New Canon Wide-Angle Zoom Lenses: 16-35mm f/4L IS & 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM

Posted by on May 16, 2014

New Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS & 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Wide-Angle Zoom Lenses

A couple of new Canon wide-angle zoom lenses were announced this week: a new 16-35mm f/4L for full-frame DSLR users; and an EF-S 10-18mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM zoom for APS-C sensor DSLRs. The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM zoom is a pretty straightforward lens. Compared to the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II, the new 16-35mm f/4L IS is a bit smaller, more affordable, and adds optical image stabilization for up to four stops of camera shake compensation. The new EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM zoom (comparable to a 16-28mm in the 35mm / full-frame format) deserves a little more explanation because of its STM motor, which I think most photographers don’t understand.

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Wide-Angle Zoom Lens

So what’s so special about Canon’s new EF-S 10-18mm STM zoom lens? The STM in the name stands for “Stepping Motor,” a focusing motor optimized for use with DSLRs that offer Canon’s EOS Movie Servo AF continuous auto focus. The STM lenses deliver silent, quick and accurate continuous auto focus in movie mode with cameras that have the EOS Movie Servo AF feature. I’ve been very impressed with the EOS Movie Servo AF and STM lens performance. I’ve been using Canon’s 18-135mm STM lens with a T4i and EOS 70D for about a year now and it really does work great. I can record video of high speed subjects like mountain bikers coming right at me and the auto focus usually keeps right up. There are very few DSLRs that can deliver that kind of auto focus performance in movie mode.

Right now, the only cameras that can take advantage of the STM motor are the EOS Rebel T4i / 650D, T5i / 700D, SL1 / 100D, the EOS 70D, and the EOS C100 professional Digital Video camera. Note that those cameras all have APS-C sensors. So far all of Canon’s STM lenses use the EF-S mount, which has a smaller image circle and is only compatible with APS-C sensor DSLRs. This begs the question – when is Canon going to make a professional level full-frame camera with EOS Movie Servo AF? And when will they start coming out with full-frame L lenses with the STM motor? I’m sure there are video pros out there who would like to have useable continuous auto focus in their video tool box, and I’m sure Canon is working on something. The question is, when will it come to market? My guess is we’ll see something before the year is through.

Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS Wide-Angle Zoom Lens

Although I think the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM is the more interesting lens because of what it can do with Canon’s EOS Movie Servo AF, the new 16-35mm f/4L IS is zoom is definitely exciting news for full-frame camera owners who need a super-wide lens. It’s smaller and lighter than the f/2.8 lens, but not by much – probably because of the image stabilization system. The 16-35mm f/4L IS has the same length as its f/2.8 sibling and it’s less than a quarter of an inch smaller in diameter and just under an ounce lighter (25g). So what’s the big deal, you ask? Easy – it’s way more affordable and it has Canon’s excellent optical image stabilization. The new 16-35mm’s IS offers up to four stops of camera shake compensation. For event photographers and anyone else who shoot handheld in low light, the image stabilization should be more useful than the one extra stop of light the considerably more expensive f/2.8 lens offers. It will also help smooth out handheld video. The new 16-35mm f/4L IS will also sell for $500 less than the 16-35mm f/2.8L II. That’s 500 very good reasons to be excited about the new lens.

Both of the new Canon wide-angle lenses are scheduled to be in stores next month (June, 2014). The suggested retail price for the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS is US $1,199.00. The EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM zoom will sell for $299.99. Since I’ve been shooting a lot of video lately, I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the 10-18mm STM lens. I may do a hands-on report about that lens very soon.

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