Products

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM: Vastly Improved Peripheral Image Resolution

It has been a number of years since the 2007 release of the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, highly popular with amateur and professional users alike. No wonder, then, that fans have been anticipating the release of a successor model—a wish they got in 2016 with the release of the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM, which boasts of improvements to resolution at the image periphery across the entire zoom range. We tested this new lens, and here’s our report. (Reported by: GOTO AKI)

 

It has been 10 years since the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM first went on sale. In that time, cameras have been constantly advancing in terms of image resolution, leaving many users with a sense that their old lenses are unable to keep up with their new cameras with increasingly higher pixel counts. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that many EOS users have been eagerly anticipating the release of the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM.

I had heard about how advancements on the new lens addressed some issues that had plagued its predecessor. For example, it supposedly boasted much better resistance to smudging and loss of definition at the periphery as well as to flaring and ghosting in backlit conditions. These were the qualities I was most eager to experience for myself as I headed out onto the field with the lens.

 

Overview

Lens depicted the fine details of landscapes all the way to the periphery

Fixing the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM on the EOS 5D Mark IV , the first thing I noticed as I looked through the viewfinder was the excellent clarity and brightness of the viewfinder image even on a cloudy day, which indicated how well the entire lens allowed light to pass through to the sensor. There were nearly no distortions nor image bleeding at the periphery.

Shooting with the lens, I experienced firsthand the crisp image resolution the lens were capable of—the finest lines on the subjects were captured. It gives beautiful depictions all the way to the edges, with no noticeable distortions or chromatic aberration, even for scenes where its predecessor had been prone to aberration.

 It was indeed my pleasure to shoot with the unique perspective effects and high image quality available from f/2.8 onwards on the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM.

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/8 sec, EV+0.7)/ ISO 1600/ WB: Daylight
Shot at 16mm and f/2.8. This is a flawless depiction, with no sign of image bleeding or smudging at the periphery and details reproduced even in the areas with bokeh. The intricate details of the trees are well-captured and resolved despite the darkness of the forest.

 

Detailed depictions at f/8, but lens truly shines near focal length 35mm

I found that images taken at around f/8 resulted in particularly detailed depictions of scenery. The EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM is often rated to be on par as the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM in terms of depictive quality, but when you compare shots taken at focal length 16mm on it with shots taken at the same settings on the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM, the latter has a more gradual vignetting effect, with a clear advantage at f/8.

However, it is at around focal length 35mm (near standard angle-of-view) that the lens truly shines. At this focal length, you can get up close to the subject and obtain a good, creamy background bokeh that suggests airy, spacious surroundings, bringing out the best in the lens’ specifications (9-bladed circular aperture, 28cm minimum shooting distance and 0.25x magnification). (See Point #3 below for more details.)

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/80 sec, EV-0.7)/ ISO 1600/ WB: Daylight
A close-up, shot from 28cm (the minimum shooting distance) away. The resulting perspective exaggeration effect that you would expect from an ultra-wide angle and background bokeh create a sense of airiness and space. I deliberately placed the leaves in the bottom left corner. Notice how the shape was not distorted at all.

 

Lens’ dust-proof, drip-proof fluorine coating made shooting in the drizzle a cinch

It was drizzling at my shooting location, and we all know that changing lenses in such weather conditions puts the lens at risk of getting dirty. But thanks to the dust-proof, drip-proof and fluorine coating, all it took was one quick wipe with a dry cloth to remove the dirt, and I could go back to shooting. This lens may not boast of flashy spec upgrades, but as a photographer who seeks to capture fleeting moments in nature, I was grateful enough for this feature.

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/320 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 800/ WB: Daylight
It was drizzling when this shot was taken, but quality is preserved from the centre of the image to the periphery with no distortions. Even the waves to the bottom right are beautifully reproduced. The lens is dust- and drip-proof, so a little bit of rain is no issue at all.

 

Most shots in backlight were free from ghosting and flaring

On the last day of my photography trip, the sun finally showed itself and I was able to try a few shots in backlight. Flaring and ghosting tend to occur under such conditions, but I was amazed by how most of my shots turned out clear. The EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM uses a number of cutting-edge optical technologies, which makes it a perfect match for high-resolution cameras such as the EOS 5DS, EOS 5DS R, and EOS 5D Mark IV, all released in 2015-16. (For more details, see Point #2 below).

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/800 sec, EV-0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Daylight
Shot in the evening backlight—a condition prone to flaring and ghosting. ASC and SWC coating technologies resulted in zero flaring and minimal ghosting. Overall, the performance in backlight is a marked improvement from the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM.

 

Detailed Observations

Point #1: Dramatic improvements in maximum aperture image quality at the 16mm wide-angle end

Many specialty lens elements were used in this lens, and this has resulted in amazing edge-to-edge image quality across the entire zoom range for shots taken at maximum aperture even as intricate details in subjects were preserved. Colours were also vividly depicted. In terms of vignetting, when compared to the EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM, also known for its excellent performance in this aspect, the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM has the advantage.

 

Generous use of specialty lenses has prevented various aberrations

2 large-diameter double-sided glass-moulded (GMo) aspherical lens elements at the front and 1 ground and polished aspherical lens element at the back of the lens construction prevent distortion, field curvature and astigmatism. Transverse chromatic aberration, which tends to occur with wide-angle lenses, is suppressed with the use of 2 ultra-low dispersion (UD) lens elements.

 

Shot at 16mm

All examples shot with: EOS 5D Mark IV/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (EV+1,3)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight

 

f/2.8 centre

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/2.8 periphery

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/5.6 centre

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/5.6 periphery

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/8 centre

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/8 periphery

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

 

Shot at 35mm

All examples shot with: EOS 5D Mark IV/ FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (EV±0)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight

 

f/2.8 centre

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/2.8 periphery

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/5.6 centre

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/5.6 periphery

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/8 centre

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

f/8 periphery

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

 

Point #2: The latest coating technologies thoroughly suppress flaring and ghosting

Shots that include light sources are prone to flaring and ghosting, but these are thoroughly suppressed on the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM thanks to the use of the latest coating technologies, with SubWavelength Structure Coating (SWC) used on the first lens element, and Air Sphere Coating (ASC) used on the second. The only other lens that features elements that use both coatings is the EF11-24mm f/4L USM.

All examples shot with: EOS 5D Mark IV/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1.3 sec, EV-0.7)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight

 

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

 

Point #3: f/2.8 results in beautiful, creamy bokeh

This may be an ultra-wide angle lens, but beautiful bokeh is achievable when you shoot at focal length 35mm at the minimum shooting distance of 28cm. The lens has a circular aperture consisting of 9 blades, more than its predecessor, and this, together with the clear apparent resolution you get at f/2.8, results in a creamy, gradual bokeh effect, which extends to the edges but does not result in image bleeding. The lines in the area-in-focus are finely depicted, and it is this contrast that augments the beauty of the bokeh.

How do aperture blades affect the shape of bokeh? Find out in this article:
Lens FAQ #8: Where Should I Focus On to Capture Beautiful Bokeh Circles?

All examples shot with: EOS 5D Mark IV/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/200 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight

 

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

 

 

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/800sec, EV-0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Daylight
I shot this from a fast-moving boat. Testing to see how much detail in the waves I could capture with f/2.8 and a fast shutter speed, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail I obtained despite the rather flat lighting.

 

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/50 sec, EV-0.7)/ ISO 1600/ WB: Daylight
This picture of fallen osmanthus flowers on a stone bench was shot at focal length 35mm, shooting distance 28cm. The osmanthus flowers in the background are still distinct even at f/5.6, and the wetness of the stone bench is depicted in true-to-life detail.

 

For more examples of this lens paired with the EOS 5D Mark IV, check out the following:
Night Photography with the EOS 5D Mark IV: A Professional Photographer’s Impressions

 

Receive the latest updates on photography news, tips and tricks by signing up with us!

 

EOS 5D Mark IV (Body)

Click here for more details

 

EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

Click here for more details

 

GOTO AKI

 

Born in 1972 in Kanagawa Prefecture and graduated from Sophia University and Tokyo College of Photography. Goto published a photo collection work titled "Land Escapes," and is also actively engaged in works such as “Water Silence,” an installation that merges photographs with videos.

http://gotoaki.com/

 

Digital Camera Magazine

 

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation

 

comments

Write a Comment

 

Login to comment

You have been logged off from your account.

An email with an activation link had been sent to your SNAPSHOT registered email.

After clicking the link, you will be able to login with your existing login detail.

Thank you for your continued support as a member of the CANON and SNAPSHOT Community. We will do our best to continue provide you with more exciting and meaningful content to help you in your everyday quest to bring out the best photographer within you!

Permission to continue

Your CANON ID will be MERGED with your SNAPSHOT ID.

An activation link will be sent to your email.

Please re-enter your password to give us permission to continue.

Type your password

By clicking this, you agree to merge your CANON ID to SNAPSHOT ID. Agreeing to this is subject to CANON AND SNAPSHOT’S TERMS & CONDITIONS.