The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens

Content

Get it now

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens

Canon introduced Canon EF 16-35mm II lens to replace the 16-35mm f/2.8L I lens. The original 16-35mm produces sharpness in the center but has a number of issues including softness and CA (chromatic aberrations) in the corners. These imperfections are more noticeable on full-frame Canon DSLR cameras. Among the many “fixes” Canon made, they changed the filter thread size from 77mm to 82mm.

Note that on a cropped sensor DSLR this lens is equivalent to a focal length of 25-56mm.

The build quality of the Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 II lens is great. Its zoom and focus rings are easy to use and are in right place. With a 2.8 aperture throughout its focal range, it is well suited for shooting in low light conditions.

If you don’t need a 2.8 aperture lens, a good alternative is the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L.

If you need a lens with the specific range from 16mm up to 35mm at a lower cost, then there are prime lenses that may meet your needs such as the new Canon EF 24mm and 28mm 2.8 IS lenses among others.

[spoiler style=”2″ title=”Pros & Cons”]
PROS CONS
Sharpness for zoom lens Barrel distortion
(at 16mm)
Quiet, fast and accurate AF Vignetting
(f2.8 at 16mm)
Constant results
Build quality
Weather (water) sealing
[/su_spoiler] [spoiler style=”2″ title=”Specifications”]
Performance
Focal Length 16-35mm
35mm equivalent FL (APS-C) 25-56mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2.8
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Canon (APS-C)
Angle of View 108° – 63°
Angle of View (APS-C)
Minimum Focus Distance 0.28m (0.92ft)
Magnification 0.22x (1:4.5)
Groups/Elements 12/16
Super Spectra coatings
3 aspherical elements
2 UD elements
Diaphragm Blades 7 circular
Features
Image Stabilization No
Autofocus Yes
Distance scale Yes
DoF scale Yes
AF motor type Ring-type USM
Focus – Zoom methods Internal
Tripod Collar No
Physical
Filter Thread 82 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 89 x 112mm (3.48 x 4.39 in)
Weight 635g (1.40 lb)
Included accessories Front and rear caps
Hood
Other Metal barrel, metal mount
Weather sealing
[/su_spoiler] [spoiler style=”2″ title=”Best Use”]
  • Landscape / Scenery
  • Low light conditions
  • Weddings
  • Video
  • Portrait
  • Photojournalism
  • Indoors
  • Architectural Interiors
[/su_spoiler] [spoiler style=”2″ title=”Alternatives (Pros&Cons)”]
Lens W MFD MM Filter DB Year Price
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM 600g
1.32lb
0.28m
11.02in
0.22x 77mm 7 2001 used only
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM 500g
1.10lb
0.28m
11.02in
0.24x 77mm 7 2003 $839,00
Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX 950g
2.09lb
0.28m
11.02in
0.19x 2010 $849,00
– rebate $50 ($799,00)
Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II 430g
0.95lb
0.27m
10.63in
0.22x 67mm 7 $474,00
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM 565g
1.25lb
0.28m
11.02in
0.28x 77mm 7 2010 $669,00
Tokina 17-35mm f/4 Pro FX 600g
1.32lb
0.28m
11.02in
0.20x 82mm 7 $659,00
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM 385g
0.85lb
0.24m
9.45in
0.17x 77mm 6 2004 $819,00
Sigma EF-S 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM 520g
1.14lb
0.24m
9.45in
0.15x 82mm 7 $649,00
Tamron EF-S SO AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4 Di II 406g
0.90lb
0.24m
9.45in
0.19x 77mm 7 $449,00
Tokina EF-S 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 Pro DX 560g
1.23lb
0.30m
11.81in
0.08x 77mm 9 2012 $659,00
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM 950g
2.09lb
0.38m
11.81in
0.29x 77mm 8 2002 $1.329,00
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM 805g
1.77lb
0.38m
11.81in
0.21x 82mm 9 2012 $2.299,00
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD 825g
1.82lb
0.38m
11.81in
0.21x 82mm 9 2012 $1.299,00
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM 790g
1.74lb
0.38m
11.81in
0.19x 82mm 9 2008 $899,00
Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM 670g
1.48lb
0.45m
17.72in
0.23x 77mm 8 2005 $1.149,00
Lens Pros Cons
Similar focal range Alternatives
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM Price Soft in corners
Flaring
Vignetting
CA
Only used
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Price
Smaller filter size 77mm
Same or better sharpness
slower (f/4 vs f/2.8)
Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX Should be sharper
Price
Auto-focus inconsistent
Build quality
Tokina 17-35mm f/4 Pro FX Price Auto-focus inconsistent
Build quality
Focus speed
Focus sound
Sharpness
f4 vs f2.8
Similar price and focal range Alternatives
None
From FF to APS-C Alternatives (16-35mm->~10-22mm)*
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Price Slower (f/3.5-4.5)
Softer
More distortion
Build quality
Not weather proof
Sigma EF-S 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Price Slower (f/3.5)
Softer
More distortion
Build quality
Not weather proof
Tamron EF-S SO AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4 Di II Price Slower (f/3.5-4)
Softer
More distortion
Build quality
Not weather proof
Tokina EF-S 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 Pro DX Price Softer
More distortion
Build quality
Not weather proof
From APS-C to FF Alternatives (16-35mm->~25-56mm)**
Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Price
Filter (77mm)
Build quality
No full time focus
Slower focus
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM Price
Filter (77mm)
Build quality
No full time focus
Slower focus
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Price Little softer
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM More blades – 9
Zoom lock
Price
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD Price
Zoom lock
Image stabilization
Vignetting
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM Price Sealing
Sharpness
Focus
Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Price
Much longer zoom range
Image stabilization
Slower (f4 vs f2.8)
Softer
Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Price
Filter – 67mm
Zoom lock
Noise
Bokeh
No full time manual focus
7 diaphragm blades
Prime Alternatives (near range 16-35mm)
Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Prime lenses are in most cases better in all domains than zoom lenses. Most of these lenses are faster than 16-35mm f2.8, most of them are even sharper across frame.
It really depends on intended use, cause by it’s purpose, there is no logic to compare Zoom lenses with Primes.
You should know what you need before buying such expensive gear.
While prime lenses have advantage over Zoom, they tend to cost more.
Please check disadvantage of each lens separately, some doesn’t have sealing, some are slower, some are worse build quality, some are not as sharp as 16-35mm II, some doesn’t have auto focus (it is not negative, if you plan to use it as video lens) etc.
Zeiss lenses are sharper across whole frame, all with manual focus (MF) and great build quality, amazing especially for video.
Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 ZE
Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 ZE
Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM
Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF RF
Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
Bower 24mm f/1.4 Wide-Angle
Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm f/2.0 ZE
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
Sigma 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro AF
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM
Zeiss Distagon 35mm T* f/2 ZE
Zeiss 35mm F/1.4 Distagon T
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM
Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 US UMC Aspherical

* Listed lenses are the APS-C (1.6x crop) body alternatives to a field of view equal or close to one that Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 USM II produces when mounted on FF (full frame) sensor body
** Listed lenses are the FF (full frame) body alternatives to a field of view equal or close to one that Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 USM II produces when mounted on APS-C (1.6x crop) sensor body
[/su_spoiler]

MTF-16-35mm-Wide-ChartMTF-16-35mm-Tele-Chart
Above are shown official MTF Charts from Canon site
You can check dpreview MTF-50 + CA chart here.

Sharpness
The Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM zoom lens is sharpest at its center at 16mm and f/2.8, but the best results for overall image quality are around 20-24mm at f/5.6-f/8. The 16-35mm II is the more advanced version of original 16-35mm, but it’s not flawless. Shooting at its widest focal length (16mm) shows some corner softness in images. It is normal to have some distortion with wide angle lenses and the 16-35mm II is no exception.

Furthermore, the MTF Chart WIDE confirms that this lens at its shortest focal length (16mm) and largest aperture (f/2.8) performs quite well but mostly in center of the frame (black thick line). Such performance is good for low light conditions. While stopped down to f/8, it has almost full frame sharp coverage (thick blue line). Landscape users will most often use apertures above f/5.6 and this lens performs quite well within that aperture range.

Chromatic Aberration
From the dpreview chart, it can be shown that CA is not really a big issue for this lens. It is well controlled and shows higher amounts of CA on edges of the frame. These days, CA is easily resolved in post processing.

Vignetting
If this lens is at focal length 16mm, it shows a 2-3 stops fall off at the edges of the frame. When stopping down or zooming in, the light fall off compared to center lags for 1 stop.

Distortion
As expected, at 16mm a large amount of distortion will occur. The level of distortion varies among lenses but on a cropped sensor DSLR body, the average distortion across the frame is around 0.5%. On full-frame cameras, the 16-35mm II shows more distortion, varying from a bit under 1% (barrel average) at 16mm (meaning that in corners it can reach up to 3%) to about 0.5% pincushion from 24-35mm range. At 35mm, the pincushion distortion is less than 0.2% in the corners.

Nevertheless, the level of distortion of this lens is less than that of its predecessor. This is a great improvement as version I has an almost 1% of barrel distortion in the corners at 16mm.

The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II has its lowest distortion at 28mm on cropped sensor cameras, and around 22 mm on full-frame bodies.

Distortion shouldn’t concern you much, as you can use photography software to correct images, but in case it does bother you, you can always search for Wide Angle prime lenses with less distortion.

Focus
Overall, this is a consistent lens with a short focal length that has a fast and reliable auto-focus.

Out of focus area (Bokeh)
Bokeh produced by this lens is decent but not amazing. It looks circular with some distorted shapes.

Other
When compared to its predecessor, this lens has less flaring because it is built with better optical elements.

Example shots:

last bend
http://www.flickr.com/photos/steini06/5023633309
Officially a Canon Man
Landmannalaugar

Bottom line for Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens

The 16-35mm f2.8 II, a unique wide angle zoom lens is without competition. Usually, primes outperform zoom lenses in image quality and all of the issues mentioned before about this particular lens are expected in all wide angle zoom lenses. This lens has been proven to be the best full-frame Canon wide angle zoom lens. It’s not without imperfections, but is highly versatile with excellent performance. This lens is most commonly used for Landscapes, Architectural Interiors, Low light situations, Weddings, Night Life, Photojournalism and much more. If you know how to use it, this lens can be an amazing addition to your gear.

We recommend that you get your copy of the Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L USM II lens in one of these stores:

Canon-ef-16-35mm-f2.8 USM II
16-35mm_f2.8 USM II

Buy Rent

Popular reviews:
Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 L II USM – KenRockwell
Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 L II USM – TheDigital Picture
Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 L II USM – Amazon Reviews
dpreview (data only)

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...

Check Also

Canon-vs-tokina

Tokina 11-16mm vs Canon 10-22mm (APS-C)

Wide angle rivals If you have an APS-C camera body – meaning 1.6x crop and ...