17-40mm f/4 vs 16-35mm f/2.8 for landscapes

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by robertbody, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. I heard that some people prefer 17-40mm f/4 over 16-35mm f/2.8 for landscapes, which would be at f/8 or f/11... I would like to hear some feedback about good or bad experiences with either, or a comparison...
    I don't think the body would matter for this, but probably on 1D3 or 5D Mark II, or 40D, but mostly 1D3.
    The f/2.8 and it being a newer lens would make one want to pick the more expensive 16-35mm f/2.8 II, but is it an obvious choice?
  2. Do you shoot landscape at f/2.8? You're more likely to shoot at smaller f-stops, so do you think that extra f-stop and 1mm justify $750? If I shoot exclusively landscape I'd go for the 17-40 f/4 and use a tripod.
  3. It has been a few months, but looks like even for night shots I used f/8...
    (that was with Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8)
    The viewfinder is brighter with f/2.8 lens, and while I can't think of my examples where I used f/2.8 for wideangle, I like having more options than less... i have seen pictures wide open at f/2.8 and 28mm in available light
    Let me ask then, would 16-35mm f/2.8 do everything 17-400 f/4 can do, and more?
    In Nikon, 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 is considered a compromise, getting more quality with 17-35mm f/2.8... is that the case with 17-40mm f/4 and 16-35mm f/2.8?
  4. For landscapes I rarely shoot faster than F8--F11 or 16 being most typical. The F2.8 would be nice for the brighter VF but I decided to pocket the extra $700 and bought an EF 17-40 4L USM.
  5. For landscapes I rarely shoot faster than F8--F11 or 16 being most typical. The F2.8 would be nice for the brighter VF but I decided to pocket the extra $700 and bought an EF 17-40 4L USM.
  6. For landscape choose the cheaper lens and a couple of polarizers/ND filters.
  7. save the 700 bucks and get yourself a really good tripod, or some nice filter: polarizers, ND, colored grads...
  8. does the slight softness in the corners go away at f/8?
    that would be my only concern - i know that wide open the 2.8 lens is better in corners - right?
  9. You could also consider a used Canon EF 17-35mm f2.8 L which came before the 16-35. It is in the same budget range as a new 17-40. I have a Nikon 14/2.8 and do appreciate the extra stop at times for lowlight handheld landscapes where I can't use a tripod. The extensive depth of field of superwides even at f2.8 is often enough to get the job done.
    Are you switching from Nikon and why? For superwideangle photography a full frame camera is best. Since you don't seem to have a Canon body yet, you might consider the 5D over the 1DIII 1.3x body or if you can stretch the budget, the 5DII.
  10. I've thought (and written) about this a bit in the past.
    First, if you are shooting a cropped sensor body and you are looking for a lens to cover the wide range to 17mm or so, between the EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L and the EF 17-40mm f/4 L , I would strongly recommend...
    ... the EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS .
    From all reports, its optical quality is equal to or exceeds that of the other two lenses on a cropped sensor body, it provides f/2.8, it has a larger focal length range, and it includes IS. (I know that IS isn't supposed to be important for landscape photographers, but on more than one occasion when doing landscape I've found myself shooting handheld with IS... and sometimes even sold/licensed the resulting shot .)
    I used the 17-40 on a cropped sensor body for more than a year. In some ways it performed admirably. In particular it is very sharp in the center of the frame. However, the far corners had a tendency to be soft even at f/8. (I would not generally stop down beyond f/8 on a cropped sensor camera for landscape due to diffraction blur, at least not if the goal is a decent size print.) At larger apertures, the softness is more apparent. For some types of photography with a cropped sensor body - street during daytime, for example - it could be OK but it probably isn't quite what you have in mind for landscape.
    However, on a full frame body (I've used it on the 5D and the 5D II) for "typical" landscape photography (by which I mean stopped down for large DOF, etc.) the 17-40 really comes into its own, and I've very happy with its performance for this purpose. It is a core landscape lens for me, and when I do backpacking photography in the Sierra Nevada for a few weeks every season it is one of my two core lenses. On full frame you can shoot it at f/16 with essentially no discernible diffraction blur - you can make it out if you do side by side comparisons at 100%, but it real prints this is not an issue at all. And when you stop down with this lens the corner issues cease to be a significant issue on full frame. (Like all Canon wide zooms, it is not "perfect," but it is indeed quite good and quite capable of producing excellent prints.)
    The main virtue of the excellent EF 16-35mm f/2.8 lens (in both variants) is its better performance at f/2.8 and f/4. First, it actually has f/2.8. Second, at f/2.8 its performance is at least as good as that of the 17-40 at f/4 - not outstanding over the whole frame but quite good. But once you get to the smaller apertures - and depending upon whose review/test you look at - the two lenses either equalize in performance or the 17-40 perhaps pulls ever so slightly (but probably not significantly) ahead, especially in the center. So, while the 16-35 is a really fine UWA zoom on full frame, there isn't really much reason to choose it over the 17-40 if your primary goal is a fine landscape lens to shoot at small apertures. (If your goal is to get a lens for wide angle hand held low light natural light photography on a full frame body, the 16-35 is your lens!)
  11. Well the "switching from Nikon" I am trying to keep to a minimum, after a year with Elan IIe and 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM in 1997-1998, I had Nikon F5 for a year, then Nikon F100 for the following 7 years, then D200 for 1.5 years then D300 for a year, and my last year's gear has been D300 + 17-35mm f/2.8 + 50mm f/1.8 + 105mm f/2.8 macro.
    The ISO in the last year has been OK, not as good as i would like but for that i would need Full-Frame with D700 at $2500 and that would open another door of focal lengths where my setup wouldn't do anymore, while i would get wideangle, i would lose the ranges i like on DX.
    Lately my interest in super-telephotos came about, aiming at 1D3 with 400mm f/5.6 + 1.4X and keeping autofocus [1D3 can autofocus on central point only with the 1.4X on f/5.6 lens, i tried that], as a cheaper alternative to 500mm f/4 +1.4X... and used 1D3 moves around $2200-$2500 for used and 400mm f/5.6 is around $900 used, so optimally $3100, vs a $4500 for a used 500mm f/4.
    So thinking about 1D3 made me think about perhaps switching other lenses too, hence my question about 17-40mm and 16-35mm. There are things different between Nikon an Canon, and I do like what I have with D300 + my lenses, I am just not happy with Nikon's options for Telephotos, I find Nikon 300mm f/4 way slow and 300mm f/2.8 way short and heavy vs a 400mm f/5.6 option with Canon. I do appreciate the f/2.8 very much, I used 300mm f/2.8 in a Zoo in first light and enjoyed that, but trying 1D3 and birds in flight would be a nice option to try.
    Keeping both Nikon and Canon lineup becomes awkward at some point, you can't really share bodies so it's not "having a backup camera" solution, but having a 1D3 + 400mm f/5.6 + 1.4X over the shoulder with Nikon body in the backpack [with 50mm, 105mm macro, for now before the Canon fever passes or my comfort with Canon increases] would be a temporary solution for this year...
    Inspiration comes and goes and varies, and currently it's the Birds that have my interest. In the fall I spent months with my 17-35mm, 50mm and 105mm photographing hiking spots, mountain peaks, city at night, sunsets, and that included going to the same spot on consecutive days for weeks, but this year it's been birds for the past 2 months, mainly because of the sky not being optimal for landscapes -- my main interest. While birds are a fever now, eventually it would be a 10-20% focus of mine, the rest filled by landscapes, portraits and macros, for which the gear i have had would do. To complicate things I already sold my 17-35mm Nikon, so i am halfway between Canon and Nikon, not yet with anything Canon at this point. (I have rented Canon 1D3 with 500mm f/4 a year ago, and Canon 40D with 400mm f/5.6 4 weeks ago, and i wanted more focusing speed with 40D mounted on 400mm f/5.6)
  12. Thanks for the comments, Dan, I have seen your wideangle posts in the past months, prior to my personal interest in the lenses...
    You say cropped sensor and 17-55mm, but to my knowledge 1.3 crop sensor of 1D3 is not compatible with 10-22mm lens and other EF-S lenses...
    I am trying to keep quality for all around while adding a telephoto option [with 1D3 + 400mm f/5.6], while considering a lens for 1D3, while thinking that i might want to stay with D300 + 17-35mm f/2.8 or the a little compromising option of 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 [i had both lenses in the past, but haven't printed big to compare, but i like to have to have optimal quality].
    I would not be happy with 40D, if i would get it, it would be as a body for 500mm f/4 only, but that combo is a $5000 option, not currently an option.
    What you wrote about 17-40mm, Dan, and light falloff and edge lack of sharpness is what I read in the above DPReview link (thanks Sinh Nhut ). Practical feedback is very useful.
    So 17-40mm at f/16 on full-frame..... or 16-35mm wide open on either... and a $750 difference.
  13. You are right about the 1.3x cropped sensor. I wasn't certain which camera you were thinking of since you mentioned the 40D in your original post - and on the 40D I think the EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS would be a good bet. (If I were getting a cropped sensor body, that lens would be at the top of my list.)
    Your last sentence largely sums up the choice between the 16-35 and the 17-40 I think. It comes down to how/what you will shoot.
  14. Care should be taken buying a used 1DIII, some of the early cameras have AF issues that were never fixed, it is hard to imagine someone selling this body (especially a pro) if they are not having issues with it.

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