Nikon wide angle question

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Kowloon

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Hello everyone,

Quick question, I am doing more and more photos of buildings, close up, because the streets of Hong Kong are really narrow. To do so I bought a 28mm AIS but I am still quite disappointed because I cannot get most of some buildings that I intend to shoot, I am still too close to them. I am now thinking of buying a 18mm (which is far from being cheap) but is there a big difference between the 2 ?

Thank you!
B.
 

ic-racer

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The 20mm is reasonably priced on the used market and is close to the 18mm in angle of view.
This example was taken with a 18mm lens:
M&M 1200.jpg
 

Paul Howell

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I agree with Ic-racer the Nikon 20mm will give almost the same angle of view without as much distortion as the 18mm.
 

xkaes

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There are lots of 17mm-21mm lenses to choose from -- and not just from Nikon. There are great ones from Tamron, Sigma, Vivitar, Tokina, etc. The wider you go, the more distortion you will have. The Vivitar 19mm might be the easiest to find and least expensive. Samyang/Phoenix also made an 18-28mm zoom that is very nice. I have two -- only because they both cost less than $75.
 
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Kowloon

Kowloon

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Forgot to mention, it is for a Nikon F

Will I be able to see a "big"difference between my 28mm and a 20mm or 19mm?
 

M-88

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Even the difference between 28 and 24 is substantial. Difference between 28 and 20 will be tremendous. But don't forget the distortion: the wider the lens, the more the distortion. That's what killed my interest for ultrawide lenses. Even 24 mm had too much distortion to my taste. In the end, those few photos I have taken with 24 mm, were in portrait orientation.
 

xkaes

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One way to minimize distortion is to get a much wider lens and keep it level -- then crop the print. Also move back as much as possible, and move the camera UP as much as possible. You will be surprised how little it takes to make a BIG difference. Put the camera on a monopod and raise it way over your head.
 

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Distortion specifications of both the Nikkor 18mm and 20mm are nearly identical, with each demonstrating 'moustache' distortion; or a combination of pincushion and barrel. I don't think any can tell which lens is which in this image comparison of the Nikkor 20mm and 18mm F mount lenses:

Nikkor 18mm vs 20mm.png
 
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MattKing

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There are two types of "distortion" being thrown around in this thread.
ic-racer is referring to true, lens induced distortion - where the lens makes straight lines curved.
The other type of "distortion" is actually not distortion, but rather the normal consequence of the angle of view that having a very wide lens allows one to choose. When buildings appear to be falling back and their parallel edges seem to converge, it is because that is actually how things appear when one stands that close to the base of a building and looks up at an angle to take it all in.
If you print an image taken with a very wide lens used that way, move the print quite close to your eye and examine it that way - the result will appear more natural!
 

kykr

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Very true, the perspective “distortion” is probably a bigger factor here. You’ll see it with a 28mm compared to a 50mm, but it increases really quickly from there. A 24 has a lot more, a 20 has a lot more than that.

Just to reiterate, it’s not a problem with the lens, and there are ways around it - sometimes, at least. And sometimes that perspective can be interesting.
 

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When shooting with a 24 to 20 which is widest Iens I have, I use a tripod and a small level. Some tripods have built in bubble levels, my 3 tripods predate that feature.
 

Rolleiflexible

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I took a deep dive into 20-25mm lenses last year for my current project. I've used three: a 25mm Color Skopar, a 20mm Nikkor-UD, and an 18mm cap lens from Funleader. Of the three, the Nikkor is the champ, but it is also large and heavy. The Nikkor-UD is from the 1960s, and it has fantastic optics that render flat with no vignetting. The bonus, with the Nikkor-UD, is that it focuses down to 12 inches.

The later Nikkor 20mm lenses are much more compact but lose the close focus ability. I have read that they are all great lenses, with not a lot to distinguish one from the other in terms of how they render images. And there are tons on the market, so none will break the bank.

The 25mm Color Skopar has some modest vignetting. The 18mm cap lens vignettes like crazy. You carry it because of its distortions, not in spite of them.

I do see a real difference between the 25mm and 20mm fields of view. After shooting the 20mm, a 28mm doesn't feel very wide any longer.
 

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Sirius Glass

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I use a Nikon 20mm to 35mm AF wide angle lens, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm PC, and 35mm Nikon lenses. Depending on the subject ad where I am standing can and does effect the choice of focal length. If there is unwanted distortion, I change the focal length and or my position. The PC lenses reduce or eliminate the appearance of a building or object leaning backwards. I prefer the zoom lens, but if weight is a consideration I use the fixed focal length lenses which are also less expensive.
 

xkaes

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When shooting with a 24 to 20 which is widest Iens I have, I use a tripod and a small level. Some tripods have built in bubble levels, my 3 tripods predate that feature.

There are lots of bubble levels that are designed to fit into "flash shoes". I use them mostly for large format work.
 

Sirius Glass

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There are lots of bubble levels that are designed to fit into "flash shoes". I use them mostly for large format work.

I use the in viewfinder bubble with the Hasselblad SWC.
 

Mick Fagan

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I would suggest 18mm over a 20mm focal length for close city scape laneways and buildings from across the street is the better of the two focal lengths.

I seriously looked into either a 20mm or 18mm focal length lens for close around the city stuff. I managed to borrow an 18mm Nikkor and on on one outing with someone who owned a 20mm Nikkor, I was able to swap and check them out on the spot.

I decided upon the 18mm length as being a far better lens for this type of work, as it made sense when visiting Germany, which I was doing a lot at the time, for photographing tiny streets in tiny villages.

I have 28mm, 24mm and 18mm focal lengths. I consider the 28mm a short normal lens that is sort of wide. The jump to 24mm is quite huge and this is really where wide angle stuff starts; in my opinion.

From 24mm the leap to 20mm is also quite huge, but nowhere as big as the jump from 24mm to 18mm. With 18mm focal length you really are in the world of super wide angle lenses that are affordable in 35mm photography.

If I was going to shoot narrow streetscapes, then the 18mm is the lens I choose. If I'm looking for the ability for some wider streets, then 24mm is maybe the lens, but you can always walk towards your subject (mostly) and use the 18mm.

Are you aware of aftermarket wide angle lenses? For my 24mm and 18mm wide angle Nikon mount lenses, I am using Sigma lenses. The Sigma lenses which are AiS mounts, were very good, with the 18mm being quite good. I compared my Sigma f/2.8 18mm lens side by side with the Nikkor f/3.5 18mm lens with two F3 bodies on tripods. The result is that the Nikkor has slightly more visible contrast in the viewfinder and obviously produces slightly more contrasty negatives; but the differences overall weren't that great. At f/5.6 there isn't much, if anything, between them, except for the aforementioned slight contrast difference

I bought my Sigma for $250 secondhand in the early 1990's, it has a 72mm filter ring. It has floating elements, which is similar to the Nikon CRC (Close Range Correction). This allows very close focusing to be achieved; I have done some landscape photography with this lens with the closest in focus object being 300mm from the lens, sharp as a tack. At the time the Nikkor was somewhere around $1450.

If it matters, my Sigma doesn't have the prong at f/5.6 on the lens.

This picture was taken with my 18mm Sigma lens. That is the full frame, I was standing very close to the church.


 

ic-racer

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For me, these lenses are all give the same visual effect and I use these cameras interchangeably. 18mm Zeiss, 20mm Nikkor AF-D and 21mm Yashica ML.
20mm Nikkor AF.JPG
 
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Kowloon

Kowloon

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Thank you all for the input. Many great pieces of advice, as usual.

Are you aware of aftermarket wide angle lenses? For my 24mm and 18mm wide angle Nikon mount lenses, I am using Sigma lenses. The Sigma lenses which are AiS mounts, were very good, with the 18mm being quite good. I compared my Sigma f/2.8 18mm lens side by side with the Nikkor f/3.5 18mm lens with two F3 bodies on tripods. The result is that the Nikkor has slightly more visible contrast in the viewfinder and obviously produces slightly more contrasty negatives; but the differences overall weren't that great. At f/5.6 there isn't much, if anything, between them, except for the aforementioned slight contrast difference

The only Sigma 18mm that I find online is the 18-50mm. Is it the same?
 
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xkaes

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Sigma made different 18mm lenses -- some with fixed mounts, some interchangeable, some f2.8, some f3.5, some with 72mm threads, some 67mm, some with built-in filters, some..... You get the idea.
 

DaveInAZ

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You could also look into the Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X AF in Nikon F mount. They sell used for around $100-150, which is a bit less than the Nikkor 20mm's. The difference in angle-of-view between 17 and 20 mm is more visible than you may think.

My personal experience with older Sigma lenses is that they're crappy. I owned a Tokina 17mm for Minolta and was very happy with it, and it was built like a tank. It, like all ultra-wide angle lenses, had distortion but it was correctable in LR/PS.
 
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Hello everyone,

Quick question, I am doing more and more photos of buildings, close up, because the streets of Hong Kong are really narrow. To do so I bought a 28mm AIS but I am still quite disappointed because I cannot get most of some buildings that I intend to shoot, I am still too close to them. I am now thinking of buying a 18mm (which is far from being cheap) but is there a big difference between the 2 ?

Thank you!
B.

You may want to look for a used 20 mm,f/2.8 or f/3.5. With that and make it tough to take a picture without your feet in it!
 

Sirius Glass

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Going wider than the Nikon 30mm lens may add distortion. Check the wider lenses carefully for distortion.
 

xkaes

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Hey, FYI, you don't have to be a politician to appreciate distortion.
 

Sirius Glass

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Going wider than the Nikon 30mm lens may add distortion. Check the wider lenses carefully for distortion.

Correction: Going wider than the Nikon 30 20mm lens may add distortion. Check the wider lenses carefully for distortion.
 
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