Since getting my shiny new 1DmkIV I’ve been rebuilding my standard go everywhere kit to accomodate the new camera. The 1.3x crop factor has been seen as limiting by many who have got used to a ‘full frame’ body like the 5DmkII. Some users have sited the lack of good, fast aperture wide angle lenses and it is true there are few options. I’m specifically going to focus on video here but much of this applies to stills too.
The widest Canon f2.8 zoom is the 16-35 f2.8L II, a fine lens but when put on the 1DmkIV it becomes the 35mm equivalent of approximately a 21-45mm, certainly not too shabby and probably as wide as you need to go in many circumstances. It also takes 82mm screw in filters and also takes a Mattebox easily. However if you do want to stray wider the options are more limited. I have a Canon 17-40 f4L which is also nice but not quite as wide or as fast aperture as I’d like.
Canon make the 10-22 f3.5-4.5 EF-S lens which sadly does not fit the 1DmkIV as its only designed to fit the 7D and other EF-S mount bodies. It can be modified through surgery to fit a 1D body but it hardly seems worth it as it is still slow aperture and it will of course vignette.
Canon do offer the very nice 14mm f2.8L II lens I recently used for my horses shoot in Singapore, its very sharp and quite compact, however it is also has a very bulbous protruding front element that you can’t easilty get a filter onto. For video this is problematic as Neutral density filters are pretty much essential for daylight shooting at wide aperture whilst maintaining a shutter speed between 1/50th and 1/125th for natural looking motion. Front filters simply can’t be fitted to the Canon 14mm and the only option is to put filter gels behind the lens where there is a slot – not convenient.
Sigma and Tamron both make cheaper fixed 14mm lenses but neither is as sharp as the Canon and they have the same issues with filters. There is apparantly a remarkably inexpensive Korean manual focus 14mm f2.8 from Samyang coming out as well but I’ve never tried it.
Many stills shooters have adapted the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 for use in Canon, I have this lens and the appropriate adapter from 16-9.net but its a bit of a faff for video and not a cheap option either. On the plus side filter makers Lee have developed a filter holder to fit the front of the lens so ND and ND grad filters will be no problem. There are also some interesting home brew filter solutions for that lens.
Then there is the Sigma 12-24 f4.5-f5.6, lovely and wide but very slow aperture. I also have this lens and for a corrected (non-fisheye) lens it is about as wide as you can go and is very sharp. On a bright day its fine but no good for low light.
There are also a multitude of non-corrected fisheye lenses like the Canon 15mm f2.8 or Sigma 8mm f3.5 which some people ‘de-fish’ in software when shooting stills, however I’m really not sure how well that would work in video.
Which leads me to my current best solution, the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 which I originally purchased for my Eos7D. Now this is a very sharp EF-S crop factor lens designed for the smaller 1.5 crop so it doesn’t cover the whole 35mm frame. It is f2.8 all the way through and has a nice wide manual focus ring.
When fitted to a 1DmkIV it vignettes heavily at the 11mm end but when you start zooming in the vignette goes. By about 13mm its virtually gone and you can use the lens normally even when stopped down to f16. It really is quite sharp even in the corners and shows only minimal Chromatic abberation. The AF in stills mode is pretty average but in video I’d manual focus anyway so this is not a problem. Essentially what you have is a usable range of 13mm to 16mm which in 35mm terms would be approximately a 17-21mm f2.8.
Why would I choose this lens over say the Canon 14mm for video? simple – the Tokina has a 77mm front thread which can be used with screw in filters or in my case a Genus Wide Angle Mattebox (from about 13.5mm with no problems using an adapter ring, you can probably get 13mm with flexible cloth nun’s knickers instead of a fixed ring). You can also fit the popular Genus 77mm Fader ND filter to this lens but it will vignette from about 14mm, still pretty good.
Until Canon bring out something better this is currently the most practical fast aperture ultra-wide angle for video use on the 1DmkIV. I hope this New Year will see other innovative lens options and a Canon 14-24 f2.8 has been long rumoured, I just hope whatever comes out can take filters.