Sunday, November 25, 2012

Toy Portraits Set #1

Not sure why it took so long, but I finally bought a macro lens. Several of my lenses have macro ability, but they just can't focus close enough for what I want. The lens I got is an Ai Micro-Nikkor P Auto 55mm f/3.5. This is an old lens made back in the 1970's. I figured since the main use for a macro lens for me is to photograph toys, I don't need the autofocus ability of the current lenses on the market. Going the manual focus route also saved me a lot of money as it only cost me $130 for the lens, a Nikon UV filter, and the Nikon M2 extension tube (used to focus down to 1:1, lens alone can only go down to 1:2). A regular macro lens on the market right now usually go for at least $500 and can go up to $1000.

There are actually quite a few advantage to getting old MF lens over the newer AF lens.

1. Build quality: Most of the vintage lenses have a much better build quality than the current lenses. This little 55 3.5 has an entire metal build, compared to what is mostly plastic in today's consumer lenses.

2. Focus ring: Since MF is the main and only focusing mechanism back in the days, they really took the time to make sure the focus ring is of good quality and has a smooth feel to it. The rotation of the focus ring is butter smooth which allows for precise manual focusing, not like the cheap tiny plastic focus rings on the AF lenses nowadays. When tiny increments are needed (ex. macro and astrophotography), the tiny plastic rings are a pain in the rear to get the right focus.

3. Price: These lenses can typically be found on Ebay or used lens stores (ex. KEH, B&H used section, etc.). There are a lot of vintage lens enthusiasts, so the price will depend on the popularity and condition of the lens. I've actually bid on this lens for three times prior to this one and lost them all, so I was very happy to win this one finally.

But before you go out and hunt for some vintage lens, make sure it will fit on your camera. The advantage with the Nikon system is that they haven't changed their mount for a long time, so many vintage lenses can still be used with the DSLR's available now. Although it might not meter on some cameras and the manual mode should be used as auto modes will not work.

For Canon users, there are adapters to use Nikon lenses as well as other type of lenses such as the screw-mount M42 which is another popular choice. I would forget about vintage Canon lens as they use the FD mount which is not compatible with the current Canon mounts. There are adapters for FD-to-EOS mounts, but there is a piece of inferior glass in the adapter which sort of defeats the purpose of having the good optics in the vintage lens.

Ahh I've blabbered on too much about lenses again...this post is to start off a new series of toy photographs for this blog since I got this lens. I am going to take close-up portrait shots of all my toys and post them up in the Toy Portrait series.

I'll start off set #1 with some S.L.U.G. Zombies...





  1. Wow just super nice! You can really get the detail in the faces on these.

    1. Ya I am glad I am now able to show the details on these SLUG zombies because they are just sooo good!
      Although I am sad that these little guys haven't shown up here in Canada so I can't get them at retail yet.

  2. This is super cool! I am using a canon and please blabbered more on lenses so I can get some good lens. LOL

    Btw did you use tripod on these photos?

    1. Thanks LEon!

      Yup, I almost always use a tripod for my shots. I already feel bad from not using it on my vacation so I have to make up by using it at home LOL!

      I actually tried this lens on my Canon with a Nikon F mount-to-EOS adapter and it works great too! AF is good for when you just need to capture that particular moment. But with toy photography, you pretty much have all the time in the world so MF is a good option.