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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss Landscape lens for Canon...When I invested in my Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS lens I was expecting quite a lot from it. Having ...
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Old 05-09-2010, 09:06   #1 (permalink)
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Landscape lens for Canon

When I invested in my Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS lens I was expecting quite a lot from it. Having never owned a Canon L-series lens before (most of my stuff is from Sigma) I was looking forward to seeing how the 'OEM' brand compared.

Overall I am fairly impressed with the lens, for weddings it is perfect and much better than the Sigma 28-70 F/2.8 that I had before (although I find that I almost never switch the IS on).

However when it comes to landscape shots I find I am really struggling. I only seem to be able to get pin sharp results at F/8 with the images becoming noticeably soft (when viewed at max size on the screen) when shot either at F/4 or - more importantly - at F/22.

I guess it may be too much to expect 'perfect' results from a zoom lens all the way through the range and I suppose I should look at a new lens specifically for landscape. My question is will I see better performance from a 'wide angle' zoom such as a 10-20mm or do I need to look at a prime lens? I need to be able to shoot at the smallest aperture and still get pin sharp results.

I'm using a full-frame sensor so this isn't a result of some of the DoF issues that come with crop sensors.

Any and all advice appreciated.
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Old 05-09-2010, 11:38   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

I think that a 10-20 is too wide for 'general' landscape use - although they can give some fantastic results with foreground detail that is almost touching the camera. I guess if you want to stick to Canon the 17-40 would be a candidate.

The softness you are getting at f22 is probably due to diffraction and you might be better using f16. The smallest apertures do not always give the sharpest results.

A prime lens will probably be cheaper, and maybe better than a zoom, but you will obviously loose a bit of flexibility in framing.
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Old 05-09-2010, 11:58   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

Thanks Dabhand. To be honest I ran some reference shots covering the range of the lens and F/8 is the only setting where I get perfectly sharp results. I have heard that it is common for zoom lenses to have a 'sweet spot' two stops above their maximum aperture which would tend to fit in with this, I just wasn't expecting quite such soft results through the rest of the range.

Maybe I need to start sharpening my images. I just tend to think that with equipment that is branded as 'professional' you would be able to get sharp results without having to intentionally sharpen.
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Old 05-09-2010, 12:41   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larne View Post
Maybe I need to start sharpening my images. I just tend to think that with equipment that is branded as 'professional' you would be able to get sharp results without having to intentionally sharpen.
AFAIK you need to sharpen digital images regardless of the quality of the kit due to the processing that the images go through. I'm sure others will correct me if I'm wrong here.
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Old 05-09-2010, 18:17   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larne View Post
Maybe I need to start sharpening my images. I just tend to think that with equipment that is branded as 'professional' you would be able to get sharp results without having to intentionally sharpen.
As Graham says I don'y think it's all down to the kit, settings and maybe a bit of sharpen if necessary. I'm not sure why you would want to shoot a landscape at f4 or lower - assuming the light is OK then I go for f10 plus. I have the same lens and shot these last week on a hazy day - hope it helps to give a comparison etc

#1 at F16



#2 at F13

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Old 05-09-2010, 21:33   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

The lack of confidence in the pictures came about when I was submitting images to Alamy. I got some rejected as being 'soft and lacking definition' and when I looked at them at 100% I had to agree. As a result I now look very closely at all my images. Shooting with the 24-105 at F/8 I get images that at 100% are incredibly pin sharp, the kind of results that I used to get when shooting with transparency film back in the day. At any other setting they are less impressive.

Back when I used Photoshop elements I used to quite regularly run unsharp mask on my images but since moving to Lightroom and the 1Ds I kind of felt that having 'stepped up in the world' I should not need to be sharpening my images. The results at F/8 tended to support that idea but maybe I am being unrealistic.

I would certainly like to know if there are landscape photographers out there shooting at minimum aperture who do / don't sharpen their images and what their results are at 100%.

I'll see if I can dig out some examples of the difference tomorrow when I have access to my image library (on the laptop at the moment).
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Old 06-09-2010, 11:44   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

Canon recommend some sharpening their digital images in their manuals. I seem to recall they even specify the approximate amounts to use in the USM.
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Old 06-09-2010, 12:04   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

if you decide to go for a Canon 17-40 lens, which is a good choice, make sure you try it before you pay for it. i bought one over the internet and had to send it back as the results where far from good (great colours, lens was working very well but images where not sharp at all). but if you are a pro you know this already. Canon 17-40 is a great lens for landscapes.
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:18   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

Thanks folks. Time to start experimenting with the sharpening options in Lightroom I guess; at least before splashing out on a new lens anyway.
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:45   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

I assume that you are using Raw as a JPEG file would be automatically sharpened in camera. You must sharpen a Raw image as it is intentionally softened to reduce the bandwidth. Please remember that the "sharpening" we are talking about in this case is actually increasing edge contrast and little to do with optical sharpness. However, when you look at a picture, soft edge contrast gives a similar appearance to soft focussing and conversely sharp edge contrast appears to be optically sharp even if it is not.

I use the Canon 24-105mm and it is probably the best lens I have ever used. However, I use it on a full frame camera and it is well suited to that. For landscapes, I would normally take at f8 by default and sometimes up to f16 but not f22 due to diffraction. I would not normally use f4 for landscapes. Now I have an IR converted camera, I have found that some lenses are very poor for IR but the 24-105mm is excellent for IR.

I did not find that 24mm was wide enough for many landscapes on a half frame but is good on a full frame but in both cases I also use a wider zoom. I have a Canon 10-20mm EF-S for the half frame and a Sigma 12-24mm for the full frame. The Canon 10-22mm is also excellent for IR whereas the Sigma is almost unusable for IR.

Dave (Pixalo Crew) found a problem with his 24-105 at f4 and compared with mine which hardly showed the problem. It appears that some batches of this lens did have a flare issue. Have a look at an earlier thread.

Problems with Canon 24-105mm @ f4
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Old 09-09-2010, 12:19   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

I use both the 24-105 and the 17-40. They work different on my cameras, the 1.6 and 1.3 crop sensor. I have never used a full frame. For landscapes I think they work better because they have less distortion on a 1.6 crop. But again it's your style, I have a 10-22 and it bends real nice,,,
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Old 01-10-2010, 16:26   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Landscape lens for Canon

As already mentioned - Are you shooting in raw or jpeg? Raw will always need a sharpen, regardless of the top end equipment you are using.
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