Coming up... Reviews, News, Views and Clues

February 03, 2013  •  1 Comment

I was going to write about CP+ this week but, unless you're mainly a compact shooter, the show was a yawn-athon. In fact the most interesting thing I have seen in the past seven days was on the LensRentals Blog, where the ever-wonderful Roger Cicala answered one of life's burning questions: is a very good lens on an brilliant sensor better than a brilliant lens on a very good sensor? And the answer was, yes, with all the usual provisos about what 'better' really means.

Comparing three 24-70mm lenses on the Nikon D800e and the Canon 5DIII, he looks at the Canon f2.8L, the Nikkor F2.8 AF-S and the Outside Chancer, the Tamron F2.8 DI-VC.

Starting with a 'bench only' (i.e. no camera) 'Wells' test, he shows that in terms of pure MTF performance, the lenses score in exactly that order: Canon best, Nikkor next, Tamron close-ish to Nikkor but in third place. He then puts the lenses on the cameras (the Tamron comes in versions that fit both) and moves the whole shooting match to an Imatest bench, where they get put through their paces at 50mm and at F2.8 and F4.

The Tamron clearly does better on the D800e than on the Canon: the higher resolution sensor makes that result a likelihood. But the match is decided when he clearly shows that, though all three lenses show a great performance under all of the test conditions used, the 'second best lens on the best sensor' (my quotes, not Roger's) outperforms the 'best lens on the second best sensor'. The D800E with Nikkor 24-70 beats the 5DIII with Canon's new 24-70. So Nikon users worried about the fact that Canon now has the best mid-range zoom need not sweat it: the Nikon overall system of camera+lens is still the best bet, operational, QC and ergonomic factors aside.

Not only that, but the Tamron/Nikon system is about even with the Canon/Canon system. 

We have always been taught to buy the best lenses we can afford. But it seems that that, my friends, is not always good advice.

A Caveat Emptor Update

Readers of last week's piece on the ongoing saga of my bloody Nikon 24-120 will, by now, probably be literally not agog at all as to how this little lens drama plays out. Have no fear, I will be brief: further telephonic and email intercourse with Nikon UK service, as well as with a world-expert on lenses, has led to some verrry interesting developments. Until the curtain falls on the final scene of the final act I will keep you on the edges of your seats but the denouement may well be more interesting than I thought...

Coming Up

Delayed but much anticipated, I hope very soon to test the new Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM on my D800e.

35mm is a focal length I generally only choose on a Leica M (somehow it feels just 'right' in that context). On a a full frame SLR I prefer a 24 as my wide, an 85 as a portrait and then some form of longer tele. But shooting the amazing Sony RX-1 for a few weeks has brought me back into the fold and I will be adding the Sigma to my bag permanently if it does as well as I think in my field test. Oh, and I will do a 'Sony RX-1 versus D800 with Sigma 35mm' shootout... and that really should be fun. Lord, I really should get out more...

I will also be testing the much-anticipated Samyang 24mm F3.5 TS as soon as I can get my hands on one. The D800 system really lacks a good, wide TS lens, the Nikon version being, err, not as good as I'd like. So, from out of almost nowhere, Samyang might be the cavalry that rides to the rescue of Nikon for those users who really need such a lens. Their whacky 14mm lens is such a blast, so good, such amazing value that my hopes are raised.

Also coming up, a guest photographer who will almost certainly be a new name to you, and who will, I think, be a big name in future. Her work is just beautiful (a very large one will soon be hanging in Tashley Towers) and I know that many of you will enjoy it greatly

And finally a Clue

There is one camera, already announced and due quite soon, that I believe will be the most interesting and exciting of the year and which, for many, marks a genuine inflection point in the development of photographic gear. I hope, fairly soon, to have a copy of such and to put it through its paces. And for those of you unable to decode the above here's another clue: this camera, joined to a lens I already own, will participate in the above-mentioned Nikon/Sigma and Sony RX-1 Shootout.

Let the Saloon doors swing...


I'm guessing the Leica M?
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