Cost-Effective ~21mm Alternative for FF Landscapes?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by j._gewirtz, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. I'm currently using the 24-105 @24mm on a 5D2 for landscapes. Stopped down with tripod, MLU, self-timer/remote and careful focusing, IQ is adequate for my purposes (stock, large prints). However, I prefer to go a bit wider (20/21) and if possible sharper across the frame.
    If cost were no concern I would get the Zeiss 21 or perhaps the Cannon 16-35.
    The Samyang 14 looks good but it's too wide. If they come out with a 21 that might be my best alternative but who knows if it will happen.
    My question is whether the Canon 17-40 or 20/2.8, or some non-Canon lens on an adapter, stopped down, would give up much in across-the-frame sharpness relative to the Zeiss. I can pay up for the Zeiss or the 16-35 but I prefer a cheaper alternative if it gives decent corner sharpness at around 20/21mm when stopped down.
    Thanks.
     
  2. I would check out a Yashica ML 21mm f3.5. They go for about $500. Use an adapter for the EOS. If you can check out a copy in person, the Zeiss Jena 20mm f4 in M42 mount (via adapter) is also a good option (~$300-$400).
     
  3. The Canon 17-40 f/4 L is no slouch, especially around 20mm at f/8. I like mine a lot.
     
  4. Consider the Canon 17-35mm f:2.8 L lens , which was the predecessor to the 16-35mm. I find it to be a great lens and found a very nice used one on e-bay for about half the cost of a new 16-35mm L lens.
     
  5. Canon 17-40 f/4 and Tokina's new 17-35 f/4 could be good candidates
     
  6. Be sure to check out Tokina 16-28/2.8
    http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/594-tokina162828ff?start=1
     
  7. Pano stitching is free, fast if handheld, and produces much higher resolution.
     
  8. This one may be an option, besides being 1mm wider ☺☺☺
    Voigtländer Skopar 20mm/3,5 SL II
     
  9. There is also the Canon EF 20-35mm f2.8 L which was the predecessor to the 17-35. Another option is the Nikon 20mm f2.8 with mechanical adapter for stopped-down metering on your Canon body.
    I used to use the Nikon 14/2.8 on my 5D II before switching to the Canon 17mm f4 TS-E.
     
  10. Since your primary intent is to use the lens for "Stopped down with tripod, MLU, self-timer/remote and careful focusing," there is little or not advantage in using the more expensive and bulkier 16-35mm f/2.8 with its odd 82mm filter thread. (It is a very fine lens, but its strengths lie elsewhere.)
    For wide landscapes shot stopped down the 17-40 is a fine performer and produces plenty of image quality for big prints.
    Dan
     
  11. The 5D2 mirror is potentially a problem with some older, MF wide angle lenses projecting too far back into the camera. See http://www.panoramaplanet.de/comp/ which has links also to other similar sites.
    The catch is that in the day of the MF, mechanical camera, much wider than 24mm was hard to do, and the resulting prices, and even rarity, of the lenses often make them less "cost-effective" than simply getting a modern ultrawide angle lens like the Sigma 12-24mm.
    I have some older Sigma, Spiratone, Nikon, and so on MF 20-21mm lenses and some of them (the Nikon 20mm f/4) require surgery to work on a 5D, and the Sigma-made ones are nice enough lenses, but very difficult to avoid lens flare with. In fact, many of the older MF 'UW' lenses are fairly prone to flair by comparison with their more modern sister lenses.
    I personally found a nice older Sigma 15-30mm AF lens (used for EOS on eBay: around $300) that satisfies my APS-C-born wish to have something the equivalent of the 10-20mm lenses for that format on the 35mm-sensor format.
     
  12. I've been using the Tamron 20-40mm f/2.7-3.5 SP lens for a few years now for landscape. It's discontinued but used ones keep popping up for a few hundred. I had originally bought the 24-105L with my 5D. They were of similar sharpness in the center but the Tamron was noticeably sharper in the corners, with much less distortion. So the L lens is gone now. Of course, the Tamron is fully automatic, but focus is a little noisy compared to the usm lenses.
     
  13. You should consider both the TS-E 17 and TS-E24MkII. They are the ultimate in IQ. That said, the 24 is in its own league, followed by the 17. Nothing to compare afaik. Not cheap but worth every penny.
     
  14. Other than the Zeiss 21/2.8, all the lenses that cover 20 or 21mm are soft and/or CA ridden in the corners on the 5D2, even at f/11 or f/16. Including the Voightlander, the Sigma 20/1.8, and the Olympus 21/3.5 (which turns even a gray Tokyo cityscape to a Kalleidoscope of psychadelic color). If you crop to a 4:5 aspect ratio, though, they're all fine.
    My recommendation would be the 17-40, since it covers such an amazingly useful range. My understanding is that it's better than the much older 17-35/2.8 and the old 16-35/2.8, but that the 16-35/2.8 II may be marginally better but still nowhere close to the ridiculously wonderful Zeiss 21/2.8.
     
  15. Be sure to check out Tokina 16-28/2.8​
    I skipped this one because for landscape cheaper, even if slower, alternatives makes more sense to me. Its inability to take filters make it a less suited for landscapes
     
  16. The 17-40 is "cost-effective" and it works fine.
    I've never used the Zeiss lens, so I can't speak to the question of relative quality. But I've never heard anyone express disappointment with the 17-40's IQ, at least not anyone who actually USES the lens.
     
  17. I've been searching for a wide for my MKIV and so far the 17-40 fits my uses the best. I hunting now for a good buy! ;) The only thing that holds me off is I already have the 24-105L. I used a 17-40 for a day and really liked it, although I found myself choosing around 20-24mm so I could survive with what I have. Its just for specialty shots I needed wider. I can't see paying $1600 for a 16mm when a 17mm is half that. If I shot at 16 alot I'd probably spring for the 16-35. But I don't.
    And I tend toward shooting between 20-40 anyway, so getting a 12-24 would be switching out all the time.
    The 17-40 is looking better every day. It was a pleasure to use. Of course @17 you will contend with the perspective distortion and it might be true that a prime TSE would be better. I was even thinking of trying the 15-85, but not workable on the 1D or 5D series, I believe.
     
  18. You said "cost effective". You rattled my cage. If you really like the 21mm focal length, a prime might be what you want. If, like me, you rarely need 21 or wider, you're better off having that focal length in a zoom. But if 21 is what you want, check out www.16-9.net. Some links are broken, but I remember the Olympus OM 21mm f 3.5 and 21 f2 being highly regarded, the f 3.5 being cheaper and just as sharp, if not better. I like the www.leitax.com adapter, but the Fotodiox will work just as well.
     
  19. Cost effective, sharp corner to corner sounds like an oxymoron.
    If you're already in the Zeiss price range, you may as well look at Canon 24mm TS-E II. This lens is probably almost as sharp as a Zeiss corner to corned. Plus, with the shift, you can frame shots that are 17mm equivanlent FOV when stitching panoramic shots.
    16-35mm isn't sharp corner to corner. FYI.
     
  20. "This lens is probably almost as sharp as a Zeiss corner to corner"
    There's no "probably" about it: it's gloriously sharp corner to corner even shifted 8mm or so in the short direction. It's a huge improvement over the old 24TSE, whose CA is nasty when used on the 5D2. The only bad news is that the corners do get a bit soft with more than that amount of shift, which isn't a lot of shift. Still, 8mm is enough in a lot of situations, but I don't think it's anywhere near as wide as 17mm. 8mm of usable vertical shift means it covers a 36 x (24 + 8 + 8) frame, i.e. 36 x 40 mm. That's a 54mm diameter image circle, as opposed to the 44mm image circle for the unshifted frame and the 60mm image circle Canon claims for the 24TSE II (if memory serves). Of course, the difference here is how much softening of the corners one is willing to accept; my limit leaves the corners way better than the 17-40. And if you are shifting such that the shifted corners don't have subject matter in them, then you can shift a lot more.
     
  21. Thanks to all for the many thoughtful replies. It sounds like a good approach would be to start by using the 17-40 for a while and seeing if I like the results.
     
  22. my 17-40L is a bit disappointing wide open but stop it down to f8 and its superb corner to corner, for the money I don't think you can go wrong with this one.
     
  23. If you can afford it, the Zeiss 21 f/2.8 is your huckleberry!
     
  24. As you can tell, there are a paucity of really good ultra-wides for those of us who only use these focal lengths sparely on full frame and a) do not have really deep pockets b) do not want to carry around a large, heavy optic which is used only 5-10% of the time. The Zeiss 21 and the Canon TS-Es fall into both a) and b) in my book so I'm not getting them. The only one that interests me really is the 18mm Zeiss Distagon which is not as good as the 21mm, but at least is much smaller - still it's over $1000 for a lens that will get only occasional use. The Canon ultra-wide zooms are not the greatest lenses, but they are, taken on balance, probably pretty good options when looking at the competition. I live in hope of finding a small, can be slow (f4), lens in the range of 14-21mm, under $1000 with good corner-to-corner resolution and low distortion, or at least easily corrected distortion. I don't think I'll be getting one soon...
     
  25. "This lens is probably almost as sharp as a Zeiss corner to corner"
    There's no "probably" about it: it's gloriously sharp corner to corner even shifted 8mm or so in the short direction. It's a huge improvement over the old 24TSE, whose CA is nasty when used on the 5D2. The only bad news is that the corners do get a bit soft with more than that amount of shift, which isn't a lot of shift. Still, 8mm is enough in a lot of situations, but I don't think it's anywhere near as wide as 17mm. 8mm of usable vertical shift means it covers a 36 x (24 + 8 + 8) frame, i.e. 36 x 40 mm. That's a 54mm diameter image circle, as opposed to the 44mm image circle for the unshifted frame and the 60mm image circle Canon claims for the 24TSE II (if memory serves). Of course, the difference here is how much softening of the corners one is willing to accept; my limit leaves the corners way better than the 17-40. And if you are shifting such that the shifted corners don't have subject matter in them, then you can shift a lot more.​
    We're agreeing that this lens is razor sharp.
    The image circle on a full frame format is 43mm. The 24mm TS-E II produces an image circle that is 67.2mm.
    The lens shifts 12mm each direction. You've set a limit on yourself of 8mm.
    The horizontal field of view when shifted 12mm right and 12mm left will yield a horizontal FOV that is equivalent to that of a 14.4mm lens. (36+12+12)/36=crop factor. 24/crop factor=(equivalent FOV) for a stitched pano image. The edges will vignette a bit when shift to the extremes. This will not yield a rectilinear image that has the same aspect ratio of a standard 35mm sensor.
    If you want an image that has the same aspect ratio as that of the sensor, you'll have to rotate the lens 30 degrees with the lens shifted to 12mm. 12mm(cos(30 degrees))=10.4mm. This will be the horizontal shift per side. So 24/((36+10.4+10.4)/36)=15.2mm.
    There's other ways to shift the lens to increase the FOV. Your configuration had the camera standing vertically with the lens shifting horizontal to the ground. This will yield an image with a equivalent FOV of an 18mm lens. (24+12+12)/36=crop factor. 24/crop factor = 18mm. With the limit of 8mm shift that you've set for yourself, you'll get a 21mm FOV equivalent.
    There are several factors why I chose the Canon 24mm TS-E II over the Zeiss 21mm: 1) The shift allows me to correct scenes to prevent trees or buildings from looking like they are falling back. 2) The shift allows me to create pano images that is wider than the 24mm FOV. 3) The tilt allows me to get everything sharp from the foreground to the background by using Scheimpflug principle. 4) The tilt allows me to create images that look like minature toys.
    There's a lot of creative aspects to this lens that a Zeiss 21mm won't be able to do. To me a Zeiss 21mm is a one trick pony which is to take sharp pictures only; and it does it very well. However, it can't do any of the four things that I've listed above. The 24mm TS-E takes very sharp pictures and can shift and tilt to do all of the above.
     
  26. Sigma 20mm f/1.8 is also a good option for landscape. You will often be using it stopped down to f/9 or more, by which the (full frame) corners are sharp. It's also easy to (pre)focus manually. It does have some moustache distortion, but I read that the Zeiss 21mm also has this.
    I am now using Tokina 16-28mm which is a relief since I tended to switch a lot between 28mm and 20mm primes. Also the hood is built in so no time lost searching in the bag. But makes it a little difficult to reach everything with a lens cleaning pen and if you need to use filters the 16-28mm is no option. It is even sharper than the Sigma around 20mm. Corners can be very sharp at mid apertures at any focal length if focused well (there is curvature of field which shows up if focused too far into the scene). Trying to manually prefocus is more difficult since beyond one meter distance the focus throw is very short. And a well known downside: it's heavy.
     
  27. I love my Sigma 20 f/1.8. It is a really nice lens and is decent even wide open. Of course stopped down to f/8 you would
    be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and one of the much more expensive lenses out there. Naturally, it will
    outperform most of the zooms suggested.
     

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