Home   Donate   New   Search   Gallery   How-To   Books   Links   Workshops   About   Contact

Zeiss 18mm Comparison
© 2009 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Please help KenRockwell..com

Zeiss 18mm ZE, Canon 16-35 II and Nikon 14-24mm

Zeiss 18mm, Canon 16-35mm L II and Nikon 14-24mm AF-S. enlarge. It helps me keep adding to this site when you use these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, Calumet, Ritz, J&R and eBay to get your goodies. Thanks! Ken.


December 2009       Canon Reviews   Nikon Reviews    Leica Reviews

More Zeiss Reviews  

Zeiss Manual-Focus Lenses for Canon 15 September 2008



2.4" (61mm)
4.4" (112mm)
5.2" (132mm)
18.1 oz. (513g)
22.4 oz. (634g)
35.3 oz. (1,000g)
Infinity focus stop
Close focus
Depth-of-field scale
IR focus index
only at 16mm
16/12, 3 asph.
14/11, 3 asph.
Diaphragm blades



Which is sharper? The Zeiss or Canon on a Canon 5D Mark II, or the Nikon 14-24mm AF-S on the Nikon D3?

Let's see.



I shot these all in raw. I opened the files at the same size (6,144 pixels wide) in Photoshop CS4's Adobe Camera Raw at default settings.

These are all small crops from the equivalent of huge 40 x 60 inches (1 x 1.5 meter) prints.

Here we go.


Center, maximum aperture:





Center, f/8:





Lower left corner, maximum aperture:


Lower left corner, f/8:


Analysis         top



The Nikon is worst.

Nikon is at a disadvantage because Nikon makes no high-resolution full-frame DSLRs for under $8,000. Thus Nikon has to complete here with the 12MP D3 and D700, which is more of a limiting factor than the excellent 14-24mm lens.

At full aperture, the Zeiss and Canon 5D Mark II is clearly the winner, although the Canon 16-35mm II isn't much worse.

At f/8, the Canon 16-35mm II is a little better.

I'd call this a tie between the Zeiss and the Canon in the center.



All these lenses are sharp in the center.

What makes or breaks a wide lens is its performance in the corners.

Wide-open, the Nikon is almost as good as the Zeiss. The Nikon is plagued by some lateral color, which the Nikon's in-camera processing would probably remove. Photoshop's Adobe Camera Raw isn't smart enough to fix that automatically.

Wide-open, the Canon 16-35mm L II is horrible. This is why Canon shooters used to go to great lengths to adapt the great Nikon 14-24mm lens to shoot on their cameras. If you think this is bad, remember that the 16-35mm L II is a new, improved version of the original 16-35mm L, which was even worse.

Stopped down, the three are similar, with a slight edge to the Zeiss.

Nikon's lens is possibly superior, but it's hampered by Nikon's lower resolution cameras.


What about the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L?

I've compared the 17-40mm to the 16-35mm II before. It is about the same.


What about Nikon's fixed 18mm lenses?

Nikon's 14-24mm is the best ultrawide Nikon has ever made.

Thus I didn't bother pulling out an 18mm f/2.8 AF-D or 18mm f/3.5 AI-s to compare.



On Canon, I'd give this Zeiss lens serious consideration for nature and landscape use. It's a better lens than Canon's own zooms, but then again, if you're shooting in daylight or on a tripod at smaller apertures (like f/8), there isn't much, if any, optical difference.

I'd also consider Canon's TS-E lenses as alternatives to Canon's zooms.

I haven't tried this lens on Nikon.

I prefer the feel of Nikon's 18mm f/2.8 AF-D or 18mm f/3.5 AI-s when shooting Nikon. I doubt I'd get one of these for use on Nikon, even if performance might, or might not, be better. I wouldn't sweat it until Nikon makes a competitive 24MP DSLR where these difference might become apparent. Nikon's flaw here is that as of Decemebr, 2009, Nikon makes no DSLR with more than 12MP for less then $8,000, thus Nikon is a non-player in this market. The 24MP D3X would look much better, but at $8,000, it doesn't play here.


Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Thank you!


Thanks for reading!



Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact