D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Started May 25, 2012 | Discussions
russbarnes
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D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
May 25, 2012

Many probably won't agree with this assessment in the long run, but having had the new 28 1.8G in my hands for the last couple of days, I'm sadly largely underwhelmed.

My standards for a lens are high. I can't help that, but Nikon set the bar and some serious expectation with the 85 1.8G which unfortunately is completely head and shoulders above this offering if you ask me.

So here it is. I've uploaded some images, but they're just test shots. You can view a comparison I did with my Nikon 24-70 at 28mm here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/russellbarnes/sets/72157629890945240/

Images labelled S: Taken at short range, focus on pink flower
Images labelled M: Taken at medium range, focus on wooden plant climber
Images labelled L: Taken at Infinity, focus on panelled fence at back of image

I repeated some tests with my D700, pretty much the same results.

My views:

1. It required AF adjustment to +14 which can't be a good start.

2. It's OK wide open but nothing to write home about.

3. This is the controversial bit: From 2.8 to 5.6 it matches the 24-70 in corners and across the frame. Now some would call this stellar performance. I don't because I don't think the 24-70 is Nikon's best by a long shot and in my view a latest prime should be beating a zoom that's been around the block a bit. On the other hand the 24-70 is a fully pro zoom and the 28 1.8G is a 'budget' prime (it's all relative - and it's really not that cheap at all). I'll let others argue that one.

4. By f/8 it is however better than the 24-70 for sure, excellent corner to corner and resolving much more detail, that much is obvious.

5. Bokeh is soft, if a little mis-shapen (7 bladed) and unfortunately makes heptagonal shapes at around f/4, not very smooth at times.

6. Another positive is that it clearly has very well controlled distortion (a small amount of barrel) by the looks of it and flare is well controlled so the Nano coat and aspherical elements do their job for sure.

7. It's very light and too plasticy. One plus, one minus maybe. It is a lot less to hold than the 85 1.8G and it looks and feels very flimsy indeed though does benefit from a metal mount. For those that care (I don't) it's made in China. The focus ring doesn't do well in manual, it feels rough. You wanted the truth though didn't you?

Now the problem is I've bought this lens not as a landscape lens to be shot at f/8-f/11 but as a low-light semi-wide option to shoot at f/1.8-f/2.8 and with that usage in mind it's definitely not an instant hit for me which is a damn shame. As I said, Nikon truly set my expectation with the 85 1.8G which is sparkling for the money. Really sparkling next to this. I had high hopes when I saw it came with a Nano coat and aspherical elements but the truth is I don't think it's worthy of gold ring status at all. It's going on eBay....

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Nikon D700
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reginalddwight
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

This is disappointing news, indeed. I have one on pre-order and was planning to use it as my light prime landscape lens. Maybe you got a bad copy? Many thanks for sharing your initial impressions.

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CaryTheLabelGuy
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

Looks to me that you got a bad copy. Instead of selling on eBay, send it back for another copy.

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russbarnes
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to reginalddwight, May 25, 2012

reginalddwight wrote:

This is disappointing news, indeed. I have one on pre-order and was planning to use it as my light prime landscape lens.

I think you need to look for the positives in what I said. At f/8 to f/11 it's very very good indeed and beats the 24-70. But that's not why I bought it. It fits your purpose very well I would say - have no fears.

Maybe you got a bad copy?

No chance. There's nothing wrong with it so I can't return it, it's just not doing what I had hoped....

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russbarnes
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to CaryTheLabelGuy, May 25, 2012

CaryTheLabelGuy wrote:

Looks to me that you got a bad copy. Instead of selling on eBay, send it back for another copy.

No, I got what I paid for..... just came below my expectations.

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marike6
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

Actually those test images look great, sharpness seems excellent even at the borders and corners, distortion seems extremely well controlled as you can see by the straight lines of the 2 fences, and contrast is high as seen in this image of yours:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/russellbarnes/7266876632/sizes/k/in/set-72157629890945240/

Understanding that the above image is shot at f8, but all lenses have apertures where they perform best, and the fast 28 1.8 will be no exception.

Don't know what's to be underwhelmed about as the above image looks fantastic as do the ones closer to max-aperture. As with all fast f1.4 or f1.8 lenses, there are trade-offs. I will be buying this lens for sure even though I have an UWA zoom. At this price range, this lens is a no-brainer. Images on the whole look fantastic, IMHO.

I cannot wait to complete my "poor man's holy trinity" of the 28 1.8, 50 1.8, and 85 1.8 G lenses. Thanks Russ.

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russbarnes
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to marike6, May 25, 2012

I did say it matched the 24-70 at 28mm and by f/8 goes past it. That in itself is probably enough for most people to buy it. That is not a bad thing at all and as you say the images speak for themselves really - but it's wide open performance is not so great that's all, maybe not as good as I wanted, needed or expected. I already have a pile of high quality landscape lenses - I don't need another one; I say again, that's not why I was buying this.

I'm not trying to run it down - in the f/8 zone it's superb. But in the f/1.8 zone, it's definitely not and I thought Nikon were going to deliver like they did with the 85 1.8, but I'm not entirely sure they have here. There are build quality issues for me by comparison in particular, though it is some nice elements to it like the Nano coat.

I dunno maybe I just got this purchase wrong - did Nikon make this as an f/8 landscape lens, it certainly appears so, but I thought it was more for low-light, street and people. If I needed an AF-S wide landscape prime though I would have been very happy with this. It's not for me though in the end....

marike6 wrote:

Actually those test images look great, sharpness seems excellent even at the borders and corners, distortion seems extremely well controlled as you can see by the straight lines of the 2 fences, and contrast is high as seen in this image of yours:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/russellbarnes/7266876632/sizes/k/in/set-72157629890945240/

Understanding that the above image is shot at f8, but all lenses have apertures where they perform best, and the fast 28 1.8 will be no exception.

Don't know what's to be underwhelmed about as the above image looks fantastic as do the ones closer to max-aperture. As with all fast f1.4 or f1.8 lenses, there are trade-offs. I will be buying this lens for sure even though I have an UWA zoom. At this price range, this lens is a no-brainer. Images on the whole look fantastic, IMHO.

I cannot wait to complete my "poor man's holy trinity" of the 28 1.8, 50 1.8, and 85 1.8 G lenses. Thanks Russ.

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marike6
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

russbarnes wrote:

3. This is the controversial bit: From 2.8 to 5.6 it matches the 24-70 in corners and across the frame. Now some would call this stellar performance. I don't because I don't think the 24-70 is Nikon's best by a long shot and in my view a latest prime should be beating a zoom that's been around the block a bit. On the other hand the 24-70 is a fully pro zoom and the 28 1.8G is a 'budget' prime (it's all relative - and it's really not that cheap at all). I'll let others argue that one.

Many high speed wides have the exact performance curve where it often takes until f5.6-f8 for the borders and corners to catch up to the center. With fast primes in nearly all cases from the Nikon 24 1.4 to the 85 1.4G, the borders and corners are not outstanding until f4 or f5.6.

See the resolution test of these two fast gold-ring Nikkors:

24 1.4G

http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/549-nikkorafs2414ff?start=1

35 1.4G

http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/596-nikkorafs3514ff?start=1

I don't know for sure this phenomenon will exist in the 28 1.8G because I haven't used it, but high speed lenses in general in many cases (see Zeiss 50 1.4G and 85 1.4G as well as the above Nikkors 1.4G lenses) demonstrate this kind of performance curve.

As I said, I can't wait until the 28 1.8G becomes available in the US and your images if anything have made me more excited about the lens. Contrast is high, distortion seems extremely low, and sharpness where I would use the lens most of the time is high. Thanks.

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Flashlight
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Heavily decentered
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

I took two sides of the fence from a shot @ f/8 and put them side by side in Photoshop (so it's two chuncks of the same photo):

As the image is straight on the fence and the shot is taken @ f/8 both wooden pillars should be equal in sharpness - they're not. If you look at the trees in the background it's even more obvious.

Very bad copy - return asap.
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Joesiv
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

russbarnes wrote:

Now the problem is I've bought this lens not as a landscape lens to be shot at f/8-f/11 but as a low-light semi-wide option to shoot at f/1.8-f/2.8 and with that usage in mind it's definitely not an instant hit for me which is a damn shame. As I said, Nikon truly set my expectation with the 85 1.8G which is sparkling for the money. Really sparkling next to this. I had high hopes when I saw it came with a Nano coat and aspherical elements but the truth is I don't think it's worthy of gold ring status at all. It's going on eBay....

Thanks for the initial tests, I've been keeping my eye on this one as a cheaper alternative to the 24G. Did you shoot anything wider than 2.8 that you're willing to share? I also would be using this primarily to shoot at 1.8-f2.8. Particularly maybe lower light indoor people photos would be of great use to me.
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marike6
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

I don't see anything at all objectionable in this image as the flower your focused on shows very too sharpness, and bokeh looks smooth as well.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/russellbarnes/7266742822/sizes/k/in/set-72157629890945240/

I would have like to see one at f1.8 at close range where obviously the bokeh would be even nicer because there'd be no aperture blades to compromise the bokeh balls on the right. But all in all, when taken on it's own, I see nothing objectionable or soft about this f2.8 image from the 28 1.8G.

I think one problem may be that you are comparing this lens to the 24-70 using the old adage that "primes are sharper than zooms". The problem with viewing all lens tests having this statement in mind is that the Nikon 24-70 2.8G is one of the very sharpest lenses period (notice I didn't say zoom) and the 24mm setting where your comparison is made, the 24-70G is deadly sharp. You can see here where the resolution scrapes the top of Photozone's MTF chart. Few Nikkors, and indeed few lenses whether prime or zoom, reach this high level of center sharpness.

http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/456-nikkor_afs_2470_28_ff?start=1

So the point is maybe a 24-70 2.8G vs 28 1.8G with the zoom at 24mm needs to be viewed with the understanding that the 24-70 is one of the very sharpest lenses period especially at 24mm. But unlike the 28 1.8G, f1.8 is impossible open up to on the zoom.

Certainly you know your gear, but if I were you, I'd spend a bit more time shooting with the 28 1.8G to find it's sweet spots, and to shoot in a variety of lighting situations and a variety of subjects. Most test images in general are not very exciting, but on the contrary, your 28 1.8G do look impressive even a f2.8. Thanks.

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russbarnes
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Re: Heavily decentered
In reply to Flashlight, May 25, 2012

Flashlight wrote:

Very bad copy - return asap.

You know, I did spot this myself and I couldn't fully explain it which is why I never mentioned it. Thing is I went off and tested that phenomenon on other subjects after I saw it and I couldn't genuinely replicate it again. I agree it looks de-centred but there are also slants at play here in the scene (not everything is as even in real life in that image as it might appear) though I think you're right about the trees too.

Wouldn't de-centering show up on the wall shots too?

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russbarnes
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Re: Heavily decentered
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

And maybe this explains its relatively poor performance wide open where it should be more noticeable? Maybe I should try again with another one after all..... as I said the +14 fine tune didn't do a lot for my confidence out the box.

russbarnes wrote:

Flashlight wrote:

Very bad copy - return asap.

You know, I did spot this myself and I couldn't fully explain it which is why I never mentioned it. Thing is I went off and tested that phenomenon on other subjects after I saw it and I couldn't genuinely replicate it again. I agree it looks de-centred but there are also slants at play here in the scene (not everything is as even in real life in that image as it might appear) though I think you're right about the trees too.

Wouldn't de-centering show up on the wall shots too?

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Flashlight
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Re: Heavily decentered
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

What you want to do is have depth in the image, where you can see the sharpness at different depths in the image. Usually (most lenses have this to a degree) you can find a line of sharpness that is diagonally across the field, not perpendicular as it should be.

Another good way is to take two shots in portrait orientation of a scene from a higher point, looking down and making sure there's (almost) no sky in the image; also make sure some image elements will be unsharp.

Put the lens in portrait orientation, focus, put the lens on M so you won't focus again, take a shot, rotate the camera 180 degrees, take the second equally framed shot.

If you load these side by side in Photoshop it's easy to see if all points and corners are equally sharp. If not you have a centering problem. Again most lenses (and even cameras) show some differences when you execute this test well, but my guess is with your copy the result will be obvious.

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Philip

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Flashlight
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Re: Heavily decentered
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

Yes, just try the portrait orientation test from my other reply with different apertures. That's a very telling test.

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Philip

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eNo
eNo
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I just came into a little money
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

No need to buy this one.
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tarnish
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Lensrentals might change your mind about "not a bad copy"
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

They posted seriously good resolution figures for f/4:

http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/03/d800-lens-selection

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Steve48
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to russbarnes, May 25, 2012

I so agree that s you should send it back!! Lenrental numers are incredible!! I havea 50 g with the same problem, and it is going back!!

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tashley
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to Steve48, May 25, 2012

it looks to me as if it shows a phenomenon I have observed in other sample shots form the same lens, which is that F5.6 and 8 the edges and centre are quite sharp but there's a mildly fuzzy zone about on the thirds reading left and right from centre. But I would say your copy might also be mildly decentered, as so many Nikon lenses seem to be on delivery.
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tashley
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Re: D700/D800 + new 28 1.8G. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
In reply to tashley, May 25, 2012

ps what was you processing?
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