Nikon wide angle dilemmas… 14-24, 18-35 and filters

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whittle
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Nikon wide angle dilemmas… 14-24, 18-35 and filters
4 months ago

Hi, this is my first post to the forum, but I have been reading endless threads and deliberating for weeks now, so here goes.

I recently upgraded to FX and borrowed a friend's 14-24 f/2.8 a couple of months ago. Man this lens is SHARP, even wide open. I REALLY loved it. Now I want to buy my own wide / ultra-wide angle lens for FX, but face a huge dilemma (and from all the forum threads I'm not the first!).

In short, I want two main things which are really conflicting - a fast lens for astrophotography, plus the ability to use ND filters for daytime long exposures, especially seascapes.

I considered the following options:

  • 14-24mm f/2.8
  • 16-35mm f/4 VR
  • 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5
  • 17-35mm f/2.8

I discounted the 17-35 because of it's price and the fact that it is very soft in the corners. I discounted the 16-35 because it is only f/4 plus there are many worrying reports of red streaks appearing in night-time long exposures, due to the IR used in the VR (for example see here: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/42441013). I don't want that hassle!

So after hours of deliberating and literally losing sleep over this I ordered a 14-24 f/2.8. I knew I loved that lens, but it still left me with a problem - daytime long exposures and ND filters.

I considered two solutions...

First, also buy an 18-35 variable aperture lens and some standard 77mm filters. I did actually get hold of a copy to test, and yes it is obviously inferior to the 14-24 but it's pretty affordable, very light and compact, seemed to be pretty sharp stopped down (which it would be for long exposures). But do I really want to be carrying around yet another lens in addition to the 14-24 beast?! I know they are really 2 different purpose lenses, but I feel that I will always choose the 14-24 and shoot wider, unless I really need to use filters. Carrying a whole other lens just for long exposures seems a bit excessive. I think I can live without the 24-35mm range, especially as further down the line I would like to get the 24-70 f/2.8

The second option is to buy an uber massive / expensive filter system for the 14-24 - either Lee, Fotodiox or Lucroit/Hitech. Initially I was put off by this idea, due to their sheer size and cost, but if I was willing to spend £500 on a second lens, could I not just spend that £500 on a few filters?! So now I am leaning more towards this. I have been reading about the 3 systems and I think the Lucroit holder and Hitech filters appeals the most.

Anyone have any experience of the 14-24 filter systems? Or whether you would just opt for the second lens option instead? I would still have to buy filters (albeit smaller and cheaper!) for the 18-35 lens.

Thanks in advance

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