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Fast wides in the digital age?
Old 12-17-2018   #1
Bille
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Fast wides in the digital age?

Is there still a point to fast wides in the digital age? Considering a) any wide lens is perfectly sharp stopped down, b) bokeh is poor at 28mm or less anyway, c) high ISO has become very usable with modern cameras.

What´s your opinion?
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Old 12-17-2018   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bille View Post
Is there still a point to fast wides in the digital age? Considering a) any wide lens is perfectly sharp stopped down, b) bokeh is poor at 28mm or less anyway, c) high ISO has become very usable with modern cameras.

What´s your opinion?
You are incorrect. The bokeh on both the Canon 24mm f/1.4 and Nikon 24mm f/1.4 lenses is superb.
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Old 12-17-2018   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Striker View Post
You are incorrect. The bokeh on both the Canon 24mm f/1.4 and Nikon 24mm f/1.4 lenses is superb.
Have to disagree. See https://kenrockwell.com/ryan/images/...R_1366-600.jpg
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Old 12-17-2018   #4
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My M4-2 highest ISO is 3200, my M-E highest ISO is 2500.
Not all of us like you, we use cameras for many years, we are buying used old cameras and they say, many still use film.
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Old 12-17-2018   #5
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I don't understand your point a). But I agree that with modern digital cameras, fast wides and essentially, all fast lenses, are now only about shallow DOF. Which can look good sometimes, but isn't the ultimate answer IMHO.
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Old 12-17-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
I don't understand your point a). But I agree that with modern digital cameras, fast wides and essentially, all fast lenses, are now only about shallow DOF. Which can look good sometimes, but isn't the ultimate answer IMHO.
With M43 your DOF isn't really shallow at f1.4.
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Old 12-17-2018   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
With M43 your DOF isn't really shallow at f1.4.
I have to say it is one of the things I love about m43 is the greater apparent focus for a given aperture with regard to the angle of view. Personally I like using primes and sometimes the faster apertures are a bonus.
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Old 12-17-2018   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
I don't understand your point a).
In other words: stopped down they all look the same.
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Illuminance, DOF and Lens Surface Area
Old 12-17-2018   #9
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Illuminance, DOF and Lens Surface Area

The utility for fast lenses has nothing to do with the medium.

A fast wide-angle lens is no more or less useful now than it was three decades ago.

Both digital and film media benefit from increasing illuminance. Both have similar DOF dependencies.

While the perceived image quality for images from digital media benefit from high signal-to-noise ratios, fast lenses are not a universal solution to working in low ambient light.

DOF

When you must stand in the same place, a wide-angle lens means more DOF compared to a lens with a narrower angle of view. But if you don't have to stand in the same place, a longer focal length can give the same DOF.

When you must stand in the same place and less DOF is desirable, lens speed is important.

Exposure

In low ambient light, using practical shutter times and, or apertures limits exposure.

The role of exposure is similar for both digital and analog media. More exposure means more illuminance. More illuminance means more information. More information reduces uncertainty.

In digital imaging the uncertainty comes from photon and electronic noise. With film it due to spatial uncertainty and increasing variations in emulsion optical density as film-dye granule size increases.

Larger lens glass surface areas increases the maximum possible light levels in both cases.
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Old 12-17-2018   #10
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I like my Sigma 24mm ART 1.4. Wish it was smaller. But subject isolation (when I want it) is excellent and it has only a few correctable faults
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Old 12-17-2018   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
With M43 your DOF isn't really shallow at f1.4.
True, there's more of a point to be made for faster lenses for smaller sensors. They need the help in low light, the fast lenses smaller and maybe somewhat cheaper to make and shallow DOF is less of a concern (when it's not wanted).

At some point, for low light performance it becomes a toss, smaller sensor and faster lens or bigger sensor and slower lens. I suppose FF sensor has always been better for low light but we're now at a point where it's also cheaper, considering that used FF cameras a available at low prices now and they can be used with affordable old wide-angle lenses, whereas for small sensors, you're mostly stuck with buying expensive dedicated wide-angles for them.
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Old 12-17-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
. . . A fast wide-angle lens is no more or less useful now than it was three decades ago.. . . .
Not really. In the days when colour (in particular) meant shooting at low film speeds, a fast lens was a LOT more useful. Often essential, in fact. A 35 Summilux was my standard lens for decades. But then, I tend to take pictures rather than worrying about bokeh and artificially shallow DoF.

Out it this way: I had both 24 mm and 21 mm Summiluxes on loan for review. Yes, they were quite nice. But they weren't really as useful as the 35mm, simply because you can hand-hold the wider lenses for longer.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-17-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bille View Post
WOW! This sole image negates the greatness of the Nikon and Canon 24mm f/1.4 lenses? Are you serious?

WOW.
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Old 12-17-2018   #14
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I don't use my Nikon 20mm f1.8 G for stills too much, but when we're shooting TV spots (my day job, with a Black Magic Ursa Mini 4.6k) having the ability to shoot wide open for max background blur in tight quarters (behind the lens) is really handy. This fast wide has saved the day a few times for me.
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Old 12-17-2018   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bille View Post
...b) bokeh is poor at 28mm or less anyway, c) high ISO has become very usable with modern cameras.

What´s your opinion?
I'm loving the rendering of out of focus areas with my 24 Summilux. b/w, on film.
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Old 12-17-2018   #16
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Absolutely.

On full frame, I can go up to 256,000 ISO and there are still places I shoot in where my 20mm 1.4 is just about getting enough light.

It's a ridiculous situation, but it's out there.
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Old 12-17-2018   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
True, there's more of a point to be made for faster lenses for smaller sensors. They need the help in low light, the fast lenses smaller and maybe somewhat cheaper to make and shallow DOF is less of a concern (when it's not wanted).

At some point, for low light performance it becomes a toss, smaller sensor and faster lens or bigger sensor and slower lens. I suppose FF sensor has always been better for low light but we're now at a point where it's also cheaper, considering that used FF cameras a available at low prices now and they can be used with affordable old wide-angle lenses, whereas for small sensors, you're mostly stuck with buying expensive dedicated wide-angles for them.
As for as I know M43 only recently got to somewhat usable ISO 12800. With this ISO, if it is low light and no interest of dragging shutter, then large apertures are still needed.

I'm not sure if I'll be impressed by most current croppers ISO12800, either.

Sony A7 III still hasn't got clean ISO 12800 as well.
25600 is bad already.
Only at 6400 it is more less OK.
https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony-a7-iii-review/5

So, if we want clean image and/or fast shutter speed it is still large aperture under low light. This is what we have now. Darkest time of the year. Working fast wide allows to get clean images and still maintain enough DOF.
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Old 12-17-2018   #18
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Few people shoot for the bokeh quality. They shoot for the thin depth of field.

2 extra stops of light can be useful.

In most situations the lens is smaller than a full-fledged f/2.8 zoom.

That's it.
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Old 12-17-2018   #19
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I love using my 35mm 1.4 pre-asph summilux on my M9. Even wide open, this lens gives pastel colored images of the Gulf of Mexico and the white sand beaches at sunset time. It is a special match.
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Old 12-17-2018   #20
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Speed is good. If all else fails, speed is good.
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Old 12-17-2018   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
But I agree that with modern digital cameras, fast wides and essentially, all fast lenses, are now only about shallow DOF.
Really, says who?

I find my self fairly limited by my max usable of ISO 10,000 at 1.4 on my M10 and even ISO 20,000 at 1.4 in body stabilized on my Nikon Z6. There is some pretty amazing imagery to be made in that low of light with some wondurous color nuance to boot.

With the exception of my 105mm 1.4, fast glass is hardly about shallow DOF for me.

I’ll take all I can get thanks.
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Old 12-18-2018   #22
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Fast lenses, wides or not, have the added benefit of a brighter SLR viewfinder. Of course this isn’t the case with rangefinders and EVFs.

Even so, choice is good.
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Old 12-18-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
I don't understand your point a). But I agree that with modern digital cameras, fast wides and essentially, all fast lenses, are now only about shallow DOF. Which can look good sometimes, but isn't the ultimate answer IMHO.
Try winter in the UK.
There hasn`t been any light for a few days now.
You need all the options you can get.
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Old 12-18-2018   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Markey View Post
Try winter in the UK.
There hasn`t been any light for a few days now.
You need all the options you can get.
... you're trying to make this thread political, I suppose ...
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Old 12-18-2018   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Atherton View Post
Of course this isn’t the case with rangefinders and EVFs.
I find the EVF of my Nikon Z6 to be like a night vision scope with a 1.4 lens, much brighter than a 2.8 lens.
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Old 12-18-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KM-25 View Post
Really, says who?

I find my self fairly limited by my max usable of ISO 10,000 at 1.4 on my M10 and even ISO 20,000 at 1.4 in body stabilized on my Nikon Z6. There is some pretty amazing imagery to be made in that low of light with some wondurous color nuance to boot.

With the exception of my 105mm 1.4, fast glass is hardly about shallow DOF for me.

I’ll take all I can get thanks.
Me too.

Nothing beats signal-to-noise ratio. In bright light we need every stop of dynamic range and in low light we need as much sensitivity as possible. For the former unavoidable photon noise dominates. Relative photon noise levels decrease as illuminance increases. For the latter camera noise sources (including banding) become significant.[1]

In photography surface area is a limiting factor for the signal. Both lens surface area and sensor area count. With purposeful exposure more surface area means more signal. Increasing surface area does not increase noise.

1. this article shows empirical plots of noise source contributions as a function of exposure for a Nikon D610 at ISO 100.
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Old 12-18-2018   #27
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While it's true you can handhold at slower shutter speeds with wides, having a fast wide also allows faster shutter speeds that can prevent subject motion. Fast lenses are always nice to have. But they tend to get big and fat and heavy and a total pain to handle. I look at some of the super speed lenses with complete bewilderment as to why someone would want such unwieldy optics for standard daily use. Bokeh be damned, I wouldn't consider carrying such lenses.

Although it's not really that heavy, I tend to use my 23 f/1.4 Fuji lens less in favor of the 23 f/2. Both have excellent image quality but the f/2 model feels better in use and rides nicer in the bag than the f/1.4 model. I'm eagerly anticipating the release of the Fuji 16 f/2.8 next year. I've wanted a 24mm equivalent focal length for the longest but I was never willing to buy the 16mm f/1.4 Fuji due to it's size.
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Old 12-18-2018   #28
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Absolutely. Just shot an event (conference) for UNDP in a conference room with rather miserable light. The Ultron f/1.8 21mm came in very handy - anything less was just too slow. Close-up and cropped a little, the "bokeh" is nice and pleasant. Because of its speed and properties wide-open it is my favorite M-Mount lens.

Handheld speeds is one thin, people moving about another.
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Old 12-18-2018   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bille View Post
Is there still a point to fast wides in the digital age? Considering a) any wide lens is perfectly sharp stopped down, b) bokeh is poor at 28mm or less anyway, c) high ISO has become very usable with modern cameras.
In the film age, I used the following fast wide-angle lenses:

35mm f/1.4 on Nikon and Leica 35mm cameras
24mm f/2 on Nikon 35mm camera
21mm f/1.4 on Leica 35mm camera
14mm f/2.8 on Nikon 35mm camera

In the digital age, I use the same fast wide-angle lenses on my Nikon and Leica digital cameras.

What would be the advantage in replacing my fast wide-angles with slower wide-angles?
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Old 12-18-2018   #30
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Smaller size, lighter weight. That's about it.
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Old 12-18-2018   #31
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If one needs ISO 10,000 at f/1.4, maybe its time to shoot picture when there is light? Isn't the whole point of photography to paint with light, not to take pictures in the dark?

To me, fast aperture is great for shallow DOF. In that case you have to worry more about the lowest ISO setting of your digital camera, not the highest. I carry ND filters in my bag so I can take pictures at fast apertures and isolate the subject from the background even on sunny day.
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Old 12-18-2018   #32
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I’d take an image at 1.4 ISO 1600 over a 2.8 ISO 6400 image any day. Maybe my 6d is too aged already, but there is IQ dropoff right around 1600-3200 IMHO for that particular sensor. I have really come to dislike digital noise, so the fast glass gives me ability for a cleaner image.
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Old 12-19-2018   #33
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The argument that high ISO capability makes fast lenses unnecessary makes, IMO, a false alternative. One ability does not replace the other, and of course both may be utilized together as needed!

Here's one of the first shots I made with a new 24mm Summilux on an M240, wide open just to see what it would look like... bokeh not bad:

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Old 12-19-2018   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ccoppola82 View Post
I’d take an image at 1.4 ISO 1600 over a 2.8 ISO 6400 image any day. Maybe my 6d is too aged already, but there is IQ dropoff right around 1600-3200 IMHO for that particular sensor. I have really come to dislike digital noise, so the fast glass gives me ability for a cleaner image.
But image quality of high speed lenses usually improves considerably by closing down a stop or two from maximum while many slower lenses perform well wide open. It's a trade off in the end.
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Old 12-19-2018   #35
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I get your point, Billie. Some of my favorite lenses are 2-2.8 and even 3.5. However, I shoot with 1.4 and 1.8 glass because I'm a film user and I don't like pushed film, so I'm normally at ISO 400 and below.

Specifically, I love the Summaron, but 2.8 is borderline too slow at ISO400 with indoor available light, so for the time being I've moved on to faster lenses. When I'll make my move to digital, I'll happily pick the Summaron as my main 35 because at ISO 1600 I'll be able to shoot 1/60 2.8 indoor, which is all I need.

I like RFs for their tiny lenses, and fortunately there are some tiny rangefinder lenses even at fast speeds, but in general slower lenses are more compact.
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Old 12-19-2018   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogman View Post
But image quality of high speed lenses usually improves considerably by closing down a stop or two from maximum while many slower lenses perform well wide open. It's a trade off in the end.
Good point.

When an image is viewed it has system MTF50. Pixel density, optics, diffraction, raw file signal-to-noise ratio, rendered image noise filtering, JPEG compression, printer image processing algorithms, display screen characteristics and photo paper properties together determine the system MTF50.

So, both lens resolution and image signal-to-noise ratio partially determine the MTF50 for the final image. The worst case would be a lens design where wide-open resolution is intentionally compromised in order to minimize unavoidable sensor underexposure. The increase raw file SNR could be offset by a decrease in optical MTF50.
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Old 12-19-2018   #37
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I use a 21mm lens a lot of the time on an APS-C format camera. It is easier to focus manually with an f/1.8 lens than with an f/4 lens when using a TTL focusing camera (EVF or SLR), particularly with a short focal length lens.

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Old 12-20-2018   #38
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Originally Posted by giganova View Post
If one needs ISO 10,000 at f/1.4, maybe its time to shoot picture when there is light? Isn't the whole point of photography to paint with light, not to take pictures in the dark?
There is no such thing as completely dark and besides, one can see some amazing things in low light.

For example, how about two deer locking horns in my yard in the moonlight? I shot over 200 frames of this action two hours ago at 1/10th of a second at ISO 20,000 with a 50mm 1.8S on my Z6 and made it into a time-lapse movie, it's pretty incredible to watch in 4K.

I could have stopped the action better if this camera was producing this result as cleanly but at ISO 250,000.

I'll take all I can get....
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Old 12-20-2018   #39
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Originally Posted by KM-25 View Post
There is no such thing as completely dark and besides, one can see some amazing things in low light.

For example, how about two deer locking horns in my yard in the moonlight? I shot over 200 frames of this action two hours ago at 1/10th of a second at ISO 20,000 with a 50mm 1.8S on my Z6 and made it into a time-lapse movie, it's pretty incredible to watch in 4K.

I could have stopped the action better if this camera was producing this result as cleanly but at ISO 250,000.

I'll take all I can get....
Usually I am one of those who subscribes to the mantra that 'the dark should stay dark,' but wow. Gorgeous capture.
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Old 12-21-2018   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bille View Post
Is there still a point to fast wides in the digital age? Considering a) any wide lens is perfectly sharp stopped down, b) bokeh is poor at 28mm or less anyway, c) high ISO has become very usable with modern cameras.

What´s your opinion?
When I read the title of this thread, I rolled my eyes thinking it was a request for recommendations for "fast wide primes". Uggh. Then I read the OP's comment above and said, "attaboy".

There was never a need for a fast "wide prime" in any era. But I guess the question is "what do you mean by wide and what do you mean by fast?". Camera companies 'll make "whatever" spec'd lens that will sell, like silly fisheye lenses (because that's not a cliched one trick pony). If enough suckahs want to pay thousands for a lens, and don't mind lugging a brick around they'll gladly oblige. And charge you for that privilege.

But a 24/2.8 isn't a bad lens to have if that's "fast enough" and "wide enough" because these days I've read people say that spec is neither (which provokes eye rolls...) Here's one. I have it. Good luck finding it. The venerable (and old) 24/2.8 Sigma Super Wide II. Got mine on eBay for $60 or so years ago on the big auction site. It's the rebadged Quantaray variant which is even cheaper and harder to procure. Photodo rates it higher (MTF) than the Nikon version. Autofocuses (if your camera has a focus motor -- think "D" not "G" series) and everything. It focuses closer than the Nikon too (Bills itself as a "macro lens". I don't know about that but it focuses pretty darn close...)

I picked up an ultrawide zoom a year or so ago when I was toying with the idea of doing some real estate work and also for landscapes. To me ("me") there's really only one sensible choice in this category -- the Tokina 17-35/f4 ATX. It's f4! It's slow! It "only" goes to 17mm, not 16 or 14! It's not "sharp in the corners" until f8! Well, yeah. It's also 1/3 the cost and 1/2 the weight of the other choices. You shoot these things at f8, f11 mounted on a tripod outdoors or with a speedlight indoors anyway. And the Tokina doesn't skimp on build quality. (They never do.) Don't use it much.

And who gets a WA lens for its "bokeh"? Who are these people? None of them have good "bokeh". I love reading reviews that criticize an optic of a 35mm or wider lens for its "nervous bokeh." I'll tell who must get "nervous" -- the optical engineers who design them when they read this crap. I'd be reaching for the cheap bourbon in a brown paper bag to quell my "nervousness" if I was them. They're wide angle lenses! You're not shooting headshots and portraits with these things, are you? I hope not. The whole point (just about) of them is for wide depth of focus, at least that's what I thought. Yes, I want to take lovely fun house mirror portraits with lovely watercolor-esque blurred out backgrounds. It's art! Make sure it has 25 rounded aperture blades -- perish the thought of angular bokeh balls. (First world problems, these angular bokeh balls...) And nothing slower than f1.2! I'm a "natural light"(tm) photographer (because I never learned how, when, why to use a speedlight...)
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