Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Harding Look

PLEASE NOTE: i-shot has evolved! This is the old version of my photoblog - it now lives over at Thank you for visiting me at i-shot, but please bookmark the new site and let me know what you think! Many thanks, Owen...

Nikon D70, 50 mm lens, 1/400 sec, f/3.5, ISO 400
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This is Joe, a colleague from work.

I was trying to get as many shots as I could today with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. Although it's reknowned as a sharp lens that works great for 'available light' shots, I've clearly not been using it right. I've got not as many great shots with it as I'd like.

The ones I really do like (such as this one) for their sharpness and non-reliance on a high ISO have always been outdoors, just as most good sharp photography often is. Indoors I've had to really open the iris or up the ISO as usual with any lens and the ridiculously narrow depth of field can create focussing problems - in my opinion you really have to want only one element in focus to use it below, say, f/3.5. In this shot, which I love, wrinkles around Joe's eyes are a little bit soft, even though his eyes themselves are sharp. Also, even though this is only ISO 400, there seems to be noise in the depth of field.

So it's a lens that works well for portraits if you've got at least 2-3 feet between you and your subject and a really good light source.

EDIT: I looked at the original, uncompressed-for-web version and the exaggeration of noise in the soft background isn't nearly as prominent...

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