As is obvious to the casual visitor my primary interest is in landscape photography, although perhaps I take a rather broader view of that term than some. As such you might reasonably expect me to be fond of wide-angle lenses, and this is very much the case. My favourite lenses to shoot with are the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 on my 20D, the Canon FD 20mm f/2.8 on my A-1, and the Nikkor-OC 50mm f/2.8 on the Bronica S2A. However, there’s more to landscapes than wide-angles and big skies, and in my part of the world – which has relatively little in the way of geographical relief – using extreme wide-angle all the time tends to result in a lot of pictures of a large bit of sky, a large bit of plain, grassy foreground and a thin strip of landscape in between. In many situations around here it makes more sense to use a telephoto to compress the depth of the shot, and pick out the subjects of interest.
With the two Canon cameras this is easy enough as I had long lenses for each of them, but with my Bronica I only had the standard 75mm and the 50mm wide angle. Until now.
I recently got hold of a pair of telephotos for the S2A; the Nikkor-Q 135mm f/3.5 and Nikkor-P 200mm f/4, as seen here. Now compared to the other two Bronica lenses they are not in as good shape, a bit more beat up. The 200 is mechanically ok, but has a bit more dust inside than is ideal. The much older 135 is cleaner inside, but has a ding on the filter ring and , more seriously, the iris is a bit stiff. It stops down okay, but is a bit too stiff for the camera mechanism to operate, so I’m looking into ways to remedy it. They are both perfectly usable though, so I went out in the mornings before work and shot a roll off with each lens.
I have to say I’m excited by the results – they’re what I’ve come to expect from top quality Nikkor lenses. Even though I was shooting wide open much of the time due to the gloomy autumn light and the lack of a tripod they are pretty sharp and I can’t say I noticed any major negative effects due to the dirt despite shooting contre-jour a few times. They are both bokeh monsters, for sure, although that has a cost in that they are not the easiest to focus as the f/4 makes the viewfinder a little dim, expecially in overcast conditions. Keep an eye on their tags on flickr to see the results as I upload them: nikkorq135f35 and nikkorp200f4.
On other points they’re not a large as I thought they’d be, especially the 200, and not as heavy. They are both only slightly longer than the 50mm, and both are slimmer, and the 50 and 200 weigh roughly the same with the 135 a 100g or so lighter. Really the main irritant so far is the close focusing distances which aren’t really very close – 1.5m for the 135mm and about 3m for the 200mm – I’m adding a set of extension tubes to my shopping list. The only other problem is working out how I’m going to fit everything in my camera bag.