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Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Initial Coverage (updated with reader comments)

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP and my October overview of Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E.

The price of $3396 is well earned as the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E looks to be the best tilt-shift or shift lens I have ever seen, and I’ve gone through virtually all of them for 35mm and several for medium format.

Nikon is on a roll, what with this amazing performer following on the heels of the class-leading Nikon 105mm f/1.4E. This is one trend I want to see continue.

If you are a pro using a tilt-shift lens for your work, RUN (don’t walk) and get this lens. It’s a no-brainer. Ditto for anyone looking for gobs of megapixels on a D810, or perspective correction or for changing the plane of focus via tilt and swing. This is a lens you buy for itself, with the camera an accessory. And please use my link so I get credit.

Two pages of initial coverage are now published:

Shifting for Stitching: Double the Camera Megapixels*

Examples: Corrected vs Uncorrected Lateral Chromatic Aberration

Tomorrow I will be posting an astounding aperture series with a finding that is an absolute must-read for anyone shooting this lens.

As for adaptation to Sony, I’ll be checking if it performs well on the Sony A7R II. But coverage will be in DAP (lenses are always reviewed in their native publication regardless of camera).

*The Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E is essentially a rectilinear fisheye lens that covers a large medium-format size image area. Shifting captures an image area that is off-center. By combining these images, a much larger capture area is possible.

Below, results of a 72-megapixel 3-frame stitch created by a fall of 12mm + center frame + rise of 12mm.

72-megapixel 3-frame stitched image result
f11 @ 25.0 sec, ISO 64; 2016-12-03 18:42:03 [3 frames stitched]
NIKON D810 + Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

[low-res image for bot]
FotodioX FUSION Smart AF Adapter
for Nikon F Lens to Sony E-Mount Camera

Eric B writes:

I noticed that you were speculating about using the Nikon 19mm PC-E on Sony E mount cameras.

Are there adapters that allows Nikon E or G lenses with electronic aperture, such as all of Nikon’s PC-E’s, to operate on other cameras? I am not aware of any but did at one time look for something to allow me to use my PC-E’s on my Fuji X cameras and was unable to find anything.

DIGLLOYD: I have not tested these adapters as yet and they might not work at all with Nikon "E" lenses (they are stated to work with “G” lenses, but E lenses are electronic aperture control with no mechanical lever).

Michael Erlewine writes:

Nikon 19mm T/S is fascinating. Have you tried focus stacking with a shallow stack, to see whether you can overcome the focus challenge that you point out?

DIGLLOYD: Not yet, but it of course will work well. Should be possible (especially with tilt when tilt is appropriate) to do some crazy good things with DoF.

Jason W writes:

Assuming adapters existed, is there a reason you couldn't use the 19mm PC-E unshifted on the Fuji GFX or an Alpa 12 FPS and get an equivalent 15mm FOV? It's basically a medium format lens, yes?

DIGLLOYD: focal length is focal length, that is, 19mm is 19mm on any camera, any format. It's the image circle (angle of view) that varies in size to cover the format: APS-C, full frame, medium format, etc.

Image Circle as Photographed on tracing paper
Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

A 19mm can project an image circle that is (for example), ~28mm in diameter, ~43mm in diameter (full frame) or 63mm in diameter (shift lenses for full frame). A lens might project an image circle large than needed to cover the format, but things usually go whacky outside the format area (such as field curvature). See the Zeiss Touit 12mm, 32mm, 50mm examples on full frame Sony (Touit line is marketed for APS-C cameras) for superb examples of image circle size.

The Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E has an image circle at f/4 at infinity focus of about 63mm. Stopped down it is likely around 68mm.

But to your point—an 18/19mm lens on the 43.8 x 32.9mm sensor of the Fujifilm GFX would be equivalent in angle of view to a 15.6mm on the Fujifilm GFX (calculating for long edge of frame). Which is huge plus for the Fujifilm GFX over the Hasselblad X1D—the X1D has no shutter and thus the Nikon 19mm could not make an exposure (not having an in-lens shutter). Of course an electronic adapter would be required.

The Nikon 19mm f/3.5 PC-E has an image circle more than sufficient to cover the GFX sensor area at high quality and even allow some shifting range, since its image circle is at least 63mm in diameter, versus the nominal 43mm for ordinary full frame lenses. Lenses like the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 might work, but the corners of the 43.8 X 32.9 frame might be black or of poor quality.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

Pieter K writes:

Many thanks for the 19mm coverage especially the mosaic with full shift over the length.

I do architecture as a core business and know exactly the problem with these PCE lenses - sharpness over the whole image is a compromise.

I sold the 24mm PCE cause it would fail on your mosaic test at any aperture. Mind you it was introduces at the same time as the 12MP nikonD3.

I was wondering do you ever use split view on the d810.. for finding the right compromise it works quite well.. (also when you use tilt).

Your coverage of the sigma art 85+ this 19mm PCE is enough to make my contribution for DAP the right choice.

It also was much appreciated that you put the Zeiss Milvus 85/1.4 in for comparing the Sigma Art.

DIGLLOYD: the Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-E is a poor performer. The entire Nikon PC-E line is badly in need of an upgrade to the quality level (optical and mechanical) of the Nikon 19/3.5 PC-E. Ditto for /dap.CanonTSE17Canon TS-E lenses at 45mm and 90mm.

Nikon D810 split view: I never learned to use this, but I ought to, it seems. Good reminder.

Zeiss Milvus 85/1.4: as a rule I do not cross post, because it fundamentally undermines the viability of my business. But for this case I had to have a superior reference lens to show the relative performance. I really must have at least some solid percentage of subscribers at the “everything” level to remain in business, so I cannot do such things often. Any active subscriber can upgrade to “everything” (except software) for $200/year.

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