Nikon 24mm f/1.4G or Zeiss Distagon 21mm f/2.8

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by michael_vail, May 18, 2015.

  1. For landscape/seascape, D810, using live view, tripod and Lee Filter system. Other than the obvious auto vs manual focusing difference, please share your thoughts/experiences. I can't decide which investment to make. Many thanks.
  2. That's quite a difference in focal length.
    Wouldn't it be more logical to consider the 20mm f1.8G versus the Zeiss 21mm f2.8?
    Or the 24mm f1.4G versus the Zeiss 25mm f2? Or Zeiss 25mm f2.8?
    You also have Nikon's 24mm tilt shift to consider.
    What I'm trying to ask is if you want something around 20mm or something around 24mm?
  3. i'd also consider the sigma 24/1.4 if i was considering the nikon. for that matter, if you're using live view/tripod, i'd even consider the samyang 24/1.4 (which has better corners than the zeiss 25/2.8, according to photozone).
  4. I can't comment on the specific lenses in question here as I haven't shot with either - and with regard to the two focal lengths IMO the only viable answer is that it depends on the individual. Personally, and if restricted to using primes instead of a zoom, I prefer 21 over 24 for the application that you mention - but that's me and YMMV.
  5. For what you're doing, the Nikon 24mm PC-E is absolutely a no-brainer. F1.4 will do you no good for landscapes. Tilt & shift most certainly will. I use that lens on a D800E. It's the last lens I will sell.
    Kent in SD
  6. Just echoing Kent, the 24mm PC-E Tilt Shift lens is the way to go for landscape and seascape views. The Samyang/Rokinon will do fairly well, but it is not as sharp as the Nikon lens.
  7. The Zeiss 25/2 ZF.2 would be a closer match. The Zeiss 25 is an outstanding lens with very little distortion and sub-pixel level chromatic aberration. A 20-21 mm lens is super wide, and IMO with niche applications, whereas a 24-25 is simply very wide and a good complement to a 28mm or 35mm lens.
    Either lens has depth of field to spare at landscape distances (arms length to infinity). T&S lenses are best suited to table top and small product photography. I omit architecture because convergence, otherwise handled with a shift motion, is very easy to correct in Photoshop, even in two planes (a PC lens handles one plane only). If you're willing to spend $2000 on a PC lens, put it into better glass like a Zeiss Distagon.
    If you eventually migrate to an EVF camera (almost inevitable), Zeiss (and Leica) lenses will hold up, whereas the best Nikon glass will seem like soft-focus. Sony has an A7 sized 60MP camera in beta, along with a 42% share of the digital sensor market.
  8. I have used a number of Zeiss wide angle lenses (18/3.5, 25/2.8, 28/2, 35/2) but not the 21mm you ask about. I prefer the way Nikon lenses render images. Zeiss seem harsh and crude to my eye, and the modern Nikkors sophisticated and gentle. I'm not saying the Zeiss lenses don't have merits - they have nice micro-contrast but in practice I almost always pick the Nikon lens because of the way the images look.
    I would recommend you to consider the Nikon 20mm f/1.8, which is an a great lens and less expensive than the 24/1.4, 24 PC-E or 21/2.8 ZF.2. It's also very lightweight and handles shooting into the light in an excellent manner. For landscape/seascape the 24mm PC-E is a lens to consider, as you can get much better near-to-far sharpness utilizing the tilt feature. However, it is an expensive lens. The 24/1.4 I would only buy if you intend to take advantage of the f/1.4 aperture - I use it for documentary photography of people indoors and at night. My personal preference these days is to use PC-E lenses for most of my landscape and detail images, combined with some telephoto.
  9. What little contribution I can give is based on owning a 14-24 and using a 21mm Zeiss in a shop. And wow, does the Zeiss have less chromatic aberration (and I think less field curvature). I've not compared with the 24mm Nikkor, however, so for all I know it's better in these areas as well, but the Zeiss is certainly less problemmatic in my brief experiments than the 14-24 has been for me. Whether it's pixel-level sharp in the corners wide open is another matter - probably not - but on five minutes of playing with one, it's a pretty impressive bit of glass. If only I had the complete set of Nikkors to compare it with. Any donors? :)
  10. T&S lenses are best suited to table top and small product photography. I omit architecture because convergence, otherwise handled with a shift motion, is very easy to correct in Photoshop, even in two planes (a PC lens handles one plane only). If you're willing to spend $2000 on a PC lens, put it into better glass like a Zeiss Distagon.​
    My 24m PC-E was bought on ebay for $1,200. Best lens for landscape I've ever bought. The problem when you use software corrections (I've tried it) is that introduces a lot of other problems, including a different kind of distortion. It also won't give you lens tilt plane of focus manipulations. No one will be able to tell if you used a Nikon 20mm f1.8G or a Zeiss 21mm. You can easily tell that a tilt/shift lens was used. The difference is real.

    Kent in SD
  11. Hi Edward, Can you tell us more about the "Sony has an A7 sized 60MP camera in beta"?
  12. Zeiss uploaded images taken with the soon to be released Batis 25/2 and 85/1.8 lenses for the Sony FE cameras. In some of the metadata, there is a reference to an "unknown" Sony camera with 60 MP images.
    Regarding perspective correction in Photoshop, you must squeeze one end as much as you stretch the other to maintain the correct aspect ratio of the surface being corrected. The results are identical to those obtained with a rise or shift in a view camera. The downside is you lose a lot by cropping back to a rectangular format that you would not encounter with rise/shift actions.
    Agreed that you cannot simulate tilting the focal plane in Photoshop, but there are other options such as focus stacking. Point of fact, I've had all the depth of field needed for landscapes simply by stopping down in a 35mm sized camera (or medium format).
  13. Regarding "Regarding perspective correction in Photoshop, you must [...]" it must be noted that the perspective as captured by the lens and camera is correct, and what PS is used for is to 'uncorrect' it so it looks better.

    Has anyone given an asnwer to the question, comparing a Nikon 24mm f/1.4G to a Zeiss Distagon 21mm f/2.8, yet? ;-)
  14. I guess no one here has both lenses, which is why no direct answer to the question has been given. From my understanding of Zeiss lenses in general (I think this applies to the 21mm as well, though I haven't used it personally), they hold up sharpness and microcontrast very well when stopped down to f/8-f/11, and this makes them quite well suited for landscape. The 24/1.4 is more an environmental portrait / photojournalism wide angle used typically at a very wide aperture, giving beautiful out of focus effects (for a wide angle). I think the 24/1.4 probably works well also for stopped down landscapes but I've never tried because I prefer to use movements for landscape. I don't agree that tilt isn't needed on 35mm / FX for landscape, but I do think it is a personal decision to make. While small formats give more depth of field at a given f-stop, diffraction starts to affect the image significantly earlier than with larger formats assuming all formats have the same pixel count (without loss of generality we can assume this for now), so if you want to get the best detail you cannot stop down to the smallest apertures with FX (even less with DX). Tilt helps alleviate problems with depth of field in near-to-far landscape shots, e.g. when photographing ice formations on the sea, after having used tilt for all the images for a number of years, it would be difficult to go back to not having it available; the results would seem sloppily done to my eye. Now, since the Zeiss lenses give good performance at smallish apertures (f/8, f/11) it may be that tilt is needed less acutely than with Nikkors that typically peak at f/5.6 and visibly start to show more diffraction effects at smaller apertures. I personally find the sweet spot for landscape images to be around f/9, but when necessary I will stop down a bit more (even with tilt, this is sometimes necessary), with the necessary result in slightly less sharp detail.
    This is an example of an image that wouldn't work without tilt.
    It was made with the 45mm PC-E. The aperture is quite small and the water was rising and falling rapidly so no two images were the same. Focus stacking would have been impossible. I find that with the sea, and water in general it is often just not possible to merge two or more images to create a panoramic or focus stack, as the scene is changing too much. Of course in some cases it may be possible to manually focus stack by using layers and masks, and resolve the inconsistencies by hand, but to me this is preferable to be avoided if a single shot can do it with the right lens.
    This one is with left/right tilt using the 24mm PC-E:
    Focus stacking could have been used in this case to get all the icicles in focus, but with tilt, only one shot was required. I've noticed that ice causes some artifacts in focus stacking though, and of course melting ice at the ends of the icicles is different in every shot. Nonetheless, I use all of these techniques (focus stacking, tilt, small apertures) when needed to reach the end result and I'm not saying that any individual photographer has to have the same approach - a lot of people don't use tilt for landscape. It's just a question of what kind of results you want to achieve.
    One area of landscape photography where the 24/1.4 is very practical is the photography of aurora borealis.
    Thanks to the wide aperture it is possible to use shorter exposures and get more fine details in the aurora, which are often constantly changing.
  15. There isn't really a right answer to this as you are comparing on the one hand an ultra wide angle manual focus lens with an autofocus
    more standard focal length lens with a fast, shallow f1.4 aperture! Each lens has different strengths and weaknesses, different
    applications even.

    I have the Zeiss 21mm lens and it is simply superb, the fine detail which it is capable of capturing on my D800 is incredible, so if you
    happen to like that focal length, I'd have to recommend this lens. However, as mentioned above here the 24mm f1.4 lens can be useful
    for applications like photographing the Aurora Borealis, sadly not something I've ever properly seen yet. But that lens is aimed more at
    photo journalists than landscape photographers, others here say get the Nikon 24mm Shift lens instead. I could see that being the more
    useful lens for you once you have mastered using it to get the advantage of using tilt/ shift in your photography. At the end of the day only
    you can decide what the best lens for your particular needs are.

    However, given that the recently launched Nikon 20mm f1.8g lens has very good reviews, you could probably buy it and the rather
    excellent Nikon 28mm f1.8g lens for less than the price of the Zeiss 21mm and not be giving much if anything away in quality terms. I
    dare say that Nikon will get round to producing an equivalent 24mm f1.8g lens at some point and hopefully something in the 16 to 17mm
    focal length area too. Remember too that the Zeiss 21mm is rather heavy and can be quite slippery to hold when you are changing
    lenses as its grip only has vertical lines on it, ideal for dropping it if you're not very careful!
  16. I own and love the 24 1.4, but if I'm going out with the aim of shooting landscapes, that is not the lens I would choose to carry. Not to say it's a bad landscape lens, but you're paying a significant premium for the fast aperture - not an attribute that is generally beneficial for landscape photography. I would echo the suggestions above to look closely at the new Nikon 20mm 1.8, for your stated usage.

Share This Page