why are opinions on the 16-35mm so varied?

Started Sep 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
anotherMike Veteran Member • Posts: 8,623
Re: why are opinions on the 16-35mm so varied?

I didn't think mine was that great at 35mm at all; it was one of the reasons I sold it. Not that it was "horrible" or anything, but I could in no way call it professionally sharp at any distance range at 35mm by my own (admittedly high) standards. The 35/1.4G and 24-70 (at 35mm) both trounce it pretty obviously at 35mm.

To answer the original question should anyone still wonder, my opinion is that the 16-35 will have a lot of polarized opinions because more than most zoom lenses, it has very definitely defined weak and strong ranges, and is (to my eyes) definitely biased more so than average for distance work. So a user using it for landscape at 24mm, where it's extremely strong, would love it. Somebody using it for moderate distance 35mm work, where it's relatively weak, likely would not. In my tests, done on a D700 and D7000 (and I didn't think the lens and the D7000 was a great marriage at all - it was better on the 700), I found the 16-35 to be at it's best between 20-28mm, peaking at 24mm. Wasn't impressed at all at 35mm, and didn't like 16mm either. In closer ranges, throughout the common focal lengths, the 14-24 was better; at distance, the 16-35 was better (slightly) at 24mm. At 16-18mm, the 14-24 blew the 16-35 out of the water.

So at the end of the day, the 16-35 is absolutely a usable lens, and one that within a certain range, can really shine. However, if you venture out of that range where it shines, it performs far below the level of an average zoom working outside of it's optimal range, if that makes any sense.

Personally, I just don't think it was an awesome set of design choices. Don't see the need for VR, which made it too big for F/4, and it's performance was too sketchy for the things I do. But for some, it might be a godsend. I don't know how it would work on a D600 or 800 - I certainly didn't think much of it at all on a D7000, so that might not be a good sign, but I just don't have the interest nor the time to rent or borrow one against to test on the more modern bodies given everything else on my plate.


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