Being a landscape and nature photographer for so many years, I fell in love with wide-angle lenses. I owned Canon's 17-40mm f/4L for a number of years, but I didn't bite for the 16-35mm f/2.8L lens because it was nearly twice as expensive and you are gained an extra stop of light. Now, Canon released a 16-35mm f/4L IS last year and I knew I had to rent it right away.
When the lens arrived, it just happened to be sunflower season and I put it to use right away. I didn't get a chance to fully experiment with the lens since I had it for a short amount of time but I do feel like I got to a chance to test it out and see what my initial thoughts were about the lens. I have written about sunflower season here in Colorado, and this lens definitely helped me capture the massive sunflower fields just east of Denver last August.
My initial thoughts about this lens were swayed by the fact that I already love wide-angle lenses, but I will try to remain as objective as I can. Also, I used this lenses three times over the course of 6 days.
First I will mention what I love about this lens. I love the focal range, while only being 1mm wide than the 17-40mm lens I previously owned, this lens felt like it was significantly wider. The built quality is very good, this lens like all over "L" series lenses is made with quality in mind. The plastic feels rugged and like it will be able to withstand the wear and tear that comes with being a photographer. The color and contrast were very good as well, I felt like the contrast was much better than the 17-40mm f/4L. It's lightweight, similar to the 17mm lens which I really liked because how much I go hiking with my full camera setup and being able to shave off weight is a nice treat.
What I didn't like is hard because this lens is very solid, but there were a few things that were left to be desired. Call me old-fashioned but I liked it better when lenses were primarily constructed of magnesium. The plastic, while fine, won't feel as durable as magnesium (even though I'm sure it is). While I do like the price, the 17-40mm f/4L has nearly the same specs but is 1mm less wide. the 17mm is about $300 less than this lens, but this lens is also about $300 less expensive than the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L.
You'll notice that I'm going on about charts and how well this lens tests in the lab, while I feel like that data is useful I'm more interested in really using this product and seeing if it is a quality lens. I don't have a lot of complaints, and most of there are a matter of opinion or preference. Most "L" series lens are extremely high-quality lenses and it is really hard to go wrong when picking out an "L" series lens that suits your needs.
For additional reading about this lens, please visit Ken Rockwell's site for his excellent write up with more detailed technical information.
Have you used this lens? What were your experiences? Did you like it overall, what areas did the lens not performing as you would have thought it would?