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 Post subject: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 22nd, 2012, 8:44 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 434
Location: Albuquerque, NM
REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED (with comments on AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED)

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Gorum_120603_2034_5_6_tonemapped by bgorum, on Flickr

The really cool thing about field herping is that we do it in the field! Macro shots of herps that show all the beautiful, minute details of scalation and pattern are certainly nice to take, but at some point I think all of us want to also show some of the equality beautiful and interesting environments in which we found those cool herps. Hell, I think those environments make compelling photographic subjects in their own right, even without any herps. To do these kinds of pictures we need a good wide-angle lens.

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Gorum_110806_4639_40_41_tonemapped by bgorum, on Flickr

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Gorum_120604_2178_79_80_tonemapped by bgorum, on Flickr

Nikon shooters using full frame cameras have a fairly broad choice of wide-angle lenses, both fixed focal length and zoom, to chose from. Pickings are a little slimmer for DX shooters, being essentially limited to the 10-24 or the older, more expensive 12-24, if the photographer wants to stay with Nikon lenses. I’ve shot pretty extensively with both lenses, initially buying the 12-24 to replace a rather flair prone Sigma 14mm f3.5 that I used for a while right after switching from film to digital. A few years later when Nikon brought out the 10-24 I sold my 12-24 and purchased the 10-24, actually buying it new, which is something I rarely do with lenses. So why would I dump a constant aperture, internal focusing and zooming, semi-pro construction lens for a more amateur oriented, variable aperture one? Well it wasn’t for the extra 2mm at the wide end, (though that does come in handy at times). For herp work the 10-24 has one huge advantage over the 12-24 and that is its minimum focusing distance.

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Gorum_120604_2174 by bgorum, on Flickr

The old Nikon 12-24 had a MFD of 12 inches from the image plane. That may be fine for the typical landscape photographer, but 12 inches from something the size of a horned lizard with a wide-angle lens results in an awfully small horned lizard. I found myself wanting to get closer to small herps than the lens would let me get. So my solution was to get just a bit closer than MFD, stop the lens way down, and hope the depth of field would get my herp subject in focus. It never did! I had two things working against me here. First, even though the magnification was smaller than I wanted, it was still pretty high for a wide-angle lens, so there was really a lot less depth of field than you might expect. Second, no lens that I’ve ever used is really sharp at its smallest apertures, and the Nikon 12-24 was no exception. The 10-24 on the other hand has a MFD of 8.5 inches. Now 3 ½ inches closer may not seem like much, but when using a wide-angle up close it is all the difference in the world. This actually works out to only a couple inches from the front of the lens. I never find myself unable to precisely focus on a herp, (unless it jumps on the lens!). Maximum magnification at 24mm is 1/5 life size, which is pretty darn respectable for a wide-angle lens.

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Gorum_120513_0634_5_6_tonemapped by bgorum, on Flickr

I really like being able to zoom when shooting wide-angle pictures and I think the 10-24mm range on a dx camera is just about ideal. I think when most people first get a lens like this they tend to shoot everything at the widest setting, but often a little tighter composition, or a little less background when shooting herps, makes for a more effective picture.

The 10-24 has an AF-s motor, so it will auto-focus with any of Nikon’s dSLRs. The lens focuses very quickly and you can manually override AF at any time by just grabbing the focusing ring and turning it. I basically always use AF with this lens because it is far more accurate and precise than I am, with on caveat. One thing I learned with my 12-24, and which I continue to practice with the 10-24, is that you need to use the focus sensor closest to where the subject will actually be placed in the frame. These type of lenses seem to have a fair bit of field curvature and if you focus with the center focusing zone, then recompose to place the subject near one of the corners, you may be unpleasantly surprised by an out of focus subject when you examine your pictures closely.

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Gorum_110904_0050 by bgorum, on Flickr

Optically the Nikon 10-24 is quite good in most respects. I tend to hand hold this lens far more often than any of my other lenses because I often want to work closer to the ground with it than my tripod and head will let me get. This makes it difficult to make an apple to apples comparison of the 10-24’s sharpness to my other lenses. But, when I do use it on a tripod I would say it definitely holds its own, especially in the center of the image. The far corners are less sharp, but still quite acceptable. I think the corner performance of the 10-24 easily beats the corner performance of the 12-24 at the wide end, though at the long end the 12-24 would get the nod. In most respects both lenses are more similar to one another than they are different. Both produce really excellent contrast and color. Pictures from these lenses simply look dam good and the slight weakness in the corners is only apparent if you pixel peep. Optimum apertures seem to be f5.6 and f8, with f11 only slightly less sharp.

One area where I really did prefer the 12-24 was its behavior when shooting sun-in-the-frame shots. It was virtually impossible to induce flare or ghosting with the 12-24, even with the sun in the frame. The 10-24 is also quite resistant to the sort of veiling flare that robs pictures of contrast, but it is far from immune to ghosting. Including the sun in the frame is usually going to result in distracting green or magenta ghost, which are difficult or impossible to remove in post processing. Ghosting doesn’t seem to bother a lot of people, but its one of my photographic pet peeves. I’m just sort of trying to learn to live with it.

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Gorum_111228_0790_1_2_3_4_tonemapped by bgorum, on Flickr

The Nikon 10-24 also has a far amount of linear distortion. In most situations in the field it is not really apparent, but sometimes if you include the horizon in a shot the distortion is objectionable. Fortunately it is easily corrected in Photoshop, with just a little loss of field of view.

A slightly more serious issue with the lens in my opinion is color fringing. It sometimes displays what I consider an objectionable amount towards the edge of the frame around high contrast edges, (for example branches against the sky). It can be removed in post, but not as effectively or easily as the distortion can be removed. Sometimes correcting for magenta fringes on one side of a branch will introduce cyan fringes on the other. I suspect Nikon’s own Capture NX software might be better at dealing with this issue than photoshop is, but I’m too cheap to shell out the additional $100 for software I’d probably not use very often. In all fairness though, its really only visible if you pixel peep.

All in all I think this is a great wide-angle for both herps and traditional landscapes. Its certainly not perfect, but if you are shooting a Nikon DX camera, I think it’s the best option out there.


Last edited by bgorum on June 26th, 2012, 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 23rd, 2012, 8:43 am 
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Joined: October 12th, 2011, 2:03 pm
Posts: 81
Location: Antelope Valley, CA
Great review! Do you fix lens distortion in post processing?


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 23rd, 2012, 1:00 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 434
Location: Albuquerque, NM
kit fox wrote:
Great review! Do you fix lens distortion in post processing?


I only find the distortion objectionable when I have a flat horizon in the background, (happens fairly often in New Mexico). In that case I’ll use the distort filter in Photoshop to correct it. The latest version of Photoshop actually has built in presets for specific lenses, including the Nikon 10-24, but correction is not difficult even with older versions of Photoshop.


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 24th, 2012, 12:54 pm 

Joined: February 26th, 2011, 10:48 am
Posts: 77
Location: Oxford, Mississippi/ Owings Mills, MD
Fantastic review and excellent photos to go with it. I was really hoping to be able to pick this lens up before I leave for my field season in Guyana on Wednesday but unfortunately it will have to wait until the next trip. I love getting great macros but I am really trying to make the move to "herp in habitat." My 17-50 has been good for it so far but I would really like wider angled shots.


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 27th, 2012, 9:44 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 2645
Location: San Antonio, TX
Excellent review, and the photos ain't half bad either! :lol:

Thanks for contributing it.


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 28th, 2012, 7:23 am 
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Joined: October 12th, 2011, 2:03 pm
Posts: 81
Location: Antelope Valley, CA
Here is a very detailed review of this lens:
http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/443-nik ... 45?start=1


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 29th, 2012, 9:44 am 

Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Posts: 280
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica
Hey, thanks for taking the time to write up a review on this lens.

I've been shooting with it since March of this year. Over all I think it's a neat lens to have in the bag, allowing you to achieve some really interesting perspective shots if you get up close and personal with your subject. Though, in my opinion the distortion that this lens produces on the outside margins of the image, between 10-14mm, is pretty bad. It's to the point where I hardly shoot close up at these focal lengths. One other thing to keep in mind about a lens of this focal range is that you can not use an extension ring (except at 24mm) to increase magnification. Of course, this has nothing to do with the Nikon lens, but it's something to keep in mind when considering a purchase of a lens in this range.

To add to bgorum's review, I'll include some herp and field example photos taken with this lens and a Nikon D7000. With the exception of two of the Corallus pictures, all of the animal shots where taken within an inch of the subject, so lighting can be tricky at this range.

Volcan Poas
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Anotheca spinosa
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Duellmanohyla rufioculis
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Bolitoglossa colonnea
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Agalychnis callidryas
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Dactyloa microtus
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Norops capito
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Norops aquaticus
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Lepidophyma flavimaculatum
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Ungaliophis panamensis
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Corallus annulatus
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Katydids

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-Don
http://www.rainforestdon.com


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 30th, 2012, 5:27 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 434
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Don,

Very nice images! I assume that by distortion on the outside margins at 10-14mm you are referring to the stretching out of subjects that occurs as you approach the edge of the frame, especially in the far corners. While I agree that the stretching is undesirable, it is unfortunately an inherent characteristic all rectilinear ultra wides. I once found a really good explanation, along with diagrams, of why this happens on the web. I tried searching for it now so I could post a link, but I can’t for the life of me find it again.

Ok, I did a little more research on this and I still can’t find the link, but I did find that there is a name for this. It is called volume anamorphosis and DxO optics software has the ability to correct it. They have a free trial, so I may download it and give a try with some of my 10-24 images just for kicks and giggles.


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 30th, 2012, 7:10 am 

Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Posts: 280
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica
Thanks bgorum, I keep going back to your horned lizard photo, it's lovely. That is indeed the distortion I was talking about. It's funny you mention the diagram, as I was also looking for one I read a while back. I'm aware that this class of lenses all display distortion to some extent, and from what I've read, the amount of distortion on the Nikon 10-24mm is a good deal less than it's competitors. I was only mentioning it to let potential buyers know that it existed. I look forward to seeing more photos posted using this lens.

edit- I just caught the last bit of your response (I must have missed it before). That's pretty neat about the software, I wonder how functional it is at close range. I've seen some good jobs at correcting this type of distortion on larger subjects, buildings, landscapes, etc... but never with a "macro" style shot. I'm really forward to seeing the results.

Take care,
-Don
http://www.rainforestdon.com


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: June 30th, 2012, 1:09 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 434
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Don, and anyone else that may be interested for that matter,

The horned lizard picture you mentioned brings up another issue with this lens that I forgot to mention. If you look at the mountains in the background there is some strange edge effects going on. I was shooting a garter snake just after sunset earlier in the week and had the same thing happen with a cottonwood tree against the bright part of the sky where the sun had set. I’m not sure what this is or what causes it, (could it be an example of “bad bokeh” that people often talk about?). I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this with any other lens I’ve used. What I did in a later version of the horned lizard shot and with the garter snake from last week was to select the background using the marque tool in photoshop, gave the selection a really wide feather, and applied some gaussian blur (about 10 pixels) to the selection. That got rid of the edge effects nicely and only softened the already out of focus background a little.


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: July 1st, 2012, 6:46 am 

Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:41 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Cambridge MA
Tokina makes a 12-24 fixed aperture f/4 for DX lenses, though the minimum focusing distance is nearly 12 inches (.3 meters).

Also, as mentioned, as long as distortion is barrel or pincushion (as opposed to moustache distortion), it can be fixed in photoshop/lightroom etc. regardless of the focal length.

Cheers,
Gabriel


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: July 1st, 2012, 6:53 am 

Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:41 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Cambridge MA
bgorum wrote:
Don, and anyone else that may be interested for that matter,

The horned lizard picture you mentioned brings up another issue with this lens that I forgot to mention. If you look at the mountains in the background there is some strange edge effects going on. I was shooting a garter snake just after sunset earlier in the week and had the same thing happen with a cottonwood tree against the bright part of the sky where the sun had set. I’m not sure what this is or what causes it, (could it be an example of “bad bokeh” that people often talk about?). I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this with any other lens I’ve used. What I did in a later version of the horned lizard shot and with the garter snake from last week was to select the background using the marque tool in photoshop, gave the selection a really wide feather, and applied some gaussian blur (about 10 pixels) to the selection. That got rid of the edge effects nicely and only softened the already out of focus background a little.



Those edge effects are likely caused by LoCA or Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration and cannot be removed by software. It is frequently associated with fast primes and wide angles and causes color shifts in front of and in back of the focal plane. The color shifts are usually magenta in front and green in back and are usually gone by stopping down a few stops (though you increase depth of field and lose your background blur and associated bokeh). Check out this wide open test shot from an 85 f/1.8 to see what I'm talking about. It is usually even more apparent on spectral highlights (like the mountain where the sun is setting).

Image


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 Post subject: Re: REVIEW- AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
PostPosted: July 1st, 2012, 7:08 am 

Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Posts: 280
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica
Thanks for explaining that Gabriel, very interesting.

-Don
www.rainforestdon.com


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