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A dissent from the consensus here.
We are talking about landscape photography using the 35mm format. Which means we begin in a state of sin, because we all know that landscape images benefit from high resolution, and that larger formats provide higher resolution. To me, that means optimizing the presented resolution in our 35mm-format landscape images—and that, in turn means staying clear of wide angle. Wide angle images reduce the number of pixels per pebble. Pretty much any wide angle landscape image taken with a 35mm camera would have been a notably better image if taken with a larger-format camera. You could say the same thing for any field of view, of course, but there is a threshold beyond which it makes less or no difference. Once you satisfy the mind's eye's expectation for detail, you are over the threshold. So I favor 35mm-format lenses between 50mm and 100mm for landscape, and mostly between 50mm and 70mm. Much beyond 100mm it becomes hard to get good depth of field, especially in low light or with subjects where something is moving, like seascapes with waves.
Note too, that for optimizing detail, more than sharpness is required of a lens. You also need great contrast and color.
Favorite lenses that do the job I'm looking for: Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 MP; Canon 70-200 f/2.8 II; Sigma 70mm macro; Canon 90mm TS-E. Even the Canon 85mm f/1.8, if you stop it down enough.
That said, the Zeiss 21mm, with great sharpness, contrast, and color, does seem to exceed the detail presented by other wide angles. It's probably the right wide angle lens for 35mm shooters with an urge to sin. Use it where you can show small details looking big, in the extreme foreground.
Edited on Feb 10, 2013 at 01:25 PM · View previous versions