« on: April 17, 2013, 11:42:08 AM »
That hasn't been the case for ages. The 16-35 II, for example, stomps all over all the non-L primes in the same focal length range (though I don't know about the new IS ones). The new 24-70 even gives the TS-E 24 II a run for its money. The new 70-200 eats (almost) all the primes in that range for lunch. The 5-15 is the best fisheye ever made. And so on....
What primes get you is fast apertures, smaller size, cheaper cost (often), and, in some cases, features like movements or macro that you can't get in a zoom. Oftentimes there's also less distortion. (And then there's the Great Whites, of course....)
But the days when you could automatically assume that a prime beats a zoom are long past.
The new IS primes are sharper than the 16-35, and pretty clearly so at that:
16-35 II: http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/435-canon_1635_28_5d?start=1
28 IS: http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/774-canon28f28isff?start=1
DXO (hate their cryptic data, but I'm presuming it's at least consistently cryptic -- I reported all data from 5D3-paired lenses, it certainly does affect test performance):
16-35 II: http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Camera-Lens-Database/Canon/EF16-35mm-F2.8L-II-USM/%28camera%29/795/%28cameraname%29/Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III
24 IS: http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Camera-Lens-Database/Canon/Canon-EF-24mm-F28-IS-USM/%28camera%29/795/%28cameraname%29/Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III
28 IS: http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Camera-Lens-Database/Canon/Canon-EF-28mm-F28-IS-USM/%28camera%29/795/%28cameraname%29/Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III
35 IS: http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Camera-Lens-Database/Canon/Canon-EF-35mm-F2-IS-USM/%28camera%29/795/%28cameraname%29/Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III
The Digital Picture's sample crops:
(you mouseover these and the arrow changes direction, telling you which lens is being shown. I've thrown in F/2.8 and F/4.0, but you can tweak this page any way you like)
16-35 vs. 28 IS @ F/2.8: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=412&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=3&API=0&LensComp=789&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0
16-35 vs. 28 IS @ F/4: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=412&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=3&API=2&LensComp=789&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=2
You'll giggle when I say I am not a sharpness lunatic, but it's true. It's just that when three completely different reviewers have the same conclusions, it's probably so.
I still believe that a prime is sharper than a zoom if they were made of the same quality around the same time (i.e. year of release). The 24-70 II is the only flat-out exception to that rule that I've seen.