Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Baby!

       I just got a new Baby! Actually, I adopted it from a fine lady in Kansas City, Mo! I came across this lens on Craigslist and I found this seller to be reasonable enough in her asking price. I'm excited to get this new (to me) Nikon Mount, 200mm, f2.8, Prime Lens made by Japanese Soligor.

New 200mm Lens

       I'm often asked why I like prime lenses. These lenses have no zoom feature, you cannot zoom in or out. The only zoom it has is very manual - to zoom in you simply take a few steps closer; zoom out by taking a few steps away! (Although, even this can be an advantage as it helps your creativity and keeps you from becoming a lazy photographer.)  So why would I be so excited about this new lens even though I already have a 70-300mm Nikkor lens?
Despite the "disadvantages," there are some very useful benefits to prime lenses.

1. Faster Shutter speed
       Because Prime lenses generally have a larger aperture (lower f-stop number) they let more light in at a time. More light coming in at one time means that the shutter does not have to be open as long to let that same amount of light in for proper exposure.  This means that in low-light situations, I can set the aperture wide open and then set the shutter speed much faster.  This results in fewer blurry images.

2. Bokeh
       Bokeh comes from the Japanese word for "blur."  Basically, it refers to the aesthetically pleasing quality of the out-of-focus blur in the background/foreground of photos.  The design of prime lenses, naturally results in better bokeh.

3. Depth of Field
       This refers to the range of photo that is in focus.  The large aperture of a prime results in very small depth of field.  This means that in portrait photography, I can focus on the subjects face and everything in front and behind the subject will be out-of-focus.  This effectively eliminates distracting backgrounds and properly isolates the subject from the rest of the scene.

DSC_4113 ACR SmlDSC_4112 ACR Sml

These two photos were taken in the exact same place with the same settings except for the focusing point.  It is obvious how the small depth-of-field emphasizes the green branches of the the evergreen bush.

4. Optical Quality
       Because the glass elements in prime lenses are not designed to constantly move back and forth for various zoom levels, the prime is permanently set to optimal quality for that one focal length.  This eliminates most vignetting, barrel distortions, chromatic aberrations, and other optical problems often found in zoom lenses.

If you do not have a prime lens, you really should open up a whole new world of photography.  The 50mm f1.8 was my first prime and is a great place to start.



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