Which ultra wide angle lens for Venice (or do I actually need one)?

Started Oct 30, 2012 | Discussions thread
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 13,721
Re: Which ultra wide angle lens for Venice (or do I actually need one)?

I've been to Venice a couple of times, before digital.   In general, your 16-85 will be ok.   Any of the listed lenses will also be fine, though from what I've read, the 10-24 would probably be slightly better than the other options.

You should know that using a very wide angle introduces a lot of perspective distortion, and while you'll cram more details into a shot with a wide angle, those walls and bridges over the canals are going to be leaning inward, bowed, etc.

As far as wide zooms go in general, you have these defects/compromises to consider:

1. correctable/uncorrectable distortion.  (Moustache versus simple pincushion or barrel distortion - NOT perspective distortion).  This would be most important trying to shoot architectural details, in my opinion.   Nikon's zoom tends to have moustache distortion that's harder to correct in post.

2. flare.  Wide angles tend to have sun in or near the edges of the framing.   (If not, you'll tend to have your shadow in the shot when in sunlight).   It's very easy to get flare from sun at the edges of the frame, and it's hard to shield the lens, and it's hard to spot when in the field.   The 10-24 seems well-controlled there, as do Nikon's in general, with the noticeable exception of the 14-24F2.8.   Tokina's have a reputation for flare.

3. Sharpness.   All the wide zooms these days seem plenty sharp, with the exception of the corners under some conditions, especially wide open.   However, it's easy to stop down, which you often want anyway to increase the depth of field.   It's also easier to handhold a wide lens at a slower shutter speed than a telephoto.  (It's also easier to live with a lack of autofocus as the depth of field is quite deep to start with.)   The Nikon wide zooms all tend to be quite good (thinking 10-24, 12-24 and 14-24), with exception of the widest end of the DX zooms at the widest apertures.   I own both the Nikon 12-24 and 14-24 zooms and like them both.

All the zooms have somewhat different compromises.  ALL of them.   Decide what's important to you, pick one, and have fun with it.  Just know its weak spots before you go on vacation and work around the weaknesses.

By the way, the older, slower Sigma 10-20 gets significantly better recommendations than the current 10-20 model.   It seems one of the best bang-for-the-buck wide zooms.

Using a wide zoom - I think it is a mistake to use a wide zoom just to shrink a big landscape down to fit a frame.   It's best for getting close to subjects to emphasize some depth.    Using one for tight scenes like Venice canals would seem kind of in-between to me.   You'll get more scene in when you just can't use another lens, but I'm not sure that scene is going to look like what you remember.

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