Is there a need for Nikon to release fast lenses?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by arthuryeo, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. Truly speaking, is there a need for Nikon to release new fast lenses since the advent of the D3 and D3S? Yes, I am talking about upgrading the 85mm/1.4AFD, 28mm/1.4AFD and even old 50mm/1.2 AiS? Tell me your likes and dislikes and why it is good business for Nikon to do so.
     
  2. Depth of field
     
  3. prestige.
     
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As far as I am concerned, the 50mm/f1.4 AF-S and 35mm/f1.8 AF-S DX are merely the first two installments to a series of fast, f1.4 and 1.8 fixed-focal-length lenses Nikon will introduce over the coming years.
    The 28mm/f1.4 AF-D was selling for around $1700 new at B&H back in 2005 just before it was discontinued in 2006 without any replacement. Now it is sometimes selling for over $3000 in the used market. KEH just had one for $3000 last week. Clearly there is demand for it. Whether the crazy prices is the result of collector interest or not I don't know.
    And an AF-S motor can certainly help in the case of the 85mm/f1.4: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Vhot
     
  5. I welcome fast lenses from Nikon. There is nothing prestigious about them to me. I had to have great lenses with shallow DOF, so I had to add a fleet of Canon cameras and lenses a couple of years ago because Nikon didn't make lenses like the 85mm f/1.2. I use fast lenses for controlling DOF in commercial shots, mainly motorcycles and autos. I'd love to dump the Canon and go back to all Nikon.
     
  6. DOF control and low light. Even with the new high ISO, shots look better at lower ISO's then higher
     
  7. mab

    mab

    Oddly, I find my f/1.4 lenses are getting more use than ever with the super-sensitive D3s. At f/1.4, one can shoot handheld in very low ambient light at ISO 3200, which on the D3s yields very little noise and reasonably acceptable dynamic range. This lets me shoot under conditions I never would have even considered photographing in using film or the previous digital sensors. Above 3200, one can get by with slower lenses and still shoot in this kind of light, but at the expense of image quality even on the D3s.
    And, of course, these lenses have a wonder ability to isolate subjects. The 28/1.4 is particularly versatile in this regard -- wide angle DoF control that approaches what you get with medium format (on FX and 35mm at least).
    Perhaps when a D4s comes out I'll be satisfied with 2.8 zooms (actually, I've never liked zooms, but OK), but for now, my "holy trinity" is the 28/1.4, the 50/1.4 and the 85/1.4. I'd welcome turning that into a quartet. Maybe a 21/1.4? (Hey, I can dream).
     
  8. "As far as I am concerned, the 50mm/f1.4 AF-S and 35mm/f1.8 AF-S DX are merely the first two installments for a series of fast, f1.4 and 1.8 fixed-focal-length lenses Nikon will introduce over the coming years."--Shun Cheung
    FWIW, according to the interview to general manager for the marketing headquarter of Nikon Imaging company posted today, Nikon appears to be planning to release some fast primes and high-quality compact zooms "this year" (sorry, all in Japanese):
    http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/interview/20100208_346855.html
    As for the original question, I think fast lenses (lenses with large opening) will always be in demand regardless of the high ISO performance of the cameras. They are indispensable for specific photographic expressions.
     
  9. I'd welcome some more fast DX primes--in particular a 70F1.4 if it were substantially more compact and less expensive than the FX 85F1.4 lens! Or even a 70F2.0 would be nice.
    However, the sheer bulk of the 1.4 FX primes keeps them at bay for me personally. You can't build a nice travel/street system around lenses with 72mm or 77mm filter threads! Not to mention the weight and conspicuousness! Consider Leica M or Olympus OM for inspiration! In other words what is the greatest speed Nikon could offer within say a 52mm thread (for DX) or 58mm (for FX) at a given focal length!
     
  10. In my view, there appears to be a need for Nikon to modernize all their lenses with the arrival of the D3. Many sources around the web and print worlds have pointed out that many great film lenses are less than great when used on digital. The technical reasons are intriguing, apparently having to do with light path differences around the lens/image plane interface, effects of the filter sitting atop the sensor (something of course film didn't have), etc. And, during the 11 years since the D1 brought Nikon into the digital era, their output has been entirely DX until Aug 2007 (when the D3 was announced). This means most of what we have available is either film-era holdovers or APS-C DX designed lenses.
    If you closely examine Nikon's actions since 2007, it appears they completely agree with this assessment. They are quietly setting out to define the entire focal length anew for FX. Twelve lenses have been released to date, including 10 pro lenses: 3 fast zooms (14-24, 24-70, 70-210 VR2), 4 super teles (300/2.8, 400/2.8, 500/4, 600/4), and 3 PC lenses (along with 1 TC - expect the other 2 soon). All 10 are widely considered ground-breaking in their optics as far as I can tell. Now, on paper, Nikon has rushed out a range of lenses in the first 2 years of FX that cover the full focal range, 14 mm to 600 mm. But of course there's no depth there, particularly in the area of primes and pro-quality micro lenses. Thus, I suspect and definitely hope they will continue this year in these 2 areas.
    My own testing to date strongly supports the above scenario, btw. So far on my D3x I am finding that all the lenses of mine that were considered fantastically sharp wide open in film days in the 90s are essentially unusable on digital (wide open that is), with sharpness wide open as bad or slightly worse than what I see fully closed down. Dramatic stuff. This includes the 500/4 P, original 300/4 AF, and the 20/2.8 AF. Looks like I'm going to have to modernize for the D3 era myself :(
     
  11. Akira,
    I run this that link to translate it to English but did not see anything about fast primes. May be the translation was badly done but here it is ...
    http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdc.watch.impress.co.jp%2Fdocs%2Fnews%2Finterview%2F20100208_346855.html&sl=ja&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8
     
  12. I think the need has been dramatically lessened, but there will be a few added. I think it would be a mistake for Nikon to put much R&D resource into what has become a niche product. They need things like f4 VR zooms much more. As ISO goes up, I have found my need for anything faster than f2.8 greatly reduced. I now only take one f1.4 lens with me. I don't want to be buying $1,500 f1.4 single focal lenses when for $300 more I can have a very high quality f2.8 zoom.
    Kent in SD
     
  13. Arthur,
    The automatic translation between non-Indo-European and Indo-European languages still sucks. :)
    The translated line: "Because a lot of requests for the lens lineup has a single goal to enhance the lens. The needs of single-focus lens and a bright, compact high-performance zoom lens. Its per year, and I want to go out a few. "
    should be like this: "We have received a lot of requests for the enhancement of lineups of lenses. There have been needs for fast primes and high-performance compact zooms for which we would like to offer some this year."
    I would have to admit that it is still somewhat ambiguous because he didn't make it clear which fast primes or which zooms. But I don't think he would mention the up-and-coming lenses that way if there were plans only for primes or only for zooms. ;)
     
  14. Because they can.
     
  15. I think faster lenses would be desirable. Whether they are a "need" depends on who's using them.
    f/1.4 @ ISO 800 would produce a better file than f/2.8 @ ISO 3200 if optical quality is comparable. And f/1.4 @ ISO 3200 would beat the pants off of f/2.8 @ ISO 12,800.
    Two stops of shutter speed can help a great deal to freeze motion.
    Most of the available Nikon prime lenses aren't up to par with 20+ MP sensors, IMHO.
    Primes typically have less distortion than zooms, even expensive zooms like the 14-24 and the 24-70. I get tired of throwing away the outer edges of my photos in order to correct lens distortion.
     
  16. There are plenty of situations where one ends up shooting at something like ISO 3200, 1/30 s and f2.8. It would obviosuly be of great help to get even one stop more speed. Even on the D3S ISO 3200 is hardly as good as ISO 200 and lenses such as the 28/1.4 cannot be considered an option since they are not universally available and cost quite a bit.
     
  17. My suspicion is that new f/1.4 or faster lenses from Nikon can be quite expensive too :)
    I do agree, however, that the 28/1.4 AF currently is grossly overpriced. Same with the Noct 58/1.2.
     
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    My suspicion is that new f/1.4 or faster lenses from Nikon can be quite expensive too :)
    I do agree, however, that the 28/1.4 AF currently is grossly overpriced. Same with the Noct 58/1.2.​
    Again, going back to 2005, the 28mm/f1.4 AF-D was selling for about $1700 while the 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR version 1 was selling for about $1400.
    And of course the Japanese yen appreciated like crazy in 2008-2009 such that Japanese camera prices went way up in early 2009. Now the 70-200 version 2 is around $2300, as it has come down a little @ B&H. Therefore, if hypothetically Nikon re-introduces the 28mm/f1.4 and 85mm/f1.4 as AF-S with nano coating and perhaps with VR, we'll likely see a $2000 price tag. But that is still cheap compared to a $3000 used 28mm/f1.4 AF-D.
    IMO Nikon is lacking lenses in these three areas:
    • Some fast f1.4, f1.8 single-focal-length lenses to complement the 50mm/f1.4 and 35mm/f1.8 AF-S.
    • A series of high-end fixed f4 zooms. While the 70-200mm/f2.8 version 2 is great, it is expensive and heavy. While I go hiking, I very much would like to have a 70-200mm/f4 AF-S VR.
    • Updated 300mm/f4 and 80-400mm to have both AF-S and VR 2.
    Therefore, I am glad to hear that some "high-performance compact zooms" are in the works.
     
  19. My prediction is that camera ISO will continue to rise quickly. At some point in the near future, the extra stop or so from f1.4 just isn't going to matter for shutter speed. The lenses run the risk of not paying back their development costs. I will probably buy just the Sigma 50mm f1.4 when getting an FX body. Even though I mostly photo at night in the winter, I just rarely have the need for anything faster than f2.8. Rather have the range and quickness of a zoom.
    Kent in SD
     
  20. Kent, why do you seem to refuse to accept the idea (regardless of agreeing or disagreeing) that it's not about ISOs at all, but rather about depth of field control. You may not have a need for anything faster than 2.8, but I'm certain that your shooting needs and style do not represent the be-all and end-all of photography.
    So, again, it's not about shutter speed or anything of the sort, though of course it can be in certain situations. Rather, it's about being able to control your depth of field in a way that no 2.8 lens could ever hope to match.
     
  21. """The lenses run the risk of not paying back their development costs.""
    I see this occuring as well due to the economy. A lot of people might want these faster lenses but how many when it comes down to the purchase are ready to drop the loads of cash to get one.
     
  22. Most of the available Nikon prime lenses aren't up to par with 20+ MP sensors, IMHO.​
    Dan: I use my 85mm f1.4 on my D3x all the time and I'm delighted with it.

    I don't use my 50mm f1.4 as much, but when I have it's worked just fine.

    Which of the Nikon primes have you had trouble with?
     
  23. Some of the older Nikkors still outresolve the D3X imager.
     
  24. Are there any other sub f2.8 VR lenses? (except the exotic 200mm f2) Is it that very fast lenses with VR are simply too huge? I noticed they all seem to have a v.wide girth body tapering down to the lens mount.
     
  25. DOF, Low light, to feed my NAS ( Nikon Acquisition Syndrome)
     
  26. Dan: I use my 85mm f1.4 on my D3x all the time and I'm delighted with it.

    I don't use my 50mm f1.4 as much, but when I have it's worked just fine.

    Which of the Nikon primes have you had trouble with?​
    20mm f/2.8 AF-D
    24mm f/2 AIS
    28mm f/3.5 shift
     
  27. DOF? I would rather defocus select areas in software for better result. Any keeper image gets loving attention in PP anyway. I am in Kent's camp on this. Fast glass is nice for manual focus, but I find f4 to be generally adequate. Keep lenses simple, rugged, and affordable.
     
  28. RL Potts writes [DOF? I would rather defocus select areas in software for better result.] Nice, but not the same.
    They still have their place.
     
  29. This f/4 zooms would be very interesting for us, the ones with limited budgets. The fast primes can be nice, for sure, but some of us can only dream about them.
     
  30. Amen, Shun on your comment about the 300 f4 and the 80-400. Canon is kicking Nikons proverbial behind on the 100-400 zoom market. Many of the people I shoot with dropped Nikon and went with Canon simply because of the superb function, optics, and solid quality of their 100-400. I would buy a new 80-400 tomorrow if they came up with one that actually tracked flying birds, and VR2.
     
  31. Agreed that lenses such as the 28/1.4 will not be cheap. But current technology would enable Nikon to make for example a 24/2 for a quite reasonable price that would perform well. also, lenses that are only available second hand have a clear drawback: nobody guarantees that a sample in good condition and reasonable price will be available when needed.
    While the ISOs have kept rising, the actual signal to noise ratio doesn't raise too fast and dynamic range is a huge limitation for hand-held nighttime city shooting. I completely understand that many people don't have the need for fast lenses, but assuming that improving sensor technology is going to make fast lenses obsolete now or in the next few years is wishful thinking.
    And if they get the bokeh right, cool things can be done...
     
  32. Bjorn said:
    Some of the older Nikkors still outresolve the D3X imager.​
    But, many of the old AiS lenses seem to exhibit a slight tilt towards the magenta end of the spectrum. Not sure why but I have seen it many times.
     
  33. I Agree with shun,
    Additional I'd like to see an upgraded bellows with metering coupling to replace my old PB4 ( never liked the PB5 / PB6 ...). And in addition to that possibly a FAST wide angle for DX ...
     
  34. If you want fast, razor sharp lenses, think about the Zeiss ZF series. Manual focus is the only drawback, but didn't we manual focus back in the 1970s anyway?
     
  35. "But, many of the old AiS lenses seem to exhibit a slight tilt towards the magenta end of the spectrum."

    Arthur, this shouldn't make a difference with a properly profiled camera, or if you shoot RAW files.
     
  36. Unfortunately, the sad fact is that every Nikkor release will henceforth be of the "G" variety, that is, sans aperture ring,
    making all new Nikkor lenses unsuitable for those of us who prefer to make our own decisions about camera operation
    and/or exposure.
     
  37. "Unfortunately, the sad fact is that every Nikkor release will henceforth be of the "G" variety, that is, sans aperture ring, making all new Nikkor lenses unsuitable for those of us who prefer to make our own decisions about camera operation and/or exposure"
    A G lens does not limit the amount of decisions that a photographer can make. The only thing that is different is the lack of aperture ring.
    Will it work on my F or F3 no but it will work fine from the F4 on. Not a big problem as I see it.
     
  38. The "G" lenses only work properly in Program and Shutter Priority modes on an F4. The F4 has no means of selecting the
    aperture from the body controls. Being as I feel that full and discrete manual control is paramount, I have no interest in any
    Nikon camera beyond the F4 and FM3A, but even setting aside my personal proclivities, I doubt anyone would serious
    argue that the contortions one must bear when operating an F5 or later Nikon are the ideal way to control a camera.

    Perhaps I was a little unclear in the actual point I was trying to make in my previous post.
     
  39. I doubt anyone would serious argue that the contortions one must bear when operating an F5 or later Nikon are the ideal way to control a camera.​
    Me!
    I'd argue that using the same set of controls no matter what lens you put on, is a very good thing.
    And maintaining the F stop when you change lenses is a good idea too.
    I bought my first Nikon F in the early 60's, and I've owned a whole bunch of Nikons, both film and digital, and I like the new cameras much better!
     
  40. Gemma,
    I find it way easier to shoot in full manual mode on a newer camera than on one where I have to fiddle with that old-fashioned aperture ring. It's not your style, okay, but there isn't a "handicap" when shooting in full manual on newer cameras. My D50 only has one wheel and even on there I have no problem with it at all.
     
  41. Gemma
    I have no idea how you hold a camera but there should be no contortions invilved with a modern camera.
     
  42. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Gemma, I bought an F4s in 1990 and then an F5 in 1997; I still own both cameras. Initially I was going to use the F4s as my backup, but after using the F5 for a few months, I really hated the way to control the aperture on the F4s to a point that I no longer wanted to use it, even as a backup. Eventaully I bought an F100 as my back up and then I went to all digital.
    Back in 2003 I talked to John Shaw. He had exactly the same experience after switching from the F4 to F5. In his case he simply bought a second F5.
    Back to the original topic: Nikon has just announced a 24mm/f1.4 AF-S. Clearly they feel that a fast wide angle is necessary: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Viz0
     
  43. Shun, I'm not sure I can really grasp what you're saying there. To control the aperture on an F4, you rotate the aperture ring
    on the lens...the same thing we've all been doing with cameras for 100 years. Assuming the lens in question has an
    aperture ring, it's exactly the same function on an F5, F6, or any newer digital body. The only difference is that on an F5 or
    newer camera, you also have the option of locking the aperture ring of the AF lenses and using the SCD to change
    aperture, which is, IMO, not the ideal way to control your exposure.

    If I wanted lenses without aperture rings that don't work on my mechanical and manual focus bodies, I would have switched
    to Canon EOS a long, long, time ago, and had a much wider selection of superfast primes.
     
  44. Gemma,
    There aren't a lot of people lining up to complain as loudly as you about this particular issue (You are the only one that sprints to mind currently). In fact, all of the remaining SLR manufacturers have removed the aperture ring from the lens. Pentax, Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Sony... no aperture rings on any of their newer lenses.
    As strongly as you feel about this, if you want to ever shoot digital, you'll probably have to get past it. Many, if not most, users prefer the "new way".
     
  45. Gemma, no I think you're mistaken, on digital SLRs from Nikon you can no longer control the aperture using the ring on the lens, it can only be set via the body controls. At least, far as I can tell so far, I'm 6 months into my digital switch over.
    I grumbled about the loss of a real aperture ring and other stuff when I first contemplated switching over. Now, having made the switch because of the unbelievable power of digital vs film for the wildlife and action work I focus on, I find so far only one thing about aperture control bothers me. Someone above said its a good idea to have the aperture stay the same when switching lenses? Sorry, I don't see that at all. The whole point of switching lenses is to take a wholly different creative perspective with the new lens. I was doing macro in the Costa Rican jungle a few months ago, then switched quickly to my 300/4 in a heated moment when some monkeys approached, and only after they'd departed did I realize my crap results were due to the $%#$#% aperture remaining on f/16 from when I was shooting macro. I immediately realized this would never have happened with good old fashioned aperture rings because I always left my fast primes like the 300/4 on max aperture by default. Two steps forward, 1 step back.
     
  46. You can choose whether aperture control is by the control dial on the camera, or by the ring on the lens (if there is any, of ocurse). If the camera i set up for aperture control on the lens, the newer "G" lenses default to aperture control by the camera, so this is almost a fail-safe setup. "Almost" because Nikon has set a trap for you in connection with LiveView. For absolutely no plausible reason, LV can only work when aperture control is from the camera (but you *can* change aperture on a manual Nikkor when in Liveview mode. Abbout as nonsencial as it gets and a real pain since most of my lenses are manual-focus, with aperture ring, and with CPU).
    You should not write-off using the aperture ring, by the way. It is by far the most precise method of controlling the actual exposure. The difference towards the newfangled "dial in from camera" approach can be annoyingly visible for example when you do time-lapse photography and manifests itself as a flicker of the frames.
    What Nikon may slowly move towards is having "E" aperture technology replacing the current "G", since even "G" depends on a mechanical linkage at the moment of exposure. However, "E" means the end of whatever is left of the once famed Nikkor backwards compatibility. Even the current "G" lenses can, with some restrictions, be used on F4, meaning they span more than two decades of Nikon history. For "E", history starts with the birth of D3/D300.
     

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