Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED – Initial Impressions

1) Introduction

Since Nasim has been photographing the beautiful golden aspens in Ouray County, Colorado with members of the Photography Life community for the last few days, I thought I would provide some early thoughts and samples of photos taken with the new Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED. Once Nasim is back in town, he will post a much more detailed review of this lens. I would call this a “Nasim Light Lens Review,” but that would be giving myself too much credit!

Many have been very impressed with the Nikon’s f/1.8G series, which includes the 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm. Each represents a great value relative to their more expensive f/1.4 counterparts, and in some cases, as good if not better performance. And while the new 70-200mm f/4 VR lens is not one of the f/1.8G series, it represents the same style and value proposition.

I had previously owned the 28mm f/1.8G, which I loaned to Nasim for his detailed review. It was a fine lens, but I did not find the focal length to be very useful. It was not a wide angle lens and was just 7mm shy of my Sigma 35mm f/1.4. The only real advantage it had over the Sigma was weight. The Sigma is such an exceptional lens, however, so I eventually sold the 28mm f/1.8G. What I really wanted was an 18mm or 20mm f/1.8G. Nikon finally answered the call.

2) Sharpness

As you can see from the test charts below, the 20mm f/1.8G delivers on the sharpness front. It certainly kept up with my Nikon D810. Wide open I can detect a slight degree of softness when zoomed in at 100%, but with basic sharpening, images become very crisp. Even the corners turn in very good performance wide open. I have tested quite a few of Nikon’s best lenses using this chart and the corner performance of the 20mm f/1.8G is as good as any I have seen. The only sharpness I applied (apart from the noted photo below) was 25%, radius of .5, and detail of 50% in Lightroom, which had a negligible impact.

2.1) @ f/1.8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/40, f/1.8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/40, f/1.8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/40, f/1.8

Same crop with a bit of SmartSharpen in Photoshop using values of 100% and a 1.25 radius:


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/40, f/1.8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/40, f/1.8

Red square = area of focus.


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/80, f/1.8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/80, f/1.8

2.2) @ f/2.8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/15, f/2.8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/15, f/2.8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/15, f/2.8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/15, f/2.8

2.3) @ f/4


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/8, f/4.0


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/8, f/4.0


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/8, f/4.0


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/8, f/4.0

2.4) @ f/5.6


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/4, f/5.6


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/4, f/5.6


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/4, f/5.6


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/4, f/5.6

2.5) @ f/8


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/4, f/5.6


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/2, f/8.0


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/4, f/5.6


NIKON D810 @ ISO 100, 1/4, f/5.6

3) Astrophotography

Astrophotographers are primarily concerned with fairly wide focal lengths, large apertures, and minimal comatic aberration, more commonly known as “coma.” A lens may meet the first two criteria but fail miserably on the third, making it a bad choice for astrophotography. Canon’s 24mm f/1.4 L II lens falls into this category – a great overall lens, but not the best option or value for astrophotography. Rokinon/Bower/Samyang’s 14mm, 24mm, and 35mm manual focus lenses are reasonably priced, very sharp, and most importantly, feature minimal chromatic aberration. Thus they have become very popular in the astrophotography community.

Just about any lens will exhibit some level of coma wide open. The issue is one of how pronounced or exaggerated it is relative to other lens offerings. Most lenses dramatically improve their coma performance as their aperture is stopped down. Of course, that defeats the purpose of having a wide aperture lens and increases the ISO value required to prevent star trails.

I took a number of photos of Pittsburgh’s night skies and was surprised to find something unusual – stars! If you know anything about Pittsburgh, you may realize that it experiences more cloudy days than Seattle. Thus I had a bit of luck in receiving my 20mm f/1.8G and having a cloud-free night in Steel Town.

Pittsburgh Night Sky

NIKON D810 @ ISO 200, 15/1, f/1.8

100% Crop Center - 20mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

NIKON D810 @ ISO 200, 15/1, f/1.8

100% Crop Corner - 20mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

NIKON D810 @ ISO 200, 15/1, f/1.8

As you can see from the photos, the 20mm f1.8G showed a bit of coma in the far corners of the photos. Relative to the results of other top-notch lenses used for astrophotography, the 20mm f/1.8G wide-open held up extremely well. Bad coma appears to be characterized by a bright blur that forms a crescent area around the star. The 20mm f/1.8G’s coma appears to be a very slight. I found the results to be consistent over a dozen photos. Due to the ambient light of the suburbs, I didn’t capture the full effect of the night sky. No doubt Tom Redd or Nasim will be able to better showcase this lens’ astrophotography capabilities in their native Colorado. Based on my comparing the 20mm f/1.8G’s performance to that of other lenses on some of the more popular astrophotography sites, I thought it did an excellent job.

4) General Use

The next day, I wandered around Pittsburgh’s Hartwood Acres and captured some photos of the various scenes associated with the Hay Day Fall Festival. I found the 20mm f/1.8G to be incredibly sharp. I didn’t have an Adobe Camera RAW lens profile available, so did not compensate for distortion or vignetting. I am sure a profile for this lens will be released in the next few weeks that will address these concerns.

This may be the first camel photographed with the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G lens (Nikon staffers are diligently looking into this and expected to get back to me at any moment).

Camel @ f/8

NIKON D810 @ ISO 450, 1/800, f/8.0

100% Crop of Camel @ f/8

NIKON D810 @ ISO 450, 1/800, f/8.0

The camel repeatedly attempted to lick or take a bite out of my 20mm f/1.8G, but I thought I would leave the “20mm f/1.8G Torture Test” for another day. Below are some other shots taken with the 20mm f/1.8G at various apertures.

Hartwood @ f/1.8

NIKON D810 @ ISO 125, 1/8000, f/1.8

100% Crop of Hartwood @ f/1.8

NIKON D810 @ ISO 125, 1/8000, f/1.8

Mansion @ f/5.6

NIKON D810 @ ISO 220, 1/800, f/5.6

100% Crop of Mansion @ f/5.6

NIKON D810 @ ISO 220, 1/800, f/5.6

Deer @ f/6.3

NIKON D810 @ ISO 1100, 1/320, f/6.3

100% Crop of Deer @ f/6.3

NIKON D810 @ ISO 1100, 1/320, f/6.3

5) Summary

Like the other lenses in Nikon’s 1.8G series, the 20mm f/1.8G offers great performance at a great price. It has a bit of distortion and vignetting, but no more than what one would expect for a lens in this class. The 20mm f/1.8G hits all the right checkboxes – excellent image quality, value-based price, wide focal length, wide aperture lens, light, and compact. The fact that it turns in solid astrophotography results will no doubt widen its appeal.

I believe the 20mm f/1.8 will be a huge seller, and ultimately much more popular than the 28mm f/1.8G, since it provides a far more usable focal length and more reasonable spacing from the 35mm focal length. Keep an eye out for Nasim’s upcoming detailed Nikon 20mm f/1.8G review. If you decide to purchase the lens, please do so by clicking here and helping to support this site.

The post Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED – Initial Impressions appeared first on Photography Life.

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Canon EOS Rebel T5i w/ Two Lenses & Printer $639 at Ritz Camera

Ritz Camera has the Canon EOS Rebel T5i 18 MP 3.0″ Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens + 75-300mm F4-5.6 III Lens + Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Wi-Fi Photo Printer + Canon SG201 Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss 13″ x 19″ Paper (50 sheets) for $989 – $350 rebate [Exp 10/25] = $639 with free shipping.

Bundle also includes a Transcend 32GB Class 10 SDHC Card. The printer + paper combo qualifies the order for the $350 rebate. has a similar bundle with gadget bag for $649 after the same rebate.

  • 18MP CMOS (APS-C), Full HD video, Vari-angle 3″ LCD, live view
  • 9-Point AF, ISO 100-12800 expandable to 25600, 5.0 frames/sec

    via Ben’s Bargains – Most Recent Cameras Offers

  • Ready to Upgrade Your Kit Lens? Tips for Which Lens to Invest in Next

    Most cameras come with a kit lens that generally works well as a decent all-around workhorse. A common focal range for these lenses is 18-55mm, which means they are capable of wide-angle shots as well as medium-telephoto pictures, and everything in between. The tradeoff for this zoom range, however, is a limited maximum aperture range of roughly f/3.5 when zoomed out (18mm), and f/5.6 when zoomed in to 55mm.

    Of course some kit lenses cover a longer focal range and have different maximum apertures, but overall most kit lenses are designed for the types of all-around shooting conditions in which you may often find yourself. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that the kit lens is more of a jack of all trades while being the master of none, and after a while you might start wondering what other options are available to you and how they will affect your photography. This all begs the question: which lens should you buy when you want to upgrade from the one that came with your camera?

    Child bear

    A 35mm or 50mm lens can work well for shooting portraits

    Lenses are like apps

    Think of lenses like different apps for your camera, and just as apps on your smartphone or tablet have specific functions, each lens is designed to meet a specific set of photographic needs. Next, think of the kit lens as a basic set of apps you might find on a device. It does many things well, but doesn’t really unlock the true potential of your camera. For some people, that’s fine: they don’t feel the need to install new apps (i.e. buy new lenses) and instead only use the ones that come with their device.

    But when you start exploring the myriad of apps available for phones and tablets you might wonder how you ever lived with your device’s basic apps at all! The same holds true for lenses, but there is one key area where the analogy breaks down – price. When you start looking around for lenses, you might find that your vision quickly outstrips your budget! The choice, then, is this – which lens should you buy after exhausting the possibilities of the kit lens that came with your camera?


    Wide-angle lenses are great for capturing photos of natural landscapes and other outdoor scenery.

    Know what you need for the photography you do

    The answer, unfortunately, is not as black and white as it might seem. While there are hundreds of options available, what you buy ultimately comes down to your unique needs and style as a photographer. After using your kit lens for a while, you will hopefully have an idea of what type of photography you enjoy most: landscapes, architecture, portraits, nighttime long exposures, pets, sports, weddings, etc. Or maybe you do a combination of everything! Before spending hundreds of dollars on another lens it’s important to know what will suit your needs – much in the same way that purchasing a vehicle is a matter of finding one that works for you, as opposed to simply buying the same car that all your friends have.


    A lens with a wider aperture will enable you to shoot get nice blurry backgrounds that are not always possible with a kit lens.

    Prime lenses pros and cons

    My first bit of advice, though, is to find a prime (non-zooming) lens that can accommodate your shooting style. If you take a lot of landscape and outdoor shots, you will likely want a wide-angle lens with a focal length of around 10-20mm (for cropped sensors, 15-35mm if you have full frame). For portraits, anything between 50-100mm is a good choice. Sports and wildlife shooters tend to use lenses that are on the telephoto end, such as 100-300mm. Remember the tradeoff between zooming and aperture I mentioned in the first paragraph? If you eliminate the zoom functionality you will find plenty of lenses with much larger apertures, which will let in much more light and allow you to use faster shutter speeds, as well as capture pictures in low-light situations that might not otherwise be possible without the use of a flash.


    Prime lenses can’t zoom, but you gain the ability to shoot in dimly-lit situations without the need for a flash because they often have large apertures.

    It admit it can be a bit nerve-wracking to use a lens that can’t zoom in and out, but once you try it you may find a whole new world of photographic possibilities that you never knew existed, thanks to the larger aperture. Remember that you haven’t lost the ability to zoom, you can still move yourself around physically, which is another fantastic way to explore and stretch yourself as a photographer. You can often find prime lenses for a couple hundred dollars that will suit your needs exceedingly well, though even prime lenses with longer focal lengths could easily push the limits of your budget.


    It might be small, but Canon’s 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens packs a big punch.

    If you would like to upgrade from your kit lens but are not entirely sure exactly what your individual needs are, I would recommend one of the following. All are fairly inexpensive as far as lenses go, and will suit a variety of photographic situations, though they are not the best for sports and wildlife due to their somewhat short focal lengths:

    Zoom lens options

    You can buy prime lenses with longer focal lengths, but they can easily cost many times that of their cheaper counterparts. If you decide you absolutely cannot live without the zoom functionality, I would recommend going with a lens that covers one end of a focal range (i.e. wide-angle to medium telephoto) rather than one that covers both ultra-wide and ultra-telephoto. Of course this is all subjective, and there are as many opinions on this topic as there are photographers. In my experience lenses that try to cover as many focal lengths as possible are generally not as sharp as their more limited counterparts, unless you are willing to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Lenses I would recommend include:

    55 300mm

    [caption: Nikon’s 55-300mm picks up where most kit lenses leave off and is a great option if you are interested in shooting sports and wildlife.

    There are also many other really good third party options available. The options are almost endless so I’ve stayed with the two big brands here, but you can also look at Sigma and Tamron who both make some really good lenses also.


    The more you are willing to spend on a lens, particularly a zoom lens, the more features it will have like: image stabilization, higher-quality glass elements, weather sealing, and larger maximum apertures. These lenses are just the beginning. The sky’s the limit when it comes to upgrading your lens, and it’s important to not overlook options like simply borrowing one from a friend, buying older gear, renting, or even looking online for used equipment. Whatever you decide, it’s important that the lens is right for you and your photography goals, but chances are if the kit lens is too limiting there is a fantastic one out there with your name on it, waiting for you to come and explore what it can do for you.

    The post Ready to Upgrade Your Kit Lens? Tips for Which Lens to Invest in Next by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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    Samsung Galaxy GC100 Android 4.1 21x Zoom Camera $144 at A4C

    A4C has the refurbished Samsung Galaxy EK-GC100 Android 4.1 21x Zoom Camera (White) for $180 – 20% off with coupon code VIP200 [200 uses] = $144 with free shipping. Features 802.11n, GSM 3G, and HSPA+21 (850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100) connectivity, allowing you to share you pictures directly over 3G. Includes the Google Play Store so you can play Angry Birds on your camera. Here’s a review.

  • 16MP, 4.8″ 1280 x 720 LCD, 21x zoom, GPS + GLONASS
  • Android 4.1, 1.4GHz CPU, HDMI 1.4, DNLA, 1080p video

    via Ben’s Bargains – Most Recent Cameras Offers

  • Videos: Quick Look at the Phottix 27.5″ Luna Folding Beauty Dish


    Watch Allan Weitz, of B&H Photo, as he takes a quick look at the Luna Folding Beauty Dish. The Luna opens up to a full 27.5″ dish that provides the soft, even lighting portrait and beauty photographers expect from a beauty dish, but it folds up into a compact package that is eminently transportable and takes up a tiny amount of space. Whether you use it in the studio or take it on location, the Luna Folding Beauty Dish offers the right kind of light and convenience for well-lit portrait and glamour images.

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    3 Ways to Combat Photography Boredom

    Boredom is one of the most powerful and inescapable forces on this world and photography is not immune to it. A bored photographer will likely stop to photograph or start producing boring images, which in turns will bore the viewer or client, who will likely stop following or buying the photographer’s boring work. Fighting boredom is, therefore, an absolute priority.


    When you specialize in a certain kind of photography, after a while you will probably master it. You will know what lens and settings best suit the scene you have in front of you, to get this or that particular mood or effect in the final image. This is all as good as gold, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time you are also building up your comfort zone, together with your style, and producing a solid stream of consistent images.

    The downside of staying too long in the comfort zone is that you may get bored; bored of the subjects you are used to photographing or bored because of lack of ideas. It is at this time, when you are looking at your portfolio and all you get is that same old same old vibe, that you need to step outside your comfort zone. Do something different, either by stepping into a new field or by changing the way you look at the subjects you are already familiar with. In one way or another, you have to bring some sparks back into your work, something that let’s you say wow once again when reviewing your own work.

    I am an enthusiast urban and landscape photographer. If you are like me, chances are you have an enthusiast kit or semi-pro gear, built for the kind of photography you are interested in. Stepping outside your comfort zone and embrace a whole new photographic genre can be troublesome, both economically and for your self-esteem. Moving from landscape to portraiture, for example, may require you to buy flash guns, triggers, soft boxes and diffusors, and zoom or prime lenses that are probably not in the regular Joe’s (the landscape photographer) equipment. Then there is the self-esteem part. Chances are you will produce nothing new in the field and, if you compromise too much with the equipment, you may produce nothing more than an average portrait of a model. I think a more interesting way to step out from your comfort zone is to remain in your regular field but spice it up by adopting a different approach. This way you have the advantage of knowing the subject, and the rules to do this, before start twisting and bending them in a new and refreshing way.

    Three easy ways to fight back photography boredom

    Go mobile

    Today’s mobile phones are equipped with decent cameras the can easily compete with many point and shoot cameras, with the plus side of having tons of apps to add extra functionalities (such as: slow shutter speed, in-phone HDR, filters and effects, panorama mode, burst mode) along with the ability to edit your photos on the fly. If you have one of these devices, use it to photograph your usual subject. It is challenging because of the intrinsic limitations of camera phones with respect to DSLR or mirrorless systems, but the results can be just as rewarding. It is a bit like forcing yourself to shoot with a single prime lens (forget the zoom of a camera phone). Having quite a short (35mm equivalent) focal length (the iPhone 5 is about 31 mm equivalent) makes camera phones suitable for landscape and street or urban shooting. Of course, you can alway zoom in and out by walking farther away or toward the subject. Here some photos taken from an iPhoneography project (where photos are taken and edited exclusively on my iPhone).


    Using an app to control the shutter speed, allows you to be creative with crowded places like stations.


    Panoramas are great to capture the full drama of a storm rushing in over the countryside.


    HDR apps can extend the dynamic range of your phone’s camera.

    For my mobile phone tips check out the dPS eBook: iPhone Photography or 8 of the Best Smartphone Accessories.

     Play with the invisible light

    Infrared photography was a revelation for me. If you are not living or travelling in the great wilderness but are based in, say, the same-old-same-old sleepy European countryside, you can forget about all those great and dramatic scenes you love which are featured in many magazines like National Geographic. Nevertheless, if there’s something that can add a spark to an otherwise boring countryside or city garden it is to capture the scene in infrared. This because infrared light is absorbed and reflected by different subjects quite differently than visible light. For example, green grass and leaves will appear white in an infrared photograph, while clear blue sky and water will be rendered almost pitch black. The result is usually quite surprising. Your photo will likely capture the viewer’s attention and, because of the intrinsic challenges of infrared photography, will spark your enthusiasm as well. When you start with infrared photography, chances are you will photograph trees and puffy clouds, but you may soon be asking yourself; okay, what else? You will probably start to photograph other objects in infrared, like the city, or even people.

    The best and cheapest way to try out infrared photography is to already have a camera that is sensitive, to some extent, to infrared light. Manufacturers place a filter right in front the sensor to cut infrared light, but if you are in luck, it will not do a perfect job. If you can see and photograph the light coming from the infrared emitter of a TV remote control, chances are you are good to go. Next, you will need an infrared filter to place in front your lens. Ideally this filter should cut all the visible light while letting only the infrared pass through. A good filter to start with is the HOYA R72, which allows also some visible red light to pass, making it easier to frame and compose your shot. One downside is that your shutter speed will be greatly reduced. Under the bright midday sun, you may need an exposure of a few seconds in order to get a properly exposed image. This means hand-held shots are not possible and a tripod is required. A welcome side effect is that a moving crowd in front your subject will be almost, or completely gone. Also, if you are dealing with trees, in particular if they are close to you, it is best to photograph with little or no wind, so as to avoid blurring them too much. All these limitations aside, great black and white and false-colour infrared scenes can still be captured with out-of-the-box cameras and with little financial investment. Here few of my best infrared photographs using my unmodified Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 with a HOYA R72 filter screwed on the Panasonic 14-42mm kit lens.


    False-colour infrared photography of a pond in a park near Brussels. A quite common view is turned into a very interesting winter-like scene.


    Fast moving clouds and an interesting tree can make for a great infrared image.


    Infrared photography can also be successful in the city like this image of the Triumph Arch in the Parc du Cinquantenaire, in Brussels. The moving crowd disappeared because of the long exposure emptying the scene.

    For more information on shooting the processing infrared with your camera read these dPS articles:

    Introduce distortion

    With a bit higher financial investment, you could consider buying a fisheye lens (please avoid fisheye lens converters because the infrared image quality is usually poor). Invest in a real fisheye lens; the fully manual (and relatively cheap) Samyang, Rokinon, and Vivitar lenses are in my opinion, the best way to start out. They are cheap, small, super sharp, relatively fast, with a great field of view. You can set the focus around the two meter mark (6.5 feet) and never touch it again as long as you stop down (use a smaller aperture than wide opened) your lens a bit.

    Fisheye lenses produce very particular images. I suggest you to read about them and research as much as possible before buying one; see if the images you can create with a fisheye lens suit your photographic taste. I have recently purchased a Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 for my Lumix and it simply blew me away. I got this lens only a few weeks ago, but boy I love its compactness, lightness, how sharp it is, and the huge field of view (15mm equivalent on full frame) at a fraction of the price of an ultra wide angle lens. Of course, this comes at the cost of having some distortion, but if you like it and you can work it to your advantage, it is a great deal, and is a killer lens for travel photography too.

    Work your fisheye lens – tilt it upward to have a concave horizon and tall buildings bending and looming over the scene. Tilt it downwards to have a convex horizon, accentuating Earth’s curvature. Keep the horizon levelled or tilt the camera to see how the scene changes. Get down low by kneeling, or up high by raising the camera on a high vantage point (yes, even mounted on your monopod held high above your head). Accentuate distortions, or reduce them keeping straight lines towards the edges or towards the centre of the frame. Notice how objects at the edges of the frame are magnified with respect to those at the centre. Mix and match those distortions to create some unconventional, striking, and definitely not boring photographs. Below are some examples from my first photo walks in Brussels (Belgium), a very touristic city with very famous and well photographed landmarks.


    The Atomium: huge monuments and landmarks can easily be squeezed into the frame and be portrayed in a quite a dynamic way.


    Frame a busy roundabout by night from a high vantage point to capture great urban merry-go-rounds.


    Thanks to the fisheye’s distortions, even an empty square becomes interesting.

    Bonus tips

    • Get out during unusual times of the day (dawn and night)
    • Experiment with HDR and exposure fusion for more dramatic or gritty and punchy image
    • Go out with bad or stormy weather to take advantage of the dramatic sky

    Do you have any other tips for shaking it up and combating photography boredom? Share in the comments below.

    The post 3 Ways to Combat Photography Boredom by Andrea Minoia appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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