I’ve been using this lens for over a year now for a huge variety of jobs; architecture, portraits, events, reportage, Sussex weddings, interiors, studio portraits and think I have a fairly good feel for its abilities and qualities.
Initially I was looking at the 17-35 f 2.8, which is a lovely solid professional lens. Then I did a side-by-side comparison in my local shop in Brighton with the 16-35 and unfortunately the 17-35 is just too soft at the edges compared to the ultra sharp 16-35.
Okay, so you lose a stop but you gain VR (which works brilliantly) and amazingly the wide end of 16mm does give you a noticeable wider view than the 17mm (duh, was that obvious to everyone but me?). It also is dust and moisture sealed, and has really nice rubber grips.
I find the focus to be as fast as an Alligator’s jaws when presented with a roast Turkey and all the trimmings. And silent. And sharp; pretty much from edge to edge, especially if you stop down to f5.6 or smaller. Although the centre is sharp from f4 onwards.
But not everything is Peter-Perfect with the lens. The body seems to be made of a pro-quality polycarbonate, which will probably still be good when the next lot of dinosaurs roam the Earth but it does feel kinda lightweight (good for weight, not so good for that feeling of heft-in-the-hand), Also there is dreadful barrel distortion at 16mm although this is easily fixed in Lightroom with a click of a button.
As a professional do I like this lens? Absolutely! I pretty much always chuck it in my bag and quite often use it. I love the fact that 16mm is so damn wiiiiiide, and that I can hand-hold it easily at 1/8 sec with VR. The 35mm end is useful for so many things – I shot an entire portrait event two weeks ago with this lens and was really impressed with the results. Actually, it has taken over from the 24-70 f2.8 as the lens I use for events when I have the 70-200 VR2 on my other body.
It’s not cheap, but then it is totally a professional lens with just a slight hint of its prosumer origins.
Here is a shot I took for a Sky One production from a crane 60 metres above London and cropped to form a pano. 16mm f6.7