Facebook Pixel A Visual tour of Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

A Visual tour of Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

In this post Dave Powell gives a visual tour of Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM.

Useful technical information: filter diameter: 82mm
minimum focusing distance: .28m/.09 ft.
minimum aperture: f/22
Cost: ~$1,500USD (currently close to $1400USD at Amazon)

This is by far one of my favorite lenses.  I find when I am shooting photos of my son I tend to use this lens more often than any other lens.  I love this lens for a couple of reasons; with focusing distance of less than 1 foot you can get right in with your subject and engage them into the picture, with such a wide angle you are able to open up to 16mm allowing you to zone focus and snap some great candid shots.  

When I am waiting to cross the street when out for a walk with my son, I like to to just hold the camera down at his level and snap off a few shots.  If I was shooting with a different lens, I would need to back up to get this shot and probably would have missed it.


Using an Ultra Wide allows you to get in close.  My son Kai loves cars and loves driving them.    I want to capture the experience; the steering wheel, him in the driver’s seat, the joy that comes across his face as he steers the car.   A narrower lens wouldn’t have allowed me to capture the entire moment and convey the complete story.


He also loves shopping for cars and testing driving them.   A wide angle lens is required if I want to be able to capture Kai as he tries out his future Lamborghini Gallardo and inspects the tires on his Mercedes Mclaren SLR.




The same holds true if you are living and a city and want to capture the experience of walking up steep narrow steps such as these in Golden Gai or coming upon an all night Karaoke Bar in Shinjuku, Tokyo Japan.   You need to get into the scene so you can capture what it is like to be there.   In there.  Not as a outsider looking in but as a participant.   If you were using a narrower focal length such as 50mm or 85mm you would be your too far into the scene to capture the experience, if you stood back it would put you too far out of the scene to capture the feeling of actually being in it, participating.



I love to try to take photos from my son’s perspective and try to enter ‘his world’.    A wide angle lens is a great way to do this as you can see when we were mailing to Santa, during our Sunday shopping or out on the town.  This lens has become a stable when we go out together.





If you are trying to capture a crowd, this is the perfect lens as well.   You can see another lens would not have been able to capture the atmosphere of the closing of a house building with Tabitha in Cambodia.


This is also a great lens for photographing sports up close.   I was trying to shoot this skateboarder in Komazawa Park in Tokyo and it would have been pretty dangerous getting under him and trying to frame and focus a shot.   Opening my zoom all the way to 16mm and using zone focusing I was able to capture a great silhouette shot safely.


I also think it is great for taking candid portraits.    It allows you to really fill the frame in an interesting way.    I won’t use this if I was creating ‘official’ portraits for someone as it often distorts features, but it can make some great people photos.



Lastly these lenses are perfect for landscape photography as you can see from these landscape shots in Yoyogi and Shinjuku Parks in Tokyo.  



This lens accounts for about 25% of all of my photographs while my 24-70mm accounts for a staggering 50%.  

I was actually surprised to find out that I shoot 75% of my photographs with only 2 lenses considering I own 8.    

The good thing about knowing this is I always know which lenses to pack but it also tells me that I need to spend a little more time with my other lenses to learn to be creative with them as well.    Have a look at the metadata in the photos in your catalog to get a feel for which lenses you are using.  

If you are using Abobe Lightroom, you can simply go to library – find, or click Command F on a Mac and select metadata and look under lenses.  Here you can get a count of how many photos were shot with each lens.  Your own results might surprise you.   If your results don’t have you shooting a 16-35 then I suggest you go and pick one up, you’ll be glad you did.

Get a price on this lens at Amazon.

Dave Powell is a photographer based in Tokyo, Japan.   He writes Shoot Tokyo photography blog.   You can see more of his work at www.shoottokyo.com or follow him on Twitter (shoottokyo)

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