Decorative garland taken with Repro-Nikkor 85mm at F1.0 marked aperture, Nikon D700.
On December 24, 2009 a package arrived in the mail that contained a long-awaited macro lens. After about 6 years of searching for the 85mm F1.0 Repro-Nikkor, I now finally owned a sample of this special industrial lens.
I had seen only a handful of photos taken by others with this rare lens, and I was curious to see what it would do. The image qualities of this lens exceeded my expectations in a big way! Over the next few days I photographed a few subjects indoors, as well as flowers that were blooming down the road from me. You can view some of the first photos I took in 2009 with this lens in the Repro-Nikkor galleries “Discovery”, and “Flora”.
As a tribute to the 3rd anniversary of owning this lens, yesterday (December 24, 2012) I spent a few hours photographing ornaments on Christmas trees on public display around town. This lens has easily earned its position as my favourite specialized macro lens. I hope you might enjoy the photos, and in the “Galleries”, you will see a new gallery, “85mm F1.0 Repro-Nikkor Tree Ornaments” (link at the end of this post). Images in the gallery are larger and better for viewing.
Electric bulb and reflections, Repro-Nikkor 85mm at F1.0 marked aperture, Nikon D700.
Ornament backlit with bulb, Repro-Nikkor 85mm at F1.4 marked aperture, Nikon D700.
Performance is spectacular with the aperture set anywhere in the range from F1 to F8. Of course, at F1.0 there are some minor aberrations, but better than anything else I’ve seen at F1.0 (marked), and by F2.8 it is about perfect.
Aside from its maximum marked aperture of F1.0, the most remarkable thing about this lens is the way it renders out-of-focus objects (often referred to as “bokeh”). At F1.0 to F2.8, the depth of field is extremely shallow, eliminating distractions in the foreground and background. At these large apertures, the bokeh rendering is soft with no harsh qualities at all, and it is sometimes more like a painting than a photograph. Because it has these qualities while also being an incredibly sharp and well-corrected lens, it is a unique creative tool.
However, this lens comes with a strict limitation: it can only be used at 1.0x magnification, no more and no less. (There are some exceptions to this, and I’ll save that for a future blog post.) But within the constraint of 1.0x, and with the unique characteristics of this lens, there are more possibilities than I had ever imagined.
Bulb ornament taken with Repro-Nikkor 85mm at F2.0 marked aperture, Nikon D700.
Inside of glass ornament, Repro-Nikkor 85mm at F2.8 marked aperture, Nikon D700.
- Painted ornament, Repro-Nikkor 85mm at F1.0 marked aperture, Nikon D700.
My reflection in a red glass bulb, Repro-Nikkor 85mm at F2.8 marked aperture, Nikon D700.
Whether it is Christmas or any other holiday you might celebrate, I hope you have a happy one! And always remember to take time to look at the finer details…
The photo gallery of tree ornaments taken with this macro lens can be viewed here: