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New Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L II tested

I’ve received the new Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L II lens. I’ve not yet had an opportunity to shoot it enough to give a detailed performance assessment, but use so far is suggestive of the following:

  • Flare control is outstanding. Outstanding!
  • Images show superior sharpness compared to the original 16-35, at least at the focal lengths I’ve tried so far.
  • Consistent with the Canon “Wide” MTF chart, at 16mm corners beyond a 39mm image circle are mush wide open, and f/8 or f/11 is required to produce acceptable results. (43.2mm is the absolute corner of a 36mm X 24mm frame). However, image sharpness over the rest of the frame is very impressive even wide open, noticeably superior to my first-generation 16-35 f/2.8L. UPDATE: See the April 4 blog entry. Further shooting suggests that the improved sharpness might be due to focus error with the original 16-35, making an accurate test with the “II” problematic.
  • Chromatic aberration (red/cyan) color fringing remains prominent at the 16mm end (on the EOS 5D at least), repudiating Canon’s press release that “Two UD lens elements virtually eliminate chromatic aberration”.

It seems likely that this new 16-35 will be a stellar performer wide open on the new EOS 1D Mark III. With its cropped-frame sensor (28.1 X 18.7mm = 1.3X), all the mushy areas will be well outside the sensor’s 33.7mm image circle. A terrific 21-45mm zoom in effect.

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