Can Sigma 35/1.4 also trouble the waters for Nikon 24/1.4?

Started Jan 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
anotherMike Veteran Member • Posts: 9,325
Re: Can Sigma 35/1.4 also trouble the waters for Nikon 24/1.4?

Yea, distance and scene type is gonna be the deciding factor. To me there is something very nice on the 24/1.4G with the D800E. It's interesting, but when I was shooting the D700/D7000 combo (which meant mostly shooting the D700 since I, unlike you, did not like the D7000 much), I viewed the 24/1.4G and 35/1.4G Nikkors as equals. The 35/1.4G was a great match for the D7000 - focused exactly where you aimed it, nice, slightly relaxed rendering, the great deep color, while the 24/1.4G might have been a touch sharper, a bit more pop, a bit more contrast, but they both were faves. The 35/1.4G I'd almost say was designed to be a lens that did very well at everything, but excelled at nothing, and when married to the D700 body, which was in some ways similar as a body as the lens was in terms of character, it was heaven.

The D800E was an awakening to me - and I caution you not to make too many early opinions on lenses for the reason I'm about to type - on the D800E, it usually wasn't one lens being globally and absolutely better than another, but more one lens in one Task / Scene / Distance / Use case being better than other other lens in that task/scene/etc, and vice versa. I evaluate lenses for my D800E now for my tasks and the types of scenes I shoot, and if anything close-in test chart performance graphs and info from the test sites are even less useful than before.Shooting the typical rez chart has actually been less helpful to me in identifying which lenses work for what sorts of things than before - which also means that lens evaluation has gotten HARDER (and more time consuming) to do properly with this body.

My issue with the 35/1.4G on the D800E is that even at seriously stopped down apertures for the types of landscapes I shoot, the corners and edges were never great. We're talking even around F/9 - F/10, which is really as far as I want to stop down (unless I really need DOF, in which case I may even resort to focus stacking of the scene to stay out of the diffraction zone in addition to knocking out an F/11 or F/13 shot just for the heck of it). The Sigma, however, even at F/9, is noticeably and distinctly sharper to the edges - and that's why it's the landscape lens in my kit. But the 24/1.4G actually shines MORE on the D800E than it did on the earlier body. Oh, sure, it's still what I would term slightly center zone biased (meaning the corners edges won't ever be as amazing as the center), but the prints I've made with the 24/1.4G up to 17x22 or A2 have been absolutely amazing, as in they are quite easily and quite visibly superior to an equivalent D700 or D7000 print at the same size, assuming of course the subject matter has fine detail in it. (Keep in mind to get to this level means staying out of diffraction zone as best you can, solid tripod, proper technique - all of that - you won't get this quality shooting at F/13, for example). The D800E's ceiling of image quality, if you take the time to do everything right AND use a lens that is well "tuned" towards the task/scene, is of another world never before seen by DSLR shooters. Not easy to get to all the time, but when you do, it's a "wow" moment. It's the reason I'm in a period of serious glass re-evaluation, and why I bought the Sigma as well as the Zeiss 21.

So I think it would be a tough one for Sigma to match that broad center zone quality the 24/1.4G does AND to bring the edges up - if anything I think a future Sigma might improve on the edges a bit but not have the magic that is in the central zone of the 24/1.4G. I'll absolutely give them a shot, but as good as the Sigma 35/1.4 is (and I think it's brilliant, although different in rendering than Nikon), I think they have a much more difficult target to hit if they want to dominate over the 24/1.4G. Perhaps one day we'll see.


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