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Weekend With The Nikkor 24mm F1.4 G

Rented the Nikkor 24mm F1.4 G last weekend from the fine folks over at http://sg.camerarental.biz for a late night shoot. Without revealing any more details, the shoot was for a band, and the image they were after was along the lines of Wong Kar-wai style cinematography. Since I would be working discreetly in tight, darkly lit spaces, I picked up the 24mm and brought along my 50mm F1.2 ais. I am not going to write about rolling around deeply in love with the 24mm, but what I am going to write is how incredibly reliable this lens was under some fairly tough conditions.

Being a very busy city, it’s not likely that you’re going to find a bar that will welcome a photo shoot at late hours with open arms. I spent some time searching for good locations, asked politely, and received, I would say, a 90% rejection rate. We were not going to set up expensive equipment, not going to take up any more space than a few chairs in the corner, and there would be no flash. Only two models, casual, hanging around while I shoot them. This, oddly enough, was a huge turnoff to almost every bar owner. So we decided, rather than ask, to simply be *very* discreet, make sure the depth of field was such that there would be nothing distinct about the location that could be traced back, and be good about giving the bar some business by buying drinks. If we were kicked out, so be it. Through this I determined the only lens I could really work with would be a very fast, wide prime. I had just met my friend Danny a week before and he was showing me his Nikkor 24mm F1.4 G. Yeah, that super lens that costs almost more than a pro camera body. That was the lens I would need for this shoot.

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I had rented a 70-200 2.8 VR from those lens rental guys a year ago to shoot a ballet, so I went back over there to see if they had a 24mm in stock and with luck, they did. That night the shoot went super smooth, and super discreet. We drank quite a bit, bothered no one, and I was able to shoot hand held on my D700 with no flash in very low light and got consistently terrific results. To be quite honest, not using autofocus at all is sort of my thing, but there were a few occasions that night where I leaned heavily on it and it performed admirably, in situations with barely any light. Spot focus held by my hip, aimed up at the model while drinking a beer and it nailed the shot every time.

For cinematographic shots, this is a fine lens, although really cinematographic shots can generally be achieved with any lens. For low light, tight spots, quick decisions and sturdy build, this is a great lens. WANT.