Sunday, May 18, 2008

Buy Prime Lenses!

I have said it before that prime lenses are better than zooms.  A recent week spent in France saw me using three full frame lenses, all Nikon, in my D200:

20mm (30mm in D200 DSLR) f2.8
60mm (90mm in D200 DSLR) f2.8
24-120mm (36-180mm in D200 DSLR) f3.5-5.6

The first two took sharp, crisp, flat images which would have been just as good in full frame 35mm format.  The poor zoom couldn't even manage decent resolution and lack of distortion even though the worst edge effects would have been outside the reach of the sensor.  If you want an example, take a look at this one in original size and scroll down to the bottom left corner:

Classic Canal du Midi
Perhaps the main reason the image is so poor is that it was taken at the telephoto end of the zoom range.  There is little chance of camera shake being responsible as the shutter speed was 1/750 second and the center of the frame is in focus.

I had no idea this lens could be so bad until I used it as one of several desktop pictures.

I have heard that the cheaper Nikon lenses can have a wide range of quality.  It may be worth checking a potential purchase before you buy.  A good dealer will let you do that though mail order companies may not be so friendly!

If you look at the cost of professional Nikon zooms that offer fixed apertures around f2.8 you will notice that a mortgage is required!  The reason is, unfortunately, all too obvious in the photo above.