I've had the same question about these two wide angle lenses. Which should I get? I have looked at sample pictures and they both take great photo's. Even after all my research on these two lenses, and after ordering a 17-35 from BH (it's on the way), I am still on the fence and may return it. I choose the 17-35 since I am planning on using the lens for sports/action pics and wanted the f/2.8. I also like the sturdier build quality of metal lenses.
However, the 16-35 and the VR, which I didn't think was all that important to me, appears to be a feature that I would like after seeing the hand-held pictures taken at night with 1/2 to 1 second exposures, and I love shooting at night. From all the reviews and comments this lens appears to be the sharper of the two.
I was trying to avoid the 14-24, mainly because of it's lack of filter options, but I'm thinking this was the lens I should have ordered, especially since I have a 24-70, and I could always add the 16-35 to my kit later on if need be.
Any constructive criticism/advice would be greatly appreciated from anyone who has experience with these lenses.