When eyeing up lenses across the two major competitors (Nikon & Canon) one notices something rather odd. A conundrum of sorts, really. It makes sense to me to have lens focal lengths stop and start in complimentary places. For example, the holy trinity of Nikon’s f/2.8 glass line up go from 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 meaning that you have the entire range of focal lengths from super wide to long telephoto all at the magical f/2.8 aperture. Makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense is Canon’s line up. There you have 16-35 and then 24-70 & 70-200 all L series at f/2.8. There’s a mismatch in the focal lengths from the Canon ultra wide zoom to the standard zoom. Does it really matter? No, not really. Am I nitpicking the competition? Maybe. 😉 But the more curious thing is that Nikon ALSO makes a 16-35 (f/4) & a 17-35 (f/2.8). [FYI: Both Canon & Nikon have no VR/IS on these lenses].
I got to thinkin’ – why do that? Why make 2 lenses that seemingly double up the focal lengths?? That also was a conundrum. I found a Flickr forum discussing the issue and the general consensus was that the 14-24 was a “fun” lens while the 17-35 was a “useful” lens.
Meaning, that because the 14-24 has an aspherical front element, you can “bend” your photos to have some really cool artistic lens distortion, even using it as a super wide portrait lens at concerts or what have you. The advantage of the 17-35 is that because it isn’t aspherical, you can use neutral density filters on it, making it perhaps more suitable for landscapes or photo journalism. The point was made that if you were photographing a large crowd of protestors with tear gas and rocks and debris flying everywhere, a lens filter would better protect your lens. You can’t outfit the 14-24 with lens filters because it is aspherical. So, the 17-35 has the advantage of adding armour in combat situations. 🙂
But back to Canon being bizarre with their focal length mismatch in the lens line up, well, that’s just weird. 😉 Go Nikon.