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4.7 out of 5 stars
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens
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328 of 339 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon February 11, 2009
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Many people have stated the facts about this lens. Instead of restating them, let me add what I use it for:

For nature photography, this is the only lens I need. Just put something pretty in the foreground (flowers, rocks, etc.) and let the lens magically stretch out the horizon to add drama and flair to the shot. Makes beaches MAGICAL... Makes forests imposing. Adds desolation to the desert.

And from a business perspective:

As a wedding shooter, I use it to stretch out small/boring churches and make them more dramatic. It is also great to use from above for dancefloor shots and really makes the shots DYNAMIC and interesting.

And finally:
If you are deciding between this and the 17-40, let me save you some time... there is a huge difference between 16mm and 17mm. Don't waste time buying the 17 and then selling it at a loss to upgrade like I did.

If you're going to go wide.. go wide baby. ;)
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155 of 158 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2009
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I've read some pretty critical reviews of this lens; from my perspective some of these could be due to an occasional bad copy, but others are likely due to the owner expecting way too much from a UWA zoom lens. Most complaints center on lack of corner sharpness and/or light fall off/vignetting at the wide end and wide apertures. I've owned and extensively tested 4 high end UWA Zooms to date now; the Canon 16-35 f2.8 L II, the 17-40 f4 L, the EF-s 10-22, and the Nikon 14-24 2.8 ED (the accepted gold standard for UWA Zooms), and can tell you that the Nikon is the only one that can reasonably (but not perfectly) hold the corners at the extreme wide ends of FL and aperture. Not surprisingly however the Nikon is yet another $400-$500 more expensive than the 16-35II (even more when you factor in the adapter to shoot on a Canon). In real world shooting at f/8 to f/16 however, I can confidently state that you are not going to see any meaningful difference between the 4 lenses without resorting to some serious pixel peeping gymnastics, and even then I'll gladly take bets that most couldn't tell the unlabeled photos apart. So confident in fact that I finally traded in my revered Nikon for an excellent copy of the 16-35II.

Yes, this lens exhibits some corner softness and light fall off at the wide end and/or at f2.8, however this starts to clear up nicely even as low as f/4 and is gone by f/8. By comparison, if you really want an eye opener, look at the vignetting on the 17-40 wide open (f/4) - two thirds of the image is dark with only a small central spot unaffected (incidentally, those that post that the 17-40 suffers no corner vignetting are probably shooting JPEG and not examining the RAW image). Contrast this to the 16-35 wide open at f/2.8 where only the extreme edges and corners are dark. Same with corner softness, it does exist at f/2.8 but clears up nicely by f/8. In all cases, if you shoot this lens at the same settings as the 17-40, it outperforms its smaller cousin in all aspects (and the 17-40 an excellent lens in its own right). The 16-35 is more than just a 17-40 that goes to f/2.8, it is a significant improvement at all apertures and focal lengths.

I did some extensive testing with filters and found, contrary to claims in other reviews, no detectible difference in vignetting between a slim or regular UV filter at the 16mm wide end. Maybe there is a slight difference that some purists can see, but for the life of me I can't tell the difference, so I use a regular thickness filter for the convenience of being able to use the normal dust cap. The 82mm filter size is also often cited as a point of criticism. Yes, 82mm filters are larger and more expensive, but that's the price you pay for a lens with these specifications. At least this lens will accept filters, try that with the Nikon. Finally, I've also heard criticism that this lens starts to go soft above 24mm, but I personally haven't seen any evidence of this either. Maybe those are bad copy issues again? But mine is perfectly sharp (stunningly sharp in the center) throughout the entire range.

In short, if you absolutely must have a UWA Zoom that has razor sharp corners at f/2.8, you're going to need to go to other extreme measures such as the Nikon 14-24 or maybe a Zeiss, but then you've got all of the manual focus/exposure issues to deal with. In most real world applications at f/8 to f/16, this lens easily holds it's own against the Nikon 14-24 and definitely edges out the 17-40. In my experience, if I am shooting at f/2.8, I'm likely trying to blur the background anyway, so why would I care if the corners are soft? And if shooting in low light I can't notice the vignetting in the corners either. In any case, it's easily corrected in DPP anyway.
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265 of 282 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2008
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I have owned both this and the original version. The new lens is better in the corners and flares less but the corners are still a little soft at f2.8 and you can get the lens to flare a little if you try. I haven't seen the loss of clarity above 20mm that others reported. Perhaps you would see a slight difference in eyelashes if you did a lot of portraits but this is probably not the best choice for a portrait lens. It is a somewhat better lens for shooting landscapes and other shots where edge to edge clarity is important.

But the differences between the two versions are minor and in some instances irrelevant. If you don't shoot a full frame camera the soft edges don't appear in the photo. And flare is a minimal issue at most. It rarely appears and is easy to fix in Photoshop if it does. I would opt for the original if I didn't shoot full frame based on the price difference alone.

My only problem with the original was when I had to shoot hand held. Sometimes you can't bring a tripod along which rules out shooting at f16 or 22 so I occasionally ended up with shots that were soft in some of the edges. The new lens will solve that. That is the only reason I decided to upgrade.

I haven't used many other lenses in the same range so I can't compare quality with other makers but I'm not aware of anything reputed to be better. I have Canon primes as well as other Canon zooms and in actual use all are generally close in quality. I use the primes if possible when I plan to crop or enlarge a lot but I could still get by nicely with the zooms.

So, if you shoot less than full frame or if price is an issue, get the original. If you shoot full frame but need maximum clarity in the center (portraits for example), test both versions first. If you shoot full frame and need maximum edge to edge clarity, go with the new lens.

Update: Having shot this lens for a long period I would discount the comments about problems above 20mm. I owned the first version as well and I don't see a difference in the 20mm to 35mm range. On the contrary, I am increasingly impressed with the image quality and sharpness of this lens throughout the range. I recently used it into a very narrow slot canyon where I couldn't take more than the camera and the lens attached to it and took shots from 16mm up to 35mm that all came out very sharp and rich. Granted I wasn't shooting wide open because I needed lots of depth of field but the point is the lens delivered the best shots of that trip. In terms of versatility, this lens is unmatched for wide angle use by Canon owners. I also have the 14mm f2.8 II, 17mm f4. TS/E and 15mm fisheye for comparison. This is the one wide angle lens I always take along.
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69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2010
Product Packaging: Standard PackagingVerified Purchase
Allow me to fill in a little niche gap here. Obviously this is a great lens for still photographers, but for all of the DSLR filmmakers out there who are having trouble with lackluster and muddy video results, the problem lies not with your camera; you need to step up to the L-Series glass. The primary issue with the 7D, 5D Mark II, etc. is the chunky artifacting and pixellation that comes from the poor compression codec built into the processor, or so we all thought. However, the key is, primarily, the quality of the glass in front of the sensor. This lens seems to nullify nearly ALL of the drawbacks of the HD video processing in my 7D. I can expand frame grabs up to 4k resolution, and they still hold up! 2K and 3K looks fantastic. THE GLASS MAKES THE DIFFERENCE. It's borderline magical.
This lens is nice and fat, just like a cinema lens, and therein lies much of its power. The bigger glass allows more light to enter into the sensor, giving the camera more "information" to pack into the frame, whereas with cheap, small lenses, the sensor has to essentially blow up and extract a muddy image from a tiny window. Drop the contrast, sharpness, and saturation settings to zero, add some L-Series glass, and your DSLR video can compete with Genesis, Viper, and can even hold its own against Red, at 1/10th of the cost.
This lens is perfect for the 7D's APS-C sensor. With the 5D, vignetting is a bit of an issue wide open. The focal range is perfect for walk-around footage, steadicam shots, and wide-angle effects shots. Consider this an essential range.

If you want professional-quality video, you need to have L-Lenses. I no longer care about the cost...I am immediately replacing my lens lineup with L-Series glass. I can't believe I've run a photo/video business for 6 years without L lenses! Besides, compared to other lens manufacturers, L-Series lenses are actually quite cheap. I've had the benefit of comparing this with Panavision lenses and I can assure you, there's no significant difference in the results. NONE. This is a gold mine for independent filmmakers.
Shell out the cash. AND be sure to add a few hundred more to the cost of this lens, in the form of high-quality filters! Protect your glass! And do it properly...there is no point in spending $1k+ on a lens if you're going to ruin it and put a piece of plexi-glass in front of it...just because you want to save $50. Get a $100 multi-coated (MRC) UV filter from B+W and just think of it as an insurance policy on your lens. Put on the filter the moment you take out your lens and never take it off.

Happy shooting! You will love this baby.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2011
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I've been using this lens as a staple in my wedding lens bag for the past 3 years. My usage has been mostly on 5D camera bodies (original and Mark II), along with occasional use on a 1DsII. My two most used lenses over the years have been my 50/1.2L and this lens. I have taken many thousands of images with it.

As far as specific technical aspects of the lens, this lens is very good, though no superstar standout. Other lenses have faster apertures. Other lenses are sharper. However no lens is this wide, this fast, and this good for Canon. If you don't need the aperture, the 17-40/4L is cheaper. If you don't need the wide angle, any multitude of 24-70ish lens is equally as good. If you don't need the flexibility of a zoom, then a 24mm prime is sharper. But if you need UWA, fast aperture, and pro build, this is the only option for Canon.

This lens is better in the corners at large to medium apertures than the original 16-35/2.8 (and substantially better than the 20-35 and 17-35 that came before it). Its sharper near the wide end than at the longer end. If you find yourself in the 24-35mm range a lot, then other lenses are better for less money. The lens focuses fast and accurately (zero microadjustment on my 5DII bodies, also perfect on my 1DsII), and is built very well. It resists flare very well for such a wide angle lens. You can get it to flare, but it's usually mild and fixable in post production.

Addressing the sharpness issues, yes there is a precipitous drop in sharpness in the extreme corners at the wide end with this lens. At longer focal lengths, the lens is better in the corners, yet softer across the frame in general. If you are taking landscape pictures to be printed very large, this lens will be a relatively weak choice. A much better bet is the Canon 24/1.4II or practically any of the Zeiss primes in the 20-24mm range.

It's difficult to sum this lens up in one sentence or one paragraph, but the best I can describe it is this way. This is a "must get the shot" lens. In short, this is the most consistent lens I have ever owned about reliably being able to capture any given image in any given situation. The short focal length, along with the fast and very reliable autofocus means you can almost always get your subject in focus at any given time. This is true even with the 5-series camera bodies. With a 1-series you are almost invincible. When the situation is fast and unpredictable, this is a phenomenal lens to use when just getting the shot is top priority.

So my final ratings, by usage are:
Photojournalistic lens: 5/5
General vacation lens: 5/5
Landscape lens: 3.5/5
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2008
Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
I have both the 16-35MM II and the 17-40mm. At the end of the day the images produced by both lenses are sharp. The main difference is the speed. f/2.8 v f/4. When daylight turns to dusk and you're still shooting (ambient light) the option to open up the lens makes it worth it.

Sure its twice the price but the ability to gather more light to get those shots makes it worth it.
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314 of 363 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2007
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UPDATE: Since posting this review, I have done further experimentation and am coming to a conclusion (no new info from Canon thus far) that (in addition to this lens's gaussian factor) this new version is just more difficult for current camera bodies to focus, which is probably 70 percent of the problem that I'm seeing. Since this was released for the new 1DmIII camera body, we can hope that the 19 enhanced cross-type sensors will handle this lens better than current bodies. I am leaving the rest of the review as written, because the tradeoff against the long end is real, as is the gaussian effect beyond 24mm relative to the original version. Also because it accuratley reflects how others will encounter this same phenomenon. Based on this, I would up my star rating to 3.5 if they had decimals.... Also: Would like to clarify my remark below about it cleaning up the corners as advertised. I mean that remark to apply to the 16-20mm range only, because at 24mm I have a test shot showing a better corner from the original version I lens, which is to re-emphasize that 24mm is the point where the older lens takes over... END UPDATE

Canon has hyped this new lens as an improvment over the great original 16-35, but in reality it's not a net improvment at all. Rather, it is just a tradeoff... What they're not telling you is that, compared to the original version, this lens goes soft at focal lengths beyond 24mm, where they are near the same in quality. I acknowledge that the new lens DOES clean up the corners as advertised, but if you shoot people for a living like I do, be prepared for soft eyes and disappearing eye lashes looking back at you. In many common shots this lens cannot resolve eye lashes at near distances, where the old version can and does... If you hate seeing soft eyes in a slew of your professional pictures, you will find some consternation in this lens just as I have... I am not happy with the compromise at all... Everything else about the lens is what you expect from a Canon L, which is to say it has awesome build quality and it's heavy. I have already owned two copies of this lens and have shot and tested a third. They all have the same softness problem. It was apparently a deliberate design compromise, but Canon's support techs have not yet been brought up to speed on how to explain or position this to customers, at least not in my experience. I have frustrated them by asking this question on the phone repeatedly, and they can't answer it. They're starting to get mad when I call back... I did send my first one in for calibration. They found something to adjust, but it did not help.... Moral of the story: If you like your original version, DON'T sell it. You need BOTH. This new one will effectively be your 16-20mm, and the old one will be your 24-35mm... I think it's very sad needing to carry two of the same lens, but that's what this situation has come to. We definitely needed a fix at 16mm, and this one provides it. But it comes at the expense of messing up the 24-35 range where the original version was awesome and where it is still the king.... Others have pointed that you can sub the 24-70/2.8 into this range, and I agree, but at the expense of having to change lenses way more often and having to always have the 24-70 available.... I'm finding this new situation very iconvenient.... Personally, I'm just going to think of this as the super bulky and inconvenient 16mm prime that they should have built instead.... Oh, and final note: Canon continues to make the old version of the 70-200/2.8L despite having added the IS version. I think this 16-35 thing should be that way, too, because many people who do my type of work for a living will choose the sharpness of the original lens over the corner-CA-elimination factor of the newer lens. If I had to choose just one of these lenses, I would choose the OLD one, which I would rate at 4.5 stars versus this turkey. I think discontinuation of the original version at this point in time would be both unwarranted and mildly insane. Can you tell I like sharp pictures?
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 20, 2007
Product Packaging: Standard PackagingVerified Purchase
Quick word of advice: if you buy the suggested B&W haze filter ($125, gulp), be aware that you have to use the tupperware-like lens cap supplied with the filter; there aren't threads for the Canon lens cap. This is a feature, not a bug. And you should buy the filter: you really don't want a $1400 lens to get a scratch on the front element, do you?

Other than that: just echoing what others have already said. Fantastic lens from 16-24, perfectly OK from 24-35. This lens is one of the three zooms us full-frame shooters should always have in the bag: 16-35 f2.8 II, either the 24-70 or 24-105 IS, and a 70-200 or 70-300. 1.6X crop camera users are better served by the 10-22 EF-S.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2010
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I just recently went through the entire decision process of choosing a wide angle lens for my Canon 50D crop sensor camera. Through this process I have rented all of the popular wide angle lenes including the EF-S 10-22mm, EF-S 17-55mm and the EF 17-40mm. I really needed a lens that would work well in low light without flash. Of the lens I rented, the EF-S 17-55mm worked the best in this low light setting. However, I wanted a lens that was a little better build for the dusty environments I photograph. I took a chance and purchased the 16-35mm and was really satisfied with my decision. I can walk in musuems and art gallaries and not have to use a flash. The pictures are extremely sharp especially at the shorter focal lengths. This is my new walk around lens and it stays on my camera all the time. If you can spend the exta money I recommend this lens. Great lens!
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
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I owned a pretty good copy of the original 16-35 and this one is slightly sharper in the middle, but most definitely sharper along the edges. You notice it most with a full frame sensor camera like the 1DS of 5D.
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