Just curious - is there demand for DX primes?

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

  1. I do hear people report this, so I have to believe them. The 500mm f/4 AI-P's problems aren't helped by the position of the focus ring - in order to hold my hand where I could focus it, I found I had to extend my elbow to the extent of it being unsupported, and that lens was sufficiently front-heavy that I couldn't aim it stably. Newer versions may be substantially better.

    Well, give me one and I'll confirm it. :) I've tried them (pre-FL) a couple of times in shops; although they're heavier, the centre of gravity is close enough to me that I can brace an elbow on my conveniently-shaped belly. I'll have mixed feelings if I cease to be anatomically adapted before I get such a lens.

    The advantage of the 400mm is aperture - it'll give more subject separation than the 500mm (whereas for the 600mm it depends on the scene geometry). It depends what I'm pointing at, though; for wildlife near my house 400mm will often do, but the lighting is often limited. I don't really do the sports for which it's optimised. For birding, it's not long enough - the teleconverter option would be because I couldn't separately afford an 800mm. (200mm + 400mm will probably do me, and I'd be sane enough to hire when I needed more.)

    The argument for the 2xTC, for me, is mostly with the 600mm. The 800mm f/5.6 + TC14 only gets you to roughly the same place, while being a little less flexible; there's not really any such thing as an "old" 800mm, so there's no cheap route. Having seen someone with the 600 + TC20 in Yellowstone (with, admittedly, a D5 not pushing the resolution boat out much), it came to my attention that it's the main way of getting 1200mm with autofocus on a modern Nikon body - and it's quite a bit more reach than my puny 200-500 + TC14 combination. I've always been a little put off the 600mm partly because it's tested optically a bit worse than the shorter glass, but the FL versions seem to be improving that. On the other hand, less good, used versions for under £2000 (beaten up but hopefully okay optically) are a little tempting with autofocus. So far I'm restraining myself, since I have my eye on the D850 and 70-200 FL, and also not leaving myself indefinitely in debt. Besides, it would be most useful on a longer trip (near my house it would mostly give you a close-up of a magpie...) which means hiring the new versions are more appealing than trying to get a monster like this on a plane. I already stretch carry-on limits quite a lot.

    Technically it can also make an element thinner, which could be significant for both total weight and weight distribution. Barrel length doesn't do that much for total weight at the same absolute aperture (the 200mm f/2 is roughly the same weight as the pre-FL 300mm f/2.8, IIRC, and in the same ballpark as the 200-400 f/4 - all roughly 3kg), which - at the risk of being on topic - is a reason I'm dubious about the "lighter DX lenses" argument. You could get an FX lens to about the same weight as a DX equivalent by matching the effective aperture, to within an approximation.

    To be fair, I hear horror stories about this both from the Canon DO and the Nikkor PF, but people mostly seem awfully happy with them. I'd want to know before it went on my wish list, though.

    On the other hand, I can do about 1400mm f/5.6 with a 10" Dobsonian, but don't bother except for the sky because of the bokeh. Well, also it's manual focus and a bit hard to hand-hold. :)
  2. Quite an interesting thread!; both on- and off-topic.

    While Thom Hogan is a highly experienced and well-regarded photographer that I respect very much, it does not mean everything he says is always correct.In this instance I disagree with him. I do not see the need for any other specific DX prime lenses than the existing fisheye.

    Like already mentioned, there is the excellent range of somewhat compact 1.8 FX primes and I consider the 70-200/4 VR a good DX choice as well given its weight and size. Nikon also sell the D500 with the AF-S 200-500/5.6E VR as a wildlife kit, which is reasonable. I would not consider the D500 for landscape, but for sports and wildlife I would. Nikon offers the 10-24 and 10-20mm wide-angle zooms for the enthusiast and having used the 10-24 for several years, I can say it is a capable performer. Looking at some measurements, it would not limit the IQ of the D500 more than several of Nikon's pro lenses, such as the 600/4VR and 500/4VR.

    There is quite the speculation on what a D750 replacement might bring. I am actually with Dieter Schaefer on this, that there might not be a replacement any time soon. My guess is that the D5s is the next FX to be launched, in time for the upcoming winter Olympics. Perhaps with an AF-S 300/2.8E VR?

    Feature wise, the D610 can still hold its own quite well against the Canon 6D MarkII, so dropping its price might be all Nikon needs to breathe life into the low end FX segment. When I got my D610 earlier this year, I only paid the price of a D7200, which was perhaps a mistake by the dealer as I have not seen a new D610 that cheap since. At such a price point, I had no arguments with its AF performance and I would seriously recommend it over the D750 given the latter's substantially higher price. Priced like the D7200 it would make for an compelling choice. (The fact that I no longer have the D610 had more to do with resolution when cropping than with AF.)
  3. Interesting to hear from someone who actually had a D610 (recently) - which is a market I was entirely speculating about.

    The 6DII fixed the massive AF and speed deficit relative to the D6x0 that its predecessor had, and bumped resolution too. Other than the price hike or if you actually like low-ISO dynamic range (in which case you shouldn't have been shooting Canon for several years now), I'd taken it as a fair step up - at least, approaching D750 level. If you're fairly undemanding of features (AF, tilt screen, power aperture) other than raw photographic quality, the D610 is a very good camera - though I have to say my biggest single issue with my D810 is autofocus misses (roll on D850)..

    If Nikon can lower the price of the D610 further, I agree it would stand up well, especially against cheap A7 bodies. Whether Nikon can actually make it any cheaper is another matter (obviously I don't know), and they have bodies-on-shelves to compete against; one reason I'd like to see a D5 sensor-based D750 derivative is that it'll take a while for people to run out of stock of existing D750s if people prefer the characteristics.

    The D610 and D750 replacements (if they're not the same thing) are "overdue". That said, they've been "overdue" for a while. Tradition dictates a D5s and maybe D500s update, but I'm not sure how much really needs updating - I'd expect a very minor refresh, if any. Nikon have had a relatively quite 2017 (the D850 was special, the D7500 less so, but otherwise they've not flooded the market with bodies). They'll have to get some stuff released in 2018, but I make no pretence about being able to predict what with any accuracy.

    Because it'll probably be a Df2.
  4. I don’t think there will be a D5s, D500s or a Df2. D750 replacement seems most likely. Radio AWL, touch screen, larger buffer are my guesses.

    On the lens front, a FL 200-400/4 with built in TC has been rumoured, and seems a good lens to show at the winter olympics.
  5. Actually a 180-400/4 with built-in 1.4xTC. And a D5s as well. Nothing more than rumors at this point though. Personally, I rather see Nikon do a firmware update on the D500 than releasing a D500s - I am surely not going to trade-in my D500 bodies for a little bit of (though welcome) gain. And since the D500 has pretty much zero competition at this point, why bother with a "mid-term" refresh.

    On the Df2: the time to have done that has passed - it would have been the 100th anniversary date. IMHO, chances for a Df2 at this point are nil.

    I know of at least one who uses a Canon 600/4 hand held to capture raptor-in-flight shots.

    Quite possible that I am not sufficiently critical or capable of spotting the difference, but a) I am not unhappy with the way the 300/4E PF VR renders the background and b) looking at the images you posted this week in Nikon Wednesday, I can't spot a major difference in the OOF rendering between your 300/4 and 200/2 shots (wondering about the difference in color balance though).
  6. (wondering about the difference in color balance though).

    The color in the arena wasn't very consistent across the event (there was also two different cameras) and I should do some editing to even out the differences.

    I can't spot a major difference in the OOF rendering

    Well there is a difference, but not everyone is sensitive to such things. The background is a bit more busy in the 300 PF shots (more "edges" whereas in 200/2 shots the background objects have softer boundaries) but it might not be obvious in these images (as there is generally a fairly large difference in distance between subject and background, and many of the images involve some cropping which can confound differences). When the distance between subject and out of focus areas is shorter, the difference in favour of the 200 becomes more pronounced, and if there is out of focus areas in the foreground (between the camera and subject) the 300 PF does not handle those as well.

    I'm much happier with the results from the 200/2 in this kind of even, but low lighting; there is more "pop" and the blur is softer and more beautiful (to my eye). There is less contrast in the 300 PF shots (though colourful outfits are well rendered with either lens), the ISO has to be increased, and the out of focus areas are more busy (though what is acceptable is subjective). However, of course the 300 PF is easier to shoot with due to its small size.

    I hear horror stories about this both from the Canon DO and the Nikkor PF, but people mostly seem awfully happy with them.

    Well the 300 PF is supremely fun to shoot with and quite sharp, but I feel a bit "blah" about the results especially when compared side by side with a conventional refractive lens of high quality (in the same event, not necessarily the same subject since that would be difficult to accomplish). I think eventually the PF has to go and the 2.8 version comes in. Even if it might mean some neck pain.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
  7. They might be more obvious in large-scale images; at least for me they are hard to spot in 1000-pixel wide/high images.
  8. Am I missing something? a DX prime? all prime lens work on both FX and DX formats. just correct length selection for DX. . Instead of using a 50 use a 35 on DX and so forth. I shoot all of my prines on both formats prime.jpg
  9. The problem is that none of the lenses you show auto-focuses on the lower-end DX DSLRs that don't have an internal AF motor but constitute the bulk of DX DSLRs sold.
  10. yes but I don't think that people with lower end nikon dx cameras are looking to use primes. all purpose zooms are the lens of choice for those cameras. I think anyone looking for the critical differences from primes is using a much better camera. the most popular one, , a fast normal lens exists the 35mm 1.8 DX
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
  11. Well, in this thread there seem to be some who would. Granted, I also think that the majority of those who purchase into the D3x00 and D5x00 lines won't be interested in primes (DX or FX) - but if Nikon were to offer primes, they would certainly also work on those cameras.

    At the beginning of this thread I had suggested that the current line of AF-S FX primes could substitute for some of the missing DX primes; I had not considered the older AF-D lenses as they work only on some DX bodies - but it certainly is an option if one is happy with the performance characteristics of these older lenses.
  12. I think the DX primes would mainly interest D7x00 and some D500 users but also young people and students often buy the least expensive model and they may still need to shoot in low light with a wide angle.I do agree that most buyers would probably be users of the mid level and high end DX models. Generally speaking I think the ubiquity of the fixed focal length mobile phone cameras has made the use of primes more mainstream.
  13. At the ends of the spectrum where DX (and smaller) comes into its own - telephoto and macro - the camera body is pretty much an irrelevance stuck on the end of a big lens or bellows and mounted on a tripod. In other words DX saves hardly any weight or size. So there's really no need for DX-specific lenses there.

    Where DX is used to save weight and bulk, Nikon have definitely screwed up their lens range. Their 'pro' level 17-55mm f/2.8 zoom is heavy, bulky, has no VR and is basically a white elephant. In comparison the Tamron 17-50 (non VC version) equals its IQ at half the weight and size; so guess which lens gets used most frequently.

    Would more DX primes equalise this situation? I don't think so.

    Sony's Alpha 5000 and 6000 bodies are tiny and neat, but add a lens and their 'pocketability' is immediately lost.

    And FWIW, anyone who still questions the viability of a MILC for fast AF ability and responsiveness should pay a visit to the Sony/Minolta forum.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  14. On the contrary, when shooting action with a large telephoto, the camera body’s ergonomics play a significant role in making the experience more pleasant and avoiding neck pain afterwards. And the additional viewfinder magnification of a camera such as the D500 helps see the subject’s expressions clearly. While the D850 has a similar pixel density, it doesn’t quite have the burst depth or viewfinder magnification and the mirror and shutter make a louder sound. And it’s about twice as expensive (more than that if you want 9fps and have no D4/D5 battery and charger around). If you want to shoot telephoto action and are on a budget then DX makes a lot of sense, and may make sense even if you have no budget limitations. FX is better for most indoor sports action though.

    An FX lens used on DX sensor or cropped equivalently takes in light that contributes to flare and ghosting but doesn’t contribute to the image constructively. I do think DX lenses at select focal lengths would help improve the contrast a bit (nano coated of course). This issue is most obvious when the sun is just outside the DX area but within the FX area. But, the most pressing need is at wide angle focal lengths. FX has a lot of wide angle primes now, why not make 1-2 for DX. It would allow DX users to feel at home with the format with no pressure to move somewhere else. I think that is one problem with DX today - manufacturers make it seem like it’s not the real deal (by omitting certain key lenses) even though the results are perfectly fine for most practical applications of photography and more than satisfactory for the majority of people.

    By the way I liked the 17-55/2.8 Nikkor a lot; for a zoom it has very pleasing rendering of skin and nice bokeh. It does flare and ghost as it was one of the last before nano coating came to camera lenses. It is also well built and has good ergonomics.

    Mirrorless is its own thing. Use it if you enjoy it. If someone else wants to use a DSLR, let them.
  15. Well, DX primes work on FX cameras of you don't care about the extremes of the frame being lit (or at least sharp). FX primes work, but not optimally because you're paying for and carrying extra coverage (which makes very little difference at telephoto and quite a lot with wide lenses).

    The real issue is whether these lenses actually exist. There's no DX 9mm f/1.2 that can match the Sigma 14mm f/1.8. There's no (convenient) DX 57mm f/0.95 that behaves like the best 85mm f/1.4. Mitakon did make a 135mm f/1.4; is it a match for a 200/2 on FX? Doubtful.

    You can usually find good enough, and in wide angles zooms are often so useful the available options are plenty. But I don't dispute that it would be nice for DX shooters to have some other options without switching systems to get it.
  16. I believe that Nikon's recent line of f/1.8 FX primes can easily substitute for some of those missing DX primes. . . .
    Dieter, I can only say that I would use some primes that are not FX on my D7100, if only because they would be much lighter. I guess from a marketing perspective, Nikon has little incentive to develop a line of lenses that might not be thought to have the potential to sell many copies. I think that they might be wrong, though. It feels a bit ridiculous to stick a huge prime on a DX body when there are (or could be) alternatives. I guess for Nikon the question is whether enough people are going to opt for primes when some pretty good zooms are available.

    I do use primes for my Canon T6i and T2i, but they are long--300mm and up, for birds, etc.

  17. When I do have to have a shorter prime on a 1.5x crop body, I use short Sigma primes on my Sony A6000. It seems the reasonable alternative, given the offerings that are available from all three big brands on eBay and KEH.

    For the mountains, I often carry my old Olympus E-M5, which I can use with primes or with a Panasonic 100-300 for an effective focal range of 200-600.

    Given the availability of rather inexpensive alternatives, most of us don't feel particularly wedded to Nikon anymore, if we ever did. I still think of myself as a Canon shooter who got shunted in a different direction with the purchase of a D800E in 2012. I have frankly left my options open, not the most economically rational thing to do, but how many of us are rational where lens purchases are concerned?

  18. There is something to be said for buying the bodies to match the lenses we have or want to get.


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