Photographing Flowers with the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2

When it comes to still photography I’m a ‘zoom guy’, preferring to shoot with zoom lenses rather than primes. While I use my three Nikon 1 prime lenses extensively for my client video work I almost never use them for still photography. For whatever reason I got the notion in my head to try photographing flowers with the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 prime. 

Note: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/4000, ISO-160

I captured the images in this article on a couple of mornings when I was out for my regular 5km walk. I began by shooting some very typical images of groups of flowers.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/3200, ISO-160

By adjusting my shooting angle and distance I was able to get a good idea on how depth-of-field would be affected.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/1250, ISO-160

When doing flower photography I typically use the 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 for general images, and the 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 with extension tubes for close-up photos. When shot wide open at f/1.2 the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 provides some additional composition options.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/2500, ISO-160

For example, you can see in the image above how focusing on a corner flower quickly renders the balance of the blossoms out of focus.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/800, ISO-160

Rather than have to choose compositions where the background was at a good distance from the main subject, using the 32mm wide open provided good image separation even when the background was pretty tight in to the main subject.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/1600, ISO-160

I captured all of the images in this article using single point auto-focus, and with an aperture of f/1.2 for most of them.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/1600, ISO-160

Being able to place the single auto-focus point virtually anywhere on the rear screen of the J5 was very helpful to compose images quickly, and also control depth-of-field by choosing very specific AF spots in the photograph.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/2.8, 1/200, ISO-800, 10mm extension tube

I did capture a few images at f/2.8 so I could get some practical assessment on the differences in depth-of-field.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/1000, ISO-800, 10mm extension tube

I was intrigued with the idea of using an extension tube with the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2. I used a 10mm Vello Deluxe extension tube and found that the set-up provided a very interesting capability.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/640, ISO-160, 10mm extension tube

Being able to compose images with quite shallow depth-of-field created more serene and gentle looking photographs.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/3200, ISO-160, 10mm extension tube

Some subjects took on an almost surreal appearance.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/320, ISO-160, 10mm extension tube

Shooting straight down into the heart of some flowers accentuated the shallow depth-of-field.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/500, ISO-800, 10mm extension tube

I quite liked the soft, almost floating look that some flowers would take on when shot from directly above.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/400, ISO-160, 10mm extension tube

Shallow depth-of-field could also be enhanced by changing the shooting angle. For example, shifting from a profile view to one that looked down the length of a subject element as seen in the image below.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/1250, ISO-160, 10mm extension tube

The 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 will definitely be in my camera bag the next time I plan to do some flower photography. It provides some additional composition options due to its ability to render shallow depth-of-field and is a very interesting lens to use with a 10mm extension tube.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/1.2, 1/250, ISO-160, 10mm extension tube

Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held using a Nikon 1 J5 and 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 as per the EXIF data. Images in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6, and the Nik Collection.

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8 thoughts on “Photographing Flowers with the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2”

  1. Hi Tom
    I did not know that DOFthis small is possible with Nikon 1. Personally I find the last photo especially charming.
    Your 5k walk: Does it count as 5k with so many interruptions? (I assume 5k stands for 5 kilometers?) 😉
    Robert

    1. Hi Robert,
      I think using the 10mm extension tube helped with the shallow depth-of-field…although even without it I was pleasantly surprised. The last photo is my favourite as well. I normally do my morning 5 kilometre walk without taking a camera with me as I travel the same route each day. Taking a few images for a couple of mornings did slow me down…but I still ‘went the distance’.
      Tom

    1. Thanks Antonio – I’m glad you enjoyed the images! The price of the 32mm f/1.2 is at the high end of the Nikon 1 system for sure, but it does compare favourably with similar focal length f/1.2 lenses made by Canon and other manufacturers.
      Tom

  2. I love the 32mm 1.2. It’s one of the finest lenses I own, its only rival at the moment being the Olympus 25mm 1.2. It is one of the reasons why I hope Nikon maintains the Nikon 1 line.

    1. Hi Bill,
      I have loved using the 32mm f/1.2 for video work for some time now. After doing this little flower photography experiment I can understand why you also love it! I will definitely be using this lens more when doing flower photography.
      Tom

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