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Reader Question: Smaller, Lighter “slow” Aperture Lenses for Nikon D810?

Get Nikon D810 at B&H Photo.

Nikon D810

Reader Cecelia C writes:

I love the good news about the D810. If you don't care about 1.4 apertures, but you do care about across-the-field sharpness and micro-contrast what lenses would you recommend?

I am hoping for some smaller and lighter options. I was thinking of the f1.8G Nikon lenses...but even 2.8 lenses would be ok with me, especially after seeing your comments on the higher ISO performance.

DIGLLOYD: Major camera vendors have not been keen on bringing relatively slow designs to market (except for crummy plastic zooms). Canon is an exception, making a stab at it with the 24/2.8 IS and 28/2.8 IS but failing to realize the blunder of not making them really good in an apparent attempt to keep the price down. Averaging out low price and very high quality to average price and average quality is not a winning idea.

Even Zeiss has not seen fit to bring out ultra high quality f/2.8 lenses (I would like to see “near perfect” 24/4, 28/2.8, 35/2.8, 50/2.8 and 90/2.8 designs). The Otus line rocks, but oh the size and cost for those two stops.

Prime lenses (fixed focal lengths) at f/2.8 are just not “sexy” and the video crowd wants T/1.5 or at least T/2.1. Besides, entire web discussion forum would crash overloaded with irate fanboys complaining about a $1500 f/2.8 lens, even it it were near perfect wide open, or so the camera companies seem to think (I think there is a good untapped market there).

For want small and light (and cheap), the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is a good choice. For manual focus, the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar or the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 or the smallest and really diminutive choice: the Nikon 45mm f/2.8P.

Which led me to a thought and experiment: just how well does a simple and classic 4-element Tessar design perform on the Nikon D810?

Aperture Series: Nikon 45mm f/2.8P on the Nikon D810

Nikon D810 + Nikon 45mm f/2.8P

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