©2014 Kirk Tuck. Do not reproduce.
By Austin Photographer, Kirk Tuck ©2014
Yeah. You heard me. I said, "Nikon." But no, I don't mean the ponderously large cameras or the antiquated camera mirror antics. No, when I say "Nikon" I mean Nikon lenses for my micro four thirds cameras. Today I was packing up to go and photograph some kids at Project Breakthrough so we could select one of the kids for the cover of the annual report. (Project Breakthrough is a non-profit organization that prepares underserved high school and middle school students for successful college careers...).
I put together a really small and straightforward kit but enough to do exactly what the comprehensive layout and the attending art director asked for. I took a Panasonic GH3 to shoot with and a second one as a back up. I grabbed the kit lens, the 45-150mm lens, the 40mm and 60mm high speed Pen lenses and, just for grins I tossed an old Nikon 50mm 1.4 (pre-au), rigged on a couple adapter rings, into the the bag. I took a couple of flashes but assumed (correctly) that I would only need a manually set Sony A-58 HVL flash firing into a big, 72 inch umbrella, triggered by a Flash Waves radio set.
My intention was to use the 60mm 1.5 lens as my primary lens and have the others along in case someone chimed in with, "as long as you are here would you mind shooting......XYZ ???" But when I started setting up that old, battered Nikon lens kept calling out, "Try me. Try me."
Of course it was just the right focal length and these color corrected but otherwise un-retouched images tell the story. The lens is sharp, well balanced and gives a very smooth rendering to the various tonalities. It's a different look than the exaggerated over sharpness I see in lots of modern lenses. The ancient Nikon, shot at f2.8 is subtly rounded in its rendering while delivering detail you can see in the enlargement of our subject's eye, below.
When used properly the GH3 is a wonderful camera. The files are neutral and transparent and, I think as good as anything out in the market at 16 megapixels. At least on par with the Olympus OMD EM-1. The camera requires the operator to make good choices and to use good technique. I find it to be equally transparent in its usability. It just gets out of the way and facilitates the process for me. It's an interesting choice of camera. Even more so if you are also inclined to want to make lovely video files...
I have three Nikon lenses left over in my drawer. I tried the 50mm 1.4 today. I have an older 55mm f3.5 micro lens and a 58mm 1:1.2 Nocto Nikkor and I look forward to testing each of them on the pixie-style camera bodies. You never know what you'll find when you mix stuff up.
©2014 Kirk Tuck. Do not reproduce.
I guess I read a lot of lens reviews that are done by people who photograph watches and wheat stalks and micro fine wiring harnesses. Clockwork and landscapes, intricate weavings and giant, industrial architecture. They all seem to like their lenses sharper than wire through cheese. And sharp everywhere, even in the hidden parts of a photograph. Seems like scalpel level sharpness is the general vogue.
Portrait photographers might do well to break from the herd and seek other metrics of lens selection. Everyone would benefit from trying a number of lenses in the focal lengths that are most important to them and then choosing the ones that feel right to them. In a way it's like selecting wines. Some people like big, bold, high alcohol content, Cabernet Sauvignons while others enjoy softer but more complex wines.
We can be like that in photography if we are mindful and fully engaged with our choices.
No. I will not pick out lenses for you!
(Note, these files are reduced from their original size to a maximum of 1500 pixels on a long edge in order to fit in the parameters of the Google Blogger format. I will note that the detail in the originals, while not bombastic and obvious, does go on and on).