Canon 16-35 and 17-40 Side by Side Comparison
I have been using the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM for several years. I liked this lens a lot, especially its color and contrast. Unfortunately, I do not use flash and even for hand hold nature shots I frequently use polarizer and therefore I prefer faster lenses. As a result, the 17-40 usually stayed at home. I recently got Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM and kept them both for few weeks to compare.
Some data from the Canon web site:
|Lens||EF 17-40mm f/4L USM||Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM|
|Lens Construction||12 elements in 9 groups||16 elements in 12 groups|
|Diagonal Angle of View||104° – 57° 30′||108°10′-63°|
|Closest Focusing Distance||0.28m / 0.9 ft.||0.92 ft./0.28m|
|Filter Size||77mm||82mm, P=0.75mm/1 filter|
|Max. Diameter x Length, Weight||3.3″ x 3.8″, 1.1 lb. / 83.5 x 96.8mm, 500g||3.5 in. x 4.4 in./88.5mm x 111.6mm, 640g|
I compared both lenses at on 35, 24 and 17mm at f/4, the widest opening of the 17-40 and f/8, which should be close to optimal on both lenses. I also looked at performance of the 16-35 at f/2.8 and briefly compared both lenses to the EF 35/1.4L. I shot everything in raw on Canon 5D and processed in Adobe Camera Raw with sharpening turned off.
Color and Contrast
Sharpness – Pixel Peeping at 100%
|17mm||The performance of both lenses is about the same||16-35 is significantly better|
|24mm||16-35 is slightly better||16-35 is slightly better|
|35mm||16-35 is significantly better. The difference disappears at about f/8||The performance of both lenses is about the same|
Looking at the center at 100% magnification in Photoshop, the 16-35 performs better. The difference is most significant at 35mm, still visible at 24mm and almost non-existent at 17mm. The 16-35 performed almost as well as EF 35/1.4 at equal apertures.
Sharpness – Prints
Prints – this is where the rubber meets the road. With naked eye and 10″x15″ prints, the difference is only clearly visible at 35mm with f/4. At other f-stops and focal lengths the difference is negligible.
Click on the following image to see full size image taken with the 16-35 @ f/5.6 and 26mm. Warning – very large file.