Villa Montalvo

I had a chance today to try out the newly acquired Nikon 50mm f1.8 Series E lens on my D40. Having already owned 2 other 50mm’s, I was hesitant to buy yet another 50. But I’ve been impressed with the Series E lenses so far, and getting this lenses draws me that much closer to completing the collection. And for $20 shipped, it was pretty much a no-brainer.

Villa Montalvo is a lovely place in Los Gatos where many people hold their wedding ceremonies and receptions. I was able to take a few shots with this lens before the rain started to come down (unusual for this time of year). Although I didn’t get to take as many photos as I would like, this particular one is a pretty good example of the len’s capabilities.

First, a few technicals: D40 camera set at f4, 1/250, ISO 200, Auto White Balance. I was pretty happy with the composition off the camera, so no cropping was done. Other post-processing included increased exposure by a stop, added a bit of saturation, and a tad of sharpening all using Lightroom. The processed image doesn’t look a whole lot different other than the exposure setting. (I’m still working on my manual metering skills, but shooting in raw helps gives me some lattitude in post-process to correct it)

As for the performance of the lens, I’m happy with it so far. It’s incredibly compact– the most compact and lightweight 50mm I own. It can almost be considered a “pancake” lens. The build is metal & plastic, and although it was blasted for its plastic material back in the early 80’s, the quality is still much better durable than the kit lens. The aperture ring was easy to use and clicks fully on every stop without much effort. Focus is very smooth, with enough turning angle to allow precise manual focusing. (Manually focusing on that single strand of grass was still a pain because the wind was blowing. Focus confirmation would not lock on at all, so I had to take several shots by eye only. Of course, autofocus wouldn’t have done much better in these conditions anyway. It would’ve locked on the sculpture behind, which was not my intention at all)

Bokeh looked pretty smooth to me for f4.0. I would’ve preferred the background to be even blurrier–I’ll try some different apertures next time. In the future, I’d like to test this lens out in other lighting conditions and see how it performs, but I have no doubt that it’ll be just as good.