The first batch of Canon’s new 16-35/2.8L II wide angle lens has been shipping, and a few reports are starting to come in. I am particularly interested in the corner to corner sharpness in the f/5.6 to f/8 range. At $1599, I certainly hope it’s sharp. The Digital Picture has posted ISO 12233 test shots from this lens — you can compare different lenses at a wide range of apertures, which is a handy feature for gear nerds. The tests are done with the Canon 1DS Mk II camera. Interestingly enough, the new 16-35mm lens doesn’t look quite as sharp as the 17-40/4L at 20mm or 24mm f/8.
In related news, the 16-9.net has posted an updated look at the Canon 17-40/4L, Nikon 17-35/2.8, and Contax Zeiss 21/2.8 distagon. This site posted a comparison of the 17-40/4L and Zeiss 21mm a few years ago where the Zeiss just destroyed the Canon. Either they had a poor performing copy of the 17-40mm, or the quality of the Canon lens has improved. The new test shows Canon performing really well when stopped down to f/11-f/16. The Zeiss is the sharpest, but with a $3000 price tag on the used market, and significant waveform distortion as a minor quibble.
Another interesting development in Canon wide angle options is the Contax 17-35/2.8 N lens. A Canadian company called Conurus converts Contax N series autofocus lenses to work with the Canon EOS mount. The conversion cost is $339, and the lens maintains autofocus. The Contax 17-35mm is reportedly an excellent performer on the wide end. Too bad it takes 95mm filters.
I’m sticking with the sharp, tiny, and affordable Olympus Zuiko 21/3.5. Eventually I will test the new version of the Canon 16-35mm zoom. I do most of my shooting with the 24-70/2.8L lens, which is quite sharp. As I mostly use the 21mm focal length for night photography, I’ve considered just getting a Hasselblad SWC for this focal length. I know some people think the Mamiya 7 with a 43mm lens is better, but I prefer the square format of the Hassie, it doesn’t require batteries, and it looks way cooler.
OK, I’m going outside to take some photos now (with a pinhole camera, no less). Happy Easter!