I bought a wide-angle lens!!!!!
You heard me.
Okay. Deeeeeeeeep breath.
Here’s how it went down:
When I purchased my Canon 60d body last year I also acquired two lenses, a 50mm and a 70-200mm. I knew within six months that my next lens would be a wide angle, but I wasn’t in a huge hurry. I mean, really, why do I need another lens when I haven’t even mastered those that I own? Know what I mean?
So, I’ve been content. I would occasionally mention to the husband the whole wide angle lens thing, but I wasn’t sniffing around the budget. I’m good. I’m learning. So much to learn.
There was a part of me that hoped to have a wide angle for our upcoming trip to the Caribbean, but I didn’t talk seriously about it with the husband. Because I wasn’t hugely serious about it. I have two solid lenses. And, my little point-n-shoot, which was my main camera before the upgrade to the DSLR, does pretty darn well with wider angles.
By-the-by…the husband is not the keeper of the monies. I just want to make that clear. It’s not the little wife having to go to the husband to ask for money. We both contribute to the household. But, I would not go out and drop the amount of money that is required for a good lens without consulting with him. It’s how we roll. It’s a respect thing. And we have financial goals.
Anywho, about three weeks ago the husband rolls over next to me in bed and says, “Nae….I think you should get your wide angle lens. And I think you should get it before we go to the Caribbean.” Woah. Like….woah. I confirmed that he was serious. And wasn’t sure what to think. I mean, I totally wanted the lens. But, I still have so much to learn about the two lenses I own. How much would I be complicating things by adding a third lens to the mix?
However, far be it from me to pass up the bank of Lien when the vault doors are flung open.
I had already done some research about wide angle lenses and was leaning towards either a Sigma 24-35mm or a Sigma 24mm. Zoom or prime. Decisions, decisions. My research became more serious after the vault doors opened. I consulted with my sister-in-law, a savvy (and talented) photographer. She pointed me in some other directions, suggesting that I look at the Sigma 30mm, or the Canon 24mm 2.8 pancake, Canon 24mm 2.8 w/ IS, Canon 20mm 2.8, 16-35L f/4, or 17-40L f/4.
And quickly overwhelmed. But, I persevered. 🙂
I dug deeper into my research. Comparing…contrasting. Sigma got tossed aside when I discovered that the lenses I was considering, though incredibly priced with good reviews, could only be used on crop frame cameras, not full frame. The 60d is a crop, but what if I someday upgrade to a full frame? That Sigma lens would be useless.
I won’t bore you with the entire process, as it’s likely a bit tedious (read: agonizing), but I eventually narrowed my search to the Canon 16-35mm f/4 and the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8. Which is interesting. I initially was pretty certain that I would select a prime lens versus a zoom. There is still some chatter out there about the overall quality of prime photos being better than zoom. But, the above Canon lenses were gushed about in multiple (multiple) reputable review sites. And, I really dug the fact that a 16-35, when added to my 50 and 70-200, gives me a really nice range. But, which to choose…f/4 or f/2.8?
I am a fan of bokeh. Right? That beautiful blur captured when operating “wide open” or close to “wide open.” So, I immediately was drawn to the f/2.8. But, a couple of things made me pause: first of all, the f/2.8 retails for a good $500 more than the f/4. That’s not chump change. Second, I had to ask myself why I was looking to purchase a wide angle. Was it to chase bokeh? No. It’s all about the landscape. So, do I need to be able to open all the way up to f/2.8? I found myself struggling to answer that question because I love (LOVE) my 50mm f/1.8. Love.
But, then I realized an odd difference between the f/4 and the f/2.8: though priced lower than the f/2.8, the f/4 offered image stabilization. The f/2.8 did not. Now, image stabilization may not be important to some, but I am primarily (99.9%) an outdoor photographer (eeeeeeeee…..I just referred to myself as a photographer! How cool am I?!) And, I recently packed the camera, both lenses and the tripod on a hike. Add water, layers and other essentials and that’s a hefty pack. Image stabilization will allow me to drop to pretty darn low shutter speeds without the need for a tripod. Like when I’m hiking.
Ding-ding-ding…we have ourselves a winner!
I was hoping to purchase a used lens from either KEH or B&H, but, alas, none were available. My sister-in-law had mentioned that those two lenses were considered the “gold standard” amongst landscape lenses, which likely explains the lack of used lenses out there. I could have waited…but the vault was open…and the Caribbean is approaching…so I hopped onto B&H and ordered the lens brand new, along with a step-down ring to accommodate my ND and polarizing filters.
Fast forward….I received the lens yesterday. We’re talking Christmas in April. I immediately headed to the Nisqually Wildlife Preserve after I got off work to give it a whirl. For those of you familiar with lenses, you understand the radical difference between a 50mm and a 16-35mm. I didn’t really get it until I put the lens on. There I stood, next to the open trunk of my car, camera to eye, staring across a field. There was a slight feeling of a carnival mirror that wobbles in front of you, distorting your image. That’s the best way I can explain it. And, I could see everything. Holy panorama, Batman. I don’t know exactly what words crossed my lips. I remember a, “Holy crap,” but that’s about it.
I do remember that a song came to mind. I am a lover of Disney movies…old and new. My familiarity with these movies means that it is not uncommon for Disney songs to come to mind at both opportune and inopportune moments. As I stood, staring through that magnificent wide-angle lens, the familiar melody of “A Whole New World,” from Aladdin began playing in my head. It seemed so appropriate that I found myself, as I started down the boardwalk, pulling up the song on Youtube, just so I could listen to it.
Because it’s a whole new world.