Yesterday I bought a prime lens for my Nikon 1 V1. That was a little bit of a surprise even to myself because I have not written very positively about V1 here in my blog. I would like to give a chance for that camera though. I looked through Ivan Radic’s Flickr stream which is full of great shots with V1 and Nikon 1 NIKKOR 18.5mm f/1.8 prime. Superb stuff and lots of high ISO shots too. So, I went to a local camera store and bought the 18.5/1.8 prime.
The lens is solidly build (plastic with a metal bajonet), light-weighted, and just right in size. It is not any pancake lens which I find good because you can get grip from lens barrel easily and stabilize the camera better in that way. This lens has no image stabilization which I find a pity because it is 50mm equivalent and IS would have been nice for a “normal” lens. I have to say this lens is very sharp wide open. This is very nice because f/1.8 lets lots of light in and provides just nice DoF. And you can get quite nice background blur and bokeh with it too. I think I am going to use it mainly wide open. This will be possible with Nikon 1 V1 also in outdoor use in good lighting because V1 has an electronic shutter option which allows you to use shutter speeds of 1/16 000 s.
In my earlier posts here I complained about the poor ISO performance of Nikon 1 V1. Now I shot many photos with the 18.5/1.8 prime lens wide open with ISO 800 and was very pleased actually. So, what happened? I think the answer is that I was able to use shutter speeds in the range of 1/125 – 1/250 s indoors which provide sharper shots much easier than slower shutter speeds (with same ISOs) with my 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom. The noise grain is (at least with ISO 800) quite pleasing looking actually. If there is even a slight camera shake (because of too slow shutter speed), it tends to exaggerate the noise and make the noise grain “mushy” looking. Indoor shooting was one of the reasons I decided to get this prime lens and it seems it performs well. Next I will test it at ISO 1600 (and even 3200).
Now that I have V1 with the two lenses (18.5mm and 10-30mm) it seems more possible that I will take this combo with me for our forthcoming vacation. I have no problems with 10-30mm zoom outdoors in good light and 18.5mm will cover indoor shooting (and of course it will be used outdoors too).
Here are few test shots from yesterday. All at ISO 800, wide open, and shutter speeds 1/125 – 1/250 s.
Not songs this time but lenses. I got yesterday Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 55mm F 1.8 and Super-Takumar 135mm F3.5 lenses (M42 screw mount) to use with my Fuji X-Pro1. The lenses are from 1960's and they still are in a very good condition. Metal and glass only, smooth focus rings and tactile aperture rings. Just fantastic feeling. With that kind of manual focus lenses it is so easy to focus manually (no AF, of course!) because the movement of focus ring is just right and precise. Of course I have to practice more to get more tack sharp keepers but I was happy when I was using them first time. I was happy. No frustration whatsoever.
I will write my impressions of them later on when I'm having more experience of them.
Below are one shot of the lenses and one of the first shots taken with the 55mm lens.
I have almost all time owned two or three cameras. I do not, however, have time to use all of them effectively and I am all the time pondering which one to take with me if I am going to a trip or a photo walk. Now that I have found a fantastic camera, Olympus OM-D, I have decided to have it and m4/3 system as my sole camera.
I have never had been so pleased on a camera as I am now. Perfect DoF, bokeh, and sharpness in one small package. Somebody has stated that “Save for camera bodies, spend for lenses”. Or something like that it was. I think I am going to do that way. Micro four thirds system has lots of fantastic lenses. I am very much into prime lenses as some of my readers may know. I have 20/1.7, 30/2.8, and 45/1.8 primes for m4/3 at the moment. All those are very nice small primes. But something is missing.
When I had Canon system (APS-C and FF) I had a lens which I really loved. That lens was the most difficult thing to give up when I changed to Fuji that time. The lens was Canon 200/2.8 L. I am quite much into longer focal lengths. Not so much into wide ones. For m4/3 system there is fortunately a savior for my longing for 200 mm. It is the Olympus 75/1.8. It is 150mm equivalent in 35mm format so not quite 200mm but it is the longest prime in m4/3 system. I have seen only highly praising reviews about it. It is quite expensive (829 €) but it seems to be a fantastic piece of metal and glass. Now that I sold my Sigma DP2M I will use that money to by this lens. I know I need a longer prime and here it is.
I suppose that in one year time (maybe earlier) there will be next version of OM-D camera body. I will save for that. By then I will have fantastic lenses for m4/3 system.
I am almost obsessed for cameras having a fixed prime lens. I have one of those at the moment – Fuji X100. And I love it. But there are also other nice options for me in addition to X100. Why I am posting this? Well, I am really tired to changing lenses and feeling that surplus of different lenses (as was the situation when I had Canon 5D Mk II) is limiting my creativity and giving me a feeling that I am suffocating in technical stuff. I want to have a simple and great camera. This is not an easy question though. Those fixed prime lenses vary a lot in their focal length, maximum aperture and of course also in IQ-wise. Then there are very different sensor sizes. And many kind of usability.
Fuji X100 is a great camera as I have stated earlier. So, what’s the problem, man? I think all this writing about these things reflects my difficulties with Fuji X-Pro1. It is a great camera too. But is it a great camera for me? I may consider selling my X-Pro1 if I can find a good fixed prime lens option to replace it. Wow, did I say that?! Well, anyways, here are few words about the options I know at the moment (if you know some else, please let me know):
Sigma DP1/2. I do not know much about these. Sensor is different than other’s but that’s it. Somehow I feel that there are better ones at the moment. So, maybe not an option. About 1000 euros.
Ricoh GRD IV. I am quite much interested in this one. It has a small sensor and not so good ISO performance but it would nicely complement my X100. Very pocketable and fast focusing with its hybrid focus system. I have heard lots of positive comments on its “snap focusing” system too. Nice 28mm lens. Simple to use. About 450 euros.
Leica X2. Well, it is a Leica. Everybody loves Leica. APS-C sized sensor and very good Leica lens. Quite much in par with X100 in many respects but having no EVF/OVF. About 1750 euros. Expensive but it is a Leica. 🙂
Sony RX1. Full Frame, FF. WOW. I saw some shots at Steve Huff’s site. WOW. Just unbelievable ISO performance. Very nice Carl Zeiss lens. No EVF, that’s a minus. About 2800 euros. Sigh. For this one I should sell my X100 too.
You can freely guess which one of those I want to have. Just crazy…