Any champions of WA zooms?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by jakeblues, Nov 6, 2012.

Which type of lens gets your creative juices flowing?

  1. Wide Angle Zooms

    3 vote(s)
    9.7%
  2. Wide Angle Primes

    21 vote(s)
    67.7%
  3. I use them equally/they both inspire me

    7 vote(s)
    22.6%
  1. jakeblues

    jakeblues Member

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    Hi,

    After owning and borrowing a few wide angle zooms (canon 16-35L, Pentax M 28-50, old Canon 20-35 L), I find using them a COMPLETELY different experience than wide angle primes. I find myself using prime lenses much more frequently for the challenge that they present. By this I mean that I am forced to find a good composition by moving, squatting, lying on the ground, etc. I took a Tokina 14mm prime and an old Canon film body out in downtown LA recently. I had a blast trying to find pictures I could take, as that was the only lens I brought. I don't think I would have had the same experience with a 16-35 zoom.

    I'm wondering if there is anyone who is an active user of wide-angle zooms. What do you like about them? Do you find yourself using the middle of the zoom range, or just the extremes? How does using a zoom expand your creative possibilities?
     
  2. trojancast

    trojancast Member

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    Sorry, I use primes only, mostly 35mm and 50mm. For zoom, I use my feet.:wink:
     
  3. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Primes only here, too. Won't own a zoom, for any reason. They're too much of a compromise.

    I use a 20, 35, and 50. The 35 and 50 are about equally used, the 20 is really a special purpose lens, not for general photography.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I use both, while I prefer a prime in some cases a zoom is more practical.

    Ian
     
  5. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I have a Sigma 15-30 Ex zoom and it is probably the most used lens I own. Sharp all over from 5.6 down to about f16 when diffraction starts to take over. Compared to the lies of a Nikon 17/35 it is no match but there again it is about 1/4 of the price even 2nd hand. I will get a 12x16 colour print from it anytime ant any focal length.
     
  6. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    This is the Sigma 15/30 at 15mm set at f8 The house in the distance is about 80yds away and the dead reeds in the foreground are about 3 feet distant. Film was the Regenerated Agfa 200 reversaL
     

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  7. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    I use a 16-35, I don't stick to the extremes but zoom freely for framing accuracy. I also use a 17mm f4 on a T90, as well as a Zeiss C/Y 25mm on an EOS body with an adapter. I can't say I have a preference, and I rarely bring more than one lens per body anymore. I'm learning to make use of whatever I have on hand, and to enjoy it.
     
  8. PentaxBronica

    PentaxBronica Member

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    I have that Pentax 28-50mm and would use it more often if it were a bit faster. It's f3.5 at the 28mm end which isn't so bad, but f4.5 at the 50mm end gives a dim viewfinder. It's fine in good sunlight but not so wonderful in city streets on a dull day.

    Mine is a fungus survivor, I had to take every element out, clean it, and rebuild it. Despite this and the inevitable dust it's decently sharp, only slightly behind my SMC P 28mm f3.5. However, I'd rather carry the 28mm and my 50/1.4. I keep meaning to strip the zoom down again and see if I can get it back together with less dust (and without the speck of fibre I noticed just as I tightened the last bit up).

    My main complaint with zooms is the size and weight required for comparable performance and aperture to a prime. I also have the Pentax-M 35-70mm f2.8-3.5 which while a good lens weighs a ton (you really need a winder to balance it on an M series body). Meanwhile the 35mm f2.8 from the same range is only slightly longer than the 50mm.
     
  9. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Zoom technology has come a long way since the terrible examples of the 70s, 80s and early 90s. Canon's 17-40mm f4L zoom, bought speculatively given my preference for primes, is a gem, though a very hard one to master at 17mm. The extreme wide angle means key elements are placed further away than often desired, and distortion is very noticeable of horizontals. It redeems itself well in overall, edge to edge sharpness, just a bit too wide to be practical. My other favourite is an old EF 20mm f2.8 prime that, 22 years after purchase, is still a much-loved member of my 35mm kit.

    In medium format my favourite is an ultra-wide 45mm.
     
  10. jakeblues

    jakeblues Member

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    Yes, zoom technology has greatly benefited from the last two decades of competition among the Japanese camera manufacturers to make the best zooms. Canon makes some amazing zooms. Though I haven't tried the 17-40L, I almost bought one last year as a friend swears by it. I'll have to borrow his and stick it on my Elan 7 and go shoot some Tri-x.

    It seems perfectly logical that a lens like the Canon 17-40L would be an amazing creative tool, as most of my favorite prime focal lengths fall between 17 and 40mm. However, in my experience (with other zooms, including the 16-35LII), this just hasn't been the case. Maybe you can elaborate on how you use a WA zoom, and if your process differs at all from using WA primes.
     
  11. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    With a WA zoom, you can more or less frame and shoot from a fixed position, or with considerably less moving about. But this does not bother me. With a UWA prime (on MF) I routinely move around anyway. And 17mm is quite a darned tricky view to manage; of the 400 Ilfochrome Classic prints produced from several lenses, only one was printed featuring that 17mm end, and it worked a treat, in the right conditions at the right time. It's a very good size for open landscape photography but it must be balanced with a very strong foreground anchor or lead-in to keep the perspective balanced. I apply that rule anyway with either 45mm or 55mm primes in MF. I think 16mm is too extreme; the happy medium seems to be in the 20mm to 45mm range rather than trying to take in the whole world before in an extreme wide angle view on a relatively very small frame. You could look at zoom vs prime (I maintain that the optical quality is top notch for many, many zooms now, on a par with primes) as coming down to preference based on experience and the end product (large prints where optical refinement will clearly be on display), not assuming that what is suitable for one photographer will be universally suitable, good and proper for another. That said, I'm not going to pan Canon's fine 17-40mm (I also have a 70-200 f4L tele-zoom with equally refined optical pizazz), just that I do not use it (or 35mm) so frequently now. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2012
  12. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    The Tamron SP 20-40 f/2.7-3.5AF is superb.

    KK
     
  13. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    Without a doubt I get more of my best shots with my 45-85 zoom, which is wide angle on my 645 camera. It's a nice sharp lens. At least 90% of the time I shoot at 45mm but nice to have a normal end to work with when you want it.

    I almost never carry spare lenses so that is a factor as well. Whatever lens I have on the camera is what I am shooting with so in that case having a zoom is a bonus.
     
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  15. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    In some ways (geographic photographers excluded) zoom lenses were one of the worst things that ever happened to photographic technology. Suddenly people thought they could stay in the same position and just zoom in. Thus ignoring the use of perspective control by changing their distance between the camera and subject. See below example of HCB perspective control by positioning using a 50mm lens.

    http://www.michaelhoppengallery.com...0,henri_cartier_bresson_salerno,_italy,_.html
     
  16. jakeblues

    jakeblues Member

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    I understand that zooms make some people into lazy, bad photographers, but this is not what I'm asking about.

    I'm asking if anyone uses a zoom lens that probably has used to use primes extensively in the past, knows different focal lengths intimately (and thus knows how different FL's control perspective), has an artistic goal in mind, and primarily uses a zoom lens to accomplish his ideas.
     
  17. jakeblues

    jakeblues Member

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    I hear you on the "one lens-one camera" preference. Cool photos; is that a bit of barrel distortion I see?

    [​IMG]
     
  18. agnosticnikon

    agnosticnikon Member

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    In the late 1990s I bought a Vivitar Series 1 19-35mm zoom for my Nikons. For an inexpensive lens I've been pleasantly surprised with the results I've gotten. I used it not long after I got it to take some great pictures while staying on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. I usually use my Nikkor 20mm prime, but having the zoom in those confined quarters made it easier framing a lot of photos. I've since bought the 15-30mm Sigma, and I like it a lot, but find it rather large and heavy, and find using filters (in the rear gel holder) a bit of a pain. So I still go back to the old Vivitar as a favorite. With a red filter on partly cloudy day in the winter, with lots of great trees....one of my favorite times for picture taking.
     
  19. filmamigo

    filmamigo Member

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    Here's a second vote for the Sigma 15-30mm EX DG. It is fantastic. I have 3 prints from this lens hanging in my home - two 11x14 and one 16x20. I find that I use this lens at the extremes, either 15mm because I am going as wide as possible, or 30 because I want to switch perspective to a "normal" wide. So long as there is enough light, I don't give up much compared to my primes, so I don't hesitate to leave the lens on the camera and shoot this way.

    As for standing still.... I don't know how you could possibly stand still with a lens this wide. I move all over the place and contort myself into all kinds of positions, because positioning subjects, forground, background, and their relationships, are so critical to successful wide angle photos.
     
  20. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    Thanks! That one is actually taken with my 35mm prime, could possibly be barrel distortion although who knows with that old building. :smile: That's been the 'one lens' for the past six weeks or so.

    I just got some rolls of Provia back from the lab most of which was shot on the 45-85, it's all scanned but haven't gotten anything uploaded yet. Really, really happy with the results though. I spent a weekend up on a mountain and packed four lenses around (fisheye, wide zoom, normal prime, tele prime), ended up shooting the zoom almost all of the time and the only other shots worth keeping are a few from my fisheye lens. If I did the same trip again I'd bring the 35 and 45-85 and nothing else.
     
  21. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I have a medium range Canon FD 28-85 f4 medium range zoom which is an excellent "walk around" lens that is particularly useful for shooting slides where precise framing is needed, for wide angle work I use Canon FD 35 mm f 2, 24 mm f 2, and the amazing Tamron S.P 17 mm f3.5 lens
     
  22. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Wide to short tele zooms have their place, but ultra wide to wide are strange fish. Wide angle lenses have very particular characteristics at each focal length.
     
  23. Aja B

    Aja B Member

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    Nikon 17-35/2.8 is simply more practical than primes as my terrain often doesn't allow feet-shuffling. I don't care much for the weight of such a beefy lens yet the image-quality is the end-all and be-all.
     
  24. lensman_nh

    lensman_nh Member

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    I use primes only for my Canon FD bodies.

    I use zooms on my Pentax MF and Canon EOS bodies.

    When backpacking a Canon Rebel 2000, 20-35 USM and a 28-105 USM Zooms cover everything I need and are much lighter than primes.

    If it's just a walk I'll take anything that takes my fancy that day from a Canon FTBn with a matching BL 50/1.8, or a T-90 with a handful of primes, or an EOS-3 with zooms and primes. Or maybe a Mamiya 645 with primes. It just depends.

    Sometimes the choice of tool (and a camera is just a tool) is driven by terrain and accessability, other times the creative vision (pitiful though that may be in my case) is the driver.

    Galen Rowell had a lot to say on matters like this and I tend to share his approach to equipment, and always have.
     
  25. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I use wide-angle primes and zooms.

    For example, I have a Nikon 18mm f/3.5 and a Nikon 24mm f/2 that I primarily use with my 35mm film cameras. These two manual focus lenses are also useful when I need to use filters.

    I also have a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 auto focus zoom that I primarily use on my APS size digital SLR because I cannot focus my dSLR as easily as my film cameras. Since this lens does not readily accept filters, my prime wide-angle lenses replace this zoom if a filter is needed.
     
  26. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    The elephant in the room with zoom vs prime is cost. While wide-angle zooms are not cheap, and GOOD wide-angle zooms are very pricey, a 16-35-ish pro-quality zoom is usually not much more than a single fixed prime in that range. I used to have a Sigma 18-35 f3.5 for my Contax SLR outfit, and while it was about $500 new (back in the early 90's), just the 28 f2.8 and 25 f2.8 alone would have set me back closer to $1K. Not to mention any of the really wide lenses in the Contax lineup, like the 21 or the 16.