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Thread: Wide open?

  1. #1

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    Wide open?

    Hi all,

    Iím having contemplations as to which direction I want to go. Iím posting this on the SLR section because Iím still using (and loving) my SLRs but am trying to figure out where I want to go image-wise.

    Hereís the thing. I shoot a lot wide open because I shoot in the dark a lot (but I also use wide-open even during the day!). So Iím not usually shooting my lenses anything above F4 or 5.6 (usually).

    I have a Nikon 35mm F2 (AiS?), Nikon 50mm F1.4 (Ai), Nikon 85mm F2 (Ai) and I almost always shoot them wide open. Iíve been contemplating upgrading to a Nikon 35mm F1.4 and maybe the Ai-S version of the 50mm in hopes of getting better wide open performance (less ďsoftĒ images) but am also considering the rangefinder route as, according to my understanding, rangefinder lenses are better wide open in the 28-80mm range .

    Iím trying to keep the costs down but am wondering, for the way I shoot, is a rangefinder system the way to go? I would definitely be going CV Bessa stuff in that case as thatís all I could afford. Maybe just have it as a supplement to my SLR system.

    Would love to hear your thoughts. I know I've been posting here and there but I think this more or less summarizes what I'm thinking.

    PS: I have a Pentax 645 that does a lot of my color work so the 35mm would be mainly for B&W.

  2. #2
    cjbecker's Avatar
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    If you feel that a rangefinder fits your style more, then thats the reason to switch. If not sick with your setup and make great images with it.

    No matter what camera and lens you have, a good image is good, a great image is great, and a crappy image is crappy.

    I shoot mostly medium format because I like the tonality of it. Also the same reason I shoot large format some. It's not for the lens.

  3. #3
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by dugrant153 View Post
    Hi all,

    Iím having contemplations as to which direction I want to go. Iím posting this on the SLR section because Iím still using (and loving) my SLRs but am trying to figure out where I want to go image-wise.

    Hereís the thing. I shoot a lot wide open because I shoot in the dark a lot (but I also use wide-open even during the day!). So Iím not usually shooting my lenses anything above F4 or 5.6 (usually).

    I have a Nikon 35mm F2 (AiS?), Nikon 50mm F1.4 (Ai), Nikon 85mm F2 (Ai) and I almost always shoot them wide open. Iíve been contemplating upgrading to a Nikon 35mm F1.4 and maybe the Ai-S version of the 50mm in hopes of getting better wide open performance (less ďsoftĒ images) but am also considering the rangefinder route as, according to my understanding, rangefinder lenses are better wide open in the 28-80mm range .

    Iím trying to keep the costs down but am wondering, for the way I shoot, is a rangefinder system the way to go? I would definitely be going CV Bessa stuff in that case as thatís all I could afford. Maybe just have it as a supplement to my SLR system.

    Would love to hear your thoughts. I know I've been posting here and there but I think this more or less summarizes what I'm thinking.

    PS: I have a Pentax 645 that does a lot of my color work so the 35mm would be mainly for B&W.
    With respect, none of these lenses will give their best shot wide open. The expensive 35/1.4 will not give magically sharp corner-to-corner images at 1.4. Shoot faster film or get a tripod/monopod and stop down a stop or two or shoot wide open--camera shake could be an issue. Wide open, your DOF will be very shallow, but a 1.4 lens at f2 or f2.8 will be sharper without much increase in DOF. Have a look at the lens section at www.nikonlinks.com

  4. #4

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    A rangefinder might be the way to go if they work for you. I wouldn't switch for the lenses unless you have a specific lens you were going for. It would be horrible move if you don't mesh with the rangefinder mindset. Especially if you shoot a lot with the 85 mm. You can certainly do that on a rangefinder, but some people find the experience suboptimal.

    Sure, something like the Leica 50/1.4 ASPH might be a better performer than the Nikon 50, but at $4k, it should be. And I bet you wouldn't notice that increase in performance in 95% of your pictures, particularly when hand holding your camera.

    As far as CV lenses which fit your requirements, you are looking at a decent amount of money for a fast 50 and 35. The 50/1.1 and the 35/1.4 seem to be nice lenses, but the 50/1.1 is ~$1k, while the 35/1.4 is $600. Factor in the camera too. If you could find a CV 50/1.5, you might be able to get that for cheaper, but it's been discontinued. There's also the 35/1.2, but that's over $1k. That's a lot of money when you seem reasonably happy with your current gear and can instead upgrade it. Unless you get a chance to borrow someone else's rig, I'd say stick with what you have. I'm not super familiar with Nikon lenses, but if you want a sharper 50, and Nikon makes a sharper 50, why not just go for that? Ditto on the 35/1.4. You can also look into the Zeiss lenses for your Nikon (not cheap, but good). Maybe the 50/1.4?

  5. #5

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    one of the main benefits of using a rangefinder over an slr is being able to see whats happening outside of your focal frame lines without panning the camera. So if you are shooting mainly wide open, you're probably taking a lot of photos knowing exactly what you want in your frame before even bringing the camera to your eye. Like Tim already mentioned you might not see much difference in a lot of your shots even if you did buy a $4k 50mm Summilux or a $5k 35mm Summilux. Rangefinders are typically smaller and lighter for the same set-up so it could help with the low-light conditions in which you shoot, but switching for lenses alone might not be the best choice.

  6. #6
    OldBodyOldSoul's Avatar
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    Borrow, rent or buy a cheap RF camera and see how it feels. For an SLR shooter, RF can/will be a big step aside as it's quite different and not necessarily better or worse (though usually one of them applies in the end).

    My guess is that your shutter speed is in the double digits, or even slower, so the way you hold and balance the camera at slow speeds is very important. I predominantly shoot SLR and have never learned how to hold RF properly, at least not well enough to feel comfortable shooting at slow speeds. There just isn't enough room for both of my hands there, and I've learned to use the size and heft of SLR when steadying my hands. I am getting better at it, but apparently it doesn't always (or to everyone) come naturally, or quickly.

    Just something to keep in mind, in case you haven't shot with RF recently (or at all).

  7. #7
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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    When I was still using Nikon, the 35mm f/2.0 was my favorite 35mm.

    The f/1.4, while certainly sharp if stopped down a little, but generally produced images I didn't especially like. A matter of taste, really.
    Try before you buy if you can.

    I wouldn't label the f/2.0 wide open as "soft", though there are lenses which definitely do better.

    If you mostly stick to that FL range, then a rangefinder kit could certainly be a valid option. There too, it's a matter of taste & habit so try before you buy if possible.
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  8. #8

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    I have shot both SLRs and range finders, and I think in the dark, with fast lenses, range finders are easier to focus. However, I'm not the the Bessas are the right choice for this, as their range finder effective base length is a little shorter than Leica or Zeiss Ikon. This means they are just a little less accurate. For most lenses, it makes no difference, but you may find a difference if you use very fast, longer lenses like a 50mm f/1.4, f/1.2 or faster. For a fast 35mm, it's probably going to be OK though.

    Don't get me wrong, I've owned a Bessa, they are great cameras.

    I would suggest however a used Zeiss Ikon or if you don't mind not having a meter, a Leica M2, M3, or M4. If you're shooting negative film, I think a meter is fairly optional.

    The Bessa R3A with the 40mm f/1.4 is considered a very nice range finder kit too.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by thegman View Post
    If you're shooting negative film, I think a meter is fairly optional.
    How so?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by CGW View Post
    Shoot faster film or get a tripod/monopod and stop down a stop or two or shoot wide open--camera shake could be an issue.
    OP: I'd try this sage advise first. There is nothing "soft" about the current Nikon gear you have.

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