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Thread: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

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    initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Picking out my initial lineup is killing me. I'm doing this on somewhat of a self imposed budget (I know I could just buy "all that great stuff" and be done with it, but I'll forgo wallet torture in favor of self torture instead) since this is technically still a hobby for me. (and yes this seems a bit crazy considering I just bought the d800e, but, I'm a bit of a crazy person, so, bear with me here)

    Shooting style:
    Heavy on landscapes. Focus on sky vistas and night sky landscapes. Hike around to scenic overlook...shoot. Jump out of car to shoot supercell thunderstorm. (samples below) Rather active shooter.

    I have a 50mm 1.8 right now. (figured I'd grab that and then decide what else I want)

    Option 1: Samyang 14 2.8 + Nikon 24-70mm 2.8
    Option 2: Samyang 14 2.8 + Samyang 35 1.4 + Nikon 24-120
    Option 3: Nikon 14-24 + 85 1.8
    Option 4: Samyang 14 2.8, 28 1.8, 85 1.8 ...

    Thoughts:
    1 - Convenience + quality. No VR for tripodless moments.
    2 - Convenience, VR... questionable quality for more high quality landscape work.
    3 - Wide end very well covered. Few, but quality, options past that.
    4 - Quality, low light capabilities. Not terribly convenient.

    I just wish I liked what I've seen from the 24-120 better. I want better edge sharpness, want more "pop" to the image.(though maybe that's in my head) I get the feeling it'd be too convenient and I'd end up relying on it too much -- not sure it'll sing on my d800e the way I want it to. But I would get the shots... I may eventually add it to the kit, but I guess I'd like to not have to rely on it too much, if that makes sense.

    The 24-70 should be better with edge sharpness and contrast. If it doesn't separate itself from the 24-120 very well then it's not interesting. It'd be a workhorse I could build around.

    I like the creativity initially offered with the primes, but fear my active shooting would suffer.(since I've always had a mid-range zoom and in some situations wouldn't be likely to want to change lenses)

    The 24-70 seems like an odd (odd to call it such), but good, compromise.

    So feel free to talk me out of it

    Samples of the sorts of things I like to shoot: (with my old canon rebel)
    http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6043/6...907aa199_b.jpg
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8330/8...8b739b77_b.jpg
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8044/8...35cff784_b.jpg

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    The only thing the light sees is the lens.

    An F2SB with an excellent lens will outperform a D800E with a crappy lens.

    - Leigh
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    The only thing the light sees is the lens.

    An F2SB with an excellent lens will outperform a D800E with a crappy lens.

    - Leigh
    +1! One could make many different suggestions to arrive at your criteria of 1) excellent optical performance, 2) general use of the wider to mid range focal lengths, 3) Lenses with excellent resolution across much/all of the frame, 4) budgetary considerations and 4) probably convience of a zoom for quick framing of subject/scene.

    Since you were not 100% satisfied with the Nikon 24-120 f4 VR, especially for it's edge/corner performance (and generally neither was I), I would opt for a good sample of the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 or the relatively new Tamron 24-70 f2.8 VC lens if image stabilization is desired...although often times VC can slightly deteriorate image quality. I would supliment this with the Samyang 14mm f2.8, which has excellent sharpness albeit with high levels of distortion, fairly easily corrected in post processing. Of course this may not be a major concern with some of the type of subjects you shoot.

    Again I'm keeping in mind the budget and other stated requirements, in order to find a balance. I have a few other mid range zoom suggestions that would save even more $$, but a bit of optical performance or range might have to be compromised a bit.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by D&A View Post
    +1! One could make many different suggestions to arrive at your criteria of 1) excellent optical performance, 2) general use of the wider to mid range focal lengths, 3) Lenses with excellent resolution across much/all of the frame, 4) budgetary considerations and 4) probably convience of a zoom for quick framing of subject/scene.

    Since you were not 100% satisfied with the Nikon 24-120 f4 VR, especially for it's edge/corner performance (and generally neither was I), I would opt for a good sample of the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 or the relatively new Tamron 24-70 f2.8 VC lens if image stabilization is desired...although often times VC can slightly deteriorate image quality. I would supliment this with the Samyang 14mm f2.8, which has excellent sharpness albeit with high levels of distortion, fairly easily corrected in post processing. Of course this may not be a major concern with some of the type of subjects you shoot.

    Again I'm keeping in mind the budget and other stated requirements, in order to find a balance. I have a few other mid range zoom suggestions that would save even more $$, but a bit of optical performance or range might have to be compromised a bit.

    Dave (D&A)
    Thanks for the post. Please feel free to add other considerations. I haven't actually tried the 24 120. I've looked at full res samples and read reviews...including a few discussions on the item here.

    I chose to post this message here because this community seems to have a greater knowledge base when it comes to various lenses and their workings than most communities I've posted at. Basically... you're better geeks. So please do feel to suggest some lens options I didn't consider.

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by D&A View Post
    +1! One could make many different suggestions to arrive at your criteria of 1) excellent optical performance, 2) general use of the wider to mid range focal lengths, 3) Lenses with excellent resolution across much/all of the frame, 4) budgetary considerations and 4) probably convience of a zoom for quick framing of subject/scene.
    Dave (D&A)
    I share Dave's points, and - in addition - I would suggest that D800E is excellent for the subjects you mentioned. My experience with AF on the D800E is not great (perhaps because of the potential resolution), in the sense that I find that manual focusing supported by LiveView (and in my case often a hotshoe mounted electronic viewfinder) gives me the most focusing comfort - and best end result.

    As Leigh said - it's all about the lens - the D800E outresolves most if not all of them at this point. I am no longer willing to bet on AF, except if I shoot telephoto.

    My lineup is a Samyang 14mm, Samyang 35mm and Nikon 105mm 2.5 AIS. I also have a Samyang 85mm, and I am still on the fence whether the additional weight vs the 105mm is worth the every so slightly better IQ of the Samyang. My Nikon 24mm 1.4 is rarely needed.
    All these lenses are not only razor sharp, they also work well in terms of micro-contrast / brilliance and how they 'draw" (I know, fuzzy concept, but important for lens considerations). I also find that the Zeiss lenses may (perhaps) be better overall performers, but can't hold up budget-wise to Samyang and Nikon AIS.

    Also note that you will be shooting at infinity in most cases. There are a bunch of lenses/lensdesigns around that perform great up to 30 feet or so, but struggle beyond that.

    Hope this helps.

    Samyang 35mm at infinity:


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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by markhout View Post
    I share Dave's points, and - in addition - I would suggest that D800E is excellent for the subjects you mentioned. My experience with AF on the D800E is not great (perhaps because of the potential resolution), in the sense that I find that manual focusing supported by LiveView (and in my case often a hotshoe mounted electronic viewfinder) gives me the most focusing comfort - and best end result.

    As Leigh said - it's all about the lens - the D800E outresolves most if not all of them at this point. I am no longer willing to bet on AF, except if I shoot telephoto.

    My lineup is a Samyang 14mm, Samyang 35mm and Nikon 105mm 2.5 AIS. I also have a Samyang 85mm, and I am still on the fence whether the additional weight vs the 105mm is worth the every so slightly better IQ of the Samyang. My Nikon 24mm 1.4 is rarely needed.
    All these lenses are not only razor sharp, they also work well in terms of micro-contrast / brilliance and how they 'draw" (I know, fuzzy concept, but important for lens considerations). I also find that the Zeiss lenses may (perhaps) be better overall performers, but can't hold up budget-wise to Samyang and Nikon AIS.

    Also note that you will be shooting at infinity in most cases. There are a bunch of lenses/lensdesigns around that perform great up to 30 feet or so, but struggle beyond that.

    Hope this helps.

    Samyang 35mm at infinity:


    Great looking shot there. Have any more with the lenses you speak of?

    That's exactly what I'm after -- images that pop. I've used lenses that have the "it" factor before, so it's nice to hear you're speaking of the samyang 35 1.4 so glowingly. The more I read about these lenses, the better they sound. While I'd like to have a few AF lenses, for serious work I'm fine with MF.

    All my tripoded work is liveview. I'm a liveview junky, always manual focusing. (although the d800e + 50mm 1.8 seemed to be strangely good at getting the LV autofocus just about right, not used to counting on that)

    Soooo, maybe I'll go back to the prime first strategy. That's where my "heart" was originally before I talked myself out of it. Guess I can always add the zooms later if I still feel the need. I've got a trip in mid Feb coming up in Utah. That'll definitely give me a chance to test this sort of shooting.

    New question:

    What do you fellows suggest for a good prime in the 150-200 range? (MF only is fine)

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by derekw View Post
    Soooo, maybe I'll go back to the prime first strategy. That's where my "heart" was originally before I talked myself out of it. Guess I can always add the zooms later if I still feel the need. I've got a trip in mid Feb coming up in Utah. That'll definitely give me a chance to test this sort of shooting.
    I am new to the D800E as well and from my research, I am not sure if any of the wide primes in particular are that great on a D800E. You may be best off with the 24-70mm f2.8 zoom and save the primes for the telephotos.

    I shoot things similar to your sample photos and as mentioned in one of the posts above, you need good infinity performance and focus. You probably also need a lens with very little curvature of filed to get it sharp across the frame. I think film was a bit more forgiving with some of the older wides.

    If you find a lens that is at least sharp across the frame, the D800E has lots of pixels to push around to correct some of the lens flaws. The Samyang 14mm is probably a perfect example, though I have not tried one myself.

    If you want a cheap alternative, the old 35-70mm f2.8 D lens is sharp across the frame at f8 and has very little distortion. It is a bit low on contrast compared to the newer lenses, but that can be corrected in post processing. It is hard to find a good copy though, as they are getting old and a lot of them were prone to haze on the internal elements and some of the pre-D versions had a problem with the cement of an element fogging.

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    I am probably unorthadox but I have these old primes from the Nikon F days, that I have used on my d700 and found them to be snappy and sharp. On my d800e they are also snappy and sharp. These are an old AI 55mm micro nikkor, a 105mm f/2.5 an ancient 200mm Q and a 300 mm AF. For wide angle I prefer for a variety of reasons a 17-35mm and I can live with the small corner bit being softer. I get bitingly sharp images when using good tripod technique and in truth even handheld the d800e is a sweet piece of equipment. It is absolutely true however a good lens trumps all of it, and it is also true that good technique with an adequate lens is better than crappy technique with the best of lenses.
    Joe

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by derekw View Post
    Great looking shot there. Have any more with the lenses you speak of?
    ...
    New question:

    What do you fellows suggest for a good prime in the 150-200 range? (MF only is fine)
    Thanks - in the 150-200mm range I would suggest the Nikon 180mm 2.8. I have the AF version, and the MF AIS seems to be excellent as well.

    Here are the requested samples (for review of IQ, if at all possible at this scale, not content) all @ ISO100:

    Samyang 14mm @ 3.5:



    Samyang 85mm @ 8.0:



    Nikon 105mm 2.5 AIS @ 5.6:


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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by jsf View Post
    I am probably unorthadox but I have these old primes from the Nikon F days, that I have used on my d700 and found them to be snappy and sharp. On my d800e they are also snappy and sharp.
    Joe
    I agree - I also have the ancient 28mm 2.0 AIS and an even older 55 micro. Particularly the micro is great - the 28mm (well, at least my specimen) suffers somewhat at the corners and edges on the D800E. But still very useable, light and indeed snappy.

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Below is a copy and paste from Lloyd Chambers article on lens selection for the D800...

    "Budget D800E

    Over the years, I’ve wasted a lot of money on buying almost the item I wanted, then almost the item I’ve wanted, etc (think scanners back in film days). This taught me a lesson: get what you really want, even if that means an initial compromise of other sorts, in this case, keeping the lens cost down.

    Here then are some excellent lens choices that are not particularly expensive relative to their ƒ/1.4 counterparts; they deliver high image quality on an absolute basis, and when the price is taken into account, they offer outstanding value. Better yet, the lower weight of several of these lenses might also appeal in its own right (vs the ƒ/1.4 siblings). With this lens kit, a wide range of subjects can be covered. If I were to pick two lenses, then 35mm + 85mm is a good starting point.

    Nikon 28mm f/1.8G.
    Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM.
    Nikon 50mm f/1.8G.
    Nikon 85mm f/1.8G.
    See the Nikon gear page for direct links."

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    I would start with the 24-70 and after using it, decide if I need another lens.

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    I would start with the 24-70 given your criteria, as well. It's no slouch. The 70-200 VRII performs ever so slightly better at 70mm, and the 14-24 )my workhorse) performs considerably better at the 24mm end,distortion-wise at least, but yet, most of the time I find myself using the 24-70 for landscape.

    It's always fun spending other people's money. : )

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    I too would agree and stick to my original suggestion of starting with the Nikon (or Tamron) 24-70 f2.8 lens, based on the specific criteria you outlined. If you had more time to leasurely set up for some of your shots, then yes, maybe I would consider single focal length lenses, of which there are many that would fit into a budget...but not when you are chasing storms and jumping out of cars. These mid range zooms are exceptionally good too.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Everybody has given you excellent advice, so not really anything hugely significant to add there except the 85PC is a viable alternative to either 85 G prime. Also, I need to mention my take on some of the lesser performing zooms: I think absolute corner performance is over-rated when it comes to creating art... I carry and use the 24-120/4 g vr -- I may have an excellent copy, but admittedly it is at the same time one of the worst performing lenses in my bag and yet the most versatile. (The other is the 17-35/2.8, which is even worse in the extreme corners, but perhaps a little better centrally -- and equally versatile for extra wide.) In my case the 24-120 is basically welded to the D800 body while the E gets the primes. For travel, it will be the 24-120 on the D800, the 50/1.4g on the E, and the 17-35 in the bag. I like the Samyang 14 and it is a must-have lens for sweeping dramatic sky and landscape, but not sure I'd carry it over the 17-35 zoom for travel, as the latter is just so freaking versatile.

    I have posted a version this shot in numerous other threads, but I'll repeat it here in color. Shot hand-held with the D800 and 24-120 at 24mm f8 1/25th sec ISO 800 -- I keep posting this example because of compliments and demand for prints:

    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Jack Wrote--->>>>I like the Samyang 14 and it is a must-have lens for sweeping dramatic sky and landscape, but not sure I'd carry it over the 17-35 zoom for travel, as the latter is just so freaking versatile."<<<<

    Jack's recommndation of the versatility of the Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 is a good one. I though often hesitate recommending the Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 (as I did in this thread) simply due to the factor that it has probably more sample to sample performance variation than almost any Nikon Pro grade zoom I know of and tested. This is well docusmented and it's not only primarily early samples, some of which were sent back to Nikon for complete re-adjustment, but many during its run. The differences between some samples can be quite substatial on 12MP bodies, so I can imagine these differences are accentuated when used on the D800. As I wrote in another thread, corner softness is evident on the D800, when used at the more open apertures but it's different than the edge and corner softness often seen on the wide end of the 24-120 f4 VR. It also doesn't have quite the pop and contrast of some of the more recent Nano coated lenses nor the 14mm Samyang. Still, when stopped down further, especially at f8 and beyond (depends on focal length used), the 17-35 f2.8 it sharpens up nicely, edge to edge exhibiting quite low distortion.

    If you can be happy with this level of performance and also find a good sample, then I too agree for travel, the 17-35 f2.8 may be the prefered chcoice vs. the single focal length 14mm.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Everybody has given you excellent advice, so not really anything hugely significant to add there except the 85PC is a viable alternative to either 85 G prime. Also, I need to mention my take on some of the lesser performing zooms: I think absolute corner performance is over-rated when it comes to creating art... I carry and use the 24-120/4 g vr -- I may have an excellent copy, but admittedly it is at the same time one of the worst performing lenses in my bag and yet the most versatile. (The other is the 17-35/2.8, which is even worse in the extreme corners, but perhaps a little better centrally -- and equally versatile for extra wide.) In my case the 24-120 is basically welded to the D800 body while the E gets the primes. For travel, it will be the 24-120 on the D800, the 50/1.4g on the E, and the 17-35 in the bag. I like the Samyang 14 and it is a must-have lens for sweeping dramatic sky and landscape, but not sure I'd carry it over the 17-35 zoom for travel, as the latter is just so freaking versatile.

    I have posted a version this shot in numerous other threads, but I'll repeat it here in color. Shot hand-held with the D800 and 24-120 at 24mm f8 1/25th sec ISO 800 -- I keep posting this example because of compliments and demand for prints:

    Very nice shot... could've come from a zeiss for all I know.

    Agree though... if it allows you to get the shot easily, if it means getting the right shot, without cropping...or just getting the shot at all, that's pretty valuable. I've found too that with a walk-around VR type lens I'll strike gold once in a while -- an afterthought of a shot will turn out to be something quite nice. Probably wouldn't happen with a prime.

    I could see myself getting this lens in the future.

    I think I'll go with primes to start, though, as I'm afraid it would be a bit of a crutch. I used to shoot primarily with the canon equivalent of one of those and want to get out of the habit of using it constantly, if that makes sense. I think primes may help me to slow down and evolve a bit.

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    I'd get the 24-70 (or 24-120). Even a 2-3x zoom is extremely useful in landscape work, where the camera position determines perspective and focal length is used to control framing. This is the same reason I'm fond of wide zooms, even more so. Then get primes or other lenses later for specific needs, or to solve specific problems, or for specific projects. I agree with Jack that corner and maybe even edge performance is overrated. If you buy a Nikon lens then many of the popular tools today will have a lens profile that automatically fixes most chromatic aberrations for you as well. The choice between the 24-70/2.8 and 24-120/4 is a hard one and really very personal. The latter is a bit more practical to carry around, the former a bit stronger optically, especially if you plan to use it wide open (or at f/4).

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by derekw View Post
    I think I'll go with primes to start, though, as I'm afraid it would be a bit of a crutch. I used to shoot primarily with the canon equivalent of one of those and want to get out of the habit of using it constantly, if that makes sense. I think primes may help me to slow down and evolve a bit.
    Unless you go for the very expensive third party primes, like Zeiss you may get better performance with even one of the consumer grade Nikon zooms compared to the Nikon wide angle primes.

    A 28mm f2.8 AF D Nikkor arrived in the mail today. Using my typical test test shots, I can see the prime is sharper in the very middle, but the edges are out of focus. It is not just the far edges, but quite a bit from the edge that is out of focus. If I focus for the edge, the middle goes out of focus too much for the DOF to cover it. The primes just have too much curvature of field to work well on a big sensor. Comparing this lens side by side with the latest 24-85mm 3.5-4.5 G VR, the zoom though never as sharp in the middle has overall sharpness throughout the frame that exceeds the prime.

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by robsteve View Post
    Unless you go for the very expensive third party primes, like Zeiss you may get better performance with even one of the consumer grade Nikon zooms compared to the Nikon wide angle primes.

    A 28mm f2.8 AF D Nikkor arrived in the mail today. Using my typical test test shots, I can see the prime is sharper in the very middle, but the edges are out of focus. It is not just the far edges, but quite a bit from the edge that is out of focus. If I focus for the edge, the middle goes out of focus too much for the DOF to cover it. The primes just have too much curvature of field to work well on a big sensor. Comparing this lens side by side with the latest 24-85mm 3.5-4.5 G VR, the zoom though never as sharp in the middle has overall sharpness throughout the frame that exceeds the prime.
    Eh, depends on the lens... so I wouldn't say that about primes vs zooms. The Nikon 28 1.8 is reported to beat any zoom in the range on the edges. (at least according to resolution tests I've read)

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    Re: initial lens lineup for my d800e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan Brittenson View Post
    I'd get the 24-70 (or 24-120). Even a 2-3x zoom is extremely useful in landscape work, where the camera position determines perspective and focal length is used to control framing. This is the same reason I'm fond of wide zooms, even more so. Then get primes or other lenses later for specific needs, or to solve specific problems, or for specific projects. I agree with Jack that corner and maybe even edge performance is overrated. If you buy a Nikon lens then many of the popular tools today will have a lens profile that automatically fixes most chromatic aberrations for you as well. The choice between the 24-70/2.8 and 24-120/4 is a hard one and really very personal. The latter is a bit more practical to carry around, the former a bit stronger optically, especially if you plan to use it wide open (or at f/4).
    Sure. Some of the best landscape work being done is with a zoom similar to the 24-120.

    Remote SW Vista Vertical - FM Forums

    Mark Metternich uses a Canon 24-105 quite a bit, apparently. (many of his images reference the same combo seen in that posting)

    He shoots at the images sharpest f stop and focus stacks. (as opposed to stopping down for DOF on landscapes)

    He's a wizard in post and obviously has great composition skills. Believe he just uses the tools that best allows him to succeed.

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