How wide is wide? Nikon FX + Sigma 12-24mm.

Last week was awesome! Elizabeth and I shot four weddings –lots of work but all fun. I also managed to squeeze in a cover shoot for a local scholastic magazine. Mucho mahalos to “D” and “A” –it is so nice to work with excellent people! :-D

I got a ton of photos to edit and run post’ on BUT I had a brainstorm while sitting here in front of the computer. (I needed to take a break anyways.) So, I whipped up a quick and dirty wide angle, zoom lens, focal length comparison. I used the FX Nikon D700, Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM, and Nikon 16mm f/2.8 AF-D Fisheye. I shot in aperture priority @ f/11 and from a fixed tripod. Please ignore the differences in exposure.

The Sigma has a good amount of corner light fall-off (well documented). I did not test the D700’s vignetting correction but I have already read that it does not work well with third-party lenses. I shot one photo at each marked focal length: 12, 15, 18*, 20, and 24. (*The zoom ring was actually set to 17mm but the EXIF recorded it as 18mm.) The Sigma’s color rendition is warmer in comparison to the Nikon (I was locked in at 5250K for all shots). I have two examples of the Nikon 16mm Fisheye: one “normal” and the other “de-fished” using the lens correction algorithm in Nikon Capture NX (ver. 1.3)**. Here are the images:

Nikon D700 + 12mm.

Nikon D700 + 15mm.

Nikon D700 + 18mm.

Nikon D700 + 20mm.

Nikon D700 + 24mm.

Nikon D700 + 16mm FE.

Nikon D700 + 16mm NX.

As you can see, the Sigma at 12mm is pretty darn wide. Distortion is not bad (although perspective lines do get pretty intense at the edges). The biggest problem is the light fall-off, which actually covers much of the frame. (And does not go away –even stopped down.) The Sigma 12-24mm HSM is slightly wider than the Nikon 14-24mm AF-S (no pictures here). BUT the Nikon is much faster (f/2.8 constant), much sharper, and the Nikon 14-24mm does not have the same crippling light fall-off!

**One very annoying thing I learned through this quick comparison is that Capture NX version 1.3.4 (last one before NX2) cannot properly “de-fish” the D700 JPEG’s nor TIFF’s! Everyone knows D700 NEF’s are not supported but I found it flabbergasting that even “D700” tagged JPEG’s and TIFF’s were castrated also. Even for me, $110 to upgrade to NX2 is pushing it. Dammit Nikon, “throw me a frikken bone!!”


AFTER-WORD: I did not display the results here but PanoTools came to the rescue. It was able to properly “de-fish” D700 JPEG’s and TIFF’s to create the single widest rectilinear image possible using the Nikon 16mm f/2.8 AF-D Fisheye. (A “shaved” Nikon 10.5mm DX Fisheye also works but the pixel density within the usable area is very poor.)

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