Street images with Nikon 135mm f/2 DC

Today, I had the luck to be in the city of Kastoria, Greece where there is a a carnival called “Ragoutsaria”. It’s a very old tradition that is held every year between 6-8 January. On the last day, there’s a parade which was an excellent opportunity for me to make some images.

I had with me the Nikon D800E with the 135mm f/2 DC and the 24-70 f/2.8. I also had the Sony NEX 5N but its battery didn’t hold on. I was traveling for a couple of days at temperatures below zero Celsius. During the parade the temperature probably affected the NEX battery (which was about 30% full when I turned it on). So I was left with the Nikon and a Sony CX730E camcorder for video (both worked flawlessly).

The 24-70 was too short from where I was standing, so I decided to make some special shots with the 135mm, most of them using the widest f/2 aperture.

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The f/2 aperture on a 135mm is able to separate your subject from background (and foreground) even at long distances. This distinctly isolates people from their environment and leads to a look that I appreciate very much.

Working with a DSLR in situations like this is very helpful. It’s fast, its auto focus is superb and the motor drive together with the fast buffer makes wonders in catching action when people move. I never do street photography with a DSLR, but at a festival where everyone is taking images, there’s no problem at all. Actually this is not pure street photography with the strict meaning of the term, but street images (more like a documentary).

The 36 megapixels of the Nikon D800E are very helpful in this kind of shooting especially when you shoot with a prime lens. You can heavily crop and still have plenty of megapixels left for a good print.

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Now, I faced some minor problems with accurate focusing. Some images were out of focus despite my careful focusing. This is a problem I have faced before with the D800 (and a problem I never had with the D700). I don’t know if this falls into the reported cases of the D800 miss focusing some times or the old 135mm didn’t nail focus quickly, or a combination of both, but still there were some good images lost this way. Still, the results are better from what I would have achieved with the NEX 5N and the 55-210 lens, and of course I wouldn’t have this look which the 135mm f/2 on a full frame camera can produce.

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Many of my images were converted to black and white. Although the parade was full of beautiful colors, there are some images where I wanted to give emphasis on the person and the vivid colors around them were distracting. To this day, I haven’t been able to get a b&w conversion from the Nikon that is my to my taste. The D300, D700 and D800 still produces a clinical clean look which when converted to b&w, is far behind what I get from b&w film, or a b&w conversion from the Leica M8. I am sure I could do better, but I am don’t like spending much time on my computer (especially when I can get the b&w look I like straight out of the camera !!)

Overall, although I am still dedicated to film photography, I can also appreciate a camera like the D800E and the absolutely amazing 135mm Nikkor, and at events like this, there’s nothing like a good DSLR paired with a high quality lens.

Enjoy the rest of the images.

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(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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