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Keywords: Canon EF Wide Zoom 35mm L IS Stabilized USM


kinematic

Registered: October 2008
Posts: 13
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM review by kinematic
Review Date: 7/29/2014 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $1,200.00| Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Landscape dream lens, 77mm Threads, Sharp images corner to corner even at F/4, IS, Locking Lens Hood
Cons: Not really, but in specific astrophotography situations, the aperture is not wide enough.

Another winner by Canon.


I find this lens very difficult to find faults with. In fact this might be the first time I could not come up with a Con for this lens.


Initially I thought the only possible negative I could come up with is that F/4 is not enough for certain astrophotography situations. I shot this on my Canon EOS 5D mark III, with High ISO and at 16mm and it was still very nice, but certainly having 1 more stop would have give me a little less blur if I wanted pin sharp stars.


Starting by build quality. I know some reviewers don't like the engineered plastic shell. I'm here to tell you that as an accident prone pro, I appreciate the polycarbonate construction over the metal lenses of the past (I've dropped my similarly built 100mm L macro 3 times onto concrete and it survived - no metal lens would ever survive that kind of tumble). The construction is a combination of metal and plastic shell. There is no wobble which is to be expected on an L class lens. Switches feel positive, and the locking lens hood plus the pinch caps are all very positive improvements that Canon has put on their pro lenses. Both focus and zoom are all internal (meaning there is no tromboning or extension of the front element).


I do wish there was a rear gel filter like the 17-40 F/4 or the 16-35 F/2.8 Mark I, but unlike the 16-35 F/2.8 Mark II with it's 82mm thread mount, this one comes with a more common 77mm thread.


Having the smaller thread is a huge benefit to me. Although I have 82mm threads, I also struggle with vignetting with filters that are too thick or larger than 100mm square filter systems. This lens doesn't have that problem. It handles the Cokin-P wide adapter with no issues and even thick screw on ND filters don't vignette. However the Standard Cokin-P does vignette, it is encouraging to point out unlike the 16-35 F/2.8 mark II lens, you can use the 100mm Cokin-Z filters with no issues.


As a previous owner of the 16-35 F/2.8 Mark II, I will make frequent comparisons to it. This F/4 lens is a major improvement over the F/2.8 version for clarity, sharpness, and CA control. Although the centre performance is almost identical to each other at F/4, the corners on this lens trump the F/2.8 version by a long shot. I actually got rid of the F/2.8 because of how bad it was and replaced it with the better performing and inexpensive 14mm F/2.8 from Samyang.


There is a little bit of circular vignetting wide open at F/4, but you quickly overlook that by the sharpness it produces at the corner. Flare control by the SWC coating is well managed. 9 bladed apertures make a beautiful 18 point star. The bokeh is also surprisingly pleasing.


If you are concerned by the slower F/4 aperture, don't be. The IS that was introduced to this lens is rather surprisingly useful. I thought initially that there is no point with having IS on an ultra wide lens, but after walking around shooting handheld wide angle shots at .3 second shutters with corner to corner sharpness was very enlightening. Simply not having a tripod around and hiking with this lens negates any benefit over smaller mirrorless cameras that would still require a tripod.


At 16mm this lens has little barrel distortion (pretty much similar to the F/2.8 lens). The little distortion that is there is barely noticeable at best, even when shooting brick walls (because we all do that). The 16mm is brilliantly sharp, and I'd even put it against the quality of a Zeiss 15mm especially at F/5.6 and up.


20-24mm is fantastic as well. Usually the middle range of a zoom is pretty dreadful, but it actually very good and no vignette is present at F/4.


35mm is like using a prime lens and feels like using a popular street lens.


One last point about this lens is the close up performance of it. I have been carrying around my 100mm L macro along hikes with this lens, but surprisingly, I choose to zoom out to 35mm and shoot close up images with it. It's not going to be as close as a macro by a long shot, but I've enjoyed using it for the odd close up shot both for my hikes and also for my professional work.


In conclusion this is the must have lens for landscapers. I will be keeping my Samyang 14mm for special circumstances, but generally I'm very happy with the range of the 16-35 F/4 for landscape. Having no need to bring a tripod along hikes is an added bonus and the edge to edge sharpness is the lens I was hoping for from Canon for a long time. It's already earned it's keep as I put it into commercial application for architecture work right away.


As I always do in my past reviews on here, here's a link to see the performance in my flickr album:


https://www.flickr.com/photos/kinematic/sets/72157645737329301


 






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