16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?

Started Nov 19, 2017 | Discussions
Grenn1e Junior Member • Posts: 41
16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
1

I'm in a market for wide angle zoom and torn between these two lenses. Main reason to get one is to have a one lens solution for walking around cities like Barcelona etc. I'm a WA guy. There's been many reviews comparing the landscape aspect and both of them are sharp enough for me (and I really like ZA's sunstars) but haven't seen a review comparing them in an environmental portrait setting at 35mm wide open. Does anyone have any insights how do they compare and is the shorter dof you can achieve at f/2.8 a big difference compared to f/4 on ZA. I shoot with A7rll and A7s so I'm not concerned about light gathering.. I will use primes when needed (:

I will also use this lens for events, band gigs and landscapes but it's another story. The main question at the moment is if the GM's rendering at 35mm and wide apertures is something you would pay the extra for. Of course I could also get the ZA and buy the 35/1.4 with it but it won't help when I'm out with just the WA zoom.

Btw, I will pair this zoom with Zony 55/1.8 and Batis 85/1.8 if it makes any difference. All the replies are greatly appreciated (:

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biza43 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,484
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
1

I would not consider environmental portraits at f2.8. The point would be to show the environment surrounding the subject, right? In that case, the ZA is enough.

However, for gigs, stage, etc, f2.8 may come in very handy. So if you have the money, get the GM, as it applies to more uses for you.

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jor23 Senior Member • Posts: 1,119
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
1

If you have the budget, go for the GM. can always stop down.

Edymagno Veteran Member • Posts: 3,469
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
1

In my practice, a smaller lens has some good advantages for street and/or environmental photography.

Smaller size:

Will let you be more nimble and is better for your shoulders.

Is less intimidating for consenting subjects.

It is more stealth for non consenting subjects and would be thieves.

it's cheaper to replace in case of being robbed.

But for strictly enviro and permitted photography I'd choose the 2.8.

Best

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Luis Gabriel Photography
Luis Gabriel Photography Senior Member • Posts: 1,800
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
2

biza43 wrote:

I would not consider environmental portraits at f2.8. The point would be to show the environment surrounding the subject, right? In that case, the ZA is enough.

However, for gigs, stage, etc, f2.8 may come in very handy. So if you have the money, get the GM, as it applies to more uses for you.

I personally LOVE my Canon 35mm 1.4L ii for environmental portraits. A wide lens is not going to create much blur at the distance to subject for my environmental portraits so the 35mm at 1.4 for MY needs gives me just the right amount of blur and isolation I like for my photos. 
For the OP, I would definitely go with the GM 2.8 in your particular case based on your comments. I am a prime mostly person and fast primes at that except for my ultra wide needs for which I went with my only F4 lens, the 12-24mm .

Good luck with your choice!

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OP Grenn1e Junior Member • Posts: 41
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?

Thanks for all the replies so far. I'm still a bit unsure. Part of me shouts to just buy the ZA f/4 and 35/1,4 which together costs about the same as the GM alone. But then I'd give up the f/2.8 in a one lens solution (and would probably need to keep the Samyang 14/2.8 for astro). I like to travel light but don't feel like 150 grams would do a big difference between the two.

Of course there are different kinds of environmental portraits but I do also like to shoot them with large apertures often. Even blurred (more or less) the background can help to tell the story behind the person. Sometimes I stop down to f/5.6-f/8, but I know both of them are fine at those settings.. What I don't know is how different they draw at f/2.8 vs f/4.

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Ross Warner Senior Member • Posts: 1,324
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
1

Grenn1e wrote:

I'm in a market for wide angle zoom and torn between these two lenses. Main reason to get one is to have a one lens solution for walking around cities like Barcelona etc. I'm a WA guy. There's been many reviews comparing the landscape aspect and both of them are sharp enough for me (and I really like ZA's sunstars) but haven't seen a review comparing them in an environmental portrait setting at 35mm wide open. Does anyone have any insights how do they compare and is the shorter dof you can achieve at f/2.8 a big difference compared to f/4 on ZA. I shoot with A7rll and A7s so I'm not concerned about light gathering.. I will use primes when needed (:

I will also use this lens for events, band gigs and landscapes but it's another story. The main question at the moment is if the GM's rendering at 35mm and wide apertures is something you would pay the extra for. Of course I could also get the ZA and buy the 35/1.4 with it but it won't help when I'm out with just the WA zoom.

Btw, I will pair this zoom with Zony 55/1.8 and Batis 85/1.8 if it makes any difference. All the replies are greatly appreciated (:

At 16mm, the difference in depth of field is not great between f/2.8 and f/4, unless your foreground subject is quite close. Check a depth-of-field calculator, for instance http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

I find the f/4 16-35 is a good choice when my Batis 25 f/2.0 is not wide enough, otherwise I prefer the Batis.

-Ross

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sullivanrp
sullivanrp Forum Member • Posts: 54
Different Uses
1

I think the 16-35 2.8 does allow some convenience to carry less, if that really is your goal. You specified walking around cities - and the ultrawide will allow for architectural captures, and tight quartered photos, while the 35mm end of the lens is a very preferred FL for street photography. Paired with 2.8 for low-light interiors and for your concert shooting, it sounds like a good fit for you.

That being said, I also think you'd be very satisfied with the 16-35 f4 and a 35 1.4 combo. The 35 1.4 for portraits is absolutely killer when shooting wide open. 1.4 versus 2.8 for subject isolation is a huge difference at this FL. I understand there is overlap between the lenses, but for most cases you will know what you want to use when you walk out the door. If I have a portrait specific shoot, sometimes I even would bring both if you really wanted a wide environment, but 99% of the time the 35 1.4 would live on my camera along with an 85 prime for portraits.

So. I think you'd like either option. No clear suggestion from me. Except one. Don't think about the rokinon in this decision making. It's a very inexpensive, effective niche lens. If its your astro lens it probably doesn't live in your camera bag adding unnecessary weight. I'd sell it if you get the GM, but it shouldn't be that much of a factor in the decision making.

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SeanHew Regular Member • Posts: 107
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
2

Grenn1e wrote:

Thanks for all the replies so far. I'm still a bit unsure. Part of me shouts to just buy the ZA f/4 and 35/1,4 which together costs about the same as the GM alone. But then I'd give up the f/2.8 in a one lens solution (and would probably need to keep the Samyang 14/2.8 for astro). I like to travel light but don't feel like 150 grams would do a big difference between the two.

Of course there are different kinds of environmental portraits but I do also like to shoot them with large apertures often. Even blurred (more or less) the background can help to tell the story behind the person. Sometimes I stop down to f/5.6-f/8, but I know both of them are fine at those settings.. What I don't know is how different they draw at f/2.8 vs f/4.

I mainly shoot Landscapes, Astro, Environmental Portraits and General Travel. The solution that I came up with was to use the 16-35mm f2.8 for Landscapes, Astro and general travel and 85mm f1.8 for portraits and general travel.

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Anadrol Contributing Member • Posts: 506
Barcelona ?!
3

Grenn1e wrote:

for walking around cities like Barcelona etc.

If I were you, I wouldn't carry any expensive gear in Barcelona !

World's capital of thieves... (no offense for Spanish people, it's not them who steal...).

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caloykohan New Member • Posts: 1
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
1

I had the same dilemma but eventually went for the 2.8 gm, future proof and would be a one lens solution when I travel. Regarding being stolen or broken, that’s what insurance is for.

I recently went on a Japan trip with the 24-70gm and used that like 95% of the time but wouldve preferred a much wider lens that’s why I pulled the trigger on the 16-35 gm.

Mike99999 Regular Member • Posts: 436
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
1

Grenn1e wrote:

Btw, I will pair this zoom with Zony 55/1.8 and Batis 85/1.8 if it makes any difference. All the replies are greatly appreciated (:

Loxia 21 then...

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kamituel
kamituel Senior Member • Posts: 1,121
Re: Barcelona ?!
7

Anadrol wrote:

Grenn1e wrote:

for walking around cities like Barcelona etc.

If I were you, I wouldn't carry any expensive gear in Barcelona !

World's capital of thieves... (no offense for Spanish people, it's not them who steal...).

Not to walk with an expensive lens? Sure, Barcelona has a problem with theft, like many places, especially the ones with so many tourists. But it's not worse than some other touristy cities. Not to bring some gear sounds paranoid. And it's coming from a guy whose wallet was inches away from being stolen in Barcelona once, and who later came back a few times bringing some pricey gear along

Just look out for your gear, don't leave it unattended, and use common sense.

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Steve W Veteran Member • Posts: 4,138
Re: Barcelona ?!
2

kamituel wrote:

Anadrol wrote:

Grenn1e wrote:

for walking around cities like Barcelona etc.

If I were you, I wouldn't carry any expensive gear in Barcelona !

World's capital of thieves... (no offense for Spanish people, it's not them who steal...).

Not to walk with an expensive lens? Sure, Barcelona has a problem with theft, like many places, especially the ones with so many tourists. But it's not worse than some other touristy cities. Not to bring some gear sounds paranoid. And it's coming from a guy whose wallet was inches away from being stolen in Barcelona once, and who later came back a few times bringing some pricey gear along

Just look out for your gear, don't leave it unattended, and use common sense.

My only recommendation after spending a week and half there is to limit your self to one camera body and one lens while walking around so you don't have to put things down to change lenses. For me a 24-105 or its equivalent was the solution I went with. Today I might take the 16-35/2.8 and the 55/1.8 or the 85/1.8. Make the second lens small so you can keep it tucked away out of site and not some big camera bag.  Small lenses like he Loxias are also a good choice if you can work with MF.

Steve

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Abel89er Regular Member • Posts: 156
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
1

Grenn1e wrote:

I'm in a market for wide angle zoom and torn between these two lenses. Main reason to get one is to have a one lens solution for walking around cities like Barcelona etc. I'm a WA guy. There's been many reviews comparing the landscape aspect and both of them are sharp enough for me (and I really like ZA's sunstars) but haven't seen a review comparing them in an environmental portrait setting at 35mm wide open. Does anyone have any insights how do they compare and is the shorter dof you can achieve at f/2.8 a big difference compared to f/4 on ZA. I shoot with A7rll and A7s so I'm not concerned about light gathering.. I will use primes when needed (:

I will also use this lens for events, band gigs and landscapes but it's another story. The main question at the moment is if the GM's rendering at 35mm and wide apertures is something you would pay the extra for. Of course I could also get the ZA and buy the 35/1.4 with it but it won't help when I'm out with just the WA zoom.

Btw, I will pair this zoom with Zony 55/1.8 and Batis 85/1.8 if it makes any difference. All the replies are greatly appreciated (:

I was on the same boat as you a few days ago and I end up with the 16-35 GM. For the uses you tell us and readying other replies to the thread the GM has some assets:

- Better lowlight for band gigs (were OSS won't be that helpful)

- It will be able to replace your astrophotography lens (Samyang 14 2.8)

- Fits perfectly with your 55 1.8 (I also have one and those are my usual 2 lens combo to go)

- At 35mm 2.8 you'll have some bokeh (depending how near your subject is) but the background will be surely noticeable.

Cons might be weight and bulk, but this GM lens has a very good weight ratio: 16-35 GM weight 680g vs 510g on the SonyZeiss side on the size side, the GM is a 20% bigger too but it will allow you to replace at least 2 lenses: The samyang and the SonyZeiss.

And maybe you would like to carry them both if you go out on a weekend to shot landscapes and astro, or see yourself restricted to the 14mm if you only carry your samyang. That was, basically what made me put the money on the GM.

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jor23 Senior Member • Posts: 1,119
Re: 16-35 ZA vs GM for environmenal portraits?
1

it'll be nice to get your hands on both.

just took the delivery of the f4 lens. it's surprisingly heavy to me. all my other lenses are primes ... not sure it was the right choice for me. probably should have gone for loxia 21 or batis 18. on the positive side, i can travel with just this zoom and a 55 or 85. maybe a 28 for low light, low profile.

OP Grenn1e Junior Member • Posts: 41
Re: Different Uses

sullivanrp wrote:

I think the 16-35 2.8 does allow some convenience to carry less, if that really is your goal. You specified walking around cities - and the ultrawide will allow for architectural captures, and tight quartered photos, while the 35mm end of the lens is a very preferred FL for street photography. Paired with 2.8 for low-light interiors and for your concert shooting, it sounds like a good fit for you.

That being said, I also think you'd be very satisfied with the 16-35 f4 and a 35 1.4 combo. The 35 1.4 for portraits is absolutely killer when shooting wide open. 1.4 versus 2.8 for subject isolation is a huge difference at this FL. I understand there is overlap between the lenses, but for most cases you will know what you want to use when you walk out the door. If I have a portrait specific shoot, sometimes I even would bring both if you really wanted a wide environment, but 99% of the time the 35 1.4 would live on my camera along with an 85 prime for portraits.

So. I think you'd like either option. No clear suggestion from me. Except one. Don't think about the rokinon in this decision making. It's a very inexpensive, effective niche lens. If its your astro lens it probably doesn't live in your camera bag adding unnecessary weight. I'd sell it if you get the GM, but it shouldn't be that much of a factor in the decision making.

Thanks for the great reply. We ended up in the same conclusion and I'm still a bit undecided. I'm glad I still got time to decide on this (quite busy working atm and the next trip is going to be in January or so).

If I end up thinking that f/2.8 doesn't really make a difference against f/4 (and I should always carry at least a small 50ish lens on my pocket for casual portraits) then the 12-24 steps into a game as well and makes this decision even more difficult. Would probably be really good lens for some interior photography I also do quite often.

I'm mainly a prime shooter. Not a pixel peeper at all (even if i have the A7rll) but I love how prime makes me really think about my composition and also like fast lenses and possibility for short dof. I also like extreme wide angles. That being said I'm also considering forgetting the zoom and use that money for other things. For the price of the GM I could pretty much get:

- 35/1.4 for portrait shoots, weddings, events, bands etc. with my 85 Batis

- 21 converter for my 28/2 as a travel combo. Had this one on loan some time ago and really liked it. Image quality was ok for me. Those two on A7rll was like a prime shooters wide-angle zoom without the extreme.

- Voigtländer 10mm or 12mm f/5.6. Small and lightweight to throw in a bag and extreme when you need it. On the crop mode they're more subtle superwide.

And yes, I know Barcelona is famous for it's theft problem and the same thing is happening in many cities with lots of tourists. Usually you can get away with some common sense. But that was one of the reasons to wanna have a one lens solution so I would only need to take care of my camera and not a camera and a bag.

So at this stage I have made myself many options:

1)

- Sony 16-35/2.8 one for all wa solution taking all of my lens budget this winter

2)

- Sony 16-35/4 for travels and landscapes and keep using the Samyang for astro

- Could add the FE 35/1.4 for those environmental portraits

3)

- Sony 12-24/4 and would keep using my 50ish lenses when needing a casual portrait

4)

- 35/1.4

- 21mm converter for the 28/2

- 10/12mm Voigtländer

Btw, the last 5 years or so I've been using the SEL 10-18 cropped and actually I liked it very much for anything I didn't need a short dof and could use a base ISO on a tripod. But it broke down and now thinking about replacing it with full frame lens(es).

I might need to figure this one out myself but I love to read your experiences and opinions Never had this much problems deciding what's the most important.

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sullivanrp
sullivanrp Forum Member • Posts: 54
Re: Different Uses

Grenn1e wrote:

sullivanrp wrote:

Thanks for the great reply. We ended up in the same conclusion and I'm still a bit undecided. I'm glad I still got time to decide on this (quite busy working atm and the next trip is going to be in January or so).

If I end up thinking that f/2.8 doesn't really make a difference against f/4 (and I should always carry at least a small 50ish lens on my pocket for casual portraits) then the 12-24 steps into a game as well and makes this decision even more difficult. Would probably be really good lens for some interior photography I also do quite often.

I'm mainly a prime shooter. Not a pixel peeper at all (even if i have the A7rll) but I love how prime makes me really think about my composition and also like fast lenses and possibility for short dof. I also like extreme wide angles. That being said I'm also considering forgetting the zoom and use that money for other things. For the price of the GM I could pretty much get:

- 35/1.4 for portrait shoots, weddings, events, bands etc. with my 85 Batis

- 21 converter for my 28/2 as a travel combo. Had this one on loan some time ago and really liked it. Image quality was ok for me. Those two on A7rll was like a prime shooters wide-angle zoom without the extreme.

- Voigtländer 10mm or 12mm f/5.6. Small and lightweight to throw in a bag and extreme when you need it. On the crop mode they're more subtle superwide.

And yes, I know Barcelona is famous for it's theft problem and the same thing is happening in many cities with lots of tourists. Usually you can get away with some common sense. But that was one of the reasons to wanna have a one lens solution so I would only need to take care of my camera and not a camera and a bag.

So at this stage I have made myself many options: ......

I think you always will be curious as to what the other side is like, even when you have everything, the second you don't have that one lens with you, you seem to regret it haha.

FWIW - I came from a 16-35 2.8, 35 1.4, and 70-200 2.8 with canon - and I felt that really covered ALL of my needs, both when I had 2 camera bodies and just one. For me mid-range didn't matter so much, but that is because I prefer a 35mm fast prime over a 50. Granted the 16-35mm 2.8 canon (mk II) wasn't as expensive as the GM, so that made the choice easy. For portraits I rarely used the 16-35. the 35 at 1.4 was just too nice, even non-environmental stuff, just to get a different rendering and look, especially couple portraits.

In regards to the 12-24, I can probably count on one hand the times in the last 5 years of doing events, photojournalism, and sports work primarily, that I felt I needed wider than 16mm. For a couple random astro shots or unique fisheye looks. But if you can justify the interior shots then may be worth it, otherwise you have the 14mm astro. I think a 16-35 f/4 and a 35 1.4 would be a really good combo keeping the 14mm for astro. Then as you use the lenses more you could decide if you really miss/need the 2.8 before figuring out how to switch/acquire more gear.

Regarding walk-around. It's always hard to say. Again I think you just miss whatever lens you don't bring if you want a one-lens solution. And you just have to come to grips with it. When I switched to Sony I got the small, subtle but quite good 35mm 2.8. It was inexpensive and I wanted something subtle for street photography paired with a mirrorless. It takes some getting used to, to accept that you wont get certain shots because you limited yourself to one focal length. But it is also very rewarding when you succeed and forces you to shoot differently.

Again, I am no help. Just more food for thought with this conversation

- Ryan

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khujand New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Different Uses
1

sullivanrp wrote:

I think the 16-35 2.8 does allow some convenience to carry less, if that really is your goal. You specified walking around cities - and the ultrawide will allow for architectural captures, and tight quartered photos, while the 35mm end of the lens is a very preferred FL for street photography. Paired with 2.8 for low-light interiors and for your concert shooting, it sounds like a good fit for you.

That being said, I also think you'd be very satisfied with the 16-35 f4 and a 35 1.4 combo. The 35 1.4 for portraits is absolutely killer when shooting wide open. 1.4 versus 2.8 for subject isolation is a huge difference at this FL. I understand there is overlap between the lenses, but for most cases you will know what you want to use when you walk out the door. If I have a portrait specific shoot, sometimes I even would bring both if you really wanted a wide environment, but 99% of the time the 35 1.4 would live on my camera along with an 85 prime for portraits.

So. I think you'd like either option. No clear suggestion from me. Except one. Don't think about the rokinon in this decision making. It's a very inexpensive, effective niche lens. If its your astro lens it probably doesn't live in your camera bag adding unnecessary weight. I'd sell it if you get the GM, but it shouldn't be that much of a factor in the decision making.

Is the 35mm 1.4 still needed when you already have the 85 prime?

I am considering to go with 16-35gm and a 85mm (1.4 or 1.8). I used to shoot only on 35mm prime (rx1rii). I am not sure about the tradeoff between the 85mm and 35mm for portrait.

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sullivanrp
sullivanrp Forum Member • Posts: 54
Re: Different Uses

khujand wrote:

sullivanrp wrote:

I think the 16-35 2.8 does allow some convenience to carry less, if that really is your goal. You specified walking around cities - and the ultrawide will allow for architectural captures, and tight quartered photos, while the 35mm end of the lens is a very preferred FL for street photography. Paired with 2.8 for low-light interiors and for your concert shooting, it sounds like a good fit for you.

That being said, I also think you'd be very satisfied with the 16-35 f4 and a 35 1.4 combo. The 35 1.4 for portraits is absolutely killer when shooting wide open. 1.4 versus 2.8 for subject isolation is a huge difference at this FL. I understand there is overlap between the lenses, but for most cases you will know what you want to use when you walk out the door. If I have a portrait specific shoot, sometimes I even would bring both if you really wanted a wide environment, but 99% of the time the 35 1.4 would live on my camera along with an 85 prime for portraits.

....

Is the 35mm 1.4 still needed when you already have the 85 prime?

I am considering to go with 16-35gm and a 85mm (1.4 or 1.8). I used to shoot only on 35mm prime (rx1rii). I am not sure about the tradeoff between the 85mm and 35mm for portrait.

If you still have the RX1R II you probably don't need a 35 1.4. I think a killer set up is an A7 series and an RX1R for walk around, or combining the two for assignments/shoots. Throw the 85 on your A7 series and use the RX1R for the wider end.

That being said. the 35mm and 85mm have really different looks and compression, so I use both for shoots. Shooting the 35 wide open can create some cool wider looks, or be used when you simply don't have the space to back-up to use the 85mm. I try to do a lot of framing in my portrait work/work in general with elements around me - and I find it easier to frame against foliage, for instance, much easier, being almost against it and shooting through it with the 35 than with the 85 because I also can reach out and move it to create the look/framing I want with my other hand.

If I only was to have one portrait lens it would be the 85 because of the compression and for headshot usage, but the 35 provides some really unique/cool looks, and I wouldn't interchange the two/say one isn't needed just because you can use the other.

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