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Lens review

Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM

29 September 2009
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • solid, sealed barrel,
  • excellent image quality in the frame centre,
  • chromatic aberration sensibly controlled,
  • only slight distortion, taking into account the focal lengths range,
  • low astigmatism,
  • low vignetting level,
  • very quick, silent and accurate autofocus,
  • lens hood and a case included.

Cons:

  • unacceptable image quality at frame edge in the aperture range from f/2.8-4.0,
  • average work against bright light,
  • bad price/quality ratio.

Of course the easiest way to explain the results of our test is an assumption that we somehow got a faulty copy of the lens. It is quite often repeated in commentaries, especially when we find a fault in more expensive lenses. Apparently for many people it is difficult to admit that they’ve spent a lot of money on a faulty device. Besides, in the small community of amateur photographers, acknowledging that somebody’s equipment has a fault is tantamount to admitting a personal failure. How come? I bought a camera/a lens with a fault? How could it be possible? Very unlikely! The tests must be wrong somehow or they tested a faulty copy…

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If we really got hold of a worse-than- average copy of a lens, though, this fact would put Canon in a bad light anyway. I don’t buy a 5000 PLN lens in order to go through different copies looking for a good one, like at a market stall…

On the one hand you can complain about the Canon – spending such a hefty sum of money you certainly wish to have a lens with possibly the smallest number of faults or totally faultless. It is possible, after all, to manufacture good lenses and it was proven by Nikon - they managed to produce a more difficult 14-24 mm f/2.8 model which presented itself better in the tests. On the other hand, the 16-35 mm focal lengths range does seem to be more universal than the 14-24 mm, either on full frame or on an APS-H. Besides, comparing the weight and the dimensions of both lenses the Canon has an advantage. We must add that it is really difficult to find a good alternative for the Canon (unless we speak of the change of the system). A Sigma 17-35mm fares worse at the maximum aperture and is less fast – its production has ended by the way. A Tamron 17-35 mm, still present on the market, is also less fast, has a worse barrel build quality, weaker frame edge performance and an autofocus not meeting journalistic standards. Certainly there’s a gap to be filled. Will anybody take up the challenge?


Sample shots:

Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 16 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/6400 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.7 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 25 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/6400 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.6 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 34 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1250 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.8 MB
Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/320 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.1 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 34 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/160 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.8 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 16 mm, f/5.0, exp. 1/100 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.7 MB
Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 25 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/50 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.0 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 22 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/1000 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.2 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 35 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/800 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.6 MB
Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 16 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/500 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.7 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 35 mm, f/7.1, exp. 1/800 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 4.1 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 35 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/250 sec., ISO 100
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.4 MB
Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 1D MkIII
Parameters: 16 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/125 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3888x2592 pix, 3.3 MB
Camera: Canon 1D MkIII
Parameters: 35 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/250 sec., ISO 100
File: JPG, 3888x2592 pix, 2.8 MB
Camera: Canon 1D MkIII
Parameters: 25 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/250 sec., ISO 100
File: JPG, 3888x2592 pix, 2.3 MB




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