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| 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:
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.