[message type=”info”]….this thing isn’t just a “settle for lens” for those who can’t afford the 2.8, but a real contender.[/message]

Just invested in the new canon 16-35 F4 – part of the new range of canon F4 L lenses, as opposed to the F2.8 L range, with new generation Image Stabilisation.

These are smaller, lighter and cheaper than their f2.8 cousins – so why did I end up with this over the f2.8?

Here’s the through process behind it…

1 – I needed to service my current ultra wide lens anyway

My trusty 17-40 F4L, which has taken pretty much every architecture and landscape shot in my portfolio, got a chip on the front element (don’t ask….) and is full of dust after 10 years of hard work.

A service and new lens element was going to be a few hundred quid.

Was it time to breathe life into the old trusty lens – or get a new, faster focussing, IS lens?

The status quo was not an option – service or new lens? The next 5 points explain what happened.

2 – Unconvinced by the F2.8 Version

There are 2 versions of the 16-35 F2.8, mark 1 and 2. I’ve heard “mixed” opinions on them from owners – people I know.

They’re not cheap, about £1200-£1500 so you’d want to hear wonderful things, rather than doubts. Also, annoyingly, the filter ring is 82mm whereas every lens I have was 77mm, which means a new polariser and filter adaptor ring for my grad filters.

3 – Superb reviews

Pretty much everything I’ve read about this lens is positive – not that I read much, but a quick look over Amazon and a few magazine articles told me that this thing was a special lens.

4 – Price

So you can get them for roughly 1/2 the price of the F2.8 – under £700 if you shop around. Bit of a bargain – if all of the plaudits are true.

5 – Recommendation from a Pro Landscape Photographer

The thing which triggered my interest was a chat with Richard Spurdens on a shoot in Wales. His friend is a professional landscape photographer and runs workshops all over the world. These guys are sticklers for quality – his prints are huge and lens quality issues will hugely stand out.

Well he’d told Richard that this new Canon F4 lens was the best ultra-wide-zoom canon have ever done. There’s nothing like a personal recommendation off someone you respect – so that really got me thinking… this thing isn’t just a “settle for lens” for those who can’t afford the 2.8, but a real contender.

6 – How often do I use ultra wide lenses “wide open”?

In other words, do I really use the 17-40 at F4 very much, and would having that extra stop (f2.8) be an advantage?

Well “not very often” and “probably not” are the answers respectively.

For landscapes and architecture, I’d usually be at F8-16 shooting on a tripod. I do occasionally use it hand-held in the dark – where an extra stop would be handy – but this has an image stabiliser, which helps keep hand held images sharp at slow shutter speeds. So the f2.8 thing is down to depth of field.

How often do I crave for blurry backgrounds on my 17mm shots ?

Again, not very often at all – I’ve got a 20mm and 28mm F1.8 prime for that, so in the end, I decided that F2.8 wasn’t needed in this lens. (though I’d never be without a 70-200 F2.8, that’s a very different beast).


So there you go – I guess the point of this is to explain how I came to the decision, starting with a definite “need” for a wide lens solution.

Example Canon 16 35 F4L Photos