Here is a sample from the Nikon 135mm f2.0 ai lens I bought a few weeks ago. I finally got around to using it on a job and it worked.

A still image from "Tomås and the Librarian."

sI was photographing a family play about the early life of Hispanic writer, Tomås Rivera, at Zach Scott Theatre when I decided to give the 135mm a thorough wringing out. The play is called, "Tomås and the Librarian." The artists at Zach presented it on the Wisenhunt Stage which is a very small, intimate auditorium which seats about 150 guests. The seats are on all four walls so all the plays done in this space are performed in the round. This also means that all the lighting is mounted on grids and catwalks overhead. 

I was being capricious when I photographed the rehearsal; I used two cameras and two lenses. One camera was the D750 with the Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art lens on it and the other camera was a D810 with the manual focusing 135mm f2.0 lens along for the ride. I felt brave enough to use the 135mm because I had ordered and installed an eyepiece magnifier that adds 1.2X magnification to the finder image on the D810. Just to make things fun the theater has black walls and a black ceiling and the light levels on this play are lower by a couple stops than the light I've become accustomed to over on the Topfer stage. 

I ended up using the 135mm for about 40% of the images I took and I'm pretty pleased to report that only about 10-15% were unusable due to focusing errors. Of those about half were almost intentional in that I knew my subjects were moving out of the band of correct focus but I didn't have time to adjust and sprayed and prayed that some would make the cut. 

Most of the images were shot at ISO 1250, Shutter Speeds between 1/125th and 1/200th of a second. While the aperture stayed pretty much constant at f2.8. I set a custom white balance at 3000 K and didn't need to apply color correction in post processing. 

I have proven to myself that I can still focus a long, fast lens through a digital SLR viewfinder and hit focus enough times to keep a good amount of eyelashes looking crispy. 

The 50mm wasn't being tested. It was just being used. Can't complain for even a second about that lens as wide open it outperforms most of my other lenses even when they have the advantage of being stopped down. It's not a question of sharpness, it's just that the Sigma lens seems more resolute..l

Both of the images here were shot one after the other with the 135mm f2.0. It's a very nice, old lens.
I'll definitely keep it.


Ravi Bindra said...

Regarding focusing of manual lenses: Why do the focus points in the AF DSLR not light up as the image comes into focus on that plane while you change focus on the lens?

On the Canon 7D they do but not on the 5Diii. On the Nikons, by default only the centre point acts as the rangefinder point.

Kirk Tuck said...

Ravi, There I was sitting around the bar with the camera designers from Nikon and after the 17th round of Canadian whiskey I broached the very same question. "Get over it, bitch!" They said, politely, in Japanese. Seems they didn't give a crap if someone somewhere wanted stuff to light up. I stumbled off to the men's room and when I got back the table full of Nikon designers had been replaced with Fuji designers who were laughing hysterically at some person who had written to ask why the shutter button on the Xpro2 could not be re-mapped to play "My Pretty Pony" theme songs when not in use taking snap shots. How the hell should I know?

Anonymous said...