Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II vs Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM

A Sony and Canon wide angle zoom lens on a pink background
(Image credit: Canon, Sony, Future)

Wide-angle zoom lenses make up one-third of the 'Holy Trinity' lens lineup and prove endlessly useful for several purposes, including landscapes, architecture and astrophotography. Often, a standard 24-70mm zoom lens isn't quite wide enough to shoot a particular scene, so having a wide-angle lens in your kit bag lets you fill the gap below 24mm. 

Wide-angle lenses are favored in astrophotography because they capture a wider portion of the sky and let more light in than standard and telephoto lenses typically do (which, when you're shooting in the dark, is very important). On the whole, prime lenses are considered the best lenses for astrophotography due to their wider apertures, but you can quite easily use one of the best zoom lenses at f/2.8 to get some fantastic astro shots. However, the advantage of using a zoom lens over a prime lens is the versatility of changing the focal length to shoot different styles.

The Sony vs Canon debate is ongoing, and in the end, it often comes down to personal preference. Still, we will be looking at the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II and the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM, comparing their specs and how we found their performance when we tested them both. If you've already bought into either system, then the choice will be an easy one, but for any users looking to invest in their first full-frame camera and lens system or thinking about switching from another brand, keep reading to see how these two lenses compare against one another.


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Header Cell - Column 0 Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM IICanon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM
Date first releasedSeptember 2023August 2019
RRP on release$2299.99$2299.99
TypeFull frame wide angle zoomFull frame wide angle zoom
Focal Length16-35mm15-35mm
ApertureConstant f/2.8Constant f/2.8
Lens mountSony ECanon RF
Image stabilizationNone5 stops standard, up to 8 stops with a compatible Canon RF camera body
Aperture ringYesNo
Minimum focusing distance0.73 ft / 0.22 m0.92 ft / 0.28m
Maximum magnification0.32x0.21x
Aperture blades119
Filter thread82mm82mm
Weather sealedYesYes
Weight 1 lb 3 oz / 547g1.85 lbs / 840g
Dimensions3.45 x 4.39-inches / 87.8 x 111.5mm3.48 x 5.25-inches / 88 x 133.4mm


  • They were the same price on release, but the Canon is slightly cheaper due to its age.
  • Both lenses have a constant f/2.8 aperture.
  • Both lenses have an 82mm filter thread.
  • Both lenses are weather-sealed.


  • The Canon is a massive four years older than the Sony.
  • The Sony is 21.9mm shorter and 293g lighter than the Canon.
  • The Canon has an extra millimeter of focal length on the wider end.
  • The Canon has up to 8 stops of image stabilization — the Sony doesn't have any at all.
  • The Sony has a slightly shorter minimum focusing distance and higher magnification.
  • The Sony has 11 aperture blades, the Canon only has 9.

Reasons to buy Sony

Back in September 2023, Sony released this updated version of their 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens with a whole host of upgrades and new features. The original version came out way back in 2017, so it was long due to the Mark II treatment. When paired with one of the best mirrorless cameras, this lens is a force to be reckoned with.

One of the more attractive traits the Sony lens has over the Canon is the size and weight difference. The Sony is 35% lighter than the Canon with a weight difference of 293g, and it's 21.9mm shorter, making it much more pleasing to use for longer periods without getting arm or neckache. And if you're traveling or taking it with you as part of a large lens lineup, the total weight of all your gear adds up, so having lighter lenses is a big plus. In our full Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II review, we mentioned that we were surprised by how lightweight it was for such a good-quality lens. 

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II and Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM against a starry background

The Sony lens is 16.5% shorter than the Canon. (Image credit: Sony, Canon, Getty)

We also really liked the addition of the clickable aperture ring on the lens. This is a handy feature if you're using a camera body that only has two control dials. You can set those to ISO and shutter speed and then change the aperture on the lens itself. This prevents you from wasting time wading through the menus when you want to change settings quickly.

The Sony also has more aperture blades than the Canon, meaning potentially rounder and smoother bokeh. It also has a lower minimum focusing distance and higher magnification, which allows for better close-up shots. We were very impressed with the image quality — all our images were pin-sharp and in focus after testing different apertures at a range of focal lengths. We only noticed a slight drop-off in sharpness at the corners when using the lower apertures (which is to be expected).

We thought it handled astrophotography very well and we barely noticed any coma or barrelling in the images. Dedicated astro shooters would likely go for a prime lens, but for more general photographers who only do the occasional bit of astro, we think the Sony FE 16.35mm f/2.8 GM II will serve you well. We didn't include it in our best lenses for astrophotography guide because when it comes to wide-angle zoom lenses, we think the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is probably slightly better suited to astro shooting — although it is also more expensive.

Reasons to buy Canon

When comparing the two lenses, the Canon lens has three significant advantages over the Sony, but how relevant these differences are depends on your shooting setup and style. 

The first is that the Canon has a standard five stops of image stabilization and up to 8 when paired with a compatible Canon camera body. In contrast, the Sony lens doesn't have any image stabilization at all. We can understand why, as it's an already expensive lens and most Sony cameras have in-body image stabilization, but nine times out of ten, it's always good to have image stabilization in the lens as well, especially if you end up using a camera body that doesn't have any image stabilization. If you do a lot of video or handheld shooting and image stabilization is important to you, the Canon lens will be the more attractive option here.

During our Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM review, we loved its sleek and simple design, which aids in its portability, even though it's larger and heavier than the Sony. We think the Canon is certainly 'prettier' than the Sony, but that's purely a personal opinion. 

Another advantage of the Canon is an extra 1mm focal length at the wider end. This perhaps won't be wildly noticeable in most cases, but it could prove helpful in astrophotography shots where you need to let as much light through as possible. Using the 500 rule, this extra 1mm means you can set your shutter speed for a few seconds longer than with the Sony.

Finally, the Canon is also slightly cheaper. It's not the most significant price difference, but we don't know anyone who would turn down the chance to save $200. It seems to have stood the test of time and held its price exceptionally well, a testament to its overall quality and performance even at over four years old. We named it the best Canon RF lens in our best lenses for astrophotography guide, so it's certainly an investment, but we think it's worth the money.


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And the winner is...
Winner2nd place
Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM IICanon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM
The Sony specs are just that bit better.Stood the test of time, but newer models are starting to eclipse it.

It was a very close call between two exceptional lenses and not the fairest fight due to the age difference. We think if Canon had released their 15-35mm f/2.8 lens at the same time as the Sony 16.35mm f/2.8 and managed to shave off some of the weight and improve its specs ever so slightly in line with the Sony, the outcome could've gone the other way. Who knows—maybe Canon will come out with a Mark II someday.

While the Canon has some notable advantages over the Sony, the Sony lens has more advantages than the Canon does regarding overall practicality and day-to-day use.

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Kimberley Lane
Contributing writer

Kimberley Lane is a landscape & seascape photographer living in South Wales. Originally using photography as a way to cope with health issues, she aims to portray a feeling of calm and peace through her images. Her work has been featured in a number of national photography magazines.