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Question/issue between the 16–35mm f2.8L ii vs iii

deemo119
Occasional Contributor

Hello!  I’m searching everywhere to find an answer to something I’m noticing on my new EF 16–35mm f2.8L USM iii.  My question is:  Have you found the newer 16-35 iii is slightly darker and has a slightly narrower field of view than the older version ii?  Or is it just my particular lens? 

 

I’m looking for someone who has direct and substantial experience with both the ii and iii versions. Here's more info and context:

 

I’ve shot my 16-35 2.8 ii for many years, mostly at weddings for close-quarters dance floor party shots, but also occasionally for big wedding party creatives & big vista creative shots.  As most people know, it’s reasonably sharp in the middle but has soft spots outside of that; mine in particular has a really soft area on the right side.

 

So hearing that the iii has made substantial sharpness improvements, I purchased a new one.  And I noticed it didn’t quite look/feel the same, so I ran some tests.

 

I mounted a body (5Diii) on a tripod and took various test shots with each lens (without any filters or changing any settings).  In every test-shot set that I took, the new 16-35 iii had a slightly narrower field-of-view at 16mm than my older ii (i.e., you could not see as much around the outside edges of the images, as if it was zoomed in just slightly).  And the iii images were also darker.  [Note, I was also careful in some of the sets to be in manual focus and focused to infinity on both lenses, since changing focus can slightly change the FOV.]  In Lightroom, toggling back and forth between 2 images in each set it’s clear that the field of view is slightly narrower and the histogram is darker on the shots from the new iii.

 

I sent both lenses to the Canon Service Center (CPS member) with my findings and test prints, hoping I had a defective lens that I could have repaired or replaced under warranty.  But I was told that “under inspection it was found that your product performed accordingly.” And “due to the differences in shooting parameters, adjustment can be made in the camera setting to compensate the image exposure” (not sure what adjustments they're referring to?!)

 

So I’m wondering if it’s just my particular lens or if ALL iii’s are slightly darker and narrower FOV than the ii.  And I’m faced with the choice of either: (1) returning the iii to Adorama for a new one, hoping the replacement is “better” but knowing it could just be how all iii’s perform, (2) keeping my iii and living with it, or (3) returning the iii and just going back to using my old ii.  I’ve actually never been bothered by the softness around the edges of the ii for reception/dancing shots, I more notice it for the occasional big vista/wedding party shots.

 

Obviously I like that the iii is sharper.  But it’s also bigger, heavier, and worst of all possibly darker & narrower FOV (either just mine, or all of them).  Since I use this lens so much for reception dancing (close proximity to subjects and in dark environments) it’s crucial that it’s as wide and bright as possible.

 

UPDATE:  I just got the following specs from the Service Center:

Max Magnification(at 35mm):

ii: 0.22x

iii: 0.25x

 

Field of view:

ii: 231 x 358 – 109 x 162mm

iii: 196 x 295 – 96 x 143mm

 

So there are in fact some obvious differences between the ii and iii, with the iii having more magnification and smaller FOV numbers.  Seems obvious but I’m guessing this could explain the field of view difference that I’m seeing, and would possibly indicate, I think, that what I’m seeing in the images is for ALL iii’s, not just mine.  …correct?

 

But would this also affect the issue of the images being slightly darker (for example, would the slightly smaller field of view = less light getting in…??)

20 REPLIES 20

RobertTheFat
Honored Contributor

@ebiggs1 wrote:

The fact is the 16-35mm L II is the weak link in the Canon big 3 of the, f2.8L lens line up. The f4 version is just as sharp or sharper and cheaper. Also, the f2.8L II is pretty good if you don't use it at 22mm or below but who buys a lens not to use all it FL? Sorry Canon just not a fan of the 16-35mm f2.8L II.


I don't have that lens. (I have the f/4 version instead.) But I could swear that when the f/2.8L II first came out, everybody in this forum absolutely raved about it. Are we getting pickier in our old age? Or was the original f/2.8L just that much worse?

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

"... I could swear that when the f/2.8L II first came out, everybody in this forum absolutely raved about it."

 

I am guiltily. Smiley Embarassed When I first got it I was crazy about it.  Then I started living with it. And, it is still great for stuff other than people. For landscapes and such it is fine.  For brick walls it is not the first choice. And that is why it doesn't do people well.  Work around don't shoot to the frame edges.  But why have a 16mm lens if you have to stay above 20mm?

The Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX Lens for Canon is better, at worst as good, and costs less than half as much. I am not a Tokina fan but it is what it is.  I have the Tok for both Canon and Nikon.  It's better than the Nikon 14-24mm AFS f/2.8 G ED, too, at a third of the price! At this time that is the only Tokina I recommend and that advice plus a five dollar bill will get you a Starbucks.

 

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

deemo119
Occasional Contributor

For the things I do, the ii shoots people GREAT!  Again, I use it mostly for wedding reception dance floors (very close quarters and dark), and I get outstanding shots with it.  I also use it occasionally for large-group shots (huge wedding parties, or even just bride & groom big vista/scenery shots), and super small rooms like a bridal party cramed into a tiny hotel room.  Yes, some of the wedding party in a big group shot aren't perfectly in focus in a couple of the spots.  But the lens is small, light, bright, and a complete savior in those above-mentioned situations.

 

People here have gotten a little off-topic with regards to distortion.  Again, my issue and reason for this post is that my new iii is slightly darker and has a slightly smaller field of view as my old ii (with test shots under the EXACT same conditions, focal length, focus length, etc.).  And I'm still wondering if other people have noticed their iii is darker and/or smaller FOV than their ii.  (And/or maybe I have a iii that's 'off' a little bit?) 

 

And then aside from wondering if I have a sub-par iii, I'm ultimately left with the decision if it's worth the extra sharpness of the iii for the down-sides (darker, smaller FOV, larger & heavier lens than the ii).

kvbarkley
Honored Contributor

I think you are right about it being darker than the II. Dpreview measures the T-Stop value:

"The lens' F-number is a theoretical value, and the actual light transmission value, known as the T-stop, is always fractionally lower due to light losses within the lens. Lenses with more elements, like a complex zoom, tend to be slightly more effected. The measured T-stop for this lens is F3.1 which means the lens is letting through a bit less light than the F2.8 rating suggests."

 

They don't have a comparable value for the II version for a direct comparison.

"People here have gotten a little off-topic with regards to distortion"

 

Perhaps, that is just the way a discission goes some times. But my contention is and what I have been trying to say is, yes, there is a problem with the II and I suspect there is also one with the III. Maybe it is darker and not as wide as the printing on the lens sugests, I don't know.  The solution for me is the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX Lens.  Thus I will not be in the market for the III.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

kvbarkley
Honored Contributor

That is why Cinema lenses are often rated in T-Stops. They are an absolute measurement of the light attenuation of the lens, as opposed to aperture, which is relative.

Waddizzle
VIP

I would not expect to get near identical results from two different lens models.  If you want near identical results, Lightroom allows you to apply a preset during Imports.  

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."

ebiggs1
Forum Elite

"... it’s reasonably sharp in the middle but has soft spots outside of that; mine in particular has a really soft area on the right side."

 

I concur, mine has is very soft on the left side.  So much so I bought the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX Lens for Canon and really stopped using the Canon. The Tok is totally fantastic.  I bought the Canon just because I buy Canon first. But I have never really liked it. I buy Canon expecting top notch performance and that didn't happen this time.  I can't answer your basic question, however, since I don't have the 3rd version and have no intention buying one.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

RobertTheFat
Honored Contributor

@ebiggs1 wrote:

"... it’s reasonably sharp in the middle but has soft spots outside of that; mine in particular has a really soft area on the right side."

 

I concur, mine has is very soft on the left side.  So much so I bought the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX Lens for Canon and really stopped using the Canon. The Tok is totally fantastic.  I bought the Canon just because I buy Canon first. But I have never really liked it. I buy Canon expecting top notch performance and that didn't happen this time.  I can't answer your basic question, however, since I don't have the 3rd version and have no intention buying one.


I can understand a lens being soft around the edges. But if it happens on only one side, that sounds like a lens element out of alignment, doesn't it?

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

"...that sounds like a lens element out of alignment, doesn't it?"

 

Could very well be Robert.  I must confess I have not done any real testing to see what might be the issue. It is just something I keep noticing from it. I will do so and should do so before condemning the lens. However, I have read and have heard that some others have complained about this issue also.

In my defence a friend of mine came over and said I have to try his Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX Lens for Canon.  I did and I bought one the next day.  You may know I am not a fan of Tokina at all. Most of their lenses are not worth much but this particular lens is fantastic. So, I just use it instead.

Now add to the fact 90% of the work I do anymore is handled by the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens. Two lenses that have no peers. If I need more reach I bring along the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Lens. More wide, I grab the Tok.

 

Most Canon lenses you take out of the box, slap it on the camera and say, "Whoa this is nice."  That didn't happen with the 16-35mm f2.8L

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!