For those of you waiting for the FE 16-35/4...

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
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Arcimboldo
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For those of you waiting for the FE 16-35/4...
6 months ago

I was, too, and desperately because of my vacation in September. Because I had the feeling that the FE zoom wouldn't make it in time, a month ago I started to look for an interim solution. After some research, and wanting to have AF no matter how slow, I almost settled on the Metabones Canon EF Mark III adapter, together with either the EF 24/2.8 IS USM, or the TS-E 24/3.5 L II. The latter would have had the advantage to even make sense when I finally get the FE 16-35 - I'm also shooting (if you want to call it that) with an Ebony 4x5 and love movements. On the other hand, it's expensive, has no AF, and is altogether not a great lens for shooting hand-held.

None of the available zooms seemed to come close to what I would consider good image quality, none from Canon, and also none from Nikon (the 14-24 was no option because I want to use polarizers). I was most interested in the range from 20-28, with an emphasis on 24mm, which is why I shortly had the FE 24-70, a major disappointment at 24mm.

Then Canon announced the new 16-35/4 IS, and the, albeit theoretical, MTF curves looked really good. So I thought I give it a try, and yesterday both the lens and the adapter arrived. Of course, I was eager to try it out... here are my first impressions:

Positives:

  • Near-prime IQ with 20mm and 24mm, at least when stopped down to 5.6 - 8. We're really talking about a lens here where everything but the extreme corners is tack sharp: I'm not a brick wall shooter, and usually only fall in love with a lens after a few months of shooting but here is a link to some resolution charts already set to compare with the TS-E:
    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx? Lens=949&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=2&API=3&LensComp=486&CameraComp=453&Sa mpleComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=3
  • Still very good IQ at 28mm, albeit not the same level as with 20-24mm.
  • All electronic functions work well, the lens is shown as well as the focal length used, and the AF result is always spot-on, just like what I experienced with the native lenses.
  • Lens aberrations are well to extremely well controlled, be it distortion, CA, or vignetting. See the image at 24mm which I exported from LR 5.5 as JPEG but, lacking a profile, with absolutely no lens corrections at all. For that image you have to take into account that it was a stormy day around here yesterday, so the slightly blurred birch on the right side is motion blur.

Negatives:

  • Together with the adapter it's humongous On the other hand, it's not much larger than the new Nikkor without adapter (about 10mm longer), so maybe not that bad after all. With the a7R and the vertical grip, it's a well-balanced combo, though.
  • AF is really very slow, about 1-2s until it locks. However, as opposed to some online reports, I didn't have any problems with reliability with about 30 shots up to now, it's always spot-on.
  • Not surprisingly for a WA zoom, the extremes with 16mm and 35mm, and to a lesser degree already 28mm, that is in particular the long end, compared to 20 and 24mm have somewhat less stellar IQ. But if you don't pixel-peep but print up to, say, 40cm x 60cm it's still pretty good. I don't shoot much 16mm, 

All in all, it's great alternative till the FE 16-35 arrives,at least for a landscape shooter like me who doesn't care much for 16mm and shooting wide-open.

I shall close with an earnest, albeit rhetorical, question: Why is it that Canon announces a lens and about a month later it's readily available, and for Sony it takes forever? As you can see from my gear list, I love the FE system, and this is not trolling. But Sony 'hints' at a lens several times over a course of months, then it finally announces it officially, and then it still takes 3-6 months until it is really available, see the FE 70-200. If they want the pro market they know how to hide it. (Admittedly, Oly is even worse, with lenses being announced like 1-2 years upfront - now that's grotesque.)

 Arcimboldo's gear list:Arcimboldo's gear list
Sony Alpha 7R Sony FE 35mm F2.8 Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony FE 70-200 F4 Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS
Sony Alpha 7R
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