Q&A: Super-wide Zooms

(This post is from an email conversation with a coworker. I thought the content might be useful for others.)

Q:  What do you guys think about [the 14-24/2.8]? I’m looking for a wide angle lens.

A:  It’s one of the sharpest ever.  Very very impressive.

It has a few things that might be called negatives, though:  It is big.  It is heavy.  It doesn’t take filters of any kind any way any how.  And it’s expensive.  And the zoom range is less than 2x.

I can’t remember if you have said you are going to move into an FX body sometime.  If not, then there’s little reason to go with the 14-24, because although it’s probably the sharpest lens you’ll see at every one of it’s focal lengths, the weight / size / expense penalty just doesn’t work out well for DX.

I have the 14-24/2.8 FX, 17-35/2.8 FX, and the 12-24/4 DX.

If I were going to just shoot DX, then I would definitely go with either the 10-24/4 Nikkor DX or find someone (like a friend / co-worker / [me]) who has the 12-24 and has moved to FX and no longer uses it and pick that up.  I understand the 12-24 is slightly sharper, but the additional range on the wide end with the 10-24 would be handy on DX.

If I were going to plan for FX, then I would look closely at the new 16-35/4 lens.  If it turns out to be a good super-sharp design (and the MTF chart makes it look like that will be true except at the very edges of the frame at the wide end) then that might be a good choice and would be pretty useful on DX and extremely useful on FX.

I am considering ditching both the 14-24 and 17-35 for that lens, but will have to wait and see what the reports are.

I love the sharpness of the 14-24, but the fact I can’t put a filter on it and its limited zoom range make it too heavy and big to carry around for the infrequent use it sees.

I got the 17-35 thinking it would solve both the filter and zoom range issues, but I’m just not in love with that lens (and am probably still mad that the great deal I thought I got on eBay was thwarted by the $400 repair the lens required).  And it squeaks.

The 16-35 has the range and takes filters.  It’s 33% lighter in weight than the 14-24, but longer than the 17-35.  I’m a little put off by the likely frame edge softness that will likely be there and am not thrilled with the slower f/4 speed, but truth be told, I doubt I’ve ever shot either the 14-24 or the 17-35 at f/2.8.

So the bottom line is I’ve not yet found the perfect super-wide zoom, but I doubt your hot buttons are the same as mine, so maybe all these random thoughts will help.

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