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Author Topic: Wide angle prime options for Nikon  (Read 1599 times)

synn

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Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« on: September 15, 2015, 09:37:54 am »

After spending another photo trip with the 16-35 VR, I have realized that i no longer find its IQ acceptable for my standards. It has very visible distortion at the wide end and the corners are noticably bad. Even C1P's edge sharpening can't fix this completely. Even the center is no match for the 70-200 f/4, which is an extremely sharp lens from Nikon.

Therefore, I am looking for an alternative for this lens that has superior IQ. A prime, because I almost always use this lens at the wide end. The only condition is that the lens should have a filter thread, that will allow me to use my current Lee filters without any problems.

As most of my wide angle work is done in a slow, methodical fashion, I am not averse to manual focusing either.

So far, I have just two candidates in mind.

- The Zeiss 18 f/3.5
- The new Nikkor 20 f/1.8

The Nikkor is just a bit too tight for ultrawide work and I am not sure if it is a sharper lens than the Zeiss. A look in Flickr shows the latter to be sharper indeed. What do you guys think? Or is there another option worth considering?

Thanks in advance!
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Rob C

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Re: Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2015, 10:02:58 am »

After spending another photo trip with the 16-35 VR, I have realized that i no longer find its IQ acceptable for my standards. It has very visible distortion at the wide end and the corners are noticably bad. Even C1P's edge sharpening can't fix this completely. Even the center is no match for the 70-200 f/4, which is an extremely sharp lens from Nikon.

Therefore, I am looking for an alternative for this lens that has superior IQ. A prime, because I almost always use this lens at the wide end. The only condition is that the lens should have a filter thread, that will allow me to use my current Lee filters without any problems.

As most of my wide angle work is done in a slow, methodical fashion, I am not averse to manual focusing either.

So far, I have just two candidates in mind.

- The Zeiss 18 f/3.5
- The new Nikkor 20 f/1.8

The Nikkor is just a bit too tight for ultrawide work and I am not sure if it is a sharper lens than the Zeiss. A look in Flickr shows the latter to be sharper indeed. What do you guys think? Or is there another option worth considering?

Thanks in advance!

..................................................


I only ever had one zoom of any brand: the 24 - 70 G Nikkor. It was hopeless, on a very heavy Gitzo, on a cut-format D200, at any focal length. How it could have ever coped with FF I will never know. It went away from me PDQ. Yet, I have recently seen a picture with the same sort of lens, by Russ (RSL), elsewhere on this site, and it is spectacularly good wide open at f2.8. It's luck, or not!

Even had it  been good, its purpose had been for a single on-camera carry-around lens, and this it was not. It was huge! I'd had to order sight-unseen.

I think I'd go for the Zeiss, just to try Zeiss again.

Rob C
« Last Edit: September 15, 2015, 10:06:17 am by Rob C »
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armand

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Re: Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2015, 10:15:36 am »

I just looked on photozone and outside of distortion and other characteristics there doesn't seem to be much difference in sharpness at 18 mm between the Zeiss and both Nikons 16-35 and 18-35 (that's why I got the 18-35 to start with). Correcting for the distortion might give a small advantage on the edge to Zeiss but I'm not sure it will be visible.
The 20mm 1.8 gets better reviews.

Paul2660

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Re: Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2015, 10:17:19 am »

Synn:

I have both, and each has considerations.

The Zeiss, is a great lens, but can't begin to pull the same hyperfocal distance of the 14-24, just can't.  It's going to vignette pretty harsh wide open also.  I find that by F11? or so you can get a pretty good hyperfocal distance.  The Bokeh to me is not that great either, not smooth.  Plus to this lens, it's all metal, and has an excellent manual focus dial.  Basically you can just turn it to infinity and you are done (unless you are working on a selective focus).  LR cleans up the vignetting perfectly and on the D810, you won't pull much noise there either.  The 18mm is smallish and light weight and I tend to carry it on field trips an I use it on all my night shoots, as there just is no coma aberration wide open.  CA is nominal also.

The Nikon 20mm 1.8, well, it's coma prone until you get to around F2.8, (at least mine is), I picked up this lens mainly for astro work.  The lens is not a great manual focus lens but that's true to me of most of the nikon prines with AF.  The Hyperfocal distance is better than the 18mm and by F 7.1 or so you can get 18 feet to infinity.  The 20mm is all plastic, typical of the newer Nikon glass.  It's light weight however and will get the job done.  Bokeh to me is harsh, nothing like the NIkon 24 1.4 which has excellent bokeh but some of the worst coma I have ever seen. 

Both lenses are good considerations, but for detail, I would give the edge to the Zeiss.  BTW, the Zeiss 21mm F 2.8 is also a great lens, but I found it's hyperfocal distance to be problematic as the 18mm Zeiss. 

The only issue I have with the Zeiss, for that matter all Distagons, the extremely cheap lens cap, which will break if dropped just once on rocks. 

Edit: I would also not count out the Samyang/Rokinon/Bower 14mm.  Very sharp lens, and bargin priced.  Focus is a bit tricky but once you get used to it, results are very good.  Also pretty much Coma free wide open, which really is impressive.

Paul
« Last Edit: September 15, 2015, 10:21:20 am by Paul2660 »
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synn

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Re: Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2015, 11:07:39 am »

@Armando: I do not pay much attention to number charts and graphs. I prefer to evaluate my equipment based on real images. The former might be useful for a lot of people, just not for me.

@Paul: Thanks very much for that quick summary. It is indeed very helpful. The Samyang, I have played around with a few times, but it has no filter thread, which negates one of my requirements.

Most of my wide angle work involves near far compositions at f/8 and above and very little selective focus, so the bokeh isn't very important. The hyperfocal pointers you mentioned are very relevant though!
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NancyP

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Re: Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2015, 11:28:14 am »

Big fan of Samyang 14mm f/2.8. Not up to the Zeiss 15mm, but one tenth the price! There is a user-made Adobe Lens Profile for it. Pronounced mustache distortion, bound to be a PITA for architecture, OK for landscape / nature.

I hear the complaint about the cheesy Zeiss lens caps. I have a very sturdy Tamron 82mm center-pinch cap on the Zeiss 21mm. Stays put. For some reason, the local store didn't have 82mm and the B and H house brand didn't come in 82mm at that time.
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Paul2660

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Re: Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2015, 12:01:07 pm »

@Armando: I do not pay much attention to number charts and graphs. I prefer to evaluate my equipment based on real images. The former might be useful for a lot of people, just not for me.

@Paul: Thanks very much for that quick summary. It is indeed very helpful. The Samyang, I have played around with a few times, but it has no filter thread, which negates one of my requirements.

Most of my wide angle work involves near far compositions at f/8 and above and very little selective focus, so the bokeh isn't very important. The hyperfocal pointers you mentioned are very relevant though!

There are some filter solutions for the Samyang, Lee now has an adapter for their SW-150, albeit a pain to use, but it's possible now.  There is also another brand out there I can't remember that fits a round filter, and they have a CL-PL.  Need to look for that.

Paul
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razrblck

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Re: Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2015, 12:59:03 pm »

Have you considered the Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 ZF.2? It has a 95mm filter thread as well, though it's a bit of a hefty beast compared to the 18mm f/3.5.

If the integrated hood is an issue, Zeiss support will replace the lens with a hoodless version at your request.
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armand

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Re: Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2015, 01:59:50 pm »

@Armando: I do not pay much attention to number charts and graphs. I prefer to evaluate my equipment based on real images. The former might be useful for a lot of people, just not for me.


Most people here do that but it depends an who's taking those pictures and if they shoot the same. I didn't research the Zeiss but when I looked at the 2 Nikon zooms the pictures taken with them confirmed the photozone numbers, price was close, one had better sealing, the one I got was lighter. I'm out right now but I'll post a link with some impressive shots on the 18-35 if you want although you are mostly interested in the primes.
May I ask what circular filters do you use on the 16-35?

synn

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Re: Wide angle prime options for Nikon
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2015, 05:12:40 pm »

I use the standard size Lee filters, so the SW 150 and also the Zeiss 15 (which has a 105mm thread, hood aside) are a no go unfortunately.
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