The DX Prime Conundrum

Started Jun 8, 2013 | Discussions
sachinn Regular Member • Posts: 134
The DX Prime Conundrum

Though I've been on dpreview for years, this is my first thread. So first, let me thank all of you fellow photographers for the shared knowledge since I picked up my first DSLR (the venerable D40).

Since the D40, I upgraded to a D90 a few years back. I've learned that I prefer shooting with prime lenses (24, 35, and 85 FL's primarily) and having a zoom that starts at 24 on the wide end for convenience. Which brings me to the topic of this thread, and my specific dilemma regarding which I'd appreciate your feedback.

The Nikon DX lineup is lacking in prime lenses at the wide end. This has been discussed ad nauseum, my goal in bringing this up is not to revive that discussion but to set the stage for my question. Any advice or experience regarding switching from DX to the Oly OM-D versus the D600? I would particularly like to hear from anyone who moved from DX to an OM-D or D600 and regretted that decision.

Some factors to consider with regard to my preferences: Cost is not an issue. Photography is my hobby, not my job. Smaller/lighter is preferred, but the weight and IQ tradeoffs should be proportional in my eyes (I realize this varies widely based on personal preferences). Large prints are not in the future for over 99% of my photos, they're primarily viewed online.

Your opinions and experiences are much appreciated, as always.

-Sach

Nikon D40 Nikon D600 Nikon D90
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Nexu1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,746
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

Why do you need such a wide prime?

 Nexu1's gear list:Nexu1's gear list
Nikon D750
JimPearce
JimPearce Veteran Member • Posts: 9,153
You're kidding, right?
2

A micro 4/3 12mm f2 is equivalent to a 24mm f4; a 17mm f1.8 to a 34mm f3.6. If you just need to get wide, a Tokina 11-16 f2.8 on DX is the ticket. If you need to shoot wide and fast, go FX.

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Jim

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OP sachinn Regular Member • Posts: 134
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

I like the perspective at 24mm, it's essentially the only FL I use when hiking, and as good as zooms have become over the years it seems primes still outdo them in image quality (and definitely weight if you're only at one FL).

FujicaST605
FujicaST605 Regular Member • Posts: 462
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

If you're looking for a prime, there is the 24mm F2.8D AF that Nikon still manufactures.  Available new or used.

 FujicaST605's gear list:FujicaST605's gear list
Nikon D7100 Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Tokina AT-X Pro 12-24mm f/4 DX II Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G
jquagga Contributing Member • Posts: 616
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

sachinn wrote:

The Nikon DX lineup is lacking in prime lenses at the wide end. This has been discussed ad nauseum, my goal in bringing this up is not to revive that discussion but to set the stage for my question. Any advice or experience regarding switching from DX to the Oly OM-D versus the D600? I would particularly like to hear from anyone who moved from DX to an OM-D or D600 and regretted that decision.

I have an Olympus PEN in addition to a Nikon D5100.  I've attempted to convert wholly to m43 in the past but that didn't work out.  Your other thread talks about a 24mm equivalent; Olympus makes a larger, expensive 12mm and the Panasonic 14 is cheap but a 28mm equivalent.  I had one in the past and am looking to purchase another one.  I'm planning on selling my existing APS-C wide angle prime (Rokinon 8mm) to finance that.

I'm also confused as to what focal lengths you're actually looking for.  I'm assuming you're looking for a 24mm full-frame equivalent (ie, a 12mm on m43 and a 16mm in APS-C).  Samyang is slated to release a 16mm APS-C lens but that'll be manual focus.

I wouldn't advise switching to m43 without at least renting the camera and giving it a run down.  There are some limitations to the platform some people don't like.  That said, a modern Olympus (the OM-D or the current generation PENS) have a competative sensor and the 12 or 14 are options.  That is a small and light camera system.

dretket Regular Member • Posts: 105
He's right, get a Tokina 11-16

That's what I've got for my D5100.  At 16mm, it'll be the equiv of a 24mm on FF.  It's nice and sharp. I've used it wide open at 2.8 for nightscapes and I've been really impressed with it.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dretket/8960954398/

Here is a photo taken with the Tokina at 16mm

 dretket's gear list:dretket's gear list
Nikon D5100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II +4 more
Sante Patate Veteran Member • Posts: 5,908
Nikon 24mm prime options ...

... are limited even on FX.  There is the AF-D 24mm f/2.8 - the lens Galen Rowell used to carry when weight was critical.  It does not perform all that well on digital, however (http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/551-nikkorafd2428ff).  There is the 24mm f/1.4, but it is 620g and not all that good considering it is $2000.  If you don't mind manual focus there is the Zeiss 25mm f/2.8.  As a hiking camera, with a D600 only the AF-D 24mm f/2.8 does not carry a weight penalty compared to the D7000 + 12-24/4 - but no performance advantage, and a loss of quality at larger apertures.

If you don't want to pay for the 24/1.4 or the Zeiss and the AF-D 24mm is not good enough you are on a zoom, and there is a weight penalty and you have lost the optical benefit.

You have more prime options at 28mm: the Nikon 28/1.8, the Zeiss 28/2, the Voigtlander 28/2.8.

Giklab Contributing Member • Posts: 684
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

As I see it, you could:

1. Get a Samyang 14/2.8 or the upcoming 16/2.

2. Switch to m43

3. Switch to Fuji X

4. Switch to Pentax

5. Get a FF Nikon

GlennW Senior Member • Posts: 2,133
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

sachinn wrote:

I like the perspective at 24mm, it's essentially the only FL I use when hiking, and as good as zooms have become over the years it seems primes still outdo them in image quality (and definitely weight if you're only at one FL).

In the Nikon world, you start with a 16-85 on a DX body. When you go WA, get the 10-24. you can look at sigma 8-16 to get really wide.

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 GlennW's gear list:GlennW's gear list
Nikon D5300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR +4 more
Werner Gansz Contributing Member • Posts: 605
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

I'm in the same boat you are.  I have a D7000 and use the Nikon 10-24 for wide.  It's a fine lens but big and heavy.  I use it mostly in the 14 range but once in a while when I think I can control the background well enough I will get in very close and shoot at 10mm (It has a minimum focus distance of only a few inches from the front of the lens).

But I would rather have a 12, 13, or 14mm, moderate aperture, small prime; small being the operative word.  It surprises me that Nikon has been making DX lenses for 12 or 13 years and doesn't have a DX wide prime while Fuji has been making its X lenses for less than 2 years and already has a 14 for it APS-C cameras.

I'm about to rent a Fuji X-E1 but I'm not optimistic that it will replace my D7000 kit.   Notoriously slow focus and sometimes no focus, and lenses that are not all that much smaller than DX lenses but already a nicer selection of primes, include a pair of new Zeiss lenses made for the Fuji, including a 12!.

In my heart of hearts what I want is an m4/3 small lens set, an Olympus stabilized sensor in a Fuji-like camera control system and the Nikon 1 fast focus system for action shots.  I think I'll be waiting for quite a while.  I really wish Nikon had picked a bigger sensor.

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OP sachinn Regular Member • Posts: 134
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

Thank you all for your responses, though I had to scratch my head at the suggestions of zoom lenses when my goal is prime lenses. Werner, I appreciate your empathy.

Ultimately, I've decided that I'm stuck with zooms for wide angle on DX for now as I don't want the added weight of FX gear and am not interested in an expensive experiment with the m43 format at this time (might borrow/rent it to try it out though).

Nikon, if you're reading this, more DX primes like the 35/1.8 (small, light, optically good, relatively inexpensive) at wider focal lengths. Make it happen.

Sante Patate Veteran Member • Posts: 5,908
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

sachinn wrote:

Nikon, if you're reading this, more DX primes like the 35/1.8 (small, light, optically good, relatively inexpensive) at wider focal lengths. Make it happen.

I am not sure that is realistic, technically.

The 10-24 f/4 weighs 500g or so, costs $800 and is optically excellent.  The Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 weighs 560g and costs $570.  So, what can a (say) 16mm prime offer?  Larger maximum aperture, lower cost, lower weight?  Sadly, it isn't even a "choose two".

The size and optical complexity of wide-angle lenses scales with the actual focal length, not the 35mm equivalent focal length, so a DX 16mm lens is going to look and cost like an FX 16mm lens, not like an FX 24mm.  If you plot the cost and size of Nikon prime lenses against focal length and aperture there is a pretty clear relationship.  A 16mm f/2.8 is predicted to cost around $1200 and to have a 77mm front element and weigh 500g.  Why would anyone prefer that to the 10-24 zoom, or the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8?

A 16mm f/3.5 that weighed 300g and cost $300-$500 is reasonable, and I would buy it in a heartbeat, but my guess is that Nikon does not think many people share that preference.

Nexu1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,746
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

How about the Nikon 20mm f2.8?  It's only 269 grams.

http://www.adorama.com/NK2028AFDU.html

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Nikon D750
jkjond
jkjond Veteran Member • Posts: 8,472
Re: The DX Prime Conundrum

sachinn wrote:

Thank you all for your responses, though I had to scratch my head at the suggestions of zoom lenses when my goal is prime lenses. Werner, I appreciate your empathy.

My first thought was 'what did you expect if wide primes don't exist?' but a quick search revealed a surprising number:

http://www.wexphotographic.com/nikon-fit/b3078?focallengthwidefloat=focallengthwidefloat%26lt%3b20.0&zoomorprime=prime

Kick out the fisheyes and the number reduces somewhat, and my, they can be pricey.

I have a siggy 10-20. Its pretty light and does everything I asked of it - but if going wiiiiiiiide I'd get a siggy 8-16 which I've had the please of borrowing from time to time. I've never had it in my hands long enough to do anything serious with it (far too much fun doing non-serious shots at 8mm), but it is certainly capable, so long as you don't have huge feet which will show in every 8mm shot.

Mirrorless doesn't seem to fit in with your goal of getting a wide prime, but I'm looking forward to the day I ditch all my big gear for a mirrorless system and start taking a camera along instead of treating every outing as a dedicated photo session.

Ultimately, I've decided that I'm stuck with zooms for wide angle on DX for now as I don't want the added weight of FX gear and am not interested in an expensive experiment with the m43 format at this time (might borrow/rent it to try it out though).

Nikon, if you're reading this, more DX primes like the 35/1.8 (small, light, optically good, relatively inexpensive) at wider focal lengths. Make it happen.

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trac63 Contributing Member • Posts: 740
There is no conundrum

Today's wide-angle zooms generally outperform the fixed-focal-length wide-angle lenses of yester-year.

That's why there aren't a lot of fixed-focal-length wide-angle lenses available for DX: the zoom "penalty" is not that great. Most of the ones available for FX date back to the film era.

In any event, switching to Micro 4/3 does not solve the "problem". There's only about three or four true wide-angle non-zooms available for Micro 4/3 and as far as I know none of them outperform the Nikon 10-24 or Tokina 11-16 in any meaningful way.

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