Which wideangle zoom or prime would you buy for D800 landscape?

Started Oct 21, 2012 | Discussions thread
Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Re: Which wideangle zoom or prime would you buy for D800 landscape?

inasir1971 wrote:

primeshooter wrote:

Landscapes only, ideally can accept screw in ND filters (not grads). I've looked at the 16-35 and 17-35. The loss in stop of aperture probably doesn't bother me as it'll be stopped down? Can anyone help me decide? I'm possibly going to sell my 135mm f/2 DC (mint) to buy it and an old 24mm 2.8 prime so i'll have a budget of around £800-900 maybe more if I sell something else or save more. I'd even consider just keeping the 24mm and adding a samyang 2.8. I want the 24mm focal length as it is a staple for me; but I really want to be able to go wider, at least to 20mm.

I have a couple of the Nikkor UWA zooms (16-35, 14-24) and the Zeiss 25/2. I think the 16-35 would suit you, here's why:

The Zeiss 25/2 is outstanding at middle distances (i.e. not infinity) and has some field curvature. Corners need f/8 (or more and then never really get there) and past that diffraction sets in very noticeably dulling contrast from f/11. The lens really seems designed to be used wide open at near to middle distances which is where it shines. I don't think it's good as a landscape lens where you will be stopping down.

It's only a slight degration, I think it will do just fine.

The 14-24 is very good but it is best at the 14 end. It's goes through focus shift between f/2.8 and f/4 so for shooting at f/4 or smaller apertures it is best to focus using liveview at f/4 then stop down to f/4 or f/5.6 for shooting. Contrast dulls a bit from f/4 to f/5.6. While it's very good at distance, I get the feeling that it was designed for use at wider apertures (like f/4) hence the lightning fast AF. At 24mm I think the 16-35 is better and takes 77mm filters to boot.

It's not that contrast dulls, ...it's flare! The lens is bad for landscapes at least in bright days, it peaks even when sun is in the back!

The 16-35 is underrated by many I feel. It is poor above 30, and perhaps more distortion than one would like at the wide end. However it is excellent in the middle (18/20 to 28/30 depending on who you ask).

The 17-35 beats it easily in "landscape apertures", more contrasty too...

At 24mm, it has no distortion. Even at 16mm, the distortion is not a problem with some subjects, and if shooting with a D800, distortion corrections can be performed without degrading your image (benefits of a high res camera).

As for focus field, it is planar (no field curvature that I can tell of or have read about).

Many people have this knee jerk reaction to suggest primes as the way to go. However, they overlook that many fast wide DSLR primes suffer from field curvature which makes them poor candidates if you need edge to edge at infinity. With many fast primes, cross frame performance requires stopping down to levels where diffraction will rob contrast (which occurs even before diffraction softening).

None of the old Nikkor's are very good (primes and 17-35 - they do very poorly against the new Nikon UWA zooms in every comparison I've seen). The Zeiss 25/2 has field curvature.

The 17-35 will beat any prime or zoom at the 21 to 28 range and "landscape apertures", but the Zeiss 21, the Zeiss 25, the Nikkor 28 f2.8 AI-S and the (mount converted) Leitz 28mm f2.8 Elmarit! ...It's close enough though! The only other zoom that can compete is the DX 12-24 f4 Nikkor, used at 20-24mm range at FF, which additionally is the world's most flare resistant lens!

All that's left are the Zeiss 15/2.8 (good luck finding one), Zeiss 21/2.8, and Nikon 24/1.4. Out of these, only the Nikkor 24 can take standard 77mm filters and it costs much more than the 16-35.

The Nikkor 24 is more of a "photo reporter" lens, great on that but not for landscapes, ...not particularly flare resistant either... the Zeiss 21 is the ultimate!

I haven't seen anything directly comparing the 24/1.4 to the 16-35 but my feeling is that at 24mm and f/8 even if one is better they couldn't be very different. You pay for the fast aperture.

I have a look at the Zeiss 25/2 here:


there are a couple of images and some NEFs at the end including one for the 16-35 at 24mm f/8.


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