Frank Petronio photographer

More Fall

I have a couple of expensive lenses coming that I want to compare to my more modest ones (Nikon 28/1.4e versus 35/1.8G; 105/1.4e versus 135/2.8AIS). While I am sure the newer “e” lenses are superior I want to see by how much? Especially in practical use. 

A factor that makes or breaks a lens for me is how it handles horizons, specifically the tree line where small branches and leaves create a high contrast edge that can be problematic. Some lenses handle this better.

And here’s the Mavic shot, I rushed home and launched it to quickly grab the shot from 150 feet. 

Next day as well….






Fall Film

A few Falls ago I had sold all of my photography gear and bought a Nikon F100 film camera and 50/1.8 lens, along with a couple bricks of Kodak Portra 400 35mm color negative and two Konica-Minolta Dual-Scan IV 35mm scanners*. I shot the forty rolls of film throughout the Fall and made some of my favorite photos with no complaints… eventually an obligation forced me to buy a stupid digital camera and then I got back into 4x5. But it was a refreshing period. 

* These are my favorite 35mm scanners because they capture a wide dynamic range but impart a grittiness to the files that I never achieved with similar Nikon Coolscans. However they are cheaply built and often fail so whenever I would find a cheap (but working) one on eBay ($150 is a good price) I’d snatch it up. But I’ve grown to hate film scanners, I’d like to toss my Epson V700 in the trash, I wouldn’t bother with an Imacon, Creo, or Aztec even if they were free. I greatly prefer my 35mm lab to simply scan frames on their Noritsu and accept whatever funky jpg results… to Hell with it! If I want perfection I’ll use my digital camera. 

If you do contract the 8x10 film disease and are curious about the absolute highest end of film and scanning capabilities do a search for Massimo Vitali and CastorScan. Lenny Eiger also used to do nice scanning but I see his website is offline so IDK his status? Personally I found that carefully done Epson scans were sufficient for moderate reproduction and never wanted to invest more. My take on scanning is that most people are too timid with adjustments and don’t understand that we need white and black points with the curve in-between being the artistic interpretation. Some prior darkroom experience helps one appreciate the power of digital imaging…. 

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I no longer print unless it’s for sale. A quality high-resolution monitor is the ultimate photographic viewing platform. And I rather look at a modern website with large jpgs than a book. I think students should print and I admit to being lazy and cheap, but I rather be making new pictures as I get older, let the kids waste their time. 


Larissa’s Visit

Larissa came up to Rochester from NYC, it’s the third time we’ve shot and it’s always casual and fun with more conversation than work. I attempted some drone footage and we went out both days and made simple, clean shots that I haven’t begun to edit. It always feels unfinished with her which I think is a good thing. 

Larissa is a working commercial model but she likes shooting with artists, I recommend you pay her all your money lol. See larissasimpson.com




Nikon Lenses

I rented the Nikon 300/4 AFS-G PF-E lens from lensrentals.com (recommended) fully intending to purchase it to replace my aging 300/2.8 AFS-II. I wanted its compactness and lightweight, figuring that I could shoot more. It certainly is a nice size and weight… but compared to the 14-year old giant 2.8 lens it just sucked. Slow auto-focusing, less contrast, and simply not as sharp… it felt kind of dull. Great for consumers and good enough for most things ~ I would have loved it if I never owned the 2.8 lens. (As an aside it’s so foolish that photographers and camera companies dismiss auto-focus performance ~ with the big 2.8 lens I can focus on a running dog (skier or car) and have it “track” so perfectly that I’ll get 8 out 10 photos in perfect focus. Versus the consumer zoom lenses that will only get the first shot in focus or manually focusing which usually does no better. I only use auto-focusing for moving objects and tracking is very important ~ it’s something I can’t physically do as well with manual lenses. Yet camera manufacturers don’t market this aspect (probably because it is too complicated for most consumers) and development lags behind all the bullshit features they attempt to implement.)

Then I bought and sold a Nikon 20/1.8 AFS-G and remembered why I hate the ultrawides as good and crisp as that particular lens is. I also sold the Nikon 45/2.8 AIP pancake lens I had kicking around, it was awfully cute but I didn’t like the old-fashioned Tessar (soft corners) rendering compared to my modern Zeiss. 

For a moment I almost ordered the Nikon 28/1.4 E but decided to wait… I don’t want to introduce a wider focal length into my ongoing projects but I am thinking that if we go to Iceland next year it would be a great lens to use as my primary, helping to make those photos into a distinct project. Nothing wrong with mixing things up but when you have half a project shot you should probably see it out with whatcha got. Still it is $2000 for a plastic-bodied lens and questionable how much better it could be over a $400 28/1.8G

The other lens I’d buy again, this time to keep, is the Zeiss 135/2 ZF2. It’s a beast and an odd focal length, very difficult to focus ~ a tripod and Live View help ~ but what lovely rendering and so incredibly sharp. One of the nicest lenses I didn’t appreciate when I had it the first time but if one comes up for under a grand I’ll get it. 

(The bargain priced Nikon 85/1.8G is also a great lens while we’re discussing lenses.) (I like the 35mm focal length and have tried several but still don’t like any of the current offerings for the Nikon mount.) 

In the end I’m back to where I started, sticking with the D810 bodies using the 50/1.4 Zeiss Milvus and the 300/2.8 AFS-II. 

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