Okay, first off this is not what I would consider a proper review. I will not be shooting wall charts and working out sharpness or distortion, there are other sites that do all that rot. I’ll be judging the feel, usefulness, speed, general discernable quality and value of a given lens. In short, this is going to be about my experience using two similar lenses in actual photography. I say 'going to be' because the fisheye just arrived this very morning, so I'm in no position to judge it yet. But I will be as days go by and I'll update this thread, all being well. This is half dcap's
idea. He knows more about the Fisheye than I do.
I’m starting off with the 16/2.8 and 17-35/2.8-4, similar in being wide angle, although their relative behaviour is markedly different. Next time it’ll be something like the 100-300 vs. the 100-400. Is the extra weight and money spent on the 100-400 worth it?
Now to the lenses of this thread.16/2.8 Fisheye vs. 17-35/2.8-4 First Impressions
The 16 Fisheye, at least the version I have, wins on build quality straight away. It has a metal body and a small, solid and irremovable hood, as oppose to the 17-35’s plastic body (solid enough though) and monumental/flimsy satellite dish hood. The hood looks all-important to the Fisheye, as it’s the first and only line of defence against scratching the front element. You can’t fit a UV filter on the front of a fisheye. The 17-35 does have a thread, a 77mm one, yikes! The 17-35 is about the same weight as the 16, for all its extra size. It has nice modern ergonomics. Big grips, smooth zoom, fat focus ring, although focusing is hardly an issue at such wide angles. The 16 Fisheye’s focus ring is very fiddly, as with all older Minolta lenses I’ve used.
The fisheye has a special ring dedicated to changing its 3 different-coloured internal filters. Not exactly quick and easy, as you have to pull the ring back and twist, but neat and very nice indeed.Initial Thoughts on Optical and Mechanical Performance
I’ve had the 17-35 since last summer and have long wondered if it was wide enough. A fisheye looked like an option. I read up on them before deciding to buy this one, but still, even after that research, the striking thing about the 16 and the 17-35 is how different they really are in the flesh. There seems to be more to a fisheye that a mere 1mm less focal length. The curvature and distortion can be quite extreme and is kind of ‘opposite’ to the 17-35. Instead of images stretching and flying off at the sides in an unnatural manner like on the 17-35, they’re bowed into a spherical form. This is even more disturbing and perhaps not what many are looking for in a wide angle. This effect can obviously be used in a creative way in all sorts of places; I’ve seen it done and want to try it myself. But a house up our road will have to do for today.
On the left is the fisheye view, the right is the 17-35 at 17mm. Both stopped down.
Cropped birdfeeder. Copy it and zoom in to see the differences.
The 17-35 is a sharp lens, I know this already, and it does show in the original photo. What you can see here is the rich colours and contrast of the 17-35. The 16 produced paler images, but of greater sharpness. I think. Even though the details it produced were smaller, from being of a wider angle, they appeared sharper to my eyes. How true this is requires further investigation.
The closest focus of the 16 Fisheye is 20cm. The distortion becomes hilarious. We’ve all seen it, but it’s fun to try for yourself.
More another day.