I’m a lucky new owner of a brand-new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens. I want to share a couple of thoughts on how that came about, choice, acquisition and planned use.
I mentioned earlier that there exists a possibility of us taking a trip to Grand Canyon in the near future. As I was looking through my old shots of the canyon taken with my old D70 camera — a lot of them were taken at 18mm (the widest I had — 27mm equivalent on full frame) and a lot of them feel kind of crammed — like there just wasn’t any more room left in the frame. Landscapes are the primary reason why I would want to own a good wide-angle lens.
There is always an alternative to using wide-angle lenses that could work in a lot of cases for landscapes. Just take several shots with a normal lens and then stitch them together in a panorama. However there are certain problems with that approach — taking an HDR shot for example would be much more complex. Using a long exposure filter such as Big Stopper
would be it impossible.
And then there is a number of other types of photography that can be done with a wide-angle lens forcing a photographer to get much closer to the subject, thus changing the perspective — an interaction of the subject with the background.
I had my eye set on a prime Nikon lens for portraiture — 85mm f/1.4G — for a long time now. The problem of course is the fact that this particular lens costs $1,700, however all the reviews confirm that the lens is worth it. Or at least that was the case until Nikon released a new 85mm f/1.8G lens.
I read a number of reviews on the new lens and a lot of them show that it performs as well as its big brother in a lot of cases. It doesn’t have nano-coating which reduces the flares and it loses 2/3 of a stop as far as aperture goes. But the kicker is that it costs $499. Now that’s is a huge difference. For a professional photographer that 2/3 of a stop might be worth it, but I as an amateur just cannot justify paying an extra $1,200 for something that would be simply a nice-to-have at my level. I just can’t.
By settling with a f/1.8 lens I was able to free up a large chunk of change from the budget that was allocated for 85mm purchase towards the New Year.
Wide-Angle Lens Options
Choosing an actual lens from the available options was surprisingly easy. I was not considering any 3rd party choices as I am extremely happy with all my Nikkors. Out of available Nikon option there were really only two lenses that were in the final “competition” — 16-35mm f/4G and 14-24mm f/2.8G lenses. The older 17-35mm f/2.8D lens has been bested and at this point doesn’t make much sense.
To break it up I ended up picking out 16-35mm lens over 14-25mm lens for the following reasons:
- It has filter thread, while the other one does not. Even thought 14-24mm can be outfitted with filter it becomes a huge expense on its own with the need of a special and expensive mounting bracket and much larger filters.
- Cost — $1,139 vs $1,996.
- Better flare control — the other one has a very spherical front element.
- Not as wide, but bigger range — really nice thing to have for walking around, without constantly swapping lenses out.
- Weight — 680g vs 969g for 14-24mm and 900g for 24-70mm.
- VR II — Nikon’s lens stabilization system that promises 4 extra stops. Not really a factor for me, but I guess it’s nice to have.
The lens doesn’t let in as much light at f/4 as the other one does at f/2.8, but as far as landscape photography goes this is a non-issue at all, since most of landscape shots will be taken at least at f/8 and on a tripod. Even though 14-24mm is a superb lens and 16-35mm has a lot of distortion at 16mm (easily fixed in post), 16-35mm was clearly the best choice for me that offers great sharp results with a lot of versatility.
Buying The Lens
These days it seems that after doing all the research and making a decision, actually buying a Nikon lens is the hardest task of it all. There was no stock at B&H, Adorama, Amazon or any other vendors that I’m familiar with. The price at Adroma was at $1,159, at B&H it went up to $1,179 and there was still no stock and Amazon kept getting them 1 item at a time (returns?) and was pricing them at $1,259.
I saw a mention on one of the forums that Samy’s Camera has them in stock, but since I was unfamiliar with that store I decided not to risk it. Meanwhile I kept checking all the verified sources and ended up stumbling on a seller offering these up for sale through Amazon for $1,139. And what do you know? It was Samy’s Camera. They had 4.8 out of 5 stars rating with more than 2,800 votes in the past year.
Considering that it was the best price that I’ve seen and having the safety of ordering through Amazon I placed an order. The lens was shipped to me the same day and I received it soon after. I’ve done some minor testing within the confines of our apartment and I like how it handles and performs so far very much. Here is another good vote for Samy’s from this happy customer.
Now I just need to get outside an do more shooting and start learning to work with a wide-angle lens — I didn’t have one in a long time and for some reason I never used the one I did have for my DX camera. We’ll see how I do with this one.