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  Reviews by: dmac5dmark2  

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Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Review Date: Aug 10, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,590.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp in the center with excellent "L" "look" and contrast
Really bad at f2.8 and 16mm

As a photojournalist, this is a dream lens. Its my workhorse professionally and for travel. It focuses fast on a 5D Mark II and its versatility is its strongest attribute. I can shoot a street scene wide and then zoom in for a portrait seconds later.

It offers great contrast and that "look" that is so hard to explain but that most of the "L" lenses exhibit. Good color rendition but not as stunning as the 135mm or other well regarded primes. I have the 70-200mm f4 as well and this lens is also not as good for obvious design reasons (wide angle vs tele).

My only real complaint with this lens are the horribly inconsistent corners/edges from shot to shot, especially at f2.8. This is probably due to curvature of field and slight focus errors by me. However, I hear rumours of poor quality control in production and after testing a half dozen of these I tend to agree. There is a wide amount of sample variation on this lens so shop around. I would not recommend buying this lens online. Try the lens out in person and view images at 100% before purchasing.

Shooting landscapes on a tripod with a shutter release between f11 and f16 produces acceptable edges and corners. Not really that much better than a good copy of the Canon 17-40 f4, which is a much better value and lighter. I'll add that the 14mm f2.8 Mark II blows this away (not even close!) but you'll pay several hundred dollars more for it, doesn't offer the same versatility, and you can't use filters on it.

As for street shooting, I find bokeh is poor and its a bit too mushy/distorted in the corners overall at 16mm, which is to be expected for this type of design I guess. Images look a bit better stopped down to about f4.

Photos look fantastic in the 25-35 range. Edges are better on landscapes, bokeh is more pleasing, and portraits really "pop" with great 3D clarity.

Overall its a great lens for multi-purpose use. Its not perfect (and I tend to feel like it should be for the money it costs to buy one) but its definitely an important go-to lens for a working professional.

Some of my work shot with this lens:

Pacific sea nettle

16mm view of a beautiful beach

Old ladies in front of spectacular volcanic rock formations

A landscape that shows off the len's superb clarity

One of Korea's famous diving grandmothers

A portrait of a boy monk straight from the camera with no post processing

Young boy at Buddhist birthday celebration

Pretty women on a parade float

Enter the Dragon