These are heady times for photo gear geeks like me. The day before yesterday, Leica announced a version of their digital rangefinder camera with a sensor that sees in black and white, appropriately called the M monochrom. First reviews show more resolution than the M9 (what you’d expect if you leave off the Bayer Pattern filter array in front of a sensor), better noise characteristics at high ISOs than the M9 and elegant midtones that remind me of Tri-X 320. Good for them, but then… For the price of one M monochrom, I could buy a mintish M3 and as much real film as I’ve already shot in my 34 years of photographing.
For only 1000 Euros more (7900, measly sum, that!) I could get the lens they also introduced on 10-th of May: the APO-Summicron-M 1:2/50 mm ASPH. Now that one rings a lot of bells with it’s acronyms and from what I’ve seen in the technical informations and reviews, it seems to be a diffraction-limited lens (or so close to it that current sensors can’t show a difference). That’s a roundabout way of saying: it is the bee’s knees, it doesn’t get any better, it’s resolution is only limited by the wavelength of the light used to throw that picture on the sensor.
Wow. Just WOW!
So, in order to keep the universe’s karmic balance maintained, I bought a lens whose optical errors can be adjusted: the Nikon AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2 D. Of course, Nikon doesn’t talk of optical errors in it’s literature of this unique lens. And why should they? In it’s point of focus it is as sharp as any other version of this Nikkor-specific focal length.
With that, you adjust the bo’keh. Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s an image characteristic that most viewers don’t even notice (actually I disagree with that and think that almost all notice it sublimally!). And of course I know that another meaning of this japanese word is “stupid boy”. Touché!
Anyway, I like doing portraits with this characteristic swallow depth of field and a creamy-smooth background. To achieve that look with this lens, I’d set the the exposure mode on the F6 to “A”, the f-stop to 2.0 or 2.8, the DC-ring to the same aperture and “R” to emphasize the bo’keh in the background, AF-C with dynamic focuspoint, focus on the front eye and recompose.
*) Sir Peter Ustinov on his Maserati car