Nikon D800E back in action

After a few weeks of shooting almost exclusively film, it was time for a “digital break”. Although I took with me my 4×5 camera, the Plaubel Makina 67 and the Leica M7 (with the almost permanently mounted Voigtlander 15mm), I was not in a mood to spend lots of time operating my view camera, and I only found a few subjects worth of shooting with film.

The D800E came in handy as I had with me the 28-300 and 135 f/2 lenses. With the 28-300 I could easily reach distant subjects and the f/2 aperture of the 135mm provided me with the razor thing depth of field to experiment.

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens)

Even a “slow” f/5.6 aperture at 300mm can create a limited depth of field at far distances as you can see from the picture above. I also love the color in this photo (I used a polarizer).

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens)

Shot at 170mm, the telephoto lens gave me the opportunity to capture this scenery. I wanted to use my view camera for this shot, the Velvia slide would have rendered beautifully this landscape, but my longest lens for 4×5 is a 60mm equivalent, so I opted for the Nikon.

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens)

A faster lens here (like the 70-200 f/2.8 for example) would be the best, but I don’t own it, still the 28-300 did a good job (image shot at 300mm). Of course the f/5.6 aperture raised ISO to 1000, not a problem for the D800E, but for a large print I try to keep between 100 and 400 ISO. A complaint here, I really don’t like the one button implementation for switching between SINGLE and CONTINUOUS focus. The D700 has a dedicated switch for each option, and its much faster to select it. I tried to switch to CONTINUOUS in order to shoot the whole flight, but I wasn’t quick enough. With the D700 I would have made it.

Now, images with my all time favorite Nikon lens, the Nikkor 135mm DC f/2.

I could easily go for trip with just three primes, the 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4 and the 135mm. A relatively small and light combo (for a DSLR). I am sure that most of the time I would have used the 135mm (which is really strange since I rarely shoot above 90mm on my other cameras). It’s a legendary lens for many purposes. I have shot wonderful portraits (although I rarely publish them on this blog), close ups at f/2 and great landscapes. It has also become my favorite lens for creating multi megapixel images (by stitching a sequence of photos). The 135mm is a true gem.

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 135mm DC f/2 lens shot at f/3.2)

You can see the effect of the very narrow doF of this lens. I almost always shoot the 135mm between f/2 and f/4, although at the image above, I should have opted for a smaller aperture to really show this lonely poppy on the rocky terrain. A serious mistake which ruined the composition. Well, nobody’s perfect !!

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 135mm DC f/2 lens)

On this image of course the f/2 aperture gave me exactly the look I wanted. This lens is at its best on a foliage background, it really melts the out of focus areas while rendering the focused area razor sharp.



(Nikon D800E, Nikon 135mm DC f/2 lens, shot wide open at f/2)

The 135mm can also be a good street lens. When shot wide open, it can isolate your subject even at a distance. I didn’t try to hide my intentions when making these images or pretend I am shooting the monastery behind. When I am making street images I will either place myself behind my subject or at 45 degrees angle. I really like these kind of images and it has nothing to do with staying undetected. Simply, I like the images of people on streets with their face partially revealed. But when I shoot from a position they can clearly see me, I am very present at the scene, so they know they are being photographed. The further distance (due to the telephoto 135mm) helps me not intruding too much in the scene, so there is still a sense of spontaneity. And of course, the moment i realize that people are not feeling comfortable I will stop taking images. This is my style, a kind of discreet (but not stealthy) approach, sure not the aggressive type of street photography.

And one more observation (which I make almost every time I make a b&w conversion with the Nikon). I still haven’t been able to produce a good looking b&w conversion with either the D700 or D800E. I am sure it is my fault but that’s the way it is. I cannot replicate the classic b&w look I get from the CCD sensor of the Leica M8 and sure I cannot replicate the look of a true b&w film. Especially on prints, the look of the M8 or a true b&w film remains unsurpassed (at least for my personal taste).

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 135mm DC f/2 lens)

I like photos like the one above that almost tell a story. I only wished I could have shot this photo half a second earlier, but still I am happy I managed to capture this scene. I was shooting at Shutter priority at 1/1000 (a setting I had just used to capture a bird taking off) so I was lucky to freeze the action.

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 135mm DC f/2 lens)

The last image of this post, a chimney as a main subject, but the thing that improves the whole image is the out of focus bird flying. A lucky shot of course !!

So, these are my first D800E images after some time. Although I remain a “film photographer” I really appreciate this camera. On many occasions it has provided me with images I could not have shot with my film cameras. Its fast, easy to shoot, has a stunning image quality and I consider it the best digital choice for my style of photography, when I don’t mind the bulk and weight.

(c)2013 Konstantinos Besios. All rights reserved.

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