A couple weeks ago, I got my hands on some new glass, which is always fun. I picked up the Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS which is a super-wide angle lens for full frame cameras. I needed something wide to go along with the 6D I bought. And, to be honest, I did more research on the lens than I did the camera body, because I really value good glass, and there are a number of options that provide similar results.
I ended up going with the Canon 16-35mm f/4 for a number of reasons. It ended up being a question of value vs. quality. In the range of lenses made by Canon you have the 17-40mm f/4 ($850) and the 16-35mm f/2.8 ($1800). The 16-35mm f/4 is about $1200. Thus, it fits pretty snug between the other two lenses as far as price goes.
When it comes to quality, the 16-35mm f/4 actually handles chromatic aberration better than both of them. It’s sharper in the corners than the 17-40mm. And compared to the f/2.8 version it has image stabilization which makes it a better by for video and maybe even handheld shooting in a pinch. Really the only reason to splurge for the f/2.8 version is you do a lot of star photography. The quality compared to the 17-40mm is definitely worthy of the price boost, too.
And, as you’ll see from my video, I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out. There are downloadable sample images below as well as some %100 crops so you can see the sharpness.
16-35mm f/4 IS Chromatic Abberation Handling
This was the big reason I thought the upgrade over the 17-40mm was warranted. Not only does it handle CA extremely well, but even when I shot images here at Crescent Falls, during sunset, a place where you would expect to see a lot of CA, it hardly showed any at all. There certainly wasn’t any that couldn’t be handled with a little bit of correction in Lightroom. Below, these are 100% crops of the cliff edges above Crescent Falls during the harshest light possible. On my Sigma 10-20mm I would have seen a lot of CA both in the trees and the ledge. Here, it’s very minimal. You can download all the sample images and crops here.
16-35mm f/4 IS Sharpness
The sharpness really isn’t an issue at all with this lens. It’s a bit soft in the corners at the wider apertures, but you expect that with a super-wide angle zoom lens. Even at 16mm, once you hit about f/11 it’s quite sharp in the corners, although it probably couldn’t be claimed to be tack sharp right in the corners. Zooming into 35mm, you have no sharpness issues at the corner. Below, are the crop samples of the sharpness at various apertures and focal lengths. You can download all the sample images and crops here.
16-35mm Sample Images
Of course, you also want to see the fully edited images, right? Here are some edited images from the trip to Crescent Falls. I didn’t edit any of these images more than just a touch here or there. There is also no sharpness added to any of these images. Again, you can download all the sample images and crops here.
Review, Unboxing, and Specs of the Canon 16-35mm f/4
ow, this is, of course, an unboxing of the new-ish Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS. Canon has had a 16-35mm f/2.8 out on the market for a really long time. However, they haven’t had a super-wide angle lens that has ever had IS. Since I’ve started to shoot more DSLR video, that side of things was intriguing to me. In the end, though, the reason I went with the 16-35mm f/4 IS rather than one of the many other wide angle lenses on the market, both by Canon and off-brand lens makers, was multi-faceted. Check out my video unboxing for the reason why I went with this lens. I’ll also give you some specs and info on the lens in that video as well.
Why I went with the Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS
In the range of super-wide angle zooms made by Canon, we really have 3 options: the 17-40 f/4, the 16-35 f/2.8, and this one. And, actually, the choice to go with the 16-35mm f/4 IS was a decision I made at the very last minute. In fact, I had the 17-40mm in the online cart ready to roll when I changed my mind.
My mind was changed when I started to look at a batch of image samples. And while the person comparing the two was pretty kind on the 17-40mm, claiming that there was near no difference, I noticed two things that really stood out for me. The first thing was the corners. On the 16-35mm f/4 IS the corners were far sharper than the 17-40mm. It wasn’t even close.
The second thing, and the thing that really made me understand how much more sophisticated the glass in the 16-35mm is over the 17-40mm was its reaction to instances of chromatic aberration (CA). In fact, in the 16-35mm f/4 IS, it was basically non-existent even in shooting scenarios where CA is almost always visible. I was so impressed, that I didn’t have a second thought about paying the extra cash for it.
What I’ll be Using the 16-35mm Lens for
Well, that’s not really a simple answer because I don’t like to pigeon-hole my lenses into certain roles. Sometimes I shoot landscapes with the 70-200mm and sometimes I shoot wildlife super wide. Of course, there’s a good chance that the things I’ll focus on with this lens are things like landscapes, cityscapes, and nature. That said, I’m also a really big fan of how certain wide angle portraits turn out, so looks for some of those as well.
Canon 16-35mm f/4 Specs
Minimum Aperture: f/4
Maximum Aperture: f/22
Elements: 16 elements in 12 groups.
Minimum Focusing Distance: 28cm
Diaphragm Blades: 9 (rounded)
Field of View: 108 degrees
Mount: EF, full frame
What’s Next on the Blog?
I’ve got a massive announcement coming early next week regarding my first photo tour/workshop of 2015. So be sure to check back here or sign up to my newsletter for details about that. There’s also a video/article coming from Jasper’s Dark Skies Festival either this weekend or next week. So stay tuned!