Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III

Full-Frame EOS EF

Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

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Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L III (82mm filters, 27.9 oz./790g, 0.9'/0.28m close-focus, $2,199) bigger. I got mine at Adorama. I'd also get it at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to my personally-approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

December 2016   Canon Reviews   Canon Lenses   Canon Flash   All Reviews

How to Use Ultrawide Lenses

 

Canon Ultrawides Compared:

Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS (2014-today)

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II (2007-2016)

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L (2001-2007)

Canon 17-40mm f/4 L (2003-today)

Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 L (1995-2001)

Canon 20-35mm USM (1993-2007)

Canon 20mm f/2.8 USM (1992-today)

Canon 20-35mm f/2.8 L (1989-1995)

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 (2011-today)

 

Sample Images

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III

Desert Home, 12 December 2016. Canon 5DSR, 16-35/2.8 III at 16mm at f/5.6 at 30 seconds at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer.

 

This is the only 16-35mm f/2.8 or 17-35mm f/2.8 that's actually sharp in the corners of full-frame at 16mm at f/2.8. No other similar lens can do this at f/2.8; you have to stop the rest down to f/11 to get this.

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III Sample Image

Fine Home, 03 December 2016. Canon 5DSR, 16-35/2.8 III at 16mm at f/2.8 at 1/25 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer.

 

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III Sample Image

1200 pixel wide crop from top left of above image, 03 December 2016. Canon 5DSR, 16-35/2.8 III at 16mm at f/2.8 at 1/25 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer. If this is about 10" wide on your screen, the complete image would print at 72 x 48" (6 x 4 feet or 190 x 125 cm).

 

Introduction

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Adorama Pays Top Dollar for Used Gear

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I buy only from these approved sources. I can't vouch for ads below.

This Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III is the sharpest f/2.8 ultrawide ever from Canon. For sports, action, news, sports astronomy and anything else for which you need extreme performance at f/2.8, there is nothing better on Earth for your Canon.

It's also bigger, heavier and more expensive than any other Canon f/2.8 ultrawide.

For things that hold still like landscapes and architecture, the 16-35mm f/4 L IS is just as sharp and a more practical choice because it's smaller, lighter, less than half the price and adds image stabilization. This f/2.8 lens is for action and where you need ultimate performance at f/2.8.

 

Good

● Sharpest 16-35mm or 17-35mm f/2.8 ultrawide ever from anyone.

● 9-bladed diaphragm gives great 18-point sunstars.

● Instant manual-focus override.

● Large-diameter glass-molded, dual surface aspherical element.

● Ground aspherical element.

● Fluorine, Sub-Wavelength and Air-Sphere coatings.

 

Specifications

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 

Name

Canon calls this the Canon EF 16-35mm F/2.8L III USM:

    EF: Electronic Focus, as all Canon's lenses have been since 1987.

    L: Expensive as L.

    III: Canon's third 16-35mm f/2.8.

    USM: Ultrasonic Autofocus Motor.

 

Optics

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III internal construction

16 elements in 11 groups.

2 aspherical elements: one molded glass and one ground glass.

Fluorine front and rear coatings for dirt and oil resistance.

Subwavelenth and Air Sphere coatings to reduce flare and ghosting.

The front and rear groups move inside the stationary outer barrel as zoomed. Use a filter, and nothing moves externally.

 

Diaphragm

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III box

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L III at 35mm at f/2.8 (EF diaphragm not visible). bigger.

9 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/22.

 

Focal Length

16~35mm.

When used on APS-C cameras, it sees the same angle of view as a 26~55mm lens sees when used on a 35mm or full-frame camera.

See also Crop Factor.

 

Angles of View (full-frame)

108.2º ~ 63º diagonal.

98º ~ 54º horizontal.

74.1º ~ 38º vertical.

 

Autofocus

Internal focus.

No external movement as focussed, so no air or dust is sucked in.

 

Close Focus

0.9 feet (0.28 meters).

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:4 (0.25×).

 

Filters

82mm filter thread.

 

Hood

Canon EW-88D hood

Canon EW-88D hood. bigger.

EW-88D plastic bayonet hood included.

 

Case

LP1222 padded pouch included.

 

Size

3.48" maximum diameter × 5.02" extension from flange.

88.5 mm maximum diameter × 127.5 mm extension from flange.

 

Weight

27.825 oz. (788.9g), actual measured weight.

Rated 27.9 oz. (790g).

 

Announced

12:01 AM NYC time, Thursday, 25 August 2016.

 

Promised for

Late October 2016.

 

Canon Model Number

EF16-35L3.

 

Canon Product Code

0573C001AA.

 

JAN

4549292037722.

 

Included

16-35/2.8 L III lens.

EW-88D hood.

LP1222 pouch.

 

Price, USA

$2,199, August~December 2016. (299,000 yen in Japan).

 

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III box

Box, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L III. bigger.

 

Performance

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 

Overall   Autofocus   Breathing   Bokeh   Coma

Distortion   Eyeblow   Ergonomics   Falloff

Filters   Flare & Ghosts   Lateral Color Fringes

Macro   Mechanics   Sharpness

Spherochromatism  Sunstars

 

Overall

Performance          top

This is Canon's biggest, heaviest and most expensive 16-35mm of all time. It's also the sharpest; as good as the 16-35/4 IS and better than every other 16-35mm.

 

Autofocus

Performance          top

Autofocus is about as fast as other 16-35mm lenses; fast but not instantaneous either.

No big deal; AF speed is never an issue with ultrawides as it is with teles.

 

Manual Focus

performance          top

Just grab the front focus ring at any time for instant manual-focus override.

Manual focus is swell; a little slow (precise) at 16mm and just about right at 35mm, again typical for 16-35mm lenses.

 

Focus Breathing

Performance          top

Focus breathing is the image changing size as focused in and out. It's important to cinematographers because it looks funny if the image changes size as focus gets pulled back and forth between actors. If the lens does this, the image "breathes" by growing and contracting slightly as the dialog goes back and forth.

There is breathing; the image gets smaller as focussed more closely. This is mild at 16mm and moderate to strong at 35mm.

 

Bokeh

Performance          top

Bokeh, the feel or quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to how far out of focus they are, is good to neutral. With ultrawides there's rarely anything that far out of focus to notice.

Here are some sample shots at head-shot distance — not that you'd ordinarily want to do head shots with an ultrawide!

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III Bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 02 December 2016. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolutions images properly).

 

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III Bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 02 December 2016. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolutions images properly).

 

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III bokeh

Focus on the tree to the right, 02 December 2016. Canon 5DSR, 16-35/2.8 III at 16mm at f/2.8 at 1/15 hand-held at ISO 1,250. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer.

 

Coma

Performance          top

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III coma performance

Restaurant interior, 02 December 2016. Canon 5DSR, 16-35/2.8 III at 16mm at f/2.8 at 1/20 hand-held at ISO 1,250. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer.

Coma, or sagittal coma flare, is often seen with fast normal to wide lenses as weird batwing shapes on bright points of light in the corners.

I see no coma in this lens, which is excellent.

 

Distortion

Performance          top

The Canon 16-35/2.8 III has a typical amount of distortion: strong barrel at 16mm, and moderate pincushion at 35mm.

Use these factors to correct it, unless your camera can do it for you — if you care.

These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

On Full-Frame and 35mm at 10' (3m)

Correction factor with uncorrected images

16mm
+3.50*
20mm
+1.00*
24mm
-0.50
28mm
-1.00
35mm
-2.00

© 2016 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

* Some waviness remains after this correction.

 

Eyeblow

performance          top

The 16-35/2.8 III has no eyeblow; not much air pumps in or out of the back of the lens as zoomed.

 

Ergonomics

Performance          top

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III
Canon 16-35mm III

No news here other than its jumbo size and weight compared to the other 16-35mm lenses.

Front focus ring (grab any time for instant override) and zoom ring in the rear; both covered in the usual ribbed rubber.

The zoom ring is great; one finger can move the smooth zoom ring even if pointed up or down.

 

Falloff

Performance          top

There's a little bit of falloff at f/2.8 at 16mm, and otherwise none visible. Look at the 16mm f/2.8 Bokeh shot; no worries.

I've greatly exaggerated the falloff by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background:

 

Canon 16-35/2.8 III falloff on Full-Frame at infinity with peripheral illumination correction enabled:

 
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
16mm Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff
24mm Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff
35mm Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff

 

Canon 16-35/2.8 III falloff on Full-Frame and 35mm at infinity, no correction:

 
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
16mm Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff
24mm Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff
35mm Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff Canon 16-35 2.8 III falloff

© 2016 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Filters, use with

performance          top

It takes big 82mm filters.

There's no need for thin filters; there's no vignetting with an ordinary 5mm thick filter on full-frame at 16mm.

Don't use polarizers on ultrawide lenses; the sky's natural polarization will appear as dark bands.

At 16mm, two stacked filters will vignette.

 

Flare & Ghosts

Performance          top

I don't see any significant flare or ghosts.

Point it into the sun, even with a filter, and I don't see anything worth worrying about.

 

Lateral Color Fringes

Performance          top

I see none on my 5DSR, on which I use the lens profile.

Great news is that even though this lens is newer than the last firmware I may have loaded into my 5DSR, my camera has the profile in it already. Yay!

 

Macro

Performance          top

This lens doesn't focus any closer than any other ultrawide zoom. It's the same as the rest.

Canon 16-35/2.8 III macro performance

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 02 December 2016. Canon 5DSR, 35mm at f/8 at 1/320 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

 

Canon 16-35/2.8 III macro performance

1,200 x 900 pixel crop from above. If this crop is about 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 45 x 30" (120 x 80 cm). This shows the texture of the silver paint on the watch face; the depth of field is so shallow that the hands are out of focus.

 

Mechanical Quality

Performance          top

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III box

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L III. bigger.

This lens has a mostly plastic exterior covering mostly metal innards. This is much better than the offshored Zeiss-branded rubbish from Sony that are plastic lenses covered with a metal vanity shell to impress the innocent.

Front Bumper

None.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Bayonet Mount

Plastic.

 

Front Barrel

Plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Rubber-covered plastic.

 

Mid Barrel

(Section with focus scale window): plastic.

 

Zoom Ring

Rubber-covered metal.

 

Rear Barrel

Plastic.

 

Identity

Printed on plastic ring around front element.

 

Internals

Seem like all metal!

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

Yes.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Serial Number

Laser engraved on bottom of plastic barrel.

 

Date Code

None found.

 

Noises When Shaken

Mild to moderate clunking.

 

Made in

Japan.

 

Sharpness

Performance          top

It's essentially perfect; sharp at every setting anyplace in the full-frame as I've shown at the top. No other f/2.8 ultrawide zoom from Canon, Nikon, Sony or Zeiss can do this.

The only limitations are your skill as a photographer.

Here are Canon's MTF curves:Canon 16-35mm L III MTF

 

Spherochromatism

Performance          top

Spherochromatism, an advanced form of chromatic aberration in a different dimension than lateral color, also called "color bokeh" by laymen, can cause colored fringes on slightly out-of-focus highlights, usually seen as green fringes on backgrounds and magenta fringes on foregrounds.

I see none in this lens.

 

Sunstars

Performance          top

Canon 16-35 2.8 III Sunstar

Sunstar at f/11. bigger.

Great news: while the diaphragm is rounded at large apertures, at moderate to small apertures we get very nice 18-pointed sunstars. There are some sunstars at f/11 and wider, and they are stronger at f/16 and f/22.

Bravo, Canon!

 

Compared

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Canon 16-35mm lenses compared

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II, 16-35mm f/4 L IS and 16-35mm f/2.8 III. bigger.

 

Versus the 16-35/2.8 Mark II and 16-35 IS

While this is the sharpest f/2.8 ultrawide ever made by Canon in the corners at large apertures, that's not that important. At normal apertures and throughout most of the image they are all the same.

This Mark III is also the most expensive, biggest and heaviest ultrawide ever made by Canon, other than the insane 11-24mm or the 17 tilt-shift.

No one who shoots these f/2.8 lenses really cares if the corners are that sharp when shot at f/2.8, they are rarely in focus. These are for shooting action, not test charts.

The f/4 IS is for shooting things that hold still and is just as sharp as this Mark III, and adds Image Stabilization lacking in this Mark III. The f/2.8 lenses are for shooting action, not nature and landscapes.

The original 16-35/2.8 and the improved 16-35/2.8 II both had blurry corners at f/2.8, but no one really cared. They were so blurry many amateur test chart shooters thought their lenses were broken, while in fact that was simply the limit of Canon's technology at the time (also bourne out by their MTF curves).

How much better is this Mark III compared to the Mark II in the corners at f/2.8? Here are crops from corner areas. Click any of these for the camera-original 50 megapixel files from a Canon 5DS R:

Canon 16-35 IS sharpness comparison

Canon 16-35 III sharpness comparison

Canon 16-35 II sharpness comparison

As you can see, the 16-35/4 IS and this 16-35/2.8 Mk III are the same, and the old 16-35/2.8 II looks broken by comparison — but no one shoots nature in the daytime at f/2.8 expecting the corners to be sharp; they are rarely in focus at f/2.8!

If these are 10" (25cm) wide on your screen, the complete images printed at this same high magnification would be 75 x 50" (190 x 125 cm)!

Since we're also dealing with depth of field and other issues, don't read much more into these shots than that the old Mk II was for news and sports, not landscape shooting, and that the f/4 IS and this new Mk III are both excellent wide-open. The IS looks a bit sharper in the corners because the depth of field at f/4 is deeper than the Mark III at f/2.8.

 

See also Canon Ultrawides Compared.

 

Versus Nikon

Nikon has nothing competitive at f/2.8.

Nikon's 17-35/2.8 came out back in 1999 and is three performance generations behind Canon's 16-35 f/2.8 lenses. It's downright fuzzy by comparison at f/2.8.

Nikon has never made a 16-35/2.8! So sad.

Nikon has an excellent 16-35/4 VR similar to the Canon 16-35 IS, but nothing competitive to this 2.8 lens.

With Canon we have multiple choices for ultrawides optimized for action (three versions of 16-35/2.8 and one 17-35/2.8) or landscapes (IS), but with Nikon, we have a VR and but one ancient 17-35/2.8.

 

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L III. bigger.

 

Recommendations

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

This is clearly Canon's best ultrawide for news, action and sports where we need a faster aperture for faster shutter speeds to stop motion — or for astronomy. It's also Canon's newest, biggest and heaviest ever. This lens has no Image Stabilization; it freezes subject and camera motion with its faster f/2.8 speed.

For nature and landscapes where things hold still, the 16-35mm f/4 L IS is just as sharp, less than half the price, smaller and lighter — and adds a stabilization system so we can leave the tripod at home. For most people reading this, the 16-35mm f/4 L IS is a much smarter choice. This 16-35/2.8 III is for shooting action.

The old 16-35mm f/2.8 L II is still a perfectly good lens, and it's smaller, lighter, tougher and less expensive. It's not as ultrasharp in the corners at f/2.8, but so long as you stop down it takes the same pictures. Likewise, the corner sharpness at f/2.8 doesn't matter unless you're shooting boring flat targets or things at infinity; for real 3D subjects the older lens is just as good.

The very best protective filter is the 82mm Hoya multicoated HD3 UV which uses hardened glass and repels dirt and fingerprints, and is also multicoated.

For less money, the B+W 82mm 010 is an excellent filter, as is the multicoated version and the basic multicoated Hoya filter, but the Hoya HD3 is the toughest and the best.

Filters last a lifetime, so you may as well get the best. The Hoya HD3 stays cleaner than the others since it repels oil and dirt.

I got mine at Adorama. I'd also get it at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

 

 

15 December 2016, 25 August 2016