Five months ago, I bought my first ultra-wide lens — the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 — after holding out for years. I’ve always flirted with the idea of such a crazy perspective, but I kept finding reasons not to purchase one myself. A 24mm lens had worked well as my widest angle for years, and I rarely found myself wanting anything more. Now that I’ve seen the other side, though, Have my attitudes changed? After going on two major trips with the 14-24mm f/2.8, the insane perspective has started to grow on me, but I still have plenty of reservations. Here’s how I’d sum things up, including my recommendations for anyone else considering making such a leap for themselves.
It is no secret that I love using ultra wide-angle lenses for my landscape photography. I was especially excited when I received the new Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art lens just before I departed for my winter Iceland workshop. It has an amazing 122-degree angle of view at 12mm. Many photographers have a difficult time using ultra wide-angle lenses correctly when composing a scene. Why? The simple answer is that they do not get close enough to their subject.
Wide-angle lenses are incredibly popular for landscape photographers, but they can be very tricky to use. The main problem is that these lenses are so different from the way we normally see the world, which makes it easy to use them incorrectly. Still, wide-angle lenses are one of the most important tools that you have at your disposal, and — used well — they can lead to spectacular photos. In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about using wide angle lenses and how to make the most out of them.
More Photokina announcements are rolling in today and this time it is Sigma, with its headline-grabbing releases of upcoming Art and Sport-series lenses. With stellar lens designs such as the 35mm f/1.4 Art and 50mm f/1.4 Art lenses, we have been waiting for Sigma to release an 85mm f/1.4 Art lens for quite sometime now, so Sigma has finally delivered. The new 85mm f/1.4 Art promises to be a superb lens both in terms of sharpness and bokeh. Although Sigma is yet to provide MTF charts and lens construction images, the fact that there is no aspherical element in the lens design is an indication of the lens being optimized to yield pleasant-looking bokeh without onion rings, something that has plagued other Art-series Sigma lens designs. Its price is a bit steep at $1,199 MSRP, but it is still $400 cheaper than its Nikon counterpart.
When I first got access to the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC lens (which we recently reviewed), I got curious about other potential lens options already available with the similar focal length range, build and fast aperture of f/2.8. After a quick search through our lens database, I found the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX. This little gem has been available for a while now and although I have heard a lot of good things about it, I never had a chance to actually try it out. After receiving the lens along with a few other lenses like the Tokina AT-X 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX-II (which I will be also reviewing very soon), I headed off to Death Valley National Park. Although I primarily used the lens with my infrared-converted Nikon D800E, which as I painfully found out later turned out to be a bad choice for IR as explained further down in the review, I was really curious to see how it would do, given its extremely attractive price of $629. At this price, I was expecting the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 to be a poor performer, because the price just did not seem to be right for such a fast zoom lens with a “pro” label on it. After using the lens and testing it out in my lab, I realized that I was wrong – it turned out to be a hidden gem.
This is an in-depth review of the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, world’s first f/2.8 image stabilized ultra-wide angle zoom lens for full frame cameras, the development of which was announced in September of 2014, with the lens officially released in January of 2015. It is a very unique lens not just because of its very useful focal length range with a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the zoom range, but because it features image stabilization – something you practically never find on ultra-wide angle lenses. For many years now, I have been shooting with the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G lens, which is a monster of a lens when it comes to size, weight and performance – it truly is a legendary lens optically. But with its $2K price it is far from being an affordable choice, so Tamron decided to challenge the 14-24mm with the 15-30mm f/2.8 VC in a number of ways: longer focal length coverage extending to 30mm, built-in image stabilization and a more affordable price point of $1,200.
Do you remember how it used to be with brand and third-party lens manufacturers? Brand lenses were always the high-performers, in all senses of the word. Well built, reliable and great from an optical standpoint. Third-party lenses lacked somewhat in those areas (unless you count such legendary manufacturers as Zeiss), but made up for it with very low price and niche lenses you could not find anywhere else. In recent years, however, the situation has been changing and quite drastically. Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC came out. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 HSM did, too. And the 35mm f/1.4 HSM. And the 18-35mm f/1.8 HSM zoom for APS-C cameras. Need I go on? All of these lenses proved to be well built and very good optically. There is no exaggeration in saying they gave some brand lenses a good beating. So if third-party lenses started doing the “brand” thing, how should Canon, Nikon and the like answer? Well, witness this – Canon has just announced a new lens. It is an ultra wide-angle zoom with focal length range of 11-24mm and maximum aperture of f/4 throughout the range. It is designed for full-frame DSLR cameras and there is nothing else quite like it on the market.
It has been 30 years since Nikon first introduced the original Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S lens and long 20 years since the autofocus version, the Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D was released to the market. Since then, the 20mm prime sadly did not receive much attention, so it was about time for Nikon to refresh the line with a modern version. Nikon finally revealed a replacement on September 12, 2014 and the new lens came with a nice surprise – the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED is not only completely revamped in terms of optical design, but it is also 1.3 stops faster than its predecessors. Personally, I have been very interested in checking out the new 20mm f/1.8G lens, because I found the 28mm f/1.8G to be a bit too long for my taste. And although I love my 24mm f/1.4G (see my detailed review here), it is pretty expensive and often quite heavy to carry around. Thus, a wider, lighter and much less expensive lens sounded very appealing to me. I have had the joy of shooting with the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G for the past three months and as you will see in this review, the lens deserves high praises for its superb optical performance. Without giving any more spoilers, let’s jump into the review and see where and how it shines.