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05 July 2009 @ 04:48 pm
My New Toy!  

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I’ve wanted a long lens (≥300mm) for many years now. This was not so I could call lots of attention to myself by slinking around beaches and pretending pretty … um  … “girls” wouldn’t notice I was taking photos of them if I were using a telephoto lens; rather, it was because I kept noticing segments of the world that would be visually interesting were I to photograph them with the kind of back-to-front compression a long lens imparts.

Lately I’ve been seeing even more of these potentially interesting vignettes, which amped my desire more than a little.

Alas, the cheapest Nikon 300mm lens costs $1.5K (and the Sigma 300mm is $3.3K!!), and the longer lenses appear to top out at around $9K. Urf!

I finally decided that enough was enough and that I’d check out used lenses. The one slight problem here is that while the basic Nikon lens mount hasn’t changed in well over 40–50 years, Nikon has changed the way the meter links to the lens (links, that is, so as to detect the lens’s maximum aperture so the meter can calculate the correct shooting aperture and shutter speed for the scene). And, of course, they’ve added electrical contacts for autofocusing. The autofocus part didn’t concern me—I’ve been doing my own focusing for longer than autofocusing has been around—but the meter linking could be a problem. I mean, I reckon determining the right f-stop and shutter speed wouldn’t be that hard—I still have my trusty old Sekonic incident light meter after all—but programming those settings into the F-100 to override its automated system would be a pain in the patoot.

So I was poking around the used lenses on the B&H Photo site and saw this 500mm f/8 Reflex Nikkor which was priced within my range. There was a large disclaimer that it was a non-AI lens (meaning that it was made before the current meter-linking system had been introduced), but I thought, “Hmmm. That f/8 isn’t a maximum f-stop, it’s a fixed aperture. I’ll bet I could simply set the F-100’s meter to aperture-priority auto and have everything work out just dandy.” So I bought the lens.

I wuz right!

So this is one of the test shots I did to ensure that my theory was correct. It was hand-held—I’ll use my tripod in the future and pick more fascinating subjects, but it at least gives you a peek at what’s in store.

Current Mood: pleasedpleased
lakeboy_55lakeboy_55 on July 5th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
Hey, good move Fred! Have fun and be creative with the new lens. I'm thinking of trading in my D70s for a D300, but really want the D700, it's just too expensive, though.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on July 6th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Re: Congrats!!

Thanks. I reckon I will indeed have some jolly good fun with the new old lens.

Hm. B&H shows a $2,999.95 suggested retail with a $300 rebate for the D700 (body only) and $1,799.95 suggested retail for a D300 (body only). That's a difference of only … um … $900 … nevermind ….

dd-bdd_b on July 6th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
Re: Congrats!!
The D700 has truly awesome low-light performance.

However, it's cost me a fortune in lenses; going back to full-frame lost me my wide end (mostly consisting of a 12-24mm Tokina DX, 35mm equivalent 18-36) AND my long end (the 200mm f/2.8 was now only 200mm again, not an effective 300mm). And my good walkaround lens was the 17-55/2.8 DX, so I had to replace that with something equally good but FX. So: 24-70/2.8, Sigma 120-400/4.5-5.6, Sigma 12-24/4.5-5.6. Unless you're going out to 14mm or wider, you can get equal wide performance fairly cheaply for DX bodies. I admit I find the 12mm real full-frame ultra-wide to be terribly amusing now and then.

So -- don't blow your whole budget on the body. And think about what it is that makes the D700 vastly more attractive than the D300 for your photography. For me, the low-light performance is such an overwhelming win that I really had little choice, once I figured out where the money was coming from (sold an old lens that has a modern fan-club bidding it to absurd heights on E-bay; it's a great lens, but they wanted it more than I did!).
Mayor of "There"rmjwell on July 5th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
Congrats, sir!
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on July 6th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
Why, thank you, sir.
dd-bdd_b on July 6th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
Congrats! I've done some work I liked with my old old Spiratone 500/8, but nobody has ever confused that with a top-quality lens, by all accounts the Nikkor is much better.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on July 6th, 2009 10:37 am (UTC)
Thank you. It seems pretty good from my first impressions. With any luck we'll soon see.
Geri Sullivangerisullivan on July 6th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC)
Congratulations. I look forward to seeing what you do with it.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on July 6th, 2009 10:38 am (UTC)
Thank you. Me too! It's almost enough to get me charged up and out the door with it. (Except it's Monday morning and time to be off to work. Soon though. I hope I hope I hope.)
gomeza on July 6th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
Kewl! I fantasize about having a fast image-stabilized tele lens some day.

But then, I fantasize about a lot of things which aren't going to happen.

Are you familiar with the expression "bokeh"? I wasn't until last year. It' something to do with the appearance of the background when the background is out of focus.

I presume you already know that mirror lenses (what I am assuming you have, as I am not sure what a "reflex" lens is) create donut shapes from light sources in an out-of-focus background. This may be a non-issue, just figured I'd mention it.

Example: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3252/3037763534_ac635b8088.jpg
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on July 7th, 2009 02:49 am (UTC)

I quite understant the desire. But the VR (Vibration Reduction) telephoto lenses are the ones that cost real money. Like $5K. Ouch! But I guess if you're going to fantasize, might as well go whole-hog.

Huh. No, I hadn't been familiar with that expression. But, well, technology marches on. When I highlighted and right-clicked on it (to my surprise) I got a dropdown suggesting I could look it up:

So I gave it a try, and lo and behold:

As you say. Gosh.

In any case, yes, a reflex lens is a reflecting telephoto lens—its ancestor is the reflecting telescope for astronomical observation. And I did know about the "donut" shapes. They're mentioned in an interesting article on the Nikon web site which talks about the invention of this particular lens: "Little lens, Big step"; Tale 13: Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8. You might find it interesting as well.

Target for Displaced Anger: zbuzzbyandrewprobertdavidkevin on July 6th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)

Knowing nothing about photography, am I correct in inferring that the alley doesn't really have a near-vertical hill at that end, but it appears to as an effect of the telephoto lens?

Fred A Levy Haskell: xclip- earthfredcritter on July 7th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
Yes, you are correct. There is a slope at the far end of the alley, but it is certainly not as extreme as it appears in this photo. It's that "back-to-front compression" I was talking about. You'll also notice that the utility poles appear to be much closer together than they really are (that is to say, while you don't know about these from personal experience, if you think about it I believe you'll see what I mean). Good observation!
Peter Hentgesjbru on July 7th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
Oh, fun! I'll look forward to the results!
Fred A Levy Haskell: xclip- pushpin purplefredcritter on July 7th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
Yup. Fun it is. I'll look forward to sharing the results! (Thanks!)