20mm f2.8 afd and D700

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mervyn_wilmington, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. I recently sought advice on the forum about whether I should buy a D700 or D7000. I have now decided to purchase the former.
    I also wish to consider getting a lens wider than my 24mm. The top quality "short" zooms are probably beyond my needs and are rather expensive. I am, therefore, looking seriously at the 20mm f2.8. They can be found in the UK at decent prices (used) with a good warranty.
    There are quite a few reviews/comments on the web about this lens, although not are all clear as to whether they relate to film or DX or FX. However, the gist seems to be that whilst this is an "old" design, that it should perform very well on a D700 between f5.6 and f11.
    I would appreciate the views/comments of members.
    Mervyn
     
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Mervyn, I can tell you the same thing over and over. The D700 is a fine camera although it is clear that it will be replaced soon. However, if you mount those old wide angles (with optical designs from 20, 30 years ago) on it, you are merely wasting the D700's quality.
    If you check out some of the reviews, now that the 16-35mm/f4 AF-S VR is available, people are phasing out older AF-S wides such as the 17-35mm/f2.8 AF-S: http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-16-35mm...1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1291195092&sr=1-1
    Well known American nature photographer John Shaw was using the 17-35 for years, but even he has switched to the 16-35mm/f4 VR. It is clear that he only uses recent lenses as well as DSLRs: http://www.johnshawphoto.com/equipment.html
    About 10 years ago, I sold my 20mm/f2.8 AF and swtiched to the 17-35mm/f2.8, so I no longer have one to check, but based on a lot of the comments in this forum, the 20mm/f2.8 AF/AF-D does not even perform well on DX bodies. FX will demand a lot more from the outer parts of the image circle, which is going to be worse than the center.
    It is not a wise choice to spend so much of your budget on the DSLR body and then you have to skim on lenses. If you are getting a D700, I sure hope that you can put some good optics in front of it and have good skills behind it.
     
  3. When I bought a D700 I purchased the older 20mm f/3.5 since the AF versions were twice the cost. While I miss autofocus and the extra half-stop, optical quality is excellent, even wide open. And I appreciate the much lighter weight over wide-angle zooms. I'm sure you'll be more than pleased with the 20mm f/2.8.
     
  4. Mervyn,
    Shun is right. While I am very pleased with the way old Nikon lenses are behaving on my D700 in the tele area, the wide angles are quite poor. I purchased by impulse two yrs ago the 20/2.8 AF-D looking for a lightweight alternative to my 14-24 bulky zoom and honestly I was disappointed with it. But at f5.6 to f11 it's an OK performer. In the same focal range I am more pleased with a little MF lens from Voigtlander, CV 20mm f3.5 Color Skopar. It is even cheaper than the 20/2.8 AF-D so you may try it if you are looking for a budget solution.
     
  5. With Nikkor 20/2.8 AF, D lens you will not be wasting any D700 camera quality. Perhaps it will take some more generation of newer DSLR camera to make this lens obsolete.
    You have all the features in this lens and camera, like AF, all benefits of D distance focus information, and I would not recommend any manual focus, or any non-D lens.
     
  6. Congratulations on your decision to purchase the D700.
    If you can get by with a slower (aperture), the Sigma 12-24mm may fit your needs. It is affordable compared to other options and gives really nice IQ. I recently compared mine at 24mm to my Nikon 24-70mm (and the 24-120mmVR older version) at 24mm and even under magnification the quality difference (after post processing) is barely noticeable.
    I have no experience with the 20mm f2.8 lens, but suggest you try it out once you get your body and see if you like it. If IQ is compromised a bit on this an other older wide angle lenses, it may not be an issue for you (or even noticeable) unless you are making extreme crops or making very large prints.
    Although the test shots below were shot at 24mm, the Sigma is just as good at 12mm and is extremely wide on FX.
    Technical Data: The Sigma was shot at f5.6. The two Nikon shots were at f3.5. ISO was set at 200. Shutter speed was 1/500. These were shot hand held. Images were processed with DXO software, all with the same settings.
    00XmKk-307411784.jpg
     
  7. I use a Nikkor 20mm f2.8 AIS on my D700. It may not be the sharpest when stopped down but IMHO it works well. I don't use it that often and I don't like big lenses as I hike often and the D700 itself is large and heavy. Bjorn rates both the AF-D and AIS version of this lens, see what he has to say also. The Voigtlander has a chip and is smaller but I don't know if it is any better. I rented the new 16-35mm f4 for a day and it did not seem that much better that I wanted to sell my primes. I have looked at the Zeiss primes but they are large and heavy also.
     
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Elliot, what kind of "tests" were you conducting? Even the small JPEG of the entire frame is completely out of focus and there are a lot of JPEG compression artifacts on all images.
     
  9. Wow, even the red pen is fuzzy! Apart from the serious compression by JPEG, the Chromatic Abhoration :)-)) of the 24-120mm lens looks kinda bad. I've never seen any type of compression mechanism induce CA. It does have higher contrast but appears to have lower IQ.
    Certainly the Sigma is no worse, definately flatter contrast but equally sharp.
     
  10. When you ask questions like this here, you will be told that unless you buy the latest, greatest, most expensive, biggest, heaviest, most impressive looking bazooka, the money you spent on the D700 will be completely wasted!
    Seriously, if you want decent performance and do not wish to blow a lot of money, try a manual focus 20mmF3.5 or 20mmF4, or an F2.8 for a little more, as Carl Becker suggested earlier. Just make sure that it is at least AI, AIS, or has been converted to AI. It doesn't have to cost a lot; I recently picked up a 20mmF4 for $50 off of the local online ads. This is one big advantage when you shoot a Nikon - there is a treasure trove of old Nikkors made since the 1950s. Many photographers are able to do great work with older lenses like those - just google the name "Bjorn Rorslett" and read his lens reviews - he tests lenses on the latest Nikon cameras. By the way, about a year and a half ago I bought some old gizmo or other from a photographer for a daily newspaper here in Washington D.C. At the time, he was still using D2H cameras, and his main lens was the first version of the 16-35mm zoom. Surely not cutting edge stuff, but it wasn't holding him back, though he did plan to upgrade to D300's.
     
  11. bms

    bms

    I borrowed a 20 f2.8 AF-D from my local photo store as they were selling it used. New this lens Ithink still goes for $600+? I was not impressed with the shots I got from this "field test" - sharpness on the D700 seemed suboptimal at the corners for sure. I actually have the 24mm AF-D which people have mixed feelings about, but it is cheaper and performs better IMHO. On the plus side, lenses are small and handy, compared to 14-24 or 24-70....
    [​IMG]
    24 AF-D on D700 (if I recall)
     
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    L.M. Tu, since you bring up Bjorn Rorslett, everybody can read what he has to say about the 20mm/f2.8 AF-D: http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_wide.html
    At least according to Bjorn, the AF-D version is worse than the AI-S version. The AF-D scores a decent 4 on the D2X, but there is little doubt that it is not going to fair very well on the FX-format D700. The AI-S version is also rated a little higher on the D2X and D200 than on the FX D3 and D3X.
    It is very easy to demonstrate that a lot of those old wide angle lenses do not work well on FX DSLRs. It continues to puzzle me why people are willing to spend a lot of money on expensive FX bodies but are skimming on lenses. You are so much better off getting a good DX body and some DX wide zooms designed for digital for about the same overall budget.
     
  13. I've used this lens on DX (a long time ago), and was unimpressed except for handling. It handled very nicely... but that's not a great reason to buy a not-so-good lens for a great camera.
    In the ultra-wide FX department, there is also a new Tokina offering. If it's anything like my 11-16 DX lens, it would be worth looking at it.
    That said, I totally agree with those who say if you can't afford the great glass, get DX and use the money you save for something that will give you a great image.
     
  14. The full frame shot I posted was there for reference only so you could see the tiny area I was cropping. In my haste, I reduced the size too much and then enlarged the small image to the same size as the crops, so it appears blurry. The actual shot is perfectly clear which I will post later.
    The 'artifacts' you are seeing are there because I enlarged the tiny area so much. This is well in excess of a 100% crop, perhaps 500%, 1000% or more (I don't know how to calculate it ). I do know that for an 8 x 10, or perhaps even 12 x 18 print, you would likely not see any differences, even with the image shot with the 24-120mm (which came out remarkably good to my pleasant surprise). As would be expected the 24-120mm (old version) did give the worst IQ, but it really isn't all that bad.
     
  15. I've just got back in from shifting snow from our drive. We live in the Yorkshire Dales and have had the worst November falls for umpteen years.
    It was good to have had several responses already. However, I'm almost frightened of submitting further postings - it is a bit like lighting the blue touch paper and retiring quickly, but perhaps that is what it all about - getting a variety of opinions.
    Shun - please might I comment on your first response. Without in any way wishing to sound patronising, I very much respect your knowledge and advice. But we all don't always see things from the same perspective: it would be a strange world if we did.
    You will recall that I decided I needed an upgrade from my D70s. There were several options, all of which had their advantages having regard to performance and cost. Indeed, I first looked at the D90 and even bought a couple of manuals on it. However, the ultimate deciding factor was performance at low available light levels. In sensible terms, the only option was the D700. I am sure you are right that there will be a replacement with further upgrades during the coming year. Just when it might become available in the UK and the cost are other questions, and I really can't wait and see. Moreover, such a camera might be even more demanding in terms of the optical qualities to use it at its best.
    The "short" top quality Nikon zooms are obviously very good. Whilst my bank account has limits, I could afford any of them if I really wanted. Whether that would be good in domestic politic terms is another question. Moreover, they seem to be completely absent secondhand from UK dealers.
    We know some lenses will perform very well even at their extremes. They are invariably expensive, with a few exceptions such as the Nikon 50mm f1.8. Then there are some lenses that will be grim almost regardless of how you use them. Then there is the group that will be capable of good performances provided you use them within some limitation. Other than one or two "strange experts" there are well respected people who would put the 20mm f2.8 Nikon into the last category.
    Some 20 years or more back, I had an obsession with optical performance. That has now lessened. Indeed, when I look at photographs in books, on the net, or exhibitions, it is rarely optical performance that catches my eye. I suppose we must be in one of the most subjective areas, but my test is whether I just have to keep looking at a photograph, and when I look at it for the twentieth time, is it better than when I did so the first time?
    Around the same time, I had a "thing" about how little I could spend on a camera that would still produce high quality images. I think my greatest success was a Fuji 35mm in the TX range. It came with a couple of zooms, but also had the f1.6 standard lens. I think it was recognised that that lens easily met the quality of standard lenses produced by Nikon and Canon at the time. I think I paid 15gbp for the lot at a carboot sale. When I showed people the resulting pictures, no one would believe me when I said how little it had cost!
    Digital photography, for all its wonder and value, has caused the world to be awash with photographs that look bright, clear and sharp. But when you look beyond that, what is there? Often not very much. If, of course, it is a record of your hike through the Andes, perhaps it doesn't matter very much.
    The BBC has a weekly tv programme called "Countryfile". Each year they invite the entry of photographs from members of the public to comprise a calendar for the following year. The profits go to charity.
    They get thousands of entries. A small panel narrows them down to twelve, and those are then subjected to a vote to seek the best two. If I remember rightly, one vote is from the public, the other might be the panel. Those entrants gets prizes.
    This year, I "mentally" chose both winners. The better of the two - in my opinion - showed sheep making their way in seriously deep snow. I'm fairly sure it was taken with a digital compact. It wasn't especially sharp, and I doubt whether it would have been better had it been. It might even have been poorer. The other, a wildlife close-up, was very sharp and the subject matter perhaps more demanded that.
    Of the remaining ten, I don't think I would have given half of them a second look. Not that they were bad, they were just so usual. But, as I said earlier, this is very subjective.
    The subject, however, takes my mind back some fifty years. I had a fairly cheap uncoupled rangefinder camera with a standard 50mm lens. Within its limitations, it could provide decent images compared with similar models at the time. I used to go to a place where the salmon leapt the falls. I tried to get a good photograph but never did. Nowadays, I could buy one of the cheaper Nikon dslrs with a zoom extending to 300mm. In real terms, it would cost less than the model I had fifty years ago. I'm sure I could go to the same place and blaze away for an hour or so and be confident that a handful of images would be good or better, but that might rely more on the camera and lens than my skill, although the latter might be useful if I recognised the limitations of the lens and body. That said, I also recognise that images taken with a top line Nikon with a top line lens might produce some that could be even better than good or better.
    I think throughout we have recognised that most things are relative, but we both agree that the most important ingredient is the guy who looks through the viewfinder and releases the shutter. For what it is worth - and its not much - I don't think I've taken more than a dozen really good photographs in my life. Nowadays, with the opportunity to blaze away and post process, perhaps there is a better chance of achieving more. However, I still prefer to get the right image at the outset, even if it isn't as sharp as it might be in absolute terms. I hope I don't sound arrogant.............
    Coming back to the subject of my posting, I'm in no hurry, but I know I can get such a lens in very good condition for around 200gbp. It may not be up to what the D700 is ultimately capable of "catching", and I shall be most pleased to learn of other views, before I commit myself. When all is said and done, I haven't even got the D700 yet, but I think that will change quite quickly! If the worst should come to the worst, I suspect I could move-on the 20mm for not much less than I might pay for it.
    Thanks for everyone for their contributions. I suspect I shall spend a good deal of further time on the web following-up their recommendations! That is when I've finished shifting snow..........
    I'm sorry if I have rather wandered off topic, but I was trying to put my approach in context.
    Mervyn
     
  16. I use a 20mm f/2.8 AIS Nikkor on my D700 and love the results. You will have to manually focus it (the horror!) and you only have aperture automation, but you do have matrix metering available if you want to use it. They are extremely well built and are the equal or better to anything you can buy today. They are also robustly built, far more so than most of the lenses you can buy new today.
    New does not necessarily mean better. Those Nikkors were made when quality was the overriding principle, not reducing manufacturing costs to maximize profits.
     
  17. Shun Cheung, I recommended that the original poster try one of the MANUAL FOCUS LENSES. I did not once mention autofocus anything in my post. I'm well aware that the AUTOFOCUS 20mm is not well regarded. Bjorn has reported getting good results with his AI(s) optics in 20mm. I know that he's not always right, but, most of the time, I think I'll be OK by betting on him, thanks.
     
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    However, the ultimate deciding factor was performance at low available light levels. In sensible terms, the only option was the D700.​
    Mervyn, that is the part that puzzles me. The D700 certainly has excellent low light capability, but it is no longer the best. The D3S is easily 1 to 1.5 stops better. And we know all along that the D700 is about 1 stop better than the D300/D300S. Now the D7000 has clearly exceeded the D300S, so we are talking about less than a stop difference between the D700 and D7000. Do you really need to go out of your way to get the D700 to get that perhaps 1/2 or maybe 2/3 stop advantage? Keep in mind that the D700 still approximately costs twice as much as a D7000.
    Meanwhile, we have been talking using AI/AI-S lenses since most of the budget is spent on the D700 body. Those lenses are not exactly easy to focus manually on the D700, especially under available low light conditions. When a large number of your image have focus issues, it will completely defeat any great electronics in the camera body and great optics in the lenses.
    Sorry, but this reasoning does not make any sense to me, and we already spent a very long previous thread discussing it. Ultimately, it is your money and your photography. Regardless of whether your approach is good or bad, I won't be the one who will be experiencing it.
    If you want good low-light capabilities, a D300S or D7000 with a 35mm/f1.8 AF-S DX and a 50mm/1.8 AF-D will work very well. There are plenty of professional wedding photographers who are using D300-level bodies.
    P.S. I personally own a D300, D700, and D7000. I also tested a D300S (mostly the same camera as the D300 + video and dual memory cards) and D3S extensively.
     
  19. Lots of people are able to focus manually, and to do so rather well, with a D700 or even with cameras with viewfinders that are inferior to the one in the D700. Sometimes this is facilitated by replacing the focusing screen with an aftermarket one that costs under $100. This is a fact.
     
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    L.M. Tu, the OP is asking about the AF-D version of the 20mm/f2.8. While lots of people are able to focus manually, there are also lots of people who cannot or would rather not. That is precisely why many people avoid DSLRs that have no AF motor built into the body.
     
  21. Mervyn
    Well said! I’m always amazed by the number of photographers that seem to believe the art is in the details. Personally I have no use for a magnifying glass when it comes to viewing photographs. I own a D700, and am also on the hunt for this same lens (Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AI-s). You may want to check Ken's web site for a potentially useful review.
    Vitor
     
  22. Swimming against the stream here: I really like the 20/2.8D, and I think it gets a bum rap from a lot of folks that don't shoot or have never shot with one. I got mine when I bought my D700 as a stopgap for WA until I could get a UWA zoom, and it worked out quite well. I still use it when I want to go light. The Nikon lens shade is basically worthless, so I use a collapsible rubber shade instead. I've had no issues with single screw mount filters or the Lee filter system, but I do use a Lee WA adapter ring.
    I also shoot it with my D200 now and then, and also on my D70s when I really want to go light. It's wider than a 35mm lens on FX (or a 24mm on DX), and IQ isn't a problem. I also love my 135/2D DC, as well as my 80-400 VR - sterling IQ from older AF-D lenses that regularly get dissed online. Good thing I don't base my gear choices on anecdotal evidence or "conventional wisdom", eh? Since Bjorn Rorslett's review was brought up (which, among other reviews, I read before buying my 20/2.8D), a '4' rating means: "Very good, quality results can be expected. Such lenses can safely be applied to professional photography". That's good enough for me.
    I don't think I'm skimping on WA lenses with my D700 - I've since added a 17-35/2.8D, a 14-24/2.8G, and a 24 PC-E to my kit. Both zooms have their unique advantages and disadvantages, but compared to the 20/2.8D, they're both bulky, heavy, and expensive. The 17-35 also gets corner softness and falloff at wide apertures (so do the 24 and 28mm f/2.8D Nikkors, BTW). The 16-35 f/4 VR does as well, it has terrible short-end distortion, and f/4 doesn't help with subject motion or viewfinder brightness, so I passed on that one. IMO, the 20/2.8D is a very reasonable choice - it's Nikon's widest sensible AF prime (for the price/size/weight/AF of the 14/2.8D, you'd be better off with a 14-24/2.8G zoom). The fact that it's still in Nikon's lineup tells me I'm not the only one who likes it. :)
    Stopped down a little, the 20/2.8D is quite sharp. Corner light falloff also goes away with a little stopping down. Lightroom does a good job of correction for falloff if you shoot it more open (just be sure to fix it before any cropping), but distortion correction isn't currently supported by LR. It does have higher order distortion (that together with CRC are why I don't make my own correction profile), but it's not really noticeable unless you're shooting, say, critical architectural, where you'd be better off with a PC lens. If you're really picky about the distortion, DxO's D700+20/2.8D module is due out in March, but given their history of delays I'm not holding my breath.
     
  23. Shun,
    You have already taken a great deal of time and been very helpful. I don't want to protract this further to no point, but there are one or two matters I should make clearer.
    In gbp, from reliable sources, a D7000 = around 1100; a D700 around 1700; a D3s around 3500. I can accommodate the difference between the 7000 and 700 without blinking twice. The D3s would be rather a different matter.
    I know you have doubts about whether my existing lenses would get the very best out of a D700, and you may well be right. That said, there are many experienced users on this and other forums who say they do very well: that might be good enough for me. In any event, they will cost me nothing. It they were not really very good, it would not bankrupt me to get better, although domestic politics might cause me to wait until my next birthday. If it came to it, I have quite a few interesting Nikon, Leica and other bits that I really should dispose of. They might well pay for those additional lenses. Over the years, I've picked-up a few interesting bits with certain good profit potential. Perhaps one of the best was the Bolex professional lens that I bought from a dealer one week for 10gbp and sold to another dealer the week after for 100gbp! And there was Bronica I bought from dealer who had priced it as though it had the earlier common standard lens when it had the top quality short focus. The lens alone was worth more than the price of the camera/lens: however that remains within my Bronica outfit for the present.
    As to the 20mm f2.8, it seems there are very different opinions on that as well. I was already aware that there were those who take the view that the earlier manual versions are marginally better than the afd. In any event, I'm sure I can get one in very good condition for around 200bgp. Not small beer, but not a fortune either. As to the manual version, with correct diopter correction, I think I could manage. I've been successful in the past with 19 and 21mm lenses on Minoltas with nothing special in terms of viewing screens.
    There's certainly logic in what you say, but there me be some in my thoughts as well.
    Thank you for you help.
    Mervyn
     
  24. Both Ken and Bjorns sites talk about the history of the 20mm. There was some concensus that the sharpest AI version could be the f3.5 or f4. Both these are for sale on Adoramas site. Ken is of the opinion that the later 2.8's are realistically as good, but to choose and test first as there were some variations in manufacturing quality.
    Michael R also is testing a 20/2.8 AFD at the moment to see if it holds up to the 17-35/2.8 zooms. Obviously there are a number of D700 shooters who want a good prime at the 20mm point, but who don't want the 14-24 because of cost and risk of damage to the huge front element. Perhaps one should consider the 21mm or 19mmm Zeiss, but they are also very costly.
    Shun might comment that the D700 sensor is showing up the deficiencies of older Nikkors that were not apparent till now? I know this is the case with the Canon FX models. It also may be why Nikon is releasing new 1.4 primes ahead of the D700 replacement. There is certainly a body of thought that considers lens performance more critical with these new FX sensors.
    I am getting a used D700 myself next week and I have fast AIs nd AFD's lenses from my film days. I was also thinking of buying a 2.8 AF D. Now I'm nervous. I haven't made a lens choice mistake before. I have the 18-35/3.5 which Ken gives a gong to, so I might wait and see what results that lens gives before I make a decision on a prime.
     
  25. Yes, I'll second the 20/2.8 AF-D (or AIS version). My copy that I tested on a D700 was very sharp in the center wide open with mushy far borders and corners. Heck it's even sharp wide open in the center on my D300.
    On FX it's way way better at f/5.6 and completely sharp to the far far corners somewhere between f/5.6 and f/8.
    I for one value small size and weight and that's why I've kept my 20/2.8AF-D. I also tested a 20/2.8 AIS and got nearly identical results. I think if a 20/2.8 AF-D or AIS is not sharp in the center wide open and sharp all over stopped down it's a bad copy.
    Don't get me wrong this lens won't nearly compete with the 14-24/2.8 or 16-53/4 wide open, but then again these lenses cost many times more and are much larger/heavier. Get a good used copy of the 20/2.8 AF-D or AIS and give it a try. It will only cost you a few hundred $$ and if you don't like it sell it for a small loss at most.
    Also, the 24/2.8 AIS performs extremely well on FX too - at f/4-f/5.6 and above it's sharp all over if you remove the CA, which is easy to do in NX2. Wide open it's sharp in the center and mushy in the corners, but for shots where the center is all that matters it's fine.
    Another lens to consider is the 24-85/3.5-4.5 AFS. I found it very very good on the D700 - way better than the three copies of the 24-85/2.8-4 that I tried. Can it beat the 24-70/2.8 - no, but again it's damn good for the price ($350 or so).
    John
     
  26. When I first got my D300 I had the 20mm f 2.8. I didn't have sharpness issues (of course it wasn't full frame) be it struck me as being bulky and heavy for what amounted to a 30mm lens on the D300. I sold it and get better results for my Tokina 12-24 and a Tokina 17mm f/3.5. Yeah, I know they aren't high on the list of some photographers but they do a darn good job given what I paid for them.
     
  27. Wayne -
    Yes, I have rarely used my 20/2.8 on my D300 for the same reasons you mention. It's an entirely different lens on FX.
    My low-cost, light weight kit for my impending D700 is the 20/2.8 AF-D + 24-85AFS + 70-300VR. I have other primes and zooms (like the 50/1.2, 105/2.5, 180/2.8 and 80-200AFS) to use if needed.
    The wide end is where FX really shines and can be had for not too much $$ or size/weight if you are willing to give up across-the-frame wide open sharpness.
    John
     
  28. I own the 20/4 AI and my wife has the 20/2.8 AF-D. Shot fully open (and the AF-D stopped down to f/4) on a DX camera, the older MF lenses is clearly sharper in the corners; stopped down further, the differences become smaller. The poor corner performance of the AF-D on a DX camera makes me wonder how bad the performance is on FX especially when not stopped down to f/5.6 or more.
    I agree with this:
    ...when I look at photographs in books, on the net, or exhibitions, it is rarely optical performance that catches my eye...​
    up to a point. It is not the first thing that catches my eye and probably not the second or third either - but there are instances were the use of an "inferior" lens left me with a taste of "I wish better glass was used". Not nearly as many as the opposite scenario though - looking at thousands of images online taken with the latest and greatest and most expensive gear and still looking as if taken with a P&S.
     
  29. You know, the funniest thing about this whole discussion is that despite owning at one time a 50 1.4G, 85 1.4D, 28-70 2.8D, and 80-200 f/2.8 AF-S, my 50 1.4 AIS is still the sharpest lens I've ever used on almost any Nikon DSLRs, including the D700. It doesn't play nice on the D3000 and other tiny cameras, but on every other Nikon DSLR it's the dog's bollocks.
    Feel free to explain that one for me while you're telling people they need to buy $2,000 lenses to 'justify' a D700.
     
  30. Some 20 years or more back, I had an obsession with optical performance. That has now lessened.​
    Mervyn, this reminds me that I take an almost unreasonable pleasure from using a 35 year old 24mm f/2.8 pre-AI Nikkor (converted to AI) on a D700. It handles nicely, and I just like the way the pictures look with it.
    I, too, think it's odd to feel like a D700 or D3 invokes an obligation to buy the newest lenses. Rather, a D700 includes the right to use it as a platform for whatever optical thing might strike your fancy.
     
  31. The four core manual lenses I used in film were the 105/2.5, 50/1.8, 35/2 and 28/2.8. My decision to sell my D300 and buy a D700 was to 1. go FX and 2. get the best FX sensor platform I can afford under $2k, used and 3. have a platform where my older manual lenses will have another life. I'll never buy new. Someone else can cop the depreciation.
    Right now, the answer to all three questions is the D700. That may not be the case in a years time, but right now, as it is in the D3, its the best FX sensor from Nikon for the price. I genuinely want to play with all my lenses and as I am relatively new to digital, my skills will not challenge the camera or the lenses I have.
    On the D300, way and above all other lenses that I had and used on it, the Tokina ATX Pro 11-16/2.8 was probably the only modern lens that I really liked and it was terrific on the D300.
    So I am looking for a similar lens for the D700 that costs between $500-800. I thought the 20/2.8 AF-D (or earlier manual versions) might have served the purpose and saved me some money. Now I'm not so sure.
    I think whats been discussed in this thread has been valuable as there is no recommendation better than feedback from actual users.
     
  32. I've posted this before for an example....I think this lens is very compatible with the D700. It is an inexpensive companion to my 24-70mm F2.8 for that extra width along with great AF. I'd buy another if I needed one.
    00Xmf6-307753584.jpg
     
  33. I really like the 20/2.8D, and I think it gets a bum rap from a lot of folks that don't shoot or have never shot with one.​
    My 20 2.8 AF-D was likely my favorite lens on film. When moved to digital (D200, so DX) I was convinced I would have been happy again. Not so. My kit 18-70 (a very good kit zoom, but still a kit zoom) was outperforming it easily at wide apertures. When I bought a 12-24 f4, the difference broadened further (not by much). I was surprised, I guessed that perhaps my copy got somewhat damaged in the last times. I had, luckily, access to two more copies from friends. I tried them both, with results which were indistinguishable from what I got from my copy. My 20 2.8 D sits in the closet since then. When I moved to FX (D700) i pulled it out again to see how it performed there. Not good at all. My DX 12-24 f4 at 20mm covers the FX format: it is by no means good in the FX corners, and still it outperforms the 20 2.8.
    So not only I shot one, extensively: I shot three of them, and it is not a good lens on digital. Mind you: it can work, depending on your purpose: stopped down to at least f8 is acceptable (but not great) if sharpness in the center is important, provided you don't look at the corners. If sharpness is not crucial (I shoot mostly street, and I'm fine shooting a 50 1.4 D at 1.4 if needs arises) it can get the job done. If I owned one (I do in fact) and I had to use it as a stopgap until I buy a modern lens, or as a very rarely used lens I keep for special applications, I would use it. But I would not buy one, because it is not a lens I would want to use if I had a choice. Factor in that I want lenses to perform in the f2.8 - 8 range mostly, because it is what I use. It is rare for me to shoot at f11: a landscape shooter who never goes below f8 might find the 20 D more acceptable than I do.
    I also love my 135/2D DC, as well as my 80-400 VR - sterling IQ from older AF-D lenses that regularly get dissed online.​
    I don't know about the 80-400, but I own, use, and love my 135 f2 DC (non even the D version), and I don't remember people dissing it online. My understanding is that it is a very respected lens. I think Nikon could and should come up with an updated 135 f2 (they can drop the DC feature for what I'm concerned) mostly to include AFS and update the coatings (it is not a very contrasty lens), because I guess somebody buying an expensive lens now has the right to expect up to date technology at that price. But I would not upgrade mine since it does a great job already.
    L.
     
  34. These are the full frames shot from my extreme crops above. The shot with the Sigma was properly exposed (showing detail in the clouds) with both Nikon lenses seemed to overexpose a bit. Making normal sized prints would reveal no differences in sharpness/detail.
    "my existing lenses would ..... do very well" There are many factors which contribute to a quality image. Post processing and print size can have a dramatic affect on the results. Small prints will not reveal 'flaws'. Large prints will. Post processing can level the playing field dramatically as shown in my sample photos. The 24-120mm VR I lens is often touted as being one of Nikon's poorer lenses but several tests I have done, including this one, tell me otherwise.
    Test the lens (I suggest you do with with any lens you intend to buy) before you buy it. If you are happy with the results, buy it.
    00Xmha-307781584.jpg
     
  35. CORRECTION: I was just reviewing the EXIF data and I was shooting in MANUAL exposure mode, so the apparent slight overexposure in the Nikon images was actually my error (I had the aperture set to f3.5 and the Sigma operates at f5.6 @ 22mm) . But I have found that when shooing in automatic modes, my Sigma tends to underexpose a bit compared to some of my Nikon lenses.
     
  36. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Elliot, thanks for your effort, but neither your small JPEGs of the entire frames nor those major magnifications that were damaged during post processing is going to show the differences among those lenses.
    I hope you notice that the OP is intersted in a 20mm lens on the D700. That is a super wide angle on FX. Among the three zoom lenses you "tested," 20mm is only in one of the zoom ranges. Therefore, I am afraid that your effort is quite off topic.
     
  37. There's a possibility that older lenses like the 20mm f/2.8 do not perform as good as they're mounted on film cameras. I don't know the structure of the 20mm, but the rear element must be so designed that the light hits perpendicular to the photosites. But of course how much does this light loss would effect the final visible image is another question.
    If I remember correctly, the first UW lens on the Nikon line up which takes care of this final dramatic bend of light to meet the needs of a DSLR, is the 17-35mm f/2.8... I know that it's not so much affordable and that's why I still desperately wait for the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8.
    Serkan
     
  38. You know, I asked the exact same question here and on Nikonians about a year ago. I got a wide variety of answers , but I must say not so many vehemently anti 20mm 2.8 AF-D.
    The D700 is my first DSLR, as I was a film advocat (FM2) so I have manual lenses. The D700 made sense. It's also the first new camera I've ever bought, and I'll not be replacing it , as I'm not a camera collector, I like to take photographs.
    In the end I got a second hand 20mm 2.8 AF-D from Ebay for less than £200, it came in a box and is at least 20 years old, but works great for me on the D700. To be honest I haven't got a magnifying lens out to look at the extream edges, and I never will.
    I like to take landscapes and do this by walking. I've already upgraded the strap (I can recommend OP/TECH), as the weight of the D700 takes some getting used to. I tried the 14 -24mm , and yes it's a fantastic lens, BUT to more than double the total weight it is not an option for me.
    Yes you're right the Country File comp was won with a compact camera, it's because the subject is brilliant, and captures a unique moment. It was taken by a farmer who was rounding up his sheep last winter, and I can tell you that there is no way he would have been lugging a D700 with that 14- 24mm lens while getting the sheep in!.
    P.s I'm In Darlington and I'm bored of the snow now.
     
  39. Chris,
    Many thanks for the posting. We are in Wensleydale. The snow is no fun - unless you can get out and take some photographs. The forecast is better for tomorrow: I might take the F4 out - I have an Op/Tech strap for that - I'm familiar with the weight issue.
    I've ordered a 20mm afd from LCE. I haven't got the D700 yet, but the lens has a 14 day unconditional return period plus 6 months guarantee. I can give it a whirl on the D70s, but, of course, that is dx so won't tell me all I need to know. I'm sure, in any event, the lens will be fine on the F4, so even in the worst case situation it will be hardly wasted money.
    Your use of the lens and the D700 is encouraging. It is strange how these things generate quite strong feelings. It was the same when I asked about whether I should buy a D700 or D7000. Still if everyone agreed all the time, we might get even more edgey - perhaps they weren't thinking about it at all!
     
  40. The OP stated that top quality "short" zooms are rather expensive. Nikon's `14-24mm is. Sigma's 12-24mm is not. My intent was to offer him an affordable option to Nikon's 14-24mm which he and others may not be aware of. The test I did was for myself a few months ago. While there are many complains about Sigma IQ, I have found their 10-20mm (DX) and their 12-24mm (FX) to be quite excellent. I guess perhaps I misunderstood his post in thinking that a high quality short zoom that was not expensive might interest him.
     
  41. Elliot,
    Thanks for the posting. I had actually read the reviews on that lens - and many are rather good, although the filter issue is a bit of a nuisance - or so it seemed to me. I had also read the reviews on most other lenses in that "zoom" range.
    The Sigma actually got on my possibilities list. It was perhaps more an issue of being beyond my needs rather than price.
    Mervyn
     
  42. Having regard to the differing comments from members, I felt it useful to contact Nikon (Europe) for views on the D700 and 20mm f2.8 combination.
    Now, of course, we would hardly expect any manufacturer to shout stinking fish in relation to their products. However, the member of staff who replied said he personally used the D700 with the 20mm lens, and found to be excellent. I would have thought that if it were otherwise he would simply have remained silent. He probably has better opportunity to access Nikon equipment than most of us.
    Mervyn
     
  43. Shun, I think the Nikon 20mm f2.8 will work very well on the D700. It's not like digital suddenly makes an older optical design obsolete. Not all of us can afford to go out and buy an $1100 lens. The OP is asking a simple question about a lens that just a few years ago, people were raving about. Now sudden in late 2010 you are telling people that this lens sucks. Well sorry but I don't buy it.
    Mervyn,
    I had the D700, and I used much older manual focus Nikon lenses on it, and I got superb results. Go and pick up the 20mm lens and enjoy it! I am sure it will serve you well. I've had good luck with all Nikon lenses I've owned, even the optical designs from 1959 still perform well in my experience.
     
  44. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Shun, I think the Nikon 20mm f2.8 will work very well on the D700. It's not like digital suddenly makes an older optical design obsolete. Not all of us can afford to go out and buy an $1100 lens.​
    Dave, digital has different requirements to the optics than film. That is why a number of older lenses designed for film are no longer that good on digital. I personally still have a few of those lenses myself. In particular, older wide angle lenses that are not telecentric tend to be problematic on digital.
    I toally understand that not everybody has $1100 for lenses. However, somehow those same people have $2400 or so for a D700. I also understand that some people don't like heavy lenses such as the 24-70mm/f2.8 AF-S and 14-24mm/f2.8 AF-S, but those same people want a fairly heavy D700 over the much lighter D7000. After a while, it is clear that it is pointless to debate this any more. The only thing that matter is that you are happy with your purchase.
     
  45. I toally understand that not everybody has $1100 for lenses. However, somehow those same people have $2400 or so for a D700. I also understand that some people don't like heavy lenses such as the 24-70mm/f2.8 AF-S and 14-24mm/f2.8 AF-S, but those same people want a fairly heavy D700 over the much lighter D7000. After a while, it is clear that it is pointless to debate this any more. The only thing that matter is that you are happy with your purchase.​
    Shun -
    It's not just the camera body weight that some people (like myself) consider, but the total lens+body weight AND bulk to get to a certain FOV. Here's an example to get to 20mm on FX:
    D700 + 20/2.8 AF-D: 1,344 gms
    D7K + 11-16/2.8 Tokina: 1,340 gms
    So, essentially the same weight, but the D7K + Tokina will be a bit bulkier, though at the advantage of having some zoom capability (but higher low light noise).
    I found the 11-16/2.8 + D300 to have very similar IQ to the D700 + 20/2.8 at similar apertures (and @14mm on the D300 of course).
    You could even throw a 18-35/3.5-4.5 AF-D on the D700 for a total weight of 1,444 gms - 0nly 100gms more than the D7K system for some additional zooming capability and a bit more bulk.
    So, I guess it's not so black and white. These days, to get excellent wide open performance at a wide field of view one must have a heavier and bulkier system, but if you don't need the fast glass that's great wide open, there are many options that don't necessarily negate the use of an FX body.
     
  46. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Shun -
    It's not just the camera body weight that some people (like myself) consider, but the total lens+body weight AND bulk to get to a certain FOV. Here's an example to get to 20mm on FX:
    D700 + 20/2.8 AF-D: 1,344 gms
    D7K + 11-16/2.8 Tokina: 1,340 gms​
    John, that is precisely my point and I agree with you completely. It makes no sense to me that those who want the 20mm/f2.8 AF-D because it is light also want the fairly heavy D700 regardless of its weight. That was my point in the paragraph you quoted.
    I found the 11-16/2.8 + D300 to have very similar IQ to the D700 + 20/2.8 at similar apertures (and @14mm on the D300 of course).​
    Let's assume that is indeed true (although I am sure we can debate to no end on that):
    • The D700 ($2350) + 20mm/2.8 AF-D ($565) = $2915
    • D300S ($1449) + Tokina 11-16mm/f2.8 ($600) = $2049
    All of those are current new prices at B&H. Again, it puzzles me that people are more than willing to pay a heavy price for the sake of having a body in the FX format.
    Keep in mind that the D300S gives you dual memory cards, video capture and the Tokina 11-16 gives you the flexability of a zoom, although its zoom range is somewhat limited, but you can substitute that with a Nikon 10-24mm/f3.5-4.5 AF-S DX and that combo is still a lot cheaper, etc. etc.
    And if you substitute the D300S with a D7000, the price goes down by another $249.
     
  47. I wasn't going to contribute to this again, but having regard to John's comments I will.
    When I first posted, I said that the top quality zooms were rather expensive and probably beyond my needs. That remains the case. However, whilst I am not made of money, I could, if I really wished, afford one of those zooms.
    Ultimately, in my case, the question is a simple one. It is not about how much increased flexibility would one of those zooms give me, or, indeed, could I really afford it. It is, allowing perhaps for some stopping down in the case of the prime lens, how much better in image quality terms would the zoom be when set at 20mm? I also take into account the fact that the stopping down factor for the prime may cause some limitations in use.
    If the prime were not very good, and the zoom very good, then that is one answer. However, if there were no difference or it marginal, that is another answer. There is clearly a wide disparity of view about the quality of the 20mm on the D700. As I recall, earlier in the postings mention was made of someone (? Michael R) carrying-out a comparison test. If that is right, and it is comprehensive in every sense, we may all be better informed, and, thus, capable of reaching a better view on what might best suit us individually. As it is, I've found a 20mm and am awaiting its delivery - delayed now for almost a week because of the terrible weather we have been having in the UK. At the moment, I could try it on my D70s and F4. Shortly, I should be able to do so on a D700 - I'm presently seeking the best price. Obviously, however, I don't have one of the "super" short zooms to test it against. Thus, I have to accept that it might perform very well, but such a zoom could be even better.
    Anyway, it has cost me 200gbp with 14 unconditional day return and 6 month warranty, so I'm not worrying too much.
     
  48. When I last posted, I wasn't aware that Shun had commented on what John had said.
    Not that it matters too much, but weight factors in my case are not very important. I don't lug cameras very far nowadays, but am used to my brace of F4s. I also have the tribulation of a Mamiya RBSD outfit. Not that I carry that great distances, especially with a rather large tripod..........
     

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