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TimG

Am I going soft: Nikkor 16-35mm

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I'd welcome some advice from this august body of knowledge....

 

I've just got back from a cracking Red Sea trip using Emperor Diver's boat, Emperor Elite, on their South and St John itinerary. I've done over 1600 dives but 3-4 of the ones during this trip count in my top10. Superb. I can heartily recommend it. I've done a piece on Trip Adviser if anyone wants more detail.

 

Going through the images now on a large screen, I was surprised at how many of the WA shots had pretty soft edges. I'm using a Nikon D800 with the Nikkor 16-35, a Subal housing and, as recommended by Subal, the DP-FE4, a 90mm EXR and a +2 diopter. The diopter was straight on to the lens - I removed my usual UV filter first.

 

I'm attaching two images. One shows the whole scene and one shows a slice. Check out the softness on the left edge especially. Camera was set at 1/60, f9.0 ISO 200 and the lens is at 19mm. I used two Inon strobes to light the reef. The centres of the images are nice and sharp. But the edges, not so much.

 

I've upgraded from my D300 and Tokina 10-17mm and I'm still fairly new to the Nikkor 16-35 underwater. Maybe I'm expecting too much?

 

Thoughts would be most welcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

post-2756-0-01026400-1410442324_thumb.jpg

post-2756-0-36648200-1410442332_thumb.jpg

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Nice image.

 

All rectilinear wa lenses lose a bit in the corners, especially at the larger f stops. It's the physics of dome ports. If it really bothers you, crop or vignette in post. I wouldn't have noticed if you hadn't pointed it out.

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Thanks Eric

 

Yeah, I do understand the domeport/physics issue thing. I'm probably just expecting too much. I thought I'd ask though :good:

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Try a +3 or +4 to see if that helps. Had similar issues several years ago with different setup. More diopter made a noticeable difference.

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Yep, thanks, good idea on trying the +3 or +4.

 

I know I should know the answer to this, but there is no way of testing topside is there? I'll have to hunt down a swimming pool in Paris where they will let me take a camera in.... ha ha, yeah right.....

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I dunno, you shouldn't have to be using diopters at all if you have a large enough port. All you are doing is taking a great optics and dumbing them down, IMHO.

 

I think the main issue is that the port is too small. Stopping down and adding a +2 helps a lot, but until you shoot that lens with a 9" port, I would expect corner issues. Shooting vertically, you can put two corners in the blue so it's not as apparent. But the Sigma 15FE or Nikon 16FE will shoot rings around the 16-35 for sharpness, especially with a smaller port.

 

Rectilinear zooms are best used for big animals where you need a little more reach, than CF/WA.

 

Jack

Edited by JackConnick
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Tim:

Softness is age related!

:laugh:

 

I knew that one was coming..... thanks, Okuma :crazy:

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I dunno, you shouldn't have to be using diopters at all if you have a large enough port. All you are doing is taking a great optics and dumbing them down, IMHO.

 

I think the main issue is that the port is too small. Stopping down and adding a +2 helps a lot, but until you shoot that lens with a 9" port, I would expect corner issues. Shooting vertically, you can put two corners in the blue so it's not as apparent. But the Sigma 15FE or Nikon 16FE will shoot rings around the 16-35 for sharpness, especially with a smaller port.

 

Rectilinear zooms are best used for big animals where you need a little more reach, than CF/WA.

 

Jack

 

Thanks Jack, I was wondering if it was the size of the port. Depressing! I have been thinking of switching to an FE - but the 16-35 gives that much more versatility.

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I have a similar setup with a D4s, Subal 90mm extension ring, a +2 diopter but a 9" dome port (DP-230). As you can see in this image the left corner side is still not fully sharp, but acceptable.

shot with 16-35mm @16mm, f9, 1/80sec, ISO 800. I have read somewhere, that this lens is sharper at around 20mm and not so sharp at 16mm.

 

post-1726-0-29116800-1410765238_thumb.jpg

 

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The bigger the dome, the better with this lens. I have used it for sharks and other big animals: it's not so good for reef scenes and wrecks.

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Thanks, Juerg! That's more like it!

 

As soon as I read Jack's comment about a larger domeport my heart sank. I knew he was right - but all that extra glass to lug around..... I had just about made the mental switch of lugging the extra weight of FX over DX and thought I'd done well getting down to just one flat port and one dome. I even had a padded soft coolbag that fitted the DP-FE4 perfectly in my dive bag.

 

Not sure show my partner is going to react to an EVEN bigger and heavier domeport in her bag.......

Life eh? Tsk.

 

:crazy:


The bigger the dome, the better with this lens. I have used it for sharks and other big animals: it's not so good for reef scenes and wrecks.

 

Hey Tim, in what way "not so good"? In terms of coverage (an FE is better)? Or the lens/port combination?

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I use the 16-3.5 with the 9.25 inch Aquatica megadome, and I still find it a bit soft, regardles of aperture. I usually am happier shooting with a 16mm prime fisheye.

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Umm, i wouldn't give up the ghost yet. Just switch gears on your lens selection. Use a Sigma 15FE for CF/WA and the 16-35 for blue water shots, where corners don't matter. Or work your shots with it so that the corners are in the blue or black.

I shoot the 17-35 in a DP-170 Zen port and have found it shoots very well, but ya gotta know your limitations... ;-)

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Let me chew that over, Jack. I don't do much blue water stuff - I've never really been anywhere (yet) where that works. For WA it's mainly the colourful reef/wall/diver/wreck stuff and I like to have the flexibility the 16-35 offers (and having been used to the Tokina 10-17).

 

Going the Sigma 15mm route is certainly a cheaper option!

 

As you say, getting blue in the corners is fine with the 16-35. It was just frustrating with the recent Red Sea pics to have some really good reef landscapes and then one of the image sides is just so soft. Argh.

 

The advice is much appreciated. Thanks!

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Our favorite saying around the shop is "zoom with your fins"!

 

As I get older, I like shooting prime lenses more and more; sharp, fast, easy to house and cheap.

 

Jack

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I have posted a few posts inquiring as to the U/W performance of the Nikon 14mm f/2.8 in comparison to the 16-35, but nobody has weighed in with any results.

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Dear Diver Doug,

 

Perhaps no one has "weighed in" with any results on the comparison of the two lenses, because like you they were unwilling to make the effort to do the work a good comparison involves. I have repeatedly offered to lend you lenses that you have expressed interest in so you could test them yourself, including offering to lend you my Nikon 14mm f2.8 to test. And you have never taken me up on the offer despite the fact that like you, I live in Sarasota.

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see below

Edited by diverdoug1

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Dear Diver Doug,

 

Perhaps no one has "weighed in" with any results on the comparison of the two lenses, because like you they were unwilling to make the effort to do the work a good comparison involves. I have repeatedly offered to lend you lenses that you have expressed interest in so you could test them yourself, including offering to lend you my Nikon 14mm f2.8 to test. And you have never taken me up on the offer despite the fact that like you, I live in Sarasota.

Divegypsy, I have not taken you up on your generous offer for two reasons which have nothing

to do with an unwillingness to " make the effort to do work" 1. I am not comfortable borrowing other people's photo gear. 2. Due to the death of a child last year, my ability to undertake such a project has been limited. Actually, after noting the attitude and tone of your posting above, I would be quite content in never meeting you, regardless of our proximity.

Take care, Doug

Edited by diverdoug1

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I use the 16-35 with the Nauticam 230mm dome without a diopter. The problem with diopters is that they narrow the angle of view, and the 16-35 never seems wide enough anyway. (I moved from the Tokina 10-17 on a D7000 to the D800) And diopters are seldom made with the care and expense of native lenses. (I use B&W ones if I have to use them at all.) It always seems that my corners don't look as sharp as Alex Mustard's, but that may be because he knows where to focus to include the corners in the depth of focus, whereas it's all a blur to me and I use AF and hope for the best.

With the D800 I don't need the zoom range (you can crop a 35 out of a 16 file and still have an acceptable picture) but I tried Tobi Bernhard's 14mm 2.8 in Tonga last year and it didn't make me want to buy one; the corners were not great.

If you don't need high ISO particularly, I think the loss of the 10-17 is a high price to pay for 36MP files from the D800. Much as I like the ability to crop the shit out of them. And of course you can use a much smaller dome with the 10-17...

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