Review Canon 16-35 mm 2.8 L II (C FF)

Canon 16-35 II review
Canon 16-35 II review

In 2001, the first version of the Canon 16-35 mm was put on the market, which succeeded the 17-35 mm

2.8. In September 2007, the Canon 16-35 mm II was put on the market. The MK2 is bigger and heavier, and performs better. The latter was necessary, already because of the increase in the number of pixels on the image sensor. Due to the extreme wide-angle, the lens is suitable for photographing landscapes and buildings. Additionally, the lens is often used in journalistic photography and weddings. Just like the Tokina 16-28 mm this lens is designed for a full frame camera. The Canon 16-35 mm II becomes less interesting when using an APS-C camera.

Canon 16-35 mm II reviewCanon 16-35 mm 2.8 II @ 25 mm f/9, 1/500 sec, 200 ISO

 Construction and autofocus Canon 16-35 mm 2.8 II

The Canon 16-35 mm 2.8 II has a constant initial aperture. The housing is made of a high quality type of plastic and the fitting is of metal. Everything about the lens feels solid and both the focus ring and zoom ring run smoothly without play. The seal is, by using special seals, dust and splash-proof. The filter does not rotate during focusing and the lens does not become bigger when focusing.

The autofocus is of the USM type. Focusing with a Canon 5D MK2 is very fast and nearly silent. Even in low light, the camera does not commute. The lens is supplied including a petal-type lens hood.

Vignetting Canon 16-35 mm

The vignetting is determined in stops, and is high. The graph shows that at 16 mm, vignetting exists even at f/8.0. The Canon 16-35 mm II sample images below show that it still is easy to work with. At a focal length of 24 mm and 35 mm, the vignetting is much less, especially after some stopping down.vignet-canon-16-35-II super wide angle lens
Vignetting Canon 16-35 mm II, @16 mm/2.8 Canon_16-35_mm_FF_b_lichafval_16_mm_40
Vignetting Canon 16-35 mm I, @16 mm/4.0 Canon_16-35_mm_FF_b_lichafval_16_mm_56
Vignetting, @16 mm/5.6 super wide angle lensVignetting, @16 mm/8.0

Distortion Canon 16-35 mm

The distortion of the Canon 16-35mm II lens, expressed as a percentage, is always a tricky point for Fish eye lenses. In the 16 mm position, the distortion is high and will be disturbing at many architectural images. In the image to the right, the horizon is curved because of lens distortion. The distortion is, on the contrary, strikingly low at 24 and 35 mm.

Move your mouse over the image for the Canon 16-35 mm distortion Imatest results.


Canon 16-35 mm Resolution

The resolution of this Canon 16-35 mm II lens at 16 and 35 mm, measured in lines / sensor height, is very high in the center with a large area around it. At that focal length, the corners remain far behind. At f/5.6, the corners are getting better.
At 24 mm, the resolution in the center is already very nice after 1 stop and the corners are reasonable stopped down to f/5.6.
The practice photos show that A3 + prints look very good at the center and corners from f/5.6 on.
resolutie-canon-16-35--ii Canon_16-35_mm_16_mm_80_met_roodrechthoekje
@16 mm/8.0 Canon_16-35_mm_100_procent_scherpte
@16 mm/8.0, 100 %

Canon 16-35 mm Chromatic aberration

The chromatic aberration shown by the Canon 16-35 mm II is sometimes a bit too high and software had to be used when contrast is high.


Conclusion Canon 16-35 mm II review


  • Good sharpness at 24 mm and 35 mm and in the center at 16 mm
  • Fast AF
  • Seals against dust and water


  • Moderate sharpness at 16 and 35 mm at f/2.8 and f/4.0
  • Chromatic aberration a bit too high

The Canon 16-35 mm II has a fast autofocus and the finish is of a high level. Optical wise, there is something to be desired, especially in the 16 mm position. The sharpness in corners is pretty low, the vignetting is clearly visible and the distortion is high. At 24 mm the resolution becomes higher. In addition, the vignetting and distortion become much lower. The practice photos show that A3 + prints look very nice at the center and at the corners at all focal lengths from f/5.6. In some aspects the cheaper Tokina 16-28 mm  performs better than the Canon 16-35 mm II.


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