Early D800E & Lens thoughts

Started Jun 8, 2012 | Discussions thread
Contributing MemberPosts: 648Gear list
Re: no no no !!!
In reply to anotherMike, Jun 9, 2012

Hi Mike,

I happens to have shot all of 24G, 14-24, 24-70 and 16-35 on the D800 on a long family trip, so let me chime in here

I have to agree even for landscape, the 24G is miles ahead of all the rest when stopped down. Well no, even at f/4 or f/5.6 it seem to give better overall IQ, if you are not looking into the edges and corners that much. f/5.6 and above it smokes the competition, in terms of per pixel sharpness and even sharpness, as well as an overall pleasantness to the image.

14-24 is losing a bit of its appeal on both ends I would agree. At 14mm it used to be tack sharp corner to corner on the D700, now even at f/8 the corners does disappoint. But I would definitely prefer it to the 16-35 for everything below 20mm. I don't find it outperforming the 24-70 much aside from distortion, however.

My copy of the 24-70 is one of the few consistent performers (alongside 70-200VR2) in my bag on the D800. It performs well enough at all focal lengths at all f-stops, a little bit weaker at 24, but far from un-usable. Often decent enough. Only for the most critical shots I would switch to the other lenses.

I used to swear by my 16-35 on the D700, not anymore. The lens is close to unusable at 35mm no matter how much you stop down (not sharp, field curvature, uneven sharpness, etc), it performs admirably between 20-28mm, but that's it. At 24mm it is free of distortion and arguably at its best, but still lags behind the 24G. 16-35 at 16mm used to be decent enough with D700, on the D800 there's a bit of unpleasant-ness to the images, unpleasant to a point I avoid using it at 16-18mm altogether.

It could be due to the field curvature or the VR element, I found significant uneven sharpness with my copy of the 16-35. And often the issues are not exactly re-producible, aka a bit random in nature. Even setting the lens to hyperfocal distance it doesn't improve things either. That observation does point the finger to the VR unit....I more and more found the 16-35 better as a video lens than a still lens. Handheld the 16-35 produces decent video even when I am walking around. Perhaps that was the intent of Nikon designers all along???

So here's my take on 24mm performance for landscape, along with a rating:

24G 8.5/10
14-24 8/10
16-35 7.75/10
24-70 7.5/10 (mostly due to distortion, resolution is fine)

Hack, I think the rumored Nikon 16-35 f/2.8 VR2 (the patent is published already) is likely to outperform all of them , at least at 24mm. The question is how much and when?

anotherMike wrote:

Oh HELL no, the 14-24 at 24 is streets ahead of the 24-70 at 24mm. Don't EVEN consider that one.

Trying to describe things better. On the 14-24 at F/7.1, only the furthest edges and the deeper corners start to get a bit fuzzy. It's not horrible, but it's not awesome either. If you were to imagine that 1.2 crop mode rectangle on your D800E, and draw it inside a drawing of your full frame rectangle, if you were to split the difference - draw a third rectangle perhaps half way between the two, it's only in that outer zone that you'll see some drop off in performance. I'm not sure how much that will be visible on print yet (I'm not at home), but it's there. A 24/1.4G is just another letter grade crisper into the same corners and edges, although it's not "tack sharp" either. Haven't seen a wide angle yet that's truly grade A+ tack into the deep corners. Probably the 14-24 at 16mm gets the closest though - it's seriously nice at that focal length at F/7.1

The 24-70 is much softer in the corners.

In all honesty, while I'm picky and will tend to pick the 24/1.4G for 24mm duty, the 14-24 is not "bad" by any means even in the corners and far edges; it's just that there is noticeable drop off. The center zone is still pretty exceptional, and it carries that out a decent way before dropping of to "very good", and then in the far edges and deep corners, just dropping to, say, "somewhat acceptable but not great".

Does that help any?


ps: Wish I still had the 16-35 around now. That lens, while seriously flawed in many ways (very substandard 35mm performance, more distortion than a drunk man swimming in a wave pool at the wide end of things, messy flare characteristics (much, much worse than the 14-24)), it was one serious son of a you-know-what at 24mm and distance, as in, possibly the best of the lot on a D700. I have no idea how it performs at distance on a D800/E, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were stellar at 24mm. Unfortunately, the 14-24 blew it away at other focal lengths and was a bit better at 24mm and closer/moderate distances on a D700 or D7000. Might be interesting to see if I could ever get my hands on one again.

 PatrickP's gear list:PatrickP's gear list
Nikon D800E Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G +1 more
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