Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ask Clane - 16-35mm F/2.8L

The 16-35 is a great landscape lens but I'm curious why you use it at weddings (or for portraits in particular) when it has a lot of evident distortion of the people in the photograph. Why not use a 24-70 at its widest focal length and just take a couple of steps back?

Great question. First of all, I don't really use the 16-35mm for landscapes. If my subject is within focal range, I much prefer the 24-105 F/4L IS. The aperture closes down to F/32 and has built in IS, which has on multiple occasions to shoot slower then I normally could. Take the following photo taken in the Olympic National Park:
I had both the 24-105 F/4L IS and 16-35mm F/2.8L. The target focal range from where I was standing was 24mm. I could have shot the 16-35mm, but at ISO 50 and F/22 the camera was calling for 1/8 second exposure time. I switched to the 24-105 f/4L IS and shot it at F/28 and ISO 50 at 1/4 second, hand held. It's one of only a couple hand held landscape shots I have, but I didn't pack in a tripod, so the IS was a life saver.

So, to answer your question, There are LOTS of times when I'm not able to take a step back. 90 percent of the time I use the 16-35mm is indoors, not able to back up. It really does have a distortion problem, the distortion is really noticeable between 16-20 and 28-35mm. I try to ONLY use it between 20 and 24mm, where distortion is minimal. This range of 20-24mm is absolutely indispensable at a wedding, and is the reason I bring the 16-35 to weddings. If I wanted to go wider, I would use the 14mm F/2.8L or 15mm fisheye rather than zoom out on the 16-35. Any narrower I can use the 50. Only using the 16-35mm for the range of 20-24 at weddings seems silly, but I really feel like the range of 20-24mm is that important. It's so important, it's worth $1599 plus tax to me.