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Nikon D800 / D800E — Which Nikon Lenses?

DAP — D800 to be reviewed

B&H Photo has the Nikon D800 and D800E AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER. Thank you for ordering through this site’s links.

See Making Sharp Images for extensive coverage on maximizing image sharpness (lenses, technique, diffraction, etc).

Read my comments on the tolerances and technique required to exploit the 36MP resolution of the Nikon D800 / D800E.

Be sure to read my previous post: Lens Requirements for 36 Megapixels.

High performance Nikon Lenses for the D800 / D800E

Comments below are strictly in the realm of obtaining maximum sharpness, sharpness is only one aspect of a satisfying image, something astute readers have learned from my reviews.

Thank you for buying Nikon lenses using the links on this site.

Nikon 60mm f/2.8G

A brief assessment of which Nikon lenses I expect will offer the best performance on the new Nikon D800 / D800E.

  • Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G — as shown in Making Sharp Images (and rare for an f/2.8 lens), the 14-24 has a significant focus shift, puzzling even professionals, and making f/2.8 look better than f/5.6! Assuming one compensates for the focus shift (explained in my case study), image quality should be very high over the central 3/4 of the frame, or a bit more depending on focal length.
  • Nikon 24mm f/1.4G — assuming correction of its moderately strong color fringing, sharpness over the central 3/4 of the frame should be excellent, and stopping down should deliver very good results over the whole frame.
  • Nikon 24-70 f/2.8G— I expect generally high performance overall, but with some weakness in the corners and edges, varying by focal length. See the in-depth coverage in DAP.
  • Nikon 35mm f/1.4G — sharpness over the entire frame should range from excellent to very good, providing accurate focus is obtained (problematic with autofocus at distance on my D3x and D3s, perhaps the D800 will be better).
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4G — sharpness over the entire frame should range from excellent to very good, but with some variation from field curvature, and with similar AF accuracy concerns as to the 35/1.4G. The 50/1.8G should also perform well.
  • Nikon 60mm f/2.8G— as it is bitingly sharp on my 24MP Nikon D3x, I expect it to perform very nicely on the D800.
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II— I have a good sample after my first bad one, but my findings on the Nikon D3x suggest that latent optical alignment errors could be even more critical with this finely-tuned design; its complex optical design has to be just right to deliver. One hard knock, and all bests are off.
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.4G— I expect superlative results over the entire frame. The new Nikon 85/1.8G might also do very well (to be reviewed in DAP).
  • Nikon 105mm f/2.8G— should be very sharp at close range, but even on the 24MP D3x, performance at infinity focus leaves something to be desired.

See also :

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