Nikon DF with 85mm Petzval lens

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Paul P K
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Nikon DF with 85mm Petzval lens
5 months ago

Although the DF is despite all the internet hoohah very well capable of use with AF lenses, the main reason for me to get it still was (apart from the high ISO performance and the smaller body) the way it works with manual lenses. I agree with Bjorn Rosslet's remarks that it seems that Nikon has tweaked the viewing screen to even without further visual aids like microprisms or a K-type splitscreen better work with manual glass then eg the other DSLR's I own although of course YMMV.

The above was for me the reason to chose the DF for my first serious try out with my recently acquired 85mm Petzval lens. In addition the lower Megapixel count makes it more forgiving to the (many) optical errors that come with this 1840 design lens then eg my D800, while the smaller size body IMO gives a better working balance for use with manual lenses then my D3

Looking back at the pictures taken (only very lightly stopped down from the max aperture of 2.2 down to 2.8) it strikes me how surprisingly sharp this lens is

http://www.pbase.com/paul_k/image/156109862

(especially after looking at most pictures taken with this lens on the net on eg Flickr and Lomography)

Even (or maybe especially since with a TC the center of the lens is used in particular) with a TC1.4 (even when not a Nikon one) it performs IMO quite excellent

http://www.pbase.com/paul_k/image/156109884 (no post process sharpening at all was applied on this picture)

At the same time the sharp degradation of sharpness outside the lens center, together with the very limited DoF, and the compared with modern lenses quite characteristic bokeh, can if you care for it give quite remarkable pictures.

Even if I still have to experiment a bit more to get the focus where I want it more often ( a bit struggling with the very limited sharp lens center vs the very OOF outside area) . But having started photography way back in the era of manual focusing (still have my F2AS and FE even if I have completely switched to digital, and have started reusing my old Ai and Ais lenses) that should not be a major challenge.

I must admit though I'm a long time fan of the nineteenth century portraits of e.g. Julia Margaret Cameron and Lewis Carroll and the early twentieth ones of Edward S Curtis) and have for a long time tried to imitate the above effect they created with large format camera's and glass negatives, with lenses varying from a 2.8/85mm PC, to a Lensbaby Composer/Edge combination, and a 1.4/85mm AF before I recently ran into this Lomography project.

Surely not a lens for everyday use, but fit for more then just 'hipster' photography and for some (like me) interesting enough to have in their bag in case the occasion arises.

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all in a day's work
http://www.pbase.com/paul_k/

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