Photos Spare Cycles MythBusters

Post-race lens purchase?

My Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L lens was a champ during the Tour of California. Once I got a decent camera body to stick it on, its true quality shined like a diamond. But I have a whole void for < 70mm that I need to fill. Milling about the start area in Santa Barbara as well as the post-race interviews, it simply wasn't possible to frame a lot of shots unless I wanted closeups of nose hair.

One of the longest discussions I had during the Tour of California was asking another photographer for recommendations as to which lens to get next. Two in my book ranked highly as contenders: the Canon 16-35 f/2.8L and the Canon 17-40 f/4L. The 16-35 is twice as expensive for the extra 1mm of wideness (1.6mm on my 30D), but the f/2.8 could come in handy if I start using it for mountain bike races. The 17-40 has an extra 5mm (8mm on 30D) of reach. Another plus for the 17-40 is that is much sharper at the edges than the 16-35, though this doesn't matter as much if you have a 1.6x crop factor camera (like the 30D). This photographer actually knew colleagues who turned in their 16-35s for 17-40s because of this sharpness issue (money wasn't an issue).

Canon may have settled the debate for me last week if I can locate the money:


The new Canon EF 16-35mm II is designed to improve the sharpness issues of its predecessor. Not much is known about this lens yet as I have not seen any hands on reviews. About the only complaint I see with the new specs is that it now requires an 82mm filter instead of 77mm filter, which will cost you a few extra bucks... but you should have a few extra bucks if you can afford this lens in the first place.

Comments (2)


The reason for 82mm lens, from what I understand is to combat vignetting on full-frame cameras. That being said, expect the price of the new 16-35 to be significantly higher than the old one. (I'm guessing anywhere from 1600-2400 for this new lens)

I prefer wider apertures, so I'd gladly pay for having that one extra stop (which may not be necessary for you since you're doing outdoor sports). There are shots I've taken that would not have been possible without the larger f/2.8 aperture.

While I love my 16-35, there's no significant difference between the photos taken by the 16-35 and a 17-40 on a crop camera. I'd almost suggest that you get the 24-70mm instead to fill in your missing gap -- with the 24-70 you'll have the whole range from 24 to 200 covered (35-300mm)


The 1.6x crop increases the difference between the 16-35 and 17-40 in terms of wideness, which is what I'm shooting for here. I might also use this for mountain biking, which needs the extra stop when you're in the woods. The last reason I'm leaning 16-35 is future-proofing: the lens will certainly outlive my 30D and it's 1.6x crop factor.

I do want a 24-70, but what I needed more during the Tour of California was a pre-race/post-race lens where riders are zooming around literally a foot or two away from you.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on February 26, 2007 3:18 PM.

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