Recently I was invited by a friend, chef Gari Ferguson & his wife Gillian to a small wine & foodie lyme by their home here in Jamaica. In Jamaica we have a term that we would use when a small group would get together, put some pots on the fire and basically have a little social feast. We called it ‘running a boat’. I remember having quite a few of these when I was a child. Gari coined this a ‘Chef’s boat’. My friend, wine & foodie expert, Christopher Reckord (@reckord) along with his wife Kerri-Anne were present, so look out for his column in the Jamaica Observer for more details on the origins of this custom as well as the fine food and wines we enjoyed (I will update this blog entry with a link to his article when it is published, so please check back). Of course going to any such gathering, I will have a camera with me, this time teaming up my Nikon D3S with my Nikkor 50mm f1.4.
This was one of the first lens I purchased when going DSLR, yet it is one of my least used lens. Based on my research at the time, it was considered a virtual must have for any serious amateur or professional to have in their kit. For the majority of my shooting though I have been using mostly the zooms Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 or the Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 VR II which I find to be a great combination especially when doing events such as weddings. However, recently I have been giving in to my curiosity about this lens and decided to restrict my personal shooting to just using it.
A small search online will reveal droves of professional photographers using only primes for all of their shooting (prime is a term used for lens with fixed focal lengths), swearing by their superior rendering of images due to the simplicity of their optics which results in great image quality. While taking on that debate is beyond the scope of this little blog entry, I have to say, it is a good argument. There is no doubt that prime lens in the right hands produce stunning results, though in recent history I think zooms have closed this gap in image quality as well.
One of the big advantages primes offer apart from their price (due to the simplicity of their design they tend to be cheaper to mass produce resulting in a lower price) is their speed (speed here refers to a lens that has a wide maximum aperture. It is sometimes also referred to a ‘fast’. The wider the aperture, the more light it will allow in and therefore you can use faster shutter speeds in low light). In the case of the 50mm I’m using, it opens pretty wide to f1.4. This makes it an excellent choice for shooting with available light in low light situations as well as working that shallow depth of field for some stunning results.
It does take a bit more work to have to ‘foot zoom’ especially for someone like me who really prefers getting my composition the way I want from the time of capture versus cropping the image later in post, but I have to say in the relaxed situations I have been using it in so far, it has not been a problem. Using it (or an 85mm) as a primary lens during an event? I don’t think so. I would have to really develop my technique and get way more comfortable with it. I do however see myself using it a lot more as a compliment to the lens I normally use at an event.
One thing I was a bit surprised about was how far its minimum focusing distance was. Admittedly though, I didn’t do much reading up on it specs, but for some reason I just expected the distance to be smaller.
All in all, I am having a good time with this lens so far. It makes my camera smaller, lighter to carry around and I suspect it makes the camera appear less threatening to the camera shy.
I think I will continue this little experiment for a while. Let see if I’ll be drawn over to the ‘dark prime side’.
Below are a few of the images I captured using only available light with all being shot wide open at f1.4 at various ISO.
Kerri-Anne Reckord enjoying a sip of Roasted Pumpkin Bisque.
Two of Jamaica’s top Chefs, Colin Hylton and Brian Lumley discussing the finer points.
Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomato Vol au Vent.
Thai Curry Fish with Clove Rice.
Ginger and Black Pepper Cake with Carmel Ice Cream.
A view of the f1.4.
Thanks for stoping by.