Why no fast WA primes?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by john_deerfield, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. I did a quick google and it seems this question has been being asked for several years; why doesn't Nikon make a fast (faster than f/2.8) WA prime? If you want a 24mm or 35mm f/1.4 (FX sensor) you need to shoot Canon. I am curious why Nikon apparently has no interest in covering this? I say no interest because my Google search led to post 4-years old or more and we still don't have this type of lens.
  2. Canon bought Nikon, and soon will close Nikon, so you will have to shoot Canon. Better sell your gear to me for cheap before it's all discontinued.
  3. Yeah, it's curious, isn't it? I was half expecting the Nikon announcement that includes the new 70-200, revised 18-200, and the new bodies to include a new prime or two... but no. So, I guess Sigma will keep eating Nikon's lunch with their 30/1.4 (which is DX-centric, and thus not really wide, per se, and not useful on an FX or film body). I mean, I like it and use it a lot - I'm just surprised that Nikon hasn't stepped up. Judging from the prices of their recently announced lenses, such a beastie will be spendy indeed if/when it happens.
  4. The market for those sorts of lenses is tiny compared to the market for 18-70mm etc. zooms, and is still very small compared to high quality & versatile f2.8 zooms. Also, as usable ISO gets pushed higher and higher the need for f1.4 will become even more unusual. I am a night shooter and I do see the kind of lens you're talking about as a niche product. Nikon could use a couple of pro level f4 VR zoom lenses much more than a few f1.4 single focal lenses. That's where Canon is clearly ahead.
    Kent in SD
  5. It's hard to make low distorsion good performing wide angles as the best of times, making fast lenses is also difficult so making a fast wide is a hard thing to do.
    Canon may have very fast wides but their wides really don't have the best reputation, just ask any 5Dmk2 or 1Ds3 user that does critical work. At least now they can use zeiss lenses.
  6. too busy pumpin' out the 18-200.
  7. I'm not going to argue about some affordable (IE less than $2,400!) f/4 VR zooms. But it seems to me that the market for at least one WA fast prime is large enough. It has to be a larger market than say the market for a D3x. And once the less is designed/built, what's to change? A classic will be a classic. Whatever the cost is, it is sure to be passed onto the consumer and at least with a lens the development cost is spread out over the life of the lens. If a 24mm f/1.4 were introduced today- how long would it be before it needed an update? 10-years? More? And if the Canon lens(es) is nothing to write home about, I would think this would motivate the powers to be at Nikon even more: get the lens right and not only do you cover a gap in the present line up you sock it to Canon. It just mystifies me.
  8. I suppose there are two reasons.
    o Nikon Marketing believes everyone wants zoom lenses. It is clear that Nikon believes primes with high quality performance (low CSA levels) are unimportant. Nikon's strategy is to offer low-quality wide-angle primes and make even more money when customers must buy NX-2 to reduce CSA flaws in NEF images.
    o It is difficult (expensive) to make high-quality, fast wide-angle lenses. Nikon does not believe people will pay to own a quality fast wide-angle lens.
    o The increase in ISO performance Nikon's current high-end camera product line means the value of fast glass is reduced. The decrease in DOF is the only remaining benefit when current ISO 800 image quality makes your f 2.8 lens equal to a f 2 lens @ ISO 400 or f 1.4 lens @ ISO 200 with a body like the D200 or DX2.
    For these reasons my next wide-angle lens purchase will be a Zeiss ZF 21/2.8 lens.
  9. Well, Nikon had the well liked 35mm f/1.4 Ai-S, which was manual focus, and a 28/2 and 24/2 back when Kodachrome 64 was the fast film. ;-)

    They developed the 28/1.4D AF to be a new fast wide angle - this gives excellent results in high contrast night light situations, judging from what I've seen, but it was really expensive at least in Finland. So few could afford it. Then Nikon and Nikon users moved to DX cameras which turned the 28/1.4 into a fast, big, and very expensive normal lens. Think about it: the current 35/1.8 DX costs $200 (that's a reasonable price for a lens of this type) and the 28/1.4 cost more than ten times that. That's just not a recipe for hot sales. So Nikon discontinued the lens and the remaining new stock disappeared almost overnight. Currently Nikon makes FX cameras which would justify the high price of the 28/1.4 but they haven't resumed manufacture. Nikon seem confident enough in their 14-24 and 24-70 lenses and the high ISO performance of their FX cameras that they haven't re-introduced a fast wide angle, though the manual focus versions of the 28mm f/2 and 35mm f/1.4 are easy to find; the latter even new. Nikon still makes the 35mm f/2D which is quite fast, very compact and a reasonable performer though its corners could be better.
    Zeiss makes a 35mm f/2 ZF which I have (a flat field lens with remarkably even performance, great contrast and sharpness, a bit too contrasty for my taste) and a 28mm f/2 ZF which I have not used but it's reputed to be very good though not as flat field as the 35mm. You could consider these or the 28/2 Ai-S Nikkor and the 35/1.4 Ai-S Nikkor if you can work with manual focus lenses, or just get the 35 AF if you'd rather not.
    The 28mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor 2nd hand prices on E-bay are through the roof, 3000-4000 USD. I wouldn't even consider it at those prices; I would consider a mint or ex one at $1500, but nobody is selling at those prices. I'm quite confident Nikon will eventually re-introduce the fast wide angle; Canon just recently updated their 24mm f/1.4 into a new version with apparently excellent performance judging from images I have seen. They also have a 28/1.8 and 35/1.4, all autofocus. They also introduced a little while ago a 50/1.2 and have a 85/1.2 so the market seems to exist for fast full-frame primes, but Nikon currently has some gaps in this area.
    I don't think Nikon intentionally left gaps in their lineup nor should the current situation be interpreted to mean that Nikon doesn't think such a lens is needed. The design of a lens takes several years and my guess is that they started to work on a new version when the D3 became a big success. So maybe in a few years they'll have it on the market. It took them almost two years since the introduction of FX to get a revised 70-200 announced (and presumably available in the fall), and that's one of their biggest sellers; the 28/1.4 or equivalent would certainly have a much lower priority, but not zero.
  10. Canon does have the advantage here. I'm hoping for a 28/2 AF-S that focuses to 0.2 meters -- the Zeiss lenses are good but sometimes it would be useful to have AF. Current AF wideangles are not very tempting; optimized for the AF of 1991 and low cost. Like some zooms and some Zeiss primes show, the bar could be considerable higher.
  11. Just a suggestion/question, the diameter of the Canon bayonet is larger than Nikon's. Could this have something to do with it?
  12. My guess is Nikon has been busy with releasing new bodies and pro zooms. Now that they are at a high level maybe we will see some updates to the old wide primes. I am pretty happy with the older AIS primes when stopped down. Small light and reliable but soft corners opened up.
  13. Jos, Nikon has made 24/2, 28/2, 28/1.4, 35/1.4, 50/1.2 and 85/1.4 and the mount has been big enough. You could argue that some of these wides (i.e. 28/2) have shoddy corner performance wide open etc. but that isn't true of Zeiss's 35/2, for example. It seems that the Nikon F mount can accommodate fast lenses, including wide angles that perform well.
  14. Maybe it's a combination of sales expectancy and a high price for making these lenses. Nikon has to take price into consideration, where this seems to be less an issue with Zeiss or Leica :)
  15. i'm not in a position to know, so maybe this is simplistic. nikon appears to be a victim of its own success in some ways. i'm sure its executives would love to accomodate all this demand for products, but lack the manufacturing wherewithal. the consumer mentality seems to be that whatever is desired should be made available. this includes the more specialized, esoteric products, without limitations. should we be surprised if nikon instead finds itself having to tie its limited resources up in producing bigger-selling if more pedestrian, consumer-grade products -- which, incidentally, happen to be more profitable, which in turn makes nikon stock more attractive to investors, yada, yada, yada. i take it on faith that nikon will provide, eventually, and that they are not poking a thumb in the eye of all us enthusiasts by not rolling out every desirable gadget on an accelerated schedule. try to be patient, and if you can't wait try those MF lenses -- or sell out and buy canon.
  16. I bet if Nikon thought those kinds of lenses would sell, they would make them. Instead, they have concentrated on state of art lenses such as the 14-24mm f2.8. Canon has fast WA single focal lenses? So what. I am constantly reading posts about Canon owners that buy adapters so they can use the Nikon 14-24mm. They say it's sharper than anything Canon has available.
    Kent in SD
  17. For film we Nikon slr users got the 35mm F2 in 1965 and the 35mm F1.4 in 1970; the 24mm F2.8 in 1967; the 24mm F2 in 1977.
  18. Funny, all the demo shots of the f/1.4 wide primes that Canon publishes(*that I have seen) are never shot at f/1.4...a lot of times they're at f/8! I wonder why???
  19. I've got both the 35/1.4 AIS and the 28/2.0 AI and I LOVE them. The 35 is extroadinary. So why did they never make an AFD version of them? Maybe they assumed that REAL pros only shot manual primes (which back in the film days was almost true). Maybe they figured that no consumer film could match the resulution. Hell, the only film that fully does justice to the 35 is Kodachrome. OOPS!
  20. Let's not forget the 28/1.4 AFD. There's your fast wide lens.
    As I remember it, it was selling for a bit over a grand when they discontinued it in 2005. Now it's a bargain at a mere $3700. Wish I could have put my 401K into a bunch of them. I would actually be able to retire some day.
    And of course, that crazy price increase tells you that there IS a demand for it. Nikon? You listening?
  21. "...why doesn't Nikon make a fast (faster than f/2.8) WA prime?"
    I love my little 35mm f2 AF Nikkor. Very sharp, focuses fast and close, light weight and reasonably priced (I paid about $340 last Spring.)
    I'm pretty sure it's still in the Nikon catalogue.
    -- Greg Peterson
  22. Its all about catching up to Canon after the 1Dxxxx sort of grabbed a big share of the pro market. For pro's Nikon has the 17-35, 50 and 80-200 for the pros covered. Now they are back filling one by one as they can divert resources. The bodies are now better than Canon, but Canon won't let that situation last for too long.
    There are also lots of pros who love that they can use their AI's again on FX. For many, auto focus is irrelevant...like those doing fine art, landscape + a lot of portrait. The market for a super fast 20 with AF is pretty small, and now that ISO's of 1600 and 3200 are becoming very usable, there is less need as well.
    I understand that what finickey Canon L series lens owners are discovering, specially the F4 brigade, is that the FX sensors on the Canon 5D2 out resolves the lenses and shows up lens flaws that weren't seen before. I bet they didn't plan on that?
  23. "Fast" wide-angle lenses, like wide angle (insert also Macro) shooting, are affectatons. Wider than 24mm lenses are also affectations. Worse, "Fast" wide angle primes are horrendously expensive, like T/S lenses. Nearly any of my f/2.8 constant aperture "normal" wide angle lenses can do the work of the f/1.2, especially off a tripod.
    This "L" lens on the other hand, is going for $355 on ebay:
    Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L with Circular Polarizing Filter
  24. I heard a while ago that there may be a technical issue with the size of Nikon's mount; while they could have fast primes in AIS/AF format, they cannot have them in AF-S.
  25. It's a problem of optical physics: with a short focal length and wide view angle it becomes more difficult to maintain edge sharpness and control chromatic aberrations. All wide angle lenses (zoom and primes alike) hit their sharpness sweet spot f8-f11. If you're going to shoot a wide angle at a wide-open aperture, you will tend to loose sharpness in the corners, regardless of the lens manufacturer or film/digital format.
  26. Canon will have to quickly produce one ``wow'' full-frame, fast camera body to let pros use its WA primes like 24mm 1.4, 35mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.2 to their full strength. It has to move quickly to annul the advantage that Nikon now enjoys because of its better bodies.
    Nikon is busy consolidating itself in the consumer market. It thinks that pros can do with high ISOs. Which is very wrong in the long run.
  27. Anatole, that just doesn't make any sense. AF lenses without lens motor are driven by the cam that goes through the lens mount; AF-S is driven by the electrical contacts and if you can put five of them you can put ten, so... Some people love to use the venerable Nikon mount as a technical reason why XXX can't be implemented. This happens periodically. Before the D3 it was said that Nikon can't do a proper full frame camera because of the small mount. Turns out they were very wrong - Nikon's full frame cameras work brilliantly. Before that they said Nikon can't put AF-S and VR together in the same lens because of the small F mount. Wrong again. It was said that 35/1.4 can't take the electrical contacts because they wouldn't fit. Bjorn Rorslett retrofit the chip onto his, so there doesn't seem to be a good reason why there couldn't be an AF-S implementation.
    Focusing fast wides at wide apertures manually is quite difficult with current Nikon focusing screens and viewfinders. Apparently this isn't so much the case with Canon's high end cameras. Autofocus would be quite useful in these lenses as would a viewfinder with a proper screen and no stupid LCD overlay to fuzzy the image. A few years and I'm sure we'll get a few fast AF-S wide angles.
  28. The talk about the mount being too small is just a myth. Besides, the fast WA primes don't need to be f1.2, f2 would be fast enough especially if that and all other apertures are good.
    If Nikon would make a FX DSLR with a good groundglass for MF and no LCD and some good WA primes then that would enable totally new things for hand held photography after dark. Just because some people have no use for them doesn't mean that there are people who wouldn't be able and have the desire to use them. I'm not lusting for everything in Nikon's lineup anyway, there are plenty of popular lenses that I'm not buying.
    Cosina can make a small, high quality (both mechanical and optical, even has an asph element) WA prime and sell it in retail for a bit over 400 euros. Now surely Cosina isn't somehow a mile ahead of Nikon in making quality lenses for reasonable prices, or are they?
  29. The Canon 24/1.4L is listed at $1,250 on Adorama. It's definitely out of reach of most people's budget. And that's the same price range as most of the fast-primes (faster than f/2) wider than 35mm. It must be a small niche of people who need 1.4 that a f/2 cannot do the job, or need the 24 that a 28 or 35 cannot do the job. Maybe if u're shooting a cathedral interior at night hand-held. I guess Nikon figured that if 95% want a "fast-enough" (aka f/2.8) zoom while 5% need the very last f/stop, it's better for their bottom-line to lose a battle if they can win the war.
  30. Perhaps with the new "FX" D3 and D700 cameras with the 23.9 x 36 CMOS's we will see more prime lenses. I think the smaller CMOS cameras are going to start going bye bye when the technology allows them to be made more inexpensively.

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