17mm f2.8 Performance

Performance at 17mm: f2.8 (Centre Frame)

Testing these lenses at 17mm was a little weird. Without much further comment, I’m going to display 100% samples from the centre of the image circle, followed by snippets taken from areas 10mm and 20mm from the sweet spot (off centre and corner frame samples). Ominously, we begin with a drawn result: the Nikon’s better contrast balancing the Contax’ fractionally higher resolution at this aperture.

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Contax N 17-35mm at 17mm/f2.8 Nikon 17-35mm AFS at 17mm/f2.8
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Performance at 17mm: f2.8 (10mm off-centre, left side)

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Contax N 17-35mm at 17mm/f2.8 Nikon 17-35mm AFS at 17mm/f2.8
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Performance at 17mm: f2.8 (Upper left corner)

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Contax N 17-35mm at 17mm/f2.8 Nikon 17-35mm AFS at 17mm/f2.8
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Truly astounding corner performance from the Contax N, wide open at 17mm, and not a trace of lateral chromatic aberration. But what happened to the mid-frame? Are those unorthodox MTF charts suddenly starting to make sense?