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Deciding between FE 16-35mm and FE 24-70mm

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by addieleman, May 6, 2015.

  1. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    These days my bag is loaded with the FE 70-200mm completed with the Olympus OM Zuiko's 40mm 1:2 and 24mm 1:2.8 to cover the shorter focal lengths. While these Olympus lenses give excellent imagery I start to get annoyed by all this manual aperture and focus handling and having to add EXIF data at home, trying to remember what lens I used. Adding the EXIF data enables Lightroom to automatically apply the lens profile to counter for geometric distortion.

    I'm quite happy with the FE 70-200mm so I started thinking that all this bashing of the other FE zooms may not be as relevant to me as I always thought. Therefore I went to a few shops and made test shots with the FE 16-35mm and FE 24-70mm. If one of them would blow my socks off, that would be the one to get, although I would actually prefer to have the 24-70mm because extreme wide-angle isn't that important to me these days and I'd prefer to cover the range between 28mm and 50mm with a zoom.

    I tested 2 FE 16-35mm samples and the thing that put me off was their performance at 35mm. Even stopped down to f/8 I got distinctly unsharp right edges in a few cases; not always but in some pics it was very real. Maybe the OSS interferes with edge-to-edge sharpness? It was enabled all the time, maybe I should have turned it off, I really couldn't care less for it on a wide-angle zoom.

    First sample, total shot
    i-jr94Fft-X2.

    Crops
    i-fQbh8ss.

    Second sample, total shot
    i-hqKH9zd-X2.

    Crops
    i-LkVBTQP.

    The scene parts were tens of meters away, depth of field should cover that at 35mm and f/8. Anyway, I wasn't going to plunk down 1350 euros :eek: for a lens I can't really use at 35mm for landscapes. Most people get this lens for the shorter focal lengths, but performance at the long end is at least as important to me.

    Over to the other one, the FE 24-70mm of which I only tested one sample. Nothing special to show here. The corner sharpness at 24mm is so-so even at f/8 which is in line with many reviews, but going a bit inside sharpness ramps up quickly, it looks quite alright over a large part of the frame. The all-important (to me) mid-range around 40mm looks quite good at f/8 across the frame. The lens looks well useable wide-open if corner and edges are allowed to lag a bit behind. Only thing I didn't like was some geometric distortion in a shot at 39mm. Look at the brick lines near the bottom. Mind you this is with autocorrection in Lightroom; might have to make my own profile to correct for this.

    i-BRCHPqm-X2.

    In the next days I'll be going after a few used FE 24-70mm lenses and probably get one of them if they don't show any obvious defects. For the wide-angle range I'll try some older lenses, ordered an LA-EA3 adapter as a preemptive strike so I can go after Sony A-mount zooms. That way I can have Lightroom apply the lens profile automatically because EXIF data will be in the file; I don't mind manual focussing for wide-angle shots.

    Full-size jpegs available:
    FE 16-35mm 1:4 Sample I
    FE 16-35mm 1:4 Sample II
    FE 24-70mm 1:4

    Let me know if anybody would like to see the raw files, I'll make them available on Dropbox for some weeks or so.
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
  2. serhan

    serhan TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2011
    NYC
    24-70 is best in the middle and 16-35mm is best at the wide end... As you say 24mm is pretty good until the extreme corners. Also distortion correction reduces the IQ at the edges when it stretches the image... I don't correct the images unless they are linear...
     
  3. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    I personally think anything wider than 24mm (full frame equivalent) is a little bit gimmicky. It's not super useful for landscapes, because it makes everything look too small and far away. Architecture maybe? Depends what you shoot I guess.

    Can you get the EXIF data through on old Minolta A mount glass? Some of those are pretty cheap on KEH
     
  4. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    • Like Like x 7
  5. Lisandra

    Lisandra TalkEmount Veteran

    216
    Jan 28, 2015
    theyre harder to use definitely, but gimmicky? not for landscapes?? these UWAs are actually MADE with the landscapist in mind. Theyre certainly not for anything else, definitely not for portraits. So its more of a who uses them than what they shoot. This is at 14mm uncroped

    16372962738_5722b62e4f_b.
     
    • Like Like x 6
  6. Lisandra

    Lisandra TalkEmount Veteran

    216
    Jan 28, 2015
    thats how you use an UWA...great stuff
     
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  7. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    Haha didn't mean to offend! That motorbike shot is super cool, looks dangerous.

    As for the other shots, I think if I was in the same location I probably wouldn't have shot quite as wide. I live in a very flat part of Australia, so if I'm travelling somewhere with mountains in the background I want them to look big in the frame. It's all a matter of taste.

    8691002008_f96ce247e4_b.
     
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  8. Lisandra

    Lisandra TalkEmount Veteran

    216
    Jan 28, 2015
    looks cool where is that?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    That was from when I was living in Chile, a couple of years back. Just outside Santiago near the border with Argentina.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Lisandra

    Lisandra TalkEmount Veteran

    216
    Jan 28, 2015
    Ive expressed my disgruntlement aboutthe native FE zooms a bit before so I wont get into that whole argument again but, ive found basically what youve found. If its not general softness its QC issues and finally I just went to a mount for what I needed. And considering I JUST SAW a zeiss 24-70 f2.8 on ebay for 950$ I would say the FEs to me are redundant. And before anyone says it, yes, the a mounts are heavier, and taking into account the adapter they are bigger. I just cant imagine paying over 1k for a lens with worse performance than a m43s kit lens...
    Still, i love a good comparison with crops so please keep it up
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Lisandra

    Lisandra TalkEmount Veteran

    216
    Jan 28, 2015
    Cool!! im thinking about an argentina trip soon!!!!! any recommendations?
     
  12. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Veteran

    485
    Nov 21, 2014
    aaaaa (1 of 1).
    aaaaa (1 of 1).

    Gimmicky? I think you definitely hit a raw nerve there with ultra-wide shooters. Typically, photographers dont particularly like ultra-wide or they absolutely love it (and pretty much cant get wide enough). It does take a bit of getting used to but typically, at the end of the year, about a 1/3rd of my favorite shots use the ultra-wide. The 16-35 f4 is also very nice indeed and takes front filters. It is weakest at 35mm but there is plenty of other choice at that focal length and it certainly isnt the 35mm focal length you buy the lens for.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  13. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    Wow I really did!

    I just think, that if you are choosing between 16-35mm and 24-70mm, 50mm is more useful for landscapes than 16mm. Shouldn't have said gimmicky though, won't make that mistake again!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Veteran

    485
    Nov 21, 2014
    I have all 3 zooms but I have to admit that say for a travel kit I find the 24-70 pretty redundant. With the A7ii you now get ibis with the Zony 35 (or 28) and 55 1.8 which are considerably better lenses. 16-35 + 55 + 70-200 is a great travel combination. I use the 24-70 f4 pretty much only for studio where I need the zoom flexibility.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  15. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Near Aconcagua? I climbed that mountain back in '95, and that's a seriously awesome part of the planet for sure.

    Lisandra, I'm also in the planning stages of a trip to Argentina and Chile, mainly down south to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego next February/March. What a hoot it would be to run into you down there!

    And I agree with robbie36, my 16-35 hardly ever gets zoomed past ~20mm.

    D'oh! Sorry Ad, I think I've helped to take this thread seriously off-topic. So back to your query: I would expect the 24-70 to be more in line with your shooting preferences. Though I decided to sell mine to help pay for the 16-35 (and have no regrets) the 24-70 is arguably more versatile.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    Ok so that photo was taken really pretty close to Mendoza, especially if you drink wine then you should check that out.

    I spent most of my time on the Chilean side, though I did love Buenos Aires. Probably the two best places in the world for photos are around Torres Del Paine national park (which is in both Chile and Argentina) and around San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), which is close to Salta in Argentina.
     
  17. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    You climbed this??

    8689855021_1eef4e6926_b.


    Well spotted, my previous photo was pretty much taken at the same spot, turned 180 degrees. I never climbed it though, that is hardcore.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  18. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Yes... barely. :rolleyes-20:

    And I will never, ever try anything like that again. :laugh1:
     
    • Like Like x 3
  19. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    I'm going to find out in a few days when my adapter arrives and I'll have bought a few dirt-cheap A-mount lenses. KEH is a nice resource for sure, but a bit stiff on shipping cost and import duties for us Europeans :). I live in a densely populated country so there's enough used stuff around within reasonable distances.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
    • Like Like x 1
  20. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    Thanks, I'm still inclined to go for the FE 24-70mm and maybe add something in the range around 20mm to cover for the occasional wide-angle shot. Still I feel that the 24-70mm's performance doesn't justify a price point above 1K €/$ so I'll probably buy used. Filling up the gap between the 16-35mm and 70-200mm with the FE 35mm and 55mm primes doesn't really suit me: 35mm always feels a bit too wide and 55mm is too narrow. However, I most probably am going to succumb to buying the 55mm next fall or winter to serve in making family snapshots in low light.