Archive for September, 2015

Canon 16-35mm f/4.0 L IS


St. Johns Bridge and pond, Portland, OR

I have had a whole slew of ultra wide zooms over the last 10 years. I shot with a Canon EOS 7d for a while and tried a number of ultra-wides for that camera, including the Tamron SP 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 LD, Tokina ATX 11-16mm f/2.8 and the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5.

When I decided to go “Full Frame” (Full Frame or Crop?). I also had a couple of ultra-wides. I started with the Canon 17-40mm f/4.0L and that was a very good lens. It was sharp and pretty well corrected. As I have mentioned I have always been a fan of fast glass and Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8L was out there… taunting me. There it was a full stop brighter and even more wide-angle. But that lens is physically quite large and heavy, and optically it is not as clean as the 17-40mm. Even the second generation 16-35mm f/2.8L II is not considered to be a solid performer optically. So I was able to resist that ‘Jonesing’ sensation. Last summer (2014) Canon came out with a new ultra wide-angle lens; the 16-35mm f/4.0L IS. I read the reviews on this new lens and they were overwhelmingly positive. Several magazine reviews suggested this was the sharpest and best corrected ultra-wide angle lens Canon had ever made. Oh no… I suddenly “needed” that lens. So I bought one and sold my venerable 17-40mm L. So how will it perform? After all, Canon has not exactly been the performance leader in the full-frame ultra-wide zoom arena, routinely falling short of arch-rival, Nikon.

Well, many of the professional reviewers have given this new Canon lens higher marks than the offerings from Nikon. In fact one reviewer took the test all the way to the top, so to speak, comparing this Canon lens to the legendary Zeiss 15mm 2.8 prime. Granted, 15mm is wider than 16mm, but the Zeiss is a prime lens! The Canon lens in that article was similar in performance on several metrics to the Carl Zeiss.

My primary use for this lens is real estate photos. As a Realtor┬« I routinely take photos of my listings and I also take photos for other agents in the area. A good wide-angle is essential when trying to show an entire room in one image. This new lens is equipped with Canon’s famously good, image stabilization system, “IS”. Although I almost always use a tripod, there are times when I am in a tight spot and have to hand hold. Having the IS is a huge bonus in those situations and this is the only ultra-wide that Canon offers with IS.

Ef16_35_4lisu_586x186_heroAlthough this lens is a bit longer and heavier than the 17-40mm it is MUCH lighter than the beefy 16-35mm f/2.8L. I have been delighted with this lens and it continues to impress with exceptional control of distortion and crisp sharpness right out to the corner. Vignetting is always an issue with these ultra-wides and again this lens has it well-managed. The best part about this “new’ Canon lens is the price. It is about 40% more expensive than the 17-40L but it is a superior lens in every measurable way. It is however significantly less expensive than the 16-35 f/2.8L┬ácoming in more than 30% less. It is also superior optically to that lens. This lens is a walk-off home run in game seven of the World Series. Yeah it’s just that good.

Ultimately I am in serious lust for the latest entrant in ultra-wide angle zooms and that is also from Canon. The 11-24mm f/4.0L. Yes this is a FULL FRAME lens that goes to a crazy wide 11mm. The reviews have been over the moon about this lens. One of these days real soon I will rent that lens and test it out. I probably ought to just buy it, but they are quite proud of it at Canon USA with a sticker of around $3000.00. Yikes! I haven’t spent that kind of coin on a lens since I bought a Canon FD 300mm f/2.8L back in the early 90s.

I’ll probably just have to make do with the sharpest and highest quality ultra-wide angle lens Canon has ever built. Yes the 16-35mm f/4.0L IS.



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