What!? Not a dog photo…? (Shh…don’t tell Champi. Actually, she is probably happy not to have the camera in her face today.)
This past weekend was fully booked, as seems to be the case lately. But, there was a slightly unexpected surprise on Friday…I bought a new lens! It all came about very quickly too. Every once in a while I will browse craigslist to see if there are any good deals out there, or at least to see what people are getting rid of. I have been in the habit lately of making an offer “below the going rate” for any specific lens, just to see what price people will settle for. Up until now, people have not really budged that much in my experience, but Friday was a different story. And well, I am a proud new ower of a 60mm micro lens. (And, thanks Walton for your assistance in the transaction.) I do have to say, the lens is hardly used, and in great condition. Out of curiosity, I asked the seller, “Why the change?” and he replied that he was switching to Canon. These are my kind of people. :) I am not sure why people are in such a rush to make the switch, unless you primarily shoot video. I do have to say I was very tempted with the Canon 5D II, but I am glad I have stuck with the Nikon D300. I am learning very quickly that it is not really the camera but the shooter that makes a good photographer (well obviously) and for my level of shooting experience, it really does not matter which brand you carry in your bag. It’s really a matter of preference. And today’s preference is Nikon’s 60mm Micro, all the way!!
First Impressions. Good. Really good! I know it is not a new lens to the Nikon product line, but it is new to me. From the first use, it feels very natural to use. Maybe I know my Nikon D300 camera body better these days, but this has been the easiest lens to use “right out of the box” compared to learning curve of my other lenses. Honestly, I am not sure why that is. I have not done any extensive research on this one either. I have even tried out the Nikon’s 105mm Micro VR lens and had much more trouble with that one. I think it is a level of closeness or intimacy of the 60mm focal length that works for me. Meaning, you can get very close to your subject, which feels right, since you want to get close to the details.
I was initially drawn to the 60mm Micro lens because it also doubles as a portrait lens. With my current arsenal of lenses, I do not have the 60mm focal length that can open up to an aperture of f/2.8. I think my 16-85 won’t open up any further than f/5 at 60mm. This is a hugh difference in the amount of light let in the lens, especially in low light shooting. So, this will be one great advantage. Now, it probably won’t compare to the 24-70mm, but it is compact and light weight…and don’t forget, I don’t have that lens either. I will probably do some portrait tests to see how my lenses compare.
Portrait shooting aside, the real reason for getting the lens, was to shoot the little things up close. As I said earlier, the 60mm Micro feels very natural to use. For testing close up shots (within 1-2 feet of the subject) the auto-focus felt comfortable. Not extremely snappy, but then again, I am not asking it to be more that what it was designed to do…or better yet, it’s price range. At the 1-2 feet distance, I felt that the auto-focus does a very good job, better than I could do myself. With that said, you can switch the lens into an extreme close up focus range, that allow you to get within inches of your subject. At this point, your depth of field is extreme, but works well to provide a focus on what you want to highlight in your subject. I found at this point, it was much more accurate to switch to manual focus. Very slight movements make a large impact at this degree of closeness and I became frustrated with the “hunting” auto-focus. To me, at these close focal ranges it gets very artistic and a manual focus is the best way to shoot.
Long story short, when I made the switch to DSLR, I gained many strengths with interchangeable lenses. One thing I lost, was the ability to get in very close (with my choice in lenses) to a subject and capture all the great micro details. I knew it was only a matter of time before I would buy a camera the does micro photography well or get a lens that would fit on the D300. I hope this will be the case for a while because I think the 60mm Micro will do the trick. Oh, and for the red theme…I am not really sure why…I just have a lot of red things. =)
Thanks for reading, and dont forget to swing by my flickr photostream jayaxe04 for more updates.