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Monday, June 30, 2008

Toolbox: Wide Zooms

Get an exciting perspective on portraits, scenics and more with these zoom lenses

Labels: LensesToolbox

toolboxTokina AT-X 107 DX Fish-Eye AF 10-17mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 A fish-eye lens is an ultrawide lens with an angle of view that captures an expanded perspective, thereby creating an unusual, curved distortion. Built for Nikon D-SLRs and the Canon EOS 40D, 30D and 20D, plus the EOS Digital Rebel series, the Tokina 10-17mm is unique for fish-eye lenses in that it also can zoom to a more natural, ultrawide angle. Traversing a focal range of 16mm to 27mm in 35mm format (15mm-25.5mm with Nikons), the 10-17mm encompasses an insane 180 degrees of view at the widest point to a 100-degree angle of view at 17mm. Extra-low-dispersion (ED) glass compensates for chromatic aberration, and a Water Proof Coating made of a fluoride compound offers water- and oil-repellent performance. The internal focusing system can function as close as approximately one inch, effectively combining macro photography with the fish-eye effect for larger-than-life subjects at a magnification ratio of 1:2.5. The Quick-Shift Focus System allows instant shifting from manual to AF. Estimated Street Price: $560.


Wide-Angles For Full-Frame Sensors

Lenses developed for sub-full-frame sensors aren't always right for full-frame sensors. While they contain premium optics, their design only allows for smaller image circles that easily cover a sub-full-frame-sized sensor, but doesn't cover the expanse of a full-frame sensor.

The three-dimensional nature of image sensors, as opposed to the flat film plane of 35mm SLRs, also lends itself to increased vignetting. As such, it's of incredible importance to buy quality optics for full-frame D-SLRs. Here are two highly respected lenses from Canon and Nikon.

toolboxCanon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II USM
Ultrawide Zoom

The choice of many professionals, the Canon "L"-series lenses are designed to produce edge-to-edge sharpness and fast performance comparable to prime lenses. The 16-35mm features an improved optical design over its predecessor, including a constant ƒ/2.8 aperture that ensures excellent low-light performance and high depth-of-field control throughout its 63- to 108-degree range.

The 16-35mm features three precision aspherical lens elements that combine the advantages of ground, replica and glass molded (GMo) types into one lens, providing sharpness and excellent color reproduction. Focusing and zooming is entirely internal, and a ring-type USM and new AF algorithms provide quiet, fast and precise autofocus with predictive tracking. There's a full-time manual-focus override, even in AF mode, and a circular aperture diaphragm produces natural out-of-focus characteristics. This lens has a filter diameter of 82mm, a slight disadvantage if you've already invested in 77mm or other-sized filters. Estimated Street Price: $1,450.

toolboxNikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor
14-24mm ƒ/2.8G ED AF

An extreme ultra-wide-angle with a wide constant aperture at all focal lengths, the 14-24mm uses enhanced optical formulas for engineering exceptional sharpness, contrast and color. The edge-to-edge sharpness is impressive on Nikon's MTF chart, making this an excellent choice as an ultra-wide-zoom for the D3, as well as Nikon's DX-format sub-full-frame sensors, where it provides a 61- to 90-degree angle of view (as opposed to the 84- to 114-degree view on the D3's FX mount). Nikon's G-type lenses feature lighter and more compact lens design by removing the aperture ring; instead, it's determined via the camera body. A Nano Crystal Coat and Super Integrated Coatings (SIC) reduce the effects of ghosting and flare. Two extra-low-dispersion (ED) elements combined with Precision Glass Molded (PGM) lenses reduce lens aberration throughout the focal range. Internal Focusing (IF) enables focusing without a change to the physical length of the lens barrel, and Nikon's Silent Wave Motor assures fast and quiet autofocus operation. An M/A mode enables quick switching between auto and manual focusing, even during AF servo operation, and the 14-24mm is dust- and moisture-resistant. There's no filter capability, however. Estimated Street Price: $1,589.

Canon (800) OK-CANONwww.usa.canon.com
Nikon (800) NIKON-USwww.nikonusa.com
Olympus (888) 553-4448www.olympusamerica.com
Panasonic (800) 211-PANAwww.panasonic.com
Pentax (800) 877-0155www.pentaximaging.com
Sigma (800) 896-6858www.sigma-photo.com
Sony (877) 865-SONYwww.sonystyle.com
Tamron (631) 858-8400www.tamron.com
Tokina (THK Photo Products) (800) 421-1141www.thkphoto.com


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