Some questions remain open with regard of using the 14-24/2.8:
1. Which shots could have been made with a longer lens simply by stepping back?
2. What are the insights regarding the use on DX/APS-C vs. FX/FX?
3. What about the 16-35/4.0 VR?
1. I know that stepping back would have changed the perspective, but this is still not a "trick-question". It relates to the simple fact of life that if you have a 14-24mm mounted to your camera you simply take some images by stepping forward to improve the framing instead of mounting a longer lens.
So how many of my 81 images with the lens could have been done equally well with the 24-70/2.8? Well at least those 25 taken at 24mm focal length, but I'd add another 15 images. So all in all around 50% of those images could have been taken with the 24-70/2.8 equally well. And this is on a crop body! That makes one think about the need to have ultra-wide lenses.
2. The first answer almost leads to the conclusion regarding the second question: On an FX/FF body the need for shooting lenses shorter than 24mm on a city trip is almost negligible for my kind of style. Yes you can capture more, but "more" does not always make for a better image. And yes a shorter lens allows you to get less distortion from tilting the lens. This is because you can aim at the target subject at (almost) eye-level and still capture larg(er) structures. but this has the disadvantage of introducing a lot of foreground into your images - dirty pavements, etc. In Venice it might be useful for capturing the reflections in the Canali but normally you try to avoid too much "floor-space". My experience also shows that tilting the lens up radically often leads to more satisfying images than just a slight tilt which makes you wish to eliminate the resulting slight distortions in post-processing.
As to the insights regarding DX/APS-C shooters: 53% of shots with this lens were taken with shorter focal lengths than 18mm. And only 5% were shot with 16mm and 17mm. So a 16-xx mm may look like a better alternative to a 18-xx mm standard zoom but that is not really the answer to your ultra-wide needs! Get something starting at 10, 11 or 12mm if you really want to cover those opportunities. A 10-24mm DX/APS-C lens looks like a really good investment esp. as its overlap with any standard-zoom like a 18-105mm reduces the need to swap lenses.
3. I was thinking quite a lot of the 16-35/4.0 VR at the time of planning the trip. 16mm seems to be a good starting point to me and the addition of image stabilization was almost too good to resist - plus the overlap at the long end. Well, on DX/APS-C bodies the combination is not very attractive (see 2.). Markus Stamm from Photozone
summed it up. "For DX only usage [...] it faces some serious competition by Nikon's own AF-S DX 16-85 VR lens." And on FX/FF bodies? Well, you loose one stop, for equal corner-sharpness equivalent to the reknown 14-24mm perhaps even 2 stops but gain image stabilization. The range from 24-35mm is definitely a plus for better framing and less switching between lenses, and the loss of 2mm at the wide end would not have been critical on this trip. So yes, if I had an FX-body with me the 16-35/4.0 could
have been the more practical option than the 14-24/2.8. But as a complement for the wide end in my specific set-up I think the 14-24/2.8 did an excellent job.
Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews
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