Wednesday 5 November 2014

Back to FX

The Teeter-Totter
Nikon D700, Nikkor 35/1.8G DX in FX mode

Well, here I am making a second attempt at going FX. This time it's with the FX body I always wanted in the first place, the D700, rather than the D600 I settled with last time.

The last time I went FX, last December, it did not end up working out well. First off I never really liked the ergonomics of the D600. The biggest issue was the grip, I found it extremely shallow and mildly uncomfortable, this is fundamentally what made me dislike carrying the D600. Initially I chalked it up to weight causing the discomfort, but 2 months carrying the similar in size & weight D200 indicates that it was ergonomics rather than weight that was the real issue. The D700 of course has very similar ergonomics to the D200 and much better ergonomics than the D600. The other issue with the D600 is my copy had weather sealing issues, I had some unusual behaviour due to a seal failure which caused an LV/WB fandago. The better sealed D700 should also not have this issue.

I also picked up the classic 28-105D at the same time, but that's gone back as it turned out to be badly decentered when shooting at 28mm and wider than f8.

Saturday the D700 got its first workout. I shot almost entirely with 2 lenses, the 28-105D and my 35/1.8G DX. The 28-105 did pretty well at the long end (the above mentioned issue caused issues with the wide end). Surprisingly the 35DX was outstanding, with very minor hard vignetting at the very outer edges and superb sharpness in Zone A and B. Sharpness does fall off a bit in Zone C (the outer area well outside the DX frame). I've long had a love/hate relationship with 35mm lenses on FX. The right lens gets me shooting constantly in that focal length where a lens that I find even just decent I tend to switch to a 28mm instead. For some reason I prefer shooting with a poor 28mm than a decent 35mm, but an outstanding 35mm beats both. After more than 150 frames on the D700 Saturday, including more than 110 frames with the 35DX, I'm definitely loving it. Not bad for one of the two lenses I expected to be dedicated to my DX bodies (the other being the 16-85VR)

I've also been doing a lot of thinking about lenses for the D700, going forward. I've only got a limited selection of FX glass right now as I am building up my system again. I still need to decide whether or not I want to buy lenses which support FM/FE bodies or not.

In terms of focal lengths, I'm considering two ranges, in primes. Either 14/20/35/105/180 or 14/20/35/85/150. I'll also likely pick up a 24-85VR for walk-around.

The core kit I'm considering is the new Nikkor 20/1.8G, the Sigma 35/1.4 and either the Sigma 105 OS Macro or the Nikkor 85/1.8G and the Sigma 150 OS Macro. unfortunately none of these lenses are compatible with an FE or FM body. The alternate would be either AI-S lenses (cheaper, not as good) or Zeiss ZF (more expensive, very good). Frankly I could live with AI-S, at least on the low-megapixel D700. I'd at least like the Macro to be VR/OS, however I'm not likely to want to use that lens on the FE or FM so that's a workable tradeoff. The 14 will likely be the Samyang/Bower/Rokinon while the 180 would be the Nikkor, probably the AF-D ED.

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