The Canon EF-S 10-18mm is the latest wide angle lens to hit the shelves. It is designed of APS-C sensors. It sports IS, STM focusing, and is priced under $300! Whats not to love?
The Canon EF-S 10-18mm is Very Slow
F/4.5-5.6 is very slow by today’s standards. If you dial this lens in at 18mm, you will only be able to shoot at f/5.6 (allowing in 4x less light than the Tokina 11-16 @ f/2.8). What this means is that your bokeh will suffer, your depth of field won’t be very shallow, and you will need to jack the ISO up of use longer exposures. Granted, people don’t really buy wide angle lenses for bokeh or shallow depth of fields.
Even wide open the Canon is slow. F/4.5 lets in about 2.6x less light than the Tokina @ F/2.8. If you plan on shooting at night, or in low light you will always be relying on the Canon’s image stabilization so that you can extend the exposure duration.
Canon EF-S 10-18mm Image Stabilization: Useful? Useless?
At wide angles, you can get introduce a fair bit of camera shake and still get sharp results. So is the IS actually useful at these wide focal lengths? Of course! You will definitely see the difference if you shoot video. As for stills; it depends purely on the shutter speed. If you are in a low light situation, shooting below 1/50s you will likely see increased sharpness. So, given the small aperture of the Canon, the IS could be a life saver.
Canon EF-S 10-18mm vs Tokina 11-16mm Sharpness
The Canon is poised to be one of the sharpest wide angle lenses on the market. Because it can only reach f/4.5 or f/5.6 at its widest setting it is inherently sharp wide open. The following MTF shows that the Canon is sharper corner to corner across its focal range:
You will notice that the Tokina does fairly well. Note that the bottom curves are at f/2.8 as opposed to f/4.5. The Tokina is considered a very sharp lens. The Canon is just sharper. Check out the MTF for the Tokina:
The Tokina 11-16mm Build Quality and Design
The Tokina 11-16 feels like a professional lens. It weighs 570g. The Canon 10-18mm weighs 240g. I own the Tokina 11-16 DXII, and I own my share of Canon EF-S lenses, and I will say that the Canon EF-S lenses always feel very cheap. I am yet to handle an EF-S lens that feels solid in my hand. I have no doubts that the the Canon 10-18mm will feel cheap. I doubt it will be as bad as the 50mm 1.8 or 17-55mm, but I don’t expect the build quality to be great.
The Tokina comes with a lens hood, and a pinch design lens cap. The focusing system is whisper quiet, the focusing and zoom rings are large and smooth, and the build quality seems excellent for a $450 lens. The Tokina 11-16 isn’t weather sealed, but it feels closer to L series quality than EF-S quality.
What is The Best Wide Angle Lens For…
For video? Honestly the Canon 10-18mm seems very appealing given the IS. But, f/4.5 and f/5.6 is not gonna cut it. If you shoot video, you are limited to 1/30 shutter speed @ 24p. 1/30 at f/4.5 is not going to cut it in most low light situations. So, for video, I recommend the Tokina 11-16. The lack of IS is a bummer, but at such wide focal lengths IS isn’t necessary.
For landscape or architectural photography you would do just fine with the Canon 10-18mm. After all, you will be using a tripod (right? get a tripod, at least for interior photography) and so the small aperture won’t matter because you can shoot at extremely slow shutter speeds. Plus, the Canon can go down to 10mm wide, which is about 10% wider than 11mm, allowing you to get that exaggerated wide angle look.
If you are a beginner, get the Canon 10-18mm. It’s lighter, cheaper, sharper, and perfect for daytime use. It’s a nice little lens that Canon randomly dropped on us. If you are a professional, get a Canon 14mm F2.8. You are likely shooting on a full frame sensor, and so the Tokina 11-16 and Canon 10-18mm aren’t ideal (vignetting, and lack of compatibility).