Just curious - is there demand for DX primes?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Dieter Schaefer, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. Having just read another of Thom Hogan's posts about one of his pet peeves - lack of DX prime lens availability for the Nikon APS-C camera line, I got curious (again) as to whether there actually is a demand.

    First and foremost, I believe that Nikon's recent line of f/1.8 FX primes can easily substitute for some of those missing DX primes - they might be slightly larger, heavier and possible a tad more expensive, but they are certainly usable. That covers a focal length range of 20-85 mm. Now, even for those companies that do offer DX primes for their (mostly mirrorless) offerings, not many of those fall outside that range - most notably are 12mm (for Sony and Fuji), 14, 16, and 18mm. Sure would be nice if Nikon had something to offer in that range - but which one would you want? And actually purchase?

    Another focal length that seems to be missing is one for portraits - a range of 60-75mm maybe? Tamron offers a 60/2 macro that could do double duty for portraits. Nikon's FX 85/1.8 (or f/1.4) is found to be "too long" by many and the AF-S 58/1.4 might be a bit expensive.

    How much interest is there in anything longer than 85mm? Is there actually much savings in size, weight, and cost above that?

    There are a few narrow range zooms available: 18-35/1.8, 50-100/1.8 (both Sigma), 11-16/2.8, 11-20/2.8 and 14-20/2 (Tokina) - their biggest drawbacks are size/weight and possibly cost. But they do cover a limited focal length range range and provide some flexibility that primes don't - some of them I would consider "primes with wiggle room".

    Currently, Nikon's DX prime lens line-up consists of 4 lenses: 35/1.8, 40/2.8 macro, 85/3.5 macro, and 10.5/2.8 fisheye. Certainly far from a complete set? But what IS missing?

    Notably absent IMHO are a 24mm (but one could substitute the FX 24/1.8 or 24/1.4), a 16mm (f/2, f/1.8 or f/1.4) and a 12mm (f/1.8, f/2, f/2.8); I am certain that list will look different for some (14 instead of 12 and 18 instead of 16). Though I have to admit that neither the 16 or the 12 primes would interest me much - I'd pick the Tokina 11-16 or 11-20 instead. And if I really wanted f/1.8, there's the (large and heavy FX) Sigma 14/1.8.

    I somehow doubt that the "average DX consumer" will spend much, if anything on prime lenses. And how much of a prime market really is there for the "enthusiast" DX user?

    So, who here wants a DX prime - and which one(s)? What price would you be willing to pay?

    We can extend this by including the potentially upcoming DX mirrorless - which primes would you like Nikon to offer initially?
  2. Disclaimer that I've never owned a DX camera (although I have an APS-C Canon).

    I've been tempted to get one (and probably more tempted by mirrorless) as a back-up system, and possibly as a very portable system. If I go on holiday, I'd be prepared to waste a little bag space on a D3200 rather than be stuck if my D810 died. I've not resorted to it yet, but for potential size reasons, a mirrorless option would have even more appeal here; I could imagine a number of Canon shooters supplementing a 5D with an M6 or M100 (though I often just carry an RX100, and would consider a G7xII).

    With that in mind, if I wanted lenses with DX coverage, I'm a lot less interested in ultrawides (I agree that zooms are too useful in that range, and there are good ones already) and more interested in very small lenses. As Dieter says, coverage isn't a huge problem for longer lenses (except the mk1 70-200 at 200mm), so DX telephotos aren't really a thing. Give me some pancake lenses (I shouldn't have to live with the 45mm AI-P or the E-series lenses) that make the camera pocketable, and give me something small and fast, and I'd be tempted. Why Nikon never made a DX-friendly f/1.8 85mm equivalent (the 58mm f/1.4 is too big and expensive; 50mm is a little short, and the f/1.8 AF-S is preposterously large due to its massively indented front element) I don't know - people have been recommending the Tamron 60mm for years, and it's not exactly small (compared with the 50mm f/1.8 E) or sharp by modern standards, partly because it's a macro.

    I would be a little more tempted to pick up a small DX body if I thought I could make it pocketable with a small lens. I'd want better low light than the collapsible 18-55, and I'd want a genuinely small portrait option. By the time I've put my FX lenses on it, the size difference between a DX body and my D810 doesn't seem so huge. Currently it would pretty much be backup only for me - and even if Nikon started going to a higher-res sensor (which is the opposite of where they went with the D500 and D7500) for more reach, I'm not sure the 200-500 would keep up, so it wouldn't do me much good.

    I think, though, I'd question whether Nikon wants people to stay at DX. It's certainly where they sell the most cameras, but I wouldn't be surprised if they felt that "good enough" in DX quality was under threat from the 1" compacts (lets ignore CX for now, since Nikon have) and the better cell phones, whereas FX has more leeway. A lot of enthusiasts buy the "upgrade to FX" kool-aid; even as a beginning I ensured I bought full-frame lenses for my 300D in case I ever upgraded to full frame. There are a lot of people with 18-55 and 55-200 zooms out there, but I suspect the number of DX primes is a lot closer to the number of D7x00 and D500s sold - and Nikon would really quite like these people to go FX at some point and buy the expensive glass.

    Or they could just be ignoring the demand and missing out. Sigma fill in some of the gaps with f/1.8 zooms; I'm less clear on how many prime "gaps" are being filled by third-party options (Tamron 60mm aside, though I also like the old Sigma 50mm f/1.4 on DX). A lot of mirrorless systems do have small primes, but then they're not saddled with the F mount flange distance making everything retrofocal. I agree with Thom Hogan on a lot of stuff, but I'm not sure I agree with him on this - or his wish for a "D5x". But then I don't particularly claim to know better.

    Anyway, I don't speak as a current consumer in this sector, although I could potentially become one, and one with a high lens attachment rate. I'll be interested to know what others say.
  3. I feel compelled to point out the three Voigtlander lenses: 20/3.5, 28/2.8 and 40/2 - all manual focus. I am afraid though that once AF-S is added, their size will resemble more a pancake stack that a pancake alone. And at least for me, manual focusing on a DSLR is no longer an option I would consider spending money on.
    Smallest I ever had was the D60 - but even with the not exactly large 35/1.8 DX lens, it's not what I would call pocketable (if might fit into an overcoat pocket, but here in Southern California I rarely wear one of those).
    The Sigma 30/1.4 springs to mind - so I would hardly consider that focal length a "gap filler".
  4. I shoot both DX and FX. I keep reading Thom Hogan's demand for more DX-only Nikon primes, and I don't see the point. It's like asking for shorter doorways for people under five-foot-five (165cm) who have no difficult in going through taller doorways. I agree that Nikon's recent f/1.8 primes, which are not very heavy, can easily be used for DX and FX. Some DX-only zooms make sense, as the same focal lengths that can cover the FX format (when available at all) are usually much heavier and more expensive. This is particularly the case for wider lenses. However, some time ago, there were fast DX third-party lenses equivalent to the ubiquitous 70-200mm zooms. At 50-135mm f/2.8 (Tokina) and 50-150mm (Sigma) and relatively light in weight, these were very nice for wedding, event, and PJ photographers. One was replaced by Sigma's 50-150 f/2.8 image-stabilized zoom, but it had almost exactly the same dimensions and weight as Sigma's FX 70-200mm f/2.8, sold poorly, and is now discontinued.

    The Sigma 30/1.4 springs to mind - so I would hardly consider that focal length a "gap filler".

    To further support your point, Dieter, when I went from DX to both DX and FX, I traded in my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DX for a Nikon 28mm f/1.8, and I'm quite happy with it.
    Dieter Schaefer likes this.
  5. Bit different format, I did buy both available primes for the Ricoh GXR, primarily because I was very impressed by the performance of the 33mm Macro. I have been less impressed with the 28mm equivalent, but I haven't much liked that focal length in digital or film. They were not particularly expensive, and if they had been, I'd have passed on the 28. With all of the FX lenses available, and the opportunity to use old glass with at least some DX cameras, the useful opportunity IMO is at the wide end of things. Wide lenses are difficult for some to use effectively.
  6. I personally think this is the key. If, by average user, we mean those who shoot D3XXX and D5XXX, I do not think there would be much of market for a DX prime. I think any demand for DX prime lenses will come from those who own D7XXX and the D500.

    If Sigma can replicate the performance of their prime f1.4 ART lenses in a smaller DX package at a reasonable price, I think there might be a niche market for it and could just possibly entice D5XXX owners to "upgrade" to D7XXX or D500 bodies.
  7. I think there is; almost every mirrorless camera system included a compact wide angle prime as one of the first lenses, attesting to their popularity. For DX DSLRs, there is the complication of the long flange distance which may make design more challenging, but Canon make a really small 24mm f/2.8 EF-S STM for their 1.6X crop DSLRs, though admittedly the angle of view is not all that wide. Pentax made several wide angle primes for their 1.5X DSLRs. It can be done, Nikon just don't want to do it for some reason.

    Personally I think the lack of wide angle DX primes limits the usability of DX as a standalone system. FX primes can be used but then you lose some of the portability and size advantage of DX, and the lens lets in unnecessary light, contributing to flare and ghosting.
  8. I used a 35mm f1.4 Nikkor as my normal lens on my 35 mm slrs. I would really like a compact 24mm dx lens.
    DawsonPointers likes this.
  9. Me too - but in my case that means I have a DX body but no longer own any DX lenses. My wife is still on DX - with three DX lenses (11-16, 16-80, 35/1.8 DX) and two FX (70-200/4, 80-400); she has not used the 35 prime even once in three or so years.
    Essentially yes, but I didn't want to draw a hard line as there are some who may use a smaller body but still would want primes. I couldn't come up with a better description for what I consider the DX user who purchases the one- or two-lens kits, and possibly adds the 35 and/or one of the macros.
    Sigma's recently release 16/1.4 for mirrorless isn't exactly small - and I doubt the same formula could be used to make a lens that fits a DSLR.
    Indeed, definitely the largest set of DX primes for DSLR. Some fairly small ones among them.
    I have used quite a few FX lenses on DX bodies and can't recall any instances were I observed this to any appreciable degree.

    So far, it appears that one demand for DX lenses emphasis the need for them to be small/compact (which would definitely distinguish them from the available DX zooms and FX primes).
  10. I am resisting FX, because of the additional weight over a DX (D7200).
    So I would be interested in decent DX primes.

    I just bought a 35/1.8, simply to get a FASTER lens when shooting indoors. I can shoot at ISO 1600, rather than 12800. So even with high ISO cameras, there is still a use and value for FAST glass.

    Then when you look at teles, there is the same problem. My 18-140 drops to f/4.5 at 40mm and f/5.6 at 100mm. Again I have to crank up the ISO level to 12800+, to compensate for the slow lens.
    A f/2.5 105mm or f/2.8 135mm lens would be nice.
  11. I don't use the DX cameras but if I do I want the DX prime because using FX lenses on DX camera is a waste. Fore comparison the 35mm f/1.8 DX vs the 35mm f/1.8 FX the FX is about 3 times more expensive yet doesn't perform better.
  12. I've quit using my D800E on trips (especially airline trips to big cities) because of the weight and bulk. Really, the image quality of the Nikon DX sensors is great! Right now I'm using a D5300 with Sigma 17-50mm f2.8. What I'd really like is a small 12mm f2 to add to the 17-50mm. OR, a very small 16mm, the 35mm f1.8 DX, and a small 60 or 70mm DX f2 or f2.8. My lens kit for my F3T is AiS 28/50/105mm, and for my Leica IIIc 28/50/90mm Elmars. I really like three lens kits where the focal length doubles. I didn't even consider taking my D800E on my Seattle trip last month. I took a Rolleiflex to use in the day, and the D5300 to shoot at night. There were a lot of bums/winos all over and I was afraid of getting robbed, so I took less expensive and less conspicuous camera gear.

    Kent in SD

  13. Yes, but there is a growing number of people who are just tired of hauling around FX camera gear and want something smaller. Image quality is good enough in the current DX sensors--better than what I was getting with Hassleblads 15 years ago. These are the people who are buying Fuji X and M43. Nikon is shrinking because they don't have the right lens mix for their small DX cameras, and don't seem to be taking these customers seriously.

    Kent in SD
  14. Hypothetically (in my personal case) "yes", why not? - I'm not yet using anything Nikon, admittedly tempted by a D500 with 200-500 and sticking to Fuji & Pentax' DX equivalents for now.
    I looked up DxO's Pentax results. In simple words: Nothing stellar. They offer a 35/2.8 macro and a 50/1.8 scoring 13 & 12 PMP on 24MP body.
    IMHO DX primes might sell for 2 reasons: Superior IQ compared to zooms paired with reduced bulk. Nikon have the obvious problem of no IBIS, so size wise tempting constructions like the bunch of Pentax pancakes (15/4 21/3.2 40/2.8 70/2.3) would maybe need VR added, to appear appealing?
    I don't mind shooting primes. I somehow trust them more than zooms but I'd want to get reliable decent IQ out of them. An obvious advantage of a DX system would be size and price of 2nd and third body. - I can somehow imagine myself picking up 3- & 5000 series as such. Since those AFAIK don't offer AF micro adjustments it might not be a smart move to sell ultra fast glass for them?
    Back to the market question: I'd imagine the DX enthusiast owning elderly 3-& 5000 too. + being bulk conscious.
    I adapted (too) early to Pentax' digital stuff, so my primes all have some film days heritage. The only dedicated digital lenses I bought were 18-whatever kit lenses and a 12-24.
    As an APS C shooter I'd love to see a light 135 mm prime for the regular long end.
    I have no clue what might be optically doable. I started partially switching to FF for bulk reduction and low light performance. I can't tell what might be on today's folks minds. Maybe APS lovers head towards modern Fujis? DX users might have FX in mind and be reluctant to tie money into DX glass? - Following Ilka's argument against it: I never understood why DX lens hood (attachment?)s aren't offered for FX lenses.
  15. Don't get me wrong, I'm in no hurry to ditch my FX system. My primary use for DX is as a backup, which necessitates small, light and cheap (so not a D500). I'm normally quite happy carrying around a D810, and if I want lighter I'll remove the L-plate that I normally leave on, and stop using a 70-200 f/2.8 as a walk-around lens.

    Still, occasionally I'm not really shooting, am going out for a drink with friends, and could use something more disposable and smaller. I've used the D810 with the 50mm E (which makes it not much deeper than the grip), and used to use the relatively small 28-200 on my D700. I've been known to use a film Eos 500 (I forget if that's a Kiss or Rebel variant in the US) and a 50mm f/1.8 - bigger than my Bessa R but, being all plastic, lighter.

    These days I more commonly use an RX100, but I'd take a bigger sensor if it would still at least fit in a coat pocket. (I've done this with an FX body by storing the lens separately, but that's a pain. My GF2 + 14-42PZ is coat pocket small, but not going to win quality awards. I'd love an X100 series, but they're expensive and limited - as is the Coolpix A and Ricoh equivalent.)

    I keep forgetting about the Voigtlander pancakes - although they're not as "disappear into the mount" as Pentax's. Part of the reason I'm interested in small lenses is, if they're only for the "backup body", I want to minimise bag space.

    I wouldn't dislike a small 135mm even with FX coverage (which is why I have the AI). Given that Sigma made a very good f/1.8, maybe Nikon should focus on making a small f/2.8 option with a modern design?
  16. Sigma has them for some lenses - at least I have one with my 150/2.8 OS. I stashed it away someplace as it takes up too much space in the bag.

    135mm for DX - makes sense (FX FOV equivalent of 200mm). Samyang makes an f/2.0 one for Fuji APS-C - the lens is neither small nor light though (and manual focus).
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  17. I'm not using a DX camera anymore, but the idea of a D3x00 or D5x00 as "quick-and-easy camera" at times is appealing. One of the things, though, I feel is missing is a small 24mm prime - much like Canon has made for their APS-C cameras. The 24mm f/1.8 isn't that small nor that cheap, so maybe a touch slower, DX-only and cheap and simple like the 35mm f/1.8DX, and better than the 24mm f/2.8 - I would want one. Another one I can see that would attract buyers is a 16mm (not sure if it would be me, though - not much of a wide angle user), and indeed something like 60-70mm as a portrait lens.

    That said, while I feel Thom Hogan has a point, I am not all that sure the market feels he has a point. Most people I see with DX cameras are OK with the 18-55/55-200 or 55-300 pair, or a superzoom of sorts. I've got zero data to back it up, but my idea is that prime-shooters are typically enthusiast enough to make the jump to FX, so the market for DX primes seems a bit a niche one. The 35mm f/1.8DX seems enough of a success, but I'd be interested to see the number of units sold compared to something like the 18-200VR - that should show what the DX/prime market really looks like.
    At the same time, Kent's point about people moving to smaller systems is definitely a trend, and Nikon isn't responding well. The question is: should they address that with small DSLRs (with crappy dim, but optical, viewfinder), or speed up a mirrorless effort.
  18. Norman

    Norman Norman T Naffington

    think about new customers. canon make an impressive 22/2 pancake lens for their eos-m cameras, what does nikon have to offer?
  19. Most people I see with DX cameras are OK with the 18-55/55-200 or 55-300 pair, or a superzoom of sorts. I've got zero data to back it up, but my idea is that prime-shooters are typically enthusiast enough to make the jump to FX,

    I know enthusiastic amateur photographers who have only a little money and they often want (a) portability and compact size, (b) as good image quality as possible for the money, (c) flexibility and quality of interchangeable lenses that allow them to photograph the subjects they're interested in. Often indoor photographs of people without the use of flash is among these applications. A wide angle prime is ideal for such applications. A friend of mine bought a used 18-35/1.8 for this purpose but she finds it too heavy it often gets left behind because of this reason. A 20mm prime might have done the trick. But, the Sigma zoom was chosen in this case as a good deal was found. I really think that many people would like to use a compact, moderate wide angle prime to complement a mid-level DX body such as the D7100 in this case. The 11-16/2.8 is available from Tokina for wider angles of view but I do believe a prime would be of better quality. A 16/2.8 DX and 23/2.8 DX or some such pair would be great. If the quality would be better by using the 20/1.8 FX, people would understand the compromise and choose the appropriate lens depending on their budget and priorities regarding image quality, maximum aperture, flare resistance, compactness and cost.
    Dieter Schaefer likes this.
  20. I bought Sigma's DX 18-35mm 1.8 and their DX 50-100mm 1.8, and they are both simply wonderful. Heavy and not cheap.

    I want them (or Nikon !!!) to make a DX 30-60mm 1.8 that's as sharp as all their other Art lenses.

    I also have the FX Art primes @ 35 and 50mm and the 24-35mm f2.... and do sometimes use them on my D7200 or D500 with good results.

    I've got their 8-16mm DX ultra wide zoom, but don't use it much beyond architectural and very occasional landscape.

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