The EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM is popular with landscape photographers and Canon users who desire an ultra wide-angle zoom with a constant wide aperture for shooting in low-light. Canon’s L-series lenses are built to an incredibly high standard and there’s no exception here. Weather seals prevent moisture reaching the internals and an ultrasonic motor sees it focus in a fast, smooth and silent manner. Corner sharpness at the widest point in the zoom range is improved by stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 and chromatic aberrations aren’t totally absent. If it’s the finest performance at this focal length you’re after and you don’t mind carrying a lens that’s 150g heavier, the optically superior Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM would be our first choice.
Canon users looking for a robustly made, weather sealed wide-angle zoom in EF-mount that’s smaller and lighter than the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM will find their ideal partner in this lens. It’s not as well suited to shooting in challenging low-light situations with its slower maximum aperture, but presents significant advantages of its own, including 4-stop optical image stabilisation to compensate for handshake and Super Spectra coatings that enhance contrast and light transmission under harsh lighting conditions. Sharpness is outstanding and it handles chromatic aberrations admirably. It’s right up there as one of best performing wide-angle zooms Canon has ever made in EF-mount.
The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Art is a fascinating lens and one that’s designed for cameras that employ an APS-C size sensor. With a constant aperture of f/1.8 and focal range that’s equivalent to 27-52.5mm, it lets you do what very few zooms allow, which is to shoot at a fast maximum aperture across a practical focal length range without having to switch between multiple prime lenses. It’s constructed to Sigma’s robust standards, however it’s not weather-sealed. It’s also fairly heavy (810g) for its size and balances best with APS-C cameras that have a large handgrip. It’s puts in an exceptional optical performance and produces highly attractive images at f/1.8.
Versatile, well constructed and reliable with a good optical performance is exactly what one should look for when choosing a high-quality, go-anywhere standard zoom. This is a fine example of such and lives on despite being substituted by a Mark II version. Not only is it lighter, it focuses just as fast as its successor and returns near-identical centre sharpness despite being slightly softer towards the edge. Chromatic aberrations and distortion aren’t as well controlled though and the clicking of diaphragm blades as the aperture is adjusted makes it better suited to stills than video. Nevertheless, it’s a lens with excellent optics and a solid L-series build quality that has a proven capability to withstand professional use.
The EF 24-105mm f4L IS II USM is the finest full-frame standard zoom Canon has made covering this extensive focal range. Ideal for times when you’d like one lens to do it all, it improves on its predecessor by being sharper in the corners and comes equipped with a more effective optical image stabiliser that provides 4 stops of correction. Those who shoot video will appreciate its electronic aperture diaphragm system that ensures smooth aperture adjustment and it accepts filters and adapters via a common 77mm thread. Canon’s EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is sharper, however it’s not optically stabilised and doesn’t provide the same reach at the long end.