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Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS
  
 
chez
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p.3 #1 · p.3 #1 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


RCicala wrote:
I haven't had enough stock to tear one apart yet, although I've been testing them for a couple of weeks now.

Bottom line on testing was the copy variation was greater than I expected: not that any were awful but each and every one had a weak point. So after testing 10 of them, I decided I needed to repeat the same tests with 17-40s and 16-35 f/2.8 II because we've never tested wide zooms on the optical bench before. And then repeat them all on Imatest because that's what we usually test on (although I hadn't planned on it,
...Show more

How does the Canon lens variation compare to say the Nikon 14-24 lens. Seems a little disturbing that no two lenses out of 10 exhibited the same results.



Jul 10, 2014 at 05:25 PM
RCicala
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p.3 #2 · p.3 #2 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


chez wrote:
How does the Canon lens variation compare to say the Nikon 14-24 lens. Seems a little disturbing that no two lenses out of 10 exhibited the same results.


Remember, this is beyond pixel-peeping optical bench testing stuff. No lens, ever, has been assembled absolutely perfectly. It's a matter of determining what is acceptable variation. With Imatest I had thousands of lenses in the database and I was pretty comfortable that < 20% variation among the corners was acceptable.

I don't have those kind of numbers with the optical bench yet. The variations are bigger than 20% but it's also a more exacting test so I can't say it's actually worse or not. Which is why I went back to Imatest to compare. But since I don't trust Imatest or DxO (my tests or anyone else's) to be accurate with very wide lenses, I'm not sure how much that means.

And unfortunately, we still don't have the Nikon mount for our optical bench so I can't say. But I can say that with Imatest they were very similar.

Zooms vary. It's the nature of the beast. I've never, ever tested a batch of zooms that didn't. Nor have I ever tested a single zoom at multiple focal lengths that didn't have some variation at some location. It's the degree of variation that remains in question, whether it's acceptable or not.

I'm overly OCD about it, but it can matter. I had a customer last week complain bitterly about the right upper corner of a zoom I'd tested that was excellent. I tested it again and it was excellent. But we test those lenses at 16, 24, and 35mm. The problem he had was very real and only occurred at 27-28mm. Turns out a rough place in the barrel that caused an element to tilt at just that focal length.



Jul 10, 2014 at 06:24 PM
eheffa
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p.3 #3 · p.3 #3 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


Another review worth a read:

http://www.alexnail.com/blog/reviews/review-canon-16-35-f4l-is-vs-16-35-f2-8l-ii/

-evan



Jul 17, 2014 at 05:39 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.3 #4 · p.3 #4 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


Roger, I think there is a lot of interesting and important stuff in your post.

Your reminder that no lens is perfect is an important one for everyone to keep in mind. We want lenses that are as good as possible for our purposes, in the range of ways that "goodness" can be measured, but it isn't useful to hold out for "perfect" lenses.

I got my copy of this lens nearly two weeks ago and finally had a chance to "field test" (otherwise known as "use it to make photographs") late last week. (I posted a report on that experience here. Keep in mind that it is a "report," and not a "test.") My impression of the lens — in use limited to the way I will typically use the lens in my photography — is that the purchase was a good one. As you (Roger) note, it seems to be better than the existing Canon ultra wide zoom alternatives.

Regarding copy variation, a story. A photographer friend of mine who often shoots subjects similar to many that I photograph got his copy at almost the same time I did. Before our lenses arrived he had made a joke about wondering which one of us would get the "good copy." It looks like I did. We have corresponded since he received his, and he has shared some photos he made while testing the lens, and he definitely has one very fuzzy corner on his copy. Think "softer than what you would expect from a 17-40 at f/8" and "with the same sudden drop off in sharpness very near the corner that you might see on the old EF 35mm f/2."

Since he wondered how mine performed, I went to the trouble of setting the camera/lens on a tripod in front of a grasscloth wall, lining everything up reasonably well, and making some informal test photographs at a range of apertures and focal lengths. The tests confirmed that mine is a "good copy," but also showed that, as expected, things are not uniform at all possible settings. As many have written, it is remarkably good all the way open at f/4. In 100% magnification crops I can see that the far corners on one side of the frame are a bit softer than the other, but I have to go looking for this. I can also see that in all situations the center seems at least as sharp as my 17-40 and the corners are noticeably better.

So, it will be interesting to see what you eventually figure out about these issues, Roger:

- the range and nature of variations among copies of the 16-35mm f/4 L IS

- how that variation compares to variations among copies of the 16-35mm f/2.8 L and the 17-40mm f/4 L

- how the variation among Canon ultra wide zooms as a breed compares to that among similar lenses from other manufacturers.

Two final things.

1. I'm very happy with my copy of the 16-35mm f/4 L IS. It is better at a wider range of apertures than my 17-40mm f/4.

2. Your comment about getting Canon to recenter lenses ("As to Canon recentering them, I wouldn't put a lot of hope in that. And I speak from over 100 copies of the 16-35 and 17-40 sent in to Canon for recentering.") brings to mind the story of a person I know, whose ultra wide zoom lens Canon would most likely want to bring into excellent adjustment (for a range of reasons that I won't enumerate, since the person prefers anonymity), who eventually came to the conclusion that this wasn't possible with the ultrawides...

Dan

RCicala wrote:
I haven't had enough stock to tear one apart yet, although I've been testing them for a couple of weeks now.

Bottom line on testing was the copy variation was greater than I expected: not that any were awful but each and every one had a weak point. So after testing 10 of them, I decided I needed to repeat the same tests with 17-40s and 16-35 f/2.8 II because we've never tested wide zooms on the optical bench before. And then repeat them all on Imatest because that's what we usually test on (although I hadn't planned on it,
...Show more

Edited on Jul 17, 2014 at 08:24 PM · View previous versions



Jul 17, 2014 at 06:06 PM
Rajan Parrikar
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p.3 #5 · p.3 #5 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


gdanmitchell wrote:
There is a lot of interesting and important stuff in your post.
Your reminder that no lens is perfect is an important one for everyone to keep in mind. We want lenses that are as good as possible for our purposes, in the range of ways that "goodness" can be measured, but it isn't useful to hold out for "perfect" lenses.


It is also important for everyone to keep in mind that the sun rises in the east and that apples fall from the tree (as opposed to rise).

I think you are tilting at windmills here (nothing wrong with that, by the way). Engineering design does not aim for "perfection" - the goal is to optimize a set of specifications. When people say that a certain lens is perfect, it is not meant literally. Rather, what is implied is that the performance is so stellar that for all practical purposes it is perfect within the regime for which it is intended.



Jul 17, 2014 at 06:18 PM
Invertalon
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p.3 #6 · p.3 #6 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


To elaborate my previous post a bit more:


I initially received (2) copies of the 16-35 f/4 IS... I was able to test both side-by-side and keep the better of the two.

I will label them as copy 1 and copy 2.

Copy 1 appeared to be a tiny bit sharper in the center of the frame at 16mm, but had a weak lower right hand corner at 16mm. Copy 2 was a little weaker on the left side of the image, but only slightly (you can only really see it at 100% peeping).

For the sharpness test, I setup a new $1 bill outside (lots of fine line detail) and kept the camera on a tripod, live view, multiple images, etc... And only changed the lens. In the very fine lines, one showed a bit more moire and clarity it appeared (copy 1) but it was very slight. A wash, really.

Sharpness at 35mm for both appeared to be very close. However, Copy 1 was decentered pretty badly with the right side overall worse than the center/left. Makes sense why at 16mm the right corner was bad as well on this copy. What was weird is this lens appeared to be sharper in the center of the frame even though it looked far more "troubled" with centering? Roger, is that possible?

Copy 2 was really even at 35mm with even sharpness corner to corner. At 16mm it was quite even across the frame, but with the noted slight softening on the very left edge. Overall, this was an overall better copy of the lens... In real-world shooting it is still extremely sharp and far better than the 16-35 II and 17-40 across the entire frame. Really enjoying the lens!

So I too have seen some variation with the two copies I have tested side by side.



Edited on Jul 18, 2014 at 04:51 PM · View previous versions



Jul 18, 2014 at 04:42 PM
 

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eheffa
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p.3 #7 · p.3 #7 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


Interesting.

I have one of these on the way. I hope I get a copy 2 version.

Fingers Crossed.

-evan



Jul 18, 2014 at 04:46 PM
Invertalon
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p.3 #8 · p.3 #8 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


I hope you do!

Also to add about Canon service and re-centering lenses... They do suck at it. I had them try with a 24-70 II (my first copy) but they could not improve it... I sent the lens back and exchanged with my current copy ever since which is really well centered end to end.

They did attempt to correct a 17-40L twice, to no prevail. It was really bad on the left side at 40mm. I spoke with the tech or technical service guy over the phone after the 2nd attempt (failed) and he said the 17-40 and 16-35 are very difficult to correct, as the lens is taken apart, adjusted, put back together, checked, over and over. Eventually somewhat telling me that they can only replace element groups to try and correct it at a certain point... Which they did try, but did not fix. That lens thankfully was bought new and I tried to let them fix it before I sent it back to the store, but it made itself back and is now likely a refurb somewhere!

So from now on, if I get a lens and it is de-centered at all, I get it exchanged. No point in trying to get Canon to fix them in my experience. I have had no luck at all the few times I have tried with a few lenses... I think my list includes the 24-70 II, 17-40, 16-35 and a 70-200 long ago. None were improved any at Canon NJ.




Jul 18, 2014 at 04:57 PM
pipspeak
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p.3 #9 · p.3 #9 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


Invertalon wrote:
So from now on, if I get a lens and it is de-centered at all, I get it exchanged. No point in trying to get Canon to fix them in my experience. I have had no luck at all the few times I have tried with a few lenses... I think my list includes the 24-70 II, 17-40, 16-35 and a 70-200 long ago. None were improved any at Canon NJ.


I'm curious what your decentering test is. Sounds like a good plan to test on receipt to avoid a problem down the road when decentering might have a noticeable impact on a photo. I've never bothered testing my 24-70 II because I generally use it for PJ-style shooting where corners and edges are less of a factor. I just sold my 16-35 II, which just seemed mushy in all corners, and will probably get the new version to do more landscape work.



Jul 19, 2014 at 01:21 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.3 #10 · p.3 #10 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


pipspeak wrote:
I'm curious what your decentering test is. Sounds like a good plan to test on receipt to avoid a problem down the road when decentering might have a noticeable impact on a photo. I've never bothered testing my 24-70 II because I generally use it for PJ-style shooting where corners and edges are less of a factor. I just sold my 16-35 II, which just seemed mushy in all corners, and will probably get the new version to do more landscape work.


Generally I think that it is usually just fine to make some photographs in the range of ways you would typically use the lens, and take a close look at the photographs. If everything looks good with such a "test," then you are good to go. However, if something looks like a real problem in this situation, it makes sense to look closer to try to determine the nature of the problem.

So if you mostly shoot PJ style, shoot PJ style and see if you like the results.

More careful testing can be worthwhile in certain situations. It can be a good way to quickly get a handle on the character of your lens — a bit faster than shooting with it for a few months to fight this out. Or if you tend to write publicly about such things, those who read your writing might appreciate a closer look. As I mentioned above, I did a closer look at my copy when a friend who encountered problems with his wanted to get my feedback on a particular aspect of the performance of this type of lens.

Dan



Jul 19, 2014 at 02:15 AM
mttran
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p.3 #11 · p.3 #11 · Photozone Review: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS


These slrgear loaders show another way to see how canon zoom performing. Set aperture around f5.6- f11 then playing with FL to compare them. It is not easy to say which one is better, all dependent on aperture, focal length and how your bodies to nail the focal plan. myself, I don't see anything differences of all the zoom from 24-40 range with most smaller aperture.

17-40L: http://slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/canon17-40f4/ff/tloader.htm
16-35LII: http://slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/canon16-35f28l2/ff/tloader.htm
24-105L: http://slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/canon24-105f4/ff/tloader.htm
24-70L: http://slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/canon24-70f28/ff/tloader.htm
24-70LII: http://slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/canon24-70f28l2/ff/tloader.htm
24-70LIS: http://slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/canon24-70f4l/ff/tloader.htm

So hold on to whatever you have if you already have a good copy



Jul 19, 2014 at 02:19 AM
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