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Wide angle lens quality with Canon and Nikon

Last updated 2009-07-01 - Send Feedback
Related: howto, Zeiss DSLR lenses

Please advise of an alternate wide angle lens choice to the 16-35 mk2. Mine has been returned to Canon 3 times for optical correction, and I still consider images commercially unsatisfactory. I have read all your relevant articles , I am using IDMK111 and 1Dsmk111 . You are doing a great job — Alan A

The Canon EF 16-35/2.8L II is an excellent lens. But it's also one that can disappoint in several areas, including color fringing, and it's also true that one might have to try 3 or 4 copies to obtain one that performs up to its optical design: real lenses built from real parts almost never perform as well as the optical design would indicate.

Be sure to read Brand-new Blur, real lenses often have issues right out of the box.

If a prime lens is acceptable, the new Canon EF 24/1.4L II is easily superior to the 16-35/2.8L II at 24mm in a variety of ways. See the extensive review of the 24/1.4L II in DAP.

My basic advice for photographers frequently shooting ultra wide angle is to look hard at a Nikon D3/D3x with the Nikon 14-24/2.8G (bearing in mind that Nikon quality control is not necessarily any better than Canon's). But the Nikon 14-24 is clearly top of the heap for ultra wide angle zooms.

My personal preference when a zoom is not required is to shoot a "prime" lens (fixed focal length). My favorites here include the Zeiss ZF 21/2.8 Distagon and the other Zeiss ZF wide angles. However, specific requirements such as ultra-low distortion can actually make the Nikon 14-24/2.8G a better choice for some applications. All of the ZF lenses are reviewed in great detail in Zeiss ZF Lenses.

One might also consider software correction via Canon's Digital Photo Professional, Nikon Capture NX2, DXO Optics or other RAW converters. This is one area where shooting RAW is strongly advised; future advances might mean better image quality from the same original.

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