I'm thinking of getting an SLR because I want some wide-angle lenses: 28mm and 35mm. I prefer rangefinders, but I'm thinking of trying an SLR because there are no rangefinders that I'm 100% happy with outside of Leica M series which is way too much for me.
This is probably a silly question, so excuse me if it is so basic, but is barrel distortion a huge deal with these lenses? I'm undecided in which brand to go with but Nikon seems like a safe bet so I was just thinking Nikon with a 35mm/f2 and 28mm/f2.8 lens or Possibly an Olympus OM with an equivalent set of lenses. I'm don't care about any auto features.
I've used manual-focus Nikons with 35mm and 28mm lenses for years and have never been troubled with barrel distortion. My favorite wide-angle is a 24mm, haven't found any barrel distortion there either. On occasion I've used a friend's OM-1 with 35 and 28mm lenses too, same story. A Nikon FE might be your best bet. I've used one since the model came out 30 years ago, never failed me. FEs are compact and solid. The price of an FE body is low now, the price of Nikkor lenses relatively somewhat higher.
Olympus OM, Nikon FM/FE or Contax - you can't really go wrong.
The OM1 is nice, really compact and a joy to use. Plus I like their 28/2.8 lens. Tho in terms of of 28mm and 35mm, I prefer the Nikon one, Specially the clous focus 28/2.8. Either way is a good choice. :)
Have you tried a Bessa RF with a Voightlander 12 or 15mm lens? If you haven't, you don't know what you are missing. Pretty much any of the makers have good wides but barrel distortion will tend to be the least of your worries if your not used to wides. A good 20 or 24mm lens will set you back a few bucks but most first time users tend to think in terms of standard or zoom lenses and so the subjects get swallowed up in the scene.
The Nikon 28mm f2.8 AIS is regarded as having a very low level of distortion and is well-respected on many levels, more so than all other 28/2.8's offered by Nikon including pre-AI, AI, E, AF and AF-D.
If you are not ideologically welded to Nikon or Canon, there are reasonably priced manual glass offerings to be found for many other vendors.
You may find the glass annd SLR from other vendors for the cost of just the Nikon glass.
I have an non oem (maida braind - I had never heard of it before either) 24mm wide angle f/3.5 that I use with my Minolta manual focus bodies that I am very happy with. It landed in my lap for under $30 all up from the *bay about 5 or more years ago.
Used the Nikkor 35mm 2.0 AIS for many years and consider it a solid "good", though now not my favorite or best. Distortion with that lens is certainly not a "huge deal", but is present and may be visible in critical applications (architecture, reproductions, etc.).
Same goes for the Nikkor 24mm 2.8 AI/AIS.
My favorite 35mm lenses in order of preference (roughly, as what's important can change):
Zeiss 35mm 1.4 (Rolleiflex)
Leica R Summicron 35mm 2.0, last version (Leica R)
Leica M Summicron 35mm 2.0, Mk. IV (Leica M - Yes, I find the SLR R Summicron better than the rangefinder M one...)
Leica Elmarit 35mm 2.8, last type (Leica R)
Zeiss 35mm 2.8 (Rolleiflex)
(Up to this point I consider these lenses as being close to "perfect")
Pentax 35mm 3.5 (M42 + K?)
Schneider Curtagon 35mm 2.8 (M42, Exakta)
Nikkor 35mm 2.0 (Nikon)
Nikkor 35mm 1.4 (Nikon)
Jupiter 12 35mm 2.8 (M39)
Voigtländer 35mm 3.4 (Bessamatic, M42)
Zeiss Jena 3mm 2.8 (Exakta)
Nikon 35mm 2.8 AI (Nikon)
& Several others...
Most of the brand-name 28's and 35's are pretty darn good.
Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Minolta..
There is not much distortion and they are sufficiently sharp.
Not silly at all!
Originally Posted by puketronic
When you consider distortion and other performance parameters, I would suggest benchmarking against the very best. And it can be fairly argued that the very highest performance wide lenses you can get your hands on are the Zeiss lenses. In Nikon mount these are called "ZFs"; other mounts exist for other systems. These lenses are very expensive though. So, I suggest looking at the performance of those; you can look at dpreview and photodo and read user reviews at b&h and other sites. Then you can compare those with the Nikon and Olympus counterparts.
The isn't a single "correct" answer: you have to decide what you need, how much you are able to invest, and how important the performance is.