wide angle lenses for low light

Started Aug 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
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timoteotresgatos
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wide angle lenses for low light
Aug 22, 2012

I've been trying to find a very nice wide-angle - 18mm (24mm equivalent) or 19mm (28mm equivalent) prime or zoom for a Nikon D7000, made by Nikon, or a 3rd party doesn't matter.

I want image stabilization (IS) and I don't want a slow lens.

For example, I have seen a number of zooms that are around 18mm-35mm (24mm-50mm equivalent) f4-f5.6 with IS.

I have a Leica D-Lux4 (p & s) that has a (35mm equivalent) of 24mm-60mm f2.0-f2.8 zoom with IS.

The "long end" of the Nikon lens is 50mm equivalent and the "long end" of the Leica p&s is 60mm equivalent. The Nikon lens has image stabilization, and the Leica has in-body image stabilization.

IS generally gives you up to three stops improvement in speed.

The "long end" of the Nikon gives me f5.6 with three stops more speed with IS; the "long end" of the Leica gives me f2.8 with three stops more speed with IS.
So basically, the Leica p&s is two stops faster than this slow Nikon lens.

I'll be travelling to Italy in the near future and will be shooting pictures of buildings, flowers, etc. as well as interiors of cathedrals, museums, and other buildings.

I also read again and again in lens tests that (so far) nearly all of these zooms have pretty significant distortion at the short end, and the reviews usually say that zooms that distort significantly at the wide end, like 24mm or 28mm equivalents, are usually much improved at f4 or f5.6.

So now you lose a couple of stops of light because you have to stop down a couple of stops so you lose the distortion.

The prime lenses are usually quite fast, but I can't seem to find any prime lenses in this focal length range that have IS. The zoom I mentioned earlier is 5.6 at the long end and with IS, it is equivalent (in lens speed) to a prime (although primes usually have better optical quality than zooms). So a non-IS prime doesn't gain me any advantage in low light compared to a slower zoom with IS.

All in all, it seems like a losing proposition and I'm beginning to think maybe I should return the D7000, since all the lenses for it seem to be a couple of stops slower than my Leica p &s. I should get better pictures from the D7000 than the Leica if printed and enlarged, and I should get better high ISO pictures from the D7000 up to a point. I can shoot the Leica RAW up to ISO 800 (maybe even 1600) and do noise reduction in PS and get good results. Above 1600, no way. The D7000 should be able to shoot at ISO 3200 RAW and get really good results, but higher than that I suspect quality may drop off.

So what to do? I want to be able to shoot low-light with wide-angle lenses on the D7000 and not have to shoot into very high ISOs. I haven't had a problem with low-light with my D-Lux 4 so far.

Please help me sort this out!

Leica D-LUX 4 Nikon D7000 Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5
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