Lately I’ve been feeling the need to mix things up a bit. Change is good, expanding your knowledge and art is also good. While I've been exploring lenses I thought it might be useful to explain what different lenses do and why you may want to use them. Note, the lenses below are all lenses I currently own, I've talked about some or all of them previously but I thought it would be worth revisiting. Also, I am not telling you to to run out and purchase a new lens. I haven't...yet and besides you may already have a lens that will work perfectly, you may only need to purchase a set of extension tubes or a diopter to give you results you are happy with. Their really are lot of options out there, sometimes we just need to take a step back and look at what we have in our bag. I did that this past week, I shot a wedding with a friend, much to my surprise I totally forgot I had the Nikon 85mm F1.4 lens. You are probably wondering how on earth I could forget a lens like that, simply for the fact I generally only use my macro lens. Which is why I'm going through this process, I'm getting an itch to create more and different...as I said change things up a bit. The upside, you benefit from what I'm rediscovering in the world my of lenses.
Nikkor 105mm F2.8 macro lens. This is my go to lens my bread and butter if you will. I love this lens. It's a true macro lens 1:1 ratio which means no magnification. The lens is very versatile, it can be a portrait lens or a macro lens or really anything you want lens. It also creates amazing bokeh. Focal distance is not an issue with this lens as you can focus as close as 1'. Maximum aperture is F2.8 and minimum is F32.
This image was captured at F3.5 ISO 250 1/4th Sec.
Why would you want this lens? If you want to capture shallow images with amazing bokeh...this is an absolute wonderful lens. It's sharp and it's fast. It's a light lens and it has VR but I rarely use it.
The next image was captured with the Nikon 85mm lens at F1.8. Wow. This is what I was saying when I saw this image come into view. Focus is so important with a shot like this, because the depth of field is so shallow, a miss will mean the image is garbage. I love shallow, I love the softness of this image and how it glows. The softer the image, the better for me most of the time but there has to be something in focus so keep that in mind unless your trying to create an abstract or really get artsy :)
The 85mm is used primarily for portraits, although I'd use it for anything. Focal distance is almost 3 feet. The maximum aperture is F1.8 and the minimum aperture is F16. To capture images like the one below will require an extension tube to get close enough.... and it's been sitting in my storage bag!
Settings for this image are F1.8, ISO 250 1/8th of a Sec.
Why would you want a portrait lens to shoot flowers? If the image on the right, or above if viewing from your phone, doesn't speak to you, then you probably don't. The beautiful thing about this lens is the bokeh. You can get a sliver of focus and the rest of the image gently falls off. Silky and smooth.
The next lens is the Nikon 135mm Defocus lens, this lens is really cool. It defocuses either the front or the back of the subject. The effects can be adjusted like the F-stops...the front defocus starts at F2.0 and goes down from there. The rear is exactly the same...it's another soft lens if you want it to be. Not soft in a bad way at all, it's good for us shallow shooters. It's a F2.0 lens, my version is an old one, but I hear Nikon started to make them again..or at least they were, it's a sweet lens if you come across it used. This lens will need an extension tube as well and potentially two to get what you're looking for in your image. The minimum focal distance for this lens is 3.61' so two extension tubes is probably a must. Maximum aperture is F2.0 and minimum is F16. The image was shot with only one extension tube since the other two are broken...but I have more on the way.
F2.0, ISO 260 1/80th sec.
Why would you want this lens? Bokeh, bokeh, bokeh...it's smooth as silk, and it's sharp.
Velvet 56 (Lensbaby)
This is a wonderful lens, it's light, comparatively inexpensive to other lenses and produces some interesting results when you're wide open at F1.6, the bokeh is almost circular when this lens is wide open. This is a manual lens, shutter, focus all have to be adjusted manually. The settings don't register on the camera, the maximum aperture is F1.6 and the minimum is F16. Focus is pretty close on this lens no need for extension tubes but you could give it a try to see what happens, I have not yet, but plan to.
Settings for this images are F1.6 ISO 250 that's all I have for this one.
Why would you want this lens? This is an artsy lens, its versatile it can be used as a macro, portrait lens, landscape or anything you really want. You can literally capture images that almost glow. In the right situations you can get some really neat bokeh with this lens. When the lens is wide open at F1.6 the softness is unreal. This lens will definitely help with the painterly effect I like.
I hope I've provided something for you to think about. Nothing I've talked about is new, it's all about how I shoot with each of the lenses above. I am trying to expand my vision. The images above all have one thing in common, they use shallow depth of field. I don't expect that to ever change. I honestly have no desire to have more detail in my images. What I want is to experience more creativity. I've always wanted my images to be more painterly, to be different than a photograph. This is the direction I hope to go in. Ultimately, how I feel about what I create will drive the direction I go in...who knows maybe nothing will really change.
Take care, stay healthy