Walkaround Prime Lens for D300

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by guido_h, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. Hello all,

    While I mostly use the 18-70 zoom with my D300 for walkaround photos of landscapes and the occasional city trip,
    I would frequently prefer a lighter and more compact package with less zoom barrel dangling around. I already
    have the 35/2, but it isn't wide enough on DX format for this purpose (and I mostly shoot at the wide end). So I
    started to research the 20/2.8 and the 24/2.8 (AF-D versions). However, the lens characteristics of both of these
    primes do not look good in the lab tests by photozone.de as compared to the 18-70 - of the two, the 24/2.8 seems
    to fare a bit better and also is cheaper than the 20/2.8 on eBay, but I'm reluctant to spend any significant
    money on a prime lens with less IQ than my existing 18-70, regardless of the convenience factor.

    Of course, MTF charts & Co. are one thing, and using the lens in practice is another. So I wonder if anyone
    familiar with one of the aforementioned primes and the 18-70 zoom could share some observations about the
    relative performance of these lenses in the real world.
  2. I use both the 18/70 and 24 AFD. I prefer the prime lens. Don`t own the 20 because of all the bad reports. I also have two manual focus 24`s. The 12/24 is a decent lens, but not small.

    The only Nikkor wide that does not have significant distortion is the 28 2.8 AiS. This distortion is a major reason why I do not own a Nikon film camera. With digital, it is simple to correct.

    If you demand the ultimate quality in wide lenses, the rangefinder camera is the way to go. Sorry, fact of life.
  3. You should read Bjørn Rørslett's site for his well-informed opinions of Nikon lenses:

  4. It's a shame that you find the 30mm focal length too long, as the Sigma 30/1.4 has become a dear friend of mine on a DX body. It's not just the nice flat performance - I also like the brightness in the viewfinder, and the very quiet AF (relative to the older screw-driven Nikkors). It's a very subjective topic... but since I happen to also own the 18-70, I can assure you that the IQ is superior when you compare the two at the same focal length, stopped down. And of course that 30/1.4 is much, much faster when it has to be. But, if you really need that extra few mm wider, you're in a tough spot, that's for sure.
  5. This has nothing to do with photography or the size of your lens. It has everything to do with wanting more - the traditional "Nikon Acquisition Syndrome" or NAS :)

    Given that, a 24/2.8 will give you a mid-wide effect with a D300, and constitutes the traditional PJ or urban "carry" lens. A 28 or 35 makes a good "normal" lens and a 50 a good medium-tele lens for landscapes. Unless you use a tripod and good technique, I doubt you will see any improvement over your 18-70.

    I carry a 55/2.8 AIS Micro in addition to my f/2.8 zoom lenses, for better contrast when shooting into the light in landscapes. I'm looking for a good lens in the 28 to 35 range, but all have more chromatic aberation than my zooms with the exception of the Zeiss ZF. If I want to use a Zeiss lens, I carry my Hasselblad.
  6. You guys shouldn't mention NAS! Shun is really touchy about it! :)

    OK! Lately I've been trying street candid. I've been using my 35 f/2. Uhmm! I find it a bit flat and too slow to focus for
    candid. The size is perfect but a wider AF-S lens would be much better. We just have to wait to see if Nikon hear us
    begging! As Matt said the Sigma could be a good choice! Too bad is not a Nikon therefor it's not a NAS stimulator!
  7. I quite enjoy my Nikon 24mm f/2 AIS.

    I havent done any IQ comparisons directly with my 18-70mm though (probably since I never use the zoom any more).

    At any rate, you may want to look into that lens or the f/2.8 version. If you want to be a smidge wider than 30mm, there are the
    28mm f/2 and 28mm f/2.8 ais lenses. And of course the 20mm f/2.8 ais is quite a bit wider. And, if I remember right, there is a
    18mm f/3.5 ais too.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Sorry David, but one lens I can definitely recommend against is the 24mm/f2 AI-S.
    I tested one on my D100 a few years ago. Chromstic aberration is horrible.

    My 24mm/f2.8 AF-D works fine on my D700. If you want a moderate wide, that should be a good lens on the D300 also.

    But most likely Edward is right. You already have the lens you need: 18-70.
  9. I've only had CA show up in a few shots, but it was easily corrected in lightroom. Perhaps we photograph different subject matter.

    I needed the extra bit of speed so it made sense for me to get the f/2 over the f/2.8.

    That said, I'm just a hobbyist and I know your demands are higher than mine. To each his own I suppose.
  10. I guess I should add my 24 is a 2.8. I was not aware there was a 2.0 AF model.

    There is no big if any improvement in image quality over the zoom,just size wise.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    There is no Nikon 24mm/f2 AF. The 24mm/f2 David Elliott and I were talking about is a manual-focus AI-S.
  12. Good news!

    On the "Nikon Wish Lens" thread below I asked for a 24mm f2 AF-S so that should be available any day now. ;-)
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Be careful with what you wish for. They might deliver a 24mm/f1.4 AF-S that costs over $2000 .... :)
  14. The size, weight, image quality, and versatility of the 18-70mm is the best you can ask for. I own the 20mm f2.8D, and under the right conditions it is slightly better. Too heavy? You've got NAS bad.
  15. Thanks to all for your feedback, which has given me some food for thought. Considering the fact that I'm
    basically happy with my 18-70 except for its size/weight, I currently find it hard to convince myself that the 24
    would indeed fully address my actual problem, especially since the 24's image quality does not seem to be
    lightyears ahead of the 18-70's as I had initially hoped. Also, any real cut in size and weight would probably
    have to start with exchanging my D300 for a D40 anyway... :) For the time being, seeking other options to carry
    and conceal my D300 + 18-70 setup in urban environments might be a better proposition, and maybe I could also
    experiment with other shooting styles to make better use of my existing 35/2...
  16. I'm in a similar position. I use the Nikkor 12-24mm as a walk-around lens on my D300, but prefer a prime (35mm film
    equivalent) for 90% of my work. I did try the 24mm AFD on my D200 (before I purchased the D300) but was
    unimpressed with the sharpness & sold it.

    However... I have tried my 24mm AIS on the D300 and found it performed much better than the AFD on the D200.
    Why? I don't know, they're meant to have the same optical construction... Actually an old Sigma 15-30mm zoom
    was sharper at 24mm than the 24mm AFD. The Sigma was a stop gap until I could afford the 12-24mm. It was very
    sharp, but prone to flare...

    I was tempted to buy the Sigma 24mm f1.8, but have read too many mixed reviews..

    I now use the 20mm f2.8AF as a walk around prime. It is very sharp from f4 onwards and pretty good at f2.8. But
    30mm (film equivalent) is neither a 24mm or 35mm, but stuck in the middle... (for me anyway)

    If Nikon bring out a new 24mm (f2 or 2.8) I'll be first in line for one... I'm just imagining what they can do to a prime
    after seeing/hearing aboutwhat they've achieved with the new pro zooms...

    I am thinking about upgrading to a D700 (for low light). A D700 and a 35mm is about all I need.... I wonder if the
    rumored 35mm f1.8 will come to light? It would make the perfect documentary set up (for me anyway)

    Just thinking out loud!!
  17. Ross,
    This is interesting because the MTF charts would suggest exactly the opposite - the 20/2.8 being softer than the 24/2.8... in theory.

    Anyway, whatever Nikon does, I do hope they'll continue to develop small, handy primes like the 35/2, 50/1.8 et al. -- Hopefully heavyweights like the 28/1.4 won't set the only standard for future primes to come...
  18. I have and use the Nikkors 20mm f2.8 AF, 24mm f2.8, 28mm f2 AIS and the 18-70mm with my D200. I like very much the 24mm with DX. More so than the 18-70 zoom which is also leaving. Last week I purchased a D700 and am replacing the 24mm with a 35mm. Its a focal length and size I enjoy very much. Maybe you should rent on and use it or buy a used version and see if you like it. Maybe I should get the 17-35mm, big , heavy and $$$ but so far I have been good.
  19. 28mm 2.0 AIS.........probably the best IQ for a fast, reasonably sized, versatile lens
  20. Guido;
    I was surprised too, but the 24mm AFD was a new lens, so I can discount something being wrong with it (hopefully!) I'm not anti the 24mm because even though I used to use 35mm f2 AIS for most work with film, the 24mm was my next most used lens...

    Maybe the 24mm AFD performs better on the D300 sensor? I don't know because I had sold that lens by the time I bought the D300..
  21. if you already have the 35/2, i would just use that.
  22. I had a 24/2.8 AF-D and a 18-70. They were about equal in terms of resolution, the 24 is slightly faster but more importantly a lot smaller and works much better for closeups. If small size and exploration of dramatic close-ups is of interest, then the 24/2.8 is of interest, but otherwise it's not so tempting. A Zeiss 25/2.8 would be better anyway, but not stellar enough so that I would buy it. For the record, I since sold both Nikkors since I didn't feel that the quality was at the level I would want from my D300.
  23. The Sigma 20/1.8 is great, and it is still very good on a full-frame body. It may be a little larger than you wanted, but that's
    the problem with small-sensor bodies. You're going to waste more than half of the glass unless you get a small-sensor
    lens, and there still aren't enough designs.
  24. I generally carry the 18-70 you mention along with a Sigma 10-20. I know the Sigma is not a prime, but the images are
    extremely clean. Wide-angle architectural shots can easily be corrected for perspective in Photoshop without any nonlinear
    corrections. Worth a look.
  25. Don't worry about lab tests too much. I've the 20/2.8 AF-D and I think it's a great lens. Whilst the corners are not as sharp as the center
    wide open, distortion, CA and vignetting are well controlled - any optical flaws are generally not really visible in real-world photography. It's a
    contrasty lens, it focuses as close as 10 inches from the image plane, and it's small and unobtrusive. The 20/2.8 might not be Nikon's
    sharpest optic, it isn't what I'd call soft.
  26. I use Zeiss ZF 25/2.8. It is way lighter than my 17-35 and unobtrusive. I find its sharpness, bokeh, and tonal rendition is much better. It's a manual focus lens however and more expensive than Nikkors
  27. While I like my Sigma 30mm a lot, but it sure is heavier than my 18-70mmDX- and only a wee bit smaller.

    A good idea is to analyze your photography by actual focal length used. There is a nice free utility that summarizes your focal length usage (I don't recall offhand). A great utility and facilitates very objective lens decisions too.
  28. I have a 28/2.8D and love it on my D300. It's a perfect normal prime IMO. I purchased it used for $85. It's a little soft wide open, but not too many aren't. You should have no problem finding one for under $150 used.

    I wanted the 24mm but the cost difference didn't justify 4mm.
  29. I really enjoyed the Nikon 28mm f2.8 AIS as a walkaround lens on my D300. It's sharp from f2.8 on up.<P>

    <img src="http://hull534.smugmug.com/photos/318867182_FToSq-L.jpg"><P>
  30. I have both the 18-70mm and the 20mm f/2.8 AF-D. The 20mm is much better. Even wide open, it's noticeably sharper than the 18-70mm is at any aperture.

    Like you, though, I would prefer something a little less wide-angle on a DX body. I haven't tried the 24mm f/2.8 AF-D yet.

    I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for a 24mm AF-S. Nikon doesn't seem to be very interested in redesigning its primes.
  31. Trick question, right? There isn't one.

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