Lens Help: New to Nikon not photography

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Hello all - I joined the forum this week but have been enjoying reading and viewing your photographs for a while as I've been considering buying a D800. I've spend a bunch of time reading about the lens line up but would love to get the benefit of your experiences to help me come to a conclusion on which optics I should be looking at right now.

Having shot Zeiss on other platforms for a long time I'm used to the look but could adapt to something that doesn't provide as much contrast out of the box. The ZF optics appeal to me but for this camera it's autofocus first and foremost, and I'd also like to keep my spending more modest up front too. For wider focal lengths (wider than 28mm) I'd definitely consider manual focus AI-S for sure, but for 35mm and up I really want the benefit of AF.

What do I shoot? To a large extent, life with a documentary style. 35mm up front and go.

I also enjoy landscapes and cityscapes but am not focused on either. I expect to be doing more mountain photography after a very long break now that my sons are old and able enough to do multi-day backpacking trips into the mountains.

For a long time I've done a B+W series of friends and families using 180mm on 6x6 film. That same lens also saw use for landscape and other purposes.

Full-on macro photography isn't something I'm into, but I do appreciate lenses that offer close-focus capability. With my rangefinder glass I use a thin lens extension ring to get closer in with any lens; it's not ideal but works well enough for my limited purposes. If a macro lens fit other requirements well without taking away anything, certainly I'd consider one.

Sports... sure I'd like use a longer portrait/landscape lens do other duty and grab the odd goal or play on the soccer field, but I'd also use a moderate wide to grab the faces on the bench. For my needs, I won't be buying any lens with sports specifically in mind.

What have I used the most? No matter what camera I've had in my hands over the last few decades more often than not there has been a 28mm or in more recent years more likely a 35mm lens up front. On 6x6 I shot a 40mm (28mm equiv roughly); on 1.5x digital crop I shoot a 23, 24, or 25mm for 35mm equivalent perspective.

Focal length preferences

Moderate wide:

A good 35mm lens is the only requirement I'm absolutely sure of, and I favour a modern optic for this - something that can deliver on the D800, provide good AF with manual override (AF-MF switch convenience isn't a big deal to me), good edge to edge performance when stopped down a few stops, not too mushy at the edges at f/2 - f/2.8, usable day or night and not flare or coma prone.

Beyond there... things are less clear to me. I like 28mm and the 28mm AI-S seems to be a great optic, but it isn't AF and is close to the 35mm perspective, so for now I'll park my interest in that one off to the side.

From what I can tell, moving from a Zeiss 25mm on crop, I won't be happy with the Nikkor 35/2 AF-D. I wish Nikon made a solid, modern, physically smaller f/2 35mm optic with a nice rendering and brought it in under $1,000.

The 35/1.4 Nikkor and Sigma are both bigger than I'd like, but they do seem to be the ones to choose from at this time and I'm leaning Sigma for price/value alone if nothing else. Presuming its AF works well, everything else about the Sigma looks like it'll fit my needs very well.

Wider: I've been looking at the 20mm and 24mm AI-S or AF-D Nikkors. The sense I get from reading is the 20mm AI-S/AF-D might be a little stronger lens optically so I'm leaning to that for only that reason.

Thoughts on either? Aside from the build quality in AI-S, optically do the 20 and 24 perform the same on the AF-D? (I'm aware the 28mm AF-D is a different formula than the AI-S)

My temptation is to find a nice used 20mm f/2.8 AI-S.

Normal: I don't shoot "normal" (45-50mm) because for me 35mm feels "normal". But I do have a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D - it is not remarkable and doesn't do the D800 full justice in my early observation, but it serves the purpose: inexpensive and allows me to dive into the D800 while I hunt for the lenses and focal lengths I prefer.

Longer: The 135 f/2 DC appeals to me quite a bit but it's been years since I shot 135 on 35mm film and I'm having a hard time judging whether it or a shorter focal length like 105mm (DC or otherwise) might be more versatile for me at this time.

The only thing I'm sure about is I don't want to go longer than 135, and 85mm is too short. I'm very comfortable with 75-90mm but that's because rangefinder cameras typically weren't very usable with anything longer, not because I preferred that focal length.

105 or 135 - somewhere in there is the answer.

So... where I'm currently at and looking for feedback on is:

  • Nikkor 20/2.8 or 24/2.8 AI-S or AF-D
  • Sigma 35/1.4
  • Nikkor 50/1.8 AF-D - have already, likely won't see much use going forward
  • Anything in the range of 100 to 135mm, defocus control or not.

Like I said, I've come to these conclusions after doing a bunch of reading and looking at images, but being new to Nikon I have to imagine I've overlooked alternatives. Any and all thoughts are welcome!

Mike
 
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I would try 20 f3.5 Voightlander for 20.
Nikon 28 f1.8 G AFS
Sigma 35 f1.4 yeas reviews are very very good for it.
Change 50 f1.8D for 50 f1.8 G AFS or CV 58 f1.4 (manual focus with focus confirm)\
I would try Nikon 105 F2.8 Macro VR for telephoto and macro. There is 105 f1.8 Ais (manual focus) Also, take a look at Sigma 150 f2.8 OC HSM Macro or oder versions without stabilization. There is also Nikon 180 f2.8 AFD.
That what comes to mind.
Nikon 85 f1.8 AFS or f1.4 are great.
Nikon 105, 135 DC f2.0 are great, but there are some sample variations.
Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR any model is great, or older 80-200 f2.8 without VR for less money.
70/80-200 could get you by until you determine what telephoto prime you like best.
 
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Aleksey - spasiba | merci | thank you for some interesting ideas. I shoot a CV on the rangefinder and like it well enough - that's not a bad idea at all for the 20mm.

Likewise I'd not thought about using the Nikkor Micro 105; it would be nice to have one macro lens in the group and I'll have a look into the other suggestions you've made.
 

Rob Zijlstra

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Anything in the range of 100 to 135mm, defocus control or not.

I own the 135F2.0DC and I find it a great lens. I use it for (sometimes) portraits, mostly landscape and harbor shooting.

I would suggest you check out this thread to see a lot of examples of the 105 and 135 mm DC lenses.

( it's ~190 pages, so I think you get a fair impression of them:smile:)
 
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... I've been considering buying a D800. I've spend a bunch of time reading about the lens line up but would love to get the benefit of your experiences to help me come to a conclusion on which optics I should be looking at right now.
The D800 is a quite demanding camera insofar as lens quality is concerned (see also here).
Probably a D600 would be a better choice, if you can live with few shortcomings (the body is not at the same level as D800, but the sensor is very good with a resolution large enough for huge prints).

Moderate wide:
A good 35mm lens is the only requirement I'm absolutely sure of ...
There are very few options here.
The best 35 mm lenses are, IMO, made by Zeiss (ZF.2 35/2, and the larger and more pricey ZF.2 35/1.4). If you 'need' AF, the best options are the new Sigma 35/1.4 and the AF-S Nikkor 35/1.4G. These are relatively large and heavy lenses.
I was told that the AF-D 35/2 is not so bad on D800. You might re-consider this option.

Beyond there... things are less clear to me. I like 28mm and the 28mm AI-S seems to be a great optic, but it isn't AF and is close to the 35mm perspective, so for now I'll park my interest in that one off to the side.
Perspective does not depend on focal length, but on the subject distance (i.e., on the viewpoint adopted by the photographer; see point 4 here).
Unfortunately, no AI/AI-s wide prime has a sufficiently high quality for 36 Mpix, and very few AF/AFS primes are good enough.
Consider than many AF/AF-D Nikkor wide primes have the same optical design as the MF equivalent (e.g., 24/2.8 AF-D and AI-s)
The new AF-S 28/1.8G is a better solution than MF Nikkor 28 mm lenses.
Built quality is not top-notch though.

AF-s wide-angle zooms (e.g. 14-24 or 16-35/4 VR) could be an alternative. They are large and heavy though.


Wider: I've been looking at the 20mm and 24mm AI-S or AF-D Nikkors. The sense I get from reading is the 20mm AI-S/AF-D might be a little stronger lens optically so I'm leaning to that for only that reason...
My temptation is to find a nice used 20mm f/2.8 AI-S.
The AF-D 20/2.8 has the same optical scheme as the old 20/2.8 MF, but not the same built quality.
That lens shows its limits (at the borders) even on my 12 Mpix D700 ...
My choice was the 21 Zeiss. It's a relatively large lens, rather expensive.
The Cosina-Voigtlander 20/3.5 is a very small/compact lens, much cheaper than the 21 Distagon, but not with the same image quality (there are no miracles in optics).
The AF-S Nikkor 24/1.4 G is outstanding, but not as wide (it's large and very expensive).
However, don't save money on lenses. I'd suggest you to spend money on (high-quality) lenses than on digital camera bodies.
A photographic system should start from lenses, available accessories, flash system, and not from the camera. Cameras become obsolete quickly (even your D800 ... in the future we'll probably see 36 Mpix cameras with 8, or more, fps ... or cameras with even higher resolutions). Nevertheless, a good 12 Mpix FX camera can produce large prints with very good quality. But it needs suitable optics to collect the information.
I use Zeiss primes on my D700 (yes, D700), and I can see IQ difference between a 21/2.8, or 35/2, Zeiss and a 16-35/4 VR ...
The higher the camera resolution, the more visible the difference you can see.

Normal: I don't shoot "normal" (45-50mm) because for me 35mm feels "normal". But I do have a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D - it is not remarkable and doesn't do the D800 full justice in my early observation, but it serves the purpose: inexpensive and allows me to dive into the D800 while I hunt for the lenses and focal lengths I prefer.
The new AF-S 50/1.8G should perform slightly better.

Longer ...
Have a look at the AF-S 105 VR. It's a macro lens with good overall performance. It's a very versatile lens, suitable for portraiture.

Have a great New Year!
 
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Michael,

I was sad to see you sell the GXR and lenses, but glad you've decided to give the dark side a whirl :biggrin: Welcome to the Cafe!

Moderate wide:
You'll be hard-pressed to regain the edge to edge acuity of the ZM25 on the GXR with most lenses on a D800. Unfortunately there is no modern compact substitute for F-mount. Good news is that most of the fast lenses exhibit nicer bokeh than the ZM25 :smile: If you want AF, the new Sigma 35/1.4 and the Nikkor 35/1.4 AF-S are the best bets. Sigma's AF can now be tuned via software, and it seems people are having good luck with it. I've always struggled with the Sigma 50/1.4 and 30/1.4 to get accurate focus at all distances, so I'm a bit gun-shy.

For what it's worth, I use the ZF.2 35/1.4 as a moderate wide, and a CV 40/2 when I want a compact substitute. The ZF is a pain to nail focus using the OVF or focus confirmation dot. The CV is easy to focus. In your shoes I'd go for the Nikkor 35/1.4 AF-S.

Wide:
If you want AF, look no further than the 24/1.4. I've never used it, but the output is phenomenal from what I've seen, at all apertures and distances. The Zeiss 21/2.8 is the resolution king at this focal length, edge to edge, corner to corner. I don't shoot wide-angles enough to justify the investment. I ended up with the CV 20/3.5. I think it's pretty good in the center, but it never gets crisp at the edges even on the 12mp D700.

I've used the 24/2.8 AF-D and it was horrific on even a 6mp D50 body. The 20/2.8 is supposed to be better. It seems that Nikon has decided that for wide-angle, you need to purchase a fast prime or one of the zooms for a modern rendition. Like you said, the 28/1.8 AF-S is just too close to 35mm to make it worthwhile. I think you'd end up leaving it at home if you had a high quality 35mm lens.

Normal:
I can't use a 50mm lens to save my life. I got the Sigma 50/1.4 prior to the release of the Nikkor 50/1.8 AF-S. The Sigma has buttery smooth out of focus rendering, but to my eye lacks some pop at the focal plane without hitting the old clarity slider. The 50/1.8 AF-S is a better lens than the AF-D to my subjective eye and when comparing just about any metric.

Short Telephoto:
I use the ZF 100/2. Awesome, awesome lens. Some folks feel it's too sharp for portraiture, but if you peruse the Zeiss threads here, you'll see it put to excellent use. The Nikkor DC lenses are also wonderful for portraiture and are more forgiving of wrinkles, but in my mind the trade-offs are not worth it. They don't focus close, I'm not sure how they do at infinity, and the AF is notoriously finicky. The 100/2 is an excellent lens at infinity for tele landscapes, and is phenomenal at 1:2 close focus. You can attach the inexpensive PN-11 extension tube to get to 1:1, and you get a footplate with a collar.

I personally would always want one lens that can focus close in my bag. The only substitute from Nikon, for me, would be the 105/2.8 VR. Also a great lens, goes 1:1, VR is quite handy, fast and accurate AF. I used a friend's for a day, and it was pretty nice. I'm not sure how it does at infinity, and of course you'd be giving up that special look of the 100/2 wide-open with subject at 20-30 feet.

Summary:
In your shoes, here's what I'd be looking at....

Best: Nikkor 24/1.4 AF-S, 35/1.4 AF-S, 50/1.8 AF-S, 105/2.8 AF-S
Great for less: Nikkor 20/2.8 AI-S (or CV 20/3.5), Sigma 35/1.4, 105/2.8 AF-S

My preferred kits:
Big: GXR with 15/4.5, D600 with ZF.2 35/1.4, ZF 100/2
Small: D600 with CV 20/3.5, 40/2.0, 90/3.5
Lazy Day: D600 with 24-85VR.
 
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Rob, Ripolini, Matt, thank you once again for the considered feedback, it's very helpful.

Ripolini - I've already made the decision to go with the D800; I liked the feel and controls better and since I'm already making a leap from much simpler cameras, felt there was nothing to be lost by making a bigger leap. As far as focusing on lenses, pun intended, I'm in full agreement with you. I've been shooting Zeiss since the 1970's (and the odd Schneider and Yashica and others). I do appreciate a well built lens and have used manual focus for most of my life. But unlike my rangefinder lens selection I don't see myself choosing all Zeiss for this camera because I do want autofocus for certain optics, in particular for the 35mm I'll be using most.

I did consider the D600. It's the sensor in both the D600 and D800 cameras which drew me to Nikon - I've seen what the 24MP sensor can do in the D600, Sony A99, Sony RX1. I'm finding what I was shooting with limited me, for purposes, due to pretty mushy details at higher ISO sensitivity and when considering replacing that system wanted at least the performance from the sensors in the D600 or D800. Gaining the improved DR and more pixels are nice to haves of course but no one aspect caused me to pick one camera over the other. That I managed to get a D800 at a discount also helped to make the decision.

Surprising myself a little, I decided to get the D800 over the D800E. I've shot an anti-alias filter free camera for the past 13 months and ran into false colour issues often enough to want to avoid it going forward; the main reason for not wanting an AA filter, in my mind, for cameras with rangefinder lenses is to allow for less astigmatism in the edges, a real problem with wide angle lenses of symmetrical design. Not seeing this to be a problem with the much deeper back focal length on an SLR, I decided to go for the D800 and hope not to regret this choice. My feeling is that no matter what comes down the road the camera will meet my needs for many years to come.

My evolving thinking on lenses, starting with the easiest:

Like Matt, I can't make sense of the perspective 50mm or equivalent provides - I might keep the 50/1.8D I bought simply because it was dirt cheap and allowed me to check out the camera while contemplating lens options; I doubt I'd replace it with a better performing 50mm, certainly that is not a priority.

35mm - I'm willing to spend on this one and while I'd love to go with a ZF lens for any focal length, autofocus I've decided is a must for this most used focal length. I've used manual focus for this length for many years and know what I can do with hyperfocal and zone focus technique, but still I find myself wanting AF for some lenses and purposes. It's a decision I did not come to lightly; had I not wanted this, chances are I'd not be here having this discussion on Nikon Cafe!

The size of the AF-D 35/2 appeals to me, but the performance of the Nikkor 35/1.4G or Sigma 35/1.4 appeals just that much more. Definitely I need to do more thread reading and image viewing on this one. Whatever I buy here, I have to love it.

Longer - I'm thinking that going to 135mm would be riskier for me so the suggestions to look at the 105DC or 105/2.8 VR feel good. A little longer than 75/85/90 which I've used over the years. Useful in tighter spaces.

I've no doubt I'd enjoy the 100MP being a fan of Zeiss as I already am, but feel that's too big an investment for a lens which will get less use by me than the wider focal lengths. Ripolini and Matt's thoughts on the 105/2.8 VR Micro make a lot of sense to me, I can see VR offering me a benefit, and I would like one close focus lens in the group. I'm going to hunt down image samples to see if they also agree with me.

When I shot film I felt I did well with a 35 and 85mm lens most of the time but the choice of 85/90 had more to do with the platform

Wider than 35:

I do want a very wide if not ultra wide and would be ok with manual focus. Performance wise that 24/1.4 look great. More thinking needed.

Edit:

A (cheaper 20-24) - 35 - 105 spread feels right to my gut.

35 - 105 feels most right.

On film I found I used the ZM18 only occasionally, the ZM25mm somewhat more, and the 35mm most of all. I doubt I can justify the 24/1.4G and certainly do not need it's speed. A manual or auto focus lens somewhere in the 20-25 area that offers good enough performance on the D800 for not a ton of money is what I'm looking for there.

Getting closer to nailing this down, thanks all.
 
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There are cheap but very good MF Nikon 105 f2.5 Ais and Nikon 135 f2.8 Ais, so you can buy them and play to choose what FL you like best. There are also Nikon 105 f1.8 Ais and Nikon 135 f2.0 Ais for a little more. Look at www.keh.com for used gear.
Also there is 14mm f2.8 Rokinon MF lens for ultra wide for less money. Could be good enough even for D800. I would buy it from B&H.
Nikon 24 f2.0 Ais is good, but not enough for D800 IMO.
Nikon 28 f2.0 Ais better, but still not good enough for 36MP. Nikon 28 f1.8 AFS is best choice in 28mm. There is 28 f1.4 AFD, but it is old and cost a lot.
There is Nikon 16-35 f4.0 AFS VR very sharp sharp sharp but have some distortion at 16mm end. Takes 77mm filters. Nikon 17-35 f2.8 AFS great, but not in the corners. Nikon 20-35 f2,8 AFD is good.
There is Nikon 24-70 f2.8 AFS and older 28-70 f2.8 AFS great but big and heavy.
Nikon 24-105 f4.0 AFS VR is great for walk around. (or older 28-105 f3.5-4.5 AFD) There is also Nikon 24-85 AFS VR and Tamron 24-70 f2.8 VC (82mm front filter).
In normal category there is Nikon 60mm f2.8 Micro AFS. Very good with high micro contrast and very very sharp. Could replace your 50.
Ther is also Nikon 50-135 f3.5 Ais zoom. Very rare and very very great. Also there is Nikon 75-150 f3.5 Ais less rare but stil great. Could get those for less than $200 US each.
 
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Mike, I'm not a fan of any of the older Nikon offerings at 24mm. Two other considerations are the Sigma 24mm f/2.8 Super Wide II for AF, or the much debated Zeiss ZF 25/2.8 if you can use MF. Both focus close, and the ZF is great at infinity. The Sigma can be picked up super cheap, but I haven't seen it used on high pixel sensors.
 
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Mike, I'm not a fan of any of the older Nikon offerings at 24mm. Two other considerations are the Sigma 24mm f/2.8 Super Wide II for AF, or the much debated Zeiss ZF 25/2.8 if you can use MF. Both focus close, and the ZF is great at infinity. The Sigma can be picked up super cheap, but I haven't seen it used on high pixel sensors.

+1 for the Sigma 24mm Super Wide II.

Best lens I stupidly got rid of. Unfortunately, now that everyone has caught on to how awesome it is, they've doubled or tripled in price. I got mine for $85. Sold it for $65. Now you're lucky if you find 'em for under $150.
 
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Thanks for the additional thoughts. Since last posting in this thread, and after doing more reading and peeping, I had come to the conclusion that I'd probably not be happy enough with the 24mm.

Naturally I'm wondering about the 20mm Ai-S / AF-D.

Rich do you have any thoughts on how that Sigma will behave on the D800? (I'll see if I can find some examples out there...)

Taking a step back here - why do I want very-wide? For considered shooting of very wide static subjects I think I can rely on stitching multiple frames shot on a nice 35mm. But I would like to have something in my bag for more casual shooting and moving subjects. Probably for my purpose I don't need the worlds best lens in this focal length range but of course I want to optimize my spending. I'm more concerned about performance in areas like flare and contrast rather than edges at wide open.

If we broaden the search to:
- lenses between 18 and 25mm
- that would perform well on the D800, or
- at least offer really good central performance and handling of flare/contrast
- manual or auto focus, if anything preference for manual but open to both
- budget < 1,000, ideally much less

does that spark other ideas?

In the meantime I'm working on checking out the Nikkor 35/1.4 and 105/2.8 VR. The Sigma 35/1.4 might be available here in a week or two; lots of pre-orders at local and Toronto shops for that one. Someone locally also has a 135/2DC and I might meet up with him to check out but feel it'll probably be a bit too long for me to use often enough to justify.
 
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If we broaden the search to:
- lenses between 18 and 25mm
- that would perform well on the D800, or
- at least offer really good central performance and handling of flare/contrast
- manual or auto focus, if anything preference for manual but open to both
- budget < 1,000, ideally much less

does that spark other ideas?

Cosina-Voigtlander 20/3.5 could suit your needs.
You'll love the tiny size and weight.
This link shows some comparisons.

Best,
 
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Riccardo, good thought on the CV20/3.5; I see Matt has that one listed in his signature - Matt how are you finding that one on your D600?

I suppose I should be looking at the ZF Distagon 25/2.8 as well. Too bad I can't adapt my Zeiss Biogon ZM25/2.8!
 
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I've only used the CV20 sparingly on the D600. I just don't shoot wide all that often. For my needs and style, it's been fine, but it can't play on the same team as the ZF21/2.8.

Pros:
Super small, can be mistaken as a camera body cap. Very light as well.
Handles well, nicely damped focus ring, but turnable with just an index finger.
Chipped, so aperture adjustments are via the command dial, and matrix metering is available.
Pretty good flare resistance, can have significant ghosting. I don't have the hood for it though.
Nicely saturated colors that match my CV40 and CV90.

Cons:
Adequately sharp in the middle at f/5.6, but edges and corners don't sharpen up well unless you stop down so far (f/13-16) that the corner sharpening matches the central diffraction softening.
Lateral CA abounds at high contrast edges.

It's hard to compare across systems, let alone with different pixel count sensors, but I preferred the CV15/4.5 on the GXR to the CV20/3.5 on the D700. The CV15 was very sharp across the crop sensor frame, and had great global contrast.

However, I was pleasantly suprised with one recent photo I took using the CV20 on the D600. It held onto great detail in the middle of the frame where it counted, at mid distance. I wish I could link to the full-sized file on Smugmug, but you can see the X3 sized file by clicking the link below. In the full sized photo, the fabric patterns are pretty well discerned.

DSC_1354-X3.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


As an aside, I love the CV20/40/90 combo. I got double-sided rear lens caps and I can walk around with a camera/lens on a sling strap, with the other 2 lenses back to back in a tiny belt pouch or coat pocket, no need for a camera bag. The 40 and 90 are much better lenses than the 20.
 
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The CV15/GXR combo is pretty stunning; I wasn't seriously hopeful the F mount CV20 would live up to those standards but that would have been nice. :)

I have seen some very nice images out of the F mount CV40. A manual focus 90... something I should consider too.

What I might do is find a cheap beater wider than moderate wide for the time being and see how much use I get out of it. I can be pretty happy with a good 35 in my hands. Tomorrow I'm checking out the 35/1.4G but leaving my cash in my pocket... taking a few deep breaths and being patient as I really want to have a look at the Sigma too.
 
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... it can't play on the same team as the ZF21/2.8
Like the Nikkor 20/2.8 (either AF or MF) :wink:

Lateral CA abounds at high contrast edges ...
LaCA should be fixed automatically in NX2 if you shoot RAW.

The 40 and 90 are much better lenses than the 20
The 40 and 90 are much easier lenses to design for FX. Consider also that the 20/3.5 is a very small lens and this doesn't help optimizing the design. I think the CV 20/3.5 is the cheaper & (much) smaller alternative to the Zeiss 21/2.8 (manufactured by Cosina too). IMO, the CV 20/3.5 is addressed to people desiring a good & pocketable lens for occasional ultra-wide pictures, and not needing the ultimate quality.
 
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My short answer

ZF2 2/25 > you said wide could be mf. Since your reference is 35mm, I'd advice the 25
Sigma 35 > no other real options meet af, iq and affordable price as Sigma does
Tamron 90 VR (don't forget you can always autocrop to 135 everytime needed)
You might get whatever 100 or 135 yet the longer you go (135 or 150) the more you will need an intermediate lens
Sigma 150 > the 180 is interesting but definitely overpriced. An alternative might be a 70-200 zoom and all those are out there are very good
 
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Dino's advice is very good, however ...

ZF2 2/25 > you said wide could be mf. Since your reference is 35mm, I'd advice the 25
The 25/2.8 focal length is 26 mm actually (see here). Therefore, it would complement a 50 mm better than a 35 mm.
Moreover, its rendition seems not uniform on FX, probably due to field curvature (see here).

Sigma 150 > the 180 is interesting but definitely overpriced.
The 150 is a heavy lens (the OS version weighs more than 1 kg!). When I need more reach, I add a TC-14 E to my 105 VR, to get a 150/4. Of course, the Sigma 150 OS has much less CA than the 105+TC combo ...
A lighter alternative is the AF ED 180/2.8, a lens that performs admirably on FX (on my D700 :wink: ... and according to photozone test on D3X).

Best,
 
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Vancouver, BC
Dino I've peeked at the 2/25. The price alone doesn't scare me off but I need to know I'd use it. I appreciate Zeiss optics a great deal but before I start spending on ZF lenses I want to take some time. The CV or even the Nikkor 20/2.8's probably fit my need for now.

Riccardo hits the nail square on with his comment "the CV 20/3.5 is addressed to people desiring a good & pocketable lens for occasional ultra-wide pictures, and not needing the ultimate quality".

That's essentially what I want for now and if I find I'm incorporating a 20mm often I might later be tempted by the ZF.2 2/25. A small relatively inexpensive 20mm would be in my bag all the time.

Riccardo brings up something I've not considered yet - should I be looking at a teleconverter for my Nikkor AF lenses? Are they of much advantage with shorter focal lengths (say an 85mm?) If I'm trying to keep my regular kit deliberately small this seems like an interesting option to me, but I've only used one once - borrowed a friends Contax Mutar - and that was a very long time ago.
 

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