Using a D700 with prime lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by luisarguelles, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. I’m thinking about buying a D700 as my “digital” camera. Although I’m primarily a b&w film-guy, sometimes I shoot in color and the big pixels in the D700’s detector attract me a lot. I have the following Nikkor lenses: 20mm f/2.8 AF-D, 24mm f/2.8 AF-D, 28mm f/2.8 AF, 35mm f/2.8 AF-D, 50mm f/1.8 AF and 85mm f/1.8 AF. Do these lenses work well with the D700 in terms of results in image quality? Weight is a very important factor for me and while a D700 plus a, let’s say, 24mm prime lens is inside my weight limit, a D700 with a zoom lens mounted on it is too much for my neck. Thank you very much for your welcomed comments.
     
  2. The weight problem you can solve with a blackrapid strap www.blackrapid.com . I can't walk around with a normal strap for more than 20 mins, but with the blackrapid I can walk around all day with D700+grip+70-200.
     
  3. The 50, and 85 will work great; the 35 also; the 24mm gets differing opinions depending on the user (at long distances I found the 24 AF D to have softness and lots of CA outside of the very center of the FX frame; but e.g. Bjorn Rorslett uses the Ai-S version and comments highly on it when using the D3X). The 20 and 28 would probably be better replaced with something else such as Nikon's 17-35/2.8, 14-24/2.8, or some manual focus primes.
    For manual focus, there are several excellent primes to consider to replace the AF wide angles. The 20mm f/3.5 Voigtländer is very compact (tiny actually) and makes a very nice image on FX at f/8. The 21mm Zeiss has an excellent reputation and I can say that I've been very happy with the 18mm Zeiss although I'd like the aperture to be f/2.8 for easier focusing. Nikon's 28mm f/2 and f/3.5 Ai-S at give excellent results on D700; I use the 28/2. The Zeiss 35/2 better corner-to-corner sharpness than Nikon 35mm primes and it's already excellent at f/2. You may also want to consider the 35/1.4 Ai-S.
     
  4. If they work well on your film camera they will work well on the D700.
     
  5. I agree that your lenses are fine for a D700. And I also recommend the R-Strap from Black Rapid.
     
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Nikon's 24mm/f2.8 has exactly the same optical formula in the AI, AI-S and AF-D versions. Therefore, it makes no sense to see any major optical differences among those versions. I currently have the AF-D and it works ok on the D700, although the modern zoom seem better. Perhaps the biggest drawback for this lens is flare and ghosting issues. In backlit situations, use your hand or something else in addition to the hood to block stray light.
    Lenses that work well on film do not necessarily work well on digital. A major problem is that each photosite on the sensor is like a tiny well, rather than a flat surface as in the case of film. See this description on Olympus' web site: http://www.olympus-europa.com/consumer/21693_7045.htm
    In any case, since the OP already has those lenses, he can test them out of the D700 and evaluate them himself. In particular, if he doesn't like the modern large zooms, that eliminate some of the choices.
    I took the following image on purpose; I had the lens hood on but it did not help at all. Immediately afterwards I took another one while using my left hand to block the stray light entering the 24mm/f2.8 AF-D, and all ghosting problems went away.
    00UKQz-168119584.jpg
     
  7. I use only prime lenses right now with my D700, with plans only to add more primes, rather than zooms.
    I have the 50/1.8 and 85/1.8, and plan eventually to have something like this: 24 or 28/1.8 (Sigma), 50/1.8, 85/1.4, and 180/2.8 (which I bought but had to send back because it was defective). No zooms for me.
    Also, just as an aside, the 35 is 35/2., not 2.8 (the AF-D version, at least).
     
  8. I use the 35/2 AF-D and 85/1.4 with my D700 and except for my 80-200/2.8, rarely attach a zoom to the camera. Your lens line-up looks great. If you stick with primes, the perfect telephoto choice for you would be the excellent 180/2.8.
     
  9. I use mostly AIS primes from 20mm to 500mm with my D700. I agree with what Ilkka has said about the Nikkors. I don't have any Zeiss lenses which seem to be fairly heavy and large. I do have a few older mid range zooms. IMHO Bjorn's site is quite usefull. I suggest you check your lenses after you get a D700 and replace any if they don't meet your needs.
     
  10. I have had three of the lenses you mention. The 20mm f2.8 was a disappointment. It wasn't all that sharp until well stopped down, had CA, and some distortion. I don't recall ever seeing a really good review of this lens. The 50mm f1.8 is a consumer level lens and has lots of CA. The 85mm f1.8 was the very worst lens I've ever owned when it comes to flare. For me, it was totally unusuable. Keep in mind the lenses you mention were mostly designed over two decades ago, well before digital. Depending on what you photo, you might run into the same problems I did when I tried them on a DSLR. My decision was to NOT cripple the performance of a modern state of art camera using antique lenses. I just don't see the point of buying a $2,500 camera with blazing fast AF and then putting these kinds of lenses on it. Nikon does have some modern single focal lenses, such as 50mm f1.4G, 105mm VR, 200mm f2 VR, and so on. Really, if image quality is important to you and you still think you want single focal lenses, take a look at the Zeiss ZF line. At any rate, there's absolutely no way I would ever consider using the three lenses I mentioned above on a D700. Don't see the point.
    Kent in SD
     
  11. bms

    bms

    My standards are probably lower, but I am quite happy the my 24mm and 35mm, maybe I have good copies. I usually try avoid shooting into the sun.... and my 14-24 flares as well. If you are getting the D700 anyway, and you have those lenses, then why not try them out?
     
  12. Kent, I've done just fine by using those "crippled" lenses. I'd like to think my current gallery photos show that. The 85/1.8 has been a terrific lens for me, and flare has rarely been an issue. Yes, if you point it at the sun, flare will be an issue, but you may as well put a neon sign out asking for it by doing so. The 50/1.8 gives up nothing to any lens in sharpness when stopped down, and CA is rarely a problem for me at any f stop with it. I agree about the 20/2.8, which is why I plan to sell my copy soon. I was disappointed with it.
    I much prefer primes to zooms and Nikon is mostly lacking in that department right now, save for a couple new updates (35/1.8 DX, 50/1.4, etc.). That's just the state of things. I use what Nikon has, and it has been good enough for me.
     
  13. although i don't dispute the IQ and suitability to certain purposes of big zooms like the 24-70/2.8, carrying that weight on one's neck is a definite downside. so i've found myself using a variety of small primes on the D700 much more often that i probably would've guessed. it's not simply a matter of weight/size, of course -- i wouldn't use them if they didn't produce. i use a mix of AF-D and AI primes -- 20/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.4, 50/1.8, 50/2 -- with my favorite being the 35/2 AI. i personally don't think the OP will have any serious issues using primes on a D700, although it's inevitable that he'll like some lenses better than others.
     
  14. Luis
    I would be interested to know how you decide which lens to use, do you take the 20,24,28 and 35 together and then decide which to use or just take one with you and make do. I find the best way to save agonizing over which lens to use is to get rid of some them, In my opinion the 20mm and 28mm lenses are marginal performers on digital, and offer to much overlap in focal length, I would stick with the 24,35 and 85 and the 50mm is pretty much redundant but worth keeping for back up. I don't think you need to buy any new lenses untill the ones you have prove to be unusable or unsuitable.
    Shun how do you think a 17-55 or a 24-70mm would have handled that shot it would have made an interesting comparison ..
    Steve
     
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Steve, the 17-55mm/f2.8 AF-S DX is well known to have a lot of flare and ghosting issues. The 24-70mm/f2.8 AF-S with nano coating, however, handles backlit situations very well. I have tested all of those lenses under similar conditions (but not at the same time).
     
  16. Folks, thank you very much for your very useful input. Ikka, no good news if the 20mm AF-D doesn't work well at all on the D700, Shun is very right about the wells in the detector working a lot different as it works on flat film.
    Josh, you're right, is a 35mm f/2 AF-D, of course.
    Kent, maybe they are antique lenses, but they perform just perfect on my Nikon film cameras, from my FM2 to my two F4.
    Steve, when I go out for taking pictures with my Nikon equipment I usually take only two lenses. The more used combo is the 24mm + 35mm, although the 20mm + 35mm comes close. The 28mm almost doesn't see light since several years ago, I do not really know why. I love the 85mm for portraits. A superb lens.
    All in all, a D700 is a lot of money. I woul like to have it, but from my point of view, if Nikon asks me more than 2,500 Euros for the body, I should have the right to use all my prime Nikkors with excellent results, and not only a few ones. Since zooms are not an option for me for their weight and their obtrusive character (I love street-photo photography, just see my portfolio), I'm starting to think that the D700 is not for me. I would miss a lot the results I get with my 20mm on film.
     
  17. Nikon's 24mm/f2.8 has exactly the same optical formula in the AI, AI-S and AF-D versions. Therefore, it makes no sense to see any major optical differences among those versions.​
    We don't actually know the extent of sample variations. Furthermore, Nikon has made these much lighter to focus for teh AF versions, which might affect things since the barrel is no longer as tightly aligned. In practice though, a lot of the different opinions come due to differing levels of quality. I find that the 24/2.8 can be quite good up close, so for Luis goal of street shooting the lens might be actually quite decent.
    I don't regard flare/ghosting coming from outside the image area as a showstopper. Annoying yes, but it can usually be dealt with. There are very few wide angles that handle difficult light well, the only ones that I can think of are the Voigtländer 20/3.5 (incredible performance in backlit situations) and the Nikkor 28/3.5.
    Incidentally, the Voigtländer 20/3.5 can currently be had in Europe for less than 400 euros new.
    The 85mm f1.8 was the very worst lens I've ever owned when it comes to flare.​
    Really? Even compared to to the 17-55/2.8 and 70-200/2.8 that have massive ghosting and flare in difficult light. If you want minimal flare, get the 85/2.8 PC and a good hood.
     
  18. Kent, could you answer one question: exactly how much shooting experience do you have with the D700 (or any FX body)? Thanks.
     
  19. All in all, a D700 is a lot of money. I woul like to have it, but from my point of view, if Nikon asks me more than 2,500 Euros for the body, I should have the right to use all my prime Nikkors with excellent results, and not only a few ones.
    Luis, unfortunately some of the information you're reading is misleading and inaccurate and unfairly discouraging to what you're trying to do. The D700 is very well behaved on old and new lenses designed for FX and 35mm film as well, with a few exceptions. These problem cases are the really wide primes which have issues with the angle of incidence, and a couple of relatively new nominally full frame but in actuality, DX-optimized lenses. If you replace these very wide lenses (the 20 and 24 specifically; the 28 wasn't good with film either so it's not surprising you've not been using it in a while) with e.g. manual focus primes (from Zeiss, Voigtländer, or Nikon's 28 or 35mm Ai-S) or a recent wide angle f/2.8 zoom from Nikon, you'll be all set. For the 35mm and longer lenses, you'll see much better image quality from the D700 than you get with 35mm film. This is why you should get the camera - you won't believe how well it behaves up to ISO 3200, breathing new life into your people photography in situations hand-held photography was just a few years ago unheard of.
    I use 20 primes on the F mount and one zoom (it's the 24-70). My cameras are both FX and all my current lenses behave in an exemplary fashion on these cameras. I wasn't so happy with many of the same primes on DX; the smaller format has different requirements on the lenses and it's best to use a sensor of the same size the lenses were designed for in the first place.
    It's unfortunate that no really high quality autofocus wide angle primes have appeared yet for FX. I'm sure they're coming though. I don't think there was anything that Nikon could have done in 1970s when they designed the old wide primes to anticipate the different behaviour of digital sensors, nor could they have done the D3/D700 to behave much better when used with the old wide angles. What you can do is adopt as necessary, replace the short glass and keep and enjoy the longer lenses that you have, which I am sure you'll be very happy with on the D700.
     
  20. I've owned a D700 for a few months now, and for WA (17mm to 35mm), my preference is to carry 1 bulky f2.8 zoom to cover that FL range rather than 4-5 prime lenses whose IQ may or may not really match up to the 17-35mm/2.8. If you plan to buy the D700, my recommendation would be to sell those WA primes and pony up for a 17-35mm/2.8. That and the 70-200/2.8 really cover the majority of general shooting needs.
    The only primes I have are 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 (because I WANT f1.4), the 105/2.5 AI (I've just always been very fond of this lens) and a macro lens.
    -Keith
     
  21. I'm with Keith L: 17-35 for the wides, 70/80-200 for the teles, a fast 50 in the middle, and maybe an 85 or 135 if the forecast calls for portraits. I know a lot of folks love their primes, and I'm not against that, but for me, the functionality of the two-zoom combo and fast fifty in between is too functional to turn down. Another vote for the D700: you'll love it, so don't let anyone talk you out of one. Enjoy!
     
  22. I heard about a thread where someone was giving away a D700 and several fast prime lenses. So - is this the one?
    just checking...
     
  23. Ikkla--
    I sometimes trade equipment back & forth with a local wedding photographer. I have a 4x5 system, Nikon 70-200mm VR, and a TON of lights. He has D700 & lenses 14-24mm f2,8, 24-70mm f2.8, 24mm PCE. I have used the D700 and usually the 24-70mm f2.8 for about three day/night long shoots this summer, plus several other week day sessions earlier this year. (He uses it mainly on weekends.) In hours, I would guess I've used one about 50 hours of actual shooting. My thinking is it gives me about 1-1.5 stops higher ISO than what I get with D300. For me, that just doesn't justify the current price. I will wait until that inevitably goes down. In the meantime, I buy more lights. My goal is to have something like x8 White Lightning X3200, each with a dedicated Vagabond battery pack. I also will keep the x10 Nikon SB-28 units. I now have about 10 (not sure how many--it's a box full) of CyberSync triggers to which I intend to add about x4 Pocket Wizards for long distance (half a mile) use. I just don't get much extra capability from a camera. My money seems to be MUCH better spent on first class lenses, and now lights a "Joe McNally" extensive lighting system as well. I put the camera in last place for my priorities. I liked the D700, but it just didn't seem to make much difference in my shots. I've used one enough to know where it fits in for my niche, and how much one would be worth to me, a niche night photographer. At any rate, I just see no point in putting quarter century old lenses on it, or lenses that can't take advantage of its fast autofocus. My plan is to wait for it to come down in price, which will free up more cash for me to use on nano-coated lenses. Those certainly do make a difference for me. I told my buddy I'd rather have his 24-70mm than his D700, LOL.
    We tend to see at least one post per week from someone who runs out and buys a D700, seemingly dumping all their money on just a camera body. They then say, "Oh yeah, I guess I need a lens." The pattern is they then try to go cheap on the most important thing--the lenses. I made that same mistake when I was a beginner, and bought an F5. That camera was the biggest waste of money I ever made with photo gear, and made zero difference in my photo quality. I'm not putting anyone down here--I once did the same thing. I think all the threads here about the D700 are really pointing out a much bigger issue. With the Nikon FX system your choice is to either buy their superb top line f2.8 zooms, hobble along with a slow consumer zoom (e.g. 24-120mm), or try to get by with a hodge podge of lenses designed when Ronald Reagan was president. There's really not much in between. (Maybe the Zeiss ZF.) What Nikon BADLY needs are the f4 VR pro zooms like Canon has. Not everyone needs f2.8. An f4 pro zoom would be smaller, have AFS, probably have VR, would cost less, and seems to be exactly what this poster and most of the others really could use. I talked to a Canon rep in Chicago last April and he said that's been a big surprise to his company too--why no f4 Nikon pro zooms? Surely Nikon is addressing this but we just don't know it.
    Kent in SD
     
  24. bmm

    bmm

    I somehow had a feeling that Kent would pop up in this thread with his sweeping generalisations.
    I just can't get over this view of his based on the age of lens design. I certainly see some advancement in the peripheral things like AF-S motors (though I must say even my humble D80 focuses 85, 135 and 180mm AF-D lenses perfectly fast for my needs and I can't imagine a D700 will do worse when I step up to it in a few months) and nano glass for the 0.5% of the time when people shoot in really awful conditions, but to me putting a blanket case that all newer lenses are better is awfully weak. It probably has some validity at FL's of 35mm and below, then up to 85mm the jury is out, and at that point the 85/1.4, the 105/2 and 135/2 DC lenses and the 180/2.8 (all quarter-century old 'hodge podge' designs in Kent's terms) kick in to smash the supposedly 'state-of-the-art' 70-200 out of the park on quality, size, weight and cost.
    I also reject the words 'hodge podge' insofar as many people have lens lineups that are carefully considered based on their shooting preferences. My own AF-D lineup of 24/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 135/2 and 180/2.8 was certainly not some kind of random accident...
     
  25. It's interesting, Kent, that I'm making a growing number of shots I take pride in with those same lenses you bemoan. I haven't and won't post all of them, of course, but I've posted a few, and I have to say I'm just fine with what I've gotten out of those lenses.
    As a regular street shooter, the D700+ N80 with 50/1.8 and 85/1.8 has been wonderful. Zooms are terrific if you like shooting with them, particularly if you're a Nikon shooter. I look at Canon's primes with some envy, partly because Canon has updated them recently and invested a lot in them, yet at no point do I feel that I somehow have exceeded my lenses' resolution limits, as it were. I have yet to get better than what my lenses can give me. I strongly question how an AF-S nano 85/1.4 would improve my composition in any meaningful way. IQ? Probably a little. But in terms of composition, it would have zero effect on it.
    To me, composition is where it all starts and ends. The age of a lens has little to do with it.
     
  26. Psst! Ansel Adams made many images with *uncoated* lenses. According to some on this forum, they must be horrible compared to the new nano-coated lenses available today... Oh poor me, can't afford those new nano lenses, I should just quit!
    Nikon primes are just as good today as they were 25+ years ago, folks. Don't let any of the NAS snobs talk you into a $2k lens you don't need.
     
  27. bmm

    bmm

    Josh - (with apologies for the 2nd post in 3 entries) thoroughly agree. Irrespective of image quality arguments - though no this is not a concessions that the older primes are inferior in this respect - my own experience is that zoom lenses make me lazy compositionally. I move much less, and certainly much less imaginatively, compared to when I have to play with just one or two focal lengths. Similarly if I want to isolate and have a zoom I just zoom in, rather than thinking about other ways of getting that subject isolation like lighting, exposure, depth of field, etc. I'm not generalising but in my own personal experience the use of primes comes with a much more advanced imposed level of photographic thinking (and therefore is immensely more enjoyable... but that may just be me).
    No doubt though if I was shooting as a profession and therefore on a client satisficing imperative rather than a personal maximising imperative then I'd be delighted with the holy trinity of Nikon 2.8 zooms. None of what I write in response to Kent is intended to imply that they are bad lenses. All I'm arguing is that apart from the 14-24 they are not manifestly better.
     
  28. Well, I think I tend to agree with Kent in the general proposition that a great lens is more important than the body because, it will last through several iterations of digital bodies. I'm still using a D200 and am now just thinking about getting a D700 or?. But I have managed to get a 17-35 and the amazing 70-200 VR. Those lenses will be with me for a long while after the D200 has been sold, traded or relegated to back-up duty on digital shoots. I still shoot film as well. OT, but really for a fixed 28 mm lens that rocks, just get a Ricoh GRD2. (yeah I know bout the noise, but the flash works well on it in certain conditions). It's a hoot of a camera! Anyways, I am thinking of the D700 now because of its lower noise capabilities. So these discussions hold interest for me as well.
     
  29. Hope you still shoot your Leica Louis, you've gotten a lot of great photos with it.
     
  30. Luis, unfortunately some of the information you're reading is misleading and inaccurate and unfairly discouraging to what you're trying to do.

    Ikka, I'm in photonet since several years ago, and I know pretty well who is "nanotechnology-driven" and who is not. Anyway, thank you very much fot your excellent advice. I understand that the D700 is a great camera and it would be very interesting for me because: 1) To use prime lenses at their "true" focal length (I started to use 35mm reflex cameras 36 years ago), 2) Enjoy the huge dinamyc range of a sensor that has really big pixels, in fact here is where the "soul" of the image is born. 3) Take advantage of the high ISO capabilities of this camera, making it interesting also for astrophotography (I have a MSc Degree in Astronomy, btw).
    About nano-coatings, it's about flare, not about other important optical parameters. What about distortion?, what about spherical aberration? My 50mm f/2 Summicron-M from 1983 runs circles around any 2.8 Nikkor nano-zoom adjusted at this focal length. Ditto for my 35mm f/2 Summicron. Ditto for my Nikkor 45mm f/2.8P (it's interesting to note that the basic optical design of the 45mm f/2.8P dates back from 1902)
    It's also interesting how many people like the 70-210mm zoom. For me and my style of photograpgy is an unuseful lens. I had the Nikkor 70-210 AF in the 90s and ended-up selling it after a summer holidays in Switzerland. Too much weight, too many interesting pictures. I must recognize that I don't like zoom lenses. I use primes because I'm so used to the focal lengths I use that for pre-framing a picture I don't need to use the viewfinder, I simple walk and when I'm at the correct distance I carry the camera to my eyes and I just take the picture (about 99% of my pictures are uncropped). Again, for me, zoom lenses mean weight and when you're on travel, weight is the last thing you need for enjoying the trip.
    Well, I think it's clear that I know exactly what I want: A full 35mm frame DSLR that can use efectively a set of 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85-90mm prime lenses. It seems the D700 fits the bill rather well. If the 20mm Cosina works well on this body, then it would great, but I would like that Nikon would offer 20 and 24mm lenses updated in its optical formulation for being used on full frame digital cameras.
     
  31. Hope you still shoot your Leica Louis, you've gotten a lot of great photos with it.
    Thanks very much, Barry, you can bet sure I continue to use it! Actually my travel setup is my trusty M2 and a recently purchased Zeiss-Ikon ZM (really wonderful). For travelling, I only use a 50mm Summicron and a 21mm Voigtlander lens. All my "Paris" pictures have been taken with these lenses: http://www.holos-photo.com/parisweb/
    What's the problem: I produce more rolls that what I'm able to develop and scan. I'm just back from a three weeks travel in France. It will take me at least twom months until scanning everything, hence my research on the D700 (the M8 is a really expensive prototype of a camera).
     
  32. Hey Luis,
    I totally think you should get the d700 and use your primes on it. It's a great full frame digital body with exceptional high iso performance. There may be better primes than the ones you have but I'm sure you'll be impressed. Of the ones you have I have the 35 f2, 50 f1.8, and 85 1.8, they all perform admirably. I only want to replace the 50 because the build quality doesn't match the d700 which I think is a silly reason. I love the 85, not sure what kent from SD is talking about.
    I tend to agree that a lens is more important than a body but to say the body is crippled by an old lens design is ridiculous. Older lenses have their own charm, a quality which has made nikon famous for their optics. Technically perfect photos do not neccesarliy make great photography.
    BTW nice photos
    Brian
    Morenaphotography.com
     
  33. Modern DSLR and old school prime combination - Exhibit A:
    [​IMG]
     
  34. Luis, on the topic of the Voigtländer 20mm f/3.5, here are some test images and commentary:
    http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00TAyN
    I have not used the 21 ZF so I can't comment on that (apart from the fact that the MTF is through the roof in the data sheet). The 21 is quite expensive and also not that small for a wide prime, which is why I got the 18 instead (the 21 had been announced but it didn't become available until six months later). I have been happy with the 18 but f/2.8 would be nice and the 21 is what I would probably get if shopping for an ultrawide today, mostly because in some situations in interior photography, the faster aperture would be useful to stop people's movement and also it makes for a bit brighter viewfinder and easier focusing by the eye. I am planning on following Sten Rasmussen's idea of modifying a Canon focusing screen to fit the D3 (some sandpaper work is needed, apparently) and the D700 can take a Katz Eye screen for better manual focusing.
     
  35. I have used the D700 and usually the 24-70mm f2.8
    But have you used the D700 specifically with the primes the original post mentions? Or other small lenses that would be fit for unobtrusive street photography? It's important that when you're answering the question, you have experience with the specific combinations of lens and body, for the experiences to be helpful since the image quality depends on both the specific body and the lens used and DX and FX bodies have very different requirements for the lens's optics. There are many great old lenses that become semi-paralyzed on DX but work well with FX .
    What Nikon BADLY needs are the f4 VR pro zooms like Canon has. Not everyone needs f2.8.
    That is true, but then there are those of us for whom f/2.8 is too slow. Just last week I was photographing an event with attendance in the six figures. Tightly packed in the streets, there was no possibility of setting up lighting (well, I could have used on-camera flash - yuck) I had the 24-70 and 135/2. At times I had to use 1/20s, f/2.8, ISO 6400 on the zoom because I hadn't brought my 28/2 and 50/1.4 with me. The results are not ideal, but the content was pretty good. I should have brought my fast primes but I hadn't anticipated that the light would be so weak - it's not the peak of summer any more so after 9pm it's difficult to shoot in available light. Just a few weeks ago the situation was very different and I could easily shoot an hour more with good results.
    I don't want to spend time setting up elaborate lighting systems in the field / on the street. I appreciate that there are people who do this, and the results can be fantastic although I think the light is often way overdone. I prefer to focus on using the available light (I mean light that exists at the light without the photographer putting it there) to the best of my ability and concentrate on the subjects rather than the lighting (obviously I will observe the light and shoot from the appropriate direction when I can), and remain unobtrusive and avoid influencing the subjects. It's the difference between a silent observer vs. the director of a movie. I don't want to do the latter - I don't think made up stuff has the feeling of real life. I will use flash in the studio or indoors in some situations where otherwise the quality of light is not good. However I don't enjoy it, nor do I think I can do anything special in this field.
     
  36. Kent I think it prudent that you use some of the "so called" primes on a D700 so that you can condemn them with experience on all your posts. Personally I am not to concerned about zooms or primes. Just what works for me or if I can possibly add any knowledge to someone esles research. I have looked at the Zeiss 18mm and 21mm as well as the Nikkor 24mm PC-E and 17-35mm f2.8. Price is always a issue but less so than weight or size as I may be carrying this for 15 miles at a time with other gear. One of these will probably make it into my bag next year. The problem is figuring out which one works best for my needs. Quality wise it looks like all are winners but fall the size weight issues.
     
  37. Ikka, the 18mm Zeiss seems great, although it's too much wideangle for me. The 21mm Zeiss must be also a great lens (I have experiences with the 21mm f/2.8 Biogon for Contax G and it shows practically no distortion, it's incredible). About the f/3.5 Cosina, it seems very atractive to me. Weight and image quality seem to be very good, and I'm not afraid about the lack of an f/2.8. I like to take photographs inside cathedrals, both in Spain and France. Using Tri-x at 400 and 800 ASA I can use my 21mm Voigtlander mounted on my M2 at about 1/8s at f/4. Results are excellent. Since 3200 ASA produces good results on the D700, an f/4 lens is not specially problematic. However, I understand what you describe in your posting: There are times when fast glass is the only way to go.
    By the way: I' also on the "observers" side. In fact I only use flash when celebrating a birthday at home and even sometimes I avoid it. Ok, for portraits taken under strong summer light I can also use fill-flash for friends or family, but that's all.
    Again at using primes with the D700, I understand that my 35mm, 50mm and 85mm AF lenses would work well. The Cosina 20mm would solve my WA needs. Now I must check the results of my 24mm AF Nikkor. Who knows, maybe I'll end up buying the camera!
    Thanks very much again for all the great info you have supplied.
     
  38. Carl--
    I'm a pretty practical Midwest guy. If something delivers what I want at a price I'll pay, I'll use it. The lens I most look forward to from Nikon is actually a 300mm f4 VR. I also just bought a Sigma 30mm f1.4, which I use when light levels are too low for f2.8. Remember I did try four of the old Nikon AFD lenses, and they just didn't deliver for me on a digital body. If I was a portrait photographer, that might be different since that tends to be a more predictible and controlled deal. My choice of "hodge podge" was well considered. Take a look at all the threads just here where people are wondering if this or that old lens is much use on a DSLR. Some people don't seem to put nearly as much thought into lens selection as they do camera selection, and it's the lens that determines what you can photo and what the image quality will be. My main philosophy is indeed that the lens is the single most important thing in most kinds of photography, and I will not compromise on lens quality just to have the "hot" camera of the day. A case could be made that for portrait and commercial photography that a capable lighting system might trump even lenses, but the people who do that for a living already would know that and won't be on here asking. An $8,000 lighting system is not an impulse buy, LOL.
    Kent in SD
     
  39. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I don't have too many of those "old primes" left any more. I just took out my 24mm/f2.8 AF-D and my 14-24mm/f2.8 AF-S and shot a bunch of test images. The old 24mm/f2.8 with optical formula from the AI era actually checks out quite well. (I bought the 24mm/f2.8 AI way back in 1978 but sold that a long time ago.) I don't see much sharpness or chromatic aberration issues.
    The bulky 14-24mm/f2.8 with a vulnerable front element is of course the best wide-angle lens now. Its main advantage is that it is quite sharp from corner to corner on the D700, while the 24mm/f2.8 AF-D gets blury in the extreme corners. If you make the typical 8x10 crops, those blury corners are literally out of the picture.
    And of course you don't want to use the 24mm AF-D to shoot into the sun.
    My guess is that if you get even wider, such as 20mm, you'll likely see more problems from those older lenses (because of the photosite "well" effect), but I don't have the 20mm/f2.8 AF any more for testing.
    The images below were captured on the D700 @ ISO 200 on a tripod with the 1-second shutter delay.
    00UL4B-168343884.jpg
     
  40. Luis, you pretty much convinced me that the D700 is the model for you, both with what you wrote and your portfolio. I think you will do just fine with the primes, as long as you seriously consider manual focus for the wide angles. I don't think manual focus should be a problem. The 24/2.8 is reasonably good up close, so for street style shots it could actually be a pretty good lens for you -- it all depends on what focus distance you typically need. The Voigtländer 20/3.5 now costs 370 euros from a reputable dealer, which I think is a very good deal. Good luck with the path that you choose.
    The bulky 14-24mm/f2.8 with a vulnerable front element is of course the best wide-angle lens now.​
    The Zeiss 21 has higher resolution and MTF, the Voigtländer 20/3.5 is smaller and has less flare and ghosting. I would say that universally best is false, although the 14-24 surely is the best AF superwide right now.
     
  41. I wish we had more primes lenses that are not "controversial" for use on the digital. However we don't and sometimes I do not want to change lenses b/c of worry of dust (windy days on a beach). I do use some of these old primes b/c I have them. I like the 24/2.8 b/c for its size. It is as small as the 50/1.8, thus making it a wonderful choice for traveling. In my experience, which is by no means scientific, using it on a D80, I found that the lens does not do well when there is light hitting the background and the background is itself complex. In this case I saw a lot of CA w/o even have to zoom in and the bokeh is horrible. I almost sold it, but one day I decided to take it with me to a children museum to photograph my son playing there. When used indoors, its small size makes it easy to handle and the pictures are very nice, and f2.8 helps when flash is not used. It does have distortion though so it is not the perfect lens for photographing people up close. Anyway I like it because of its size and think that it may not be the lens of choice to use outdoors in bright sun light. But it is a very nice lens to have for street/indoor shooting when the light levels are low.
     
  42. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The Zeiss 21 has higher resolution and MTF, the Voigtländer 20/3.5 is smaller and has less flare and ghosting.​
    Oscar, have you done any testing of those lenses to demonstrate those points? If so, I would like to see come image comparisons as I showed above. If not, what is your source for that information?
    Regardless, I think the 14-24mm is the best wide now (with those drawbacks I mentioned) because of its flexability from moderate to super wide, a capability totally unmatched by those Zeiss and Voigtländer lenses.
     
  43. Kent that still misses the point of statements made without using the combination. I don't believe that benefits anyone. Not working for you in DX has been tested. No problems there at all. Have a good day.
     
  44. Shun, thank you very much for making the comparison between the 12-24 zoom and the 24mm AF-D. The 12-24mm is clearly better in the corner, but the 24mm still does a good job. Have you got some results at full aperture with both lenses?
    Oskar, I'm with you. I know that the D700 is the Nikon DSLR that more atracts me. I think it's time to handle it in my hands and get the feelings. If everything goes right it will be time to start saving. Oh, and thank you very much for visiting my portfolio!
     
  45. bmm

    bmm

    Kent - I think a line you wrote has distilled this debate down to its core.
    You write - "Some people don't seem to put nearly as much thought into lens selection as they do camera selection"

    How about those many people that do, but come up with primes as the answer (or as part of the answer)?
     
  46. Shun, see diglloyd.com for comparisons between the 14-24/2.8 and the 21/2.8 (I have not seen his comparisons to the Voigtländer). I have tried vary hard to produce flare or ghosting on the 20/3.5, but have come to the conclusion that the ghosts have no practical significance. This is in contrast to a rather large amount of 14-24/2.8 images that I have seen, which does seem to exhibit clear ghosts in certain kind of light. Not a side by side test if you will, but the test is pretty easy to reproduce. In any case, my point is
    that "best" is a very strong word considering how many different aspects there is to lens performance. There is no "one size fits all".
     
  47. And that would be the reason different people shooting different images choose different lenses even if they are quite old. A 55-200 has good uses but I don't consider it the sharpest lense available. That is the same reason I have a 75-150E.
     
  48. Lloyd's comparisons do show better or equal definition of detail in the 21 ZF images in the plane of focus in general (compared to 14-24). Though one side was better than the other in the 21 ZF images. This may be due to subtle misalignment of either sensor, mount, or something in the lens (Nikon apparently replaced his D3X in light of this problem, and the situation improved though still not perfect; this leads me to believe that due to the high performance and short focal length of the 21, it is sensitive to mount & sensor not being completely parallel). As the depth of field was increased, by f/8 the 21 ZF gave noticeably better clarity in the definition of detail throughout the plane of focus (at wider apertures one side was clearly better than the Nikon but the other about equal). On the other hand the 14-24 showed the foreground sharper which might be due to field curvature or focusing errors. I hope he does some focus bracketing to see if this makes the 14-24 images better (live view was used to focus, but focusing wide angles can be finicky). The review of the 21 is still ongoing and there will probably be more test cases. The 14-24 did take the lead in having less falloff, distortion, and more even rendition of colour across the frame, so there is no clear outright winner in this test. Also included were the 20/3.5 Voigtländer and the 20/3.5 Nikkor. The 20/3.5 Nikkor did really badly in the test, with basically blurry sides all around at all apertures. The 20/3.5 Voigtländer is in between, with good performance at f/8 in most of the frame, but asymmetry was evident in this lens, leading to one of the edges to be quite soft especially at wide apertures. Don't know if it is due to focus plane being somewhere else or something else like an alignment problem in the lens.
    In the 18mm ZF review multiple scenes were used to compare the 18 with the 14-24 using the D3X. In that test the 14-24 was clearly superior in almost every respect tested. I have obtained good results with 12 MP cameras using the 18 ZF so I don't know what so say. I don't dispute his results; I knew the 14-24 was sharper than the 18 ZF and had less vignetting but I didn't quite expect that kind of differences as he showed. Oh wow.
    So, if you want a compact superwide for FX with the highest performance you're basically out of luck for the time being; the best choices being either big (21 ZF) or huge (14-24). The 17-35 was not included in this comparison but its size is between the two other high end options. If you are satisfied with a bit lower performance then there are possibilities among manual focus primes that will work but these do not give the best overall image quality possible with the FX cameras.
     
  49. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Oscar, we have had a few threads on flare issue on the 14-24mm. Several of us posted sample images in the following thread: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00RPzn Flare should never be a concern for that lens, which is very surprising given that it is a complex, super wide zoom.
    Back to Luis' original question. If you plan to use a bunch of older AI/AI-S type lenses on the D700, I would test each out and see whether they still meet your standards. For example, I once tried the 24mm/f2 AI-S and it produces horrible chromatic aberration on digital.
    I did try the 24mm/f2.8 AF-D at f2.8. Overall it is still a decent lens on the D700, but since I also have the 17-35mm/f2.8 AF-S and 14-24mm/f2.8 AF-S, I take the 24mm/f2.8 only when I want less weight.
     
  50. Shun, I'm not claiming that the 14-24 has a flare/ghosting "problem", just that the Voigtländer is better in this regard.
    I all fairness I did sell my 24/2.8 AF-D a while ago since I didn't consider the performance good enough at longer distances, but everyone makes their own judgment and I respect that. The 24/2.8 is quite small and light, although I suspect that the way the AF is implemented alignment accuracy suffers.
     
  51. Ilkka wrote: "I am planning on following Sten Rasmussen's idea of modifying a Canon focusing screen to fit the D3 (some sandpaper work is needed, apparently) and the D700 can take a Katz Eye screen for better manual focusing."
    As a D-3 owner who would really like to go back to manual focusing with a G-2 screen or something like it, I'd value any details.
     
  52. Rob, I will post details of the procedure once I have succesfully modified the screen and tested that it does work. I'll try to send you e-mail when I have more info.
     
  53. To follow on from Ilkka's comments above I firmly believe the 21m Distagon ZF is the best wide-angle lens for SLRs I have ever owned. I am comparing it to the 14-24mm (interesting lens but ultimately utterly useless - to me), the 17-35mm which I still own but it is getting much less use and the Nikkor 20mm which was basically left in the dust by any of the above. When stopped down a bit the ZF is wondrous.
    A a further aside yesterday I took out my 24-70mm on a family trip and was reminded that although its optical quality is outstanding I HATED carrying it around and frankly I think its days are numbered as it gets little use because of its bulk. Also from a practical standpoint I get more and more irritated by large lenses as they can act as vast sails in the windy places I sometimes end up in and so much prefer the modestly sized and rather dense ZFs.
    In short I have found myself shrugging off all my zooms (including two of the new nano jobs and the vile 70-200mm which I substituted for the older but better 80-200mm) one by one and converting to a set of ZF primes. My current set of ZFs (21mm, 25mm, 35mm & 50mm) when used at their optimum apertures at least equal Nikon's best offerings - zoom or prime - apart from the 21mm and 35mm which are much better. Might plough the proceeds of the 24-70mm into the 100mm ZF.
    I now have split image screens installed in my D700 (Katzeye), F6, F5 and F4 and am in total photographic nirvana with this setup along with my primes. The only zoom I feel much affection towards is my 17-35mm whose performance - in spite of its relative age - remains pretty impressive although not quite class-leading anymore but nevertheless has no real competition. It covers its range with aplomb, it takes filters and I can use it on my old F2AS when I want to. The only Nikon primes that I now have are the new 24mm PC-E and the very new 50mm f1.4G. All the other AFDs I had have been culled.
    And last but not least I must agree with Luis that the best wide-angle lens I have used of any format is the 21mm Biogon for Contax G. I rue the day I sold that kit.
     
  54. Luis
    I should preface my comments by stating that I am not a professional. I generally attempt to get better than average documentation of my family and friends.
    I am happy with my D700 and the 50 AF-D 1.4. It is my primary lens. I use it along with a 20 AF-D, 80-200 AF-d and 105 Micro. Although the 50 is on 90% of the time. I just added a 50MM Leica summicron, and along with a Leitax DIY conversion, have it mounted on my D700 as well. I hope its the ultimate: Leica lens on a Nikon body. Time will tell.
    As a kid I only had a 50mm and wanted longer and zoomier lenses. After finally having them, I find them heavy and attract too much attention for me. More so when a hood is added. I am sure that there is a quality difference vs the newer lenses, but for my documentary style of shooting it does not come into play.
     
  55. A a further aside yesterday I took out my 24-70mm on a family trip and was reminded that although its optical quality is outstanding I HATED carrying it around and frankly I think its days are numbered as it gets little use because of its bulk.
    James, you've nailed my point of view!
    Lou, it's nice to see you're using a 20mm AF-D on your D700. Any samples?
     
  56. I bought a Hellios 44-4 today and used it with my D700, the lens is 10$ but the IQ is amazing, as most of the MF lenses it has a character.
     
  57. Helios is great, crazy bokeh too.
     

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