Best lens for go­ing ul­tra-wide

Which is best for a wide-an­gle view on the world, prime or zoom?

NPhoto - - Nikopedia -

To sup­ple­ment a stan­dard 24-70mm stan­dard zoom lens, this prime op­tic pro­vides an ideal ex­pan­sion of view­ing an­gle, to 94 de­grees (70 de­grees on a DX-for­mat Nikon). It’s there­fore a very con­ve­nient lens for switch­ing to when you need that ex­tra width. The op­ti­cal path in­cludes two as­pher­i­cal el­e­ments, two ED (Ex­tra-low Dis­per­sion) el­e­ments and nano-crys­tal coat­ings. The aper­ture has seven di­aphragm blades, min­i­mum fo­cus dis­tance is 0.2m, and there’s a rub­ber seal­ing ring on the mount­ing plate. This prime de­liv­ers ex­cel­lent cen­tre-sharp­ness, even when shoot­ing wide-open, and great cor­ner-sharp­ness when stop­ping down to just f/4. Colour fring­ing is neg­li­gi­ble and bar­rel dis­tor­tion is re­mark­ably min­i­mal for such a wide-an­gle lens. With a widest aper­ture of f/1.8, this lens is 2.33 stops faster than the zoom, and so is bet­ter able to freeze ac­tion in low light­ing con­di­tions. The shorter min­i­mum fo­cus dis­tance and wider aper­ture also en­able a rel­a­tively tight depth of field. Small and light­weight, this lens is easy to squeeze into a spare cor­ner of your gad­get bag, and un­ob­tru­sive in use. This can be an ad­van­tage when tak­ing wide-an­gle shots of wildlife, and it's also a suit­ably dis­creet op­tion for street pho­tog­ra­phy. Many of us only tend to use wide-an­gle zooms at their short­est fo­cal length, mak­ing their zoom po­ten­tial some­what su­per­flu­ous. We nev­er­the­less like the ver­sa­til­ity of a zoom, which in this case gives a view­ing an­gle of 63-107 de­grees (44-83 de­grees on DX). The zoom has four more lens el­e­ments than the prime, in­clud­ing one ad­di­tional as­pher­i­cal el­e­ment, but like the prime it has two ED el­e­ments and a rub­ber seal. The min­i­mum fo­cus dis­tance is longer, at 0.29m, but the nine-blade aper­ture is more rounded. Cen­tre-sharp­ness matches that of the prime through most of the zoom range, but drops off a bit at the long end. Cor­ner-sharp­ness is less im­pres­sive, and there’s far more bar­rel dis­tor­tion at the short end of the zoom range, plus a lit­tle more fring­ing. A tight depth of field isn’t re­ally on of­fer, even when com­bin­ing the min­i­mum fo­cus dis­tance with the widest aper­ture – es­pe­cially to­wards the short end of the zoom range. How­ever, hand­held shoot­ing in dim light ben­e­fits from the ef­fec­tive VR sys­tem. As wide-an­gle zooms go, this lens is fairly mod­estly sized. It has an iden­ti­cal phys­i­cal di­am­e­ter to the prime, but is nev­er­the­less 50 per cent longer and al­most twice the weight. Even so, it feels well­bal­anced, es­pe­cially on an FX-for­mat body.

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR El­e­ments/groups: 17/12 Vi­bra­tion Re duc­tion: Yes Di­aphragm: 9 blades Fo­cus type: Ul­tra­sonic (ring-type) Min fo­cus dis­tance: 0.29m Fil­ter size: 77mm Ac­ces­sories in­cluded: Hood, pouch SIZE (WxL): 83x125mm Weight: 680g Price: £1030/$995

Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED El­e­ments/groups: 13/11 Vi­bra­tion Re duc­tion: No Di­aphragm: 7 blades Fo­cus type: Ul­tra­sonic (ring-type) Min fo­cus dis­tance: 0.2m Fil­ter size: 77mm Ac­ces­sories in­cluded: Hood, pouch size (wxL): 83x81mm Weight: 355g Price: £660/$795

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