#one lens

Street Night, with Nikkor AF-S 58mm f/1.4G

Just a few images off the street with my absolute favorite ever lens, the Nikkor AF-S 58mm f/1.4G! I love the discrete perspective this lens gives me. Images with gorgeous bokeh & tonality. Please read on if you’re interested in how to capture intimate, natural positive images of street life around you!

Two walkers before the gate. Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/45 sec, 3200 ISO

Look at the tonality in the above image: From inky shadows still disclosing details to delicate highlights framing the two walkers thru the gate. Amazing how I still got a full range of gray tones in between the black & white extremes - too stark contrasts would’ve given the image a too ominous look ;-)

Thoughtful, captured with Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/125 sec, 2500 ISO

The Nikon D850 thankfully has a flippy rear screen and a reasonably good working live-view function allowing me to take pictures much more discreetly, without needing to look thru the viewfinder (similar to a medium format camera with a waist-level finder). This and the lower position of the camera results in more pleasing & natural images taken from a better perspective. Combined with the slightly narrower field of view of the AF-S 58mm (vs. a normal 50mm) you get a great framing of life around you from a more respectful distance of 3-5 feet. I remember when I was photojournalist, my go-to focal length was a 28mm wide-angle. To fill the frame I had to get right into peoples’ faces, which they didn’t really appreciate (apart from the unflattering distortion evident in the resulting images)

Empathy, observed with Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/90 sec, 3200 ISO

3D auto-focus face tracking over nearly the full frame in live-view frees you from the limited focus point coverage in the optical viewfinder. The fast focus acquisition even in low light conditions allows you to use a larger aperture, creating a pleasing separation from an otherwize distracting background. This is not possible if you use the so-called “zone-focussing” method which requires a small aperture to give you sufficient depth-of-field. That again drives you ISO thru the roof and/or leads to motion blur causing longer shutter speeds. As you can see in the above and below image this enabled me to capture fleeting expressions or emotions of people, resulting in spontaneous images full of life!

Evening drinks, taken with Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/125 sec, 3200 ISO

As you can see on my blog my images are mostly land- or cityscapes. But I also love to observe people & capture their emotions and interactions! Like in the image below where what the girl on the right is saying seems to elicit some skepticism in the girl on the left! Or what do you think?

Scepticism after shopping, seen with Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/125 sec, 720 ISO

With these “Street Night” images I’d like to thank y’all for visiting and for your interest. Looking very much forward to your comments, questions and suggestions - please leave a note either in the comments section or send me a message! Wishing youse a great Sunday evening & a good start into the new week …

Best regards,

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

A Wider Window to the World - Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4E

Got a 24-120mm f/4 zoom with my D850. It did initially help me to survive the weight & size shock of going full frame after enjoying 3 years of mirrorless lightness. And it’s a really good lens, having 98% of my most used focal lengths built in. But then I’d got bitten by the Bokeh bug & fell for the 58mm f/1.4 (I “outed” myself on that one here). So then I was out & about looking for a bokehlicious wide angle. Crazy, huh? Really? Yep, I admit that’s how bad I got bitten - maybe a good idea to get some professional help after all ... Sometime. Anyways, please read on if y’all wanna join me on this new adventure & fancy some advice as to which direction to go Bokeh!

Rooster house in Bayreuth, D850 with 28mm f/1.4 @f/8, 1/180sec, ISO 64

One thing you can’t complain about Nikon is missing options. They got it all. Every lens you’d ever wished for. Wide angle with Bokeh potential? 24mm, 28mm, or 35mm, all with f/1.4 max. aperture. Right there, they got it. You just need to be some kinda millionaire ;-) and you need to have the patience of a saint to find what fits best to your needs! Well I gotta tell ya, ain’t no millionaire & for sure ain’t no saint either. And my trusted photo dealer wasn’t gonna appreciate me trying out all kinda different lenses (coz large aperture wide angle primes definitely aren’t mainstream. They gotta be ordered & payed for in advance, each single one :-) So, after many hours of research, burning the midnight oil on the net I got the Nikkor AF-S 28mm f1.4E in my sights. Why? it’s positioned as a wide angle with Bokeh and it got many great reviews.

So you want a “Storytellin’ lens” (which includes the subject’s environment)? Look no further, IMO this is the one. See the “Rooster house” image above and the airport snapshot of my wife below: After many years of using a 35mm equivalent on mirrorless I knew that the 35mm’s rendering is just a little wee bit too “normal” (narrow) for me, albeit great for everyday documentary use. I needed something with a bit steeper perspective (by requiring you to come closer to your subject), without hitting “distortion territory” in people photography. And, of course with Bokeh! The wider the angle, the less Bokeh and the more distortion potential. The 24mm distorts too much if your subject reasonably fills the frame and includes too much of the image if you maintain sufficient distance to prevent distortion. For me the sweet spot between perspective & Bokeh lies around 28mm! Definitely. Look at the image below - Amazing Bokeh on a 28mm wide angle! Hard to believe, right?

Flowers on the Fence, D850 with 28mm f/1.4 @f/2, 1/500sec, ISO 64

So there you got it. A wide angle with Bokeh! Now Nikon’s AF-S 28mm f/1.4E’s been quite a recent development (it came out last year if I remember right). 14 lens elements, of which 2 are ED lenses and 3 asphericals, which do cause a touch of nervousness in background Bokeh, as you can see (but not critical in my opinion). Overall Nikon made quite an effort on this one, resulting in an eye-watering price (hey, they forced me to trade in the complete rest of my Fuji kit to get this beast ...). But when you see the images and the Bokeh this monster creates you forget the pain. Garanteed! Even at f/1.4 the clarity & sharpness of this lens’s rendering just jumps off your monitor! You’re even forced to close the aperture to f/2, just to get sufficient depth-of-field. So depth-of -field’s the only reason for stopping down on this one. See below image of an antique Spanish wooden door:

Antique Spanish wooden door, D850 with 28mm f /1.4 @f/2, 1/60sec, ISO 180

The Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.4E’s superb image quality, nearly independent of the used aperture is quite unlike most other large aperture lenses which are soft fully open and need to be stopped down to achieve acceptable sharpness. This gives you more creative freedom and allows you to enjoy narrow depth-of-field even on a wide angle lens! The below snapshot of my pretty wife as we were enjoying a break in the airport lounge shows what I meant with staying out of “distortion territory”. With 28mm you can still get away with peoples’ heads close to the image frame edges, distortion staying within reasonable limits. Don’t try this with a 24mm, your subjects will not be amused by the egg-shaped distortion of their heads in case they’re located in the image corner!

With my pretty wife at the airport, D850 with 28mm f/1.4 @f/2.8, 1/60sec, ISO 450

The not too large 75˚angle of view of the 28mm thereby limits the inclusion of distracting background elements, allowing environmental portraits to not be overwhelmed by the secondary image elements. In this image stopping down to f/2.8 allowed me to also get the stuff on the table more or less into focus but still got enough blurring of the background to not distract from the main subject. I had a similar idea for the image below: Seperate the wrought iron gate from its shadow on the wall behind it by focussing the selective plane of sharpness on the foreground. This creates a better separation between fore- and background elements and gives it a more 3 dimensional rendering, what do you think?

On the fence, D850 with 28mm f/1.4 @f/2.8, 1/2000sec, ISO 64

So, does having this 28mm cover all your wide-angle needs? To be honest not completely. IMO 28mm’s a bit to short for street photography, because the 1-1.5m you need to come closer to your subjects to fill the frame sometimes already infringes on their private space and they notice their image is being captured. This still creates interesting images for sure but they will not strictly be of documentary nature anymore because you are now interacting with your subjects. So I will want to try out Nikon’s AF-S 35mm f/1.4G for my street photography at some time in the future ... anyways I’m sure looking forward to seeing y’all back here for that review ;-)

You may ask why I don’t use my zoom for all this. Simple, I mainly use my 24-120mm zoom when traveling or for casual photography (especially when I don’t need too much Bokeh ;-). For more serious photography I prefer to limit myself to one focal length for a specific topic. This allows me to focus more on the image rather than fiddling with the zoom ring (hell, even when using the zoom I try to stick to one focal length for a series of images). I can only advise you to try that for yo’self - I promise your photography will improve dramatically - less is more!

If you have any questions or anything’s unclear please leave me a message below or on my about page! Thanks for looking by & wish y’all a relaxing Sunday!

Yours, 

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Size Does Matter !

C´mon ... not what some of youse may be thinking ... ;-) Everything over here's only about the image (yeah, I mean the photographic image). So, please check the pictures below, I'm really curious if you catch on as to what's changed (... and don't bother trying to check out the EXIF, coz it´s been neutralized ;-)

Hope y´all like the images, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

Drunk glasses, one´s the odd one out!

It´s always the shadows that animate me to take images, see below the repeating forms of the shadows cast by the wrought iron window bars on the old brown jug and window sill and also in the reflection on the underside of the jug:

Play of shadows and reflections on the old brown jug ...

Ok, so the bokeh´s a bit busy here - I´ll give you a tip: this ain´t no prime lens here, but a wide to short tele zoom lens at f/4. See, I'm trying to make it easier for you ;-) ... Had to get down in the dirt to get this one (well, the flipping screen on my camera did help a little bit!)

Farn leaves enjoying the sun!

And what about this one? Four pillars gracing the entrance of a town house. I preferred the shot with the tight framing of a short tele over the wider view of a normal or wide angle setting:

Four pillars town house

Last but not least an image from the lovely Hof Garden in Bayreuth, showing a nice perspective of the decorative greenery. At least by now you should have caught on what's going on with these images? No? Then take a closer look ... ;-)

Park perspective (Hof Garden in Bayreuth)

Look forward to your comments, please leave me a note on my contact page or in the comments section below, I hope y´all enjoyed the read, thanks for looking by!

Best regards & have a great Sunday evening,

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

The Waiting Place ... Use Your Fuji X100F!

For people just waiting: "Waiting for a train to go. Or a bus to come, or a plane to go. Or the mail to come, or the rain to go. Or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow. Or waiting around for a Yes or No. Or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting" - excerpt from the poem Oh, the Places You'll Go!, by Theodore Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), featured in the fantastic movie Fracture, by Gregory Hoblit, starring Anthony Hopkins & Ryan Gosling). Yep. Mostly, waiting is delaying action in expectation of a time or event. If you wanna find out what this has to do with photography, please read on!

Waiting for the plane to go, Fuji X100F @ f/5.6, 1/20sec, ISO 1600, developed in LR CC mobile

When someone waits for something, they are so fulfilled by the expectation, looking forward to it so much that they hardly allow themselves to experience the wait. It is a state of lacking the event one is waiting for, not realizing that doing something productive while waiting will shorten the waiting time. That's why I always got my Fuji X100F with me. While waiting I love spending the time observing people around me, finding patterns, "connecting the dots", so to say. Like in the above shot, where the two women's postures and expressions were mirrored while waiting for departure of their flight

Waiting for the hair to grow, Fuji X100F @ f/5.6, 1/12sec, ISO 1600, developed in LR CC mobile

And in the above image I fancied how the signpost with 2 opposing arrows separates static waiting on the right from blurred motion of people trying to do a selfie on the left!

What I love about this camera is that nobody notices it. It allows me to capture life's moments in real time without people reacting to the camera. Ok, capturing that reaction can also be interesting, but then you're basically documenting peoples´ reaction to yourself and/or your camera rather than reporting the scene as you experienced it! 

Waiting for a Yes or No, Fuji X100F @ f/4, 1/55sec, ISO 1600, developed in LR CC mobile

Like this airline official's friendly answer to the travelers´questions. Capturing this kind of interactions are for me the essence of street photography. The X100F is ideal for this, with its 35mm FF equiv. field of view and quiet leaf shutter. The only thing I miss is weather resistance and a tilting screen (Hey Fuji, you readin' this?), which would allow me to be even more discrete (by enabling me to accurately frame subjects without needing to lift the camera to my eye)

Please let me know your comments or questions below (or leave me a note on my about page), I will be most happy to answer them as soon as possible. Many thanks for visiting & hope you enjoyed the read, best regards

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

There IS a Life Without Image Stabilization | Fuji XF16-55mm F2.8 WR NoOIS!

Afraid of the shakes? No problem, use image stablization, or “OIS” (Optical Image Stabilization) as Fuji calls it. Some hate it. Most love it, can’t be without it like as if they’re addicted. Was like that with me too. Thought I couldn’t live without it. Until I took a decision which forced me to survive without the anti-wobble technology. Please read on to find out what happened (especially if you don’t care ;-)

I know you don’t care ... this one didn't need no image stabilization, X100F 23mm @f8, 1/120sec

As long as you live in daylight it don't really matter. Any lens does just fine. But when the sun drops below the horizon & light becomes scarce your "any lens" is gonna need either a flash, a tripod, or an image stabilization crutch. That'd work assuming you want to photograph a static subject. But as soon as something in your image moves (and you want to render it reasonably sharp) there's only ONE option: Aperture! The larger the better. Get the largest aperture you can find. Image stabilization ain't gonna help and yes, flash would still be an option but that's not really viable if you want to capture the charm of available light. The image below was taken hand held. Would’ve needed image stabilization. Didn’t have it:

Too cold to sit outside. Night time bar scene, XF 16-55mm at 16mm, @f/2.8, 1/20sec, ISO1250

Coz I’d traded my XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 (with OIS) to get an XF 16-55mm f/2.8 (without OIS). This Lens' missing OIS has caused some on the net to fondly call it "The Brick" (like as in a worthless paper-weight). Now why would I go and trade my perfectly good OIS zoom for such an OIS-less "Brick"? It wasn't easy but in the end the following factors tipped the scales for me in favor of the "Brick": I've learnt I need 5 things for my architecture / landscape / people photography:

  1. Max possible aperture to freeze subject movement (image stabilization don't help here!)
  2. With at least a 16mm (24mm FF equiv.) on the wide side for architecture & group photos
  3. Reaching at least up to portrait focal length (85mm FF equiv.) on the long side
  4. High quality zoom lens - don’t fancy changing lenses (I got amathophobia - fear of dust ;-)
  5. Portability: Reasonably compact camera/lens combo, no tripod or gear bags to lug around

So, Fuji´s XF 16-55mm f/2.8 WR fits above requirements like a glove (while my XF 18-135mm missed out on the first two). I use the XF 16-55mm predominantly for reportage and portraiture, where my subjects are usually moving. In this scenario image stabilization don't really help me. Even it would've been technically possible to also include OIS, the caveat of further increasing size and weight (and not to forget the price) of the lens would have not been worth it (for the previously described use case). I guess Fuji followed a similar logic when they decided to opt out of OIS on the "Brick". The lens is reasonably compact and remains portable. It's also perceived as being less intrusive by your subjects. Try putting the XT-2 / XF16-55mm combo next to a comparable CaNikon full frame DSLR with 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom attached. You'll see what I mean, pushing a DSLR lookin' more like a WMD into someone's face probably´ll scare the living daylights outta them, turning a lively bar scene into something like the image below ;-)

All quiet bar after closing time, captured with XF 16-55mm at 16mm, @f/2.8, 1/18sec, ISO3200

A word on aperture: The advantage of the smaller (vs. full frame) APS-C sensor is that you get more depth of field at the same aperture due to the shorter focal length compared to the full frame equivalent focal length. For example a 50mm "normal" lens on full frame has a field of view comparable to a 35mm on APS-C. Using f/2.8 on both delivers more depth of field in the APS-C image as there the lens needs to be of shorter focal length to achieve the same angle of view. Consequently the disadvantage of APS-C is that you´d need a larger aperture vs. full frame to get a more shallow depth of field and similar subject - background separation. For example a 85mm full frame portrait lens will render the background in a pleasing blur at f/2. To get a similar effect with an APS-C equivalent focal length of 55mm you'd need at least f/1.4 ... My XF 18-135mm had a max. aperture of around f/4.5 at 55mm and I needed to stop down to f5.6 to get optimal sharpness in portraits, which means my max. aperture in full frame terms would be only around f/4. Apart from the lower brightness which forced me to use higher ISO´s I could never really achieve a pleasing background separation like in this image with the XF 16-55mm:

My pretty wife, wearing my glasses, with XF 16-55mm, at 55mm @f/4, 1/450sec, ISO400

Just the way I like it, the eye closer to the camera sharp and sharpness nicely dissolving towards the rear into a completely blurred background!

Now, coming back to my initial statement: There IS a life without image stabilization, please see proof in the image below. It was shot hand-held at 1/8sec with my XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom at its long end (55mm APS-C / 85mm full frame equiv.), without the "benefit" of image stabilization. Ok, so OIS would've helped here, coz there are no moving subjects in the image. But as the majority of images I make with this zoom have moving subjects, the added weight, size and cost of OIS would not be worth it in my opinion!

Night-time street scene, with XF 16-55mm at 55mm, hand-held @f/2.8, 1/8sec, ISO3200

I hope this post was interesting for y'all & able to give you some advice in case you're on the fence to acquire the XF 16-55mm "Brick" - believe me, you'll find it's more of a "Nugget" than a "Brick". A gold "Nugget" - an amazing lens which you'll use for more than 90% of your images. No more changing lenses, risking missed image opportunities and/or getting dust inside your camera! While weight & size remain reasonable, the X-T2 or X-Pro2 combo fitting snugly in a small pouch

Best regards,

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

NO More Sensor Dust, a Creative Solution !

In the days of film it didn't matter: Dust. Ok, sometimes if you got unlucky dust manifested itself by leaving "telegraph lines" on your film but this could be prevented by being reasonably careful while changing film. Fast forward to the digital age, dust has become more of a problem. Well, at least mentally ... I´d never thought that I´d do what I did to solve it. Please read on if interested !

Twin spires of the Stadtpfarr Church in Bayreuth: XF 18-135 mm @f8/18 mm (27 mm FF equ.)

To be honest, since I exclusively use Fuji mirrorless cameras I´ve only once had a real problem with sensor dust: Happened to my (meanwhile sold) X-T1: Sent it in for cleaning as the dust was underneath the sensor cover glass - discovered that it didn't disappear after wet cleaning the sensor (Jeezus, just doin´ that little operation nearly gave me a freakin´ heart attack ! ;-)

House facade in the Winter Sun, captured by XF 18-135 mm @f8/18 mm (27 mm FF equ.)

Otherwize, touch wood - didn't have to clean a sensor again since then coz the fear of dust - Amathophobia ;-) has driven me to become a kinda "one lens guy", reluctant to change lenses when out on the street and IF necessary really sweating about it ... While this restriction has been good for my creativity I was missing the peace of mind I´d experienced in my film days. So I went out & got myself the Fujinon XF 18-135 mm / f3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zooooom - Oh boy, already the name of that thing´s longer than you can say in one breath !

Slightly more compressed perspective, with XF 18-135 mm @f8/55 mm (83 mm FF equ.)

Hang on, say again ? Yes, a Z-O-O-M lens ! Ya know ? Those telescopic barrel shaped things, filled with hundreds of lenses, way too dark max. apertures, and usually having a bad reputation of delivering soft, soggy, unsharp, contrast-less images. And I´d always used primes till now ... So, even if this decision´s gonna cost me at least half of my numerous, faithful blog followers ;-) I´ll do my best to try to convince y´all otherwize - see below my sneak review of the Fuji XF 18-135 mm WR zoom lens (comparable to a 27-203 mm zoom on full frame) !

Fuji´s Air Ventilation System
(courtesy of Fujifilm Global)

All the images on this post were taken with the Fuji XF 18-135 mm WR zoom, and I gotta say I was very positively impressed about the amazing flexibility and image quality this lens offers, especially also at the longest focal length (normally the Archilles´ heel of tele-zooms). It truly is a "one lens" solution which can replace a bag full of primes (with some caveats, see below) ! So, no more need to change lenses ! I felt like liberated & it gives me a wonderful peace of mind regarding sensor dust. This WR (weather resistant) lens also uses a clever "Air Ventilation" feature (see on the right) to effectively prevent the pumping action of the zoom sucking dust into the system !

I really appreciate the combination of an 18 mm (27 mm FF equ.) wide-angle all the way thru to 135 mm (203 mm FF equ.) telephoto, all in one lens. On my DSLR´s (a long time ago) I had 3 f2.8 L zooms (from 16 to 210 mm), but always seemed to end up using the focal length extremes of the respective lenses´s zoom range. Here the Fuji lens offers much more flexibility and sufficient image quality over the whole zoom range that I now often also use the focal lengths in between the extremes:

More compressed view of backlit streetlamp: XF 18-135 mm @f8/75 mm (113 mm FF equ.)

Yes, the maximum opening from f3.5 at 18 mm to f5.6 at 135 mm is a bit restricted, but the images IMO are already quite punchy and absolutely useable at max. aperture ! The integrated OIS (optical image stabilization) system does an amazing job. It allows me to compensate the modest max. aperture (at least for static subjects) by allowing me to use an up to 2 (18 mm) -4 (135 mm) stops slower shutter speed. The advertized 5 stop difference can only rarely be achieved in ideal conditions with solid bracing of the camera. So, the only real caveat from my point of view is the limited background separation due to small f5 - 5.6 max. apertures at longer focal lengths, however the bokeh is quite smooth !

Backlit narrow street, seen with XF 18-135 mm @f8/105 mm (158 mm FF equ.)

I never thought I´d love using a zoom (even less with a 7.5 X zoom ratio) ... But after intensive use the last week I can really recommend Fuji´s XF 18-135 mm WR zoom as a "one lens" solution for travel, casual walkabouts, all-round use, etc. Granted it ain´t as sharp as Fuji´s amazing primes  so I continue to use those for critical assignments. Summarizing, the following positive things can be said about the XF 18-135 mm WR zoom:

  • Extensive zoom range covering all the main focal lengths from wide-angle to telephoto. No need to change lenses, no dust worries, no fuss and fast adapting to situation
  • Good image quality even at the extreme focal lengths and at max. apertures, decent Bokeh
  • Fast accurate and silent autofocus (with X-Pro2). Front element does not rotate
  • Amazing in lens image stabilization (OIS) allowing up to 4 stops longer shutter speeds
  • Portability: acceptable size & weight, no problem to hand carry around all day on X-Pro2
  • Build quality: Weather resistant, metal bayonet, filter thread & rings (focus & aperture), high quality plastic lens tube. Tight, compact feel and smooth operation. No lens creep
  • I like the aperture switch: The lens remembers the last manually set aperture value when switching back from auto to manual
  • Absolutely use-able macro capability (up to 0.27 X, min focus at 45 cm)

And here the cons:

  • Some chromatic aberration - can be corrected in post
  • Modest max. aperture limits ability to stop motion and potential for background separation
  • Zoom ring has increased resistance towards the long end of the zoom range (because of the weather sealing I think). Always need to double check if I really have the max. setting
  • Aperture setting not visible on lens, need to check viewfinder or LCD

Didn't´t say anything about price yet - I think that 899$ / 850€ is a fair price for what you get but it ain´t really a bargain ...

Please let me know if you´ve any questions - you can contact me via my about page or leave me a comment below 8your email address will not be disclosed) ! Many thanks for your interest & for visiting,

Many thanks & best regards,

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !