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| p.1 #1 · Testing the Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 on the D800E |
Always looking for the best equipment for Landscape & Fine Art photography, in my recent D800E VS SD1 MERRILL PART II: THE WIDE ANGLE BATTLE article I compared the classic, legendary Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 AF-S on the Nikon D800E against the Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM on the Sigma SD1 Merrill. I come to the conclusion that if you intend to take full advantage of the Nikon D800E's high resolution, then the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 AF-S isn't quite up to the task; this camera & lens combination offered results comparable (minus lens speed, of course) with those obtainable with the Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM on the SD1 Merrill, a smaller & lighter kit costing far less. Since for my FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY business I have to print very big, while the SD1 Merrill's files are good enough if you prepare them for print carefully, the Nikon D800E's 36 Mp and its file quality are something I am not ready to give up just yet - so I decided to keep looking for that elusive perfect super-wide angle lens that seems so difficult to find: enter the Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 Distagon T* ZF.2.
You can read the whole story on my blog HERE, but in short my conclusions are that overall, on full-frame cameras I find the Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 an impressive lens at what it does best (sharpness, contrast and Zeiss-colours, to mention a few); but one with some serious technical flaws (vignetting and distortion) that might be show stoppers for some. On APS-C cameras, on the other hand, things change: on the smaller sensor you get rid of pretty much all the distortion, of all the un-sharp corners, and of quite a bit of the vignetting as well, and you are left with a 27mm f/3.5 that performs pretty well. Sadly, an expensive one at $1.395 US, and even more so if you consider that for a little less money at $1.256,95 US (both are B&H prices as of December 15, 2013) you can get the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G ED VR II AF-S.
Full review, with images and comparison with the 14-24mm is on my blog HERE: enjoy!