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Author Topic: Ultra-Wides, Landscapes, and Distortion ...  (Read 19388 times)
JohnKoerner
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« on: November 01, 2010, 09:18:32 AM »
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I bought a little landscape lens last year (the Canon EF-S 10-22mm zoom), and it seems to have nice color rendition and focus, but the distortion it has at the wider end is pretty pronounced. I guess my question is, if one really wants to purchase the best single lens for landscape work on a Canon, which wide-angle lens is the ideal choice for

1. Low distortion?
2. Sharpness?
3. Color rendition?

For that matter, is a wide-angle lens even ideal for landscape? Would a more moderate lens (say 24mm) be better? Is taking the time to stitch a pano with a non-distorted lens preferable to taking a "wide-angle" shot with one ultra-wide lens--only to have it come out distorted?

I have been looking to upgrade from the 10-22mm (which I just sold on Ebay), but it seems all of the Canon ultra-wides essentially suck. In reading many reviews on lenses such as the 16-35 f/2.8L II, the 17-40 f/4, the 24mm f/1.4L II, etc. ... at best these seem to be average lenses.

I was wondering how many Canon people have actually tried the Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE Lens for landscapes and such, on their own Canons, and compared this lens to the Canon offerings? In many of the reviews, several people said they actually "cringed" when comparing the shots they got from the Canon 16-35 (et al) to the Zeiss. From color rendition, corner-to-corner sharpness, etc., it seems the vote is unanimous that the Zeiss is the better lens. People also keep talking about "that 3D-look" with the Zeiss.

In short, for a Canon body, is there any wide-angle lens that can touch the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8? In the research I've been conducting over the last few weeks, it sure doesn't seem so, but I'd like to hear some live feedback.

Thanks for any replies,

Jack




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« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 09:20:20 AM by John Koerner » Logged
Luis Argerich
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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2010, 11:23:39 AM »
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Distortion is very easy to fix in PP.
The only lens that matches the IQ of the Zeiss 21 is the Nikon 14-24 2.8 (with adapter).

I assume you have a crop body so the best UWA you can get is the Tokina 11-16 F2.8. It's better than the Canon 10-22 as it is sharper and faster.

The 17-40 and the 16-35 are designed for FF bodies and won't perform well in a crop body. I wouldn't use the Zeiss 21 or the Nikon 14-24 on a crop body either.

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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2010, 11:51:27 AM »
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... Tokina 11-16 F2.8. It's better than the Canon 10-22 as it is sharper...

Care to provide a link supporting this claim?
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2010, 11:58:18 AM »
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Before I embark on a psycho-analysis of your perfectionist desires Smiley , would you care to define the distortion you are talking about? Are you talking about barrel/pincushion distortion, or the unavoidable perspective distortion associated with all wide-angle lenses?
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brianrybolt
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2010, 12:00:42 PM »
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Check out:  http://www.kenrockwell.com/tokina/11-16mm.htm

Brian
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2010, 12:21:21 PM »
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Thanks. However, Ken compares Tokina to Nikon 12-24. He has no direct comparison to Canon 10-22. At the same time, Ken is full of superlatives for the Canon, and considers it better than Nikon 12-24. He goes on to recommend Canon 10-22, not Tokina 11-16, for Canon owners.
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2010, 12:28:14 PM »
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Care to provide a link supporting this claim?

http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/174-canon-ef-s-10-22mm-f35-45-usm-test-report--review?start=1
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/379-tokina_1116_28_canon?start=1

You can also check thedigitalpicture.com to compare images
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2010, 12:31:12 PM »
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Distortion is very easy to fix in PP.

I am not sure how that's done, actually. Never really tried to do that before.




The only lens that matches the IQ of the Zeiss 21 is the Nikon 14-24 2.8 (with adapter).

In other words, the Zeiss is the best wide-angle for a Canon, then, right? Thought about the 14-24 also, but (with the adapter) it would be prohibitively expensive, and I am not sure it is any better than the Zeiss. Further, I am not sure on an "ultra-wide" anymore either ...




The 17-40 and the 16-35 are designed for FF bodies and won't perform well in a crop body. I wouldn't use the Zeiss 21 or the Nikon 14-24 on a crop body either

Not so, in many of the tests, both of these supposedly FF lenses actually performed better on APS-C cameras ... E.g.:

"Vignetting is very well controlled - at least when using (the 17-40) on an APS-C DSLR ... Looking a bit beyond the APS-C scope it is worth to mention that the lens didn't perform quite as well during our corresponding full format test ..."
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/448-canon_1740_4_50d?start=1

Thank you for your response,

Jack




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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2010, 12:34:05 PM »
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Before I embark on a psycho-analysis of your perfectionist desires Smiley , would you care to define the distortion you are talking about? Are you talking about barrel/pincushion distortion, or the unavoidable perspective distortion associated with all wide-angle lenses?

Here is a photo I took of St. Marks Lighthouse:



It could now be re-named "The Leaning Tower of St. Marks"

Jack




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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2010, 12:45:04 PM »
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That's just perspective distortion; you had the camera pointed slightly up.  Any of the other lenses mentioned would show the same effect, which is exaggerated by wide-angle lenses.  Think about how tall buildings appear when you look up at them.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 12:48:12 PM by bg2b » Logged
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2010, 12:49:05 PM »
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It appears they're pretty well on a par, the Canon and the Tokina, although the Tokina has a fixed f/2.8 aperture and not a variable one like the Canon.

Still, I highly-doubt either one of them would stand up too well to the Zeiss 21mm distagon.

This begs the other part of my question, which is are ultra-wides really all that desireable for landscape photography? I am reading more and more that many professionals aren't shooting that wide for their landscapes. Although I have read some decent reviews of the Canon 16-35 II, I have read several people who say they "thought" they had a good lens in the 16-35 ... until they shot the Zeiss.

To me it seems like, if you're going to travel somewhere and spend the time, and the money, getting into perfect position etc. ... it only makes sense to use the best lens you can possibly afford.

At ~$1700, the Zeiss 21mm is priced near its rivals, and if it is that much better (to where it makes the former Canon lens owners "cringe" when comparing images), why not just get the Zeiss?

I don't mind MF on a landscape lens as you have plenty of time to do so, especially with Live View ...


Jack



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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2010, 12:51:01 PM »
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For that matter, is a wide-angle lens even ideal for landscape? Would a more moderate lens (say 24mm) be better? Is taking the time to stitch a pano with a non-distorted lens preferable to taking a "wide-angle" shot with one ultra-wide lens--only to have it come out distorted?

I went to a show a couple years ago where the prints I saw really impressed me in terms of immersion and hyper-realism.  I later found out that the photographer used focal lengths between 35mm and 85mm (full frame digital equivalent) for 99% of his shots.  He said that he doesn't use ultra-wides because, when printed very large, the linear perspective distortion in the corners becomes obvious and the large print isn't as immersive or naturalistic.

He went on to say that ultra-wides make a great first impression and provide a sense of depth and immediacy when printed small, but that when you enlarge an ultra-wide print it feels artificial specifically because of the perspective distortion in the corners and exacerbated issues with converging vertical lines (unless you correct for them with a tilt/shift lens).

So if it's traditional barrel distortion or whatever, you can fix it in photoshop.  But if it's perspective distortion (as in the picture above), maybe you are shooting too wide for your subject matter.  It's entirely a matter of style.

I think my "ultimate" landscape kit would be a 5DII and a set of tilt/shift lenses.  Unfortunately, this would probably exceed $10,000....  I find rise/fall pretty indispensable when photographing anything with vertical lines.

Right now my two "main" lenses are 135mm and 180mm apo-sironar-s plasmats.  The 180mm is quickly becoming my favorite, but both are great focal lengths.  I want a 240mm and 300mm now, but they are $$.  The 135mm is just wide enough to be wide but the distortion is minimal.  Since switching to large format I have become addicted to rise/fall, too.....  I love the look of straight lines.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 12:54:48 PM by Policar » Logged
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2010, 12:53:05 PM »
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That's just perspective distortion; you had the camera pointed slightly up.  Any of the other lenses mentioned would show the same effect, which is exaggerated by wide-angle lenses.  Think about how tall buildings appear when you look up at them.


I was shooting pretty straight, but even still it looks goofy to me.

Is there any way to correct this in Photoshop?

I have heard architect photographers use tilt-shift lenses to remove this effect, but was wondering if a 21mm lens would also minimize it?

Thanks,

Jack




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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2010, 12:57:16 PM »
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I went to a show a couple years ago where the prints I saw really impressed me in terms of immersion and hyper-realism.  I later found out that the photographer used focal lengths between 35mm and 85mm (full frame digital equivalent) for 99% of his shots.  He said that he doesn't use ultra-wides because, when printed very large, the linear perspective distortion in the corners becomes obvious and the large print isn't as immersive or naturalistic.
He went on to say that ultra-wides make a great first impression and provide a sense of depth and immediacy when printed small, but that when you enlarge an ultra-wide print it feels artificial specifically because of the perspective distortion in the corners and exacerbated issues with converging vertical lines (unless you correct for them with a tilt/shift lens).
So if it's traditional barrel distortion or whatever, you can fix it in photoshop.  But if it's perspective distortion (as in the picture above), maybe you are shooting too wide for your subject matter.  It's entirely a matter of style.
I think my "ultimate" landscape kit would be a 5DII and a set of tilt/shift lenses.  Unfortunately, this would probably exceed $10,000....  I find rise/fall pretty indispensable when photographing anything with vertical lines.
Right now my two "main" lenses are 135mm and 180mm apo-sironar-s plasmats.  The 180mm is quickly becoming my favorite, but both are great focal lengths.  The 135mm is just wide enough to be wide but the distortion is minimal.  Since switching to large format I have become addicted to rise/fall, too.....  I love the look of straight lines.


Interesting. Thanks.

That is kind of what I was thinking, really, was to get a superlative fixed-frame lens and do panos (if necessary)  ... rather than fiddling with a lower-quality zoom ...

Jack
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brianrybolt
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« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2010, 01:03:03 PM »
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VERY easy to deal with distortion in PS4 & 5:  GoTo Filter > Lens Correction (then Custom)

Apply changes.

Voila

Brian
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« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2010, 01:04:00 PM »
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I was shooting pretty straight, but even still it looks goofy to me.

Is there any way to correct this in Photoshop?


No you weren't -- the horizon line would be dead center if you were "shooting straight." The upward tilt of the camera results in the leaning building. This will happen with any lens.

You have several options:

1. in Photoshop, choose Filter > Lens Correction and play with Vertical Perspective. (In CS5 choose the Custom panel first.)

2. Shoot with the camera perfectly level, but with a much wider lens. Your photo will have the horizon dead center, but you can then crop this in Photoshop to your desired framing. (This was a common tactic back when we didn't have much in the way of shift lenses for 35mm cameras.)

3. Buy a shift lens, and use it correctly. This is a very expensive option, you might try the other two first.

The most recent versions of Photoshop and Lightroom apply automatic distortion corrections to many lenses. This does great things for my Canon 10-22, though of course it doesn't fix the problem in your photo above.
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« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2010, 01:04:39 PM »
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Not so, in many of the tests, both of these supposedly FF lenses actually performed better on APS-C cameras

Bear in mind that on a (Canon) crop body, 21 mm becomes effectively 34 mm, quite a modest wide angle, nothing ultra- or super-wide angle there.

Also, on a crop body, FF-designed lenses can not possibly perform "better", as they project only one and the same image on the sensor plane. What people are referring to as "better" is the fact that you are looking at the center crop of a full image, thus eliminating the edges, where most lenses, even the best ones, are inferior to the center.
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Slobodan

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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2010, 01:05:23 PM »
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It could now be re-named "The Leaning Tower of St. Marks"
The lens has not much to do with it though... It's not distorsion, it's perspective (and the rectilinear rendering associated with it). You can avoid it by keeping your camera horizontal (and cropping if needed) or by the use of a tilt-shift lens, or with the "vertical" slider in LR3/ACR6 (develop/lens correction/perspective).

"The camera" by Ansel Adams may still be a very good reading on the subject!
See here or elsewhere otherwise...

Edit : ooops, seems I'm late...
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2010, 01:34:19 PM »
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Interesting. Thanks.

That is kind of what I was thinking, really, was to get a superlative fixed-frame lens and do panos (if necessary)  ... rather than fiddling with a lower-quality zoom ...

Jack

I have no experience with panoramas, but I think (as a bunch of other people have gone on to chime in) that you probably want a tilt/shift lens--and one that's wide but not ultra-wide--if you're looking for clean, undistorted perspective with parallel vertical lines, like in a painting.  As others have mentioned, you can instead and relatively easily perform perspective correction in photoshop--even for converging verticals, but that does change the frame a bit (in effect turning the image into a top-heavy trapezoid until vertical lines are parallel and then cropping the edges).

The 24mm Canon tilt/shift lens looks phenomenal to me (and would be my choice in focal length on a cropped sensor based on totally arbitrary personal preference)...but it's pricey and probably not much cheaper used.  Photoshop or other software that performs perspective correction for both barrel distortion and perspective distortion might be the best option for price and flexibility.  

I could also continue to proselytize about large format even though I'm still basically incompetent with it and one look at my photos and you'd call me out, so I won't.  And, honestly, if I had the money and this were more than a hobby, I'd go completely digital.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 02:43:23 PM by Policar » Logged
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2010, 02:36:18 PM »
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VERY easy to deal with distortion in PS4 & 5:  GoTo Filter > Lens Correction (then Custom)
Apply changes.
Voila
Brian


Thanks for the tip ... but, after being stumped for a sec, I found it's actually Filter > Distortion > Lens Correction Smiley

Jack
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