21mm / f16 Performance

Performance at 21mm: f16 (centre frame)

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Contax N 17-35mm at 21mm/f16 Nikon 17-35mm AFS at 21mm/f16
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Performance at 21mm: f16 (10mm off-centre, left side)

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Contax N 17-35mm at 21mm/f16 Nikon 17-35mm AFS at 21mm/f16
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Performance at 21mm: f16 (lower right corner)

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Contax N 17-35mm at 21mm/f16 Nikon 17-35mm AFS at 21mm/f16
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As expected, most of the differences have flattened out by f16. As at 17mm, it remains impressive that the Nikon resists diffraction effects so that the only upshot visible to the 5D of stopping down from f11 is a gain in corner resolution.

Thus far, then, we have an unprecedented performance by the Contax N at 17mm, but not one that we could really say put clear blue water between it and the Nikon zoom. At 21mm, we have a more evenly fought contest, but the Contax annulus horribilis strikes again: a torus of reduced resolution taking the shine off an otherwise impeccable rendition – and at 21mm, its ability to render a sharp corner isn’t quite as unique: the Nikon owns this focal length among mere mortals (the Zeiss 21mm is now understood to be a Xeelee artefact).