Good prime lens for landscape and travel

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by alan_sevilla, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. SAd story is that Ive had a 14-24 and shortly a 16-35mm. As much as I love the output of those lenses its just soo hard to lug them around so Ive already sold them. I want a prime that'll work for a dx and fx that I can bring as a do it all lens. The new nikor 24mm f1.4 is out of the question since its bloody expensive. Im narrowing it down to a 20mm or the 24mm f2.8. Im just worried that it wont live up to my expectations. Looking at the mtf results of the 20 and 24mm makes me think twice purchasing one of these. I however have the 35mm f1.8 wc is a great lens that I use for dx and fx( love the vignette look) although for landscape id rather have one thats really suited for both dx and fx plus the fact that a 35 is not as wide as id want it to be on both systems. Is there a good quality wide prime that wont break the bank? Looking for a wide prime lens not over the 24mm focal range. hope you guys can help and maybe enlighten me on the 20 or 24mm f2.8 lenses or any other lens in this category. Cheers
  2. What's your budget? Is AF essential? Does it has to be a prime?
    That will farther narrow your list...
  3. I use the 24/2.8 all the time on both DX and film. It performs superbly on DX since you're only using the center of the image circle. I've never had a problem with it on film, but some seem to think that it's rather soft in the corners. Personally, I normally use it stopped down to f5.6-8, and I rarely put anything of any importance in the corner of the frame anyway, so that never bothered me.
  4. There's the Sigma 30/1.4 (DX) or Nikon 35/2 AF-D (FX). Are you worried about the 20/2.8 AF-D or 24/2.8 AF-D MTF scores?
  5. i just bought a used tokina 17/3.5 at-x pro for $350 at adorama...
  6.'s a partial list not knowing what your preferences are:
    MF: Voigtlander 20mm 3.5, Nikon AI(s) 20mm f3.5, f4, Zeiss ZF 21mm, 25mm f2.8, Nikon AI(s) 24mm f2, f2.8
    AF: Nikon 24mm f2.8, 20mm f2.8, Sigma 20mm, 24mm 1.8
    Lastly, not a prime but I use my AF 12-24mm f4 Tokina on both DX and FX. It works well for FX @ 18-24mm. And If you like that 35mm 1.8 on FX dark corner look, you could use more than the 18-24mm range. The tokina is not as expensive nor as heavy as either the Nikon 14-24mm or 16-35mm.
  7. Thanks a lot guys for helping out. Leslie af is important to me but its really the size that matters so im looking for a lens thats not a burden to carry. Im looking into the Sigma 8-16 but its way of my budget as of the moment so im looking for an alternative. Im really leaning on the 24mm Cory since based on the reviews that its a better performer than the 20mm and cheaper too. As for the Sigma 30 or nikon 35mm f2. I got the afs version already so i need something wider. Thanks guys.
  8. I had the 14-24 too and I sold it because I rarely used it (expecially as a travel lens) due to size and weight.
    I decided to sell it also because I tested it vs. 20mm f/2.8 AIS and 24mm f/2.8 AIS (on D700) and I found out that the old primes are as sharp in the center at f/4 and and in the very far corners at f/11 (at larger apertures corners sharpness of primes is clearly worse than zoom).
    AIS versions are reported to be sharper than MF version.
  9. Is there a good quality wide prime that wont break the bank? Looking for a wide prime lens not over the 24mm focal range.​
    Alas I've been largely unimpressed or at least non-plussed by the range of (affordable) wide angle prime lenses that I have encountered. I've bought, used and sold the following primes :-
    AF-D 35mm f/2 I quite liked this prime, esp. on DX and still quite sharp in the corners on DX but I have two zooms with 35mm focal length and never used the prime anymore so sold it for lack of use.
    AiS 24mmf/2.8 which flared up a bit and had persistant purple fringing issues on my D700 but was sharp enough across the frame if you need that
    AiS 18mmf/3.5 which was surprisingly small for a wide prime but flared in too many situations for me - the hood is of limited effectiveness on this lens and it had vignetting issues on my D700 - great field of view but I refuse to keep the sun behind me all the time and way too expensive for it limitations.
    Sigma AF 15mm f/3.5 which was large, heavy-ish and had quadruple dramas on the D700 with C/A issues, heavy vignetting, truly woefull sharpness in the corners and flared up way too easily.
    I have kept my AiS 20mm f/3.5 Nikkor which is ideal for shooting close ups of fungi, small alpine plants, succulent plants etc in habitat and suppresses flares really well even when shooting into the sun directly. I kept this one wide prime for that very reason, I like to have the option of shoting into direct sunlight or at least heavily backlit scenes like sunset / sunrise.
    I have found the opposite to the way you are going, to work for me better in that the Nikkor 17-35mm AF-S zoom is every bit as good as the Nikkor wide primes I have tried and let go, but a little extra weight for the convenience and commensuate IQ from my wide zoom is a better trade off than any Nikon prime I've tied out.
    I thoroughly respect your desire to find a quality wide angle lens which is light and not a budget killer but to sell your 14-24mm f/2.8 zoom......... I think you will struggle to find a Nikon prime to match that sort of IQ.
  10. I have and use the following Nikkor AIS lenses: 20mm f2.8, 24mm f2.8, 28mm f2, 35mm f2 and Voigtlander 20mm f3.5. I also picked up a Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8 and Tamron 28-75mm f2.8. The primes work well at f8 or so across the frame with my D700. Zeiss primes read sharper then the Nikkors but are large, heavy and the 28mm reviews don't read much better than my current 28mm. If you don't mind manual focus and have the budget the Zeiss 25mm may be the best wide prime currently besides the new Nikkor 24mm f1.4. It seems it is all a compromise, some prefer a large range and f4, some prefer Zeiss and some prefer the pro f2.8 zooms. I have thought about renting a Zeiss wide angle to test but I don't think the value is there to justify. You might want to see what Bjorn has to say about them:
  11. Alan, I am in a similar situation, owning both 14-24 and 24/1.4 G which are stellar lenses but sometimes is tiring to lug them around. I do not sell them since I need this glass for events because of their high performance... but for landscapes I recently acquired a 30yrs old EX+ Nikkor 24/2.8 AI which performs great on my D700. It's true that it show some flare when the sun is in the image, but the same is true for my new and expensive 24/1.4 G... 24/2.8 AI(S) is a small, metal build, lightweight, inexpensive and good performer... And the focus ring works flawlessly... much nicer than for some newer lenses.
    I also own CV 20/3.5 which is a good lens too but I like more 24/2.8 now.
  12. The Zeiss 21/2.8, 28/2, and 35/2 are all exceptionally good manual focus wide angle primes. Then there is the 20mm f/3.5 Voigtländer which is good stopped down a bit and is very, very small, and affordable. The Nikon 28/2 Ai-S is also a great lens especially stopped down (it's good at wide apertures too but not quite as good). The 24/3.5 PC-E Nikkor is a good lens for wide angle landscape and architectural shots and is likely to give the best overall image quality for these kind of applications in general (though the 24/1.4 is better in terms of wide aperture options and contrast, the tilt and shift options of the PC-E give it an advantage for tripod-based landscape/architecture work). For autofocus primes, the 24/1.4 and 35/1.4 are both excellent; the 24/1.4 is my current favorite. As for the other current AF Nikkor wide angle prime lenses (14/2.8, 20/2.8, 24/2.8, 28/2.8), I would heartily recommend staying away from them. They're good lenses but they were designed to work with 35mm film, not digital, and this makes a difference in wide angle lenses.
    Or you could just accept that you made a mistake and re-acquire one of those nice wide angle zooms that you had before. They're good lenses, if not particularly small. The only way to get that kind of quality in a wide angle prime is either get one of the very expensive new Nikon lenses (the PC-E or the f/1.4), or the very expensive new Zeiss lenses. The 20/3.5 Voigtländer sits in between in price and quality; if stopping down to f/8 (FX) (or f/5.6 with DX) is something you can do then it would be a great travel wide angle lens. For me, I often use wide apertures so it's important to have this facility in some lenses for travel. Also, I frequently use the shift control in the 24 PC-E, when doing city travel. For landscape I've found my favorite in many cases is the 24-70.
  13. I'm just not sure there is such a thing as "do-all" single focal lens. That would be a wide to normal zoom. A smallish zoom that would work is the older Nikon 28-105mm.
    Kent in SD
  14. Alan, have you considered a 50mm f/1.4? It's a great lens, terrific in low light, easy to carry, tack sharp, and reasonably priced. Unless you absolutely need a wider angle, I would highly recommend the 50mm for travel, landscape, and even that unexpected portrait shot that invariably pops up.
  15. Kent: If we're including older zooms, my 28-200 f/3.5-5.6 G is probably my most-used lens. Optically, especially stopped down, it's not bad - especially if you don't mind fixing a little distortion in Photoshop; it's cheap and extremely light. I'm sure the 28-300 and (new) 24-120 are better, but they're also much bigger. It wouldn't be wide enough on DX, though - certainly not in the company of the primes we're discussing. And, of course, it's nobody's friend in the dark (as I found out in Antelope Canyon at the wrong time of day).

    From the reviews I've seen, I second the mention of the Zeiss 21mm - it's the only lens I've seen make the 14-24 look bad in comparison (albeit at the 14-24's weaker end). I'm not sure it's in the small-and-light category, though.
  16. I will ad a +1 to the Voigtlander 20 mm f3.5. Its small and well made.
  17. For an affordable do-all compact lens for FX and DX, the 35/2.0D-AF is the best choice, IMHO.
    Another solid options is the 28-70/f3.5-4.5D-AF zoom (from the N90s era), which produces excellent results on the D700, even wide open. It is compact and light weight.
    As others have pointed out, the 20/24/28 2.8's are somewhat dated in there performance. THey have uses, and usually that means stopping them down a coupled stops. But then they are not all-arounders.
  18. While I have a a suite of lenses from 20mm to 500 mm, my favorite wide angle for scenery is the old 24-50 Nikkor. It is light and inexpensive. Some people decry its image quality, but I haven't found it to be deliterious.
  19. As someone else mentioned the Tokina 12-24 f/4 works on both film and DX bodies and it certainly does a good job as far as sharpness is concerned.
  20. IF you stop down the 20mm AF f2.8 down to f8 or f11 of FX the corner sharpness is reasonable. At these f stops it is a good lens.
  21. Forget AF, it's unnecessary for landscape and it means either the zooms you sold or the 24/1.4. The good wides are the Zeiss 21/2.8 (best, "zeiss look"), voigtländer 20/3.5 (small, high quality, needs a bit stopping, extremely resistant to flare, pleasant overall image quality) or Nikkor 24/3.5 PC-E (tilt/shift, high quality, big). The Zeiss 28/2 is good too if you want that FL.
  22. Hi Kent,
    Although my actual experience with the other lenses is limited, I have and use a 20/2.8D on my D700 and have gotten good results. As mentioned, edge softness is relieved by stopping down. At larger apertures the edge/corner softness may actually be an asset if you like the vignetting. As a walk-around lens-for-all-seasons, you may find yourself doing more cropping than usual.
    That said, my primary lens is the 24-85 2.8-4D. On my recent trip to Antigua, the 20 stayed in the bag and the new 105 micro only came out once in a while. For the 24-85's performance you can look at my images in this week's and last week's "Wednesday" threads. As a travel walk-around lens, the flexibility of the zoom was a real asset as I wasn't wondering if I should change lenses in the middle of a "photo-opportunity." |;-}}
  23. The Nikon 24-85mm is one of those overlooked Nikon gems. Light, compact, great performance. It's also usually a bargain.
    Kent in SD
  24. I'm seeing a lot of zooms mentioned here. Can't stand zooms. Prime-wise my two favorites are the Voigtlander 40mm/F2 Aspherical and the Nikkor 85mm/1.8D. In that order. Both lenses are incredibly sharp with great color and contrast.
  25. I'm seeing a lot of zooms mentioned here. Can't stand zooms. Prime-wise my two favorites are the Voigtlander 40mm/F2 Aspherical and the Nikkor 85mm/1.8D. In that order. Both lenses are incredibly sharp with great color and contrast.
  26. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I have and use both primes and zooms, and frankly rarely find any objectionable softness in the zooms at any practical printing / viewing level. My kit is mostly Nikon, old and new (FX). Travelling with just one lens, it would probably be my 24-85G. Several of the trips I have posted from 2014 and early 2015 were done almost entirely with it. If I went with just a prime, I would take the 50 / 1.8G. Both are small, light, inexpensive, and do the job. I would never choose to travel with just a wide, though I shoot quite a bit at the wide end statistically, with only one, I'd take a traditional standard lens approach - a tool that does most jobs quite well. Whatever I lost due to Focal Length could likely be corrected with Crop / PP. Just my experience. Best of luck, difficult to choose "only one"!

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