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Old June 4th, 2009, 01:10 PM   #1
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Which Ultrawide Lens?

I'm interested in getting an ultrawide lens that doesn't cost a bomb. Any recommendations?

One of my requirements is that I'd like to be able to use at least one filter. Some of the ultrawides have threads, but they're designed to take a single, ultrathin UV protection filter.

As an example, I have a Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF, which has a 52mm thread. Using a step up and a 58mm polarizer crops the edges pretty well.

In the 20mm range, the Nikon f/2.8s take 62mm filters, and I've read that they can take a couple of 77mm filters. The Canon f/2.8 takes 72mm filters, but I'm not sure about vignetting. The Canon lens is older and has the dreaded 5-blade iris.

Though I want this for photos and video, I don't need the auto functions. Ultrawides are generally for landscape, architecture and up-close perspectives. I can take my time to set up these shots manually.

For special shoots, I'll rent. At that point the 16-35mm is attractive, but the L II version takes 82mm filters, and I've read that it vignettes with most any filter at 16mm. Sure, I could buy 82mm filters and step up rings, but that drives up my costs vs. 72 or 77mm filters. Maybe a mattebox and square filters are the way to go, but that seems cumbersome for stills.

This would be easier if the local rental shop rented filters. They don't.

Any first hand experiences with these lenses out there?
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Old June 4th, 2009, 01:45 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
I'm interested in getting an ultrawide lens that doesn't cost a bomb. Any recommendations?

Any first hand experiences with these lenses out there?
I use the 17-40mmL. Historically this has not been a great Canon lens but for some reason the 5DII likes it and I've used it quite a bit for stills with very good results, and some for video where it does well. It uses the normal L series 77mm filters. At f/4 it won't give the really small depth of field of a faster lens but I'm not looking for that in an ultrawide. It's quite a bit less expensive than the 16-35L. Any ultrawide will have some vignetting.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 02:02 PM   #3
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I have used the f4 17-40 L lens for a few video shots. It works very well and it is very wide w/o much distortion.

Link below have quite a few shots with that lens, inside the engine and in the roundhouse. Most of the video is shot with the EX3. Audio was recorded separatly.

CSRR 5 minutes of Winter Steam

check this link:

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0 L USM Lens Review
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Old June 4th, 2009, 02:07 PM   #4
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I use the 17-40mmL. Historically this has not been a great Canon lens but for some reason the 5DII likes it and I've used it quite a bit for stills with very good results, and some for video where it does well. It uses the normal L series 77mm filters. At f/4 it won't give the really small depth of field of a faster lens but I'm not looking for that in an ultrawide. It's quite a bit less expensive than the 16-35L. Any ultrawide will have some vignetting.
Thanks Charles,

I'm leaning toward an f/2.8 simply for that extra stop of light, rather than for DOF. And, yes, at half the price of the 16-35mm, it's attractive.

Still, I'm leaning toward a prime, because the price is even lower, and I can get that extra stop.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 02:21 PM   #5
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Jon, your timing of this post is perfect. I ordered a 16-35 2.8 from B&H and it's arriving today. I already invested in 77mm ND filters previously so I also ordered that lens with a step-down (82 to 77). If it vignettes a full wide it should most definitely do so with a step-down and 77mm filter. However I'll let you know how it works out.

I really don't want to have 2 sets of ND filters. I'm also thinking that the in-camera vignette correction may help. While I use faux vignettes on a lot of my stuff in post I don't like to have it naturally on the footage right out of the camera. I like the choice to add it or not.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 02:31 PM   #6
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I have a sigma 20mm 1.8 and it takes 2 filters (82mm) easily without vigneting in video mode. It's not a sharp lens by any means, even at close apertures, but it's a 1.8 :)
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Old June 4th, 2009, 02:42 PM   #7
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Thanks Charles,

I'm leaning toward an f/2.8 simply for that extra stop of light, rather than for DOF. And, yes, at half the price of the 16-35mm, it's attractive.

Still, I'm leaning toward a prime, because the price is even lower, and I can get that extra stop.
It seems like a lot of money and weight for one stop. There are a lot of other ways to get a stop.

I love my 17-40 and when I need the light I use a 35mm 1.4. Three stops makes a significant difference. One stop doesn't. If the 35mm is expensive, get a 50 1.4, a great value.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 03:02 PM   #8
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I ordered a 16-35 2.8 from B&H and it's arriving today. I already invested in 77mm ND filters previously so I also ordered that lens with a step-down (82 to 77). If it vignettes a full wide it should most definitely do so with a step-down and 77mm filter.
It will vignette terribly with the step down. Hell, it'll vignette at 82mm without a slim.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 03:13 PM   #9
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I use Olympus lenses on my 5D2, all handed on from my old OM-1 cameras.
My widest is the Oly 21mm f2, followed by the 24mm f2.
The fantastic thing about Oly lenses is they are all small! The 21mm for instance weighs only 250 grams and takes 55mm filters.
See details here:
Zuiko lenses - 21mm f/2.0, 21mm f/3.5

I've finally got around to buying the Cokin P 'wide' holder so I can use ND filters across all my lenses for video.

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Old June 4th, 2009, 03:14 PM   #10
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I think another reason why we'd want an extra stop is simply for nicer bokeh, not only for more light.

The OP mentions Nikon's so I'd like to toss this question in: The ability to do rack focus is huge for what I want from the 5d. I've read that Canon AF lenses don't have great focus rings for manual racking. Whereas old manual Nikons have a longer throw on the rings. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
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Old June 4th, 2009, 05:18 PM   #11
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It seems like a lot of money and weight for one stop. There are a lot of other ways to get a stop.
Exactly! Which is why I'm leaning toward a 20mm prime f/2.8 in the $400 range.

Quote:
I love my 17-40 and when I need the light I use a 35mm 1.4. Three stops makes a significant difference. One stop doesn't. If the 35mm is expensive, get a 50 1.4, a great value.
I've got the EF 85mm f/1.8, EF 50mm f/1.4, EF 35mm f/2, and the EF 28mm f/1.8. Of these, I like the 85 and 28 the most. (The 50 has slight barrel distortion and green/magenta fringing on high contrast edges when slightly out of focus; the 35 has a five blade iris.)

Anyway, I like the 28mm, but would like to be able to push the perspective further without going to a fisheye.

One problem we've found is that when we set up a scene that works with a fast lens, we can be unpleasantly surprised when we go to a slower lens. I see f/1.8 as our baseline, so f/2.8 is already losing a stop, and f/4 loses two. (In fact, our previous experience was exactly that - going from f/1.8 to f/4.)

Anyway, I've drawn a mental line at f/2.8 for video, and would prefer to go faster, when in budget.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 05:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by David W. Taylor View Post
I use Olympus lenses on my 5D2, all handed on from my old OM-1 cameras.
My widest is the Oly 21mm f2, followed by the 24mm f2.
The fantastic thing about Oly lenses is they are all small! The 21mm for instance weighs only 250 grams and takes 55mm filters.
See details here:
Zuiko lenses - 21mm f/2.0, 21mm f/3.5
Oooh. Tell me more! (As I sing the song from "Grease.")

What adapter is needed? Is it really an f/2, or does the falloff and contrast loss get extreme? How's it look with your filter system? Does the front move when you focus? What's the typical price range?
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Old June 4th, 2009, 09:36 PM   #13
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Wide?

Sigma 12-24mm... everything else is just... wide-ish. :)
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Old June 4th, 2009, 09:48 PM   #14
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I have a the Canon EF 20mm f/2,8. I place a step up ring adapter to go from 72mm-77mm filter size. This allows me to put 1-2 filters on with minimal vignetting. The lens does an overall good job image wise. Where I live they are pretty hard to come by and I bought mine used on eBay for about 450.00 USD. Good Luck.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 10:49 PM   #15
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Wide?

Sigma 12-24mm... everything else is just... wide-ish. :)
12mm sounds like a blast! Unfortunately, it won't accept filters and peaks at f/5.6. Ken Rockwell doesn't like it much: Sigma 12-24mm Test Review 2004 KenRockwell.com

Still, it sounds like a lot of fun!
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