Why Nikon at all

O

oskarb

Mallik

Canon have made some very respectable optics over the years, some of which have rivalled the performance of their Leica equivalents.

Remember too that Canon were pioneers in aspheric lens technologies. Canon are now the leaders in high quality optical moulded plastics technologies and fluorite elements for camera lenses. Using these technologies Canon is capable of producing high performance lens designs efficiently and economically.

Unfortunately, what Canon don’t tell you about fluorite is that it has the property of changing its focal length with temperature. So don’t take your fluorite lenses out of an air-conditioned studio! In addition, optical plastics are also renowned for having 1/4 wave coating delamination problems. Unlike glass, a plastic element cannot for all practical purposes be recoated. While they perform well when new, I doubt that many newer EF Canon lenses will be serviceable in 10 years time, this is just IMHO. Given that L series lenses are about 2/3s the cost of their more solid Leica counterparts, IMHO it’s an awful risky investment. A 1960s made Nikon lens will still work fine on the FM3A. I would also hate to drop a Canon lens, but since many of them are lighter than air I guess this is not a problem.

The advantage of using Nikon over Canon, for ex&le, is that the company maintains a policy of backwards compatibility. If you want a new lens for your old F you can still buy it. Nikon are also the only manufacturer that is still producing a high quality camera that is independent of battery power. A discussion on lenses can only be considered in relation to the whole system available. You can have the best lens in the world but if you can’t fit it on your camera it’s totally useless.

In relation to optical performance in my experience many of Nikon’s high-end lens are pretty damn good. However, a colleague of mine with a technical bent insisted that Nikon lenses were basically !@#$ straight out of the box. Having access to an optical bench, he used to recalibrate his Nikon lenses so that all the elements were in correct alignment, and you could tell the difference in his images. But when you get this level of precision you have to put your camera on a tripod to really maximise the potential of the lens. And this point cannot be overstated! Putting our 35mm camera on a tripod sort of tends to negate the reason behind preferring the format.

In conclusion, some of the worst images around are made using the best lenses in the Leica range. Discussions over which lens is sharper etc. are ultimately pointless. If the picture is bad or boring who cares if it is crystal clear and sharp.

Regards Craig

PS Sorry for long post.
 
M

mkovuri

Thank you for the comments. So I see that Nikon lenses are not necessarily the best lenses, but as a system, is probably the best. Sounds interesting and enlightening.

It is true that the Photographer behind the camera is always more important than the camera itself. Leica cameras do not and cannot guarantee of a good picture. No camera can give that. But I guess we are currently referring to camera capability than a Photograph, and are assuming a good photographer and the event the picture is taken of.

Thank you for the inputs again.

Mallik.
 
O

oskarb

In terms of overall performance I don’t suppose that, saying Leica optics are the standard by which all others are judged against, is too controversial. However, there are one or two Leica lenses that are fairly ordinary by any standard. In my experience, the best Nikkor lenses compare well with some in the Leica range. The respective lens design philosophies of Nikon, Zeiss, Canon and Leica, do differ which results in what Leica users call the fingerprint of the lens. Whether one is considered better that the other is really a matter of personal taste. Assuming we are talking about Pro grade gear.

The new generation of Leica aspheric and APO lenses produce super crisp results, and are arguably in a league of there own. Whether the potential performance of these lenses is reached in practice depends very much on how they are used. And this can be said for all lenses. Even at quite fast shutter speeds with hand held cameras, there is always a minute amount of “camera shake†which will ultimately impair the final result. But unless you enlarge the negative up to above 16x20†you probably won’t see it. We all like to think our hand held shots are superhumanly steady but the reality is measurable. All things equal, in small enlargements of less than 8x10†the differences produced between good quality pro grade Nikkor glass as opposed to even the best Leica optics will be barely noticeable. To the discerning eye there will a slight difference in feel or the “fingerprint†but that’s about is all.

There is obviously a quality difference to be seen on projected Kodachromes and large exhibition prints made with high performance lenses and this is where Leica lenses come into to their own. However, when scanning negs or slides the only difference between a sharp camera lens over an-also-ran optic is less need to “unsharp maskâ€. A lot of finer detail and sharpness is lost in a Lambda print, or Fuji Frontier, so if that is your preferred output medium the question is, what are the advantages to spending the extra money on Pro optics?

For images posted on the web as 72 DPI JPEGs, camera lens image quality is not going to figure. If that is your intended end product why fork out around US$6000 for a Leica Vario-APO-Elmarit-R 2.8/70-180 zoom or even a NIKKOR 70-200ED 2.8 at around US1600, a consumer NIKKOR 70-210 that costs just US$125 is way good enough!

In digital capture high quality film lenses are likely to be a more of a disadvantage and produce lower quality results. This assertion seems to be contentious but even with such advances in “micro lenslet†technology the image circle/pixel size maths still has to add up.

So the great debate of Zeiss v Leica, Nikon v Canon, Nikon v Leica etc. is ultimately fruitless. It’s a nice bragging point to have a few fine quality high performance Pro lenses in your camera bag. But are they the necessary tool for the job you use it for. Sometimes you need a fine watchmakers hammer, but most of the time a plain old carpenters claw hammer will do just nicely. Some of us only require a 10 pound sledge hammer.

Regards Craig
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
Nikon has always had high-end equipment of superior quality, but they have also democratized photography with entry-level cameras and entry-level lenses as well. Thus it is impossible to say that Nikon is tops or Canon is tops or any other maker who has systems aimed at the beginner all the way to the professional or specialist, is tops.

In an industry as competitive as camera equipment, you *generally* get what you pay for. Perhaps Leica is the exception, but you do get the Leica trademark and a certain cachet among those who buy cameras as jewelery or venerable objects, rather than tools to make images.

A magazine a few years back tested the Zeiss lenses for Contax G2 against comparable Leitz lenses, and in every way the Zeiss came out on top, at something around half the price. In the eyes of a collector, this is of no relevance. One can not compare religions objectively.

Most people could not tell by looking at a print, what lens was used. Many environmental variables impact the appearence of sharpness, shutter speed, lighting, the film chosen, degree and type of sharpening used if digital, and so on. Lenses with the highest resolving power are often very low contrast and while they can separate many lines per millimeter in the lab, they do badly when photographing the vacation. They are incredibly sharp, but for the most part you would not want to use them. A contrasty lens of lower resolving power will LOOK sharper.

Every lens design is a series of compromises. Most of the lenses in the Nikon lineup are obviously aimed at general photography and are priced accordingly. ED-IF lenses are clearly marked, sell for a premium and generally perform accordingly. The edge they give may or may not be worth the price, depending upon the needs of the photographer.

For someone whose goal is a 4x6 one-hour lab snapshot, top line lenses certainly are not worth the money. For someone shooting covers for prestige magazines they may be. Nikon also makes specialized lenses that are not intended for general photography as well. They are meant to perform extraordinarily well under a limited range of circumstances.

In any case camera makers provide a spectrum of products to encompass the largest market place they can, so it is impossible to generalize on a makers lens sharpness.


larry!
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O

oskarb

Larry makes some very good points,

One of the great things about Nikon equipment is the fantastic scope of range available. Only Nikon gives budding entry-level photographers the ability to accesses a 35mm camera system economically with the flexibility to build on it as their requirements grow. For ex&le, you can even start with grand dads old Nikkormat and over the years put together a versatile outfit. Companies such as Leica or Schneider Kreutznach, Sinar, have never been in that part of the market, and it is probably one of the reasons why Nikon are a much more successful firm. In the main Nikon gear is high quality solid stuff that will last in good working order for many decades.

I do disagree strongly on one point in Larry’s post.

“A magazine a few years back tested the Zeiss lenses for Contax G2 against comparable Leitz lenses, and in every way the Zeiss came out on top, at something around half the price.â€

However, the facts are that magazine lens tests are just not a valid assessment of the true performance of any lens. The results are at best described as over simplified rubbish. Simply pointing a camera at a flat resolution chart and measuring the values tells you diddly squat. Friday’s newspapers horoscope is more accurate. Proper optical testing requires very sophisticated lab set-ups, and results are measured by various means and criteria. Even an MTF graph has it limitations. It can tell if a lens design is poor but a good MTF plot is not necessarily an indication that a lens is also good. And in practice even the most sophisticated lens testing only gives you a maximum quality as defined by optical physicists. The lab-measured limits of a lens design are never reached in practice. As Larry eludes, only the most pedantic and skilful photographers can get the most out of their lenses, eg if your exposure is off by the enth degree you can not get the best possible results from your lens.

True the Zeiss lenses for the Contax G cameras are superb optics and Yashica are to be congratulated for producing such high performance lenses at such a reasonable cost. And they do compare well will Leica M equivalents. Are they better, according to independent optical bench testing, no. But who cares it all depends on the photographer behind the system. And that is why this thread is irrelevant. Nikon make an enormous range of 35mm camera lenses to suit ever budget and application. In the hands of skilled photographers many of these produce results ranging from very respectable to superb results. A good lens is one that does the job required of it. That's it. If you want big sharp print use 10x8" format. And Nikon make very good lenses for that too. Are they better than Scheider, who cares!! the differences are minimal.

best regards, craig
 
M

mkovuri

It is true that the so called tests do not reveal everything. The differences that are visible to a common eye even on a 4X6 do not seem to be indicated by the tests well. As a matter of fact, I have a reasonably good gear of Nikon, an FM2n, 50mm f2, 70-210mm f4, 24mm f2.8 (Vivitar), 500mm f8 mirror lens and ofcourse a good flash, all bought new that are still in mint condition. I also acquired a Leica M6 TTL with a meagre 50mm f2 three years back. The difference in prints has been very clear right from day one. It's also amazing that the percentage of good photographs is so high, and the quality on the image (not just sharpness, but color contrast, detail in the whites and blacks, detail in red color objects which it appears many cameras fail in, and yes, the 3D effect fingerprint of Leica) is so glaringly clear on my pictures with Leica. I do love my Nikon for all that it does that my Leica is incapable of. Even without mentioning the cameras, my friends who are not knowledgeable with cameras, were able to distinguish the difference.

The quality difference is so much to the EYE, that if only I could afford, I would want to replace all my Nikon gear with equivalent Leica SLR even if it was used and worn, a 20 or 30 year old.

Similarly there are N number of pictures that I shot with my 24mm (Vivitar) and like them so much for the composition and the angles, that I repent God, I should have invested a little more and got at least a used Nikon 24mm instead of the Vivitar, for I can clearly feel the difference in quality. And I have a Yashica and know that my Nikon pictures are so much better than the Yashica ones. I repent that all those good pictures that I took with Yashica a decade ago, had they only been taken with a Nikon, they would have showed up so much better. And I am talking about 4X6 or 5X7s. I hardly do any blow ups. The difference is crystal clear - even on digital displays. Likewise I thought Nikon lenses were better than the Canons, and thought that's one of the reasons why people buy Nikon. As I realize from these postings, I was mistaken and Canon does make lenses that compare well or better than Nikon. Thank you for the responses and sharing things that I was not aware of.
 
O

oskarb

Leica v Nikon lenses overview.

I’ve provided here some generalisations comparing the essential differences between Nikon prime and Leica prime lenses. Remember these are just generalisations based on both personal experience with both Nikon and Leica SLR gear combined with information gained from years of reading about camera optics. The assertions here are based on Nikon’s more expensive prime lenses (so called pro lenses) against Leica, which are all very expensive. I hope you find it interesting and remember these are my personal points of view only.

Lens design philosophies between Nikon and Leica. The design approaches used by both companies is different, but equally valid.

Build Quality and Robustness-Nikkor AIS (in particular) and Leica-R essentially equal. Both Nikon and Leica lenses will take much harsh treatment and still last in good working order for many decades.

Manufacturing and Assembly Tolerances Leica easily wins in this area.

New Lens/Old Camera, or Old Lens/New Camera Compatibility
Nikon back to 1959 (except G) Nikon easy winners here.
Leica back to 1976 (lens meter coupler cam can be modified on new lenses for early model SLRs back to 1964 system not fully interchangeable, however.)


AF-only Nikon
If you require AF capability for your work Leica lenses are useless! Also when you are the wrong side of 45 and your eyes start to deteriorate AF functionality becomes increasingly important. Nikon again

Digital Capture
Also at this stage only Nikon has a proven digital range of cameras that is fully compatible with its lenses.

General
Leica - Larger heavier lenses, making manufacture of high quality optics relatively easier.
Lenses characteristically have more contrast, more neutral image colour with earlier Double Gauss derivative designs, warmer colour with newer more complex designs.

Nikkor – Smaller lighter lenses making it much harder to manufacture high quality optics. Despite these self-imposed limitations Nikon lenses in the main perform very well and the products are testament to the high level of expertise and engineering skill at Nikon. Lenses comparatively less contrasty, less consistent colour rendition between lenses. Warmer colours produced for lenses with higher number of elements. In general practice these differences are NOT significant and would be unnoticeable the vast majority of shooters. Greater range of focal lengths, and choice.

Optical performance at full aperture.
This where Leica lenses excel – typically they are less prone to flare and ghosting and therefore have comparatively more contrast. Leica technicians often use some artificial vignetting to suppress residual aberrations in the outer zones. Therefore “sharper rendition of detail is recorded from the outer portions of the lens at the expense of brightness falloff.

Nikkor – Typically exhibit more even rendition of detail across the lens from centre to outer zones, but slightly “less contrasty and therefore somewhat softer results†Also illumination across the field is more even ie. artificial vignetting more highly corrected for.

Optical Performance at f5.6 to f8
For all practical purposes in general photography results are essential equal between Nikkor and Leica-R. Arguably Leica exhibits more contrast.

Optical performance at f11 an above
Diffraction comes into pay here and both Nikkor and Leica perform equally well.

Conclusion: Both systems are high quality but use different approaches to manufacturing. Preference over one or the other comes down to personal taste and the specific requirements of the photographer. At around a the third of the price Nikon lenses are far better value for money and allow the discerning Nikon user to build at top quality system based on their budget and working needs. In some instances I have found certain Nikon glass to perform better than their Leica/Leitz counterparts in certain areas. As a working photographer you get paid the same amount of money no matter what camera band is used. Both Nikon and Leica cameras are sort after as neck ornaments. But I prefer to make photographs and I’m equally happy to, and do use both, Nikon and Leica gear on a regular basis.

If you have read this far I hope you have found it interesting, Craig
 
O

oskarb

Mallik

FYI the Nikon 24mm lens is way better than its Leica-R equivalent. the M 24mm Asph is another storey.

cheers Craig
 

lowellb23

New Member
I started with Minoltas. But I wanted to get into digital SLRs -- for the convenience factor, mostly. I work for a newspaper and shoot a lot of my own artwork to go with my stories. Going digitally saves me a lot of time. Anyway, Minolta doesn't make a DSLR with interchangeable lenses. Nikon does. Looking for everything I wanted in a camera for my work, Nikon gives me the best bang for my buck.
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
Lowell

Minolta has announced a dSLR for fall of 2004, but as long as it is vapourware, you are entirely correct. How it will stack up against the D2H as a journalist's camera is anyone's guess, but it looks more like a rival to the D100 and the Canon 10D.

So far, no one else has Wi-Fi capability built in, and that has the potential to revolutionize the way daily photojournalism is done. A couple of decades back, I would have killed for that capability.

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larry!
ICQ 76620504
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I work with the two systems, Leica and Nikon. I think the results are very similar if you can use the high class lenses of both systems. For me the real difference is the way do you use them. For ex&le, when I work on events as "fiestas" at open air or whatever the greater noise of Nikon shutter can't be a problem (I make human documentary photography) I prefer to use my Nikon F5 with a 28-70 ED lens. But if I make photos in the street or any place where I would have to be discret, the Leica system is by far much better.
I enlarge my 35mm film to 20x24" papers and the resolution of Nikon and Leica lenses are to human eye virtually indistinguishable.
 

polizonte

Active Member
I started 35mm photography in the early 70´s and covered events in the Latino community in Massachusetts (published in El Mundo, La Semana) with an non-metered Pentax, a Konica T3 but once I tried Nikon I was hooked. I brought my Nikkormat to the hospital where I worked my way through college and used the pathology department's original 55mm f3.5 Micro-Nikkor mounted on a stand with chromatic l&s- what a lens. I joined this group in hopes of getting back in the swing of things. I bought a used F3 and 2 used AIS lenses; I like the 24mm wide but I think I made a mistake on the 105 f2.8. Nikon equipment still feels comfortable and since I want to take close nature pictures, I stuck with manual focus but I could have saved a lot by buying an FM3a which would work with my old Sunpak flash. I just found some self portrait Ektachromes from 1979 and the digital pints from them are amazing! Tom
 

narsuitus

Active Member
Tom,

Welcome back to photography.

What mistake do you think you made by getting the 105mm f2.8?

Is your 105mm f2.8 a micro lens?

The reason I ask is that I find the 105mm Micro Nikkor perfect for close nature photos.
 

polizonte

Active Member
John, It is a Micro Nikkor 105mm 2.8AIS, the version focuses down to 1:2; my 60mm AFd reached 1:1 without PK tubes. I just bought a Nikkor 180mm 2.8 ED AIS (not IF)in new condition from a local store so I might look for a smaller close-up lens if I can sell the 105. A new 60mm would have cost me less than the used lens and the working distance is not that much less. I have an old NIkon copying accessory, a 39mm Leica screw mount to F; someday I might try to use it with an enlarging lens or a cheap normal lens reversed and mounted on an old F body (no TTL metering)of course).
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Hello,
I was enquiring about the Nikon D70 yesterday in the local camera shops. No-one stocks it. One said it would take months to arrive if they ordered it and other shops said they had stopped dealing with Nikon due to appalling service. One shop was quite curt with me because I had dared to ask and I understand that they had been the Nikon main agent in the area. Mind you the same salesman was similarly curt when I dared to ask about the Panasonic equivalent of the Leica Digilux 2. He had the Leica on display but was not interested in demonstrating it properly as the battery was flat. It was Friday afternoon I suppose.
I just wondered what the general perception was of Nikon service as I have never owned Nikon so far.
Cheers,
John
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
John

Sounds like the camera sale-dude was more of a problem than Nikon. The level of service may well vary from place to place on the planet, depending on the people running the regional offices. Also nice people can react to obnoxious people in kind. If the store tended to specialize in rudeness, they may well have alienated good folks Nikon to the point that little effort is made.

I have always had good service with them. When I was working full time, I could call them and they would express any lens or body to me as long as I paid the freight both ways, and I could count on overnight repairs to equipment shipped to them. They would show up at auto-races I was covering, and also lend equipment there. They had techs who would even loan a camera and repair yours during the race. This was Nikon US.

A friend had his CP5000 cease functioning while on vacation a month or so back. It had been repaired last fall, and was out of warrantee. He took it back to the store and they sent it to Nikon. A rather substantial estimate came back, with a delivery time of several weeks. The camera salesman called Nikon service and pointed out that the camera had been previously repaired and let him down while abroad. The camera was back at the store the next day in full working order, with no charge. This was Nikon Canada - and the camera salesman had couth.

Of course, YMMV.

larry!
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jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Hi Larry,
Thanks for your reply. That sounds very good service indeed to me and is much what I would have expected. I would expect that someone like Nikon would provide excellent service. Apart from anything else, if they don't they will give the game away to Canon!
As you say though, it may vary from country to country. I am a Contax user and I read of varying experiences with service in different places. Some people say it is terrible whereas I have had only had good experience here in the UK.
All the best,
John
 

parigby

New Member
I am an out and out digital man, having come back to photography after about a fifteen year break. In September of 2004 l bought a Leica D2, and whilst l find that this does it for me on a daily sort of basis, when l get to my passions of macro and wild life, it just does not cut the mustard.

So taking life and limb in hand, and not telling the wife, l have purchased a D70, 105mm macro and a 300mm lens.

Why Nikon, because fifteen years or so ago l had a FE2, and had nothing but praise for it. Am l disappointed with the D70 .... no way.
 

artie

Member
I am sort of complaining about a refind I am due from Nikon. Last November I bough a 80-200mm f2.8 lens from B&H. I was supposed to get a $200.00 refund. In January I got a letter back saying I need to send the yellow copy of the warranty card. I did this. It is now going into April and still no check. I have made five calls the latest to the supervisor who gave me the "I'll call you back after I make a call" reply. That was yesterday, still no call.
I have been a Nikon man for over 30 years but I am about mad enough to change. This is so stupid because I have been thinking about buying the D2X. This is now a principle thing. They stad to loose more than $200.00 on this thing. I'll take my business elsewhere.
I don't kow if I made someone mad or what. I don't even know who to call next. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Art Schlaman
Aschlaman@comcast.net
 

airgunr

Member
Art,

FWIW, I've recieved my refund on a flash unit I purchased in November and am waiting for a refund on a lense I bought in the end of December.

I did send in all the required information and did understand it would take approx 12 weeks or so for it to be processed. The flash was almost exactly 12 weeks. It will be 12 weeks in the middle of April for the lense (I didn't send it right away...)

Possibly your problem was the missing "yellow" warrenty card? It could be the "clock" started ticking from when they recieved that? It's just a guess. I do agree that if they said they would call back they should. I've heard from a couple of others that they got theirs back in that amount of time.

Good luck. I hope it shows up soon for you.
 
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