Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM Underwater

First impressions with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
Text and photos by: Todd Winner

Tuna Crab

Tuna Crab, 35mm, 1/200 sec at f/7.1, ISO 200

I’ve had the opportunity to try a few dives with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS and I am thrilled with the results. As much as I love shooting fisheye lenses for wide angle such as the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4.0L, it is nice to change up the look with a rectilinear lens.

Sea Lion

Sea Lion, 16mm, 1/200 sec at f/10, ISO 1250

The 16-35mm focal length on a full frame camera is extremely versatile underwater. At the 16mm end you can capture large seascapes and at the 35mm end, the close focusing distance of only 11” allows you to fill the frame with sea stars and other small subjects.


Cormorant, 35mm, 1/200 sec at f/7.1, ISO 640

This lens is tack sharp! I do notice a slight improvement over my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II. So if you don’t need to shoot wide open at f/2.8, getting the f/4.0 version is an easy decision. It also retails for $500.00 less than the f/2.8. The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L is about the same length as the f/2.8 but it uses a much more common filter size of 77mm compared to the f/2.8 82mm filter size. This enables me to share filters for topside photography with some of my other favorite lenses like the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS, EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS and the new EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II.

Harbor Seal

Harbor Seal, 16mm, 1/125 sec at f/8.0, ISO 640

The EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS lens also features Canon’s optical image stabilizer making it an excellent lens for video and minimizing the appearance of camera shake by up four stops!


Todd WinnerTodd Winner is a contributor, instructor, and trip leader for Samy’s Underwater Photo & Video and has over 20 years of experience in underwater still and broadcast video. To see more of Todd’s work please go to For the latest information on workshops and trips, sign up for our newsletter.



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