Comparison of: Zeiss Otus, Sigma 50 Art, Nikkor 58G, Nikkor 50/1.4G, Nikkor 50/1.8G

Started Aug 10, 2014 | Discussions thread
TQGroup
TQGroup Senior Member • Posts: 1,914
Re: Comparison of: Zeiss Otus, Sigma 50 Art, Nikkor 58G, Nikkor 50/1.4G, Nikkor 50/1.8G
3

anotherMike wrote:

Going to go on a rant here. Reader be warned. It won't be pretty.

I think Nikon has been too timid and perhaps a touch lacking in thinking what is desired in lenses with the high rez bodies they make. I might even say they are resting on their laurels from 5 years ago.

Look - I have shot Nikon since '77 and until the past 2 years, you'd see me at the head of the freaking fanboy pack, loudly proclaiming Nikon lens superiority. And I can get real loud and real opinionated.

I wish to hell they made the best, but the honest answer, once you strip away the BS, the fanboys who can't admit someone else can make a better lens, and get real about things and take the time necessary to fully test the competition, as I've done, Nikon really isn't "all that" any more.

It's not that what they make is bad by any means; let's be clear this is NOT a "junk versus awesome" discussion where the views are binary with nothing in between at all - just that they don't go for the stars like they used to. The 28 could have been better (and keep in mind I like this lens a lot); both 35's CERTAINLY could have and should have been better, and they've ignored key focal lengths for a while like the 20 and 105 primes. Even the 105/2.8G I consider a disappointment - it was, in the history of me shooting pretty much all of their 105mm lenses across 30+ years, the first time I thought "wow, they just missed on this one - it's good, but not fantastic, and they used to do "fantastic" at this focal length each time they released a new 105". And of course, right about when they start to slip a bit, the son takes over at Sigma and is tired of being a third tier lens manufacturer, and Zeiss for a few years has made a few serious (if MF) contenders in the world class arena. No wonder things have changed.

Now I'm going to really get controversial and anger a lot of Nikon fans, even myself. You know who is very quietly producing some extremely nice glass that often beats Nikon? It's a company who generally I feel has been lagging a touch in lens design, particularly in the wide angles and normal ranges, even though they are very well marketed and very popular a company. Yup - that would be Canon. You think the Nikon 16-35 is really a great lens? Don't go shoot that new Canon 16-40 IS - it simply just a better lens - period, end of story, no competition. And that's from a company who historically hasn't done wide angles that well. Want another one from Canon? Go back a few years - the 17 Tilt Shift - the first time from Canon that I've seen a wide angle from them with bite, microcontrast and magic. Freaking wonderful, wonderful, wonderful lens (just ask guys who shoot both systems and don't have their horses all in one camp like dan168 sometime). It meets if not slightly BEATS the 14-24 at 17mm, which trust me, ain't easy. Who makes the best 24-70 right now? Not Zeiss, and not Nikon. I love my Nikon 24-70, but it plays second fiddle to, yup, you guessed it, the Canon 24-70 L series II. And before anyone starts passionate typing to argue with me - keep in mind I do NOT like typing what I just typed. I hate Canon. I hate their arrogant fan boys who still can't admit the 5Diii got soundly beaten by the 800 series in terms of clean shadows and DR, never mind resolution. I don't like their video cameras. I hate their advertising. I hate their bodies and their UI. Can't stand shooting that stuff. But reality is reality, and while Nikon is asleep at the wheel, producing niche stuff that really doesn't mate well with a wider cross section of users, and tends to be way overpriced (58/1.4, DF - both about 500 bucks too rich), Canon is quietly making some of the nicest lenses around - and once they decide to come out with a high rez body, I bet we'll see some switchers. Hell, I may have no choice myself but to consider Canon 5 years from now, and believe me, I can't believe I'm typing that.

What's Nikon truly and really done excellently in the past few years? Not just "very good" or even "really good", but world class good? Other than the exotic 400 and 800, which I hear give the Canon super teles a serious run for the money, not one damned thing. Nothing. Sure, they have produced very good lenses - the 80-400, 70-200/4, 85/1.8G, 28/1.8G, and a pretty good lens (35/1.8G FX) and even a niche lens (the 58), but not much else that is amazing in the way the 14-24 was when it came out. Were you around when that lens came out? My head was blown off - I could not BELIEVE what they accomplished with it. And it, even today, is a lens so good it can hang with primes in the D810 era. What happened? And man, that pains me to say that. Sigma, Zeiss and Canon are making the best lenses right now in the land of the world class optics. Nikon is asleep at the wheel, bigtime. I seriously hope that changes and soon. Because I hate admitting Nikon is no longer in the top tier club for the past few years.

Rant over (and I expect a firestorm from this post.. but as I always say, I call em like I seem em, and I don't like what I'm not seeing (lens wise) from the brand)

-m

Ahhh, Mike, do you feel better now? If not, have a cuppa and a good lie-down...

I honestly can say I can't disagree with a thing you said... but I can't quite agree with everything either! Like you, I really do admire Canon... they made the best darn photocopier I ever owned! Oh, and I do use their printers too. I tried their DSLR EOS cameras a few years ago, and I won't make that mistake again anytime soon.

As for their very "new" 16-35, well, they sure took their sweet time making it, didn't they? So, Canon are getting some decent glass out there, but what about their sensors? No one can do it all.

Nikon is in an awkward position right now. Just like products, entire companies go through "life cycles" and Nikon has been doing a great job with their camera bodies and producing some very good glass too. But they can't do it all at once consistently. No one can. Remember IBM, once they owned 100% of the entire computer market, then 100% of the PC market, etc, etc. Now they have zero market share... they don't make anything anymore. It is important that Nikon don't make the same mistake at trying to be the best at everything and trying to do it all "in-house". Canon, "en garde".

Nikon is still recovering from the Thailand flood-induced backlog and I'm sure they didn't plan on the D600 problems either. And their financial situation means they have to ship some high margin stuff pretty soon, or else...

Further, the camera market is maturing and fragmenting. Niche players like Zeiss (remember how big they once were), Sigma, Tamron, etc will be making strong niche products periodically without the need to constantly work on refreshing a total and comprehensive product line. Its much easier to pick at "low hanging fruit" opportunities without the responsibility of keeping pros happy with a full product line. In addition, Nikon started the DSLR movie caper... then passed the baton to Canon. Now they have to fight hard to win that mojo back too.

I am confident that the strategists at Nikon are working to a plan, albeit behind schedule, and I can see quite a few of their "legacy" glass being replaced soon. So, just don't spend all your hard earned dollars on lenses immediately unless you have to because they will do something about that obsolete 50 F1.4G, etc. Their pride demands it.

I think Nikon will have some pleasant surprises for us in the next 12 months. Just remember, these days, no one company can have the absolute best option in every focal length and for every use case... them days is gone! Cheers. Andrew.

 TQGroup's gear list:TQGroup's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3-5-4.5G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED +24 more
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