What is good choice for architectural-use lens for the D7000?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by simon_herbert, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. I've been using Nikon's D50 for architectural subjects, and I'm considering upgrading to the D7000. Can anyone recommend a good compatible first lens for the D7000? To date, I've considered Nikkor's 16-65 mm lens (around $630), or the 18-105 (for around $400), and I'm looking for a good balance of performance and affordability. In the future, I'd like get the D5100 as my No.2/backup camera. Any suggestions for either camera or lens compatibility would be appreciated.
     
  2. Architecture? The Nikon 24mm PCE of course. On a budget, maybe a used 28mm PC?
    Kent in SD
     
  3. I haven't yet used a PC lens but they do cause CAs on digital sensors. Make sure you know how to deal with that before you start using it a lot. When I do start using one I'll be able to speak from experience. :)
     
  4. If you are looking for truly high quality images, Karim's concern is valid -- be sure you understand the basics of this issue, as well as the strength and pattern of the CA on the exact lens model you are considering.

    Specifically, correcting CA on an image whose center does not coincide with the optical axis of the lens can be tricky. It is not as easy as turning on the usual CA correction in LR or ACR. There has been a bit of discussion of this here on photo.net, e.g.,

    http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Z4EE


    Tom M
     
  5. but they do cause CAs on digital sensors​
    Is this really true on digital Nikons?
    I never have trouble with my PC-Nikkor 35mm f/2,8 on my old film Nikon cameras, nor does it seem to cause any difficulty on the digital Canon 5D that I also use it on.
    In regard to utility, I find that shift does all I need, as a rule, so trying one of the older lenses might work, the catch being that to get good utility from them requires a larger (35mm size) sensor. Not a lot of work, for me anyhow, for a 'normal' shift lens, which is what a 28 or 35mm is on an APS-C camera body.
    On the OP - yeah, I think that if you're serious about this at least a shift lens is virtually a necessity. Modern tilt and shift lenses are very good, and I'm saving up for a wider angle one myself.
     
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have the 24mm PC-E lens. It works fine on all D3 family cameras. On my D700, you can get all functionalities to work, but sometimes you need to rotate clockwise by 90 degrees instead of counterclockwise because the viewfinder overhang blocks one of the knobs on the lens, but the effect is the same so that all tilt/shift functionalities are available.
    I have tried it on the D7000. After 5 minutes, I could not even mount it as something was always blocking. I took a look at the D7000 manual, and clearly you can mount the 24mm PC-E on the D7000. It took me another few minutes to figure that out. But that is merely mounting the 24mm PC-E on the D7000; a lot of tilt/shift functionalities still do not completely work due to blockage.
    Long story short, I would say if your camera is the D7000, forget about using the 24mm PC-E. Moreover, with the crop factor, it is not all that wide for architecture either.
     
  7. And, a sturdy tripod....
     
  8. Simon, which lens do you already have, and what do you find problematic about it? What's the maximum you want to spend?
    Both 16-85 and 18-105 have quite a bit of distortion at the wide end, which improves considerably when zoomed in a tiny bit (i.e. 16-85 at 18mm is already a lot better). In both cases, the distortion is kind of hard to correct. They're not ideal for architectural work for this reason, but a lot depends on your exact requirements.
     
  9. With respect to specific lenses, from the thread I cited, Rodeo Joe had the CA problem on one 28mm f/3.5 PC-Nikkor that he owns and provided an example image. However, like JDM, he did not have a CA problem with his 35mm f/2.8 PC-Nikkor. He mentions a 3rd party report of CA problems with the 24mm PC-E Nikkor but he did not observe this himself. I own none of these lenses, so I can't speak from personal experience, and was only trying to help out on the software end of things.
    Tom M
    PS - I'm embarrassed to admit that I responded to Karim's post without reading the OP post. I just now realized that the OP never mentioned any PC / tilt-shift lens. Whoops.
     
  10. JDM asked -
    Is this really true on digital Nikons?​
    Yep! As Tom said, I see this problem with a 28mm f/3.5 PC-Nikkor, but it's only noticeable on a full-frame DSLR, not on film.
    I'm not convinced that it's true colour aberration, though. More likely some effect caused by the sensor getting "off-centre" light, since the lens shows no sign of CA unshifted. My guess (and it's pure speculation) is that the lenslets on the sensor act as tiny prisms when a cone of light comes at them from the wrong angle. I'll post the example images again. You can see that the fringing only occurs along the direction of shift, and not in the circular pattern of true CA.
    Whatever the cause, it should be fixable in Photoshop, but as yet I haven't had the time to experiment with the best filter, plugin or whatever. I must try and get it sorted soon, since I have ambitions to create some digital "medium format" images by stitching two sideways shifted frames together, giving me a 22Mp, 44mm x 36mm final image. Horizontal angle of view 76 degrees - mmmmm, tasty!
    00ZoZp-429837584.JPG
     
  11. Simon, you say you've been using a D50, so just try the lens(es) you already have on the D7000 - what have you got to lose? If you need to upgrade, then get the widest lens you can afford, since there's no such thing as too wide when it comes to architecture. In fact I'd consider getting an ultrawide prime to supplement a zoom. Maybe the Samyang 14mm f/2.8?
     
  12. Simon, one of the best options you have is Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-S DX. Excepting the first 2 or 3 mm in the wide end this lens shows very little distortion for an UWA and the range it offers is versatile. IMHO this is one of the underrated lenses from Nikon.
     
  13. I haven't yet used a PC lens but they do cause CAs on digital sensors.
    I have used the 24 PC-E, 45 PC-E, and 85 PC-E on FX cameras and have never run into significant CA in the images (i.e. something that the viewer would notice in a large print). If anything I would say the image quality is brilliant, though some stopping down is necessary for best results with the 24mm PC-E (f/8 if shifted; f/5.6 unshifted). I also have the 35 PC (latest version) but have not used it a lot lately; for architecture the 24 + 45 pair works well for me. The 35 works ok on 12 MP FX but the images are a bit more subdued in some way; good but not excellent quality by today's standards.
    If you want to use the 24mm PC-E, you should get at least a D700 to make the most out of it. To be honest lately I have more often just used the 14-24 zoom and cropped a bit from the bottom; this approach is particularly easy for wider, more panoramic-like views outdoors. However, you can get better quality with the 24 PC-E in many situations, provided that you can stop it down (on a tripod) and focus very carefully. If you don't go for the FX+24 PC-E I would recommend getting a superwide angle zoom (i.e. 12-24 or 10-24 Nikkor) and doing the cropping in post-processing rather than optically. For many applications cropping a moderate amount (<= 30% of the image area) is fine; it depends on how much time you have on your hands and what kind of quality expectations you have of these shots.
    Remember also that shifting is not the do-all and be-all of architectural photography. ;-) Often it can be better to shoot from far away with a short telephoto or if the street is narrow, from the balcony on the opposite side of the street. This avoids the extreme perspective effects one can get by shifting a large amount with a superwide angle. So you can do most things without a PC-E wide angle but you have fewer options in some situations. Even if shift is used, often only a fairly small to moderate amount looks better than going all the way to extreme shift.
     
  14. Thanks for the generous responses. Several of you asked what lens I've been using on the current D50 (my work camera). Its the kit lens 18-55, and for 85% of my architectural shots, this has worked well. I've been successful in making corrections in Photoshop (CS2), and believe I'd prefer to continue the PC aspect using this method - at least for now. I used a PC lens in the past on a Pentax film camera, but was less than satisfied with it. From an affordability point of view, I may be restricted to one lens to start off with, hence my query.
     
  15. How would focus stacking work in lieu of a PC lens? I'm not sure if a PC lens is meant to emulate a view camera's tilted focal plain, but assuming ( big if ) Photoshop can simulate the perspective of a PC lens, could focus stacking overcome depth of focus issues?
     
  16. Focus stacking algorithms typically produce output which is riddled with artifacts at sharp boundaries, at least in macro work. I think my success rate (in the sense that a nice image is obtained) has been as low as 20% for those subjects I've attempted to use focus stacking with; and often even those that do work out need manual clean-up work to get rid of the artifacts. Frankly, focus stacking is not some universal solution to depth of field limitations. It's hard work and there are no guarantees of success. I haven't tried focus stacking for architecture; for the one landscape I shot with focus stacking did come out successful.
    In many cases you may need to combine tilt and a small aperture and focus stacking, to get a good image (in close-up world that is). Again, larger scale subjects may be easier but I don't consider any of these techniques to be universal.
     
  17. Simon,
    if the 18-55 works well for you in 85% of the cases, then the inevitable question would be: for the remaining 15%, what did you miss?
    • If you missed the ability to go a bit wider, then the 16-85VR might be ideal indeed. I've got it, and it's a very good lens (apart from the earlier mentioned distortion at 16mm), but it's not exactly cheap.
    • If you do not miss going wider, then the 18-105VR is a solid choice. It's also very sharp, and I think it can be found for quite a bit less than $400. Buid quality isn't the same level of the 16-85, but if you treat your gear well, that's typically not a problem (the 18-55 is yet another step down in build quality, so you should be OK).
    • If you sometimes need better low light performance, consider lenses such as the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 OS or Tamron 17-50 f/2.8.
    • If you find you specifically tend to use 1 specific focal length, then you might want to consider a prime lens, for example a 35mm f/1.8.
    If the new camera is only going to be used for architecture, with AF-S lenses, then it is worth considering getting the D5100 also as first body. The advantages of the D7000 (and what makes it cost a fair extra bit of $$) do not really come into play for this kind of work. Just a thought :)
     
  18. Upgrade to a 4x5 if you want to shoot archtecture.
     
  19. I have the 24mm PC-E lens. It works fine on all D3 family cameras. On my D700, you can get all functionalities to work, but sometimes you need to rotate clockwise by 90 degrees instead of counterclockwise because the viewfinder overhang blocks one of the knobs on the lens, but the effect is the same so that all tilt/shift functionalities are available.
    I have tried it on the D7000. After 5 minutes, I could not even mount it as something was always blocking. I took a look at the D7000 manual, and clearly you can mount the 24mm PC-E on the D7000. It took me another few minutes to figure that out. But that is merely mounting the 24mm PC-E on the D7000; a lot of tilt/shift functionalities still do not completely work due to blockage.
    Long story short, I would say if your camera is the D7000, forget about using the 24mm PC-E. Moreover, with the crop factor, it is not all that wide for architecture either.​
    I've used the 24mm PC-E on the D7000 for a good while now, it being my favourite lens and all :) . You have the same range of movement as on the D700 - full side shift both sides, full down shift, 8mm of up shift. All tilt/swing is fine. For side shift and up and down swing, you have to rotate the lens such that the shift knob is pointing down, it doesn't fit rotating up except on a D3 series body. I don't find it any harder to mount on a D7000 than a D700.
    CA isn't an issue on crop. With really contrasty light and extreme tilt and shift combined you might get a bit on FF, but it's not particularly objectionable.
    [​IMG]
    http://500px.com/photo/2035723
    seems to work ok.
    That said, it's useful for so much more than just architecture and landscape.
     

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