Well it finally arrived today - my 'new' Canon 10-22mm ultra-wide EF-S zoom lens. I had hoped it would arrive on Friday for the weekend, but it didn't. Instead it arrived today (Monday), and I was able to get out this evening with my son to take my first images with the lens.
Firstly let me say that it's a compact lens that balances nicely on my 30D, is very quiet (thanks to the USM focusing) and quick to focus. Very much on a par with my EF-S 17-55mm f2.8. In fact as soon as I attached this lens to the camera I knew I was going to enjoy using it. It may not be as solid as an 'L' lens, but it's plenty solid enough for me.
As you can see above, 10mm (16mm in conventional terms) is pretty wide and can really bend and warp those angles. But also look at Joshua who is placed fairly centrally in the frame. He's actually not too bad, and looks fairly normal. Used with care, ultra-wides can be portrait lenses, especially for 'environmental portraiture'.
Josh and I went down to a local 'historical' park that has a building I knew would be fun to shoot with this lens. And really, 'fun' is the operative word. It's amazing how close you can get to your subject with the lens set to 10mm (it focuses as close as 24cm) and still fit everything in!
When you can go as wide as 10mm, it's amazing how 'normal' 22mm (35mm in conventional terms) looks. While still considered 'wide', the 22mm end straightens things up nicely, while still allowing for a lot of real estate to fit in the viewfinder.
More than just a 'gimmick', an ultra-wide like the Canon Ef-S 10-22mm really makes you think about your compositions - what to leave in and what to leave out. You can't (and shouldn't) just stick this lens to 10mm and shoot everything in site, assuming you have a great image just because you're going ultra-wide. All you'll achieve by doing this is to end up with images that look, well, 'gimmicky'.
Because it balances so nicely on the 30D, you can also get away with hand-holding this lens when the light gets pretty low. The shot above was taken at 1/20th of a second, and is tack sharp. With good technique and a steady hand, low shutter speeds aren't really a problem with wide angles - although a tripod is always advisable for critical sharpness. I can't wait to get this bad boy onto a tripod and out into the wilderness for some serious landscape work.
Canon's top level of EF-S lenses (the 10-22mm, 17-55mm f2.8 and 60mm macro) have impressed my greatly. Many claim that the only reason they aren't called 'L' lenses is because they won't work on 'pro' camera bodies. They certainly come with a pro price tag and use pro glass. Granted, they probably aren't quite as ruggedly constructed as the 'L' lenses. But hey, you can't have everything. The 'most' important factor to me (and you) is image quality. This they have - in spades.