Folks who visit my blog on a regular basis know that I like to shoot dogs, cats, macro and portraits. This time around I’m posting some of my latest dog photos taken with the Nikon V1, 18.5mm f/1.8 and “Plastilux” 50mm f/1.4 C-Mount lens. Let’s begin with the shots taken with the 18.5mm f/1.8.
I’ve had the cheap, plastic C-Mount 50mm f/1.4 lens for almost three months now, but have only been using it extensively for the last couple of weeks. This is not enough time to form an opinion on any piece of equipment. For now I can only say that the lens is inexpensive, cheaply made, that for some reason it doesn’t focus beyond 2-3 meters and that it isn’t as sharp as native Nikon 1 lenses. Comparing the 50mm f/1.4 C-Mount lens to my Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 would be the same as comparing a Tata car to a Porsche. But, the 50mm F/1.4 “Plastilux” (which is what I like to call it), has one major advantage over the fast standard prime from Nikon: Bokeh!
I tried to photograph some of these stray cats with a DSLR, but as soon as the mirror claps most of them run away. This doesn’t happen with the Nikon V1 and Nikon 18.5mm f/1.8. As soon as the electronic shutter is enabled, the camera is silent. If you close the aperture, there is a faint noise of aperture blades closing, right before the images is being captured. If you stay at f/1.8 however, the camera makes no noise whatsoever. The loudest sound is the finger tipping the shutter release button. 😉
The Nikon V1 with the Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 or 18.5mm f/1.8 is such a small package that you can take it anywhere. I sometimes even take it with me when I’m BBQing or going out with the fellas. Some of my friends don’t like to be stalked with a camera, they however are far less likely to make a fuss when I’m using my V1. The smaller camera doesn’t seem to intimidate people and make them go into defensive mode nearly as much as the big guns do. I, on the other hand, am far more likely to shoot motifs which I usually don’t consider interesting, like food, when not having to lug a heavy camera for long periods of time. 🙂
I really like the Nikon 18.5mm f/1.8 for portraiture. It gives me a nice balance of DoF and sharpness. With some lenses for the larger formats, I have the feeling that I constantly need to think about how much I should close the aperture, to obtain sufficient DoF for human faces. The 18.5mm has enough DoF at wiede open, f/1.8. When shooting people I never close the aperture with this lens. IMO bokeh is nice, and the colors are what you expect from a Nikon. Awesome skin tones. But look for yourself. 🙂
The Nikon V1, with its small size and thanks to the electronic shutter silent operation, is a perfect cat capturing machine. Which lens you end up using for cat pictures is up to you. I use the Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 and the Nikon 18.5mm f/1.8. If you get close, you can achieve nice bokeh with both of them. The 18.5mm is best used at full aperture at f/1.8 and the 10-30mm at the long end, also wide open, if bokeh is what you are after. Here are some cat samples with the V1 and both the Nikkors.
If Joe Marquez’s photos are any indication, the Nikon 32mm f/1.2 is quite good for portraiture…
Here are some portraits samples with the now second fastest N1 lens on the market, the Nikon 18.5mm f1.8. 😉 Apparently bokeh is indeed possible even with a smallish sensor, like the 1″ sensor in the V1. Just try to keep the background as far away as possible.
The 18.5mm f/1.8 is a sharp lens, even wide open. And sharp lenses tend to produce relatively harsh (as in opposite of creamy/buttery/smooth) bokeh. That seems to be the case with the 18.5mm as well. More often than not, the bokeh is harsh, and it isn’t easy to achieve bokeh with the small 1″ sensor in the first place. You really have to stay away from foliage. However, pleasing bokeh isn’t downright impossible with the Nikkor. You just have to be careful and avoid “nervous” backgrounds.