You Never Know What You’ll Find

Tonight I went over to Tsim Sha Tsui.  Normally I would have taken my Fuji X-Pro1 with me but instead I chose my Nikon D800.  I slapped on (well, okay, not literally) my 50mm F1.4D lens so that it would be lighter and fit in a smaller shoulder bag.  I was hoping to get over to Champagne Court, that wonderful little mall filled with shops selling used film cameras and all sorts of lenses.  Perhaps I’d find something interesting (and cheap?) that I could use with the Nikon.  Didn’t make it there tonight but hoping to get there in the next few days.  More on this a bit further down.

After a bit of shopping and dinner, my girlfriend wanted a massage.  She has a favorite place in Wanchai but we don’t know any spots for legit massage (at a bargain price) in TST.  We were on Ashley Road and saw some signs so decided to pop in and see what these places looked like.  By and large, these are not ground floor places.  They’re small spaces in walk-up apartments in old buildings.

The first place was super clean, looked very legit, and also was charging tourist prices (though in my experience, the HK$98 massage places give crap massages).  As we entered the building for the next place, we heard some strange sounds coming from upstairs.  At first I thought it could be the sound of someone having sex.  Then I thought it could be the sound of someone getting the shit beat out of him.  The second was closer to the truth.  Because we got to the next floor and right across from the massage place was a pocket-sized gym for training in Thai boxing and two guys were going at it.

I quickly forgot everything else.  I pulled my camera out of the bag and put it into full Program mode and bumped up the ISO.  I didn’t know if they might toss me out when they saw me shooting.  As it turns out they didn’t toss me out.  But there was only another minute to the match under way and when it was over, my girlfriend was tugging on my arm.  (Note to self: go out exploring less with her and more on my own or with other photographers.)

Anyway, here’s a few of the shots I got.

I know what you’re thinking – the guy in the t-shirt should have been the one in focus.  But I was (ahem) focused on getting shots of the other guy’s tattoos.

Maybe it’s just me but I’m quite pleased that I had the Nikon instead of the Fuji with me.  Focusing with the Nikon is much faster, not to mention better results at high ISO’s.  The downside was the speed of writing the huge files to the memory cards.  I’ve got the San Disk Extreme Pro and in burst mode I was getting two shots and then having to wait three seconds each time before I could shoot again. (I know Lexar cards are faster than the San Disk but they’re really hard to find in HK for some reason.)

So, back to lenses for a moment.

Actually, the Nikon 50mm F1.4D does okay, but there is significant vignetting – which can be fixed in Lightroom but that takes time.  Also, detail seems a little on the soft side and I’m wondering how well an older lens like this works with the D800’s mammoth sensor.

So I’m thinking of replacing it with one of Nikon’s newer 50mm G lenses – there’s an F1.4 and an F1.8 to choose from, the F1.4 costing about 2-1/2 times more.  I’ve read Thom Hogan’s reviews on these two lenses and the winner isn’t obvious.  I need to find a few more reviews.  Or just stick with the F1.4D and try to get the Nikon 60mm F2.8 macro lens?

I’m also thinking about a prime wide angle and a prime telephoto.  That’s where things get even more confusing.  I cannot afford Nikon’s 35mm F1.4G or 24mm F1.4G.  I can afford the 28mm F1.8G, not sure if that is wide enough for street shooting but not so wide so that I won’t get too much distortion around the edges.  Nikon still has a 24mm F2.8D – the lens went into production 19 years ago, is still around, and is cheap.  The 28mm F2.8D has been around for 18 years and is even cheaper.  But how well will these lenses work with the D800?

On the tele side, the answer seems to be a lot more obvious.  The 85mm F1.4G costs HK$12,980 while the F1.8G costs HK$4,280.   The reviews I’ve read say that the 1.8 does just fine.

I can’t afford to buy all three lenses right now.  So which one to get first?  Seems like the wide angle would be more useful for me.

But I still want to get to Champagne Court for a few hours to browse and see what else might be lying around there.

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5 Comments

  1. davethevet September 2, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    I ve tried all of those. I got the 35G from Tin Cheung for about 10500. It was very good, apart from the focus at middle distances, which wasnt accurate. I swapped it for the zeiss 35 which I prefer, but I dont mind manual focus. The zeiss 35 1.4 is probably as good as the leica 35 f1.4. I thought the 28mm f 1.8 was ok, but mine wouldnt focus above f2.8 and the microcontrast is not in the same league as the Gs or my other 28s. Zeiss 28 is very good and actually really easy to manual focus with practice. 28mm is wonderful for street, its the only focal length i use on my m6.
    35mm is my default standard focal length. Ive got four 35s, its hard to find a perfect 35, there isnt one but the zeiss f2 is close.
    I actually tried both 85s, I went with the G. I got it from Man Shing for 11500 and I just prefered the colours and the microcontrast was better.
    I find 85 is really nice for street with a big dslr and Im mostly going around with a 35 and an 85.

    • spike September 2, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

      10k is out of my budget at the moment. I’m thinking about a trip to Champagne Court to see what they’ve got sitting around there. Manual-only focus is not a good option for me.

      For the tele, that’s probably the last one I’m going to go after. I’ve got the 105 Micro Nikkor and it may be a bit too tele and a bit too large for street but it’s gonna have to hold me for the time being.

  2. davethevet September 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    Sorry for rambling, you can tell Ive been working nights.

  3. davethevet September 2, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Shame about manual focusing, Ive got an eyepiece magnifier, I think its a dk17, that helps a lot.
    Manual focus just takes practice, and a lot of it is feel for the focus ring position,not just what you see in viewfinder.
    Take a 28 ais, If you see something you like over 5m away, you just snap the focus ring round to where it locks and your at infinity and prefocused. Its instant. Stuff closer than 3m is really big in the viewfinder and easy to focus.
    The harder zone to focus is3-5m. Things are not quite as clear or big in the viwfinder but you can develop good muscle memory for going to infinity lock and then coming back a few mm to your point of focus and with practice you can nail focus just by feel without even looking in the finder, especially if your at f5.6 or f8.

    • spike September 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

      I’ve got the DK17 already. Not enough magnification for me. The only thing I miss from the NEX-7 was the focus peaking. I only feel confident enough to do manual focus with the Nikon when it’s on a tripod and I’m using LiveView and the Hoodman loupe.

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