Which Canon wide angle lens for landscapes?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by triciakennedy, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. Hello all
    I am looking for some advice on which Canon wide angle lens to buy. I have a 5DMkII with the following lenses:
    24-105 L, 70-200 f2.8 L, 100 IS Macro
    I recently sold the 16-35 MkI with the intention of replacing it with something better. I mostly shoot coastal landscapes and I am trying to decide between the following lenses
    Canon 16-35 f2.8 L MkII, Zeiss 21 f2.8 Distagon ZF, or the Canon 24 f1.4 MkII
    I am also tempted by the TS-E 24 MkII as I understand it is a super sharp lens. However, this is even more expensive and I doubt I would use the tilt/shift function very much (at least not at this stage in my photography).
    99% of the time I use a tripod and I really like low-light photography. I also often use ND filters and a slow shutter speed.
    There is no opportunity locally for me to rent any lenses so I can't try any of these options. This purchase will be a large chunk of money for me and I would really appreciate some advice from any of you who have any experience of any of these lenses.
    Thanks in advance
  2. Is 24mm wide enough for you? What did you feel was lacking with the 16-35? I have been very impressed with the 17-40 on a 5D2. If your using a tripod F4 should not be an issue unless your trying to get a shallow depth of field. I have used the 16-35 MKII and I was impressed with that lens too but the big filters can be expensive so that may be something to consider. I have heard some rumors of a 14-24 2.8 L coming out but you know how rumors are.
  3. I've been using the 17-40 for a number of years, formerly on a 5D and now on a 5D2. For stopped down landscape work on full frame it is equal to (at least) the 16-35. The 16-35 is a fine lens, indeed, but its strength lies in its large aperture performance not at small apertures. Unless you tend to shoot landscape on an ultra wide lens at very large apertures, the 16-35 doesn't provide any advantages.
    As to the prime versus zoom question there is a lot to consider and balance:
    • Primes can be better resolution performers than Canon zooms at ultra wide angles.
    • That said, the zoom can also perform very well and produce quite large prints.
    • At more normal (35mm or longer) focal lengths there are non-L primes that perform as well as the very expensive and bulky L primes for typical landscape work. Here, as with the 16-35, the more expensive and larger aperture lens is not necessarily better for landscape work.
    • Much wider than 35mm and it becomes quite difficult to find primes that significantly outperform the 17-40 or the 16-35 from Canon. Your third party primes can be one way to go, but they have their issues as well. (Among them are the loss of automatic controls, and the fact that with some of them their "goodness" is sometimes overrated by those who are impressed by certain brand names.)
    • About resolution, if your shot is best composed at the FL of your prime and you have the time to deal with primes you can get somewhat better resolution. That said, two other important issues: While the prime may be better, the "betterness" may or not actually be significant in your final photographs, and if the FL of your prime doesn't perfectly frame the composition and you have to crop the advantage may be lost to the zoom, with which you can "crop in camera."
  4. There are some lens rental companies that ship FedEx, etc. to your doorstep if you're willing to try that.
  5. If you hadn't sold it off, I would have recommended the 16-35mm. Like Tommy, I'm a little puzzled about what you didn't like about it?
    Although it has a little barrel distortion at the short end, the 24-105 covers that range well enough for landscape (not architecture-that's what the PC-E lenses are for). Anyhow, without knowing what your problem with the 16-35 was, it's hard to make a recommendation. Certainly the newer Mark ii is improved, but the old lens was pretty good according to most people's estimation.
  6. Hello again and thank you for your responses. Tommy raises an interesting question and I think maybe that 24mm is not wide enough. As to what was wrong with the 16-35MkI, actually, not much. Initially I was going to go straight for the MkII version with the belief that it would be sharper. Now I'm questioning the whole wide-angle issue and, as I can't "try before I buy" and these lenses are expensive, I want to make the right decision. Dan, you have given me some very helpful advice, for which I thank you. As I'm mostly using small apertures, I think, for me, a wide angle zoom would be best. If Canon are rumoured to be releasing a 14-24, that would be interesting but that raises a question in my mind about filters on that type of lens. Decisions, decisions! Thank you for your comments and advices.
  7. The 16-35 MKII and 17-40 are pretty close when it comes to sharpness. Any difference would be splitting hairs and probably not ever worth looking into. IMO If you really need wider then 24 I would just order a 17-40, If your stopping it down I can't imagine getting sharper. Even wide open its very good. If you don't like it you can always sell it for almost what you paid. I have heard it is a better performer then the old 16-35.
    Also the Canon rebates end in about a week so its a good time to get one.
  8. Tricia,
    This is an interesting dilemma and one I share. The 16-35mm Mk1 is not such a good lens as the MkII, but is the MKII up to very exacting standards? According to tests on the digital-picture, it is not so great to my eyes, but many professionals use it successfully. The current 24 MKII is pretty good, but expensive and it is big and bulky, and I wonder whether it is really that much better at equivalent apertures than the 24mm f2.8, which is really not bad at all especially given its price. Distortion is not so great, but for landscapes this is a non-issue.
    The Zeiss 21mm ZE is very good resolution-wise and may be the best of the lot, but it is hardly much cheaper than the 24L and you give up AF and the fast aperture. My suggestion would be to rent via mail the 16-35mm and see how you like it. You could rent the Zeiss 21/Canon 24L too and see which is better. I agree about the TS lenses. many people have a bit of a fetish about these as they have lots of lovely knobs and look so cool, but these are really not essential for landscape work (classy architecture, yes), and they are expensive and heavy. However, the new Canon wide angle TSs are meant to be very good optically - probably on a par with the Zeiss and with lower distortion too.
    I would be interested to hear what you decide.
  9. You know, I see plenty of questions asking about wide lens on this site and I don't think I have seen anyone mention the the Canon EF 20mm. I bought my 5D last Christmas and wanted a complimentary wide lens and found a gem on Craigslist for only $200.
    And I think that when you are staring out (like me) and you only have a single lens, you really learn the ins and outs and how to use the darn thing.
    Just an opinion, but I think you might be able to grab one for a similar price and be quite happy with the shots it delivers.
  10. Ryan, the 20 like the 28 1.8 seems to have a bad reputation. I have owned both lenses ( still have the 28 1.8) the 20 2.8 is not bad at all and if you can get one for $200 I would. I sold mine for about $300 but still not a bad deal for a pretty decent lens. From what I understand, and this is only based on reviews etc. The 17-40 actually out performs it and when a zoom can out perform a prime, that says something about the prime since even the lowly 50 1.8 can match an L zoom.
  11. have you considered an adapted nikkor 14-24 f2.8G? Its the sharpest and best in its class available right now. But its expensive when you add an adapter.
  12. The general word on the street is that the "betterness" of the 16-35 II compared to the previous version is pretty much confined to corner performance at f/2.8. At smaller apertures it apparently doesn't provide any significant improvement.
    The 17-40's weakness is the corners wide open - they tend to be soft.The 17-40 is uniformly quite sharp in the center, and the corners become good as you stop down.
    I investigated some of the non-L wide Canon primes. While there are non-L primes at other focal lengths that are great performers for landscape, the more I looked the more it seemed that there was little to be gained by moving from a Canon wide zoom to the wide angle Canon non-L primes.
  13. Hello again and thank you all for your responses and advice. Renting a lens would be a good option but I live in a one of the offshore British Channel Islands and cannot even get lens rentals from the UK - hence the question. It's really good to get some advice from those who have more experience. Thanks for the suggestion on the adapted Nikkor 14-24 f2.8. I looked at that but the big disadvantage for me is not being able to use filters. The consensus of opinion here seems to be to go with the 17-40 or the 16-35MkII. Actually, this has been a great exercise to post this question and get your responses as it has focussed my mind as to whether I should go for a prime wide angle or a wide angle zoom. So, I'm much clearer now and the choice I now face is the cheaper 17-40 or the more expensive 16-35MkII. I don't want to get too deep into the technical stuff, I just want a star performing lens so that I can concentrate on my photography (and hopefully take it to the next level). Thank you all for your comments. As a newcomer here, this has been very helpful.
  14. If you want something better than the 16-35mm, then get the 14mm L prime.
  15. Have a look at the photos you took with the 16-35. How many of the good ones were taken at f/2.8? None? Then the 17-40 is the better solution for you: Cheaper, less weight.
  16. "99% of the time I use a tripod and I really like low-light photography. I also often use ND filters and a slow shutter speed. " - Tricia
    <p>It would seem from the above statement then that lens speed is not a priority, in which case then, on a 5D2, stopped down to say f/8, the 17-40L will give you sterling performance. It is also significantly cheaper than the MkII version of the 16-35. I own the 17-40L and have no qualms shooting with it wide open at 17mm. And yes, 17mm is pretty wide on a FF dSLR. This would be my automatic and unreserved recommendation.
  17. As Dan has said, if you're shooting landscapes, the fact that a lens has less than optimal performance wide open is largely irrelevant, since you'll be stopping down to increase the DOF anyway. So I'd also recommend the 17-40, which is really the best priced L lens there is, and a very fine performer, as Dan, Tommy, and Mark (and now another Mark!) have said.
  18. If the 16-35 was not up to your expectations then I don't think the II or the 17-40 will do it. Are you happy with the 24-105 at 24? If so perhaps a prime lens would be better. I'd consider the 14/2.8 L or the 17 TS-E. Don't underestimate the ability of the TS-E lenses to correct convergence in trees where your horizon is very low or very high in the frame.
    I would not discount any lens for it's inability or difficulty to use filters. Filters themselves can rob resolution, depending on what you are using. With digital post processing you do have alternatives to filters.
    I use a Nikon 14/2.8 on full frame for 90% of my landscapes. It is extremely sharp but distortion can be a challenge with architecture. I would also consider the idea of the Nikon 14-24 with a cheap adapter. I used to use the 14/2.8 on a Canon 10D.
  19. I think you made a mistake selling the 16-35 lens. For landscapes, stopped down, the 16-35 MKII or the 17-40 will not be better. Plus, the 16-35 MKII takes 82mm filters. So, for example, for a square filter system, you will need to get something like the X-Pro Cokin adapter and really big grad filters.
    If you are looking for primes below 24mm, there are a couple of excllent Zeiss lenses (18mm and 21mm), and a couple of excllent Canon lenses (14mm and 17mm TSE).
  20. Thank you for the helpful comments and advice. I'm beginning now to think I did make a mistake selling the 16-35MkI! At the time I was going to go straight for the MkII as I was led to believe it was much, much sharper. However, on reviewing the shots I took with the MkI lens - they were all sharp and one of those shots won a prestigious local competition! Many of you have recommended the 17-40 so I may order that lens for now and also think about getting a wide prime such as the 14/2.8L in a few months time. As you all rightly point out, I will be stopping down anyway for landscapes and, if the 17-40 is sharp overall when stopped down, it will do nicely for now. The 17-40 will enable me to use my existing filters and, even though they may affect resolution, they are important to me to slow down the shutter speed, get some drama into the skies and to soften the crashing waves. The 14/2.8L is very tempting, as is the 17 TSE and I will put one of them on my wish list for later this year as it all boils down to available funds at the end of the day! Thank you all, once again - much appreciated..
  21. I use a Nikon 14-24 on my 5DmkII { using a 16-9 adapter } with great results , i honestly do not think there is a better wide zoom from anyone and the lens is actually cheaper than the 14L alone.
  22. Two things:
    Tricia, I think you did jump a bit too quickly to "upgrade" to a lens that turned out to not be an upgrade at all. I counsel (and try to apply) patience when it comes to getting new equipment. If you are getting fine quality with the gear you have, be very skeptical of claims that the newer version of the gear will bring huge improvements. Often the notion that this will be true comes from optimistic reading of marketing hype and the following breathless reports by folks who are gear-obsessed or a bit too uncritical about the market-speak. (I think we all need to adopt this perspective, for example, concerning the updated 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens...)
    That said - and I may sound like I'm contradicting myself here - from everything I've heard that Nikon 14-24 provides a fine target for Canon to aim at with their next UWA zoom.
  23. Thanks Dan! This is a lesson learnt for my part, and I take on board what you say. I will get the 17-40 and wait and see with regard to any other wide angle lens later this year.

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