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Archive 2013 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...
  
 
handcoater
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


And the winner (for me) is...

Here is what I shoot, so you have an idea of what is most important to me, and possibly to some of you:

http://www.pbase.com/butchwelch/lakelightssky

I spent most of today putting the new Nikon 18-35mm AFS through as many paces as I could. I am most interested in how it performs at f:11 or 16, which is the way I have shot everything that I have used. I am using a D800E and as such no lens is perfect when it come to wide angle focal lengths. Here are the lenses I have owned and used:

Nikon 14-24: Probably the best lens optically that there is in these focal lengths but problematic for me in that it is: heavy, big, can have flare problems that you can not see wide open (sun from the side or behind) but shows strongly from my working apertures. Filters impossible or awkward at best with bizarre adapters.

Nikon 16-35 VR: corners and edges not sharp and bad distortion at wider settings. Not real good but OK at 35mm. Copy variation (VR may contribute to this). I went through 3 copies to find a usable one. Manual focus tricky as there is free play in the focus ring on manual (a couple millimeters where nothing turns when you reverse direction). Kind of long and clunky.

Nikon 17-35 2.8: This is the nicest lens of the bunch as far as ergonomics go, but ergonomics don't make pictures. This lens is phenomenally sharp in the center, but the edges never get critically sharp and the corners are weak, even at f16. Also the corners and borders show a lot of purple fringing, The strange shape of the front element seems to cause some strange ghosting from bright lights.

Tokina 17-35 f4: a nicely made lens and OK for the most part but has bizarre areas of blur and even double image. Terrible purple fringing all over the edges and corners. Corners not the sharpest

Nikon 18-35 3.4-4.5 AFS: This is the winner for me. It is sharp wide open at all focal lengths over most of the frame. The corners are sharp at f11. This lens is as well corrected for color as I have seen. There is no purple fringing or CA visible. Flare and ghosting are virtually non-existant. There is barrel distortion at 18 and it is not 14, 16 or 17 at the wide end. It is not 2.8, but it is very useable wide open. It is small and light and not expensive. Here is a sample test at f11 in a very contrasty and dark basement. This is my torture test.





Here is the full image shot at 18mm and f11







100% crop near center







100% crop of lower right corner.




Mar 15, 2013 at 09:27 PM
krickett
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


Thanks for this! I wish the 18-35 was available when I was shopping for a WA. I settled on the 16-35


Mar 15, 2013 at 10:16 PM
PeaktoPeek
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


Awesome -- thanks for posting this! I've been waiting to see some first hand reviews of this lens before I snap it up for my D600. It sounds like I have the same intended use for this lens, so its great to hear that its sharp across the frame at f/11 -- the crop of the remote seems to bear this out pretty well.
Paul



Mar 15, 2013 at 10:17 PM
hijazist
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


Thanks a lot for sharing your first impressions! I am planning to get a UWA for my D600 soon and this will help a lot in my decision. Looks sharp enough for me especially in corners... It also looks like it has a warm rendering of color which I like. How did you find it's build, much like other 1.8g lenses?


Mar 15, 2013 at 10:35 PM
handcoater
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


The build quality is quite good. It is better than the 50 1.8 that I had. I would say the build is very similar to the 16-35. The zoom ring is tight, smooth and firm. The focus has a bit of slack in the middle like the 16-35, but I still seem to be able to manually focus without much trouble. I have a feeling I will mostly set the lens near infinity and just shoot at f11. It may be a bit warmer than the 14-24. All in all I am extremely pleased.


Mar 15, 2013 at 11:01 PM
handcoater
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


One more thing, the two ceiling lamps are extremely overexposed. The 14-24 had a secondary ghost beneath each one. The 18-35 did a better job than any of the lenses in keeping the edges clean of color aberrations.


Mar 15, 2013 at 11:04 PM
m_appeal
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


Disagree on 16-35 corners not being sharp...


Mar 15, 2013 at 11:28 PM
jhinkey
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


Wow - Thanks for doing this.

One note though - I have not found my 17-35AFS to behave like you've described on my D800. I know that there are some bad copies of this lens out there so this could be the problem.

I assume the 18-35 is the original copy, not the newly released version - is that true?

John



Mar 15, 2013 at 11:30 PM
handcoater
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


No, this is the new 18-35.

I haven't seen sharp corners on the 16-35 at 16mm and on a D800. Maybe on a D3 or D700.



Mar 16, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Catfur
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


I can't really tell how sharp the lens is, because it looks like the JPEG monster chewed on it a while first. Try less compression for 100% crops that you are uploading to the web for pixel peeping.


Mar 16, 2013 at 01:00 AM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



m_appeal
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


You might not have had a good copy of 16-35.

Just a quick and dirty test shot outside on D800 with rudimentary sharpening in view nx2.

16mm f8

Sharp enough for me.



Mar 16, 2013 at 01:01 AM
chuckbernard
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


I liked your "review" so much that I've ordered this lens. Since I don't do a lot of landscapes (yet) and yours come out so nice, can you recommend the correct filter?


Mar 16, 2013 at 03:19 AM
loudtiger
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


wow, looks great. thanks for your review! this lens is also on my list to consider.


Mar 16, 2013 at 03:49 AM
sb in ak
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


Thanks for the post. I've been considering the options as well and had generally narrowed it to the Nikkor 16-35, Tokina 16-28, Nikkor 20mm, and this new 18-35. Things look encouraging so far...will be stoked to see how the lens fares in the field. Ideally, I need filters, and don't want expensive extra adapters.


Mar 16, 2013 at 03:57 AM
Guari
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


Amazing to hear, thanks for posting! I've been waiting for a first hand review of the new 18-35, great to read..

Care to share more pics and crops please..

I also disagree, you might have a poor copy of the 16-35..



Mar 16, 2013 at 08:57 AM
handcoater
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


The 16-35 link posted looks very soft and smeared in the tip of the corner to me. Most of the reviews I have read seem to agree about the corners of the 16-35 at 16. Ultimately, everything is personal opinion, mine included. If a lens works well enough for you that is all that matters. I feel the definition in the nap on the sofa behind the controller is more telling than the controller. Ultimately, weakness in the corners with wide angle lenses on a 36 mp camera are just a fact of life. I was happy with the 17-35 until I tried the 18-35, the sides and corners looked sharp in 12x18 prints but showed weakness at 100% on screen, especially since the center is so screamingly sharp.

The 16-35 and 17-35 are great lenses, I am not disparaging them. I could be happy shooting with either one, but for me, the 18-35 is going to make me a little bit happier.

I am using high compression on the jpg's (8). They look good on my calibrated wide gamut NEC, but look crappy on my laptop that I am using this morning. If I post more I will use the max (12.)



Mar 16, 2013 at 09:55 AM
m_appeal
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


Extreme corners at 16mm are better at f11. Are they as sharp as the center? No, there is definitely softening in the very extreme corners... but it's just the very extreme edges. Does the 18-35 do better in the very extreme corners?


Mar 16, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Chris Dees
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


m_appeal wrote:
........ Does the 18-35 do better in the very extreme corners?


Definitely not at 16!



Mar 16, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Gregg Heckler
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


I" settled on the 16-35"

I wouldn't call this settling. The 18-35 is not in the same league. The 16-35 has VR, fixed F/4, Nano Crystal coating, and is 2mm wider. The 18-35 does look like a nice choice though for those who don't want to spend the dough for the 16-35 or need the extra features.



Mar 16, 2013 at 05:51 PM
talexander
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Best wide landscape lens - the winner is...


I tried a 16-35 and was very disappointed at the corner performance also. I think there might be wide copy variation or a slightly tilted element.

Tim



Mar 16, 2013 at 05:59 PM
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