Monday, January 2, 2012
I can't say I'll remember 2011 with much fondness and I'll bet I'm not alone. All things considered, it could have been worse and for some people, it was. To Gavin and Vivyen in Christchurch, who continue to endure aftershocks long after they seem newsworthy (over 9000 so far) my best wishes for a more tranquil 2012. To Hideomi and family who thankfully, were too high up and far away from the Fukushima plant to be directly affected, my best wishes for a new year that will see things put right by that amazingly efficient machine called Japan. As for me, well, I still have long lists of things I want to photograph....
I was a latecomer to digital photography. I owned lots of digital point and shoot cameras but having finally found a decent PC lens for use with film cameras (the Olympus 24 Shift) I figured I would wait until Canon or Nikon introduced a PC lens for digital SLRs.
To my surprise, Nikon got there first, introducing their 24mm PC-E several months before Canon's lens. The reviews of the Nikon 24 PC-E were raves but this being a $2000 lens, most were anecdotal; people said "I don't have anything to compare it to, but it's great" or "Considering it's size and cost I'm sure it's great". A few examples were posted but as with most things on the web there was really no way to evaluate the weakest part of a lens of this type, sharpness in the corners when fully shifted.
I had owned two Nikon 35mm PC lenses (one excellent, the other just ok) and two Nikon 28mm/3.5 PCs (not good, and I rented two more, just to be sure). Long story short, I bought a 24 PC-E and a D700 body. Used like a regular 24mm lens (unshifted) the 24 PC-E was excellent. Shifted, it was ok but in the "worst case", fully shifted and with significant detail needed in the corners, it wasn't great. I sold that lens, bought another and it was identical.
Then came Canon's 24mm TSE-II. This time, the anecdotal reviewers said "I'm sure the Canon lens is good but I don't see how it could be better than the Nikon". The last thing I needed was to buy not only another lens but another camera system. But since you can return things pretty easily these days, I gave it a shot.
Now, I have no axe to grind here. And I frankly prefer the Nikon body, with it's help menu, 9 stop bracketing and much lower noise, to the Canon 5D II. But Canon's 24 TSE-II is simply better. Not dramatically; both lenses are very good. And to be absolutely clear: both lenses give up considerable amounts of quality if they are fully shifted--no miracles here. If you dig deep enough into the various rave reviews, somewhere they will mention this, in passing.
I thought about posting test shots but since my Nikon is 12 megapixels and my Canon is 21mp, I'd rather not get into an argument with some engineer about pixel density. In any event, you probably own one camera system or the other so this may not matter much to you. But for what it's worth, I've compiled a comparison table and unlike some reviewers, I've owned both lenses.
|Ok, in this case you might get away with barrel distortion!|
Warning: Barrel distortion is one of those things that, once you're aware of it, you see it everywhere. Movies are particularly bad because it seems it's impossible to make wide angle zoom lenses that make straight lines look straight. Now that you've read this passage, prepare yourself to notice that rooms in movies have ceilings that curve. Either that, or they are using fisheye lenses.