Photographers. We always like new stuff, right? The newest, the fastest, the sharpest! You know the drill. I’m right there with the madding horde as well. We walk around the photo shows, hoping to resist, trying to be Odysseus tied to the mast, and thus prevented from making the mad, desperate leap to the rocky, deadly expensive shores known as “new gear.” But, sometimes, we just can’t, or don’t, resist. My garage is filled with things I had to have, things that would make my life easier, things that were just bound to work so much better and on such a scale that well, expectations were high, to say the least. I’ve done it so many times, that my sense of disappointment as I trundle yet another piece of savior technology out to the trash bin of my feverish hopes is actually somewhat dulled.
Sometimes, of course, the new stuff works. Hot off the presses gear, especially now, with the pace of innovation in these digital times, can be a blessing. And, it is advisable to keep up, at least on some hopefully measured, selective level.
But, there is reassurance in working with the old, and the used. The been-there-done-that gear that you keep hanging around the shop, waiting for an excuse to trot it out for the rare excursion. For me, being a lifetime Nikon shooter, there is huge reassurance in the resonant click of a lens with an F mount bayoneting onto the camera. Been hearing the same definitive click since 1973. Hearing the same click, ’cause it’s the same mount. All my old glass works, even my 500mm f8 mirror lens, a catadioptric beast I’ve always referred to as fat boy. It’s a chunky piece of glass.
It’s also sharp as a tack, though historically a bitch to follow focus with. Real narrow DOF, but the resplendent thing about the lens is what happens when the field of view falls out of DOF. The background goes into these wonderfully repetitive little donuts. Especially fun to play with city lights with this lens, say of the type you find in Vegas.
Here’s the cool thing. You put this ancient piece of revered glass onto a D810, and the aperture priority works. You are fixed at f8, and the shutter speed slides around accordingly. The focus confirm works, as well, which is wonderful news for my eyes, straining through this baby at night, no less. And TTL works like a charm. Which is something I get a kick out of, as the lens is easily 25 years old and the camera less than a year. These were shot with an SB910 fitted with an Ezybox Hotshoe soft box as the up front light, and a hand held second Speedlight, red gelled for background. You can tell it’s gelled red as it’s the light flaring my lens:-))) The soft box is perched atop a paint pole fitted with a Kacey Pole Adapter.
Moved fast and had fun out there. Our wonderfully feathered subject, dancer Charlotte O’Dowd, was a trouper, out there in the Vegas night in January. Shot a few with updated glass as well. The below I knocked out with a 200-400mm f4, which is my go to long glass. Sharp, hand holdable on most occasions, except here, at night, I went with the tripod. Also caught some flare on this, from a headlight this time (I swear!) and it turned out to be a favorite of the night.
So, old school— 500mm f8 (fixed) Nikkor Catadioptric telephoto. (Go see Efraim at Adorama. [email protected]) He sold me mine, used of course, for something like $300-400 bucks.
Nothing like the click of an F mount.