Re-Fast Primes

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by tim_knight, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. Like to thank Pablo, Joseph, and Shun for their responses for the post I wrote
    First of two parts: I am disappointed with Nikon for not having the fast primes
    (f/1.4 and f/1.8)that would work on my D50 in the lengths I am looking for
    (20mm, 24mm, &28mm). I have the Nikon 50 f/1.8 lens and have had great success
    taking indoor pictures without using ths flash. I want my next lens to be close
    to a 35mm film lens in length. I looked at the f/2.8 lens and I am afraid I
    will be disappointed with their speed compared to the 50mm 1.8 lens. Tell me if
    I am wrong that with all of the DSLR's Nikon is selling they are missing out on
    a growing market as newbies like me start to demand needs in this area. I keep
    reading the same statement; The lens is more important than the camera! There,
    now I feel better.
    2nd part: If anyone out there has one of the "Superspeed Sigma Trio Lens" in
    the following lengths (20mm f1.8 EX DG AF), (24mm f/1.8 EX DG AF), and (28 mm
    f/1.8 EX DG AF) please give me your opinion on the lens you own. The 24mm
    because it fits my requirements in length (film 35mm) would be the one I prefer
    but have read enough concerning Sigma quality problems that I would buy one of
    the other two if they are a better quality lens. Sorry Nikon!
  2. Nikon has a 28mm f1.4D lens that is supposed to be very, very good.
  3. The sigma lenses you mentioned are not nearly the quality of the sigma 30/1.4, but that may be a little longer than you want. I find 30mm to be useful, and that lens spends more time on my d200 than any other.

    Agreed on all points about nikon missing out on primes.
  4. ...and very, very, exotic and expensive... many multiples of a D50...
  5. Perhaps they don't make them is because there is not much demand for them. Or perhaps not much need. Considering the difference from 2.8 to 1.4 exposure wise is minimal and that the d200 produces noise free images at ISO 400 on my d200, there is really not much need for a 1.4 aperture.

    Many are of the opinion that the Nikon 50mm 1.8 produces superior results (sharpness wise) to the 1.4. Bumping the ISO up slightly is easy and does not affect the final picture.
  6. I take 99% of my images outside and do not need really fast lenses. Wnen indoors, I can increase the ISO to 200 or 400 or 800 and get by with f 2.8. My guess is Nikon does not make one because there is not that much demand for one. Joe Smith
  7. Do not forget that Nikon makes those fast 85 mm lenses, the f 1.4 and f 1.8. Joe Smith
  8. “I keep reading the same statement; The lens is more important than the camera!” --Tim Knight

    This may or may not be true depending on what you photograph. When you lock the lens in place the camera and lens are one unit. They do not function independent of one another. I have always bought the best camera I could afford and then built a lens system around it. I get ridiculed for this but it works fine for many. I dare say most Leica M owners start with one body and one lens.

    I’ve started two Nikon 35mm systems. Both times I started with a 55/3.5 Micro-Nikkor then added a 105/2.5 and 24/2.8. As you can see there are no fast lenses here. The lack of a fast prime did cause problems so with my second system I added then deleted a 50/1.4 AI. The 50/1.4 was a dog, quite possibly a marginal sample. I replaced it with an excellent 50/1.8 AI. One of my favorite lenses now for film is the 28/2.0 AIS. It’s a great lens for candid photos of people.

    I do not know the lenses you are asking about. I’ve seen very nice sample photos from the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM. It’s gets a lot of compliments around here. I’d love to own one. I recommend that you look into this lens as a start.

    I agree that Nikon is sorely lacking in fast, quality, prime lenses for their DSLR(s). They are concentrating on slow consumer zooms with VR because they are cash cows. There are a number of fast professional zooms but fast for a zoom is f/2.8 and this is not fast as a prime. I mix and match zooms, primes, auto focus and manual focus lenses. I’m disappointed that Nikon is apparently paying no attention to prime lenses.


    Dave Hartman.

    PS: Canon owners I know have some complaints here also.


    “Perhaps they don't make them is because there is not much demand for them. Or perhaps not much need. Considering the difference from 2.8 to 1.4 exposure wise is minimal and that the d200 produces noise free images at ISO 400 on my d200, there is really not much need for a 1.4 aperture.” --Elliot Bernstein

    There is clearly demand but there is more profit in slow zooms held together with clear cellophane tape (not a joke). There is more demand for these lenses among convenience motivated buyers. An f/1.4 lens lets in four times as much light so there is significant difference exposure wise. This is not a whim. DX cameras in practical use yield more DOF and less background blurring so faster lenses are sorely needed.

    Nikon does not make a full system of lenses for their DX cameras.


    Dave Hartman.
  9. Sigma 20/1.8 is not exactly sharp wide-open but works when you need it.
  10. I was under the impression that Nikon no longer manufactures the 28mm 1.4. Am I mistaken?
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The 28mm/f1.4 AF-D was discontinued at the end of 2005. It was in production for 12 years (1993 to 2005). There are some available in the used market but maybe at inflated prices. When it was available new, it was around US$1700 or so with Nikon USA warranty.

    That seems to be way over Tim's original budget and was why I never mentioned it in respond to his first post:
  12. Tim:

    Forgive me for sounding crass here - you are asking for too much from your D50 & also Nikon as well.

    The prices for fast primes are way up there even for say 2.8's

    You are asking for the holy grail & the diameter of the lenses let alone the cost would be prohibitive.

    May be best to consider another system.

    Good Luck ...
  13. The Sigma 20mm f/1.8 has my attention, and I may well buy it. There was a post on p.n in the last 90 days showing some images (center and edge) from that lens, and I thought they were good enough for the type of shooting I do. Unfortunately, I can't find them now (I commented on them), perhaps they were deleted.

    I have had a bad experience with Sigma lenses on Nikon bodies in the past, but this is a niche lens that Nikon does not see fit to fill.
  14. I fell for the Sigma 20mm f/1.8 for the same reason you were talking about. The idea of a fast wide angle was very tempting to me so I tried it. Now, I may have bought a nasty one but it was totally soft wide open but was o.k. by f/4 or so. So then I had a huge 20mm lens (82mm filter size) that I had to stop way down to even get a sharp picture...which negated the whole reason why I bought it in the first place! I took it back feeling like a total sucker. I bought the Nikkor 20mm which is a stop and change slower but it is lots sharper and less than half the size. I would love it if Nikon would produce a 20mm f/2 or so DX that didn't totally suck=)
  15. It is an open market - everybody complaining about missing fast WA lenses at low prices (near the price of a D50)is welcome to start his own company and sell the heck out of the market. I would be the first to buy from you a 20mm f1.4 AFD compatible lens that will work on all Nikon bodies in the future without the need of a chip update once the D4X comes out. Of course its optical quality should be at least as good as the 20mmf2.8 - not to mention it should be all metal and built quality superior to Nikon. Good luck. :)
  16. I own the Sigma 24/1.8 EX AF (non DG). Quite large, not very fast AF. Excellent bokeh. Quite prone to flare. Can focus quite close and this adds interesting options. A specialized lens.

    Sharpness wide open is decent (better than Nikon 35/2 or 35/1.4) and excellent one or two stop down.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Walter, when Zeiss first announced that they were producing Nikon F mount lenses last year, I was quite excited with (false) hope that they would fill in some of the gaps in Nikon's line up. For example, a 24mm/f1.4 or even f2 AF-S or 20mm/f1.8 DX would be quite nice. Of course anything with the Zeiss logo on it would be expensive.

    Needless to say, I was quite disappointed when the actual announcement came out.
  18. Shun I think there would be too many compromizes for such a fast WA as the 24mm f1.4. Distortion, CA, speed, precision in manufacture all this is mutually exclusive. So where do you take your preference? When people realize the shortcomings in one of these aspects the market will get small and production cost goes up -> even smaller market.

    Regarding Zeiss - my feeling is that the Zeiss people are a bit confused about marketing and selling :p Good engeneering but no idea what to do with the product and what the market needs. Sadly this is not a new situation for this company. In the past other Zeiss product lines went through similar venues - luckily with positive outcome. Once most lenses are out I might try a few comparisons - unfortunaley my connections to Zeiss is along other product lines and there seems to be no connection - stopped to keep track of who owns and runs which part of Zaiss ^^.
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Well, any 24mm/f1.4 is going to be a relatively big lens (for a wide angle), expensive and probably so so wide open. And if you must stop it down to f2.8 to have an excellent lens, it indeed opens the question why not just buy a $300 24mm/f2.8 to begin with.

    A case of point is that a friend of mine bought a Canon 5D late last year along with a Canon 24mm/f1.4. In less than a year, he has recently added a Canon 24mm/f2.8 so that he has a better 24mm when he doesn't need f1.4.

    Those (perhaps including me) who wish for a 24mm/f1.4 type fast wide angle could have second thoughts if one is actually available. I never bought that $1700 Nikon 28mm/f1.4, for example.
  20. Shun that is exactly my point. We all know that this fast lens (28mm/f1.4)is not "just" fast but also offers an outstanding signature. It is the pricetag that holds you and me back to own it :p I am open to donations^^. This pricetag has a lot to do with the required precision in manufacturing such a short lens at f1.4.

    A good example in the oppsite direction is the Sigma 12-24 zoom. Its "competitive" price makes it really affordable and it is a good lens. However, I know several people (3 of 4 specimens)who bought the Canon version and had to send it in for adjustment once they had a closer look at their images. The focus was not well centered. Once back the lenses were great.
  21. Walter writes...

    " I would be the first to buy from you a 20mm f1.4 AFD compatible lens..." And, when people
    see the price, maybe the last. Do the math, folks. How much will really fast wide primes cost.
    The 28/1.4 was discontinued probably because only a handful of people bought it at well
    over a grand-and-a-half.

    So, how many of us are willing to pony up, say, 2500 bucks for a Nikkor 20mm/f1.4 prime?
    Enough to make manufacturing it worthwhile?
  22. Dave -

    Yeah, that's the thread, thanks. For some reason I couldn't 'find' it in my own posting history (I think it was older than I thought, and I didn't look far enough back).
  23. I totally recommend the "old" Sigma 28/1.8 asph (58 mm filter size and around the size of a 50/1.4). I liked it on film and love it on my D70 :)
  24. Peter that was under this presumably impossible assumption:
    "fast WA lenses at low prices (near the price of a D50)" :)
  25. “Yeah, that's the thread, thanks. For some reason I couldn't 'find' it in my own posting history (I think it was older than I thought, and I didn't look far enough back).” --Todd Peach

    Finding this one was easy though most aren’t. I searched backwards in your posting history for “Sigma.” Fortunately the focal length and aperture ratio were in the thread title as well as Sigma. I’ve spend 10 minutes or a little more and given up looking for a few of my posts in my history. Luck can play a major part, in this case the title of the thread was very helpful. After several weeks or few months I find Google almost useless.


    An 18/2.0G ED-IF AF-S DX with acceptable barrel distortion, no compound or mustache distortion, is a reasonable request. If there is any truth to the smaller, lighter, less expensive, line about DX lenses this should no more difficult now than the 28/2.0 Nikkor-N Auto was to design back in the sixties.

    The original 28/2.0 Nikkor-N Auto had the same basic nine elements in eight groups as the late 28/2.0 AIS with SIC coating. It was releases in the summer of 1970 about the time I started serious photography. Something I never noticed before is that Roland Vink notes that the original 28/2.0 had multi-coating and the photos at his site give credence.

    I realize some folks do not understand the use of fast primes and other don’t need them as they use flash more often. My MO for candid photography requires fast prime lenses as surely as MacHeath needed his jackknife. This is why I say with all certainty that Nikon does not have a full system of lenses for the DX format.

    I’d think there is a greater problem with a 13/2.8 DX which would stand in for the 20/2.8 in the DX format. Again if there is any truth to the DX lens line of advertising such a lens should be no more difficult than a 12~24/4.0G ED-IF DX.

    There is also a need for a new 58/1.2 Noct and 70/1.4. The matting crowd many not need these but discriminating photographers do. Flash is often not acceptable as it alters sharply the behavior of the subject, there being noting subtle about a stab of bright light in the eye. This is aside from the esthetics of the flash. Flash is also banned in many places and those using “tourist” cameras are often ignored where one with a professional looking camera gets unwanted attention.

    I’m sure I’ll get flamed all over the place for this buy those who do not understand and by those who just want to be contentious. If Nikon wants to be credible as a professional camera manufacture they need a full system of lenses for DX, that or they need to release a “Nikon F6D.”


    Dave Hartman.
  26. "If Nikon wants to be credible as a professional camera manufacture they need a full system of lenses for DX, that or they need to release a ?Nikon F6D.?

    Dave, I couldn't agree with you more. I haven't bought a DSLR yet as Nikon is not providing fast wide-angle DX primes, or a full frame DSLR that will take the existing lenses. If they don't move in that direction within the next year or so, I will be looking somewhere else.

  27. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If Nikon wants to be creditable for the professional market, IMO the biggest problem is the lack of a sports/PJ DSLR that is at least 8MP and also 8 frames/sec. To do both is technically challenging, but Canon has done it since early 2004. You can say 4MP is sufficient all you want, the fact of the matter is that a lot of clients, including some large stock agencies, require 8MP. Obviously the lack of a true portrait lens for the DX sensor size is also a major issue. There are countless threads in this forum asking about portrait lenses for DSLRs.

    To me, it is very obvious that Nikon is focusing on the consumer market first. I was the first one (I think, at least one of the first) in this forum to point out last month that the new 18-135mm kit lens for the D80 is Nikon's fourth 18-xxx DX consumer zoom in 2.5 years. That is excessive to say the least.

    I am curious how good Sigma's 20mm/f1.8 is as a $400 lens. Even if it is just half way decent, how many 20mm/f1.4 Nikon can sell at $2500, or even $1250?
  28. I'm an amateur who doesn't throw big money at the hobby(i.e. "consumer market") and I also want/need fast primes for my style of photography.

    I tend to like a short telephoto for much of what I do, so a 50mm is still going to be my default on a 1.5 crop DSLR. A fast prime is good for indoor/window portraits and other pictures without flash -- depth of field control if not ISO still require wide apertures for this. In this sense, the crop does very well by me (I can defer buying a fast 85 for a portrait lens). In the very near future, however, I'll buy either the Sigma 30mm or the 35/f2 Nikkor for something tolerable-fast and closer to the perspective/subject distance of a 50mm on a 35mm camera. I don't know what I'll do (if anything) for true wide-angle (probably settle for one of those cheap slow zooms if I really need to go wide).

    Actually.... for the knowledgeable 'consumer level' market -- maybe what is needed are modestly fast primes in the 'new standard' format. We got cheap 50mm f2 and 50mm f1.8 lenses for 35mm. Why can't there be semi-cheap 35mm f2 and 35mm f1.8 lenses for DX? Am I wrong that the engineering challenges would be similar? (after all, an 85mm is likely to be the most affordable lens for medium format.)
  29. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Andrew, this has been discussed many times before. Essentially there is no point to make any lens that is below 35mm DX, and there is already a $300 35mm/f2 AF-D. The main problem is that a 35mm is not a wide angle for the DX sensor.
  30. as I posted in your other thread, this is more about DOF control than shutter speed as far as I'm concerned. I'm amazed that people would find 24mm f4 + high ISO to be equivalent to 24mm f1.4, as having the background in focus vs. out of focus is a dramatic difference to my eyes. But that's me, I'm partial to a wide-open Leica portraiture aesthetic.

    As for the Sigmas, check the user reviews on and I've researched the 20 1.8 a lot - on full frame it has a disgusting dizzy bokeh (heavy highlight rings, with a strong concentric radial blur) that IMHO renders it useless at wide apertures. On 1.5 crop it fares a lot better and makes a nice available-light moderate wide angle if you get a good copy.

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