Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L - Review / Lab Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published December 2007

Special thanks to Rainer Zentner and Hans Link for providing samples (2) of this lens!


The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L is one of two ultra-wide zoom lenses in the current Canon line-up with the other one being the younger, more affordable but also slower EF 17-40mm f/4 USM L. As usual we'll have a look how this full frame lens performs in the APS-C DSLR scope (using an EOS 350D/Digital RebelXT). Here the field of view is equivalent to 26-56mm on full-frame cameras so it behaves more like a standard zoom rather than an ultra-wide lens.

The optical design is made of 14 elements in 10 groups with three aspherical elements (ground & polished, replica and glass-molded) plus two UD element. The lens features 7 circular aperture blades. At 84x103mm and 600g it almost feels compact regarding the large max. aperture. A floating system is meant to provide a constant performance throughout the focus range. The minimal focus distance is 0.28m resulting in a max. object magnification of ~1:5 at 35mm. The filter size is 77mm which is a shared entity by many all f/2.8 Canon L zooms.

The build quality of this lens is exceptional - a true Canon L lens with no shaky parts whatsoever and smooth controls. The lens is also designed to survive in harsh conditions with a sealing against dust and moisture. The outer length of the lens remains constant though the inner lens tube moves a little when zooming (typical for L grade Canon ultra-wide zooms).
The petal-shaped hood is designed for full-frame (D)SLRs. On the downside this means it is a little small for being fully effective on APS-C DSLRs but using a polarizer with attached hood remains easily possible.

The lens has a ring-type USM drive based on a front-focusing system resulting in an extremely fast AF speed. Typical for ring-type USM lenses full-time manual focusing is always possible in one-shot AF mode.

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