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Thursday, November 29, 2012

A New Look at an Old Lens....

Sometimes when you are in the middle of what you have to do, you find that there is more you can do. Whether you can do it is the question. As a working photographer, your client is foremost. However, sometimes you are able to fit something in briefly that is purely creative and has nothing to do with the client. This was one of those situations.
While on a shoot recently, Betty (pictured above) was assisting us with people and other simple logistics. Betty is from Kenya, has striking features and an effervescent, bright personality. For a few moments between tasks, she was able to sit briefly and have her portrait taken. She was more than happy to do so, for which we were very grateful. 
Thank you Betty for spending a few minutes with us and allowing us to photograph you.
As much as I love available light, I have to admit to being thoroughly enamoured with the control of studio lighting. This is a very simple setup, and combined with some Lightroom processing, a simple but dynamic portrait has resulted.
What is otherwise interesting in this portrait is that while I used my Nikon D700, the lens was by no means as recent (although even my D700 is now beginning to look a little old...) The lens I chose to use for this shoot was my old manual focus Nikon E-series 75-150 f3.5 zoom. Yes, its 30 years old, but its such a beautiful thing. If you remember the classic image that the great Galen Rowell took of the rainbow over the Potala Palace in Lhasa, then also know that it was this lens that he used. This lens is small, sharp and has a constant aperture throughout. You can get them dirt cheap these days. If you are a Nikon shooter, you work in slow and controlled situations (such as studio) and you see one in good it. Its so beautiful to use in the studio and if you are concerned that your eyes may not focus as sharply as they used to in manual focusing...shooting at f11 helps.
This lens had been sitting in the bottom of my filing cabinet for years.
Now, I wonder why. I have been missing out.
Well, it has its place in my LowePro Pro Roller now!
Yes, I do own the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 zoom, and I love it. But its a cumbersome lens and completely unnecessary in the studio. In studio situations I much prefer this 30-year old lens designed for Nikon-using amateurs in the '80's than the 70-200 f2.8 with its autofocus and its Vibration Reduction and its blah blah blah. The 70-200 is a great location lens, perfect for wedding work, location commercial work, location portraiture and travel. But from now on, I will be very happy pulling this old amateur lens out of my Pro Roller and shooting with it.


John Swainston said...

How right you are, Shelton. I have a 40-year old 105mm f/2.5 manual lens, which is perfect for portraits and is perfect for tripod use in-studio.
The old E-series tele lens was the best of that 1979 bunch, by a long way and is widely reputed as a Nikon classic. Great image. It's not the gear you use - it's the eye of the photographer to make a great picture. You nailed it!

D&E Photography said...

Shelton you hit on what is one of my favorite all time Nikkors. I bought this lens because I couldn't afford the 70-200 or the 80-200 years ago. It turns out that in its own way the 75-150mm holds a lot of advantages; weight being the most obvious. When I went to China there was no way I as carrying the 80-200 AF-S on the streets. The modest 75-150 was an easy travel companion and easier to shoot with in public spaces. Another nice use for the lens is video. The push/pull design works smoothly and the focus throw is quite nice as well. For today's pixel peepers this little lens doesn't give up much if any ground to its larger, newer siblings in terms of resolution. It may actually be slightly better at contrast. You also hit the nail on the head for cost as I don't think I paid over $70 U.S. for mine.

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller