More Street Photography at 300mm f/2
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Married but not to each other -- Tokyo Midtown -- Minato Ward, Tokyo, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Married
but not to each other

This is a continuation of “Street Photography (Sort of) In Roppongi Hills", about some random street photography I did with a 300mm f/2 lens.

It's a huge lens, but not because it has such a great amount of “zoom”. The Sigma “Bigma” goes to 500mm (and with a 2× TC, to 1,000mm), but because it's “fast”... it has a huge front element that just drinks in huge amounts of light. It makes the Bigma, which I thought was big, look like a cute little infant.

Because of its size, it's a conspicuous lens that attracts copious amounts of attention, though as it turns out, it's (mostly) in the form of unsolicited smiles and friendly conversation. (It also attracts attention from train-station security guards, but that's another story.)

All photos on this post were shot hand-holding the lens, with manual focus (the lens doesn't support automatic focus). I had a monopod with me, but didn't use it except for three photos in the previous post, and some night photos we'll seen in a followup post.

I chatted for quite a while with the friendly folks seen above, co-workers whose families are friends (their respective kids' were playing together in the park). It took me a while to realize that they weren't married to each other, and they joked that their families had been friends so long that it was almost as if they were. The lady is the same one seen after fending off the pigeon attack in the previous post.

Modern Stone Lantern -- Tokyo Midtown -- Minato Ward, Tokyo, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Modern Stone Lantern

After wandering around the park behind Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi, I started back to the station, pausing to rest on a railing by the street. I sat there for 10 minutes just snapping anything that looked interesting...

Race ( not really ) -- Tokyo Midtown -- Minato Ward, Tokyo, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/3200 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Race
( not really )

This is a great example of how sharp this lens can be, even in the shaky tripod-less hands of a first-time user, taking a manual-focus picture of a moving taxi as it approached...


full-resolution crop
Curb Flowers small slope across the street from where I sat, surrounded by city on all sides -- Tokyo Midtown -- Minato Ward, Tokyo, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Curb Flowers
small slope across the street from where I sat, surrounded by city on all sides
Basket -- Tokyo Midtown -- Minato Ward, Tokyo, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Basket
Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f/0.95 on a Lumix GF1 -- Tokyo Midtown -- Minato Ward, Tokyo, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f/0.95
on a Lumix GF1

The guy above was walking by, but had stopped and gone back and forth a few times, and when he stopped as if to see whether he knew where he was, I snapped this shot of his camera. It turns out that he was just working up the nerve to talk to me, so when I said “hi”, he asked about the lens and we chatted for a bit.

I see now that his lens must be the Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f/0.95, the only sub-f/1 lens I know of in current production (though alas, not for my camera). A friend has this lens and I played with it once, and as a tangential byproduct, Lightroom 3.4 can now handle Exif metadata for shots taken with apertures larger than f/1. 🙂

Anyway, the shot above is another great example of the sharpness (and of my luck with the focus) of the 300/2...


full-resolution crop

The lens aperture “0.95” seems to be the most sharp, but what I really notice is the huge difference in sharpness between the “Panasonic” on the camera body and the “Lumix” on the viewfinder, only an inch or so closer. There's just no margin for focus error.

And that's the real value for this big 300mm f/2 lens. In the film days (the lens dates from 1983), the “sucks in light” aspect was important for sports photographers and the like, but the need has diminished considerably in the last few years as digital sensors have become so ridiculously sensitive. But a related effect is this lens' ability to throw everything in front of and behind the plane of focus into increasingly dreamy out-of-focusness. This is easy to see close up with a macro lens, such as with my recent “Exploring the Edge of Creamy Macro Bokeh with Lily of the Nile”, but it becomes increasingly less-dramatic of an effect the further away you get. Except, it seems for this lens...

Isolated -- Tokyo Midtown -- Minato Ward, Tokyo, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2000 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Isolated

This next shot, of a shinkansen (bullet train) in Tokyo's Shinagawa Station looks fairly normal in the small version, but has an almost toy-like look when viewed large (which you get by clicking through the image).

Little Toy Train -- Shinagawa Station (品川駅) -- Minato Ward, Tokyo -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Little Toy Train
Serendipity at 239.1 km/h shot out the window from a bullet train going 150mph -- On a Shinkansen heading south -- Odawara, Kanagawa, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/3200 sec, f/2, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Serendipity at 239.1 km/h
shot out the window from a bullet train going 150mph

A Japanese bullet train can go really fast, but that's nothing compared to how fast the scene flies by when you're looking through a 300mm lens at 240kph. There's just no way to react or to purposefully focus on something unless it's miles away, so I was mostly shooting blind just to see if I got anything interesting. Every shot ended up being thrown away, except this one. At the time, it didn't register in mind that we has passed a street until it was well out of frame, and I didn't notice the kids at all, so it's pure luck. It would have been nicer if luck would have left the focus on the kids, but I still like the feeling of the result anyway.

Peek train arrives at Kyoto Station -- Kyoto Station (京都駅) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Peek
train arrives at Kyoto Station

This is a great example of a bad shot... the conductor peeking out of the quarter-mile-long train is not in focus, but she's in a lot more focus than anything else of interest, so I think it's not totally uninteresting.

Checking Email -- Kyoto Station (京都駅) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Checking Email

I was hanging around the front end of the platform to catch some trains coming and going, and between trains took this picture of this building 200m away...

Ten Minutes to Go -- Kyoto Station (京都駅) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 2800 — map & image datanearby photos
Ten Minutes to Go

You'll realize just how absolutely amazing this shot is if you can figure out how it got its caption. (This shot was not purely hand-held; I'd rested the lens on a railing.)

Departure it's pulling away, though the rear is a front as well -- Kyoto Station (京都駅) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/400 sec, f/2, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Departure
it's pulling away, though the rear is a front as well
“13” -- Kyoto Station (京都駅) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
“13”
Quality Time girl in a train on the opposite tracks -- Kyoto Station (京都駅) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 4500 — map & image datanearby photos
Quality Time
girl in a train on the opposite tracks
Tired of waiting -- Kyoto Station (京都駅) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/400 sec, f/2, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Tired
of waiting
Analog in a sea of digital -- Kyoto Station (京都駅) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/400 sec, f/2, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Analog
in a sea of digital

( Sorry if I made you yawn two pictures up )

Continued here...


All 8 comments so far, oldest first...

Wonderful images. I particularly like #080898, as I am a railfan as well as a photographer.

Ah, that’s “Departure”. I was going to mention that I realize I totally missed focus on the front (back) of the train, but it still seems to work well anyway, somehow. —Jeffrey

— comment by Tom on May 9th, 2011 at 12:17am JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Amazing shots! Departure (focus error notwithstanding), 13 and Tired are my favorite. My question is: apart from owning one of the rarest lenses Nikon ever produced, what is the point in choosing a 300 f/2 over a new AF-S 400mm f/2.8 VR II (from the image quality and usability point of view)? Kind regards and looking forward for new pics

I don’t really have an answer… maybe there’s no point. I dunno. I was attracted to one and not the other. —Jeffrey

— comment by Gianluca on May 9th, 2011 at 5:12am JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Those last three shots are spectacular. They really embody what “street” photography is all about, even though they’re technically not taken on the street… 🙂

— comment by David K on May 9th, 2011 at 8:06am JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Again, amazing shots.

And I’ve always wanted the 400 2.8 as well for exactly the same reason. Even if I had the money I couldn’t justify it, though, since the 400 2.8 will decline in value whereas the 300/2 will likely only increase in value.

(And I can’t figure out what’s up with the 10 minutes. I thought it might say “10 minutes left” on the chalkboard in the classroom, but it doesn’t (or if it does I can’t read it)).

I think the value of the 300/2 has declined sharply with the advances in digital light sensitivity, though the rarity won’t change unless someone decides to make them again (which Nikon did for a 20-lens special order about 10 years ago). And about “Ten Minutes Left”, you’re on to something with the chalkboard. —Jeffrey

— comment by Zak on May 9th, 2011 at 1:06pm JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

OK, it’s a question of attaction then 😉

— comment by Gianluca on May 9th, 2011 at 4:10pm JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

> And I can’t figure out what’s up with the 10 minutes. …

A little math should get you there, even if you can’t read Japanese (neither can I).
Take a look at the date/time in the EXIF data, calculate 10 minutes from there and locate the two pairs of arabic digits in the Japanese cobwebs 😉

Btw., not only is that a nice lens, but my jaw still drops every time I look at such a high ISO shot from that camera generation (I’m shooting a D3 myself, coming from a D200).

Yes, the chalkboard says “Test” and as best as I can tell “18:00 – 18:55 (55 minutes)”. The photo was taken at 6:45 (18:45), so that leaves 10 minutes left for whatever test they were taking. —Jeffrey

— comment by Andreas Weber on May 10th, 2011 at 1:58am JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Lovely vibrant shots :-)…

I have a question, though.
My longest prime lens is 85mm f/1.8D (on a crop sensor, D90). Even with that lens, I’m already having problems in composing for street shots. When I’m using 85mm, I tend too look for head shot.
I imagine this would be the same case with 300mm. But your photos here shows that I was wrong, as you shown so many scene street shots.

Any tips? Thanks.

Like I said, I’m not really doing “street photography” because I’m not just throwing up (I use that phrase purposefully) every random shot and calling it art. The thing that I find unappealing about what seems to pass for “street photography” is a lack of restraint in the selection. I took a ton of shots, but most of them got deleted because they were boring. For the most part, I didn’t have a specific goal, but just wandered around and took whatever happened to catch my eye. In the case of people, most that were keepers were where they were farther away, due to the lens’ reach. Every time I asked permission to take a shot, I had to back way up, and when I didn’t ask, they were far enough away that I had time to focus before they moved enough to make the shot not worth taking. I still took plenty that weren’t worth taking, so deleted them. I’m not really one in a position to offer advice in this area, but I’d suggest waiting for the shot to find you, and that the skill is not in selecting what photo to take, but in selecting what to show. —Jeffrey

— comment by [Gm] on May 10th, 2011 at 2:03pm JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

My favorite photo is “Tired”, though i’m not sure why.

Only in Tokyo will the 25mm f/0.95 photographer bump into a 300mm f/2 photographer!

— comment by Andrew Shieh, Sunnyvale on May 12th, 2011 at 7:26am JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink
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