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Thread: Nikon PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED distortion issue

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    Senior Member danielmoore's Avatar
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    Nikon PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED distortion issue

    For architectural work, as much as I love the 14-24G I'm too frequently requiring tilt/shift movements. The 14-24G has excellent control of barrel distortion at the 24mm end, where I use it the most, so good that it needs no further correction in post. It looks as though the 24mm PC-E however has pronounced distortion, to the extent that ALL architectural images made with it will suffer noticeably. For the stringent requirements of architectural work this necessitates a round of correction in post and here's my dilemma. How to approach distortion correction when the image has been shifted? I have used a handful of programs over the years (nearly all implementing PanoTools) and pretty much settled on PTGui for correcting tilt and lens distortion. It seems possible to build a profile for the 24 PC-E based on a stitched image that covers the extremes of it's shift range and then assigning shift values to later images that represent zones of that overall image circle, but that would necessitate recording shift values used for each image taken. Not exactly a smooth workflow, saving time in post by spending more in record keeping.
    Then there's assigning control points along straight lines in each image to correct each independently. This is what I do now and it goes fairly quickly. But what a rub, shelling out a cool 2K for the added advantage of tilt/shift and still having to manually adjust each image to straighten what ought to be straight.
    I'd like to hear ideas on how you work with this lens, if there are options I havent' thought of with regard to getting to the end result quicker, if there's a better choice of lens. I'm considering selling my 14-24 as I almost never go wider than 24mm with it and replacing it with the 24 PC-E and stitching for the times when I need wider. I should mention I'm using a D700 and a full complement of Nikon glass so the 24 TSE isn't too attractive an option, if it had better distortion characteristics. If I shot landscapes I might simply live with it's behavior...

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    Re: Nikon PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED distortion issue

    Hi Daniel I use the 24mm mainly for architecture, too. I am not too bothered by the distortion if I am not shooting with a subject close to the foreground, say perhaps a door or cabinet.

    When I do need to correct for distortion after shift, I use PT Lens. As far as I know it's the only automatic program that corrects for Nikon PC lenses shifted. I would love to hear what others do if there are different solutions.

    So when I shoot, I write down how much I shifted for each image. If I need to correct of distortion in post, I go back to that note, and dial in the shifted amount in PT Lens.

    Hope it helps.

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    Senior Member danielmoore's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED distortion issue

    I remember PTLens used not to have more than a couple interpolation algorithms, spline 36 I think was the most intricate. I see a difference between it and sinc 256 which as of version 9 is incorporated into PTGui. Any of these programs based on PanoTools will allow calibrating/saving a T/S lens profile. Likewise entering the shift value(s) can place it properly in the image circle.
    I'm very curious to know how many photographers don't consider the distortion a problem to the extent that they go after it in post.
    I just rented the 24 PC-E for a job and used it along side my 14-24 and realized I could never proceed as planned, selling the 14-24 and replacing it with the 24 PC-E. The 14-24 showed itself to be slight sharper across the frame as well as having ~zero distortion. If I had only the 24 PC-E on hand I'd spend hours more in post than I do now. Most of my work can be accomplished without it, better, and faster. I will be buying one when I can find a good used deal for the times it gets you out of a pinch but having the 14-24 makes that one tough sell. I do want to get my hands on the 24 TSE next and see if it's all it's cracked up to be. FF sensor bodies abound these days at reasonable prices so I actually think it's time to start pairing lenses with bodies to exploit their strengths and not feel locked in to a single brand.

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