Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day Brunch with My Favorite Lens

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day.  Our family had brunch at a restaurant in Santa Monica called the Lobster.  I brought my D600 and my favorite lens, the Nikon 85 1.8G.

To me, it is a little strange to have a favorite lens since each of my lenses has its purpose, so I can't really compare them.  Nonetheless, the 85 1.8G is my favorite because it is very good at what it's supposed to do: it gives me sharp images, with quick and accurate focusing, and very shallow DOF with smooth bokeh (usually).

How sharp is the 85 1.8G?  I took this shot of our daughter:

Here is a crop of the eye:

You can see not only my wife, but also me with my camera!  And note that I did not apply any sharpening to this shot.  I rarely find the need to sharpen shots from this lens.  And as you can see, the focus was spot-on (this was with the viewfinder, not live view).

Anyway, we had a wonderful brunch.  The sky was overcast but it was still nice to dine while watching people on the beach.
D7000 + Tokina 11-16.  No it's not blown - there really was no detail in the overcast sky that day.
Here are some more shots from the 85 1.8G.  This is a photography blog but I hope you guys don't mind me commenting on the food, which was excellent overall.  The dish above was Sautéed New Caledonia Blue King Prawns.  It was very flavorful and the prawns were cooked just right.

I also tried the Beluga Lentil Soup.  The addition of chorizo and lobster to the lentil soup gave it a little extra flavor.  No pictures because it was a plain-looking dish. :)

This was the Shellfish & Black Linguine Pasta.  I'm not sure why the linguine is black, but the linguine had a flavor that reminded me of Filipino-style squid with ink.  I'm not crazy about shellfish but my mother-in-law and my wife liked the dish very much.  It was slightly spicy.

Like I said, I don't like shellfish too much, but I do like scallops.  The Seared Day Boat Scallops had not just scallops but kurobuta (Berkshire pork) belly.  This was my favorite dish from the brunch.  The scallops were succulent and their flavor was complemented by the pork, which tasted somewhat like Chinese braised pork belly.  The pork was especially tender, and the sweet fatty meat was so soft and juicy that I'm sure whatever calories and cholesterol it contained was worth it.  Even the vegetable garnishing was delectable.  It had cauliflowers, cherry tomatoes and farro.  Somehow the combination of spices in the vegetables vaguely reminded me of another Filipino dish, tuna ceviche.

The salmon was to be honest a little disappointing.  It was beautifully roasted but had a slightly fishy smell.  Their salmon also didn't have that fatty taste that I like in salmon.  My mother-in-law cooks better salmon from Costco.

We also had the steak and lobster.  The lobster was of course steamed perfectly, although that was to be expected.  The steak had a green peppercorn sauce.  It was literally not bad --  nothing to criticize about it, but nothing spectacular either.

For desert, I had the Apple-Hazelnut Cake.  I didn't taste much of the hazelnut but it was delicious nonetheless.  My wife wasn't planning on eating any but once she tried it, she had some more. :)

Nikon 85 1.8G review


  1. Hi Mic,

    Looks like a nice brunch!

    Question (or two) about your image sharpening.

    1) I assume you're using Lightroom? What sharpening settings do you have your develop preset on for amount, radius, detail, and masking?

    2) Is it the same sharpening settings for all your family photos or do you tweak it depending on the lens?

    1. Hi Francis. Yes I use Lightroom 4. To answer your questions:
      1. I don't use develop presets. I like tweaking my shots individually. For the shots here, the sharpening settings were the default sharpening.
      2. I use different sharpening settings depending on several factors:
      - Camera: Higher resolution cameras can withstand more sharpening.
      - Noise: if the image has a lot of noise, I usually don't sharpen much. Or if I do, I sharpen the areas that don't have noise using the adjustment brush.
      - Lens: some of my lenses need more sharpening than others.
      - Subject: with some subjects I tend to sharpen more. For example, shots with a lot of detail. For some subjects like people I avoid sharpening.

      I hope this helps!

      Best regards,

  2. Very nice, the food snaps are very professional...you can sell them back to the restaurant. :)

    1. Thanks! In this case most of the credit goes to the other elements - the chef for the food styling, the overcast weather for the lighting, and the 85 1.8G which makes it easy to take shots that look good. :)

      Best regards,

    2. Did you have to AF fine tune the lens on the D600?

    3. Nope. This is one of the few lenses I have that I didn't use any fine tuning on the D600.

      Best regards,

  3. Hi Mic,

    First, I really like your blog.

    I am using the D7000, with 35mm Dx, Sigma 17-50 OS, and 85 1.8g.

    I use the Sigma mostly at either end, so 17 (25) or 50 (75). My favorite lens however is the 85mm. Much better than either of the other two.

    When upgrading to a D600 I will most likely use it with the 85 and complement it with the 35mm Sigma (if not wide enough 28mm 1.8g), as my walk around combo.

    Regards, and keep up the good writing.

  4. Thank you my friend.

    Funny enough, I haven't tried the 85 1.8G on the D7000, although I've tried it on the D7100 and it performed very well.

    The Sigma 35 1.4 or Nikon 28 1.8G would both be excellent complements to the 85 1.8G.

    Best regards,


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