Products >> All Products

A Close Look at the Features of the Wide-angle Zoom Lens

A new L lens with a focal length of 16 to 35mm and a maximum aperture of f/4 has been added to the EF lens lineup. Being also the first wide-angle zoom lens for full-frame cameras that is equipped with the IS feature, you can tell from the specs how powerful this lens is. The following article is a report on my experience in using the EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM during a recent trip to capture landscape photos. (Reported by: Shirou Hagihara)

Pages: 1 2

First Wide-angle IS Zoom Lens for Full-frame Cameras

There are two existing models in Canon's wide-angle zoom lens lineup for full-frame cameras, one is the large diameter lens type, which has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, and the other the f/4 type. The f/4 type, which is more compact, lightweight and reasonably-priced than the f/2.8 type, is the ideal choice for landscape photographers like me. As a matter of fact, I am also a big fan of the existing EF17-40mm f/4L USM.
Now, a new f/4 type lens, the EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM, has been added to this family. It has the same focal length as the f/2.8 type (EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM), which ranges from 16mm at the wide-angle end to 35mm at the telephoto end. There is a slight shift toward the wide-angle side compared to the EF17-40mm f/4L USM. In landscape photography, a wider angle would have a greater advantage. While some might think that 1mm is negligible, it in fact makes a great difference. To me, this wider angle of view is certainly a welcome change.
Yet another wonderful feature about the EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM is that it is Canon's first wide-angle zoom lens for full-frame cameras that is built in with the Image Stabilizer (IS) feature. Although wide-angle shots do not require correction using the IS feature as much as telephoto shots, it is needless to say that this feature comes in handy when you are photographing under low-light conditions, such as in the woods, before sunrise, or after sunset.

EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM

Lens construction: 16 elements 12 groups
Closest focusing distance: Approx. 0.28m
Max. magnification: Approx. 0.23x
Filter size: φ77mm
Size: Approx. φ82.6×112.8mm
Weight: Approx. 615g

Click here to see details of the EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM

The lens adopts an optical design with a total of two UD lens and three aspherical lens elements, including a large-diameter glass-moulded double-sided aspherical lens as the first element, all of which contribute to reducing image distortions and aberrations. The surface of the foremost and rearmost elements is applied with a layer of fluorine coating to ease the removal of dirt. These are all efforts that aim to achieve high image quality. This lens has heightened photographers' expectations toward landscape photography, which is subject to the conditions of the location and light. In this article, I have taken shots using such a lens.
Although the lens I used for the shoot was a trial model, it surpassed my expectation. Be it shots of the fine details of objects or those with the sun included, the results were all satisfactory. The filter size of φ77mm makes it easy to match the diameter of other lenses. Unless the brightness and bokeh effect of an f/2.8 aperture is a requirement to you, I feel that this lens offers greater advantages for capturing landscape photos.

First Wide-angle IS Zoom Lens for Full-frame Cameras

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (1/8 sec., f/11, ±0EV)/ ISO 800/ WB: Daylight

White arum flowers that started to bloom in a wetland. The shooting conditions were adverse, as it was impossible to secure a tripod, and the shoot took place in the evening. Nonetheless, the powerful IS function allowed me to capture a blur-free shot even at a shutter speed of 1/8 second.

New Design for Enhanced Image Quality

This lens is lavishly designed with 16 lens elements in 12 groups. Two glass-moulded double-sided aspherical lenses are employed in the first group, among which the foremost member has a large diameter for correcting distortions at the wide-angle end powerfully. Additionally, two UD lenses are included in the fourth group to correct chromatic aberrations of magnification, thereby maintaining high image quality throughout the entire image. Also, the foremost and rearmost elements are applied with a layer of fluorine coating to prevent dust and dirt from being attached to the surface. It is indeed a welcome feature to be able to photograph with the lenses maintained in a clean state.

Lens Construction

Blue: Aspherical Lens
Purple: UD Lens
Red: IS Unit

MTF Curve


Distance from Centre of Image (mm)


Distance from Centre of Image (mm)

S: Sagittal
M: Meridional

Speedy, Precise Movement of Ring USM

The lens is equipped with a ring USM that boasts a high focusing speed, which works together with the IS feature to ease handheld photography. On top of that, focusing accuracy is so excellent that none of the shots taken using AF was out of focus. With this lens, you will also be able to produce satisfactory wide-angle macro shots.

25g Lighter than Existing f/2.8 Lens

Let's take a look at the external dimensions and weight through a side-by-side comparison of the three wide-angle zoom lenses for Canon's full-frame cameras. The EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM (leftmost), which is newly added to the lineup, looks thicker than the f/2.8 type, but the weight is actually 25g lighter. All these lenses make use of an inner focusing system, so the length of the lens does not change during zooming.

Bokeh Effect and Sharp Depictions by the f/4 Aperture

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (1/30 sec, f/4, +2EV)/ ISO 200/ WB: Daylight

Ferns were found growing by a stream on the rocks, so I was able to capture a bright view of the woods in the background by squatting down. To convey the bright atmosphere of the location, I made use of the maximum aperture of f/4 to produce attractive bokeh effects. Meanwhile, the sharp depiction of the area that is in focus creates a pleasant impression.

Wide-angle Macro Shots from a Close Distance of Approx. 28cm

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (1/1,600 sec., f/4.5, ±0EV)/ ISO 200/ WB: Daylight

Blooming butterbur sprouts were spotted around the edge of some lingering snow. To retain the sense of scale, I set the lens to the wide-angle end and moved to the closest focusing distance to produce a shot that matches well with the close-up effect at about 28cm as well as the wide angle of view at the focal length of 16mm.

* This article is created based on a trial model. Aspects such as the appearance and image quality may differ slightly from the actual product.

Shirou Hagihara

Born in 1959 in Yamanashi. After graduating from Nihon University, Hagihara was involved in the launch of the photography magazine, "fukei shashin", where he worked as an editor and a publisher. He later resigned and became a freelance photographer. Currently, Hagihara is engaged in photography and written works centring on natural landscapes. He is a member of the Society of Scientific Photography (SSP).

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