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16-35 f/2.8II vs 17-40 f/4

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I've been using a 17-40 f/4 for commercial work since it was first released in 2003. At the time it absolutely creamed the unloved original 16-35 f/2.8 from 2001, especially when hooked up to the 1Ds from around the same period.

It's been good but frankly the 17-40 isn't satisfying me the way it used to. I'd like to hear from photographers who have had both the 17-40 f/4L and the 16-35 f/2.8L II.

The newer lens is going to be a clear winner at f/4 but how close are they in reality when shooting at f/8 and f/11?
My bodies are FF (soon to be 1DX) and 1D4.

Paul Wright

In the center at narrow apertures, not much difference.  In the corners, the 17-40 is still a bit soft even when stopped down, while the 16-35 II is sharp there. 

The downside to the 16-35 II is the 82mm filter thread, but hey, at least it matches the new 24-70!

Few days ago, I was checking the reviews for TS-e 17mm and saw a few image comparisons of the lens with 16-35mm f/2.8 II and 17-40mm f/4. Of the latter two, 16-35 mkII seems considerably sharper there in many apertures...

edit: sorry the comparison I was referring to was under TS-E 24mm - Comparison is available on the above link too though. Naturally @ 17mm and 24 mm respectively...

16-35's flare is way worse than 17-40's

Take it from me.  I've been shooting Canon DSLRs since 2006 and have owned two 16-35 2.8 IIs, and probably half a dozen 17-40Ls over time shot on full frame 5D mark I and Mark II bodies as well as Rebels and a 40D.

The 17-40L and 16-35LII are optically Canon's best ultra-wide zooms.  They both perform equally as far as sharpness goes and both look identical stopped down.  (the photo on the front page of my site was shot with the 17-40 and 5D2 and even at 1900 px wide, that image is super sharp corner to corner.  Shot at F/22 too!

The 16-35 Mark II  shines obviously in low light and wide open is SUPER SUPER sharp in the center (excellent for casual/fun portraits) it's just a JOY to use in ALL situations whereas the 17-40L is a joy to use in SOME situations.  the 17-40L is softish wide open especially in the corners.  the 16-35LII shows excellent center sharpness wide open and good in the corners. 

Is it worth the extra 7-800 bucks?  YES YES YES.  I am so happy with my 16-35L II and it's going to stay with me likely forever.


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