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Archive 2013 · Landscape lens selection
  
 
Gahnix
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p.1 #1 · Landscape lens selection


I am building a light weight landscape kit primarily to be used while travelling (minimally with a backpack) and hiking. The 6D is an obvious choice for the body but I am really stuck trying to decide which lenses to go with. Most of my landscape work will be shot on a tripod (for reference).

Here are the options I am considering:

24-105 F/4 IS
Pros: Cheap (w/ 6D kit option), versatile (although not sure I would use 70-105 range), IS may be useful (but most of my work is done with a tripod), reasonable weight considering the range covered
Cons: IQ not great. I know this is subjective but I have shot extensively with the 17-40L (on a crop sensor) and while it is a great lens, the IQ (especially in the corners) always left something to be desired.

24-70L II
Pros: Excellent IQ, versatile
Cons: Price, weight

24 2.8 IS & 40 pancake
Pros: Cheap (less than half the cost of the 24-70L II), Excellent IQ, light weight
Cons: Less versatile

A bit of discussion:

The research that I have done suggests that the 24 2.8 IS is pretty evenly matched with the 24-70L II @ 24mm (and the 24 F/1.4 II) in terms of image quality (Dxomark, the-digital-picture, and photozone). Similarly, the 40mm pancake should at least match the performance of the 24-70L II @ 40mm. The great thing about this combo is that it is half the weight of the 24-70L II.

Now I understand that reviews generally don't measure subjective things like color and contrast so perhaps I am mistaken in thinking that the 24 2.8 IS and 40 primes are a match for the 24-70L II. Feel free to comment if you believe I have got it wrong!

I'm not really sure what to think of the 24-105L option. I know that several people (including professional landscape photographers) use this lens in their kit but I'm worried it will have the same border / corner performance as the 17-40L (which always annoyed me).

Any comments / suggestions would be appreciated.









Apr 18, 2013 at 06:43 PM
stan23
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p.1 #2 · Landscape lens selection


16-35 MKII should be on your list too.


Apr 18, 2013 at 07:00 PM
BRR5
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p.1 #3 · Landscape lens selection


stan23 wrote:
16-35 MKII




Apr 18, 2013 at 07:01 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #4 · Landscape lens selection


I use primes (though not the specific ones you mention), the 24-70, and the 24-105. For the use you describe, and specifically the need for light and versatile gear, I would go with the 24-105.

The stories of 24-105 performance problems are overdone in my view. Yes, the 24-70 can produce "better image quality," but the 24-105 can produce excellent image quality, especially when you correct - if necessary - the barrel distortion at 24mm. Used skillfully, this lens on a full frame body can create photographs that can be printed quite large with excellent quality.

The 24-70 is a bulky and heavy lens. Where weight is concern, on that count alone it would not be my first choice. It also has a much smaller focal length range, and I find that 70-105mm range to be very useful. I've actually used this as my only lens on week-long backcountry pack trips in the Sierra. The IS feature will useful on those occasions when you do need to shoot handheld, and the f/2.8 "advantage" of the 24-70 may largely be negated by IS for the subjects you may be likely to shoot and the fact that you will carry a tripod.

I generally think that limiting yourself to a prime or two for landscape can be a real liability. Yes, you could pick one or two very small primes (like the 40mm pancake, for example), but for most of us the flexibility of the zoom is critical. Even the image quality issue may end up arguing for the zoom. While at 40mm (or whatever your prime is) the IQ might be slightly better (though not likely much at smaller "landscape" apertures), at other focal lengths that might be more ideal for some compositions you will have to crop the prime shot in post, thus losing resolution. On the other hand, the zoom lets you crop in camera with essentially no reduction in IQ.

Dan



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:11 PM
matt4626
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p.1 #5 · Landscape lens selection


Another vote for the 24-105....stopped down it get the job done....


Apr 18, 2013 at 07:14 PM
boingyman
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p.1 #6 · Landscape lens selection


For landscape photography I think adequate FL coverage is very important. 24-105L is a good start for that and a good bargain. If you want better IQ like the 24-70 2.8 II you mentioned, you could consider the 24-70 f/4 IS as it seems to hold its own against the 24-70 2.8 II at a much cheaper price and it's lighter.

I agree with the above about an UWA. I personally would prefer a 16-35 II, but if budget is an issue 17-40 is good for the price.

For FF budget setup 17-40, 24-105, 70-200, 100-400. All use 77mm filters and you got 17-400mm covered. 70-200 f/4 + extender could also work.

24 2.8 and 40 pancake is light, but I personally would not enjoy the limited FL. At that point I rather have just a 24-x zoom. The only primes I would ever get for landscape exclusively are the wide TS-E's such as 17 and/or 24.

Of course there are other factors that should be considered, but that's my 2 cents.



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Gahnix
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p.1 #7 · Landscape lens selection


Thanks for the comments guys.

@stan23 / @BRR5:

I have considered the 16-35 II but it doesn't look to be much better than the 17-40L and at double the price, its kind of hard to pull the trigger on that. There have been rumors of a Canon response to Nikons 14-24 F/2.8. If that ends up happening, I would be very interested (although it would be a heavy lens).

@gdanmitchell:

Very good points and thanks for your input. I have pondered the prime vs zoom conundrum in my head for a long time. I have used both on multiple occasions and I generally agree with what your saying. Zooms do make things a lot easier in terms of being able to frame the shot in camera for maximum uncropped resolution. That said, most of the time I find that I am able to compose my shots fairly well with my feet instead of the zoom (although sometimes that is impossible).



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:28 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #8 · Landscape lens selection


A minority report here.

There is a widely held view that "landscape" = WA lens. No doubt that a wide angle can be quite useful in a general sort of way. Having said that, when I'm out climbing/walking I carry a 1DsIII (no it's not light , a tripod, the 24mm TSE, and the 400mm f/5.6. I suppose something in the middle would be wise, but the 24 on a good FF cam allows for significant cropping, and I've found over and over that a truly long lens often yields the most amazing views. Not the normal suggestion for landscape work, but this pair of lenses has yielded some wonderful pix over the years.

Robert



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Gunzorro
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p.1 #9 · Landscape lens selection


Gahnix -- I like both your earlier points/approaches.

1) 24-105 is a great all around lens for light weight when you don't know what you are going to encounter. It's easy to grab that alone and go for a hike. I recently used this lens almost exclusively for casual walks and hiking around Yosemite Valley.

2) 24/2.8 IS and 40/2.8 STM are great choices for lighter weight high quality imaging. Since you are likely to mostly be shooting around f/8, you might consider the original 24/2.8.

The only gaping hole I see is at the wide end, and I suggest the Samyang 14/2.8, which is so sharp it can be cropped into easily, taking you toward 20mm. It makes the entire three lens ensemble a little bulkier, but it doesn't weight much and only costs around $400. (This would also be great to accompany the 24-105L.)

I recommend owning both sets 1 & 2 and using them as appropriate.

BTW -- From my experience, the 16-35L II is quite a bit better than the 17-40L. I definitely appreciate it more and is worth the extra cost. But I'm not recommending either for your basic landscape kit. YMMV

Edited on Apr 18, 2013 at 07:41 PM · View previous versions



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Gahnix
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p.1 #10 · Landscape lens selection


@boingyman:

Thanks for your input. I have considered the 24-70 F/4 and it does look pretty good. Stopped down it looks like it is very close to the 24-70 F/2.8 II and it is definitely lighter. My only problem with that is the price -- $1500 seems like highway robbery for a 24-70 F/4.

With respect to covering the entire focal range -- that would be very nice but not practical for me. I am often out for several days at a time so there is just no way for me to carry all that gear. I would love to have it at my disposal eventually, but for now I want to stick with a lightweight, minimal kit.

With respect to the TS-E lenses -- I have given them a lot of thought also and i would love to own both of them but they are not in the cards right now mostly due to cost (and they are quite heavy).



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:40 PM
 

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stan23
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p.1 #11 · Landscape lens selection


I have had both the 17-40, and now the 16-35 MKII.

There is a big difference in corner performance.



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Gahnix
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p.1 #12 · Landscape lens selection


@ontherez:

Interesting perspective. I have read about people using longer lenses for landscape work (and have seen a couple of nice portfolios with these types of images in them) but to be honest, I have never actually considered doing it myself. I really love shooting sweeping vistas, panos, and in the trees so UWA makes a lot of sense for me. Nevertheless, I appreciate the perspective and will give it some thought.

@Gunzorro

I have heard good things about the Samyang 14mm but after a bad experience with Tamron several years back, I am reluctant to go third party. The biggest problem I have with buying non-canon is copy to copy inconsistency. Some people get great copies while others get lemons. Nevertheless, maybe the QC has changed over the years and I am not opposed to considering this as an option. I will check this lens out as I really would like something wider than 24mm.

Have you shot with the 17-40L and 16-35 on the same body? If so, what was your impression?



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:50 PM
Fjellfalck
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p.1 #13 · Landscape lens selection


stan23 wrote:
I have had both the 17-40, and now the 16-35 MKII.

There is a big difference in corner performance.


+1 I own both



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Gahnix
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p.1 #14 · Landscape lens selection


@stan23 / @Fjellfalck

From the reviews it looks like the 16-35 corner performance is quite a bit better on the wide end (16-20mm). Thanks for confirming this.



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Fjellfalck
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p.1 #15 · Landscape lens selection


For my landscapes:

24-70 f/2.8 I (The II is not much better than the I for landscapes (stopped down) except marginal better at the wide end in the corners. The I is better in the tele end stopped down. See photozone for MTF figures. Alternatives: 24-70 f/4.0 IS (some mixed reviews) or 24-105 IS - the latter is flexible but not the best IQ at the wide 24mm or at 105mm)

16-35 II (better than the 17-40 in the corners)

70-200 F/4.0 IS - Light and exceptional sharp (the 70-300 L is an alternative)

Light primes: 28 f/2.8 IS and 40 f/2.8 - very, very sharp and light even wide open.
(More expensive (do not own): 17 TS-E and 24 TS-E)

My most used for landscapes: 24-70

Edited on Apr 18, 2013 at 08:21 PM · View previous versions



Apr 18, 2013 at 08:08 PM
vaflower
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p.1 #16 · Landscape lens selection


Hi I used the combo 24 2.8 IS +40 pancake instead of the standard room and I love them. The color is great and comparable to other L lenses I have (better than 24-105L as I recalled).

I also have the 70-300L to complete the basic trio kit. I have other L lenses and cameras but that could be all I need to take great pictures everywhere.

So I give a vote for this plan. Most of the time I found 24mm is wide enough for my taste and the experience of using the pancake has been liberating. I do a lot of journalistic shooting with the pancake and it works well. It is a really versatile lens



Apr 18, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Gunzorro
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p.1 #17 · Landscape lens selection


Gahnix wrote:
@ontherez:

Interesting perspective. I have read about people using longer lenses for landscape work (and have seen a couple of nice portfolios with these types of images in them) but to be honest, I have never actually considered doing it myself. I really love shooting sweeping vistas, panos, and in the trees so UWA makes a lot of sense for me. Nevertheless, I appreciate the perspective and will give it some thought.

@Gunzorro

I have heard good things about the Samyang 14mm but after a bad experience with Tamron several years back, I am reluctant to go third party. The biggest problem I
...Show more

Yes, I shot both lenses on multiple bodies to decide if I would keep the 17-40 after I got the 16-35. My experience mirrors the majority posting -- much better on the sides and corners, significantly wider than 1mm would imply, and I've found the f/2.8 to be very important and useful on several travel situations. I wanted to keep the 17-40, but in reality it wasn't going to be used, even on different size sensors. If you only have $500, it is a great used buy and can get a lot done, otherwise go for the 16-35II.

I own three Samyang lenses and all are very good (fully manual lenses). I have no Tamron, Tokina, or Sigma. (I may eventually get one of the newest Sigma designs.)



Apr 18, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Gahnix
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p.1 #18 · Landscape lens selection


Thanks for all the information -- much appreciated.

@Gunzorro

That Samyang 14mm looks very good for the price. I just finished going through the reviews and i may have to give this one a shot. @ $350, how can you go wrong?



Apr 18, 2013 at 09:41 PM
gome1122
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p.1 #19 · Landscape lens selection


Ever consider the 17 TSE?


Apr 18, 2013 at 11:36 PM
toddlambert
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p.1 #20 · Landscape lens selection


I was just gonna say... It took 18 posts before someone recommended the grandly daddy - 17 TS-E?!?!


Apr 18, 2013 at 11:50 PM
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