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

16-35II
Review Date: Jul 16, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,400.00

 
Pros: Good Build Quality, Wide Angle on FF, Colors and Contrast
Cons:
Soft & Blurry corners, even stopped down past f/8. Too expensive

I currently own the Canon 10-22 EFs, 17-35 f/2.8 L and the Sigma 10-20 EX and 12-24 EX, in addition to two (yes, two) Canon 16-35 MKII

That's 6 UWA lenses I'm able to directly compare to each other on my 5D and 40D. Unfortunately, the 16-35 MKII does not rank at the top of the list. I've spent an entire day with both my cameras on a tripod shooting everything from boat's to tree's in a field with no less then 600 pictures taken between the different cameras and lenses.

On the 40D:
The Canon 10-22 wins hands down. Its tack sharp in the corners even wide open. The Sigma 12-24 comes in at a close second, being nearly as sharp. The Sigma 10-20 EX comes in third, followed by the 16-35 MKII. The 16-35 MKII's problem is corner softness and blur at every imaginable focal range and f/stop. While the center always remains tack sharp, even wide open. The corners are absolutely rubbish and unacceptable for a lens of this price and caliber. The Canon 17-35 L is at the bottom of the list, managing corners even worse then the 16-35 MKII.

On the 5D:
Not much difference. While I can not test the Canon 10-22 or Sigma 10-20 EX on FF. I can test the other lenses.
The Sigma 12-24 EX wins hands down. Its corner sharpness once stopped down to f/8 is excellent! Its color and contrast are good also. The 16-35 MKII, is atrocious. The center is still sharp, but the corners are so blurry and soft, the lens is unusable. It's as if someone smeared vaseline around the corners of the lens.

This prompted me to send the lens to Canon for calibration. I received the lens back two weeks later, and the results were no different. Again, the lens went back to Canon. And again the lens came back with Canon claiming "The lens is within spec". The corners are so awful, it's a joke that Canon can actually pass this lens off for the price they make you pay. At this point, I was seriously tempted to throw this lens against the wall and claim insurance. But...

Refusing to believe the 16-35 MKII was indeed this bad, I purchased another one. But not before trying 3 different ones at the Camera store. I bought the sharpest of the three and ran in through the tests. This new copy was "remarkably" better, being sharper then the Sigma 12-24 on my 40D, but still not as good as the Canon 10-22 EFs

On my 5D, the new 16-35 MKII copy is as sharp as my Sigma 12-24 EX (it's possible I have a grade A, or Godly copy of the 12-24?). This was the type of performance I was expecting from this lens originally.

I still can not rate this lens high, as my initial copy is Rubbish and Canon claims there is nothing wrong with it. Because the IQ was soo bad, I could not even sell the lens used. I ended up giving it to my GF with a Canon 350D for her Birthday. While she loves the lens (ignorance is Bliss!), I can't help but feel guilty now pawning off such a POS on her Sad

The good copy of this lens I still have, I now plan to sell. As for the cost and my needs, the 16-35 MKII is still overpriced and performs no better then the Canon 10-22 or Sigma 12-24 from what I've seen (aside for being f/2.8, which I don't need).


 
Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM

l3a_copy
Review Date: Jul 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: 12mm FF! Very Sharp stopped down! Excellent Build Quality! Price!
Cons:
No front filters, not the quickest UWA lens out there.

I was skeptical iof purchasing this lens, after reading mixed reviews online. I finally made the jump, and wished I would have done so sooner! This lens is SHARP! Every bit as Sharp as the Canon 16-35 MKII in the overlapping focal range once stopped down to f/8 or smaller. Wide open, the 16-35L will still beat it.

The thing that impresses me the most is the FF performance, and sharpness of the corners once stopped down. I don't know if I won the Simga lens lottery or what? But this lens once stopped down to f/9 or f/11, is SHARPER in the corners then either my 16-35 MKII or Canon 17-35 L. I wasn't quite expecting that!

This lens needs alot of light though. So lenses like the 16-35 and 17-35 f/2.8 have their uses still with indoor and low light photography. But if you shoot landscape and architecture with good lighting, this lens will probably yield you just as good if not better results then the Canon L series offerings. I'm still amazed at how sharp this lens is, and wish I would have picked up this lens years ago.

On a side note, there is definitely a copy variation, as I myself have experienced from Sigma before. I got lucky with getting a tack sharp copy of this lens, but other Sigma lenses (18-200, 80-400, 18-125) I've had to try 2-3 copies and get them calibrated by Sigma before getting acceptable results. Other photographers I know have had to go through 2-3 copies of this lens also, before finally getting a good one. Just read the rest of the reviews below, and you'll see what I mean...