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The Highest Rated Wide-Angle Zoom – Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

June 21st, 2018

I was watching Tony Northrup compare the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens to the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and realized that the Nikon 14-24mm has been considered the highest quality wide-angle zoom for as long as I can remember.

But that has changed. DxOmark.com rates the Sony 16-35mm GM that was released about a year ago as the highest quality wide-angle zoom lens. It scores 42 overall with a sharpness of 34 when tested on a Sony A7RII. Its sharpness score is 10 points ahead of the nearest competitor which is the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III.

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3 Responses to “The Highest Rated Wide-Angle Zoom – Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM”

  • These overall ratings such as DxO provides are useful for quick comparisons, but you need to get into the details of the test results to make a fully educated conclusion. Lens performance often varies considerably from wide open to stopped down, and you really need to look at how a lens performs at various apertures. While photojournalists and event photographers may be most interested in how lenses perform near their maximum aperture, for architectural subject matter it is typical to use an aperture of around f:11 to F:8 on “full-frame” small-format cameras and perhaps F:8-F:5.6 with “crop-sensor” small-format cameras. Also need to consider performance variation between copies of particular lens. It is not clear how many samples of a lens DxO uses in their tests. Lensrentals used 10 copies for their test, a very large sample, which they can do because the sell and rent lenses and thus have easy access to a large sample pool. However, it appears that the Lensrental test cited only evaluates the lenses at their maximum apertures. Of course, if a lens performs well at its maximum aperture, its performance is likely to improve as it is stopped down, until the diffraction limit is reached. However, there are many lenses that have mediocre performance at wide apertures that improve markedly once stopped down a bit, some even reaching exceptional performance this way.

  • It has to be remembered that this is a $2,200 lens and whether the added resolution over a much less expensive lens is worthwhile for RE work is a business decision that has be considered. I count myself lucky that I haven’t kicked over my tripod and had to replace a camera body and/or lens, I’ve had some close calls. A few of them have been from pets, homeowners and their kids. Insurance is a good thing, but it can be the case that if you use it your premiums might go up. Getting compensated for a $5,000 camera a lens combo that has been damaged is also a factor. The bigger the claim, it seems the slower the payout. Even with insurance, it’s likely that I’d have to purchase replacement gear right away to service customers. I don’t always have the money or access to that much credit (slow winters, etc) all of the time.

    I love great gear. It’s a pleasure to use and the results are often just that much better even if my skills aren’t quite there to push the limits of what it is capable of. My artistic side wants top of the line everything. My business side has to rein that in so there is more than ramen noodles for dinner. I also have to refrain from hauling $10,000 worth of gear to a $100 job to limit my risk exposure.

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