Jump to content

Prime or Zoom in wide angle range.


isleofgough
 Share

Recommended Posts

Advertisement (gone after registration)

I am trying to decide between purchasing a 35 mm prime or 24-90 mm zoom for the SL2. Specifically, is there any substantial difference in microcontrast at f2.8 for 35 mm? I have a 50 mm summicron a 55 mm otus with adapter and a 100 mm Zeiss macro with adapter. I don't mind limiting range if the quality of  images is actually visible. I have sold many lenses in the past that weren't quite sharp enough or lacked micro contrast. Unfortunately, I don't have the funds for both. Mostly I am interested in the 24-50 mm range but it wouldn't be bad to have autofocus for the telephoto range as well. Any opinions from people who have tried or owned both would be especially valuable. Thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, isleofgough said:

I am trying to decide between purchasing a 35 mm prime or 24-90 mm zoom for the SL2. Specifically, is there any substantial difference in microcontrast at f2.8 for 35 mm? I have a 50 mm summicron a 55 mm otus with adapter and a 100 mm Zeiss macro with adapter. I don't mind limiting range if the quality of  images is actually visible. I have sold many lenses in the past that weren't quite sharp enough or lacked micro contrast. Unfortunately, I don't have the funds for both. Mostly I am interested in the 24-50 mm range but it wouldn't be bad to have autofocus for the telephoto range as well. Any opinions from people who have tried or owned both would be especially valuable. Thanks.

I have both. First was the 35 and it is everything everybody says it is. I added the 24-90 to have more of an all-arounder and the 24-90 is also very, very good but the combo is not small. But then again, the 35 SL APO isn't small either, but it is smaller than the 24-90. I've only had the 24-90 a short time, so these are really just my first impressions. Also, I'm pretty sure the aperture by 35mm is smaller than 2.8 already. Somebody that has the camera near them might be able to chime in with the actual number or I'll take a look in the morning.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe you will be happy with either.  I have both. I purchased the 24-90mm along with the SL then the 35mm around the same time I got my SL2.

24-90mm is a fantastic lens in daylight and mid-light, micro-contrast is quite good, its like a collection of good elmarit to super-elmarit primes. Its a great single lens for the all the focal lengths.

The 35mm APO-SL is something else, its just better in all respects. Only limitation vs the 24-90mm is that's its a 35mm only.

I tend to use the 24-90mm or the 90-280mm when I'm in bad weather and cannot change lenses and when I want to shoot video.

I use the 35/75mm Summicron-SL for most other situations aside from when I want to use an M/R/TL lens.

 

Looking forward to seeing your images.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you to those who have answered. What I have not found is some forum post or article that has pictures of the same scene with same f stop shot at 35mm between the zoom and prime lens that have not been post processed. It sounds like this has not been done and I would need to rent the two lenses to get the answer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Advertisement (gone after registration)

The SL primes are better than the (admittedly excellent) zooms. Yes you can see the difference, although the zooms are close around F8. The zooms are more versatile. There's no free lunch.

Since the SL Summicrons are about as good as it gets this shouldn't be a surprise. Better than your Zeiss and possibly better than your Otus, depending on the qualities you look for in a lens.

Gordon

Edited by FlashGordonPhotography
Link to post
Share on other sites

If optical performance is the decider, than there is absolutely no question that the 35mm APO is the better lens. It performs better at f2 than the zoom does at f5.6, especially in the edges. It is on the order of 30-40% more contrast in the field vs the zoom lens. Zoom lenses are always a compromise. It is right there to see in the MTF and in real world images if edge to edge performance is important to you. If you primary shoot pictures where the edges are out of DOF, (portraits, for example), then the differences are going to be much more subtle. This is also the case if you do not print your photos larger than A2 or so. The zoom is very good. But it is disingenuous to say it is as good as the prime. It may be as good as the prime for some uses, but it is not objectively so from an optical standpoint.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your answers. I was primarily interested in the contrast of the zoom in the wide angle range, as I understand its overall versatility as a one lens solution. For portraits, I probably wouldn't use it much anyway, as the  maximum f stop is much worse than a prime. What I was hoping for was not so much MTF charts as actual comparative images where I could examine them to see if the differences were sufficient to warrant purchasing a series of prime lenses instead. I am actually pretty happy with the Summicron 50mm SL, 55mm Otus and 100 mm Zeiss Macro lenses; though I've considered purchasing the 90 mm SL for portraits. It sounds likely that the 35 mm prime would be more pleasing to me than the Zoom for moderate wide angle shots, even if the difference stopped down is not great.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not have the exact comparative images in front of me, but my experience of testing the zoom was that it was nice and contrasty on center, and it faded noticeably in the edges. This is exactly what the MTF shows. It was sufficient for a lot of uses and perfectly good for a general purpose utility lens. If you are making big prints of landscape photos, the 35mm APO is surely the way to go. I have the 50mm APO Summicron SL and that lens is stunningly good, and at least to my eyes, I do not see them as being in the same league. A zoom is a zoom is a zoom. I learned that the hard way when I bought the 30-90mm S zoom on the marketing that it was as good as the primes. No matter how big, how fancy and expensive, they are still not as good.

That is why I carefully examine the MTF charts now...it is hard to hide a stinker in them. The 35mm APO is 4 nearly straight lines above 80% contrast across the entire frame. The zoom does not show 35mm, but you can see 24mm and 50mm, and if you split the difference you see that the center is quite sharp...just at 80% contrast for 40lppm, but it dips all the way down to 40% contrast by the edges. Additionally sagittal and tangential structures diverge pretty strongly, upon stopping down which means there is notable color fringing towards the edges of the image. So that is the kind of unpleasantness that makes tree limbs look oddly blue or red...the 35mm APO shows none of that. I am sorry I don't have a direct comparison to show, but there is a lot to be gleaned from the MTF. But I hope that someone comes in here for you with a good 1 to 1 test.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can’t really stand zoom lenses anymore, I think they ultimately end up being creative distractions. Sticking to one focal length and really being in that mindset helps me hone in on an end result that I am much more satisfied with… some people prefer to have options of course, but I think less is more. If I put on a 21 or 35, I’m previsualizing the shots that I want and I think it makes the compositions stronger. When I was younger, I used a 17-35 on Nikon and really enjoyed it, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. Now that I know what I want, I only use primes.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I must admit that the 16-35 SVE is growing on me. I’ve taken it on a few long hikes over the past two months or so, totalling over 100km on the trail and the big winner for me is that it does allow me to avoid swapping lenses, especially in inclement weather, and although heavy is still lighter than carrying a bag of prime lenses. I have the Sigma 14-24/2.8, Sigma 24/3.5, 28 APO SL, and a bunch of M primes including 18/24/28/35 focal lengths. On the M system, I mostly just show with a 24 and carried a 90 Elmarit-M but these days, I’m mostly shooting with the 16-35 SVE and find it quite versatile for documentary style and landscape photos in the mountains.

Being a prime shooter for the last 10 years, I found myself rarely zooming with my eye up to the viewfinder. Instead, I often view the scene and have an idea of which focal length I want to shoot it with so I instinctively set the zoom ring to the focal length I want to use for the shot before bringing the camera up to my eye. So in essence, it’s a bit like switching primes except I turn the zoom ring rather than use it like a more traditional zoom.

As far as image quality goes, the 16-35 SVE is definitely not up to the level of the 28 APO SL in the corners, even when stopped down to around f/8. The APO SL is sharper at the extreme corners at f/2 than the 16-35 SVE at f/8 or even f/11. But the weight of the 16-35 SVE is less than 1 and 1/3 of an APO SL primes so it’s hard to argue with the weight, especially when I’m hiking 30km in a day.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A few shots from the SVE

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...