EF 11-24mm L f/4 vs. 16-35mm f/4 L IS vs. 16-35mm f/2.8 L III

Dec 3, 2011
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jonrista.com
#1
I'm in the market for a replacement wide angle landscape lens for the 16-35mm f/2.8 L II I currently have. I generally like the focal range, although I don't terribly often seem to use beyond 24mm. The Mark II version of this lens has pretty poor corner performance, and doesn't even really have the best center performance either (which always bugged me, being an L series lens.)

Anyway, the primary use case would be landscapes, however there may also be perspective-oriented stuff as well, utilizing the ultra wide angles to get interesting shots of objects (I like photographing very old rusty farm equipment that is often on display around rural America). This will mostly be used on full frame cameras, and not necessarily just Canon bodies. There may be some astrophotography, however I also have Samyang/Rokinon manual lenses that also fill that role (and to date, I've never seen any other brand that delivers the same kind of corner performance as a Samyang lens...mind blowingly good, small, round, coma-free corner stars with those lenses.) Getting into blue hour photography is also something on my list, which is one of the reasons the f/2.8 lens is on the list.

I am curious to know what other people think about these three lenses. How is the corner performance in particular? Does anyone think 11mm is necessary for wide angle landscapes on FF cameras? One thing in particular is whether any kind of polarization filter use is possible with the 11-24mm. I think it's biggest drawback may be that front element... I had been considering one of the very wide Sigma lenses, however it seems their 12-24mm also has a bulbous front element, and I am not sure there is enough of an IQ improvement over Canon L to justify a different brand.
 

neuroanatomist

Spends too much time on this forum
Jul 21, 2010
23,369
408
#2
Some thoughts, although I’ll state up front that I haven’t used the 16-35/2.8 III (and although I had the MkII, the corner performance left much to be desired).

Have you considered adding the TS-E 17mm f/4L to the list? Tilt can be quite useful for landscapes.

I’m quite pleased with the corner performance of the 16-35/4L, but the 11-24L is better at the wide end, and it’s a whole lot wider. Not sure you need 11mm for landscapes, I do find it useful for architecture in Europe where the buildings are large and the space between them is small.

Regarding blue hour shooting, I do quite a bit of that (architecture, mainly...thus my having the TS-E 17 and 24) – what do you see as the need for f/2.8? I’m typically on a tripod and using f/8 - f/11 (but then, buildings don’t move so maybe you’re after a faster shutter speed?).

For the filtering, it’s possible but not cheap. WonderPana makes a holder and filters that I use on my TS-E 17L, those are 145mm ‘salad plate’ filters, and I have a 10-stop ND and a CPL in that size. They also make one for the 11-24L, which uses 186mm ‘dinner plate’ filters...I haven’t gone down that road yet.
 
Apr 12, 2016
797
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ethanzentz.com
#3
WonderPana makes a holder and filters that I use on my TS-E 17L, those are 145mm ‘salad plate’ filters, and I have a 10-stop ND and a CPL in that size. They also make one for the 11-24L, which uses 186mm ‘dinner plate’ filters...I haven’t gone down that road yet.
You must be on a salad diet, good for you ;)

I can concur that the 16-35 f4 is a great lens and is sharp. The IS really works well, down to 1/4s for me. And it is light weight. Sorry I cannot comment on the others.
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
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#4
Although the lenses seem to be in competition with each other in truth they are not. If you rarely go below 24 or you never feel constricted width wise with your current 16-35 then forget the 11-24, it is a behemoth of a lens that is specialized and unforgiving in use, it is also, for your uses a non optimal f4.

That leaves the choice between the 16-35 f4 IS and the 16-35 f2.8 III, if you need the f2.8 and can justify the price then the f2.8 will give you the aperture the f4 can't. If you can't justify the price the f4 is a no compromise ultra wide angle that really is a very high quality lens, vastly better than previous generation Canon ultra wides, even the 2.8's. Indeed my 16-35 f4IS was every bit as sharp at the same focal lengths as my three times more expensive 11-24 f4.

P.S. 11mm is absolutely not needed for wide angle landscapes, indeed it rarely gives the sense of there less extreme lenses do. It covers such a wide fov unless things are very large in the scene they are very small in the resultant image.
 

Kit.

EOS Rebel SL2
Apr 25, 2011
507
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#5
P.S. 11mm is absolutely not needed for wide angle landscapes, indeed it rarely gives the sense of there less extreme lenses do. It covers such a wide fov unless things are very large in the scene they are very small in the resultant image.
I quite often need to shift my 17 TS-E to fit mountain landscapes. Which means that 16mm unshifted will probably be not wide enough.
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
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#6
I quite often need to shift my 17 TS-E to fit mountain landscapes. Which means that 16mm unshifted will probably be not wide enough.
There will always be one or two outliers, I own the 17mm TSE too and there is no doubt that it is the lens that gives the best output at that focal length range for landscapes, primarily because of the ability to tilt the plane of focus and get absolute focus through the image irrespective of aperture. Also I regularly do use 11mm, but again, I believe we are outliers and far from the norm. As the OP stated they rarely go beyond 24mm the need to go wider than 16 seems to have already been dismissed.
 

RGF

How you relate to the issue, is the issue.
Jul 13, 2012
2,778
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#7
I have the 16-35 F2.8 iii and am quite pleased with it though if I had to do it again I would go with the F4 version. F2.8 iii requires 82mm filters which are another size and cost extra.

For night skies I use the Canon 14 F2.8 (and just got have not test the zeiss 15mm F2.8 - half price at B&H)
 
Dec 3, 2011
5,341
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jonrista.com
#8
Thanks for the responses, guys.

I have ruled out the 11-24mm due to the front element. While I have considered the 17mm TS-E, it has the same problem, not to mention it is extremely pricey for a single focal length. I guess I like the focal range flexibility of the zooms. I usually use 16mm, 20mm and 24mm, and use 35mm less often, but it does seem like the 11-24 is quite heavy. For that matter, the 16-35mm f/2.8 L III is also apparently fairly heavy.

One of the reasons the f/2.8 L III was on the list was its coatings. It has the latest air sphere coating, which combined with SWC on internal elements, seems like it would basically eliminate reflections. Does anyone know how the 16-35mm f/4 compares to the 16-35mm f/2.8 III in this context?

I also hadn't checked the price of the 16-35mm f/4 L IS...it's currently an extremely attractive $999 on B&H. That puts it at the front of the pack now, but I'd like to know more about the real-world benefits of the AR coatings on the f/2.8 L III.
 
Dec 3, 2011
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jonrista.com
#9
Does anyone have any images or know of any images comparing the IQ of the 16-35mm f/2.8 L III and 16-35mm f/4 L IS? I've narrowed it down to these two. The latter currently has the edge, pretty significant price difference, but I want the sharpest results I can get. Most of the time, this will be on a tripod...so not sure that IS will be all that useful.
 
Dec 3, 2011
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jonrista.com
#11
Sorry, already been there. Wasn't clear enough...I'm looking for real-world examples. I know not too many people have both, but I am finding search engines less than helpful in this particular comparison. Probably because the terms are so similar, and search engines don't seem to properly handle quoted strings anymore these days (seems they just tokenize the whole search string and ignore the quotes).
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,147
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#12
Sorry, already been there. Wasn't clear enough...I'm looking for real-world examples. I know not too many people have both, but I am finding search engines less than helpful in this particular comparison. Probably because the terms are so similar, and search engines don't seem to properly handle quoted strings anymore these days (seems they just tokenize the whole search string and ignore the quotes).
The corners of the f4 are very good at f4, the corners of the f2.8 MkIII are better at f2.8 than the f4 at f4. For demanding subject the f2.8 IQ is quantifiably 'better'.

However, the TSE lenses are the pinnacle at the focal lengths and really do give unique and challenging possibilities, for the demanding user and experienced image creator of "landscapes, however there may also be perspective-oriented stuff as well, utilizing the ultra wide angles to get interesting shots of objects (I like photographing very old rusty farm equipment that is often on display around rural America)." the TS-E's would be my choice. The TS-E17 with a 1.4TC will give you more creativity than any zoom ever will, you say you rarely go below 24mm, if it were me I'd rent the TS-E 24mm MkII and see what it can do for your creative juices.

Of course I don't know you or your photography, however I do know you chase the very best you can get and enjoy learning the techniques of getting above average images in whatever discipline you pursue, that all points to the results you can only get from TS-E's.
 
Dec 3, 2011
5,341
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jonrista.com
#13
Thanks for the info. Some health issues and costs have sidelined my plans...or at least delayed them. I'll definitely rend the TS-E 24mm II though and see how it is. I definitely understand the value of a tilt/shift lens, especially for landscapes....so it might be the right lens.