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Author Topic: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS  (Read 3318 times)

ahsanford

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Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« on: August 16, 2012, 02:39:36 PM »
Hello all, long time reader and first time poster.

I've recently jumped from crop to FF with the new 5D after piling up a few lenses with with crop cameras.  Please file me under 'poorly self-taught enthusiast' -- no teaching, perhaps 30k exposures of flight time logged.

Though I have the standard 24-70 F/2.8L zoom (Mk I) and 50 F/1.4, I feel these lenses don't fully serve me in my walkaround needs.  I've recently moved from a very small town to a major city, and I'd like to bring the camera along as I discover my new home.  Weight and size precludes bringing the 24-70 around everywhere.  Though the 50 prime is often my walkaround, my most troublesome environment is wide, indoors, low light.  This comes up a lot, as I'm often out with friends at a cramped bar / restaurant and have to sandwich all their faces together.  I'm not just shooting candids -- everywhere in this city is compacted into small spaces where width gives me more elbow room for composition.  I also don't carry a flash with me in my travels, so even with the 5D3's great low light performance, I need something very quick.

So I have rented the 35 F/1.4L and the new 28 F/2.8 IS to test them out head to head, with the intention of buying one of the two.  I've opted out of the 24 F/1.4L II as I feel that the 24mm FOV on FF is great for landscapes, but clearly shows distorted view of closer objects.  I also love circular polarizers for outdoor shooting, but 24mm on FF shows that FOV quasi-vignetting thing that I'd like to avoid.

I know many pros on this forum have thrown their hands up at the new 24mm and 28mm primes for still shooters -- why give IS to a wide lens, these are meant for video, I'll take the F/1.4 over the F/2.8 with IS, etc.  But I'd like to understand that better in the context of my shooting style/need.

I ask because from everything I've seen, the 28 is just as good if not better than the 35L in my hands from a few days of shooting.  Keep in mind, I'm not a super pixel peeper guy.  I leave that for the testing guys, and if you spotted the LensRentals.com posting, the 28 @ 2.8 is within a hair of the resolution performance of the 24 F/1.4L II stopped down to 2.8.  As you'd expect, the 24 F/1.4L II was considerably softer fully open.  Unfortunately, I don't have the same data in the same test for the 35L, but it's (from other sites) in the same ballpark as the 24 F/1.4L II.

So, after all that, my question is this.  As I'm not shooting moving targets where the 1.4 will buy me a usefully faster shutter speed, wouldn't I rather use the new 28 @ 2.8 with its four stops of IS at a higher overall IQ than the 35L wide open?  In my unique need, isn't the new 28 a better choice?

I ask because though I am not shy about buying L glass (I own quite a few), the 28 is small, light, sharp, and surprisingly well built -- as good as any non-L I've seen.  Further, the 35L looks and feels far *less* solid than my other L glass, and the design is certainly dated.  I know people have raved about the 35L, but is this non-L perhaps the better lens for me?

As an engineer and legendary overthinker in RL, I've spreadsheeted it up like I do for most tough calls.  :-)  See attached with the grain of salt that I am a non-pro and non-pixel peeper.  See link:  https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bw1Ov5b4ZHg1ZGRCamEtd2ZITjg

I welcome all commentary on this lens decision.  Thanks in advance for your help!

- A


« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 03:08:17 PM by ahsanford »

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Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« on: August 16, 2012, 02:39:36 PM »

bdunbar79

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2012, 04:12:04 PM »
Yes and no.  The aperture set at 1.4 will allow more light in yes, but the focal plane will be very thin.  So you have to consider that.  Aperture is every bit about DOF as it is letting in more light.  So, the question would become how close is your subjet?  If it's too close, at 1.4, only part of your subject will be in focus.  It really depends.  Stopped down though, the 35L will be sharper than the 28 stopped down.  The 35L is a better lens.  Is it good enough that YOU need to buy it?  I'm not sure, b/c the 28 isn't necessarily bad either.
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moreorless

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2012, 04:20:50 PM »
If your shutter speed has more to do with hand holdability than subject movment and your not looking for shallow DOF then the 28mm 2.8 IS does seem like the better option.

The 35L isnt really a "light" lens either, 2/3rds the weight of the 24-70 you think is too heavy for your use.

ahsanford

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2012, 04:30:06 PM »
Good stuff.  Your DOF comments are spot on -- I rarely shoot fully open on the 50 1.4 I own for a host of reasons.

But your statement "Stopped down though, the 35L will be sharper than the 28 stopped down" -- though a common sense statement -- doesn't have data behind it that I am aware of.    The only data I have is a 24L II comparison to the 28, and it's here:

http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/06/the-other-canon-primes-why-did-they-do-that

And at a common aperture (2.8 in this case), the 28mm lens is virtually the same as the 24 L II.  (I'd love to see the 35 get thrown in this analysis, as well as when it's stopped down to 5.6 or so.)   But in my core intended use (the indoors environs described above), I imagine I'll be using this new wide lens heavily in the 2.8 - 4.0 aperture.  To stop it down further and remain handheld would invite epically high ISO values that even the 5D3 doesn't pull off well.

So, as such, I guess I'm asking if this brand new non-L potentially a better lens than the aging L from a straight IQ perspective?

LostArk

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2012, 04:41:48 PM »
Unless you only shoot static scenes, faster shutter speeds > IS. And if you're only shooting static scenes, you should be using a tripod. You're not going to be able to discern a difference in sharpness between a handheld shot at f/1.4 and 2.8 with IS. At these focal lengths I see IS as a feature only a videographer would appreciate. For example, the following photo was taken at 1/200, f/1.6, ISO 3200:


Untitled by Nοah Fence, on Flickr

This shot would have been impossible with the 28 2.8.

Further, the 28 & 35mm are so similar in perspective to 50mm on FF that I didn't see the point in buying a lens only marginally wider. For this reason I went with the 24mm. Frankly I believe you are making a mistake in dismissing the 24L II without renting it. I would wager that if you get either the 35 1.4 or 28 2.8, you will find yourself wishing you had the 24mm sooner rather than later. Additionally, the 24mm is weather sealed and uses a 77mm filter thread.

ahsanford

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2012, 04:56:08 PM »
@ LostArk

Great comments as well.  Nice shot!  (might I ask what onboard high ISO noise reduction level you used with that shot?)

Re: 24mm length.  All things considered -- for a walkabout lens -- the 24 length is out for me as I shoot outdoors with a polarizer very often, and I get that nasty FOV vignetting at that length.  If I need that width (very very rare in city walkabout shooting for me), I'll crack out the 24-70.

Re:  "And if you're only shooting static scenes, you should be using a tripod."  Though technically correct, it's also a mite unfair given how I shoot, which is walkaround / opportunity / street / social shooting.  Those are clearly not tripod environments.

Re: 77mm filters and weather sealed, I very much wish the 35L had these options.  That would tip the scales for me.

I don't mean to be stubborn.  Please don't mistake my comebacks as disagreement to some welcomed coaching.  I am not asking you to endorse how I shoot -- but if I shoot that way, what is the best glass?


« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 05:00:00 PM by ahsanford »

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2012, 05:04:58 PM »
Good stuff.  Your DOF comments are spot on -- I rarely shoot fully open on the 50 1.4 I own for a host of reasons.

But your statement "Stopped down though, the 35L will be sharper than the 28 stopped down" -- though a common sense statement -- doesn't have data behind it that I am aware of.    The only data I have is a 24L II comparison to the 28, and it's here:

http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/06/the-other-canon-primes-why-did-they-do-that

And at a common aperture (2.8 in this case), the 28mm lens is virtually the same as the 24 L II.  (I'd love to see the 35 get thrown in this analysis, as well as when it's stopped down to 5.6 or so.)   But in my core intended use (the indoors environs described above), I imagine I'll be using this new wide lens heavily in the 2.8 - 4.0 aperture.  To stop it down further and remain handheld would invite epically high ISO values that even the 5D3 doesn't pull off well.

So, as such, I guess I'm asking if this brand new non-L potentially a better lens than the aging L from a straight IQ perspective?


Stopped down, they are about the same.  See link below.

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=121&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=3&LensComp=789&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0

Smaller apertures negate the advantages of high speed glass.  It might be worth taking a look at a small flash instead (i.e. 270 EX II).  5D + shorty forty + small flash might be the way to go if 40mm is wide enough for you.

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2012, 05:04:58 PM »

ahsanford

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 05:13:36 PM »

@Random Orbits:  Not to get OT, but is the dainty new 90EX for the EOS-M an option on the 5D3?  Will it clear either of the two lenses on a 5D3?  I ask b/c that thing is small.  Would likely fit in a cargo shorts' pocket.

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2012, 06:00:18 PM »
I understand looking for a competent prime within the range that your current zoom offers, and maybe it is just that.

You have already proven to yourself that the 28 2.8 IS suits your needs, so you may want to look at the 28 2.8 (non IS) before pulling the trigger on his purchase. The Digital Picture show is is slightly sharper than the IS at 2.8.

Many of us chase the extreme edges of speed, bokeh and limited DOF that many of the L lenses provide. It's not for everyone whether you need it or not.

Whatever you decide, lenses come and lenses go. Here today, gone next year. Buy it, enjoy it, keep it, exchange it, who knows what the future holds.

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2012, 06:19:23 PM »

@Random Orbits:  Not to get OT, but is the dainty new 90EX for the EOS-M an option on the 5D3?  Will it clear either of the two lenses on a 5D3?  I ask b/c that thing is small.  Would likely fit in a cargo shorts' pocket.

I don't know, but I'd be interested in the answer to that question too.  I don't know if it's compatible with the 5DIII but I would think that it'd clear those lenses just fine.  Just think of it as something akin to a 7D's popup flash  -- it wouldn't be any closer to the lens.  Perhaps someone else might be able to answer the compatibilty question.  Either that or try it at a camera store when it arrives.

KyleSTL

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2012, 06:33:42 PM »
In regards to the 90EX idea:

No zoom head, and much lower power flash than it's bigger brother - 270EX II (GN 9 @ 24mm vs. GN 22 @ 28mm).  It is even less powerful than the built-in flashes on Rebels (GN 13 @ 28mm).
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15mm f/2.8 Fisheye | 28mm f/1.8 USM | 50mm f/1.4 USM | 85mm f/1.8 USM | 3x 420EX | ST-E2 | Canon S90 | SD600 w/ WP-DC4

sjp010

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2012, 07:34:56 PM »
So, after all that, my question is this.  As I'm not shooting moving targets where the 1.4 will buy me a usefully faster shutter speed, wouldn't I rather use the new 28 @ 2.8 with its four stops of IS at a higher overall IQ than the 35L wide open?  In my unique need, isn't the new 28 a better choice?


I have one more comment for you, since you're a lensrentals.com blog reader.  The new 24 and 28 IS lenses have been a conundrum to me (and many others) - they seemed overpriced for f/2.8 primes.  For the longest time I struggled to think of why someone would want to buy those lenses at their offered prices. 

Then, Roger at lensrentals figured it out for us.  On your new 5D3, the 28/1.8 IS USM is one of a handful of new "super focuser" lenses (my term, not his) that has a rotation detector, and is thus able to fully realize the advanced AF capabilities in the 5D3 and 1DX.

The current 35L, being a dated design, is not in this category.  Its long-rumored successor almost certainly will be, if/when we see it.

Personally, I have an ancient 5D classic, so I will pass on the new 24 and 28 (plus I have a 28/1.8 I'm pretty happy with).  But if I were in your shoes, I would seriously consider it unless I you feel like waiting for the new 35L (which could be a year off and $2000 and huge).

Here's the blog:
http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/08/autofocus-reality-part-3b-canon-cameras

BTW, love your spreadsheet!
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 07:47:22 PM by sjp010 »

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2012, 07:54:29 PM »
I think the "super focuser" jargon is just sales crap.  Either the lens focuses or it doesn't.  Just because it has new AF technology doesn't mean it can "focus more."  It either is or isn't.  It's easy to tell consumers that they have to buy the latest lenses to take advantage of the latest cameras.  It's sales.
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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2012, 07:54:29 PM »

ahsanford

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2012, 08:14:07 PM »
A couple of responses here:

@bdunbar: 
Agree to some extent.  I will say the new lenses seem much more consistent.  I've seen many posts about older canon lenses (including L lenses) that were spotty depending on when they were made and such.  Roger at LR has tested many of the new 24 IS, 28 IS and 40 pancakes to very consistent results.  I've now used the 28 IS and the 40, and both of them are super tight/firm during mounting -- much more so than L glass I own.  Perhaps that's where the better IQ (especially wide open) in these non-Ls is coming from?

@SJP: 
I must admit that size is a non-trivial consideration.  I have, for quite some time, lugged the 24-70 around with me on the old crop body.  That or the EF-S 10-22 covered my walkaround needs (largely shooting in the 17-22 neighboorhood on that one).  Though I had the 50 prime back then, it was too long on a crop for walkaround detail.

But unlike in a clear "I am going out to [insert destination] to shoot something" situation, in which I'll pack a few lenses in a bag (which I still do often), I am now more and more finding myself putting one lens on the camera, strapping it around me like a satchel strap (over one arm, under the other) and running off with friends sans agenda.  This is sometimes out of trying to force myself to move my feet with just one length available, but it's also out of the pragmatic need to not need a bag -- having a bag while out in the city means it never leaves your side. 

So now, in this use, size and weight definitely matter.  The 24-70 is fine to hold and shoot, but it's a bit of a pickle jar to leave dangling around your neck all day (again, I'm not a pro).  I'll still take it on more serious/deliberate shoots, high-camera-need situations (i.e. vacations, events), etc., but for 'I'm just bringing it along if I see something interesting' responsibilities, the very light 28mm IS seems great in that regard.

On that note, the shorty mcforty (which I also own) epically addresses size concerns, but I just don't regard it as highly as the 28 IS -- it lacks IS, STM focus speed is nothing compared to USM, and I've read it does not stop down particularly well like most glass does.  It's lovely, but the size has the cost of a potential IQ compromise.

It just seems like the 28 IS will work in my specific need (small, wide, low-light for non-moving stuff, still handles polarizers, not too wide for general walkaround use) without any degradation of IQ compared to the closest L lenses.  Seems like a win in my (admittedly bizarre) little world.


sjp010

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2012, 10:31:51 PM »
bdunbar, "super focuser" isn't a term anyone uses as far as I know - I just threw it in my previous post.  The lensrentals.com blog post is worth reading if you don't like marketing jargon - Roger takes Canon to task for hiding meaningful technical information in mountains of marketing crap.  I believe he's on our side - he rents the old lenses as much as the new ones.  He just tests so he knows how they're supposed to work, so that he'll know when they need to be taken out of service and repaired.  He generously shares the results of his tests and his interpretations.  Lots of great info on that site.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 08:30:58 AM by sjp010 »

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Re: Wider lens for new FF user - 35L vs. new 28 IS
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2012, 10:31:51 PM »