Canon 16-35mm f4L IS Review

Canon Lenses

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to spend a couple months thoroughly testing out the 16-35mm in the field, I thought I’d post my final opinion on this new wide angle that was released in June from Canon.

So far this lens has traveled with me to numerous workshops, many miles on Glacier National Park’s trails and around the awesome landscapes of Washington’s Palouse.

I’ve put this one through many storms, dust, rain and everything else in between. It’s pretty much been glued to my 1DX since I received it in June.

To start out, I first will say I’ve had plenty of experience with just about all of Canon’s wide angles and wide angle zooms. For a number of years I shot with the 17-40mm f4L and after that the 16-35mm 2.8L II. I’ve also used a number of primes including one of my favorites the 24mm 3.5L ts II.

Going into this, like many others, I had a little grumbling here and there with the 16-35mm 2.8L II’s corner sharpness and performance on the long end, particularly when shooting landscapes. I also had some reservations about a few of the changes on the new F4 version, including the 9 aperture blades vs. 7 on the 2.8 version for sunburst shots. And the f4 vs. the f2.8 was a bit of concern as well in regards to night photography.

First off, the previous corner sharpness and other issues with the 16-35mm 2.8II have been greatly improved providing edge to edge sharpness. All around the image quality is getting right up there with the 24-70mk 2.8L II and the other improved optic updates Canon has released. I’ve done some pretty extensive testing in the field and I am completely impressed, no grumblings here!

The new 16-35mm f4L IS also comes with IS, which at first I was kind of scratching my head as I was with a few of Canon’s other wide angles that include it. But in real world use I do like it, and found that down to 1/10 when holding steady I was getting some sharp images. I probably would have been just fine without it, but I feel it’s a nice addition and it’s coaxing me off my tripod a little more often in difficult shooting situations and providing a little more assurance.

Canon at Glacier National Park

And for me, the whole issue with aperture blades really wasn’t a big deal. For those unfamiliar, the 7 aperture blade lenses will give you 14 point sunstars, whereas the 9 blade ones will give you 18 points. It’s just a personal preference thing, and I find both appealing.

For night photography, the f4 is a serious concern and really f2.8 or faster is ideal. However as others have tested, the f4 does perform well, but it does force you to go with a little longer exposure or use a higher ISO which can result in more noise. So not my preference, but acceptable and something I think I can live with.

As far as construction goes, this one uses the new build that is present in the 24-70mm 2.8 L II and 100mm 2.8L macro, utilizing a professional grade plastic build and latest optical coatings. One thing this accomplishes is lower weight and very good durability, there doesn’t appear to be any problems here.

That’s it for the pros. As far as the cons, I really can’t find anything to pull apart with this lens other than it would have been nice to have a f2.8 for night photography. Oh and also another for the pros, cost. Coming in at $1200 most will find this tolerable to very reasonable as far as current Canon glass prices go.

So to finish, I will say without a doubt that this is in my opinion one of Canon’s best wide angle zooms they have ever made and they have really knocked it out of the park on this one. I sold my 16-35mm 2.8L II and have absolutely no regrets.

If you’re concerned about image quality of previous wide angle zooms from Canon, want the best build quality and can live without f2.8, I would say this one would be a great choice and a nice addition to any Canon shooters bag.

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Montana Elk Photography

Montana Elk Photography

Elk rut, western Montana

Here’s a shot from last week while I was out photographing fall colors and the elk rut in western Montana. I’ve had some of the most wild and intense elk photography over the last couple days I think I’ve ever had out here. The weather has been great and there’s been a ton of activity going on with the elk. I was fortunate enough on this morning to get some great backlighting to work with, allowing me to create some really nice landscape shots with the elk.

Canon 1DX 500mm f4L IS II , 2Xtc  f8  1/1000  ISO800


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Glacier National Park Bears

Montana Glacier National Park Bears

Black Bear, Glacier National Park

Just returned from an amazing trip up north photographing fall colors in western Montana and Glacier National Park. Here’s a shot from the trip of a beautiful black bear I encountered on Glacier’s west side.

Canon 5D markIII 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS  f5.6  1/180  ISO3200

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Daly Mansion


Fall Photography Montana

Daly Mansion, Hamilton Montana

I was out last night checking on some of the fall colors where we live and decided to see how things were progressing with the trees around the Daly Mansion in Hamilton, Montana. The Daly Mansion is the historic home of 19th century industrialist, Marcus Daly, and located in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Daly made his fortune in copper back in the late 1800’s, built the town of Anaconda, and settled here in the valley. The Mansion is an amazing glimpse back into Montana’s past here and worth visiting. This time of year the grounds can be spectacular to photograph as well with all of the fall colors emerging around the main road.

Canon 5D markIII 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS  f8  1/180  ISO800

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Montana Fall Photography Workshop

Montana Photo Workshops

Swan Mountain Range, Montana

Looking forward to scenes like this coming up on my Seeley-Swan Valley photography workshop in western Montana! During mid October, the larch or “Tamaracks” depending on where you’re from, turn brilliant gold and orange hues illuminating the valley floor and providing awesome backdrops like the one you see here. The valley sits nestled between both the Swan Mountain Range and the Mission Mountains, both equally dramatic and usually snow capped this time of year. If you find yourself in western Montana this October and looking for a little solitude, the Seeley-Swan won’t dissapoint!


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Montana Rodeo

Montana Rodeo Photography

Bronc Bustin/Darby, Montana

Saddle broncs up close and personal on a Saturday night in Darby, Montana. I still can’t get over the high ISO quality in the Canon 1DX, makes shooting stuff like this incredibly fun and opens up a ton of new opportunities for low light scenes. Got some great shots of classic Montana cowboys doing their thing.

Canon 1DX  16-35mm f4L IS  f4  1/500  ISO6400

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National Bison Range

Montana Wildlife Photography

Montana Whitetail, National Bison Range

Here’s a shot from yesterday morning at Montana’s National Bison Range just north of Missoula. Had some awesome light and some great wildlife photography while up there. Unfortunately had to cut my trip short as my camera had a massive mechanical failure last night and I had just sent out my backup camera to Canon for routine service. Fortunately I got a few shots in while there. Murphy’s Law!

Canon 5D markIII 500mm f4LIS II, 2X  f11  1/750  ISO800

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American Kestrel

Bird Photography

American Kestrel

Good morning to be an American Kestrel, not such a good morning to be a mouse:)

Canon 1DX 500mm f4L II  f4 1/1500  ISO100

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Montana Harvest

Montana Sky

Bitterroot Harvest, Montana

It’s certainly harvest time here in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. I was just wrapping up for the day when I came across this great harvest scene with the sun setting behind the Bitterroots and some fantastic Montana sky.

Canon 5D markIII 16-35mm f4L IS f16 1/250 ISO1600

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Photographer in Glacier

Photographer in Glacier National Park

Photographer in Glacier National Park, Canon 1DX 16-35mm f4L IS f16 1/125 ISO800

Another perfect morning in Glacier National Park from last month’s workshop.

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