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is f2 fast enough?
Old 09-23-2008   #1
knodd
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is f2 fast enough?

hello guys,

i just wanted to know whether any of you guys survive with an f2 as your fastest lens. prices jump substantially with a move from an f2 to f1.4 and i don't want to take that jump

i'm asking this because i want to know if my (seemingly obsessive) desire to get an f1.4 is out of need or pure greed there were a few times where i felt, 'wow an f1.4 would be nice', but i don't know whether those fickle fancies of mine are enough to warrant forking out more cash for an f1.4. i was hoping to get some insight from you guys

thanks alot for your time!

shaun
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Old 09-23-2008   #2
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nowadays, i think an f2.8 is plenty fast.

of course much depends on what and where you shoot.
i shoot mostly outside and during the day which makes 2.8 ok for me.
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Old 09-23-2008   #3
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Really depends on the focal length and what you want to shoot.

There are some good affordable fast "normal" lenses out there like the 50 and 40 CV Noktons,
or the Canon 50/1.4.

Roland.
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Old 09-23-2008   #4
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Yes, it is. On the other hand, if you want a faster lens, then there are many excellent options available.
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Old 09-23-2008   #5
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f2 is sufficient.
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Old 09-23-2008   #6
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i personally think f2 is pretty fast enough and with a faster iso film, you can survive most situations
anything faster than f2 is really more for artistic shots as well as shooting in really low lightning situations...
my 2 cents
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2.8 is good to go.
Old 09-23-2008   #7
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2.8 is good to go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
nowadays, i think an f2.8 is plenty fast.

of course much depends on what and where you shoot.
i shoot mostly outside and during the day which makes 2.8 ok for me.
2.8 is plenty fast with post 1950's film.
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Old 09-23-2008   #8
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Maybe I'm crazy...but, I like lenses faster than f2 because I like to shoot at f2 and I'd rather not be wide open. Of course, that gives you the option of going wide open with a faster lens if the situation demands it. Overall though, my sucess rate focusing faster than f2 is not good.
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Old 09-23-2008   #9
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I think f/2 is plenty
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Old 09-23-2008   #10
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with a Summicron 50 it will perform about as good wide open as almost anything faster shot at f2.

f2 is fine for most of my shooting because wider open and then DOF drops to nothing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dazedgonebye View Post
Maybe I'm crazy...but, I like lenses faster than f2 because I like to shoot at f2 and I'd rather not be wide open. Of course, that gives you the option of going wide open with a faster lens if the situation demands it. Overall though, my sucess rate focusing faster than f2 is not good.
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Old 09-23-2008   #11
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I don't do a lot of low light shooting and I don't shoot a lot of portraits, where the shallow dof of 1.5 or faster can be useful. I sold my 50 Nokton b/c I just wasn't using it much. For me, f2 is fast enough.
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Old 09-23-2008   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mh2000 View Post
with a Summicron 50 it will perform about as good wide open as almost anything faster shot at f2.

f2 is fine for most of my shooting because wider open and then DOF drops to nothing.
No Summicrons in my future I'm afraid.
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Fastest Lens I Have Ever Owned
Old 09-23-2008   #13
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Fastest Lens I Have Ever Owned

In 41 years in photography, an f2 is the fastest lens I have ever owned. And that includes my time as a newspaper photographer doing night time high school sports (180mm2.8 at 250th on TriX pushed to 1600 on my Nikon F). It was not the best b&w but yielded a usable print for the local newspaper.

I just ordered a 35f1.2 but sent it back once I realized how large it was on my M. Now it is not the fault of the lens which seemed to be really well made. Unfortunately where I live there are no camera stores within 250 miles so I have to use mail order. But I too sometimes lust after a lens with LOTS of glass.

Of course it really depends on what type of shooting you do. I have a Summicron in 50mm but most of the time I like to travel with a 35 and 90. And I like to travel light so the apertures on both are f2.8.

After my experience with the 1.2 Nokton I admit to looking at the 35 1.4 but I already have a perfectly good 35mm.

So there is my 02 cents worth. But there are lots of reasonable fast lenses out there, especially with Zeiss and Cosina in the game.

I was talking to Sherry Krauter yesterday about an M5 and she agreed that Leica was pricing itself out of the market, especially asking $10000 for a lens. Now I know the dollar's exchange rate sucks but that is ridiculous!
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Old 09-23-2008   #14
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Generally speaking yes. But I do like to have at least one faster lens in the kit. A lens that performs well at max aperture.
My current kit is:
f/3.5
f/2.8
f/2.8
f/2.0
f/1.5

(the 2.0 and 1.5 take 80 percent of my photos, I would guess)
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Old 09-23-2008   #15
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I'd suggest the thing to do is go out a lot with a slower lens (f/2, f/2.8 or whatever), and only consider something faster if you actually find yourself in situations where you really could have done with an extra stop or two.

Most of my photography here in Thailand is outdoors in bright light, and during my last spell here the fastest lens I had with me was a 40/2, then a 35/2.5 and a 28/3.5. But even though such apertures were more than enough most of the time, there were occasions (in dimly-lit temple interiors, etc) where I was struggling to find a support for the camera and an extra stop or so would have made a big difference, and I missed shots.

So I invested in one f/1.4 lens (a CV 35), and I'm very pleased I have it - it works fine at f/1.4 and occasionally that extra stop makes all the difference (and even if that's not its sharpest aperture, I'd rather have a shot at f/1.4 than no shot at all).

So really it's all down to your own shooting - you need to be honest with yourself about whether an f/1.4 would actually make a difference when you're out and about.
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Old 09-23-2008   #16
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I think that Keith is spot on, it depends upon what you want to shoot, your style, how you feel about it. I think it also matters about how much you want to carry.

I used to think I needed fast lenses and while given a choice I would still go that way, but I've learned to live very happily with an f4 on my 25mm. I liked the speed of the 21/2.8 I had, but not the look. While it was a lot bigger, it was not too big at the time. After using a 25/4 on a Bessa L I realized it was a bit bigger than I liked.

I used to carry around my M4-P and a 35/3.5 and 90/4 when I traveled on business or went into parts of NYC I should not be in. I made it work for me. I changed what I was going for some times but I always walked away at the end of the day with some shots I liked. Now I had the 'Cron twins (35 and 90) at home if I needed. I used the travel kit when I shot things with flash (Village Halloween Parade) I was lucky to have a choice.

I've changed to a Nikon S3-2000 kit so I have a fast 50 (the Millennium is GREAT) but my wides are CVs (25/4, 35/2.5). I'd love the 35/1.8 Nikkor but money is moving in the negative direction these days so I live happily with the CV @ 2.5.

If I were generating income with my cameras again I think I would go back to two kits, one fast and large and one slow and small.

Think about what you want, your style, what brings you the most joy? What style do you want to explore, what do you want to try? The other thing to keep in mind is that you can often sell most anything you find here in the classifieds for about what you paid for it if you find it's not you.

It's OK to change your style as you go. An important part of growing older it trying to make sure we learn and grow. Find your vision and keep improving it.

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Old 09-23-2008   #17
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As Keith have said ... it only depends on your preferred style of taking photos. In my case, I take 90 % of my photos at night and prefer 35/1.4 and 50/1.0. If I would shoot mostly at daytime, I would go for 35/2 and 50/2 and use occasionally 1600ISO film.
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Old 09-23-2008   #18
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my Summicron is in R mount so it was really cheap...

on my LTM the CV 50/2.5 is fine... f2 would be better, but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dazedgonebye View Post
No Summicrons in my future I'm afraid.
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Old 09-23-2008   #19
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99% of the situations, f/2 is ok.
I think f/2 lenses are generally better at f/2 than their 1.4 counterparts at the same aperture. So basically the additional f/1.4 lenses I have (canon) are really for situations where f/1.4 is needed.
OTOH, it's also a question of focal lenght. I have a 28mm f2.8 that I prefer to my VC f/1.9, and 28mm allows for pretty low sppeds. I also have a 90mm f/2.8, and I really felt I needed more speed, so I bought a canon f/1.9.
BTW, Canon lenses are bargains, great build quality and more than enough optical quality to allow for these stretch situations where you need one stop more.
Good luck
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Old 09-23-2008   #20
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Yes, I've shot in very low light situations with my 50mm Summicron (my first Leica lens) and Neopan 1600:
http://majid.info/galleries/leica/2002-006.jpg

I now have 35mm and 50mm Summiluxes, they give you more margin of safety in marginal conditions.
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Old 09-23-2008   #21
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I have found that I am not missing the 1.4 that I was worried about with I got my zeiss 50 f2 instead of the sonnar 1.5. That said I use a lot of 400 speed film, but this last week I was shooting a lot of 100 speed slide film and it worked out great none the less.
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Old 09-23-2008   #22
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It's about 80-20 for me -- 80% of the time, f2.8 (even f4.0) is fast enough, but then there are those times that I absolutely must go sub-2.0.

I have 3 sub-f2.0 lenses: CV 35/1.2, CV 35/1.4 SC and ZM Sonnar 50/1.5.
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Old 09-23-2008   #23
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i am finding rather quickly that 1/1000 on my M6 is just not fast enough (thats definitely something the Hexar has an edge on). with iso 400 film and my normal habit of sticking to f2.8-f5.6, i was hitting that barrier quite often. well i guess thats why they make iso 100 film.
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Old 09-23-2008   #24
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Even though I have owned several f1.4 lenses, one f1.2 (Voigtlander 35mm f1.2) lens, and one f1.0 lens (the Noctilux, of course!), most of my photography is done with f2 Summicrons. They are smaller and lighter, easier to focus, and perfect for daytime photography. Only at night do I reach for f1.4 or faster. So, it depends on what type of photography you do!
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Old 09-23-2008   #25
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Don't expect miracles when it comes to depth of field by going from f2 to f1.4 and staying with the same focal length..

E.g. for a 50mm lens at 1.5meter (5ft), the depth of field runs from
1.44m to 1.56m at f2, and
1.46m to 1.54m at f1.4
That's a moderate change in my book. It's not as DOF has suddenly become paper thin.

To put this in perspective, consider a humble 90/3.5 and its depth of field runs from
1.47m to 1.53m at f3.5 which is shallower at what I'll hazard is a substantial lower cost..
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Old 09-23-2008   #26
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Like everyone else has said, It depends.

Consider this: A camera with 1/1000 max shutter speed, loaded with 50asa film during the day (sunny 16) actually tops out at f/4. Granted, most people don't use fast(er) lenses during the day, so a better example might be inside, at night, with 400asa film. An approximate shutter speed will be around 1/30. A bit low for 50mm and up.

I have 6 lenses that are f/2 or faster, but only two of those are, well, faster. One of which I bought (f/1.2) because 3200asa and f/1.4 weren't quite fast enough. Of course, that was in a dark bar at night, but YMMV.

If you constantly find yourself wishing for a faster lens, you might just need it. Otherwise, f/2 is good enough for most things. you could always get a mini-tripod instead!
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Old 09-23-2008   #27
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I miss my old f/1.4 Nikkor, but more for its rendition than the speed. The last few years I've been enchanted with using a 15mm and I've learned to live with f/4.5. I end up shooting a lot at 1/15, even 1/8 and 1/4 handheld. When I really need a fast lens my 35/2 and 50/2 Summicrons and my 85/2 Nikkor do just fine. You can always push Tri-X or choose a faster film. Other considerations are more weight to carry and requiring a larger set of filters.
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Old 09-24-2008   #28
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I love 50mm 1.4s (two nikkors for the slrs and a lux asph)

There are many times when the extra stop or the DOF has helped to make the shot.

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Old 09-24-2008   #29
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I like f2.8 lenses too. When it's really dark, I shoot at f4 and 1/30 second or slower, then push the film. I did buy an f1.5 lens for my Voigtlander Bessa R, but it's too difficult for me to get good enough focus with it to use it wider than f2.8 anyway. I'm thinking about an M2 or M3, with the longer base-length, I might be able to use the lens wider.
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Old 09-24-2008   #30
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This depends on the lens and type of photography you do. Generally speaking, I find 85mm f1.4 a limit for portraiture, and I don't like to push myself that far frequently:


Mind, you, this is an SLR shot, so it was easier to focus on the eyes without having to recompose and risk the blur.
With a 50mm, I believe you may want to get a shallow dof at times, but focusing has to be done without recomposing at closer distances. I find that the C Sonnar wide open at f 1.5 can deliver stunning effects, even from a few meters away:


However, if you come close, the background becomes a total abstract:


so, all in all, I like to shoot it around f 2.8 for a most balanced effect:


Another story, is a 35mm lens, where the widest apertures deliver an impression, as if the air has been pumped out :






In fact, I find the f 1.2 on the Nokton 35 much more useable and interesting, than f 1.5 on a 50mm - to each his own.
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Old 09-24-2008   #31
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I think it depends on the quality of the lens and the DOF effects you want. A wide-open ASPH f2 lens is going to give you a great enlargement but a lesser lens may not have the optics or the focusing accuracy. f1.4 makes demands on your eye too but it may be worth it if you want really shallow DOF. There is always faster film.
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Old 09-24-2008   #32
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I have a 50/1.5 J3 (Sonnar), a 50/2 CZJ Sonnar & a CZJ 50/2.8 Tessar. Since I've gotten the Tessar, it's the one I turn to even in available darkness as TriX @1600 more than makes up for the stop or two on the lens. Fujicolor 1600 or Delta 3200 do so as well

Now, when I want the faster lenses, I want them. But 99% of the time a 2.8 lens will do the trick for me when paired with modern film.

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Old 09-24-2008   #33
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Yes, this old pjer is going to add his .02 cents here.

I certainly cannot argue with anything said above. Your own preference and style will play a big role in your "f2 or faster?" decision.

But, I made a living off photography and writing for almost 20 years (before I got out of that business and started making some REAL money ). The fastest lenses I had were the 105mm Nikkor f2.5 and a 35mm f2. Even my normal lens was a Nikkor 55 f3.5 because it was a macro and I was doing a lot of outdoor photography at aperatures much smaller than wide open. The 15mm was a 2.8 I believe, the 20mm a 3.5, the 35mm was f2, the 180mm a 2.8 and the 600 an f4.

In all those years I can remember one time when I needed a faster lens. (And keep in mind I was very good at fill flash - something art directors and photo editors love). It was in one of the big shipyards in Malmo, Sweden, just at dark on a very cold December evening. I was photographing what was, at the time, the largest freighter in the world being built. The 35mm f2 was barely on the edge of the light spectrum for K64. I could have used a 35mm 1.4 lens, but heck, the Houston agency that hired me loved the images and the Saudi shipping company - who had commissioned the ship - published a commemorative book full of my photos. So maybe I didn't need it after all

My "lack of a need for speed" is reflected in my current Leica kit: 21mm Elmarit and 21mm Zeiss Biogon (trying to decide which one to keep); 35mm Cron, 75mm f2.5 Summarit (one sweet short, light telephoto). I will probably get the 12mm Voitlander in the near future - not exactly a speed burner. I have no plans whatsoever to purchase any lens just because it is faster than what I have, although I would consider it if the image was somehow improved.
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Old 09-24-2008   #34
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"is f2 fast enough" is to my mind a similar to asking "is a 2 bedroom appartment big enough" or "is a single bed large enough". It completely depends on what what your requirements are, and what you are trying to achieve.

for what it's worth, if you shoot available light in tricky circumstances at night then I'd say the faster the better, f2 is the slowest lens I'd buy these days. If you're a night shooter go f1.4. If you just want to shoot daylight, moderately well lit indoor or outdoor night situations, f2 is great. My f2 hexar AF got me a long way, but the 35mm f1.2 nokton on my M6 TTL / Zeiss ZI opened up a whole new range of possibilities. Of course wider than f2 makes DOF an issue, so some fast-moving shots at f1.4 or f1.2 are still hit and miss.

Example of wider than f2 usage: I just came home from dinner & drinks with a friend. I shot a 35mm nokton wide open at f1.2 on Provia 400X +2 stops to iso 1600, and still I had to shoot at 1/8 second (about the limit of my reliable handholdability) in the dimly lit bar. With an f2 lens on the same iso 1600 film, that would have required a shutter speed of about 1/3 of a second - almost definately unusable shots.
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Old 09-24-2008   #35
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Everything has already said. In my case I love portraits with extremely narrow DOF (someday I will get the Noctilux) I have the CV 35mm 1.2 and the Leica 50mm F2 with my R-D1 and the Nikon 50mm 1.4 with the D80. My Digilux2 performs very well wide open but at F2 gives me too much DOF for my taste, aprox the equivalent of f8-f11 on my Epson...
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Old 09-24-2008   #36
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No. I have found that f2 is not fast enough for me, and my lens set reflects that.
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Old 09-24-2008   #37
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One more note:

For 50mm, it is more important for me that a lens focuses closer than that it being faster. I would always pick a 50/2/0.7m over a 50/1.4/1m.

The DOF games that can be played with the shorter focus distance are more significant than by opening up one stop.

Roland.
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Old 09-24-2008   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
One more note:

For 50mm, it is more important for me that a lens focuses closer than that it being faster. I would always pick a 50/2/0.7m over a 50/1.4/1m.

The DOF games that can be played with the shorter focus distance are more significant than by opening up one stop.

Roland.
Roland,
Wouldn't a close focus portrait look distorted somehow?
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Old 09-24-2008   #39
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Old 09-25-2008   #40
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mfogiel: Really lovely examples you have there.

Back when I shot with nothing but SLRs, I had my own "SFFL rule" (slow film, fast lenses). For a good while, none of my lenses, primes or zooms, were slower than f/2.8, and I generally avoided any and all films over ISO 100, with good reason at the time. This went on well after film grain in ISO 400 color film (neg film at least) had largely been brought under control by Fuji and, a little later on, Kodak. The images, to a point, benefited: my back, alas, did not.

Then, six years ago, I experienced something of a sea-change, dumped the SLRs and went full fathom five into RFs. By that time, high-speed films such as Fuji Pro 800 showed amazing advances in grain reduction and overall image quality (it's not just about grain), and ISO 400 color film, both neg and slide, were good enough to be an everyday staple for a lot of my work. Combine that with the welcome absence of SLR-borne mirror-slap vibration, and, suddenly, even without f/1.2-1.4 "night vision" glass, I felt as if I'd picked up an extra stop in overall terms. My slowest lenses are still f/2.8, but my fastest lens, a 50 f/2 M-Hexanon, seems super-fast compared to, say, the 85 f/1.4 Nikkor (manual focus) on my long-ago F3. (Not knocking that combo: I took a lot of killer 'chromes with it, but that was then...)

F/2.8 usually does the job; f/2 simply shines for me, even in the dark.


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Last edited by amateriat : 09-29-2008 at 20:43.
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