Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L III - Review / Test
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published November 2016


Just like the rest of the industry, Canon is facing a difficult time at time moment. The camera market is on a sharp downturn and besides the usual competition from Nikon, Sony is emerging as an aggressive player in the professional arena. Thus Canon concluded that the only option to keep or raise at least its market share is by providing more quality. In the ultra-wide segment they just released the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L III to push the boundaries a little further. Unfortunately this new lens comes with a bitter pill - a high price tag of 2400EUR/2200US$. This is a price hike of more than 30% compared to the mk II variant and it's more than double the amount that you would have to pay for the brilliant Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 USM L IS. This will cause headaches among some of the potential buyers. That being said we've similar price increases especially over at Sony.

The build quality of Canon lens is exceptionally high just as you would expect it from a Canon L lens. There's no wobbling whatsoever and the zoom and focus rings operate smoothly. The lens is also designed to survive in harsh conditions with a sealing against dust and moisture. It is quite a brick though - it's not only more than 20% heavier than its predecessor, it's also 1.5cm longer. The outer length of the lens remains constant although the inner lens tube moves a little according to the zoom setting. Needless to say - the front element does not rotate during focusing or zooming operations. A rather small petal-shaped lens hood is also part the package.

In terms of optical goodies Canon incorporated ASC-(Air Sphere Coating) and SWC-(Subwavelength Structure Coating) to the lens elements in order to minimize flare. A fluorine coating on the front element does also help to reduce smears. Two UD elements are supposed to reduce lateral CAs and one ground as well as two GMo (glass molded) aspherical elements shall reduce distortions and improve peripheral sharpness. Well, we'll see whether the lens lives up to these promises.

The lens has a ring-type USM drive based on a front-focusing system resulting in an extremely fast AF speed. The AF performance in live-view mode is also impressive. Typical for ring-type USM lenses full-time manual focusing is always possible in one-shot AF mode. Surprisingly an image stabilizer is not included but at least in theory, this could translate to a slightly higher technical image quality.

SpecificationsCanon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L IICanon EF 16-35mm f/4 USM L ISCanon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L III
Optical Construction16 elements in 12 groups
(3x asph. & 2xUD elements)
16 elements in 12 groups
(3x asph. & 2xUD elements)
16 elements in 11 groups
(3x asph. & 2xUD elements)
Aperture Blades7 (circular)9 (circular)9 (circular)
min. focus distance0.28m
(~1:4.5 @ 35mm)
(~1:4.3 @ 35mm)
(~1:4 @ 35mm)
Filter size82mm (non-rotating)77mm (non-rotating)82mm (non-rotating)
Hoodincluded, petal-shapedincluded, petal-shapedincluded, petal-shaped

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