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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