Author Topic: A story of old and new lenses  (Read 2454 times)

Mongo

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A story of old and new lenses
« on: July 10, 2018, 11:49:09 »
Mongo will soon be going to the Cape country (a remote area of Australia) for his next brief holiday. He is keen to use a very good wide angle lens but must be extremely light and compact. Mongo has a well used but near mint 20mm f3.5 AI manual lens which he has used happily for many years and which is now approximately 40 years old.

Many considerations went through Mongo’s little brain. Such a trip warrants an excellent lens….investigate and buy a better, more modern lens…where to start….perhaps a wide zoom…..another 20mm or wider (say 12mm to 15mm)….maybe 24mm will be a great all rounder etc etc.

After many short circuits in his head from having considered all the alternatives, Mongo decided to simply replace the 20mm with a new 20mm due to many factors including IQ, weight & size etc. The obvious choice was the nikon 20mm f1.8. Not really interested in the fancier exotics lenses for this purpose.

Went to more closely look and try the new 20mm with intention of buying it and bringing it home and getting to know it better before the big trip……..BUT this was not to be.

After looking at some test shots of Mongo’s 20mm f3.5 AI and the new 20mm f1.8, in Mongo’s opinion, there was just not enough positive difference to warrant even this relatively small change of equipment. To be fair, if Mongo was a first time buyer of a wide angle lens, he would have bought the 20mm f1.8.

20mm f3.5 AI - small, light, good IQ (even in corners stopped down), has scale for hyper-focal distance settings, easy 52mm filters. Cons……colour not as saturated, sharpness 8/10, manual focus only.

20mm f1.8 - great IQ/sharpness 9/10 (even in corners stopped down), good AF, great colour. Cons…2.5 times larger & 1/3 heavier (but still very portable), no real hyper-focal scale, large 72mm filters

Some parameters/qualifications:- Mongo only uses the 20mm for landscapes (usually f8 or f11) and some astral images. Often, Mongo just sets the camera settings and shoots in any direction without even looking through the view finder. So, a lot of the bells and whistles of the new lens do not directly mean much in these circumstances (except , perhaps speed for astro work). However, a wise person once said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, here are two images - one from each lens at identical settings.

The AI lens was focused to the target instead of hyper-focal distance just to equate to the AF lens focusing to the same target point (being the “Paris Miki” sign).
Apologies for the lousy image choice but these were taken in a hurry in a busy shopping mall outside the door of the camera shop. They are tilted because Mongo held the side of the D810 body firmly up against a concrete pillar to steady the shot. The shots are labelled AI and AF to distinguish the lenses used. First, the whole image of each and secondly, a 100% crop of each. Shot in full frame RAW with no processing at all except conversion to Tiff and then to JPEG and reduced in size for posting. ISO 400, 1/15th, f8, manual exposure mode.

The AF lens is slightly sharper in places and has more contrast/saturated colour. The contrast/colour saturation are easily fixed in a couple of clicks of a button. Also noticed the AF image was slightly darker than the AI at the same settings.

This post is offered as food for thought. Certainly, it surprised Mongo. Many of you may still change lenses in the same circumstances. Whatever the outcome of your views, when members come across stuff like this, it would seem interesting (and perhaps) useful to share it.  Perhaps some of you have had similar experiences or have a view about this post. Thoughts…..??


Jakov Minić

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2018, 12:03:24 »
Dear Mongo,

Thank you for sharing your insights.
Probably all of us have had similar experiences with various lenses and focal lenghts.
My personal debates were with the 180/2.8 AiS and AF versions, or 85/1.4 AFD vs AFS versions. In both cases the older model prevailed, or i simply saw no need for an upgrade.
So, I understand that you didn't upgrade. However, I am biased to the 20/1.8 because I believe that it is a stunning performer and I use it regularly.

Free your mind and your ass will follow. - George Clinton
Before I jump like monkey give me banana. - Fela Kuti
Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem. - Woody Allen

Erik Lund

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2018, 12:09:44 »
1/15 is too slow to do this test at for comparison. Just because you get one shot off that is ok with the Ai doesn't mean you can pull that off again and again ;) So please redo in propper light with both lenses :) Thanks!


The Ai is for sure a nice sharp and compact lens, however the the new 20mm 1.8 G is by far sharper in the corners. Also the new lens is very good in the corners even wide open, so no issues at all stopped down.
Erik Lund

Seapy

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 12:17:44 »
What about sunsets?

I have the 20mm - f/2.8 but yearn for an f/3.5.
Robert C. P.
South Cumbria, UK

Akira

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2018, 13:40:09 »
I have owned and used 20/1.8G and have no complaint, so far as the image quality is concerned.  I regrettably parted with it simply because it was too big and obtrusive (especially with its petal hood attached) when I used in confined places.  Ai 20/4.0 that I also had was much more preferable in terms of its handling, but the image quality was not comparable to 20/1.8G, and it was too slow for the more general use.  If you mostly use it stopped down to f8.0 or further,  Shame that I haven't met evan a decent Ais or AF 20/2.8...  Oh, well...
"The eye is blind if the mind is absent." - Confucius

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Jack Dahlgren

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2018, 18:58:31 »
I bought a used 20mm 1.8G last week. I already had 20mm f/3.5 AI and 20mm UD.

I can confirm Mongo’s observations about it being slightly darker than the other two lenses.
The UD in comparison to the others has a slightly warmer cast.
The AI is best into the sun with almost no ghosting. UD is worst. G has a form of rainbow ghosting which is minimal but still there.

I have to agree that for daylight shooting the AI and the G are both acceptable and am slightly disappointed that there is not a larger difference between them.

For Interiors I do like the G due to faster aperture. It does seem to have a bit of barrel distortion compared to the 18mm AI or the 15mm AI, but have not had a chance to compare to the other 20mm lenses.

I think it is weird that I have 3 20mm lenses, but a lot of my work is architecture and interiors so it is a useful focal length. I am considering selling one of them off, but it would be the UD which goes on the block, and it is slouch a beautiful piece of machinery and the golden tones it produces can be rather attractive in the right circumstances.


pluton

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2018, 20:24:52 »
You got a good copy of the 20/3.5. 
I agree with Eric that your comparison test is touch sketchy...understandable since it wasn't planned. 
Were both shots manually focused using magnified live view?  Because...if the AF lens was focused using AF, then you are now testing the AF system of the camera and lens combined, not just the lens.
If the max aperture of the f/3.5 is acceptable for your trip, the advantage of being able to quickly slam the focus to infinity and get a shot is not to be sneezed at.  The AF lens will enslave you to looking through the finder and operating the AF system to get [quick]focus---even infinity focus--- something the the Ai lens would allow you to do by feel alone.  Of course, if you have the time to spare, viewfinder eye focus is an option with the AF lens.
Keith B., Santa Monica, CA, USA

pete

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 08:44:41 »
Hi Mongo, Years ago, I bought a Nikon 20 AF new with my 8008s camera.  Have tried many other 20s and even Leica 21 Super Angulon-R converted to Nikon mount.  I always end up going back to the 20 AF.  It is small, light and the others just don't do enough to change.   I also have the UD and like it when I want 'character' but the 20 AF is usually the one in my bag. 
Pete

Mongo

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2018, 08:57:12 »
Some of you have had the 20mm f1.8 and parted with it for reasons that Mongo is resisting wanting to buy it. Others have it and confirm it is a stellar performer. Others wish they had the 20mm f3.5. Others confirm the different virtues of all the 20mm lenses. Pete, Mongo assumes your AF was the f2.8 version

Mongo agrees with the comments made by Erik and Pluton in relation to the limited testing method and therefore the results of those tests. May have to borrow the 20mm f1.8 from a friend who has just bought one if Mongo is to do further testing.

The overall impression gained , thanks to all your contributions is that Mongo will probably be OK using the AI lens for his purpose but that the G  lens will be a little better and never disappoint. Maybe some quick further testing will help decide this as far as IQ etc. However, such tests will not really give a good idea of what it will be like to travel with this lens and having to find new filters for it etc. It really is a close call between IQ, speed and most of all, CONVENIENCE.

A big thanks for all your helpful comments.

Akira

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2018, 16:28:32 »
If you mostly use it stopped down to f8.0 or further,

Ooops, I failed to complete the sentence.  I just wanted to say that if you mostly use it stopped down to F8.0 or further, your current Ai 20/3.5 would be good enough.  Indeed it is too slow for the astro-photography, but it should work well enough for the star trails.
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pete

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2018, 18:49:56 »
Mongo, yes mine is the 20 2.8 AF, pre-AFD but the glass is the same.  I used the 20 1.8 also and it was way bigger and heaver.  The extra aperture is good for astro-photography but 2.8 is good for most everything else.  I remember when I first bought the 20 AF new how big it was compared to my other lenses.  Now I look at how small it is...  I travel a lot so size is important as to what fits in my camera bags. 

Mongo

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2018, 00:22:41 »
Quite agree with you Akira. However, even though too slow for astrology work, Mongo has managed quite reasonable (but not great) astro images on a very good , clear, bright sky night. Mongo has a 35mm f1.4 Art series Sigma which is a truly great lens. Although wider than he would like, it may have to do for some of the astro work. It is almost impossible to have a lens for so many different purposes without crowding yourself out of your home with equipment - and some you only use once a year, if that. Once upon a time really good photographers seem to make do with a 35 or 50 mm lens for 80% of their work. Where have those days gone...?

Pete thanks for the additional information.

Akira

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2018, 02:03:29 »
Quite agree with you Akira. However, even though too slow for astrology work, Mongo has managed quite reasonable (but not great) astro images on a very good , clear, bright sky night. Mongo has a 35mm f1.4 Art series Sigma which is a truly great lens. Although wider than he would like, it may have to do for some of the astro work. It is almost impossible to have a lens for so many different purposes without crowding yourself out of your home with equipment - and some you only use once a year, if that. Once upon a time really good photographers seem to make do with a 35 or 50 mm lens for 80% of their work. Where have those days gone...?

Mongo, I would envy you that you have the access to the places free from light pollution...

I'm nowhere near those really good photographers you mention, but probably more than 90% of my images have been made with 50mm (or its equivalent) lenses.  I'm that lazy.   ::)
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Jack Dahlgren

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2018, 02:37:33 »
Mongo, I would envy you that you have the access to the places free from light pollution...

I'm nowhere near those really good photographers you mention, but probably more than 90% of my images have been made with 50mm (or its equivalent) lenses.  I'm that lazy.   ::)

I think 90% of my photos have been made with a lens shorter than 50mm. Also lazy, but in tight spaces.

Mongo

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Re: A story of old and new lenses
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2018, 07:36:13 »
Akira and Jack. You both plead guilty to laziness but the jury is thinking that the real reason may be that you are probably that good that you can achieve it without changing lenses. There is no reprieve, amnesty or parol for Mongo .....he IS just guilty of being plain lazy !