Thinking about an ultra-wide...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by js81, May 28, 2014.

  1. js81, May 28, 2014
    Last edited: May 28, 2014

    js81 macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #1
    So I'm thinking about getting an ultra-wide. I'm purely an amateur (i.e., I don't make any money from my pics), so keeping the cost as low as possible while still getting something fairly nice is a priority. It would be a while before I made this purchase, too - probably a couple of months, at least - so no big rush. This is merely an opinion-seeking post. :)

    I shoot with a Sony a290 and currently have a Sigma 18-50 f2.8-4.5, a Sigma 70-300, and an old manual 135mm prime. When traveling, I love to take landscape photos and indoor shots in museums and such. My 18-50 isn't quite wide enough at times, thus the consideration of the UWA.

    From my research (based on price and reviews), I'm currently leaning toward the Tokina 11-16 f2.8. Anyone have an hands-on time with this lens (regardless of mount)? Or have another you'd recommend?

    I plan to rent the Tokina (or another if there are any good suggestions) when we travel this summer to see how I feel about using a UWA. For those who have one or have used one, do you think it would be useful enough to warrant the purchase? Or should I just rent when I'm planning to travel? I don't think I would really need it at other times; the vast majority of my photos otherwise are of my daughter and the combo of the two Sigmas works great for that.

    Suggestions and opinions are appreciated, though I kindly ask that you keep in mind I can't afford nor justify a $1k+ lens. :D That's why I'm asking so early about this one - it's $399 (when its on sale), so I'm gonna have to make certain about the purchase before I drop the cash on it. Thanks!
     
  2. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #2
    I've used the Tokina 11-16 pretty extensively on a D7000 and a few times on a full frame D800 (although only at 16mm as anything wider vignettes on the FF sensor). It is a fantastic lens, I highly recommend it.

    I've even used it 40 feet underwater. :)

    [​IMG]
     
  3. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #3
    That's awesome. :) I knew about the FF vignetting; not an issue right now, as my a290 is a crop sensor and I'll be shooting with it for quite a while to come; my only real beefs with it are poor quality in high ISOs (anything above 800 is all but useless) and no live view (but I knew that when I bought it). Good to hear that the Tokina CAN be used on FF at 16mm, though.

    Thanks for the reply and photographic evidence! I appreciate it. :)

    Have you had any issues with filters causing vignetting, either on crop or FF@16mm?
     
  4. kallisti, May 28, 2014
    Last edited: May 28, 2014

    kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #4
    If money is tight, I would think about renting rather than buying an ultra-wide lens. And I would do it before the trip.

    Ultra-wides have a learning curve associated with them. Composition can be much more challenging compared to other focal lengths and you have to pay scrupulous attention to your overall composition and the relationship of the elements within your composition when you use them. There is much less wiggle room compared to other focal lengths.

    Even small changes in camera position/orientation translate into fairly dramatic changes in the resultant image. Tilting even slightly up or down can result in obvious perspective distortion. Pivoting the camera slightly left or right will dramatically change the composition. Small changes in shooting position (i.e moving even slightly forward or backwards) will dramatically change the composition and the relationship of elements within the composition.

    All of this can be good as long as you are paying attention when you compose. I think ultra-wides are some of the hardest lenses to use well. I would practice beforehand so you get a feel for the focal length and also decide if you like what the lens can offer from a creative standpoint.
     
  5. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #5
    I'm a bit weird in the sense that I have used my 11-16mm solely as a portrait lens and I can't remember the last time I took a picture with it that didn't have a person in it!

    I don't shoot with it that more any more but that's more due to circumstance rather than choice.

    Here are a couple of samples of images I have taken. I only provide them as before I bought the lens all I wanted to see was shots that had been taken with it! Some of these are 16mm on FF so see if you can spot the difference.

    [​IMG]Kath by acearchie, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Champagne by acearchie, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Rasta Dave by acearchie, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Posers by acearchie, on Flickr
     
  6. kallisti, May 28, 2014
    Last edited: May 28, 2014

    kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #6
    The above are great examples of good uses of an ultra-wide (*very* nice shots Acearchie!).

    Here are some examples of poor uses of an ultra-wide (shot with a 16-35 @ 16mm on a FF body) taken for illustrative purposes:

    [​IMG]
    Straight on (from a sitting position). Camera was level.

    [​IMG]
    Tilted slightly up. Note how the vertical lines are all narrowing as they move towards the top of the image.

    [​IMG]
    Tilted slightly down. Note how all the vertical lines are all widening as they move towards the top of the image.

    Used well, ultra-wides can be awesome and produce some really interesting images. Used poorly, they can result in craptastic images, arguably worse than what you would get with a normal lens for the same subject.
     
  7. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #7
    Thx for the visual tips kallisti, timely for me, as I'm also looking at the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II
     
  8. js81, May 29, 2014
    Last edited: May 29, 2014

    js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #8
    Thanks. I definitely plan to rent before buying. We're planning a trip to the beach and a fairly-local aquarium this summer, so I figure those two trips would be good chances to try out an UWA both indoors and out. :)

    I hadn't thought about using it as a "people" lens. Interesting thought... Are the more distorted/fisheye-look images from the crop (2 and 3, maybe 4?) and the 1st from the FF? My thoughts are that the more distorted would be due to 11mm whereas the 16mm only on FF would look more natural? I may be completely wrong lol... the widest I've ever used is the 18mm end of my Sigma slightly-better-than-kit lens. :D

    Thanks for the examples; very useful to a UWA newbie like myself. I am definitely a visual learner! :D I definitely plan to rent a time or two before I'd purchase, so I can see then if the curve is above my current ability or not. I'm mostly looking for landscapes when I travel and indoors in tight-ish quarters. We visited a museum earlier this spring and I had major issues getting everything in at 18mm; light wasn't too big of problem, as mine is f2.8 at 18 (same as the Tokina 11-16), but a little wider would've sure been nice.

    Plus, I'm quite interested in the creative side of a UWA, too. :)

    They're a HUGE help, aren't they! :)


    To all: Would the extra 7mm (going from 18mm to 11mm) really help that much, particularly indoors? I'm not just wishful thinking, am I? I'm pretty happy with what I have otherwise (not top-end stuff, of course, but decent enough for my current skill set); the only thing I plan to add other than the UWA consideration is a 35mm f1.8 prime for some beautiful bokeh. :) (Though the Sigma 18-50 I have does pretty good bokeh when wide open at 18mm) I previously had an old Minolta 50mm f1.7 prime, but decided to sell it - not because of image quality, but because the 50mm was not very useful indoors.
     
  9. kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #9
    You are most welcome :)

    You are most welcome as well :)

    The extra 7mm will result in a very big difference. On the long end with lenses, 50mm may not matter much. On the short end, with ultra-wides, every millimeter of focal length counts.

    I'm at work so I can't shoot an indoor shot at 16mm (which is close to what you will get with the 11mm on a crop sensor). Here are some old indoor photos after we bought our house taken at 14mm. For both, notice how the ultra-wide results in some very wonky geometry. You will be able to get the whole room in, but it isn't likely to look "normal."

    [​IMG]
    Notice how the doorway on the left looks like it's wide enough to drive a car through. Also notice the weird geometry of the plant's pot (an oval rather than a circle).

    [​IMG]
    Taken from the other end of the room. Angles are all off. Windows look stretched. The stairway in the upper left looks especially odd.
     
  10. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #10
    Thanks again, kallisti. I definitely get the distortion from the UWA; now I'm itching more to try one than before lol. Your pics are a great help in explaining it, too. We won't be traveling until the end of July, so IDK if I can justify renting one before then or not. A week's rental is $40, so it's not too bad, but then again I don't want to "waste" money on a rental any more than I have to; not that renting is a waste before spending $400+ on something. :) Thanks again!
     

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