The Canon 16-35 F4 IS is Canon’s newest Ultra-Wide Angle Zoom with F4, Image Stabilization and like the 17-40, has an all-internal focusing design.
The 16-35’s optical design incorporates new optical elements, image stabilization and more. But does all of this actually translate into significantly better performance over the Canon 17-40 F4 in the real world as the marketers at Canon would have you believe? That’s what this review is all about.
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Canon’s official verbatim feature list:
|Focal Length||16 – 35mm|
|Camera Mount Type||Canon EF|
|Format Compatibility||35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor|
|Angle of View||108° 10′ – 63°|
|Minimum Focus Distance||11.02″ (28 cm)|
|Diaphragm Blades||9, Rounded|
|Filter Thread||Front:77 mm|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 3.25 x 4.44″ (82.6 x 112.8 mm)|
|Weight||1.35 lb (615 g)|
Click here to download the Canon 16-35mm F4 IS User Manual PDF
Due to all of the images on the internets being highly compressed and optimized, and simply because you’re awesome, I have uploaded a majority of the images that are in this review. If you’re reading this review you’re probably interested in knowing what the optical performance of this lens is like, and there’s no better way to determine that for yourself than to see hi-res images captured with the lens at actual size on your computer.
In the past when I’ve uploaded hi-res images for reviews and photographers loved them, but I’ve gotten quite a few emails asking for different filetypes, so this time around I’ve uploaded original RAW files (.CR2/.ARW), 16-bit TIFFs, DNGs and Original Size JPEGs.
A majority of the tests were shot with a Sony A7R, simply due to the 36MP sensor. With nearly double the available resolution of my Canon 6D and 5D3, I’m able to deliver to you incredibly clean 100% close-up images that are almost twice the size – unencumbered by a low-pass filter. This is review is based on my hands-on experience and results – results that you can download and confirm for yourself.
In the first part of the Sharpness Shootout I’ll present the first set of results between the 16-35 F4 vs. 17-40. We’ll dive into center-to-corner sharpness, chromatic aberration and more to see which performs best in the center of the image, and at the extreme corners.
In the second part of the Sharpness Shootout I’ll present the second set of results between the 16-35 F4 and 17-40, focusing on sharpness at various F-numbers throughout the focal range to determine at which focal lengths and F-number combinations resolve sharpest.
Ultra-Wide Angle Zooms are undoubtedly more essential to landscape photography than any other niche. Although still a complete amateur when it comes to shooting landscapes, in this section I’ll present to you images that I captured in landscapes, from the sea to the mountains, throughout the USA. This section is all about real-world test results from 16mm to 24mm, and I’ll present results for sharpness, color rendition, chromatic aberration, thoughts on how it handles for landscape photographers and more.
Here I’ll present results from images taken with the Canon 16-35 F4 IS on my journeys throughout China and Hong Kong to see how it performs as a travel and street photography lens – without a tripod. I’ll also share my completely unsolicited thoughts on the use and function of this lens without a tripod while using Autofocus and Image Stabilization. I’ve included results on what you might be able to expect using IS, and even some photographs that can only be captured critically sharp with the use of IS at better exposure settings than otherwise possible.
After 10,000 shots with the 16-35 F4 and close to a quarter million from the 17-40, I’ll lay down some thoughts on the design of this lens, materials, construction quality, weather-sealing, image stabilization and other features worth mentioning, and how thoughts on how they may different in both good and bad ways from the 17-40.
Skip to the conclusion if you only have 60 seconds or less – here I’ll distill all the details down into my completely unsolicited opinion of the 16-35 F4, why you might want to buy it, or skip it altogether.
Ultra Wide angle zooms have been an essential tools for photojournalists and landscape photographers ever since the early 1990’s. Expansive landscapes, ease of operation in tight quarters and small lens construction are hallmarks of Ultra Wide Angle Zooms.
On a 1.6x crop factor camera 16mm translates roughly into 25mm – not so wide. So if you’re a cropped sensor user interested in ultra-wide angle zooms, you should know upfront that the 16-35 F4 is not your best choice for going super wide. Look for a cropped-sensor specific wide-angle lens. Although it won’t likely resolve as sharp as an L-series lens, it’ll give you the field of view you’re looking for.
Note: to prevent reader fatigue from this point forward I’ll refer to the Canon EF 16-35 F4 IS L simply as 16-35 F4 and the Canon EF 17-40mm F4 L simply as 17-40. (If Canon ever releases a 16-35 F4 non-IS, I’ll come back and update this review!)
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