The D800 Lens Trail

Started Jun 2, 2012 | Discussions thread
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russbarnes
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The D800 Lens Trail
Jun 2, 2012

I've personally found the D800 upgrade trail to be somewhat painful. Painful in so far as I believe the D800 has shown every flaw and fault in everything that got by often quite nicely on the D700.

I've never bought and sold lenses like I have during the last three months and I've come to a conclusion that most may not agree with but makes perfect sense in my own mind. 36MP, at least in combination with the D800, is just too much for pretty much ANY of the consumer grade lenses if you want to actually take advantage of the resolution on offer. In a way I feel like Nikon have taunted me a little and they probably knew when they released the D800 that this was going to wave a magic wand over the sales of their top end lenses too.

I've paid no attention whatsoever with regard to Nikon's 'recommended list' and instead formed my own views about the lenses I own. I'm not a fan of zooms on the whole because I rarely see the convenience argument over quality working for me. There will only shortly be one lens in my lineup that's a zoom and it's the 70-200 VRII. I don't really see the compromise there for what it offers because it's better than most primes in that range.

Anyway, I'd thought I'd share my overall findings by means of what made the cut for me in the end, because from here I'm pleased to say that I've come to the end of the circus with finding what works best, at least for me, with the D800:

What I shot with the D700:

Nikon 24mm PC-E f/3.5
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G
Nikon 35mm f/2D
Nikon 45mm PC-E f/2.8
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR
Nikon 70-200mm VRII f/2.8

What I've bought since owning the D800:

Zeiss 21mm ZF.2 f/2.8
Nikon 28mm f/1.8G
Nikon 35mm f/1.4G
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G
Nikon 85mm f/1.8G

What I've rejected/sold/selling as not quite making the grade for the reasons shown:

Nikon 35mm f/2D - Poor resolution wherever you look

Nikon 28mm f/1.8G - Too soft wide open, cheap build for price, de-centred copy, not amazing bokeh

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G - Too many front/back focus variations which show up, too soft wide open, other primes stomp all over it with the D800 in the same range

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G - Too soft wide open to be usable now

Nikon 85mm f/1.8G - Nice and sharp but green/cold cast compared to 85 1.4G, very slow to focus, questionable bokeh at f/4 and beyond

For what it's worth to anyone, the final cut that survived my critical eye:

Zeiss 21mm ZF.2 f/2.8
Nikon 24mm PC-E f/3.5
Nikon 35mm f/1.4G
Nikon 45mm PC-E f/2.8
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR
Nikon 70-200mm VRII f/2.8

Each lens brings something unique in that final set for me...

 russbarnes's gear list:russbarnes's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon D800E Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED +3 more
Nikon D700 Nikon D800
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