Photographing the Milky Way

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News & Insight

Announcement: Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G ED Nano, SB-500 Flash Video Light

By Matthew Saville on September 12th 2014

In addition to the exciting new D750 and its MB-D16 battery grip, Nikon has also announced what is in my opinion and equally or even more exciting new lens, as well as a new flash.

SLR-Lounge-Nikon-20mm-f1.8G-ED-N

The Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G ED N

In my opinion, this is a ground-breaking lens.  Or at least it could be, if it stands up to the current reputation of incredible sharpness that all other Nikon f/1.8 G lenses have held up to.  Considering this is the fifth lens in the lineup, and considering its $799 price tag, I’m willing to bet that we have a huge winner on our hands!

What Competition Does This Lens Face?

If you’re more of a general shooter, 20mm will be tough to use compared to something like the Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G or the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G.  (Review for the 28mm is here, and review for the 35mm is here!)  You should definitely consider those two lenses first.  If you’re more of a general landscape / street shooter, try the 28.  If you’re more of a portrait / candid shooter, try the 35.

However, if you’re a serious landscape / adventure shooter, and/or want to delve in to the world of astro-landscape photography, this could be the ultimate lens for you!

Sigma had a trio of f/1.8 wide angle primes, the 20mm, 24mm and 28mm, however all of them were seriously soft when used on today’s high-resolution full-frame DSLRs.  For a Nikon D610 or D810 astro-landscape shooter, for example, I simply cannot recommend any of those older Sigmas.

I can, however, highly recommend two other things: either checking out the existing Rokinon 24mm f/1.4, or waiting to see if Sigma announces a 24mm f/1.4 Art soon. (Which they might actually be doing right now as I type this up!)

The Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 will cost you at least $200 less than this Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G, if you’re willing to give up a bit of wide angle-ness in favor of a slightly faster aperture.  The same trade-off would comes with a Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art of course, but probably at a much higher price due to the robust, pro-grade build quality Art lenses offer, plus the inclusion of autofocus.

So, there are your options!  Based on Nikon’s reputation with f/1.8 G lenses, in my opinion, this is one chicken you can count before it hatches.  That’s why I went through the trouble of explaining all your options already, so you can hurry up and decide, and pre-order the lens you want now instead of waiting for reviews to come out.

SLR-Lounge-Nikon-D750-front-angle2-650I don’t always recommend buying new cameras or lenses blindly; but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.  …you can bet it’s a sure-fire thing!

Pre-Order The Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G

The Nikon 20mm f/1.8 AFS-G will cost $799, and shipping is expected later this month. Pre-order it here on B&H.

The Nikon SB-500 Hotshoe Flash

Nikon-SB-500-Front

The Nikon SB-500 is a $249 (budget model) hotshoe flash designed to fit somewhere in between, well, the SB-400 and SB700, of course.  It only requires two AA batteries, and is probably less bright than the SB700, however the exciting part is that it also offers a built-in LED video light that can be used as a stand-alone light, or simultaneously with flash!  I might just pick up one for myself, when I get that ultra-light Df I’ve been coveting.  I don’t think the SB-500 looks hipster enough though, I might need to “camera-punk” it up a little bit…

We’ll let you know when the SB-500 becomes available for purchase!

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    Great article and explaning the use of a 20mm lens.

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  2. Gene Gregory

    considering the sb-500, could be a direct competition for the 430EX,

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  3. Kevin Cucci

    I think that flash is a dark horse. I LOVE the idea of a built in video light. That has endless possibilities for me. Get on board Canon! I want this flash.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yeah, but i’m gonna wait and see if they make another one that is geared more towards pros! Although if it doesn’t show up soon, I may just buy this SB-500 to try out…

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  4. Kurk Rouse

    i”ll wait for the reviews and real world test

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  5. Eric Sharpe

    The LED part of the SB-500 could be great when trying to grab focus in low light.

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  6. Brandon Dewey

    Cool, I wonder how it will compare to the nikon 24 F/1.4. I’ve been looking for a fast, wide prime for astro images. So maybe this will be the lens.

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    • Matthew Saville

      For astro, I would never buy the Nikon 24 1.4, I’d only ever consider the Rokinon 24 1.4. The Nikon 24 1.4 is for war photojournalists who need autofocus in a rock-solid package, and don’t care about corner sharpness. The Rokinon has much better sharpness, especially in the corners, and with regards to things like coma etc.

      Either way, the new 20mm 1.8 is definitely a winner for astro, because its wider and is probably incredibly sharp without breaking the bank.

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    • Brandon Dewey

      I think I’ll still wait for the Sigma 24 F/1.4 Art to come out to compare it to other wide prime. Thanks for the suggestion Matt i’ll have to check out the Rokinon also.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Brandon, that’s what I told myself too. But Sigma didn’t announce the mythical 24 Art t Photokina, (at least not yet?) …so I’m strongly inclined to buy this. I wanted something wider than 24mm anyways, even if I’m “stuck” at f/2-ish…

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    • Brandon Dewey

      Well Milky Way photo season is coming to a close so maybe the mythical 24mm will come out before next summer, we can only hope. I have used the Sigma 35mm Art for milky way images this summer and it performed amazingly but its just not quite wide enough for me.

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