New Lens: Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

April 11, 2009 at 8:00 PMJeremy

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a new lens: Nikon's recently-released 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX. 

This lens has a fixed focal length of 35mm; if you have a lens like the D40's kit 18-55mm, it's like you dialed it to the 35 mark and locked it there.  On most film and pro DSLRs, photographers would get a 50mm "prime" lens: one that fairly accurately reflects the field of view that your eye would see.  Since the Nikon DX line of cameras has a sensor half the size of film, it takes a wider focusing lens to create the same effect - 35mm.

What makes it advantageous over the kit lens is the aperture: f/1.8.  It's a fast lens, meaning it can let in a lot of light in a short amount of time.  As I've previously mentioned, wider aperture will generally allow you to do one of two things:

  1. Shoot at a higher shutter speed for a given level of light.
  2. Create a shallower depth of field to isolate the subject.

This fills a hole left in the Nikon DX beginner (D40/D60) lens collection: We have the excellent 18-55mm for close-up and normal shooting, and the 55-200mm for things that are farther away, but nothing (well, nothing affordable that would autofocus) for taking low-light photos.  With this lens, as long as I'm willing to sneaker zoom (moving myself rather than the lens to get closer or farther away), I can get the shot in any reasonable light.

I've been playing with it while Jonathan and I are home in the evenings.  It's nice to not have to grab the flash when I'm taking pictures indoors.

BTW: check out the filenames on these.  My D40's "odometer" has rolled over past 10,000 shots.  Of course, I have significantly fewer than 10,000 photos to show for it: I know I burned through about 500 images of total blackness to get a couple of shots of lightning during a storm, and I've wasted snaps here and there shooting at the ceiling fan to learn about shutter speed or even just firing off some random shots to show off to Mom how Nikons "sound like real cameras".

Posted in: Jonathan | Photography

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The Wind Beneath My Swing

February 26, 2009 at 12:30 PMJeremy

We went out swinging again, and I got some more pictures:

A note on the photography: it's very difficult to get a good picture of a kid swinging.  Obviously a fast shutter speed is important, and generally pretty easy, considering kids are most likely to swing outdoors during daylight hours.  The problem is focusing fast enough to catch them in focus.  With my camera set on AF-C (AutoFocus-Continuous), the lens was just continuously refocusing (hence the name) as Jonathan would swing forward and back.  Unfortunately, as fast as the lens focuses, it was usually a little behind.  

When I try this again, I think I'll go up a few f-stops (smaller aperture) to increase the depth of field (so more depth is in focus).  I might also need to manually focus to a particular point in his swing and then try to catch him as he reaches that point.  And of course, shooting digitally, I'll take tons of pictures knowing I'll be throwing out lots of out of focus ones.

Posted in: Jonathan | Photography

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