New-Old Glass

2009.04.30 in photography

About a month ago, I bought a Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 pre-AI lens. It turns out that my D80 doesn't accept pre-AI lenses — oops! — but, luckily, Robb's D40 does! So, I (with some sadness) gave the lens to Robb... it was cheap, and it's pretty awesome, so he might as well have it, rather than go through the hassle of modifying it or trying to sell it.

Fast forward another week. I've won a Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 AI-s: one of Nikon's sharpest lenses ever, the flagship of their 80s prime telephoto collection (and was still produced, though in limited runs, through 2006). Now, I'll note to you that this lens still regularly sells new for well over 700$, and used for not much less than that, so acquiring it for less than a seventh of that was quite a bargain (not to mention comparing that to what it must have cost originally, in 1983, a number I can't seem to acquire)... luckily, it's in absolutely outstanding condition, practically like new except for minor external scars.

The picture above is of the diaphragm of this lens, at f/32. I had a bit of trouble getting both my flash and my camera at an angle appropriate to take this picture, but it came out OK. The colors are cool, too. Below, you can see this lens all the way on the right, next to my macro (next from the right), my normal zoom lens (left of middle), and my 50mm f/1.8 (all the way to the left). As you can probably tell, it's rather heavy, and even dwarfs my camera.

This lens poses a few challenges for me. Actually, all of the challenges. Since I have a D80, and not one of the über-high-end Nikons, I don't get metering, so I'm all alone with full-manual there (I don't mind that so much); in addition, the lens is pre-AF, so I have to manually focus. This is posing more of a challenge than I'd initially anticipated; I don't really think I can get my eye close enough to the viewfinder to do a satisfactory manual focusing job very quickly. I think it'll come with practice — I'm planning on taking it out some day soon and trying to take, say, 50 completely-in-focus pictures in a row, just to try to train myself as to how to focus!

That image of adorableness is one of the first successful pictures I managed to get out of this piece of glass; the pictures that follow it in my Aperture library make it clear that I can't refocus while walking very well (yet!), as they're all rather out-of-focus in comparison. Still, it proved to me that the thing works, at least, and can produce pretty awesome bokeh while it's at it!

One night, I went down to the first floor Davison lounge, stopped this lens all the way down to f/32 (making for a miiiighty slow picture, so I had a tripod), and took a shot of the chalkboard, just to see what would happen. A lack of formal training makes experiments quite required, as well as being entertaining!

Later, Matt got a red fedora (yeah, yeah, make all the Red Hat/Fedora jokes you want, that was only partially the intent!). The first few shots were crappy, owing mostly to the fact that I have to stand in China to take a picture of a person, but this one came out wonderfully:

Finally, at PJ's opening day (which Matt, a good deal of my family, and myself attended, to quite happy stomachs), I cranked up the ISO for a film-grain-y shot of PJ hard at work. When I get back to my computer, what do I see? Exactly what I was looking for... (except the hard at work part... he enjoyed posing!). Awesome.

In any case, I hope to have a great deal of fun with this lens in the future. I might be helping (or at least trying) to take Amy's senior picture, so who knows — maybe it'll get some use then! She doesn't have that big of a nose, though, so it's not really necessary over the (faster, lighter) 50mm f/1.8 :-) teehee.

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