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adamhanlon

Wetpixel's Nikon FX wide-angle lens review

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Hi all,

 

At long last, I have posted a review that attempt to try and compare the performance of various wide-angle option for Nikon FX cameras. This is in part due to the frequently recurring threads on the forums about choosing these types of lenses.

 

It is not perfect, nor complete, so it would be great if it could spark some discussion too!

 

http://wetpixel.com/articles/review-nikon-fx-wide-angle-lenses

 

I look forward to being challenged.

 

Adam

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Great effort Adam! I see that you were a bit "location challenged" - From, my own testing I have concluded that public indoor swimming pools are not the greatest location due to dim light and need for high ISO.

 

I was a bit confused by this: "Given that most domes are spherical, the amount of curvature is hence more as it approached the edges of the dome than it is in the center."

Domes with spherical surfaces (i.e., most of them) have constant curvature by definition. BTW I think radius of curvature is the more straightforward way of comparing dome curvatures and we should encourage the manufacturers to provide this datum (the inner radius preferred over the outer radius; the difference being the glass or other material thickness) along with the physical outer dimension that they seem to prefer to use probably because it is the bigger number.

 

I think what you meant to express is that the focused plane of the camera lens increases in its deviation from the virtual image with increased image distance from the optical axis (center) - this is quite the mouthful and could be helped with some labeled points (with letters A to C and b and c) and lines (one would correspond to the object plane of the camera lens) being drawn on one of your figures. A on axis, B a little off of axis, and C a bit more off axis in the lens focus plane, a.k.a object plane, line. There would be corresponding b and c points on the virtual image line. No need for an "a" as it would be the same as A. Line Aa would thus have length = zero. Line Cc would be longer than line Bb. These lines are the deviation I referred to above.

 

I am also curious as to focused distances in the tests. I bring this up because the shape of the virtual image varies with distance from the dome. The virtual image is only spherical for an infinite object distance. It is otherwise aspherical. The source for this fact is Chapter 8 in Optical Fundamentals of Underwater Photography by Gomer T. McNeil, 2nd Ed., 1972.

Edited by Tom_Kline

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Hi Tom,

 

I agree, dome curvature is a constant...

 

I was really trying to avoid getting bogged down with Gomer et al! There is so much confusion about domes and lens choices that I wanted to keep it simple.

 

Ultimately, it is almost impossible to use dome port theory to predict a lens's performance as each lens has specific construction quirks that make it either more or less suitable.

 

To bear this out, I was looking at a text book on underwater photography today where many of the images illustrating it were shot with a 14-24mm, and all the corners were soft!

 

Camera/dome/virtuel image to subject distance is indeed important, to test this I guess you need a fixed rig...

 

Adam

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Adam - thank you again for the write up.

 

In case there wasn't enough to consider there's Tamron's new 15-30mm f2.8 offering.

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Hi Adam, all,

Here its much about rectilinear lenses, can you give me sugestion about best option for fisheye lense for Nikon FX (d800)?

There are so many oppinions, pros and cons regarding fisheye lenses and most are related to versatility and compatibility of using with DX camera.

 

Im not very focused on circular photos but rather 180 degree covering full frame.

I was considering Sigma 15 mm f2.8 fisheye, but also Tokina 10-17 (which should be DX, but many people use it on FX), and Nikkor 16 mm fisheye.

Nikkor 8-15 seems to me too expensive unless i find some great deal...

Zoom is not mandatory but rather optical performance is the key parameter.

Do you recomend any other lense that I didint mention?

Another question is port selection (Seacam), what will give best ratio optical performance - mobility (travel friendly). Should I consider Seacam Super dome, regular Seacam Fisheye Port (FP) or Fisheye Macro Port (FMP)?

 

My thinking by now was to go with Sigma 15 and standard Seacam FP (160 mm) port?

 

Any advice? Thanks!

Marko

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Hey Marko

If you want travel friendly I don’t think you can go far wrong with the Sigma 15mm. I’ve used it with great success with a D800 and you don’t need a 230 dome.

I believe the Nikkor 8-15 can also use a smaller dome but, I agree, a pricey beast for what it provides although the general view is that it’s optically better underwater than the Tokina 10-17.

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Hey Marko

 

If you want travel friendly I dont think you can go far wrong with the Sugma 15mm. Ive used it with great success with a D800 and you dont need a 230 dome.

 

I believe the Nikkor 8-15 can also use a smaller dome but, I agree, a pricey beast for what it provides although the general view is that its optically better underwater than the Tokina 10-17.

Hi,

Thanks a lot for feedback, appreciate it!

Regards,

Marko

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I have used the various Seacam dome ports with fisheye lenses, all but the relatively new CP. I have been too chicken or just did not want to waste a shooting opportunity to use the FMP on FF. I currently have my FMP dedicated to to my 1D3-4 housing with a 1D4 in it which is an APSH camera. This to use where it is too shallow to use the WP. In my experience the SD gives the best fisheye results even with just a lousy 12 MP on APSC as in D2X with 10.5 mm lens. I have found the WP to be OK on FF with the 16/2.8 Nikkor fisheye. Here is an example-- https://www.salmonography.com/Salmonid-species-galleries/Dolly-Varden-Charr/i-bm2qCBZ/A

You have a more demanding scenario with the D800 as I used a D3X for the shot.

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I have used the various Seacam dome ports with fisheye lenses, all but the relatively new CP. I have been too chicken or just did not want to waste a shooting opportunity to use the FMP on FF. I currently have my FMP dedicated to to my 1D3-4 housing with a 1D4 in it which is an APSH camera. This to use where it is too shallow to use the WP. In my experience the SD gives the best fisheye results even with just a lousy 12 MP on APSC as in D2X with 10.5 mm lens. I have found the WP to be OK on FF with the 16/2.8 Nikkor fisheye. Here is an example-- https://www.salmonography.com/Salmonid-species-galleries/Dolly-Varden-Charr/i-bm2qCBZ/A

You have a more demanding scenario with the D800 as I used a D3X for the shot.

Hi Tom,

Thanks for valuable info!

Do you think that SD will go better with Sigma 15 mm fisheye than FP for FX camera? Any extension needed or just direct port to housing?

 

Regards,

Marko

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The SD will likely be better and you will not need an extension ring.

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The virtual image is only spherical for an infinite object distance. It is otherwise aspherical. The source for this fact is Chapter 8 in Optical Fundamentals of Underwater Photography by Gomer T. McNeil, 2nd Ed., 1972.

And for a subject at infinity the virtual images lies at a point which is 4 x the radius of the dome from the centre of the dome which is where the principal point of the lens should be positioned. This means that the centre of the mage is at 4R but because the virtual image is spherical, depending on the lens's angle of view, the edge of the image will be somewhere closer - exactly where will depend on its position and the dome's radius (radii) and thickness and refractive index - its complicated. But the camera lens is not much of a factor here because it can only image what it 'sees'. Its ability to do so will be dictated by the virtual image produced by the dome port and subject and any inconsistencies of the camera lens such as field curvature at closer focus. Its all a bit messy.

 

The 'less curved' dome idea is in effect the suggestion of positioning the camera lens closer towards the dome as opposed to ensuring it is aligned at the centre of the dome. You may want to try doing just this (should be easy enough). If I remember correctly, I think that you will find that it results in the trade off of reducing the field of view as opposed to doing what your diagram illustrates so is counter productive.

 

Sadly I suspect the 'filmdays' rule of thumb of 90 degrees being the maximum viably/easily correctable field of view still applies with dome ports though bigger does help .....

 

I still disagree about the unpredictability of lens performance underwater behind dome ports. Its lack of technical information which hampers prediction nothing else.

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The distance to the dome I was referring to is the subject to dome distance. The virtual image surface shape is a function of focused distance, only spherical at infinity. This is probably why small domes work for macro subjects where the dome is very close to the subject so the virtual image is flatter. Note that this thread is > 3 years old whereas FE question is new.

And for a subject at infinity the virtual images lies at a point which is 4 x the radius of the dome from the centre of the dome which is where the principal point of the lens should be positioned. This means that the centre of the mage is at 4R but because the virtual image is spherical, depending on the lens's angle of view, the edge of the image will be somewhere closer - exactly where will depend on its position and the dome's radius (radii) and thickness and refractive index - its complicated. But the camera lens is not much of a factor here because it can only image what it 'sees'. Its ability to do so will be dictated by the virtual image produced by the dome port and subject and any inconsistencies of the camera lens such as field curvature at closer focus. Its all a bit messy.

 

The 'less curved' dome idea is in effect the suggestion of positioning the camera lens closer towards the dome as opposed to ensuring it is aligned at the centre of the dome. You may want to try doing just this (should be easy enough). If I remember correctly, I think that you will find that it results in the trade off of reducing the field of view as opposed to doing what your diagram illustrates so is counter productive.

 

Sadly I suspect the 'filmdays' rule of thumb of 90 degrees being the maximum viably/easily correctable field of view still applies with dome ports though bigger does help .....

 

I still disagree about the unpredictability of lens performance underwater behind dome ports. Its lack of technical information which hampers prediction nothing else.

Edited by Tom_Kline
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Where can I find sample pictures with D850 and Nikon 8 - 15 mm FE 2.8. Any help will be appreciated Thanks

 

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Adam has moved the test article to the front page: http://wetpixel.com/articles/review-nikon-fx-wide-angle-lenses

Well timed as many new D850 owners have been asking wide angle questions.

 

It would be interesting to compare these old results with the images done with the Sea&Sea correction lens which produces noticeable improvements at the 16mm focal length with 16-35mm zoom lenses on full frame using a superdome (Seacam). There is still a tiny amount of field curvature evident for subjects at about 1-2 meter. For example in this shot https://www.salmonography.com/Salmonid-Topic/Signaling/i-j5NbFtQ/AI can see that the gravel up and downstream of the salmon is slightly soft when pixel peeping. The gravel in the background as well as a juvenile Coho are sharp other than motion blur. Shot with 16-35 at 16 on Nikon D3X with S&S lens.

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I can add a little bit of information here.   I've been diving with a D810 for three years, and a D850 for 6 months, and a 16-35vr for wide angle.  I use a Nauticam 230mm dome on a 90 mm extension port.    Apparently 70mm extensions were recommended in the past, along with a +2 diopter.

For years I tried the 16-35 with and without the diopter, but I was always disappointed in the edge and corner performance,  I wondered why I spent so much money and effort on wide angle only to get shots I always had to crop.

Then I added the Sea and Sea 77mm internal correction filter.  Night and day improvement!!!   I have little else to compare, and nothing in the DSLR world, but if you are going for the 16-35, I'd certainly recommend the Sea  & Sea lens along with 90mm extension and the 230mm dome.

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