“The 16-35mm f4.0 L IS is the sharpest ultrawide lens ever made by Canon.”
Thats how Ken Rockwell begins his review of the new wide angle lens which is causing quite a stir amongst canon photographers. There are no shortage of in-depth reviews on this lens, pretty much all of which agree with the opening statement, but you might want to check out this “Canon Wide angle Zoom Comparison” as well as this fascinating post where the guys from LensRentals.com took the new Canon 16-35mm F4.0 apart piece by piece.
When I was given the opportunity to play around with this new lens I started to think about how I could do a practical piece which added value and would perhaps assist photographers looking at purchasing this lens for themselves. I’m no pixel peeper and certainly can’t compete with the reviews that I have mentioned above, so I thought I would rather share some examples of how I have used this focal length in the field. This should ultimately be as much of a factor in your decision making process as the image quality and technical specs – besides, its all about how YOU use it in the field!
The New Canon 16-35mm F4.0 in the field
Heading to Chobe and Madikwe I was quite keen to play around with this new, slightly more compact lens. Unfortunately the winter skies meant that there was hardly ever a cloud in the sky but I was still able to get some use out of this fantastic lens.
This image was shot at F9.0 on 5D MKIII at 25mm and I have to admit that even I was able to see a noticeable difference in the clarity around the edges. As you can see, there is also very little distortion around the edges at this focal length.
Taken at 35mm at F11 on the 5D MK III, this image is a great example of how this focal length lends itself to capturing a bit more of the environment when it comes to wildlife photography.
Critics of the F2.8 version of the 16-35mm lens always felt that there were “better” lenses out there for landscape photography, but this new F4.0 version seems to be striking all the right notes for landscape photographers in terms of edge to edge clarity throughout the range of aperture values. Shot at 16mm at F11 and placing the horizon straight through the middle of the frame (break those rules!) I think this image works despite the lack of clouds in the sky…
The first thing I noticed in this scene from Chobe was the clear skies and beautiful reflection in the water. Taken at a focal length of 35mm at F8.0 I was able to show this young bull giving us a bit of a display as he passed just meters in front of our photographic boat.
Leading lines are a great way of telling a story and the contrasting oranges of the road and blues of the sky caught my attention whilst we were sitting at this dam in Madikwe. This was shot at 17mm at F7.1 as I wanted there to be some drop off in clarity and sharpness towards the back of the scene. Again, the Canon 16-35mm F4.0 showed very little distortion and drop off in sharpness at the edges even at 17mm.
The Canon 16-35mm F2.8 in the field
Chances are, if you’re considering buying the Canon 16-355mm F4.0, you don’t already own the f2.8 version or anything else with this focal range. Whilst these images can’t be used to vouch for the quality of the new lens this should give you a better idea of the types of images you can capture with this rather versatile focal length. This should sit right alongside the importance of image quality when making your decision to buy this lens or not!
16mm @ F6.3
16mm @ F5.6
23mm @ F4.0
16mm @ F8.0
16mm @ F7.1
16mm @ F9.0
16mm @ F11
16mm @ F13
35mm @ F8.0
16mm @ F20
Whilst it is very easy to get caught up in all of the technical specs and reviews around lenses and cameras, the most important variable is how the gear is used and how an image is created. Hopefully this post will help you to not only get a better idea of the quality of the new Canon 16-35mm F4.0 (see top of post for links to online reviews), but will also give you an idea of the application of this focal length in the field.
I was quite sad to hand back the lens to the guys at Canon and I can assure you that I would be happy to part with my money for a lens of this quality!
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