14-24/2.8 vs 16-35/4

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by uplandlife, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. So, Nikon's emailed rebate promotion finally worked on me. I've taken advantage of the pricing to finally get around to adding the 14-24/2.8 to the bag.

    Well. That is one hellacious lens.

    I've got some recurring work that includes shooting in tight quarters, and have been pretty happy with the 16-35/4 ... but when I use it wide (16, 17mm) there's some pretty severe distortion that's always nagged. Yes, software can more or less clean that up, but it's just not very pretty around the margins when shooting wide and especially when opened up.

    The 14-24 is pretty damn amazing. I have to be careful not to give in and use it at f/2.8 when I need more DoF than what that provides, but that's just something to keep in mind. More importantly, it's a chance to push things a bit OoF in the background when I need it. That said, 16-35's VR is very effective, and allows some hand-held stuff that I otherwise might not be able to get away with.

    But I really can't say enough about the image quality of this 14-24. Remarkable detail, contrast, and an amazingly flat field considering how wide it is, and that it's an optical recipe that's been around for some years now. Yes, it's heavy and bulbous, and filters are a challenge - though that heaviness comes with a delightfully tank-like build. But for some very specific situations that I face regularly, it's just the ticket. I'll also be mounting it via a Metabones adapter to some Sony video hardware. Nice to save $200 on this beastie. Its reputation is well deserved.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Congrats. I have had this lens since its early days, but I don't use it often enough. Could you post some samples?
  3. Me too. I like it most for people photography, kids at play, home events, at very close distances. Despite of the deformation the subjects at the corners have to suffer (well, I use to place faces in the center area).
    Of course, the "serious" work is on a tripod, leveled, for architectural shots, indoors. Everything look plenty sharp, colorful and contrasty. I regularly use filters in my film cameras, but rarely need them on digital, and specially with this lens.
    Congrats, I know you`ll made some wonderful images with this lens (although not on a drone, I hope... ;D
  4. an amazingly flat field considering how wide it is​
    Just to clarify - do you actually mean a flat field (focal plane) or are you talking about non-rectilinear distortion? (Sorry if this sounds like a dumb question, but I had to explain the difference to Nikon UK when I got them to check my lens over...) My one has relatively extreme field curvature (the edges of the frame focus closer than the middle), and Thom Hogan reported similarly from his sample, I believe. This is the primary reason I rarely shoot mine at less than f/7, at least for landscapes. If yours is actually recording a fairly flat focal plane at moderate distances, I'll send mine back to Nikon and yell at them until they actually fix it! (That said, they swore that my 135 f/2 was in spec as well, and I've had lots of people claim that the LoCA I saw was at least slightly exceptional. I'm beginning to wonder whether they actually have an optical bench...)

    Other than the field curvature, I'm very fond of mine too - it's one of the main reasons I switched to Nikon back in 2008 (before the 16-35 came out, in any case). Ironically I'm now slightly missing the possibilities of the 16-35, because I'm about to go on holiday and that range would probably be more convenient, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the 14-24 will do. I don't especially miss the lack of filter - the dynamic range of modern sensors is so good at low ISO that a grad feels like an unnecessarily coarse tool, and a polariser is a weird thing to use on something that wide. The front element is a bit exposed, though - I caused myself no end of trouble by getting it splashed by Niagara, and I'm a bit wary of what Antelope Canyon's dust and Old Faithful's moisture might be going to do with it! Fingers crossed that it survives. :)
  5. Hi guys. I'll have the lens out working today, in fact. If I can get a few moments this evening or in the morning tomorrow, I'll grab a few similar shots with both lenses for comparison, and post some examples. Customer's work first, but I know this thread will be patient until I get around to it!

    On the filter topic: the main reason that matters to me is when I need to use a strong ND to slow down the shutter while shooting video. In such cases, I'll just put it behind a matte box I already have. If I get way too much time on my hands, I'll try to post some examples of that, too.
  6. Andrew: I should choose my words more carefully! Yes, I was referring to the lack of distortion. I'm a habitual center-focus-recompose kinda guy, so I haven't really paid attention just yet to critical focal plane issues on the edges, and most of the work with it so far has been stopped down enough that it would mask things falling out of focus on the edges, if the actual focal plane were bending there. I'll pay more attention to that and let you know what I notice. Thanks for bringing that up.
  7. Thanks Matt! You had me worried (or possibly optimistic). Agreed that the distortion is very good at 24mm, although it certainly goes barrelly at 14mm - but DxO seems to correct pretty well (including for diffraction at tiny apertures), so I don't stress too much. Mine's pretty sharp at f/2.8, just not where I sometimes need it to be! It does depend on the image, though. Unless I really need the DoF, I tend to try not to go below f/7 because of diffraction limits on the D810 sensor, but DxO makes me less paranoid - although shooting at f/16 is a wonderful way to find out how clean your sensor is. :)

    Enjoy the lens, anyway. It's no longer as amazingly ahead of the competition as at launch (the Canon 12-24 f/4 is also pretty good, and the newer 15mm Zeiss is capable), but it's really very capable. I only really saw the historical difference when I recently tried my old 28-80, which was awful at 28mm. These days, even the Otus designs are retrofocal, so retrofocal technology clearly moved on!
  8. I don't think Nikon has the ability to adjust element position in the UK, but as far as I know they have such a lab in the Netherlands.
    Which distance have you used to test field curvature?
  9. Andrew, your issue was not firld curvature but a problem with lens collimation. Simply put you must have had element that
    became decentered or was not centered properly in the first place.
  10. Ilkka: Moderate long distances (buildings to landscapes). If I stand in the middle of my garden and focus the centre of the frame on the side of my house (let's say 15' away?) the sides of the wall are out of focus, but the fence on both sides of my garden has a point that's in focus. Maybe I should talk to Nikon UK about sending my lens off? I'd assumed it was a design flaw because Thom Hogan also reported it, just as people have reported a "sombero" focal plane for the 24-70. If everyone else's has a reasonably flat focal plane, I'll gladly try to get this fixed, because it'll make a difference to my shooting. Last time I brought this up, I think most people said they were using the lens for extreme close-ups, and weren't paying attention to the edges of the frame. The effect isn't horrible (as I suggested, it's masked by the depth of field at f/7 or so - it doesn't stop this being a very good lens), but I'd rather not have it!

    Ellis: If the lens was decentred, I'd expect to see one side appreciably different than the other. I don't think I do - my problem is that the sides of the image focus closer to me than the centre - it's symmetrical, so any issue is with positioning along the optical axis (or a problem with the shape of the lens elements).
  11. The title had me expecting the n-th thread asking whether one should get a 14-24 f/2.8 as a very first wide-angle, or maybe rather.... but good surprise on this friday, an actual useful user report :)
    Enjoy the lens! I'm sure we'll get to enjoy the results in upcoming wednesdays.
  12. Well, the 14-24 was my first wide-angle, unless you count a fish-eye! But agreed. I'm hoping people will be kind enough to let me know about the field curvature thing while I've still got time to get Nikon to look at it before my holiday, though!
  13. For what it's worth, I had a chat to Nikon UK's repair centre earlier - having got bounced to their help desk on Friday for just long enough for the repair centre staff to go home for the weekend. Asking if they had an optical bench, they swore blind that they had everything they needed to do a lens repair, and they do repair everything internally (and they asked me to send them a sample image). I should probably do more experiments - my last test images showing field curvature were from 2013 (although there's definitely quite a lot of field curvature there). I may have squashed the lens in my bag since, and my D810 sensor/mount distance might be just different enough to have had an effect on something as extreme as a 14-24, so maybe I'm just paranoid.

    This is a case where something like the A7r's focus peaking would be helpful (if you point at something flat and see a circle of sharpness), but the D810 can't help. While I've been tempted by an Atomos external recorder, it's a bit overkill just to get focus peaking for a lens test, and honestly I'm more tempted by a BlackMagic PCC as a way to record video.

    Any tests from others would be appreciated before I try to give Nikon an impossible task...
  14. Belatedly, I have, not for the first time on this forum, egg on my face. I just did a very tedious experiment with my 14-24 and six tripods, with a poor man's resolution target taped to the five not holding the camera. I started with them in a line, intending to prove that the focal plane was curved and expecting to move them to a concave pattern as with my previous observations, and recruited a colleague to help move the tripods around while I watched in live view.

    Um. Flat focal plane. In a line (or at least, roughly in a line - depth of field isn't negligible at about 10' away at 14mm f/2.8) all the targets are respectably sharp, and when manual focussing in live view any change induced (mild) LoCA colour fringes, suggesting that any remaining mild softness is just the limitations of the lens (which would improve if I stopped down). They're showing ringing artifacts on the JPEG. My car, a few feet farther behind, is clearly out of focus, as is the ceiling at the edge of the frame; the ceiling above the charts (I was in a car park) is sharp. I only had the chance to try at one focal distance, albeit a moderately long one that's not far from what I'd consider for landscapes - anything else would have involved spreading the tripods a very long way. I don't think I was so far from infinity focus that the plane would have curved substantially even if it changed with focal distance.

    Long, long ago, when I was first suspicious of this lens, I was using it on my D800e which seemed to need quite a lot of AF compensation. After a report from someone on this forum (sorry, I've forgotten who) that their lens mount distance was substantially off, I was highly suspicious of my camera body - and I wondered whether the substantial field curvature that I saw was down to such a misalignment. I'm reasonably convinced I wasn't imagining it - I have an image from the old camera that's pretty clearly sharper where the subject is nearer to me at the edges of the frame and farther from me in the middle, with out of focus regions in between. Since I switched to a D810, I can no longer test again with that camera, and I'd never re-tried a conclusive experiment until now.

    I'll still repeat the test in the field and work out how much I need to stop down by doing some chimping, but it looks like my f/7.1 strategy may have been dependent on my older camera body. I can go back to letting in a reasonable amount of light, and to avoiding diffraction (and sensor dust) a bit. Yay. F/4 here I come!

    Apologies to anyone whom I've made paranoid about the field curvature of this lens. Although Thom Hogan did report it too, so caveat emptor.
  15. Thanks, Andrew, for doing the lab work! So far, your experience resonates with my completely anecdotal real-life use of the lens. My use of the lens has thus far involved very pedestrian commercial subject matter, but I'm still quite struck by the clarity, contrast, and overall liveliness of the results - even as I'm shooting in quite blah light. Most of my use has been in relatively close quarters, with bits and pieces of things not 12 inches from the lens, and other bits and pieces 30 feet off. I've been very able to keep focus where I want it, and am especially pleased at the greatly reduced barrel distortion I'm getting (relative to the 16-35/4) when going wide. That extra 2mm is quite helpful, as well.
  16. I wasn't all that scientific (bits of paper held in place by pushing tripod threads through them, for example), and it wasn't quite as exhaustive as I'd have liked - but you're welcome for my lab/carpark work! I'm glad the lens is working for you, anyway. I'll be taking it on my tour around the US in a month or so, so I'm hoping it behaves for me. I'm still trying to decide whether it's worth taking my iffy third-party tilt-shift along, which macro to bring, and whether a D810 in 1.2x crop mode will record an entire cheetah run at 6fps before it runs out of battery (and the concept of an elderly used D3s as the world's most impractical backup camera next to my F5 has occurred to me) - but the 14-24 will definitely be in the bag!

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