait.

And then there's the timing of the shutter click, the lighting and, as you say, the camera last on the list.

Kevin said...

Buy the Nocticron, it's extremely luscious and well behaved ie gives a crazy high hit rate. You'll thank me later ;-)

Peter Wright said...

I couldn't care less about the Canon, Nikon or 105 D lens. Just give me an hour with Jena and any camera in the closet will do – even my Leica with no film in it.

Craig Yuill said...

Lenses with really good optics are great things to have. Lenses with really good optics and that focus inconsistently are not. I became reacquainted with an old, very-sharp macro lens. If I use AF it backfocuses half of the time, probably due to the lens' steep focusing cams. But when I manually focus the lens I get sharp focus where I need it. So, when I use this lens I stick to manual focusing. Thankfully, the lens doesn't seem to shift focus when I change apertures, a problem I believe you had with the Zeiss.

I can understand why you like mirrorless cameras like the GH4. But, as I found out yesterday, the AF capabilities of a mirrorless camera are not fullproof. I might have been better off manually focusing, or choosing another AF setting. Technique really impacts how well your lens focuses.

But in spite of having a lens with great optics and using best technique, it is still possible for you or your subject to move slightly toward or away from you, leading to misfocusing. I know you use a tripod when shooting, but I doubt the person you are photographing is being held in place like your camera is. Is this much of a problem, or do your subjects tend to remain perfectly still?

JeroenP said...

Focus shift on the Nikkor 105mm f/2 DC is a given, too. And at f/2 there's too little in focus for a head portrait. So, I stopped using autofocus on that lens and focus at f/4 or f/5.6 with the DOF button pressed. Still, even a brick wall looks really nice with that lens.

Is the (modern) Samsung 85mm any better in this regard?

O yes, sharp ears, hazy-stare eyes! Also because the subject moves/rotates his or her head and the eyes go out of focus and the ear moves in focus.