Thom on D800 lens choice

Started May 14, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Boat sails. Thom on dock. And Venice flooded
In reply to venice, May 16, 2012

I find Thom's advice in this case is very well thought out and balanced. There are several important point for non-pros, and his final (1st version) words are:

"This also brings me to my last thought before I duck down deep behind my bunker: maybe the 24-120mm f/4 is the right choice. Coupled with three primes, what would you be missing?"

And the more primes you throw in here, the more it will be possible to avoid the weaknesses of the 24-120/4 or similar zooms. With a series, say, 20 - 28 - 50 - 85 -135, it's hard to tell what I would be missing in 90-95% of ordinary shooting.

There is also a point about diffraction he makes, and maybe it should be made even clearer: If you are working in diffraction-limited land with D700 or D3X, resolution will, normally, actually go up using the D800. Judging from published MTFs, it may amount to something like 1 f-stop around f/11. And combined with proper post-processing, you will get better results with the D800 than with the lower resolution sensors. The important limitation, is that you just can't look at pixel pitch, compare with the projection of branches and leaves, and calculate just how much landscape detail the D800 will be able to capture. Even at large apertures, it may turn out to be much less than you think with your actual combination of technique and lenses. And increasing it may cost, both in terms of money and work.

Therefore, it is safe to buy the D800 for performance, but not for some specified level of resolution. In particular, with el cheapo primes it will be very hard or impossible to get the high resolution all over, and even the Zeisses tend to fall off in the corners.

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