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

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There's a review of the new Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II review online:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews...ens-Review.aspx

 

Many of us use Canon 16-35, 17-35, or 17-40 wide angle zoom lenses, and none of us are really happy with it. The cropped sensor folks can't get wide enough, and the full-frame guys (myself included) are unhappy with edge performance.

 

"Canon's engineers have completely redesigned the optics on the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM to deliver higher contrast levels and improved resolving power." [Canon's Press Release] Of course, they are referring to a redesigning of the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L USM Lens - a very good and very popular lens itself. The biggest physical appearance change is in the II's wider lens barrel at the objective end - going from 77mm to 82mm in filter size. The 16-35 L II is .2" (5mm) wider (for the just-noted reason), .3" (8.6mm) longer and weighs the same as the original 16-35 L. They feel identical out to and including the focus ring. The II's zoom ring is more firm (I like this better). Minimum focus distance remains the same - Maximum magnification remains the same as well.

 

Barrel distortion is noticeably reduced at the wide end while pincushion distortion is slightly increased at 35mm. Flare is reduced over the entire focal length range - improving contrast in some comparisons. Overall, I consider the 16-35 L II sharper than the 16-35 L I, but this amount of difference varies throughout the focal length range and distance/direction from the center of the image. The II is at least as sharp or sharper in the center of the image at all focal lengths. The II is especially improved in f/2.8 non-center sharpness on the wide end. For the most part, I would consider the II an improvement in non-center sharpness overall though the 16-35 L I holds its own or even surpasses the II at certain focal lengths/apertures/points within the frame.

 

The II has slightly less vignetting than the I. CA is very slightly reduced - but looks different as it is primarily present in the corners which are now sharper at many focal lengths and points within the frame. Both lenses deliver exposures about 1/3+ stop brighter than usual.

 

What I'm looking for in a review is a comparison of the 16-35 L II vs the 16-35 L. Maybe I'll try to get ahold of one for a review...

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Thanks for the heads up Eric. I want to see some compelling evidence too - before ditching my 17-40L. But I'd love to have a sharp wide zoom - especially after using the Nikon 17-35 on a FF camera.

 

Cheers

James

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I have now read a few reviews and a lot of comments about this lens. Can I add my own thoughts for it as an underwater lens?

 

But first .... many people seem to want to compare the 16~35/2.8L with the 17~40/4L lens. Why I am unsure. The smaller aperture lens is likely to be pretty comparable in performance once stopped down a few stops, simply because it is a smaller aperture and relatively recent design. BUT, it is a smaller aperture lens so cannot be used in the same way in low light conditions and, for us underwater photographers, provides a duller view (although I've owned and used a 17~40 I found it not to my liking and am working with fast fixed focal lengths but only starting at 24mm). Its also a lot cheaper though.

 

The new 16~35/2.8 MkII really needs to be compared with the MkI version and as has been indicated and might be expected it does seem to have improved performance over the MkI although it doesn't sound as if there is a dramatic difference.

 

However, my own thoughts are that for underwater use, the limiting factor at wider focal lengths than about 20mm and wider apertures (f/8 or wider) will be those imposed by using an ultrawide (weitwinkel) zoom behind a conventional concentric dome port design. So upgrading from a MkI to a MkII lens probably will result in only a minor improvement in central performance with very little if any effect on the edges where degredation is caused primarily by image curvature. Whilst above water photographers are seeking the holy grail of high quality ultrawide (weitwinkel) lenses for use in the digital age, we underwater photographers will have to use a combination of large diameter ports, appropriate diopters and accurate alignment/positioning of port and lens. ultra wide (weitwinkel) zooms remain a compromise and I am far from conviced that this lens will actually prove substantially better for underwater use than its predecessor. In essence I suppose that the problem we face is one of underwater optics as opposed to lens optics and a slight improvement in lens performance will probably be masked by other more substantial factors.

 

One other comment James. I used a 17~35 on Nikon film cameras and was never that impressed with that lens either. It would be possibly to fit it onto a Canon (adapters are available) but I'd be very surprised if its performance was substantially better underwater than Canon's ultrawide (weitwinkel) zooms. If anyone has tried this I'd be interested in seeing the results though.

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...So upgrading from a MkI to a MkII lens probably will result in only a minor improvement in central performance with very little if any effect on the edges where degredation is caused primarily by image curvature. . .I am far from conviced that this lens will actually prove substantially better for underwater use than its predecessor. In essence I suppose that the problem we face is one of underwater optics as opposed to lens optics and a slight improvement in lens performance will probably be masked by other more substantial factors...

 

Jeez, Paul, now I'm really starting to wonder if I should have ordered that new "II" version of this lens for $1,599 (from B&H - should arrive any day now) and be selling my old one for $850 (in the Wetpixel classifieds as we speak) after all! I've been quite happy with my old 16-35mm...I just assumed I would be "happier" with the new one (the moss is always greener...).

 

Now you make it sound like the only thing I may be is $750 poorer! ;)

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Well, if Bruce has one, at least I know that I might be able to check it out during our summer shark trip. ;)

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I took the 16-35 L II to komodo earlier this month and had several dives with this new lens.

 

Prior to getting the 16-35 L II, I was using the first generation of this lens. The physical length of the II is about 8mm longer than the 1. As I only got hold of the II just days before my trip, I didn't have time to optimize the port setup for this lens. I could only using the same port setup as the old 16-35 lens (Seacam SD + 35mm port extension).

 

Here are some of the quick observations from the photos taken by the II:

1/ vignetting occured at 16mm end

2/ corner sharpness didn't seem to be any better than the my older photos taken by the I

 

I wonder if I use a longer port extension, the result will be better. And I will show you some of the photos later.

 

On the top side, the edge performance of the II is better than the 1 though.

Edited by caminu

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Wow, thanks for the samples Caminu!@!! It looks like this lens will need some pool testing w/ the various extension rings to get optimal results. But the CA, color and contrast looks very good on this lens!

 

Cheers

James

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I agree - thanks for the samples, Caminu! Nice shots, without too much CA, but certainly some noticeable in the corners. As you say, the corners really doesn't look much better than the old version of the lens, but as you also say, hard to know how that will be affected by optimizing the ext. rings (which I assume Stephen F. will do as soon as he gets his hands on the lens). Paul may be right, though; this lens simply may not produce much better results underwater (although it certainly will topside) due to inherent limitations of shooting through a dome... :)

 

BTW, I notice that none of those shots you posted were with very large apertures; I'm sure CA would be considerably worse if you used apertures closer to wide open, as is the case with both the old 16-35mm and the 17-40mm. ;) I guess in general, you really do need to use f-stops of 8 or higher with these wide zooms (unless the subject is small enough in the frame that you can crop away big chunks of the corners). As with the predecessor, it looks like most shots taken with this lens on full frame cameras (at least at the wide end of the zoom range) will still need to be cropped to eliminate the soft corners... :glare:

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Hang on Bruce - I don't think it's that bad. The lens clearly wasn't used w/ the right port extension as Caminu said - you can see the edge of the port in one of the photos in the upper right. I bet w/ some pool testing we will see much better results (but I'm an optimist).

 

Cheers

James

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...I bet w/ some pool testing we will see much better results (but I'm an optimist).

 

Well, James, having experienced your "pool testing" expertise firsthand (including the patented Wiseman "Find the Sun in Your Viewfinder" test), I'm sure if anyone can figure it out, you can! ;):):(

post-65-1177515214_thumb.jpg

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Check out this picture from the review:

 

Canon-Wide-Angle-L-Zoom-Lenses.jpg

 

You can see that the new lens is longer than the older lenses. I have no idea where the entrance pupil is though.

 

This is probably why you can see some vignetting in Caminu's shots. I'm guessing that 5-10mm more extension is needed but that's just a guess.

 

Cheers

James

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...I'm guessing that 5-10mm more extension is needed but that's just a guess.

 

I'll bet that's right, in part because that would mean I would need to buy a yet another extension ring (the old 16-35mm used a 35mm ext. ring as I recall, and I own a 25, a 35 and a 50). Being able to use one of those (or two of them stacked) would be far too simple! :);):(

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I agree - thanks for the samples, Caminu! Nice shots, without too much CA, but certainly some noticeable in the corners. As you say, the corners really doesn't look much better than the old version of the lens, but as you also say, hard to know how that will be affected by optimizing the ext. rings (which I assume Stephen F. will do as soon as he gets his hands on the lens).

 

Bruce - As you've deduced, I'm eager to see how this lens performs as well. The lens is now on its way from Canon and if it arrives this week I'll have pool tests done by end of week. I'll test with Seacam, superdome, and the various extension rings (as well as a diopter or two). Stand by to stand by.

 

Oops ... guess I won't be testing the diopters at the moment. From the review Eric linked: "The large 82mm filter size is a first for Canon EF Lenses. High quality filters of this size are expensive and at this point, not shareable on other Canon lenses without a stepping ring." The old 16-35 and 17-40 use 77mm diopters & filters. Oh well, I wasn't too happy with the diopter on my 17-40 anyway, so I'll test the various ports and port extensions by trial and error to find the sweet spot.

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I have no idea where the entrance pupil is though.

 

This issue is really starting to tick me off. Canon absolutely will NOT reveal the correct entrance pupil location for any of their lenses.

I had to make a jig to find the location on my 14mm Wa and I guess I'll be using that jig again.

 

We as UW photogs should band together and convince Canon that is it in their best interests to provide this info. what it means to me right now is that I cannot make my decision to purchase this lens because I don't know what extenson ring length I'll be needing.

 

Come on Canon... the entrance pupil location isn't the formula for Coca-Cola!!!

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The entrance pupil is likely to be 5~10mm further away from the camera body as James says. If you add a diopter (+2 for a Superdome I would suggest) then adding 10mm of extra extension tube would be a reasonable starting point. Not forgetting that the entrance pupil will shift slightly during zooming, will be affected by the use of a diopter and that extension tubes (from Seacam at least) are available in 5mm increments, then adding 10mm has to be a good start. However, as I stated in my original post, the corner problems are to do with image field curvature more than anything else and even absolutely accurate lens/dome alignment won't solve this purely optical, underwater problem. Using a large port such as Seacam's Superdome correctly positioned will give state-of-the-art performance - the problem we face is that underwater optics now have their current limitations shown up by high resolution sensors! As I also stated, the MkII 16~35/2.8 will probably have better centre resolution than its predecessor so there should be a (small) benefit. Perhaps of higher benefit to more underwater photographers will be the inevitably suppressed prices of used MkI lenses!!!

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Looking at those shots the addition of a dioptre should make a positive difference to corner sharpness. You could always try the old BSoUP technique of focusing infront of the subject.

 

Alex

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Amigos,

 

I love it ;) The MustardMan weighs in with one quick solution ala' some simple, real world advice instead of endless measurbating......

 

Man, am I glad I'm a cheap photographer and don't have to worry about such dilemmas with my cropped sensor dSLR cameras..... Even if I HAD a full frame sensor dSLR I'd choose Option "B" below....

 

Fisheye lenses with inherently sharper corners will outperform any rectilinear zoom, unless you are prepared to spend countless hours testing extension lengths and diopter / no-diopter combinations. And even then, you won't get edge to edge sharpness at all focal length settings....

 

If you used a Fisheye lens to start with, maybe you'd have to investigate and become skilled using "de-fisheye" software. But it would eliminate a lot of this hand wringing and worrying, and the endless edge sharpness crappola' :)

 

But hey, what do I know? :(

 

dhaas

 

post-244-1177592028_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for your valuable input Dave :-P I use a wideangle lens because I don't want my model's head to be the size of a watermelon :-)

 

Cheers

James

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...If you add a diopter (+2 for a Superdome I would suggest) then adding 10mm of extra extension tube would be a reasonable starting point. . .Perhaps of higher benefit to more underwater photographers will be the inevitably suppressed prices of used MkI lenses!!!

 

I thought one of the benefits of the Superdome was not needing to use diopters with zoom lenses. Can you explain why a +2 plus ext. ring would improve the image vs. simply finding the "optimal" extension ring for the port? :)

 

As for depressing the prices of used MkI lenses, I can attest to that! I've got mine for sale for $850, barely over half what I paid for it! ;)

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A diopter has two functions when used underwater behind a dome port:

 

First, it allows the lens in use to see the virtual image (created by using a concentric dome port underwater) of an underwater subject nominally at infinity (Ok well 10m ish or so is practical!) when the lens is set to infinity. In essence the diopter resets the lens's focus so that when it is set to infinity it is actually focussed on the virtual image of a subject at infinity. The distance of this virtual image of an underwater subject at infinity from the front of the dome is 3 x the radius of the dome (3R). The way the required dopter is calculated is from a simple little formula:

 

P = 1000/4R where P is the diopter required (usually +1, +2, +3, or +4) and R is the radius of the dome being used (in mm)

 

For a Seacam Superdome of 240mm diameter R is 120mm so P = 1000/4x120 = 1000/480 = 2.0833 etc which is near enough to +2. This said, the superdome is of large enough diameter so that the the maximium focus point needed is 3R infront of the dome or 3 x 120mm = 360mm - and this is in front of the dome so at least another 120mm (to the entrance pupil position at the centre of the dome can be added plus the distance from the entrance pupil to the image sensor position, say ~100mm) can be added to this giving around 580mm - so you don't actually have to use a diopter as many lenses will focus close enough for most subject without one, although not using one may limit the closest focus available, which brings me to:

 

Second, diopters to cause some image curvature because they are a simple (or most are) lenses. Fortunately, this curvature is apparently in the reverse direction to that created by the dome so it may have some positive effect in helping to minimise this curvature (although in all honesty its not going to be much and whatever it does do will depend on both the diopter (design) and lens it is used with - most diopters are designed to be optimised with short telephoto lenses rather than wide-angles).

 

The problem you may face is that using a diopter means that you can't shoot splits or anything out of water should you want to do so with the camera still in the housing. I am looking into various possibilities to help resolve image curvature but even if they work, they will only do so in very specific situations. A non-concentric dome might be an answer but I have a suspicion that these would have to be lens specific - can't see this being economic at all!

 

Yes this is all theory, but given the price of good wide-angle lenses and wide zooms, it makes sense to wring the full quality available out of them. Its a bit like earlier today. I shot some landscapes in glorious spring sunlight. As a matter of course I used a sturdy (and far too heavy) tripod, self timer and mirror lock to minimise vibration - is the irrelevant or best practice based on sound theory? Should we apply the same standards to underwater imagery? I don't like fisheyes much either!!!

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James (and Bruce!)

 

I hear you on using a rectilinear lens versus a fisheye to minimize curvature. Always happy to help out LOL......

 

But since you have a full frame sensor dSLR, I don't understand why you just don't shoot your 24mm F1.4 which should be great without having, as Alex calls it, much of a "Tadpole" effect. Bruce, dont you have one of those Canon 24mm F1.4 lenses, too? Just don't get too close to your models, as in your latest shoot, and don't aim extremely up or down....

 

In reading Pauls information, I kind of understand it, but have to confess it also makes my head hurt ;) As in, can anyone really tell in looking at photos where a lot of this is going to make any difference in the original digital capture?

 

Paul and I DO agree on one thing.....I HATE putting diopters on ANY wide angle lens, fixed focal length or zoom. It just cramps my style of being able to shoot above and below at any moment. I don't care about no stinkin' water droplets on the dome above water, either, as that can be cleaned up later on the computer!

 

"And that's all I have to say about that" - Quote by Forrest Gump :)

 

dhaas

 

 

P.S. - Even the Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye, for cropped sensor dSLR cameras only :( isn't as "fishy" when zoomed in. I'm just starting to experiment with this end of the range (See photo taken at 17mm, with very slight curvature.)

 

post-244-1177606211_thumb.jpg

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the discussion gets too technical for me to understand. i think i need some time to digest all the theories behind ;)

 

hopefully Stephen will come up with an optimal setting for this lens soon, so that I can just apply it without any hassle. :)

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First of all, thanks Paul for taking time to explain all that (although, like David, it kinda makes my old synapses overheat trying to understand it! ;) )! That explanation DOES help, and in a situation where I was fairly sure I wouldn't want to do a split over/under, a diopter might be worth the trouble and cost.

 

In most cases, however, I'd probably be more likely to get as much as I could from the lens (i.e., after Stephen Frink has declared a certain ext. ring as being best for it in a Superdome), and if the edges are still soft, just crop them out. That's what I do now, and it's one of the advantages of having all these "extra" pixels on my 1Ds MkII; I can crop the daylights out of a pic and still have 8 or 9 megapixels left. :)

 

David wrote:

> Bruce, dont you have one of those Canon 24mm F1.4 lenses, too? Just don't get too close to your models, as in your latest shoot, and don't aim extremely up or down....<

 

Yes, like James, I do have a 24mm f/1.4 (that's what he and I were "pool testing" in the Bahamas in the photo I attached earlier in this thread), and I actually use it quite a bit. I actually find that in wide angle "situations" (e.g., big animals, plush reefs, etc.), I rotate between 3 lenses: 16-35mm, 15mm FE, and that 24mm. But your suggestion not to get too close to my "models" (which are usually non-human, so don't always cooperate) is not necessarily the most desirable option. In fact, it is contrary to one of the cardinal rules of uw photography (get as close as you possibly can to reduce the amount of water between you and your subject!). In general, I strive to get as close as I possibly can, and then use either a 15mm fisheye or the 16-35mm at the wide end. (I can't believe how many of my shots I look at and say, "Crap! I should have cut the distance between me and the subject in HALF!)

 

OTOH, since consensus seems to be that shooting the 16-35mm at 16mm is where the most "problems" are, and zooming in a little (say to around 24mm) yields better results, a person (especially one named Dave) might make the argument that it makes more sense to just use the 24mm f/1.4 for even those "close" shots. :glare:

 

But that gets back to the primary reason for using a zoom lens in the first place -- the flexibility to shoot a given subject/scene at the best focal length for THAT subject on THAT dive, rather than being forced to shoot it at a specific single focal length of a lens you happen to have on the camera (e.g., 15mm FE, 24mm, etc.) that dive. I like using the 16-35mm lens specifically because it lets me zoom in to 35mm for one shot, and then zoom out to 16mm when a huge beast swims right up to me. That's why I (and presumably so many others) occupy so many brain cells trying to get a lens like this to work as well as it possibly can uw!

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