NIKKOR AI 35 VS 28 VS 24
After experiencing more than a few situations where I could not back up enough to fit the shot in the frame of my 50mm (alleys, traffic, etc.), I'm thinking about getting a wide angle. I guess there are other reasons one could use a WA, but the above problems are what make me really think about dropping the dough on a lens. The problem is that I don't know how wide to go. I do a good deal of "street photography" and know many people use 35 or 28 for their wide angle lenses. My only real fear is any sort of extreme distortion of people's faces. Also, I have to wonder how close I'll need to be in order to fill the frame similar to a 50. I have read that the 24 is the sharpest of the bunch. Is this too wide? Anything I should ask myself that will help with the purchase? Thanks.
This fellow has extensive experience with Nikon and Nikkor lenses, he has posted his comparisons of many nikkors on his web site. The info is pretty good and many versions of the lenses are tested, though we all have some bias.
Personally I think that if you can keep the camera level and not use an extreme low or high camera angle most wide angle lenses are just fine for shooting people as long as the lens does not get to close to the persons face.
I like the wide nikkors quite a bit.
What ever it takes...
Why not get a Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8 zoom. Then you'll have multiple focal lengths for almost any situation. That's what I use with my Nikon F100.
Personally, from a 50mm lens, I'd make the jump to a 28mm. 35mm is a wonderful focal length, but it is close to your 50mm.
Which 24mm have you heard is the sharpest? (Not that sharpness is an issue with the 28 or 35.) I had a 24mm f/2.0 lens years ago and it was a dog. Never sharp. So if you go with a 24mm (not good for close face shots) get the f/2.8.
Well, back to lens choice. After getting a 28mm, I'd then jump to a 20mm.
With my Leica M6 I work differently. I have a 24mm, 35mm & 75mm lenses.
I won't comment on the particulars of Nikon lenses, but in terms of focal length, I have all of 24/28/35mm on Pentax screwmount. The 35mm is the one I'm using the most right now because it has the angle I like for street scenes, and does not distort the image visibly (the "Walker Event" shot in my gallery was made with a 35mm). I have not tried it on faces, but I wouldn't suggest getting too close.
I found the 24 most useful for cramped interiors. It has an added ooomph that the 28 length has not, but I'm selling it anyway because I need the money and shoot little interiors. If you want some variety in wide primes, then go for 24/35, they are different enough to warrant the purchase.
The 28 I'm not sure yet. It can be a bit tight for space-augmenting interior shots, but I'm thinking it might be more useful outside for landscape or similar subjects.
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Nikon, in its infinite wisdom, used to recommend getting NIkkors whose focal lengths were approximately integral powers of two times normal. In other words, 24, 50 or 55, 105, 200, ...
Back when I was starting out I didn't know better, so I took Nikon's advice. I still find it good, but also find the gap between 24 and 55 a bit much at times so added a 35. When it was stolen I replaced it with the despised 35-70/3.3-4.5 manual focus zoom, which is also very useful and not a bad lens at all.
On 35 mm I don't use the 24 that much, but note that I'm not a street shooter. FWIW, I went out shooting in the Pine Barrens this morning with my 2x3 Graphics -- the Nikons stayed home -- and took one (1) shot. It was with a 47, which sees the same angle on 2x3 as a 20 does on 35 mm.
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The 24 I was referring to was the 2.8. By the way, I checked out your website and like the photo from Catonsville. I think it describes the area well. Perhaps this is because I'm familiar with it, but it definitely tells a story. If you haven't eaten at the Indian restaurant there, give it a shot. It's one of my favorites.
I read a book about the Pine Barrens a number of years ago. Pretty interesting. I think it was by John Mcphee. Or Joe. Can't remember any longer.
Anyhow, I can't remember who wrote what, so I'll ask one last question. Is the Nikkor 28/2.8 known to be a bad lens? It seems I've read this around various forums, but I might be mistaken. Thanks.
The 28 2.8 Nikkor comes in a couple of guises, the early one was a seven element design from the early to mid seventies, not the greatest.
About 1981 or 1982 Nikon released a new version which had CRC (Close Range Correction) or floating elements, this is a cracker of a lens.
If you are after a cheapish 28 OEM brand lens then the Nikon series E 28 2.8 is very cheap and as good as the early Nikkor was but at a fraction of the cost. I myself decided that the Nikon E 2.8 was good enough for me when money was short, I haven't decided to replace it as it is quite good.
Regarding a 24 mm lens, have a good look at the Sigma 2.8 Super Wide II macro AIS with 52mm filter mount. This lens came out in the 80's and was a viable alternative to the far more expensive Nikkor lenses. It came with a cutout type of lens hood and also has 1/2 stop indents, something no Nikkor lens has, AFAIK.
I have one of these as well and find it very good, not as cuttingly sharp as the Nikkor but in a test (not scientific) with a friend's 24 Nikkor it performed good enough for my friend to ask how much did I pay for it. The answer was, approximately 22% of the price he paid for his Nikkor.
My Nikkor Wides
I shoot with the Nikkor O 35 f2 and a 24 f2.8. and I like the 24 a lot, it gives you just a bit more room the 28 focal length.
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Between 35, 28, and 24, I'd opt for the 28 for street photography. 35 is rather close to 50. Faces aren't distorted if you keep a fair distance and the face isn't near the edge of the frame. To fill the frame with a face, you'd have to get a little over half the distance of the 50mm, and you'll get plenty of distortion. If you want the subject and his environment, a 24 or 28 will do fine. National Geographic often has photos with wide lenses. My ready-to-go Nikon outfit has a 20, 50, 105, and 200. Such a large jump between focal lengths isn't too restrictive to one who does his own B&W darkroom work. My Leica rangefinder system is 20, 35, 50, 90, and 135. It was fine for transparancies that would receive no cropping. For a few dollars you can get a cheap 28mm and see if it is the right focal length before spending money on a good lens. Then, when you've got a quality WA, the cheap 28 is handy as a magnifying lens.
If you want to go wide, go for the 24mm, I had one AF 24mm f/2.8D and man, what a chunk of glass that was, I prefer it to my 20.