The price is high, but so are the rewards.
Replacing Canon's original 16-35mm f/2.8L of 2001, this full-frame ultrawide for pros ($1,450, street) has two UD glass elements to suppress chromatic aberrations, and three aspheric elements to minimize linear distortion. A 26-56mm equivalent on APS-C sensors, it delivers fast and quiet autofocus, smooth bokeh, internal focusing and zooming, and solid, dustand moisture-sealed construction.
Slightly bulkier and heavier than its predecessor, this tank of a lens balances nicely on metalbodied EOS models, but is nose-heavy on Rebels. The ribbed and rubber-clad zoom and manual-focus rings turn with smooth, well-damped actions. The green distance scale in feet is a bit hard to read, especially in low light; the metric scale, in white, is easily legible. The new flush-mount AF/MF switch keeps you from accidentally changing modes.
IN THE LAB:
SQF tests found sharpness and contrast in the Excellent range, similar to the original and to Nikon's 17-35mm f/2.8D. DxO Analyzer Version 3.0.1 tests found Visible barrel distortion (0.59%) at 16mm-a vast improvement over the Very Visible 2.9% of the earlier lens (and over the Nikon's 2.5%). At 24mm and 35mm, we found Slight pincushion distortion (0.12% and 0.19%, respectively), also a big improvement over the earlier version (0.25% and 0.86%).
Due to its larger diameter, vignetting was gone by f/4 at 16mm; we saw none at 24mm or 35mm-again, much better than the other lenses, both of which showed vignetting from f/4 to f/5.6 across the focal-length range. Maximum magnification at the uniform closefocusing distance of about 10.6 inches was 1:8.02 at 16mm, 1:5.51 at 24mm, and 1:4.06 at 35mm-similarly top-notch.
One of the most distortion-free fast, wide-angle zooms, this lens gives you relatively straight subject lines and lets you get close to a subject while including wide swaths of background. The price is high, but so are the rewards.
16-35mm (16.51-34.20mm tested), f/2.8 (f/2.79-2.98 tested), 16 elements in 12 groups.
Focusing turns 90 degrees counterclockwise.
Zoom ring turns 80 degrees clockwise.
Focal lengths marked at 16-, 20-, 24-, 28-, and 35mm.
Diagonal view angle: 108-63 degrees.
Weight: 1.45 lb.
Filter size: 82mm.
Mounts: Canon AF.
Included: Lenshood, lens case.
Street price: $1,450.