Nikon 18-135 vs 105 Macro vs 50 1.8 vs 80-200 2.8

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by iflynething, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. iflynething

    iflynething TPF Noob!

    Oct 26, 2006
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    South Carolina USA
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    I got a little bit bored last night and thought I would try out doing a sharpness test for all of my tests.

    My set-up was as follows:

    D300 mounted on Manfrotto O55XPROB and 486RC2 Ball head for all shots
    Mirror Lock-Up Used
    10 Second Timer released by shutter button
    White balance was set to auto. I should have had it set to a temperature and that will account for some different tints to come of the pictures. I personally do not think this greatly effects how the image is seen. It's it's not sharp, it's just not sharp. I was not concerned with color rendition, just sharpness.
    Files were "Unprocessed" 14-Bit RAW files converted to TIFFs and inported into CS4 and copied to my black page to create a template.

    Using Flickr, I was limited to a 10mb upload, therefore, the image below was 1350x2430 but for some reason uploaded to flikr at a lower resolution?


    Nikon 18-135 f/3.5-5.6:
    Nice lens. I have used this since I got my D80 and it came as an outfit with the body. I was zoomed all the way in to 135mm so my test started at 5.6 on this lens. Like all lenses, it was just a hair soft at 5.6 but not too bad. f/8 was as sharp as this lens got. It started to fall off at about f/10. (I actually shot at all possible f stops for every lens, but only charted the "major" ones. While f/11 is usable, it's not as sharp as my results showed as f/8 was. As for f/36 (yes, I was curious) it's not sharp, but it's not not sharp and could be used if you weren't pixel peeping.

    Nikon 105 f/2.8 Macro
    Holy goodness do I love this lens. Since I was close to the test target, I shot at 3.2 instead of 2.8. To get to 2.8, I would have had to go back very very far, therefore having to crop in too far to give the "Same" 100% crop throughout the images. It's reasonably sharp at 3.2 and really starts to shine at f/4. Optimal sharpness on the 105 was at f/8 but I see that f/11 shows similar results with f/8 showing slightly more contrast (which I like). Like I said, I stopped it down to every f stop and saw this start to fall off at f/16. f/22, while usable I wouldn't go down this far and wouldn't even think about f/36.

    Nikon 50 f/1.8
    Wow! I really didn't realize how BAD this lens looked from f/1.8 THROUGH f/2.8. I mean until looking at a newspaper at 100% crop from these images, I will try to stay at f/4 as much as possible. Everything started to clear up at f/4 and I believe the optimal sharpness was at f/5.6, which is not the norm of the usual f/8. While f/8 is sharp, my 50mm was best at f/5.6. I would suspect it to be about the same for other 50mm. By f/11, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is noticeably soft all around the image.

    Nikon 80-200 f/2.8
    Again, now I see why all my dance competition images were so soft at 2.8. While not horrible in some lighting conditions, it almost looks like there was fog over the lens. I actually checked to make sure there wasn't, and there was not. As I stopped down the 80-200, I found it start to gain sharpness at f/4 and could not tell a difference from f/8-f/11. While outdoors and enough available light, I would shoot between these settings - of course different lenses are always different. f/22 on this lens look almost 100% identical to the 105 at f/22. Odd. I have never found myself shooting at f/22 on an 80-200 anyways.

    Of all my current lenses, I'm MOST impressed by the 50mm. All other ones seems to sharpen up around f/4 or 5.6, this one looks best out of all of them stopped down. I still love having the 1.8 aperture and unless pixel-peeping on this lens, I wouldn't worry about how soft it is at 1.8. I shoot with my 80-200 all the time at 2.8 - especially for dance competitions. I'm looking for the highest shutter at the lowest standable ISO and this lens does the job. As for the 105, I love it as a macro and shoot at f/8 anyways for everything. If it's moving enough to where I have to go to 3.2 or f/4, I'll wait for the wind to die down or use flash to help with movement.

    Please, know there was nothing scientific in this "experiment." Just set up on my tripod and the shutter released with the most setting changed to give the most little vibrations possible. To me, I don't know of any other way to get a more steady set up. I tried shooting a Dr. Pepper can but did not find the results satisfactory to actually "seeing" the difference in sharpness.

    If you would like to comment on something I could do different, please tell me. If you found this information useful, please tell me also.

    Thanks for looking!



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