While on location at the 2016 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta with the brand new 5D Mark IV (review HERE), Canon graciously loaned me a **pre-production** EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens. As such, this is not a full or final review, but more of a Sneak Peak of how this lens may perform with some quick first impressions. Also worth noting: I don’t have any experience with the previous two generations of this lens, so I can’t compare those directly for those considering an upgrade. That said, this is a promising lens, albeit one with a pretty hefty price tag.
- Solid build
- Fast AF
- Rich red and blue tones
- No observed fringing
- Premium L Series pricing
- Wanted to go a few mm wider
- Could be a sharper
- Focal length: 16-35mm
- Max Aperture: f/2.8 (constant)
- 9-blade, circular aperture
- Dust and water-resistant construction
- Angle of view: 108°10′-63°00′
- Non-stick fluorine coating on front and rear surfaces
- AF with full-time manual
- Closest focusing distance: 0.92′ (0.28m)
- Filter Size: 82mm (3.2″)
- Dimensions: 3.5″ x 5.0″ (88.5 x 127.5mm)
- Weight: 27.9 oz (790g)
The EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens exudes a sturdy, ruggedness. Though my morning and evening with this lens were crisp and clear, I could see taking this glass into rain forests, mountains, and jungles for challenging shoots and not having worry about its internals.
The EF 16-35mm f/2.8L feels great in hand. Smaller than a telephoto zoom and with its wide angle, it encourages close subjects and dramatic angles and wide vistas. The AF/MF switch clicks with a solid feeling, while the focal length and manual focus rings turn with buttery ease. My only nitpick here, and this applies across all lens makers, is that I wish Infinity was located at a hard stop. I understand that’s a challenge to produce, which is why it’s not a norm, but it would help in scenarios where AF fails (distant, fast subjects or low lighting).
I’ve owned a few third party ultra wide zoom lenses because stepping up to the L series requires serious coin, but cheaper models have smaller max apertures and can only focus in optimum lighting conditions. The EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM is impressively fast and accurate as long as it can get a glimpse of something. Sure, in the dark, waiting for fireworks, it can’t keep up, but no lens can.
The EF 16-35mm f/2.8 produces handsome images in a variety of shooting conditions. Colors and contrast are on point, with rich reds and tranquil blues being the highlight of my short loaner period. Bokeh is quite smooth at f/2.8 and when positioned close to subjects. I didn’t see any signs of fringing either. To be fair, I shot mostly at pre-dawn and night, but consider me impressed. Distortion around the frames edges is visible at wider angles, as we’d expect. Finally, overall sharpness is good, but not outstanding. Again, this is a pre-production unit, and I had to go full manual in the dark, so user error could have contributed, but I was hoping for another few degrees of sharpness.
The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM is a rugged, high-end lens perfect for shooters who want to drift between wide and ultra wide angle photography. With a f/2.8 max aperture and creamy bokeh, you could alternate between dramatic portrait, architecture, or street photography. Colors and contrast are strong, and I couldn’t pixel-peep any fringing. In some scenarios, I wish this lens could have gone a little wider or achieved more sharpness, but I was overall impressed. The question ultimately becomes whether or not you can afford the premium L pricing. If you can, go for it.
WHERE TO BUY
The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM is available now with a $2199.00 MSRP. Click HERE to buy.
After a few hours with a pre-production Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens, it's easy to see where this L series glass could fit in a pro or advanced enthusiast kit. Images are clear, with robust colors and contrast, nice bokeh, and no signs of fringing. I only wish it were a little more affordable. If you have the necessary coin, this lens comes Recommended.