First Impressions: Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L USM III (Canon EF)

I never quite understood the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 series of lenses–they overlap with the company’s 24-70 offerings and the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lenses seemed to be more reasonable in terms of building a kit. But nonetheless, the lenses have always been popular with the photographers that really need the wide to semi-wide angle of view. When the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L USM III was announced, I figured that it made sense to replace that lens. Interestingly enough, these focal lengths are some of my favorite to play with. I swear by the 35mm field of view over the 50mm field of view, and I thoroughly enjoy shooting wider than 24mm when I can.

But to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from the beta version of the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L USM III lens that I tried.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the Canon page listing

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture

16-35mm f/2.8

Lens Construction

16 elements in 11 groups

Diagonal Angle of View

108°10′-63°00′

Focus Adjustment

AF with full-time manual

Closest Focusing Distance

0.92 ft./0.28m

Filter Size

3.2 in. / 82mm diameter

Max. Diameter x Length, Weight

φ3.5 x 5.0 in., approx. 27.9 oz. / φ88.5 x 127.5mm, approx. 790g

Ergonomics

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The Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L USM III looks like it fits in a lot with much of the company’s other L lenses. It’s characterized by that vibrant red ring near the top and falls in line with lots of the philosophy behind the company’s new lens designs.

For the most part, the body is dominated by two large rings: one for focusing and the other zooming.

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On the front, you’ll find a large 82mm front filter thread. During my time using the lens, I didn’t feel this was any sort of hamper to my use the way that one usually does when a front element area is typically that large.

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Being a non-image stabilized lens, the only switch/control on the lens is for manual or automatic focusing. That’s really all that there is to this optic.

Build Quality

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I’ve never been a major fan of the texture on Canon’s L lenses; and the same still stands here. It’s built well and feels good. But there is this weird pebbled feel to it that I think Canon should make more prominent for gripping onto the lens. That, or they go with metal and the feeling of Tamron’s new SP glass.

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In terms of durability though, this lens is weather sealed. If you look closely at the mount, you’ll spot a rubber ring to create weather sealing when attached to the camera you’re using.

Ease of Use

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More or less, you’re slapping the lens on the camera, selecting an autofocus point, focusing, and shooting. It’s straightforward. At no time did I ever feel the lens was hard to use. However, I encountered one special situation that I hadn’t ever in the past.

When trying to focus out to infinity in the dark, you have to turn the focusing point to a specific line vs all the way to one end. At 3:30 AM in the morning, it’s incredibly difficult to do. So glow in the dark paint or even an LCD screen would make a whole lot of sense.

Autofocus

This is a wide angle optic. You’re going to have no issues with focusing due to the laws of physics.

Image Quality

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Here are some sample images that I shot with the Canon 5D Mk IV and the beta version of the lens.

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First Impressions

So far I think that the lens will be a hit with many photographers–especially if you use some of the newer cameras like the 5Ds. But otherwise, I don’t see a whole lot here that wasn’t possible with the previous version. I could be wrong though.

Stay tuned for our review.