24-70mm f2.8 VS 17-50mm f2.8

A friend of mine has a Canon 24-70mm f2.8 ‘L’ lens and after having a play with it and looking at his photos I have had a little bit of gear-envy. The extra speed and frequent bokeh was really nice! Naturally I started looking at prices.. and the Nikon equivalent is… not cheap!

I cant justify $1969 on a lens! Especially considering that I dont actually need it, and I am just a hobbyist (therefore: return on investment == profit from my work == $0).

I then read up on some more affordable Sigma and Tamron lenses that were similar and liked the prices much better! … but im still really indecisive :(

Then I saw the 17-50mm f2.8 lenses (from Tamron, Sigma and Tokina), and this made me think.. When I was travelling to Japan (with Sarma, the Canon guy) I remember him complaining about not being able to get a wide enough shot and he would often stand pretty far back to get the shot he wanted or swap to his 10-20mm lens. This probably wouldn’t be an issue with a full-frame camera, but the 50d’s smaller sensor means it is already quite “zoomed-in” at its widest setting.

I started writing up an email to ask Sarma what he thought and realized I have all his photos from our Japan trip, so with a bit of linux command line fun, I came up with this:

> exiftool -p `$focallength` -q -f \`find -L .\` | sort -n | uniq -c

Now for the explanation:

exiftool -p `$focallength` -q -f

exiftool extracts exif information from jpg’s.The -p prints a formatted string, which I inserted just the $focallength variable.The -q means quiet (basically, dont print too much).The -f is the list of files, which I use a sub-command (wrapped in backticks) to get.

find -L .

As all of our groups photos were kind-of mixed in together, I created a directory with symlinks to just Sarma’s photos (hence the find -L, where -L will follow symlinks to the appropriate directories).

sort -n

This just sorts the data by numberic value (so 10 > 1), this is mainly so the uniq command works properly.

uniq -c

This will collapse the data down to unique values and with the -c, it will also print the number of occurences have been collapsed down.

The output of this command included all of Sarma’s photos (not just taken with the 24-70) but it still gave me a pretty good idea. The output looked like this:

86    10.0 mm
2     11.0 mm
2     15.0 mm
14    16.0 mm
2     18.0 mm
108   20.0 mm
2362  24.0 mm
142   28.0 mm
176   32.0 mm
138   35.0 mm
104   40.0 mm
118   45.0 mm
136   47.0 mm
120   50.0 mm
94    55.0 mm
78    58.0 mm
76    60.0 mm
76    65.0 mm
70    67.0 mm
52    70.0 mm
52    73.0 mm
34    75.0 mm
14    80.0 mm
48    82.0 mm
56    84.0 mm
18    85.0 mm
24    88.0 mm
10    90.0 mm
14    92.0 mm
12    93.0 mm
16    95.0 mm
10    96.0 mm
4     97.0 mm
8     98.0 mm
8     99.0 mm
12    100.0 mm
10    102.0 mm
404   105.0 mm

With the majority of Sarma’s photos clearly being taken at 24mm, it made me think that as I too have a cropped sensor camera, the wider 17-50mm lenses are probably a better choice for me as I really dont have any plans to lash out on a full frame camera anytime soon :P