Welcome to the 2006 24mm Lens World Cup

With the hopes of a nation on their backs, the next few weeks will see the finest 24mm lenses on earth shoulder to shoulder, going head to head in a back to back encounter with a neck and neck finale.

Much like the real 2006 World Cup, the usual favourites have failed to perform at this focal length, so the tournament is wide open: maybe one of the minnows is destined for glory? Also much like this year’s World Cup, even the ‘Brazil-like’ genius of Leica, and the sparklingly ‘Argentine’ Zeiss teams are looking a bit off colour, leaving plenty of room for the ‘Ghanaian’ and even ‘American’ Sigma and Kiron to be in with a shout, not to mention the ‘dark horse’ propositions of Pentax and Olympus. Remember Zuiko – that great Brazilian centre-forward of the 1970s?

Anyway, it’s a game of three halves. ‘Seeding’ positions (winners in ascending order of likelihood according to general expectation) are in brackets.

> Group A: 24mm Zoom Lenses
Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 (10)
Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 (12)
Leica 21-35mm (1)

Group B: 24mm Fast Lenses
Nikon 24mm f2 (6)
Sigma 24mm f1.8 EX (7)
Pentax 24mm f2 FA (3)
Canon 24mm f.4 L (2)

> Group C: 24mm Regular Lenses
Canon 24mm f2.8 (5)
Yashica 24mm f2.8 (9)
Sigma 24mm f2.8 (11)
Pentax 24mm f2.8 SMC A (8)
Olympus 24mm f2.8 (4)



The two winners of each group will progress to the semi-final play offs, where the weakest of each three-strong group will be eliminated. The triumphant semi finalists will emerge into the glorious Grand Final: four contenders, but only one ultimate victor.

A number of designs failed to qualify for the finals, having been knocked out in the preliminary rounds: my Olympus 24mm f2 failed to outperform an excellent sample of the humble f2.8; the Zeiss 25mm similarly fell before the Sigma 15-30mm which in turn was replaced by the Sigma 12-24mm which in any case is rubbish at 24mm. The Canon 16-35mm L also fell by the wayside, vanquished by the Nikon 17-35mm f2.8. Leica’s 24mm Elmarit R is also widely considered to be inferior to the new Leica 21-35mm, so we’ve chosen to include the Vario-Elmar in a special zoom handicap play off.

Finally, a number of play-offs will establish the winners in particular categories: Best Flare Resistance; Best Distortion Control; Best Value. Let’s kick off . . .

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