Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 28
  1. #1
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,881

    Nikon 20mm f/1.8 Prime

    Does anybody have any experience with this lens? Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED 20051 B&H Photo Video

    I like to sit very close to the trail and shoot, and I'm thinking this lens would be great for that.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: smmokan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    2,115
    An $800 20mm prime lens for mountain biking? Interesting choice... I'd think something like that would be very specialized in its use.

  3. #3
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,881
    Yeah, it seems strange to me too. But as I look at how I find myself shooting at races, and what kinds of images I'm trying to capture it makes a lot of sense.

    Right now I do most of my shooting right from the edge of the trail.
    I'm typically trying to do something more akin to "trail portraits". I've spent a lot of time studying MTB photos, and what you see in magazines and ads are either landscape shots, with a rider somewhere in the scene, or product placement shots which focus on the specific piece of gear that's being sold. What I'm trying to put together are shots where the landscape and the gear are secondary elements, but where the rider is the primary. Basically, and MTB action shot where your mother could recognize you.

    To do that I do a lot of off-camera flash work to light under the rider's visor, and help separate the rider from the background. But getting enough flash with speedlights can be a challenge, and the 1/200th sync rate for the flash, makes it tough to stop a rider if they have any significant speed at all. So the key would seem to be to use a faster lens, one that's more sensitive to light...basically a prime. And a wide one because that's what I need from where I'm standing.

    But you're right...it seems like an odd choice.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    444
    Strange choice? Sounds pretty good to me, I used to use a Canon 17-40L when I took my SLR riding. The wide end was pretty good for up close personal shots. At 1.8 focus is going to be critical and tight though!

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: smmokan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    2,115
    That's kind of my point... I'd want a zoom for most MTB shots. However, it sounds like Meta has a specific use for this lens, which makes way more sense.

  6. #6
    MTB B'dos
    Reputation: LyNx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    19,821
    I haven't bought a new lens in forever, so not up on the latest and greatest, but I do know that my original NikonD 85mm f 1.8 was THE sharpest lens I ever owned, absolutely loved it, so can see why you want to go for a prime lens. That being said, there are some really good wide angle zooms with constant apertures or at least small increases as you zoom on the market these days, to me 20mm really isn't that wide, would opt for something in the 15-17mm range that zooms to somewhere in the 30-40mm range. It'll cost you more, but it'll be a much more versatile lens and allow micro adjustments in cropping right there on the trail and if you can't get right next to the trail for some reason, offer a bit of "reach".
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
    MTB Barbados
    My Phantom pics

  7. #7
    saddlemeat
    Reputation: bsieb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    3,090
    I personally like a bit more context, so I say give it a try and if you like it keep it. A prime is like a singlespeed... simpler, lighter, faster.
    I ride with the best people.




  8. #8
    Ride More, Work Less
    Reputation: heyyall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    7,775
    Are you putting it on a full frame or crop sensor? If crop, you would be around 35mm, which seems like a good choice. However, I would look at some of the new sigma art lenses coming out. They have faster primes for the same money and they have a new zoom f/2 that looks interesting.
    24-35mm F2 DG HSM | A | Sigma Corporation of America


    This was taken with a 50mm on a 1.3 crop sensor. I would have liked a wider lens, but in reality, this crash was at the feet, so a 20mm might be very close for anything other than stills.


  9. #9
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,881
    Here's the kind of thing I like to do.
    Nikon 20mm f/1.8 Prime-20150610-_dsc9891-copy.jpg

    My goal started out to try to provide the non-riding parents of the kids that I coach pictures from the trail that captured the portions of the race that they can't see, but that are also portrait enough that they can actually see that its their kid. That kind of morphed into a race photography hobby.

    To get this kind of shot I'm using these small flashes, that have limited range, which means I need to be pretty close the action, hence the wide angle. With the crop sensor 18mm-55mm I find myself at the low numbers the whole time, and suffering with very the very slow speeds and lack of crispness. All bad.

  10. #10
    Ride More, Work Less
    Reputation: heyyall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    7,775
    ^ do you have the exif data on the shot? Did you post process the photo to add the vignetting?

    With that much light, I would think you could easily get a shutter speed of 1/1000. Does your camera have an auto iso? This way you can set shutter speed and aperture and let the camera adjust the iso to achieve a proper exposure.
    Craigslist & MTBR --free ads for all

  11. #11
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,881
    I tuned it up in Lightroom, but I can't find the catalog so I don't know the exif. Adobe's file organization and saving scheme still baffles me; I think I lost some stuff trying to move things to a storage drive.

    I don't think I can do auto ISO, I usually set it manually. Shooting with a flash I'm limited to 1/200th due to the flash sync rate. Life would be a lot easier if somebody made a body that would sync at 1/400 or so. So it becomes this tricky balancing act between balancing flash power that's hitting the rider in the foreground and hopefully freezing their motion, with the ambient exposure of the background. But the results are never as sharp as I like, which I think is a result of cheap glass and having to shoot wide apertures (narrow depth of field) to make up for the limited flash power. I figure shooting a faster lens (gathers more light), would allow me to shoot smaller apertures, which would give me more depth of field, which would minimize the focusing errors, sharpening the output. And a prime should be sharper by nature.

  12. #12
    Ride More, Work Less
    Reputation: heyyall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    7,775
    Perhaps where you are going wrong is with the flash. Without a flash, you can increase the shutter speed. You aren't going to be happy with the shots until you get the shutter speeds up much faster, probably over 1/1000 if you really want to stop motion.

    This one is 150mm, f/5, 1/1250, iso 160



    This one 335mm, f/5.6, 1/320, iso 500


    Here, the combination of the distance, shade and lower shutter speeds led to softness in the picture. With the slow shutter speeds comes a little tire blur (which is nice), but it's not nearly as sharp as the first one.


    Another issue with flashes in sports is that you will pick up funny shadows. Look at the wheel shadow you have on the berm. If you want / need more lighting, you might have to look at off camera spot lights and diffusers. This will brighten the subject without being a flash.

    edit: flickr's on the fly resizing is dropping the sharpness. If you click on the image, you'll see a higher resolution image.

  13. #13
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,881
    Shooting natural light is a great choice, but it really limits your options.

    When the light is poor, all your shots suck.
    When the cool part of the trail is in the shade you're hosed.
    When the spot with the perfect light also happens to be a spot where the rider's are looking in a funny direction or transitioning from one riding posture to another you're hosed.
    If the rider's pose, and the light are perfect in a spot, its a crap shoot if the background is worth seeing.

    It was my frustration with the limits of natural light that got me working off camera flash in the first place.

    Like this. Just can't do that without a flash.

    Nikon 20mm f/1.8 Prime-_dsc5738.jpg

  14. #14
    Ride More, Work Less
    Reputation: heyyall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    7,775
    I hear you with the need for lights. I stopped using flashes the day we bought a big sigma 24-70 f/2.8 lens for our first generation digital rebel camera. That rebel had the wimpiest sensor known to man (but it was groundbreaking nonetheless) and needed flash to get pictures worth keeping in anything but bright light. The problem with the sigma lens, which really let in a ton of light with its 100+ mm front element, was that it created a shadow arch at the bottom of the picture when used with the on camera flash. From then, we learned to tinker with ISO and exposure compensation to make workable pictures in almost all lighting conditions. Now as cameras and sensors have improved, their light sensitivity is almost unbelievable. Some of the new sony cameras are seeing in the dark!

    If your camera has a fast enough buffer to shoot raw images and you are using LR, you can enhance a picture to a very workable image. Certainly shareable amongst friends and family.


    I think one of the things I like about photography is that you are constantly challenged. You can set the basic parameters (flash / no flash, automatic mode vs. manual) and challenge yourself to get the optimal shot.

    Since I have issues with flashes, I can do shots like these with no flash


    This was a test shot at iso 100. I later increased it since the shutter speed was slow.



    No flash often means shadows. I'm okay with that.



    Through a soundproof piece of glass at the airport looking directly into the start of the sunrise? Sure, I'm game for that without a flash. There's some image noise but it was remarkably dark when I took the picture.

  15. #15
    MTB B'dos
    Reputation: LyNx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    19,821
    Or buy the right body and flashes

    Nikon D7000
    The built-in flash's normal X-Sync speed is 1/250s, but there's a 1/320s (Auto FP) option at reduced range. FP flash sync speeds as high as 1/8000s are available the with optional SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 or SB-R200 external flash units.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
    MTB Barbados
    My Phantom pics

  16. #16
    Ride More, Work Less
    Reputation: heyyall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    7,775
    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Or buy the right body and flashes
    You know I typed that above a couple of times but erased it. I guess since that cat is out of the bag and assuming he has a $1000 budget, I would shop around for some used "prosumer" or "pro" gear. I saw a Canon 5D Mark III on CL for $650. It sold quickly, and I should have bought it. I didn't because I figured it was stolen at that price. But, you can find items like a Canon 1D Mark III used for 500 - 700. A Canon 7D Mark II is an amazing camera. You might could find some used ones ~$800 since new is about $1200. This is just the Canon side. If you only have a kit Nikon lens, then you could flip between canon and nikon without trouble. If you stayed in the nikon family, there are better ones. I don't know how many used Nikon 4D are out there, but that could be an option (4S are now, and 5 will be here at some point).

    Cameras are worse than bikes for the upgrade itis. Good luck, but my final note is that you really don't need a flash to be photographing mountain biking outdoors in the day.

  17. #17
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,881
    Quote Originally Posted by heyyall View Post

    Since I have issues with flashes, I can do shots like these with no flash

    As good and clean as that shot is, if you had hit the rider from about 45degrees off angle with a flash, you would have really separated the rider from the background which would have made the shot much more dramatic.

    The ability to light the subject without lighting the background is a really addictive artistic tool.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation: smmokan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    2,115
    If you saw a 5D3 for $650, it was either stolen or a scam.

  19. #19
    Ride More, Work Less
    Reputation: heyyall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    7,775
    Quote Originally Posted by smmokan View Post
    If you saw a 5D3 for $650, it was either stolen or a scam.
    Yep. I started with a wow, I *need* it. In my mind I was already justifying it to the Mrs. Then, I talked myself off the ledge as I didn't want to purchase what I believed to be a stolen camera.
    Craigslist & MTBR --free ads for all

  20. #20
    saddlemeat
    Reputation: bsieb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    3,090
    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphic View Post
    As good and clean as that shot is, if you had hit the rider from about 45degrees off angle with a flash, you would have really separated the rider from the background which would have made the shot much more dramatic.

    The ability to light the subject without lighting the background is a really addictive artistic tool.
    Very addictive, don't start!

    A lot can be done with editing too.

    I personally don't find flash images to be as interesting, as they usually look "posed" and communicate little but the gee-whiz eye catching first glimpse. The dramatic magazine photo look is becoming very ubiquitous. One of my closest friends uses the remote flash very well, but hey.
    I ride with the best people.




  21. #21
    Ride More, Work Less
    Reputation: heyyall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    7,775
    I'm amazed with how much detail can be uncovered from a raw file in Lightroom and I really am just getting to know the software.
    Craigslist & MTBR --free ads for all

  22. #22
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,881
    Yeah, LR can pull a lot of detail out of a poorly exposed RAW file. But it can be a lot of work, and the results are always better if the original file is close to where you want it.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation: milliesand's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    259
    Instead of a flash, have you considered a mylar reflector screen?

  24. #24
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,881
    The I have one, but I found it was too expensive to use as it would have resulted in my wife divorcing me.

  25. #25
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    17
    I have a DX 10-24 3.5-4.5. Wider is better. Focus is pretty fast, depth of field is pretty deep so you can even turn off the a/f if you are careful with your settings. You can get some interesting looks in the corners at 10mm. You don't really need 1/1000+ speed for 10mm, you just need to be close. Depending upon your camera body you may be able to acceptably crank up the ISO to use 1/1000 in poor light. You can't really use the on board flash as the lens is big and partially blocks the flash.

    BTW the old D70 has a 1/500 flash sync, however you can't really crank up the ISO without damaging results.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Prime Spam: Banshee Prime Frame w/ CCDB Ti Spring XL RAW
    By jonshonda in forum Banshee Bikes
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-26-2015, 10:00 AM
  2. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 10-24-2015, 03:16 PM
  3. Nikon 1 AW1?
    By pixelninja in forum Photography for mountain bikers
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 01-26-2014, 11:19 PM
  4. Replies: 16
    Last Post: 03-20-2012, 07:44 PM
  5. Roaring Creek is Prime, I tell you, Prime
    By bear in forum Pennsylvania
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 06-12-2011, 01:02 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •