Wide-angle zoom for cramped quarters

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by scott_burns|3, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. Hello all. I do several jobs each year that involve shooting furniture setups in showrooms. The furniture is laid out in a way that allows large numbers of customers to quickly meander through and get a close view of all the offerings. Kinda like cattle in a maze. Not optimal for photography.
    As a result, I'm left with no choice but to shoot wide in tight spaces. Until now, I've been doing this with a D300 and a Tokina 12-24.
    I recently purchased a D3s and now I need a WA zoom to go with it for this type of shooting. On DX, most of the shots are taken at 15-16 mm. Distortion can be a problem, but I do have Lightroom and PS for lens correction.
    I've been reading up extensively on the 14-24, the 17-35 and the 16-35 -- and I still haven't come to a final conclusion. Any ideas on which one of these would be my best bet? It seems the 14-24 is best WRT distortion control and corner sharpness.
    I would also use the lens to shoot interiors for real estate and interior design. I shoot indoor/outdoor sports, too.
    Any insight would be appreciated.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    With a D3S, the choice is obvious.
    14-24mm/f2.8 @ 14mm on D3
  3. I don't have experience of the others but the 16-35 would be very good also IMO. VR would be very handy if you couldnt get a tripod where you wanted it or if you don't always use one indoors if lighting may be an issue. Sharpness and colour are great. No doubt 14-24 is "better" but that doesnt accept filters..
  4. Thanks, Shun. That's impressive! While researching, I noticed a few of your posts stating that the 17-35 might be more practical, but I didn't know if that would apply to me and what I need to accomplish. So it's good to know your thoughts on this in particular.
    P Watson: Thanks for your input. The 16-35 looks capable. I'm a little concerned about performance at the wide end, though. OTOH, I wouldn't necessarily need to shoot with it that wide - at least not for the furniture. BTW, the "no filters" thing isn't a real concern for me.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Scott, as a general wide-angle zoom, the 17-35mm/f2.8 AF-S is a much better choice since it covers a more useful range and can take filters; in particular, the 17-35 is much better for landscape. However, as soon as you are talking about building interiors, the 14-24 should be the clear choice. The 24mm PC-E would be my choice for building exteriors.
    Our member Doug Santo has been posting a lot of excellent church images from Southern California to our Wednesday threads. He uses 14mm quite often: http://www.photo.net/photodb/member-photos?user_id=4151244
  6. the FF pro UWAs pretty much break down like this:
    • 14-24: interiors, studio, low-light, sports, situations where you dont need filters
    • 16-35: landscapes, outdoors, situations where you do need filters and/or VR
    • 17-35: events, PJ, low-light, sports, situations where corner-to-corner sharpness isn't critical
    with a D3s, the f/4 of the 16-35 wouldn't be as limiting a factor as with other bodies, so that may factor into your decision, especially if you forsee yourself shooting nature and need to use ND grads. but if you want the absolute best (and least distorted), the 14-24 is the ticket.
  7. I'm very happy with my 14-24 on a D700. Reviews of the 16-35 are, as you suggest, mixed when it comes to the wide end. I'd advise against the full-frame 12-24 Sigmas, just because they're so dark in the viewfinder for indoor use (although the same may apply to the 16-35, never having tried one) - but I did try one on a camera with a cheap finder, and I'm sure a D3s is better. On the other hand, the 14-24 is best (in sharpness, worst in distortion) at its 14mm end, and if that's too wide for your needs then you're paying a lot for functionality you won't use, so maybe one of the longer zooms would suit you more.
  8. Thanks again, Shun. That makes sense. And Mr. Santo's work is exceptional.
    Eric: Thanks for the breakdown. Very helpful! I thought about the 16-35's f/4 limitation but, as you said, it shouldn't be a big enough deal on that body to keep me from considering it. But, yes, "least distorted" would be a plus for my needs.
    Andrew: Thanks. I hadn't considered the Sigma. I guess my aim at this point is stick to Nikon glass. Haven't had great experiences with third-party in the past (but I'm not totally closed-minded). WRT the 14-24, I may not need the 14 mm regularly for work, but something tells me I would have fun getting creative with it when not working. :)
  9. I have the 14-24 and the 17-35. The 14-24 has less distortion at 14 than the 17-35 has at 17. Either will work for your use, especially with PP distortion/CA correction. Also, depending on the fineness of quality you need in the final product(big print, small print, brochure, newspaper, online, etc), the 14-24 or the 17-35 can be employed for traditonal-looking, shift lens-style architectural shots with ease; orient the lens with straight verticals during shooting, and crop out the waste area in post. I do it all the time on my D3 cameras. The maximum print or display size is limited by the degree of cropping as always.
  10. scott, in general, do you feel the D3s was worth the premium over the D700?
  11. pge


    Given your stated normal use of 15-16 on dx the 20-35 f2.8 would be wide enough and much less expensive.
  12. Keith: Good to hear from someone else who owns both of those lenses. I've read that if I choose to go with the 17-35 I should look for a used model. That makes sense because the new ones go for about the same price as the 14-24. But I've also seen reports claiming the 17-35's motor can start squeaking over time. Have you experienced that particular issue? And thanks for the shooting tip.
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I think distortion is very well controlled on both the 17-35 and 14-24. My 17-35 is from like 9 years ago and the AF motor squeaks occasionally. That seems to be a common problem on older 17-35's. Motor replacement is like $400 or so; we have had a few threads on that issue.
    I have only played around with the new 16-35mm/f4 AF-S VR. As Bjorn Rorslett points out and also shown on PhotoZone.de's tests, distortion is serious @ 16mm. If you treat it as a 18-35mm zoom, it is probably ok. But if you shoot building interiors, it is great to have the 14mm option.
  14. Eric: You'll have to ask me that in a few months. However, I've been holding off on the bigger bodies since I switched to digital almost 10 years ago - D100 > D200 > D300. I just opted to invest more in lenses. The D700, by all accounts, is an excellent camera but it is older and would seem to be due for a replacement in the near future. I still strongly considered it, especially since it uses the same batteries as the D300.
    The D3S just feels very comfortable in my hands. Love the built-in grip (I'm tired of buying optional, flimsy grips). A buddy of mine owns a D3S, in addition to two copies of the older D3. So my purchasing decision may well have been a result of "body envy."
  15. Yes, Shun, I've read both of those reviews and the results were kinda disappointing. I wonder why Nikon didn't just update the 17-35? Anyway, I'm now leaning very heavily toward the 14-24 based on the helpful comments in this thread and the information I'd gleaned earlier.
  16. Scott - I can't vouch for the 16-35 (which is apparently even worse) or 17-35, but I do want to add a qualifier to the assertion that distortion is well-controlled on the 14-24. My findings roughly agree with photozone's, that the 14-24 controls distortion well at 24mm, but there's a lot of pincushion at 14mm, although at least it's not too hard to correct in software. Not that I'd let this put you off the 14-24, but I thought you'd best be prepared for it.

    Of course, there's always the 24mm f/1.4 or the Zeiss 21mm if you have money to burn...
  17. If budget is not an issue, stick with the 14-24mm. If it is, I use the Sigma 12-24mm and find it is an excellent lens.
    Distortion with most lenses is easily manageable through software.
  18. Andrew: I appreciate the heads-up. No money to burn here, unfortunately. I just want the most bang for the buck. In my case, all signs point to a zoom that performs well at all FLs. I rarely NEED 14 mm, but there have been instances (shooting interiors) where it definitely would've come in handy.
    Elliot: Another reference to the Sigma. I'll have to at least check into that one. Thanks for your input.
  19. scott, i would get the 14-24 as you will have an actual use for it. if i shot interiors for a living that's what i'd get.
    i have seen used 17-35s for as low as $950, however, which would be enough of a cost differential for me to make me think i could live with the extra distortion and 3mm less wideness, but that's also because i do much more PJ/event shooting than landscapes/interiors, and would want to be able to use filters in any event.
  20. Thanks again, Eric. Looks like that's where I'm headed.
  21. As your subjects are static, how about taking several with a longer lens and stitching, as with landscape panoramics?
  22. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Here is a smaple image captured with the 14-24mm/f2.8 AF-S @ 14mm on the D700. This is the entire frame scaled down. There is certainly some barrel distortion as shown by the edge of the swimming pool, but I think that is quite reasonable for a 14mm lens shooting from a close distance.
  23. Scott,
    Since you already also have been working with "non-Nikon" you might also be interrested to at least have a look at the Sigma 12-24 ( although it starts at f4.5, so you need some light to use it, but so you do too for the Nikon 14-24 to overcome center softness..). Anyway, it could be a less expensive option.. ( less than half of the price for the 14-24).
    Here are some links to have a look at if you're interrested...:
  24. Yeah, Shun, that looks more than reasonable for such an up-close capture at 14 mm. Thanks for the example.
  25. Thanks for the links, C.P.M. I'll check those out now. I plan on ordering something today to give myself time to get acquainted with the setup before the next furniture jobs come up next month.
  26. OK, fellas. I settled on the 14-24. Just clicked the "Submit Order" button. To those who suggested the Sigma, it took second place over the 17-35 and 16-35. One problem with that one, though, was the apparent luck it requires to get a good copy. I don't have time to deal with that sorta thing.
    Thanks for taking the time to provide your helpful opinions/experiences.

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