Nikon D800 Recommended Lens | Nikon 85mm f/1.4G – Landscape Photography Review

 

 

Nikon Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G lens for landscape and nature
The Nikon 85mm f/1.4G – Does A classic portrait lens belong in a landscape photographer’s bag?  It’s damn well staying in mine!

You can read my full Nikon 85mm f/1.4G landscape lens review on sisson – New Zealand photography

Background

I don’t recall having been on a drunken bender last April, but it may explain why I have little recollection as to how I ended up owning a Nikon AF-S 85mm f1.4G.  This lens is really not a traditional fit for a landscape photographer, in-fact the B&H description for the lens has “Traditional Portraiture Lens” splashed all over it.   Anyhow, I did order it,  so it was time to see how I could incorporate the lens into my landscape photography repertoire.  I am pleased to report that the 85mm f1.4 is now one of my favourite landscape lenses. Thank God – it wasn’t cheap…..

In all seriousness, I purchased the 85mm f1.4 in preparation for the delivery of my new Nikon D800e.  Prior to the D800e I had been shooting Nikon DX and Canon Full Frame (5dmkii), I had wanted to return full time to Nikon for several years, but the right DSLR body for my needs had not been in the Nikon line-up.  When the D800 was announced it was obvious that it’s 36MP sensor would settle for nothing short of premium optics and I had nothing in my bag that would stand the D800’s onslaught of pixels.

The 85mm is an ‘overlap lens’ in my bag as I also own the superb Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii (review) however, I purchased the prime mainly because I love defocus in my portrait photography (mainly my kids these days) – the 85mm f1.4 is renowned for it’s silky bokeh and after 12 years of professional photography, I figured it was time to treat myself to something a little exotic.

Unfortunately, that is not sound business practice for me – I make my money from landscapes, so I had to figure out a way to make the 85mm f/1.4G earn it’s keep – here’s how I use it for landscape photography…..

What’s It For?

I consider the Nikon 85mm f1.4G to be one of the most ‘creative’ lenses in my camera bag.  By that, I mean that I rarely shoot ‘standard’ landscape images on the 85mm f/1.4 – I find that have to consciously seek uses for the 85mm.  Now, that may seem like putting the tractor before the haybale but for me that is a good thing – I need to stretch my photographic boundaries –  I think that the 85mm makes me a little bit more complete as a photographer.  So far,  I use this lens for four primary uses:

1. Subject Isolation Via Defocus

Frosty Tree: D800e, Nikon 85mm f/1.4G – @ f/1.4.  Shooting at f/1.8 delivered the razor thin DOF required  to successfully isolate this frosty little tree.  I enoy the creative overlap of applying portrait techniques to nature photography. 

(Download full resolution D800e & Nikon 85mm f/1.4g sample jpeg – password = freeD800pics

2. Panoramic stitching

I like to shoot panoramic stitches that compress distance, primarily to give greater visual presence to distant mountains – I find 50mm and 85mm to be my most commonly used focal lengths for this purpose.  The 85mm f/1.4 provides unparalleled sharpness and detail when paired with the Nikon D800e.

I always shoot in vertical orientation in order to gain the maximum resolution from my stitched files – 85mm provides an excellent field of view when used in this way.

The following stitched panorama is 21,000 x 6,600 pixels wide and prints at 2.1 metres @300 DPI without any enlargement.

Panoramic Stitch from Nikon D800e and Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G Lens. It’s a little hard to get impressed this wide – how about a 100% crop….

100% crops from the above panoramic Stitch from Nikon D800e and Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G Lens. The level of detail is simply stunning (a little sharpening has been applied) – this would happily enlarge to a 4m+ wide print. Please note that these look slightly better in the original file – pre-JPEG compression.

read the full nikon 85mm f/1.4 review  >>>>>

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Key Summit Tarns At Sunrise | Routeburn Track Fiordland, New Zealand

New Zealand Photos | Key Summit, Routeburn Track, Fiordland

Sunrise on Mt Christina from the alpine tarns at Key Summit on the Routeburn track, Fiordland, South Island New Zealand

Fiordland went over well with you wonderful WordPressers yesterday – so here’s another one for you – this time from the Key Summit Tarns, on the world famous Routeburn Track.

Please drop on by our website to check out more of our  Photos of New Zealand   |  Canvas Prints Of New Zealand Landscapes | Fine Art Photo Prints we’d love to hear from you :-)

New Zealand Photo Of The Day | Milford Sound, Fiordland New Zealand

New Zealand Photos | Mitre Peak Reflection, Milford Sound

Morning Reflection – Mitre Peak, Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand. Photographer Sarah Sisson

We are super stoked that a series of our images have just been included on a recent Milford Sound travel article at Environmental Graffiti.

Please drop on by our website to check out more of our New Zealand landscape images  – we’d love to hear from you :-)

Wednesday’s Free iPad Wallpaper | Pouakai Ridge Sunrise, Mt Taranaki New Zealand

Photos of New Zealand Landscapes | Red Sunrise Pouakai Ridge Taranaki

Red sky and sunstar over New Zealand alpine tussocks from Pouakai Ridge at sunrise – Mt Egmont National Park.

Welcome to Wednesday and August (WTF???).

A little respite from South Island scenery this week, this image was made from the Pouakai Ridge on the Northern flank of Mt Taranaki.  Sarah & I hiked up in the dark on the previous evening – fortunately the sun broke through, as it would have been a lot of effort for a photo of fog & mist shrouded tusssocks….

As always, this is available as a [free iPad wallpaper] Password = freewallpaper

Tech Detritus:  Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM (@17mm) f/16 ISO100.  Edited using Adobe Photoshop CS6 on 15″ Apple MacBook Pro and Apple Cinema Display.

Have a great week – feel free to follow my blog!

Cheers – Todd

[view image on our website] [blog]

Are ND Grad Filters Dead? A D800e Dynamic Range Landscape Field Test

New Zealand Photos | Milford Sound Clearing Storm over Mitre Peak

Clearing Storm, Milford Sound, New Zealand. This is one of my most successful images – made with the Nikon D2X and a 3 stop Singh Ray Grad filter.

It would be no over-statement to say that I have built my landscape photography career on the back of Singh Ray ND grad filters.  Almost all of my best selling images have been made using a grad.

Being a hair-shirted Luddite at heart (and pre-disposed to leisure time) I have eschewed hours chained to the computer blending exposures and mastering HDR by instead using Singh Ray Grads to get the bulk of my exposure work done in-camera.

I have no particular love of ND Grad filters – they are, after all, just a pricey piece of acrylic – but I do LOVE the results that Grads impart on my photography.  This love of results has always had me going all ‘Charlton Heston’  “you can pry my [Grads] from my cold dead hands” whenever the topic of surrendering my filters to the forces of progress has been raised.

Well, my hands are still warm and seemingly very much alive, yet I feel my grip rapidly loosening, particularly after this morning’s Nikon D800e test shoot.

I have been getting quite a few queries via the interwebz ( ‘z’ is surely the edgiest of letters) as to whether ND grads were still required for use with the D800.  My gut feeling was yes but I had been seeing some very thought-provoking results coming from the D800e – particularly once I upgraded to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 .  The combination of the D800e’s capacious dynamic range Lightroom 4’s revolutionary tonality enhancements (particularly shadow/highlights) seemed to be delivering a vastly extended DR.

This morning I saw a sunrise forming and promptly abandoned Sarah during the hellish pre-school circus in order to perform a meaningful DR test between my Singh Ray ND Grads and the D800e’s naked sensor.

About The Test:

  • Nikon D800E on tripod
  • Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D at 17mm, f/8
  • Aperture Priority
  • Daylight WB
  • ISO 100
  • f/8
  • Singh-Ray 3-stop soft edge grad
  • The scene is exactly the kind of situation where I ALWAYS use an ND grad – reasonably flat horizon with huge tonal range and plenty of colour to capture.

The Results:

Nikon-D800e-Dynamic-Range-ND-on-samples-699px

With Singh Ray 3-stop Graduated ND filter. The ND grad did it’s job well here – just a little highlight recovery in LR4 and we have the basis of a workable exposure. Note the smudgy flare in the vineyard just below the sun – this is one of the drawbacks of ND filters, especially once they gather a few scratches.

Nikon-D800e-Dynamic-Range-ND-off-naked-699px

Naked D800e Image, matrix metering -1 EV. Straight from the camera the no-Grad image looks pretty underwhelming – the sky is properly exposed but the foreground is underexposed. Can a quick trip through Lightroom 4 get this image looking as good as the Singh-ray shot above?

View The ‘Worked’ Image & 100% Crops >>>>

Nikon D800e / D800 Dynamic Range Article

[Updated] check out my Nikon D800e Dynamic Range field test results here .

It Must be my lucky day – running low on writing juice today and then my buddy Petr Hlavacek passed me a link to an article he has written on his shooting experiences with the D800e – specifically the extreme Dynamic range capabilities of the Nikon D800/e. Petr’s experiences are very much in line with mine – the D800 family is a whole new ballgame when it comes to dynamic range.  I will post my findings soon. Are any of you D800 shooters finding the same thing? Cheers – Todd

Read more Nikon D800 or D800e articles on The Photo Autocracy