I have for some time been planning to add a Nikkor 24mm lens to my kit. I like the angle of view I get from a 24mm, from previous use of one. However I see a LOT of people using the 20 mm as what seems to be a new standard in what a true wide angle lens should be.
So my question is, why would you choose a 24mm over a 20mm, or a 20mm over a 24mm? Yes, I know I could buy a 17-35 AF-S and call it a day, but let's figure out how wide I truly need to have before I triple the budget for a single lens!
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#1. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 0Merlin Basic MemberMon 15-Oct-01 02:51 PM
My widest wide-angle right now is a 24. I've been delighted with it for nearly 20 years. But recently I had to photograph a tiny bathroom, and needed something a bit wider, so my friend,
colleague and fellow Nikonian Roy (Bergsteiger Roy) kindly let me borrow his old non-AI 20mm Nikkor.
One word: WOW!
This magnificent lens, if you make sure you keep it level with the horizon, is all but distortion-free. No barrel or pincushion effect, unbelievable depth of field... a truly incredible piece of glass! Edge-to-edge sharp from f-5.6 down, the creative possibilities are endless.
Looking at your profile, I see you have a 35mm lens; back whe I bought that 24, I too had only a 35 as an alternative to the 50. But If I had the choice today, I would have gone for that 20!
Only one thing you might need to bear in mind: most good flash units can pretty much cover the field of a 24mm lens, but a 20 is a different matter. You'll get a hot spot in the center if you use an on-camera strobe.
Perhaps somebody can lend you one to try out? Maybe even both the 20 and 24, just for a quick comparison?
My next lens puchase is going to be a 20, but Roy's not selling his...
#2. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 0f8bthere Basic MemberMon 15-Oct-01 04:23 PM
I have both the 20mm and 24mm lenses, and find that I use the 24mm lens about 8 times more often than the 20mm. Once you get over how "cool" the 20mm lens looks, (it is breath taking the first time you look through the finder!), then it is time to start producing images that work.
One of the rules of 35mm photography is to "fill the frame", and this is done in one of two ways... use a longer lens, or move closer. When I visualize a scene, I ask, "What is making me want to photograph this?" When I can answer that, I try to eliminate all of the superfluous parts of the scene, and a very wide lens makes that much harder to do. Many people find that their brain and eyes can extract the best part of a scene, but the lens doesn't do that. Many super-wide shots are boring, with the strongest elements of the scene reduced in scale to the point where they look insignificant.
I do use my 20mm lens, and it is great, but it is just not a universal lens in most situations. With proper technique, the 24mm lens can get it all in, and not scream "Super wide-angle!" The universal application of a lens goes down when it creeps farther away from the "normal" range. If you are doing general photography, not specific types which require unique tools, but general shooting, then the more moderate lenses will earn their keep and prove worthy of the expense. The 24mm is right at that threshold in my opinion.
Regarding the zoom option, one of the best parts of the wide-angle lenses is hyper focal distance settings, using those little marks on the lens to assure that great "near-far" relationship...such as the boulder 2 feet from the lens, while the mountain in the background at infinity is also sharp. The zooms have left off these important marks, and while many would say just focus a third of the way into the scene, or play with the depth of field preview, the fact is having these marks on the lens is another thing that puts the photographer in control, and their absence is another thing that makes photography less precise. The prime lenses still have these marks.
As always... these are just my opinions.
#3. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 0geo Basic MemberTue 16-Oct-01 12:28 PM
I think this kind of decision is a very personal one, so I give you my advise, but please be sure it can work for you.
In my opinion, it is so easy to change framing with an extreme wideangle lens by just moving a little bit, that there is no need to have many different focal lengths.
I carry in my bag a 35/1.4 and a 20/2.8. I never felt the need for anything in between.
I do also understand that some focal lengths are nicer and others are less nice to one's tastes. I remember when I was using my old Olympus OM-1 with the classic trio, 28, 50 and 135. I just loved the 135, but was not able to use the 28. It just did not fit my vision. I changed to 21 and 35, and never felt the need to change any more. When I moved to Nikon, I bought the same focal lengths, only Nikon makes the 20 instead of the 21. I had no problem to comply.
#4. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 3Merlin Basic MemberTue 16-Oct-01 02:15 PM
As you can see, opinions vary greatly! There's no right or wrong on this kind of choice - if you're in the Bill Gates income bracket the obvious answer is to buy both! However, I'm not...
The wider the lens, the less you'll be eating next month. A good quality 28 is pretty cheap, a 24 is expensive, and the price of a good 20mm Nikkor will make your blood run cold!
But if you have the chance to try before you buy, you ought to take it. If you find both focal lengths at your nearest photo dealer, I'm sure nobody would object if you ran a roll of film through the camera outside their door. That'll give you a feeling for the dramatic difference. AL's advice is valid, too: the 20 is a lens that tempts you to abuse it, at the risk of corny, type-cast typical super-wide images. It's great in tight spaces, but a person three meters away gets squeezed down to the size on an underfed ant, and you can get the whole Eifel Tower in the frame while leaning on one of the corner struts... well, not quite, but you get the idea!
#5. "24mm 0r 20mm?" | In response to Reply # 0
I think an important thing, as others have mentioned, is what other wide lens(s) do you have? I use a 28mm and 20mm, which are quite different. I love the 20mm, but must admit that the 28mm is more universal. With that conbination, I don't need a 35mm.
The 20mm is mostly used when there is limited space, although I like the effect of getting on the ground and doing nature work.
#6. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 0
Just wanted to add my two cents. I used a 20mm for a lot of interior pics to document construction on projects and it is a great lens especially in tight interiors.
That said, I'm planning on a 24mm because, as everyone else said, its more useable.
#7. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 6LucVN Basic MemberWed 17-Oct-01 01:12 PM
I do not own a 20mm Nikkor, but I have bought a used 24mm a while ago and I'm just delighted with it. Quality is great: it's just all there: definition, contrast & saturation.
Choices over focal lenght's are indeed quite personal.
The remark of someone who said it might be more difficult to isolate the "real" subject of the picture appeals to me...
check also: https://www.nikonians.org/dcforum/DCForumID6/530.html#
#8. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 7odie Basic MemberThu 18-Oct-01 01:36 AM
LAST EDITED ON Oct-18-01 AT 05:37 AM (GMT)
I think the 20mm is prefered by alot of news photogs, but much of the image is cropped, leaving a distorted center (top to bottom) area with no left to right reference. ie faces look stretched but aren't in context.
Personally, if you want to get creative and go wide- - - go real wide and get a 15mm, 17mm, or 16mm. I think the 20mm is so popular because it's cheaper than the really wide stuff, but demands a premium over the 24mm. It's sort of prestigious.
The 24mm is just more usable in more circumstances. Plus I think the color saturation and contrast a better.
More objectively: the 24 has about an 84 deg vof and the 20 has a 94 vof. I really think there is something about exceeding 90 deg in a single image that the eye may not find as appealing. There are so many natural an man-made right angles. You must be very precise with composition for the 20mm to work well. Most people use it in an opposite manner, as a background sucker. They use it like a shotgun, "If I get the widest view possible, I'll get more info." But is it info that tells your story?
Just things to consider.
#9. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 0
It would seem that the general concenus about 24 mm vs 20 mm is that the 20 mm is just plain fun to use, and you do get some really cool shots with it. The 24 mm is almost as much fun, but much more practical to use under more situations. This is what I had thought, but wanted to get some validation on my thoughts.
I mostly intend to use the lens for 2 applications - Those wide vista landscapes that just take your breath away when shot in the right perspective, and 3" away close ups of flowers and the like. Yes, I can see myself taking interior architectural shots, but the few I would shoot should be easily handled by a 24 mm.
Before I plunk down the plastic, (OK, actually I would be calling B&H with a number read off of that piece of plastic, but I digress...) Does anyone have a favourite zoom in this range that would be worth the investment and could possibly give me both focal lengths?
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#10. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 9smzimmer Basic MemberThu 18-Oct-01 01:53 PM
The only zooms that I know of that fit the bill are the 20-35 2.8 and the 17-35 2.8. I own the 17-35 and it is becoming a Nikon legend for image quality, but it is pricy. I happen to be an amateur but I figured that it would carry me far into the future as my needs grow. I bought it after we got our tax return 2 years ago. Yes, it was an investment; but I have never regretted my decision. I never have to think about 20 vs. 24; I just fill the frame. I have to be real honest and say that I love the 17mm perspective and use it often. Only you can judge your needs but Nikon aquisition syndrome is a serious affliction.
#11. "RE: 20-35 zoom!" | In response to Reply # 10photobri Basic MemberThu 18-Oct-01 03:27 PM
You can find 20-35 2.8s used in great condition.
This lens is a legend - and it deserves the praise. I love mine!
(I kept the 24mm too, and gave it to my wife.) I use it every once in a while with the reversing ring...
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#12. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 0
I recently purchased a Nikkor 24mm F2.8 AFD lens and I must say that the sharpness, color saturation and contrast is superb! I am in awe of this lens for the price I paid which was about $300 at B&H with a $35 rebate. If used properly the distortion is minimal but when using the 20mm the distortion is much more evident. Again we all have different needs and opinions but for me the 24mm is a lens I would use more often.
Just my two cents.........
#13. "RE: 24mm vs 20mm ??" | In response to Reply # 12odie Basic MemberThu 18-Oct-01 11:14 PM
I've been considering changing my mind about wide zooms, but I can't find one that rates anywhere near a mediocre fixed wide. This is unlike the tele zooms which now approach or reach a 4 rating (out of 5) on several folks scales.
The best a wide can do thus far is around 3.5, and that is in the sharp zone, which is the short end for some lenses and the long side for others. They get very soft in the weak areas.2
I add that with the cost, and I can't see the benefit. The good wide zooms cost $1500. I can buy a 20, 24,28, and 35 for that with change enough for an N80 body.
Lastly, wide angle shots are generally easier to recompose, moving in or out 2ft often is one focal length. You can't compensate on the tele end as well.
I think wide zooms are a real fad that has been extended by the digital camera focal length factor (all digital slrs to this point multiply the focal length of the lens by 1.3-2.5) This is one reason we're seeing wide zooms in the 15-30 or 17-35 area. On a Nikon D1 that is about a 23- 45mm or 25-48mm.