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Dave James

NIKON LENS DECISIONS

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Choosing a housing is confusing enough.

 

Ikelite seems to have the most competitive offer and with dslr bodies evolving and changing so often it seems foolish to buy a more expensie ali housing - but as I'm a fool I might just do that as I prefer the smaller housing.

 

Where i don't want to make a fool of myself is with lens choice - I need to have something that won't end up on ebay!

 

Should i go for a 12-24 and a 60mm macro or something that might do a bit of each like a 17-35mm f2.8?

 

Mainly I like photographing reef fish - but also the whole reef on occasion.

 

Will I regret the compromise of a single lens or will I congratulate myself for making the most of the shooting opportuinties with one more all purpose lens? Is there really a better single lens solution?

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Choosing a housing is confusing enough.

 

Ikelite seems to have the most competitive offer and with dslr bodies evolving and changing so often it seems foolish to buy a more expensie ali housing - but as I'm a fool I might just do that as I prefer the smaller housing.

 

Where i don't want to make a fool of myself is with lens choice - I need to have something that won't end up on ebay!

 

Should i go for a 12-24 and a 60mm macro or something that might do a bit of each like a 17-35mm f2.8?

 

Mainly I like photographing reef fish - but also the whole reef on occasion.

 

Will I regret the compromise of a single lens or will I congratulate myself for making the most of the shooting opportuinties with one more all purpose lens? Is there really a better single lens solution?

 

Welcome Dave!

 

First of all I guess you should decide if you are going the D300-DX or D3-FF path because it makes a great diference on the lens selection. There is no better single lens solution but there are compromises:

If you go the DX way, one lens doitallbutnotperfectinanything is the sigma 17-70 (probably almost perfect for you as it is very good for fish and you can also get a whole reef decent WA on occasion) but I would recommend a more classic approach:

nikon 60mm for fish&macro

Tokina 10-17 for WA

And later choose a 17-70 zoom lens or a 105mm macro depending on your likes.

 

For an FF I don´t think I can give you an advice as I have never used one but the 17-35mm is a great lens and the 60mm will be very useful too. Maybe, for your purposes, you should think also in a 28-70 or 24-70 lens but I don´t know. Tell us what camera are you buying so we can help you more :)

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You will probably end up regreting it if you try to get one lens to do everything. That lens does not exist so anything that you get to try and accomplish that will end up being a compromise. My best advice is to get the 60mm macro and a dedicated wide-angle:

Tokina 10-17

Sigma 15mm FE

Sigma 10-20

Nikon 10.5 FE

Nikon 16mm FE

Any of the above will do.

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Photographing reef fish. If you use a D300 (1.5x DX), your best choices are the 60 micro and the 17-55. I really like the 17-55 because it will zoom out to get the small reef fish and zoom in to semi wide angle to get the larger fish and reef. it is not an ideal wide angle lens.

 

The 60 mm is very good for small reef fish. It has the added benefit of being an excellent 1:1 macro lens. It is not of any value for wide angle or fish larger than a flattened hand.

 

I like the range and rectilinear perspective of the 12-24 for wide angle. For very large subjects the Tokina 10-17 FE is excellent.

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I agree, there is not really a do it all lens, and you will end up getting specific lenses for specific things down the road.

 

But i agree with David, the Sigma 17-70 is a great one to start out with

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Thanks for all the great advice.

 

I'm going to get a D300 - I've only used P&S cameras in the past and have reached the limit of what can be achieved (as far as I'm concerned). I just can't compete at dive club with my better equipped friends.

 

I've had great fun with the P&S models over the years and have never really used the zoom - I just swim closer to the little critters when I want to shoot them - usually switching to the digital macro setting.

 

I am quite comfortable with this style of shooting.

 

I'm planning a trip to lake malawi later in the year (1000+ species of fish - 99% found nowhere else on Earth) they mainly grow between 6 and 12 inches long. So I suppose the 60mm macro looks favourite.

 

has anyone tried the new 24-70mm f2.8lens from Nikon yet. It's been getting rave reviews (best Nikkor ever etc.)

 

Dave

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I would agree with everyone here with going with different lenses for different purposes. The 60mm macro is a great all around macro/portrait lens and the 10-17mm for wide angle is among the best. Great combination.

 

I recently aquired a full frame D3 and am awaiting a housing for it (Jean???). Anyway, I have the 14-24mm f/2.8 which will be my wide angle lens. I do have the 24-70mm f/2.8 on order, but I wasn't planning on housing this lens for u/w use, though if I can see a purpose for it, I might consider. For now, I'll be using the 105mm micro for shooting closeup with the full frame D3.

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If I had to choose from all my lenses with my D200 for WA underwater for sharpness and versatility, I would choose the Tokina 10-17 and the Nikon 17-55mm.

I also use the Nikon 17-35 (an amazingly sharp lens) and 16mm for certain situations, but if I had to choose it would be the 10-17 and 17-55.

I have never been able to get the 12-24 to produce the sharpness that I want underwater, in fact I am happy to sell this lens if someone can use it.

Edited by loftus

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I think that the Tokina 10-17mm, Sigma 17-70mm and Nikon 105mm macro would be a pretty good combo. If you are rich, get a 17-55mm or even the new 24-70mm, but I am too poor!

 

Viz can be variable in the lakes. Peter Scoones adapted a Nikon 16mm fisheye to fit on his HD-Betacam when shooting there for the BBC's Planet Earth - the sequence showing the courtship basins of the cichlids.

 

Alex

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Lake Malawi?

 

Sounds cool. Might need a really wide angle lens for the crocodiles though.

 

I use to shoot small reef fish a lot when I shot film. The 105 was perfect for small skittish fish. I think with the 105, crop that it is a little long. Thats why I prefer the 60 or 17-55.

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Another vote for the 60mm. Good for macro and fish portraits. I really liked the Nikkor 12-24 too and used it all the time for WA - its also a terrific topside lens. But I bought the Tokina 10-17 recently and it does look as though it will nudge the 12-24 out. As Dave said, its very good for big fish- or the shot of the diver against fan corals.

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I love my 60mm. It can be used behind a dome port or a flat port. For real macro stuff you really need the flat port but it does a great job behind a dome port as you can get closer to larger subjects, reducing the amount of water between the lens and the subject.

 

I also use a Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II. They are dirt cheap but surprisingly good - at least my copy is. I use it for dives where I'm not really sure what I'm going to find. It is good for largish subjects and is also not bad for macro (I use a +5 diopter lens on it). They are that cheap you could buy one while you decide what you really need.

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Thanks ATJ

 

I might do what you've suggested - I can get the lens you mention for about £65 here in the UK and that leaves money for a second strobe! - I can't believe the amount of energy i've put into checking up on this and Sea and Sea, whose housing I want to buy only mentions a few lenses as being compatible - ask them about any other lens and they try and bully you into buying the lenses they have on their list. I emailed about the housing for a 17-55, which they don't list, and the reply said something to the effect of "just get the 17-35 because underwater photography is about getting close to your subject" (what news!). I'm scared to ask them any more questions. Nikon doesn't even make the 17-35 any more - Jessops can't get it!

 

Luckily a nice chap at Marine Visions in the US has offered to find out the housing for the 17-55 and the new 60mm afs ed macro lens for me.

 

I'd still like to look at something wider though!

 

Anybody have any thoughts on the sigma 10-20, I've read somewhere that it's sharper u/w than the nikon 12-24 f4? Mind you that's another lens for which Sea and Sea doesn't know what ports / extension and zoom rings are required. I could understand if Sea and Sea wasn't Japanese, but surely their engineers can easily work with Canon / Nikon / Sigma etc. Sorry, am I having a moan? The tokina 10-17 looks good but the price of the glass dome to go with it aaaaagghhhh!

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Anybody have any thoughts on the sigma 10-20, I've read somewhere that it's sharper u/w than the nikon 12-24 f4? Mind you that's another lens for which Sea and Sea doesn't know what ports / extension and zoom rings are required. I could understand if Sea and Sea wasn't Japanese, but surely their engineers can easily work with Canon / Nikon / Sigma etc. Sorry, am I having a moan? The tokina 10-17 looks good but the price of the glass dome to go with it aaaaagghhhh!

 

I use the Sigma 10-20 with a Hugyfot housing and the Hugy 7" FE domeport and think it is excellent for UW use. I wouldn't say that it is sharper than the 12-24 UW in sweeping terms, but with some set-ups it is easier to get corner-to-corner sharpness thank's to its superior CFD-capabilities. So it is not only the lens you have to consider. The port (and perhaps port extensions and dioptres) you combine it with is equally important for the end result. If your housing manufacturer doesn't have a reccomeded port set-up and you can't find good advice from other photographers regarding a specific lens, your only option is to experiment - something that unfortunatelly not all of us can afford. Then perhaps it's better to go with a lens that already has a tested and proven set-up with the housing you own.

 

good luck

 

Christian

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Thanks ATJ

 

The tokina 10-17 looks good but the price of the glass dome to go with it aaaaagghhhh!

 

I'm guessing you've been reading the S&S lens + dome port recommendations.

 

you don't need the glass dome, for S&S housings, the tokina 10-17 works perfectly fine with the 8-inch dome port or the compact dome port + small (SX) extension ring.

 

heck, it even works on with just the compact dome port, no extension ring. the edges will just be slightly more blurry, but nothing major.

 

Scott

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I was looking at some reviews of a 60mm lens and someone posted a nice picture of a sea lion. So why is it that I read here that the lens won't be good for fish bigger than my hand? I think it would be AMAZINGLY HELPFUL if people would start threads for the range of photos one gets with any particular lens. That way, newbies can actually have a clue about what kind of shots one can expect with which lenses. Those could then be "sticky" threads for the most popular lenses, people could show off their best shots and everybody could see just what is possible with which lens and hopefully make a more informed decision when choosing to buy their lenses. :lol:

 

Dave, in going for the Sea&Sea Housing, be sure to check out the nifty double-clipped handle they sell as an accessory. It connects between two handles that have a "clip ring" sticking out of them. Looks like a great way to hand up and down the camera. I like that housing, but I also like the idea of TTL being built into the IKE housing with IKE flashes, so I am leaning toward IKE for that reason and the huge cost savings.

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Does anyone have an opinion on the new Nikon 60mm lens vs. the Sigma 50mm. . I do have a 105 but found I rarely needed it with the 60. I am needing to replace the 60 from the flood and since I have the D300 which gives the 60 a true 90 and the 50 a true 75, I figured I could capture larger subjects with the 50mm and just use my 105 for Macro. I just hate dedicating a dive to the 105 when my previous 60 was a bit more versatile and could in affect kill two birds. Does anyone have an opinion on the optic quality of the Sigma as well, Im not familiar with the Sigma products. I've always had Nikon lens's and have been very satisfied...

I am also pondering the Tokina 10-17 over the 10.5 Nikon... your thoughts on that are appreciated as well... It seems the Tokina with an 8" port is winning...

Cheers,

Chuck

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Hey Chuck

 

I've got both the Nikkor 10.5mm and Tokina 10-17mm. The Nikkor is an excellent underwater lens in terms of quality. But the versatility of the Tokina is, for me, a hands down winner. I've owned it for about 6 months and have just been shooting whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef: it was terrific. In fact I like it so much that I'll be advertising the 10.5mm for sale on the Classifieds before too long. Interested?

 

And, yep, I'm using the Tokina behind the (Subal) 8" dome. Works a treat with a 20mm extension.

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Hey Chuck

 

I've got both the Nikkor 10.5mm and Tokina 10-17mm. The Nikkor is an excellent underwater lens in terms of quality. But the versatility of the Tokina is, for me, a hands down winner. I've owned it for about 6 months and have just been shooting whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef: it was terrific. In fact I like it so much that I'll be advertising the 10.5mm for sale on the Classifieds before too long. Interested?

 

And, yep, I'm using the Tokina behind the (Subal) 8" dome. Works a treat with a 20mm extension.

 

Thanks so much Tim! Yep, m pretty well sold on the Tokina I Think

Have you used the 10-17 without the extension?

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No, I've not tried it without an extension. I have heard people have used the 10-17 successfully with an 8" dome with no extension but I had no time to try out my system before diving with whale sharks - and I was taking no chances.

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I think it would be AMAZINGLY HELPFUL if people would start threads for the range of photos one gets with any particular lens.

David,

 

Your comments prompted me to write up some of my experiences with the lenses I use. It is nowhere near exhaustive (only includes three lenses), but thought it might be useful for newbies.

 

It is not quite finished, and I'm open to suggestions for other comparable lenses to the three that I currently use.

 

Underwater Lens Use

 

I hope people find it of value.

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That was an awesome review, ATJ. Very helpful indeed!

 

Hey Chuck

 

I've got both the Nikkor 10.5mm and Tokina 10-17mm. The Nikkor is an excellent underwater lens in terms of quality. But the versatility of the Tokina is, for me, a hands down winner. I've owned it for about 6 months and have just been shooting whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef: it was terrific. In fact I like it so much that I'll be advertising the 10.5mm for sale on the Classifieds before too long. Interested?

 

And, yep, I'm using the Tokina behind the (Subal) 8" dome. Works a treat with a 20mm extension.

Tim, care to share some of your shots with the Tokina 10-17? I am having a feeling I bought the wrong lens and that I should have stuck with the 12-24 because I am much less interested in walls/reefscapes, and more interested in getting decent photos of barracuda, grouper, and sharks. But if I see great shots of fish with the fisheye, I'll be more at ease with my purchase (otherwise I have to wait until July to try it out!)

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The Tokina 10-17 is fine for sharks, barracuda, grouper etc, but you have to get close. Yes it forces you to get close, which is good. Remember as well, the 17mm end is in the middle of the 12-24 range. When you start to get toward the 24mm end of the 12-24, your subject will frequently be too far for great image quality. The 10-17 also focuses as close as you can get, literally on the dome. The 10-17 is harder initially to use than the 12-24, but the discipline it enforces with getting close and good lighting arrangement can result in some killer images.

I would add that the 10-17 does not suffer from edge sharpness issues behind a dome that I have found with the 12-24.

My overall experience with this lens is the same as Tim's and I have sold my 10.5. The only difference is I changed the 20mm extension for the 15mm with the Subal dome and that eliminated the little bit of vignetting I was getting with the 20mm extension with the lens at it's widest.

Edited by loftus

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Excellent news. Since I wan to to be up close and personal with the fish, I don't mind being forced to do it in order to get a great picture. Barracuda and Grouper let you get right up to them usually so that's not a problem. For the sharks, I may have to use my knife to cut my buddy, but she says she'll make the sacrifice because she loves sharks! Have to love her.

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I have also heard that the 10-17 does nice without an extension with an 8" dome

Cheers,

Chuck

Edited by Chuck Jensen

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