Which wide-angles have the micro-contrast to suit the D800 and its replacement

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jyoungman, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. I have a D700 which I'm not planning to replace at this point in Nikon's product cycle. I'll porbably buy the D800's successor. Not because I don't like the D800 (especially its usability improvements around focus mode switching and Live View, which don't seem to have attracted much attention) but because I can't justify the cost when there are too few things the D800 does that the D700 doesn't.
    Anyway, although I'm keeping the D700 for now, I'm planning to buy a wide-angle prime so that I end up with this in my bag: D700, SB-800, 105mm micro, 50mm, wideangle.
    I need to choose a wide-angle lens. The 14-24 is a great lens, but too big for me to routinely carry it. So I'm going to buy a wide-angle prime. However, I don't want to buy a prime now that turns out to be disappointing on the replacement body I eventually buy.
    As for focal length, the 35mm is a lens I could like but it's too close to the 50mm for me to seriously consider buying it. Hence I'm looking at the 20mm - 28mm focal length range. Which Nikon primes have sufficient micro-contrast to work well with bodies with a finer pixel pitch at full frame (I'm going to assume for the sake of the discussion that that is what the D800 successor will be like: FX, high resolution)?
    I'm going to assume that the 24mm f/1.4 is going to be among the suggestions, and in fact Nikon points it out in the technical guide for the D800 as being suitable for use with the D800E. It's heavy and expensive so I worry that in practice I'd leave it behind with the 14-24. So I'm interested in my other likely options.
    My planned uses are principally travel photography, interior shots, architecture, some environmental portraits.
    What do you say?
     
  2. James, similar questions comes once in a while but I'm afraid not many answers are available. Apart of Nikon 24/1.4 which is a superb lens, being my all-time favorite, the offer is quite poor. You can find very good glass in Zeiss ZF.2 camp but is manual focus and the cost is not an advantage. If manual focus is not a problem, there are some solutions at hand:
    Nikon 28/2 AI-S - probably the best wide-angle AI-S prime in Nikon lineup - I have no idea how good will behave on D800 successor... :)
    Samyang / Rokinon 24/1.4 - this is very new on the market and if is on par with other lenses from their offer it could be a great option. I personally tested their 35/1.4 and it really blowed my mind. At about $700-$800 this could be your best option.
    You can also consider the old AF-D Nikkors: 20/2.8 24/2.8 and 28/2.8... but I was unhappy with them on D700 and I think they will be very weak on D800.
    I've been using for a while Sigma 24/1.8 before to get Nikon 24/1.4. IMHO it is a capable lens despite Sigma reputation, but it works better for event type of photography when corners are not so important.
    I really hope that after 50/1.8 AF-S and 85/1.8 AF-S Nikon will bring on the market something like a 28/2 AF-S or a 20/2.8 AF-S but nobody know if and when this could happen.
     
  3. On the D700 I like the Zeiss 21 f2.8 Zf better than the Nikon 20f2.8AF. The former has better color rendition and center sharpness. AT 21mm the manual focus is not a problem. I end up using the Nikon 17-35 in the 17 to 28 range for landscapes because it is so good, and the zoom capability lets me frame the image better. It is hard to imagine that it won't be up to the D800 at the wide end. We'll see.
     
  4. I always thought the 17-35 f2.8 was amazing on full-frame. I would check out its successor first. I agree that the 14-24 is too limited for most people, few of us are ultra-wide junkies. The 16/17-35 range is so useful on FF, though.
     
  5. bms

    bms

    travel photography, interior shots, architecture, some environmental portraits.​
    If you like 20-28mm, and you don't want a zoom, your options are limited to the 24 f1.4, if you shoot a lot of arhcitecture, the 24mm PC-E, or third party lenses. Not much of a choice there.
    I am not a prime junkie, so I would think that if you shoot interior and architecture, a zoom may come in handy. I personally have the 14-24 and the 17-35. I thought I'd sell the former when I got the latter used, but did not. They are really different lenses. IMO, you get used to it and it is a superb interior lens.
    As for whatever the D800 successor will be - isn't it a little premature t make your decision based on a camera that will be on the market in 2014-2015? I doubt it will have more resolution that than the D800....
     
  6. Micro-contrast? A meaningless term IMHO that came in with acutance developers for film, and should have gone out when digital imaging showed us it's just USM by another name. There's contrast, and that's all. Whether that contrast is held until higher spatial frequencies is simply one measure of how good a lens is. The MTF curve of a lens very rarely dips and then comes up again in some undefined "micro" region. OK, rant over.
    If you mean what lenses have sufficient resolution and IQ to make full use of the D800 sensor, then I guess no-one will know that for sure until the D800 and D800E are out and being regularly used. Central lens performance can currently be judged from use on a D7000, but where most wideangles fall down is in the extreme corners on FF. If this aspect doesn't bother you so much then your choice will be a lot wider.
    From what I've seen, none of Nikon's primes even come close to the corner definition given by the Zoom-Nikkor 14-24, but you've already ruled that out.
    Sample pictures from the new Samyang 24mm f/1.4 look awful to me and it also gets poor reviews everywhere - pity! The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 is a stunning lens that can match anything else out there. It's big and heavy though, and again you've dismissed the 35mm focal length.
    I'm tempted to second the recommendation of an MF Ai-S 28mm f/2 Nikkor. Corner definition at wide apertures lets this lens down slightly, but it's acceptable. The real advantage it has is its small size and wide aperture. At like for like apertures it's actually equalled by Tamron's 28-75mm f/2.8 zoom (if you can find a good copy) and might even be beaten by the 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom Nikkor, which I'm assuming you'll also rule out on size and weight.
    It really looks as if you might be better off with a zoom though James.
     
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you are going to use this wide-angle lens on the D700, the old 24mm/f2.8 AF-D is going to do a decent job. That is not something I want to use on the D800. I have tried that on the D3X and the corner quality even at f8 is quite poor.
    Like camera bodies, I would suggest not to buy lenses ahead of time. From 2008 thru 2010, Nikon introduced f1.4, AF-S version of the 50mm, 24mm, 85mm, and 35mm. After those, in 2011 we saw a new 50mm/f1.8 AF-S and last month a 85mm/f1.8 AF-S.
    So are there going to be a 24mm/f2.8 AF-S and perhaps 35mm/f2.8 AF-S plus some others? It is anybody's guess. But if you are waiting for "the D800's successor," you are talking about 3 to 5 years from now. Potentially there could be a lot of new lenses introduced during that period. I am sure the 24mm/f1.4 AF-S is a fine lens, but if you don't need f1.4, you are paying a lot of money for something you don't need.
    In other words, I would get something such as the 24mm/f2.8 AF-D for now. By the time you buy another camera such that this lens is no longer meets your needs, check the market again and see what Nikon, and perhaps someone else (e.g. Sigma, Tamron and maybe Zeiss) has to offer.
     
  8. A clean used 17-35mm/f2.8D AF-S, easy to find under $1000, will be hard to beat.
    The 24, 28, and 35 f 2.8 & 2.0 primes may not be up to the task, micro-contrast wise.
     
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Dan, I have the 17-35mm/f2.8 AF-S. I tried that on the D3X and wasn't impressed. On the D700 it is fine.
     
  10. The Zeiss 25mm f2.8 Distagon ZF/ZF.2. For the uses you list it is spectacular. The nikon 24mm f1.4 is even more amazing but at considerable expense of course whereas you can pick up a used Distagon for not much at all.
    It has field curvature which makes the corners slightly out of focus at close range only if you are shooting a planar subject (a wall). For real world subjects like landscapes/travel/architecture that field curvature does not show itself apart from rendering your subject in slightly 3D-ish fashion. It is an unsung hero because almost everybody who writes about it has never even touched one.
    Lloyd Chamber's lists this as one of the few lenses he knows of that will carry across to the D800 well.
    http://diglloyd.com/blog/2012/20120207_3-NikonD800-Zeiss.html
     
  11. James, to rephrase your post: "I would like to know the best wide angle lens from Nikon, but before you suggest Nikon's two outstanding lenses in this range I'm not interested in those" :D. So the only lens I can think to offer is the manual focus 28mm F/2.8 AIs (make sure you get the AIs). Its a very impressive lens on many levels, especially as an architecture lens because it has extremely low distortion. There have been times I've shot it over the 24mm F/1.4 and the 24-70 F/2.8 for its extreme low distortion (Yes I am aware of DxO optics, but I'm also frustrated that my framing changes and I loose some resolution, its easier to get it right in camera). It also has the closest focus distance of any wide angle prime I'm aware of (although distortion does become much more apparent at close focus distances). It is really sharp, and believe it or not it is still sold new after 30 years of being on the market. I can't say how it will preform on a D800, I've shot it on Canon's 5D mkII (21MPs) via an adapter and was pleased with the results. If you don't mind manually focusing you can't go wrong and it will save you a bundle compared to any of the Zeiss manual focus primes.
     
  12. Dan, I have the 17-35mm/f2.8 AF-S. I tried that on the D3X and wasn't impressed. On the D700 it is fine.​
    Shun,
    I am a bit confused by this statement. Can you tell us what differences you find in similar images produced by these two cameras? Does the D3X reveal flaws in the lens which are just not apparent with the D700?
     
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Does the D3X reveal flaws in the lens which are just not apparent with the D700?​
    Precisely.
     
  14. Shun,
    Thanks for the reply. Can you be more specific? What sort of flaws in the lens?
    I can understand how the D3X (because of higher resolution) might make more apparent user errors such as camera movement or slight misfocus. I am interested in what kind of lens weaknesses are more apparent with the higher resolution (which would, of course, also apply to the D800).
    Thanks.
     
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Mike, when I wrote the Nikon D3X review for photo.net back in the spring of 2009, I had a section on lenses: http://www.photo.net/equipment/nikon/D3X/review/#lenses
    Back then, Thom Hogan mentioned that even the 14-24mm/f2.8 AF-S, generally considered to be an exceptional super wide lens, showed some weaknesses on the D3X. I went back and checked, and I had to agree with Hogan.
    The one wide-angle lens that works out really well on the D3X is the 24mm/f3.5 PC-E, but that is a specialized lens not for everybody. That is certainly not the type of lens the OP here has in mind. I have one and use it infrequently.
    Back in 2009, the current 16-35mm/f4 AF-S VR had not been introduced yet, and I have never used one of those outside of a camera store. But judging from the reviews and sample images I have seen, it is quite poor at 16mm. However, if you zoom in a bit, it may be very acceptable.
    When we go up to 36MP on the D800, all the flaws will be further magnified. But then, your wide angle lens doesn't necessarily have to be completely perfect on 36MP. I would imagine that most of us can accept some compromises.
    P.S. In the spring of 2009, the 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR was version 1. The current version 2 was introduced in the 2nd half of that year and is a considerably better lens.
     
  16. Shun,
    Sorry to keep bugging you. I have read the section on lenses in your D3X review. Most of the flaws you cited related to corner sharpness, especially at wide apertures and short focal lengths. Are such weaknesses more apparent with the high MP sensors than they are with the D700 for example? If so, to what extent (very rough estimate) are they magnified?
    I am just trying to figure out if those particular *lens* flaws which are made more apparent by high resolution sensors are ones that I can live with, or such that they would really disqualify a lens for my use.
    Thanks again for your replies.
     
  17. It would seem that whatever anyone decides regarding lens choice for the D800 that there will be a certain amount of compromise. I'm trying to work out myself which lenses would be the best for my needs whilst at the same time wondering which of the ones that I currently have are going to be good enough to take advantage of the 36mp sensor.
    In the past I only used prime lenses on my Pentax 67II and it was easy to compose and focus using hyperfocal techniques with the camera sat on a solid head on a good tripod. Seems to me that the D800 should work well with good prime lenses for critical focusing using live view guided by hyperfocal lens markings. Only thing is that currently Nikon doesn't seem to have much on offer in good wide angle prime lenses unless they are f1.4 and very expensive. The 16-35mm VR stirs up mixed opinions and is rated lower than the DX Nikon 12-24mm by photozone. Some people seem to love it, others say send it back to Nikon as soon as you get it to have it calibrated properly! I'm wondering whether a Zeiss 21mm would be a good start at the wide angle end (instead of the Nikon 16-35mm) coupled with the Nikon 24-70mm which seems to be very good optically. I'd rather sacrifice some convenience for better optics. By choice I would have fixed 20mm, 24mm, 28mm and 35mm lenses. I'm guessing that Nikon will bring out improved versions of lenses of this type in the months following on from the release of the D800. Going Zeiss for all these lenses would be very expensive and heavy compared to the Nikon equivalent lenses. It is very much a waiting game just now to see what Nikon and third party competitors will actually produce to capitalise on the D800 and any possible D4X in the future.
     
  18. I use the 20/2.8 AF-D on my D700 despite the frequent hand wringing on the internet... it is so wide that it is already a special-purpose lens in my book. I find it to be excellent in contrast and sharpness, particularly on distant subjects such as landscapes or broad area architecture. I do use the lens correction in LR3 especially with architectural subjects.
    I don't find it to be a good lens for people pictures or even ultra wide shots at parties or events unfortunately... I also didn't like it much on my D300 or D80. I like Shun's suggestion of the 24/2.8, it can be found cheap enough that it is barely an 'investment', shoot and enjoy it on the D700 and then if you need to upgrade later do so.
     
  19. dupe post... pls delete
     
  20. Hello!
    This is probably quite late but your concerns coincide with mine. I just ordered the Nikon 28mm f1.8g. I hope this turns out to be a good choice. I plan to use it Dx until an appropriate FX Nikon is announced. I have not received the lens yet and it may some time before the orders are filled. For me it should be a good normal lens on DX. So my list is going to be complete. 14mm f2.8D, 28 mm f1.8g, 50mm f1.8g, and 85 mm f1.8 D.
    Good Luck!
    Brad Anderson
     
  21. Don't know about micro contrast, but in terms of "snap", "Crackle" & "Pop", well this can say about. Have D800 and myself am perplexed about retaining the Nikkor 28mm F/1.8 G lens. To look at the results is to behold stunning perfection. Sharp, snappy, brilliant, rich color, no flaws, etc. Yet something is missing. Wanted an autofocus 28 but may give up on that idea. Your thoughts out there?

    Have multiple copies of the 28mm F/2.0 AIS & the 28mm F/2.8 AIS ( 3 each, cherry picked out of dozens over the years ). And one 28mm F/1.4 AF-D. A strange lens this one is, one which at middle apetures matches the other two 28mms in sharpness, but has unique look I love. But low color saturation, always soft corners and flares like nobody's business rules this out for high end pro use.

    As for the other two 28s, the F/2.0 was my first, but don't use it much anymore. Tremendous resolution at F/8, just barely, but if fact does surpass the F/2.8, which at makes them the sharpest Wide Angle Nikkors I've used. At F/5.6 the F/2.0 equals the F/2.8 in resolution. At F/11 the F/2.0 goes flat and dull in contrast and loses resolution compared to the F/2.8, or most Nikkors there. AT the other F/stops, the F/2.8 has much higher resolution and contrast at all distances. But use the 28mm F/2.8mm AIS for other reasons. The F/2.0 has chalky, desatured colors in the highights. And while rich, not really the word, lush color at F5.6-F8, it lacks the electric contrast and tremendous depth of color of the F2.8 AIS. The Nikkor F/2.8 AIS is so snappy, with color depth easily matching Leica's finest, I'm in heaven when use this. It has deep, rich color with stunning contrast. Under low light, it is even better.

    Now whom out there can recommend a similar autofocus wide angle?

    PS: The 24m F/1.4 G is no match for my ancient, horribly reviewed Nikkor 24mm F/2.8 AIS, which is slightly sharper at every F Stop, but more importantly, with more contrast. Much more. Just jumps. Still not realistic and a bit low in exterior contrast, but that was it's look, made up for with pure color of tremendous finesse. And way more natural. And without the uncorrectable anomorphic distortion inherent in every G Lens Nikkor I have seen, which makes it difficult to use professionally, driving my very high end, high paying clients nuts.
    Still, the 24mm F/1.4 AF-S G is probably the second best modern ( G ) lens Nikkor ever made and very good, just not great. I keep it for keepsake and autofocus, as I do the other great Nikkor ( a tele ).

    PPS: By the way, None of the 24mms are even remotely as good as my LATE SERIAL #'d 24mm F/2.8 AF-D Nikkors. If you get a good one ( I cherry picked two ). Sample variation is so bad from Nikon now, it's less than hit or miss getting a good one.
    All the best
    As
     
  22. Don't know about micro contrast, but in terms of "snap", "Crackle" & "Pop", well this can say about. Have D800 and myself am perplexed about retaining the Nikkor 28mm F/1.8 G lens. To look at the results is to behold stunning perfection. Sharp, snappy, brilliant, rich color, no flaws, etc. Yet something is missing. Wanted an autofocus 28 but may give up on that idea. Your thoughts out there?
    Have multiple copies of the 28mm F/2.0 AIS & the 28mm F/2.8 AIS ( 3 each, cherry picked out of dozens over the years ). And one 28mm F/1.4 AF-D. A strange lens this one is, one which at middle apetures matches the other two 28mms in sharpness, but has unique look I love. But low color saturation, always soft corners and flares like nobody's business rules this out for high end pro use.
    As for the other two 28s, the F/2.0 was my first, but don't use it much anymore. Tremendous resolution at F/8, just barely, but if fact does surpass the F/2.8, which at makes them the sharpest Wide Angle Nikkors I've used. At F/5.6 the F/2.0 equals the F/2.8 in resolution. At F/11 the F/2.0 goes flat and dull in contrast and loses resolution compared to the F/2.8, or most Nikkors there. AT the other F/stops, the F/2.8 has much higher resolution and contrast at all distances. But use the 28mm F/2.8mm AIS for other reasons. The F/2.0 has chalky, desatured colors in the highights. And while rich, not really the word, lush color at F5.6-F8, it lacks the electric contrast of the F2.8 AIS. The Nikkor F/2.8 AIS is so snappy, with color depth easily matching Leica's finest, I'm in heaven when use this. It has deep, rich color with stunning contrast. Under low light, it is even better.
    Now whom out there can recommend a similar autofocus wide angle?
    PS: The 24m F/1.4 G is no match for my ancient, horribly reviewed Nikkor 24mm F/2.8 AIS, which is slightly sharper at every F Stop, but more importantly, with more contrast. Much more. Just jumps. Still not realistic and a bit soft, but that was it's look, but way more natural ( as is the color ). And without the anomorphic distortion inherent in ever G Lens Nikkor I have seen, which makes it difficult to use professionally. Still, the 24mm F/1.4 AF-S G is probably the second best modern ( G ) lens Nikkor ever made and very good, just not great. I keep it for keepsake and autofocus, as I do the other great Nikkor ( a tele ).
    PPS: By the way, None of the 24mms are even remotely as good as a LATE SERIAL # AF-D Nikkor 24mm. If you get a good one ( I cherry picked two ). Sample variation is so bad from Nikon now, it's less than hit or miss getting a good one.
    All the best
    As
     

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