10 things we learned in this test

If you haven’t used a re­ally fast lens be­fore, there are some im­por­tant fac­tors that soon come to light

NPhoto - - Test Team -

1 Be sharp

The widest avail­able aper­ture of f/1.4 re­ally can give an in­cred­i­bly shal­low depth of field to your shots, so ac­cu­rate fo­cus­ing is crit­i­cal.

2 The eyes have it

Given the need to blur fussy back­grounds in por­trai­ture, fast lenses are ideal. At f/1.4, it’s more im­por­tant than ever to fo­cus pre­cisely on the eyes.

3 Anti-wrin­kle

Us­ing the widest aper­ture in por­trai­ture, it’s likely that ar­eas of the face and hair will be de­fo­cused when you’ve fo­cused on the eyes. This can be use­ful for soft­en­ing com­plex­ion, and smooth­ing out wrin­kles.

4 ND fil­ters

When you want a tight depth of field but the light is too bright to en­able use of a very wide aper­ture, fit an ND (Neu­tral Den­sity) fil­ter to the lens.

5 DOF pre­view

When nar­row­ing the aper­ture from its widest set­ting, the DOF Pre­view but­ton can show the re­sult­ing depth of field. How­ever, the viewfinder im­age will be dark­ened, so it may be prefer­able to use Live View mode for fo­cus­ing.

6 On the fringe

Un­like the more usual sort of fring­ing (lat­eral chro­matic aber­ra­tions), coloured halo ef­fects caused by ‘bokeh fring­ing’ (lon­gi­tu­di­nal chro­matic aber­ra­tions) can’t be au­to­mat­i­cally cor­rected in cam­era, and need fix­ing later.

7 Speed thrills

If you don’t need a large depth of field, the wide aper­tures of­fered by th­ese lenses en­able hand­held twi­light shots with­out the need to push ISO set­tings to very high val­ues.

8 Live View fo­cus­ing

Con­trast-de­tec­tion Live View aut­o­fo­cus tends to be more ac­cu­rate than the reg­u­lar phase-de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus mode, as it works di­rectly from the cam­era’s im­age sen­sor. How­ever, it’s also much slower.

9 Move closer

With 35mm lenses in par­tic­u­lar (com­pared with 50mm and 85mm lenses), you’ll need to move closer to the main sub­ject if you want to blur the back­ground ef­fec­tively.

10 See clearly

It’s eas­ier than usual to fo­cus man­u­ally with fast prime lenses, be­cause the viewfinder im­age is much brighter thanks to the ex­tra wide aper­ture.

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