D800 with Zeiss 21 & Nikon 14-24

Started May 19, 2012 | Discussions thread
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DvD5
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D800 with Zeiss 21 & Nikon 14-24
May 19, 2012

I finally got around to testing my 14-24 f/2.8 Nikon and 21mm f/2.8 Zeiss Distagon on the D800. I thought the results were pretty interesting.

Please keep in mind, these were not to be artistic shots... All of these shots were done on a tripod with 3s shutter delay. Manual WB. Focus using live view at 200% for every shot.

In each case, the Zeiss is on the left, Nikon on the right. All images at 100% unless otherwise noted. All processing is identical between Zeiss & Nikon (ACR).

My first impressions are that both lenses give the wrong color rendition: The Zeiss is too green, the Nikon too magenta. The Nikon shots appear to be more saturated.

(not 100%):

First, I looked at bokeh. Shooting at f/2.8, these lenses are remarkaby similar in terms of sharpness, out-of-focus highlights. They both show nervousness in the stems of the flowers in the shot below.

Here's the detail in the above image at f/2.8

Next, I looked at sharpness for use in landscape shooting at f/8, f/11, and f/13. The Nikon takes this one at f/8. The Zeiss is softer in the 2/3 frame region on each of several tests I performed.

The two lenses were about equal in the center, the Nikon slightly sharper in some corners, Zeiss in others. Nikon shows more CA.

Left frame edge @ f/8:

Right frame edge @f/8:

Center @ f/8

Corner @f/8

By f/11, the softness in the mid-region of the Zeiss has pretty much disappeared, and the two lenses are neck and neck.

edge @f/11:

Corner @f/11:

At f/13, the results were pretty much indistinguishable.

Overall, I was impressed by how well the Nikon matches up agains the Zeiss. IMHO, either of these two lenses is capable of very high quality large prints.

My summary:

Nikon:

Advantages: Sharper than the Zeiss 2/3 out from center at f/8. You also get 14-24mm. Autofocus (though not a big advantage for landscape). Much less distortion at 21mm.

Zeiss:

Advantages: Better build (but not by a lot--the lens cap is terrible). DOF markings on the barrel. Smaller & lighter, Uses a cheaper/smaller filter system. A bit less CA.

Don
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http://www.dvd5.zenfolio.com

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