Thoughts on Canon 17-40mm f/4 L lens

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by R.Youden, Aug 28, 2008.

  1. R.Youden macrumors 68020


    Apr 1, 2005
    Thanks to everyone on here who gave advice on my recent purchase of a 40D and 70-200mm f/4 L lens, they are quality pieces of kit and great fun to use.

    The one draw back with the 70-200mm lens is that it is not really suitable for wide angle shots and more 'walk-around' use.

    I have been looking around and reading this website a lot which I think is excellent:

    The Digital Picture

    Looking through there the 17-40mm lens looks a good option. I am on a limited budget but I am prepared to pay for quality kit. I don't want to buy cheap stuff only for it to break in 12 months time. Ideally I would be looking at the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens to fit the gap but that is out of my budget.

    I know the range is not as big with the 17-40 but I am sure I can live with that.

    I am also very interested in macro work and my other option would be to get a cheaper 'walk-around' lens and a dedicated macro lens (Canon 100mm macro maybe), I am wondering how effective the 17-40mm is as a stop-gap macro lens, maybe with the addition of an extender?

    Thanks for all your help.

    I am off to Rome in a few weeks so I want to grab something before then so I can get some great shots there (and hopefully some better light than this damp grey crap in the UK at the moment!).
  2. Kebabselector macrumors 68030


    May 25, 2007
    Birmingham, UK
    I have the 17-40, it is a very nice lens. Fairly light lens, big lens hood though! Still may not be that wide on the on the 40D though (works out to be around 27mm).

    Not idea about using the 17-40 with any adapter rings for macro.
  3. Jay42 macrumors 65816


    Jul 14, 2005
    I also have the 17-40 L. It is a great lens, also one of the cheapest and lightest Cannon L lenses. This means you are getting a sealed zoom that won't pull in dust from outside when twisting the ring with Cannon's L grade glass for less that $700 I believe. Certainly one of the best bang-for-your-buck L lenses, even just Canon lenses in general.

    The downside is the distortion at the wide end. This doesn't make it ideal for portraits or some architecture shots since even a slight distortion of facial proportions is very noticeable to the human eye. Curved lines that are supposed to be straight in architecture are also fairly noticeable. That being said, it takes great landscape and nature shots and is a great vacation lens for capturing a lot the scenery without switching lenses all the time.

    I have a 70-200 2.8 and the 17-40 makes a great addition on the wide end as long as you understand its limitations. I would recommend Canon's excellent 50mm 1.8 prime for under $100 for taking super crisp portraits and as a good in between lens. The canon 100mm macro would also serve as a good portrait lens, but may be a little long on a 1.6x body.

    Good luck.
  4. ManWithhat macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2008
    I agree with the above post. If on the other hand you're on a budget, the kit lens for the XSi and XS (EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS) is really cheap and a great lens for the price ($130ish).
  5. R.Youden thread starter macrumors 68020


    Apr 1, 2005
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    I understand that the 17-40 aint too hot on the portrait side of things (that isn't too much of a problem, everyone I know, myself included, if an ugly bugger so I won't want to be taking photos of them anyway!). I have had some success using the 70-200 for portraits down at the 70mm end and the results are OK, I think they will get better as I get more used to the camera and lens.

    I have heard some good things about the 50mm f/1.8, it looks nice and great value for money.

    I am trying to avoid the kits lenses as my girlfriend has one and after a few months it gets dirt inside and the lens just isn't as responsive as it used to be. I really like the idea of the weather sealing on the 17-40.

    Anymore user experiences?

  6. bertpalmer macrumors 6502

    Apr 12, 2007
    First off - the 17-40 is a wide angle lens and is about as suitable for portraits as all other wide angle lenses... That's what you would use your 70-200 for...

    I have the 17-40 and it is a lovely lens - incredibly sharp and well built. The BIG downside is the f/4 aperture - if you can afford or justify the 16-35 f/2.8 I think you might appreciate it. But for a lot less money the 17-40 is really, really nice and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for top quality glass but not able to justify the 16-35mm

    As for the nifty fifty (50mm f1.8) it is a great cheap lens which you can do a LOT with. Nice for all round photography and portraits/people shots. I would like to upgrade to the f/1.4 at some point for USM but I'm in no hurry... it's so cheap and so useful it really ought to be in everyone photographers kit.
  7. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    My "walk around" lens is the 28-70L, I also own the 17-40L and quite honestly it's the lens that I use the least out of the 6 L lenses I own. It's not the sharpest of the bunch, the F4 aperture really bums me out (every other lens I own is 2.8 or faster), and personally I'm just not a big wide angle shooter.

    You're mentioning the 50mm in the same post - these are two totally different beasts. You might really benefit from having some fast glass as your first lens is fairly slow at F4, but it really depends on what focal length you're looking for, the 17mm perspective is completely different than the 50!
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    I would suggest you have a look at Tokina's 16-50 f/2.8 lens since you have insisted on good built quality. I agree that the initial aperture is an important point. If you can't live/don't want to live with f/4, then this lens is not for you. In most reviews I've read, it has fared better than Canon's more expensive 16-35 lens, it's a good performer.

    So in this respect, the Tokina will be IMO a more suitable choice. Since I'm a Nikon guy, I haven't really used L glass, but I do own pro-grade Nikkors and Tokina comes very, very close in terms of built quality. It has a wider zoom range, a larger initial aperture and it costs the same. Personally, I wouldn't want to buy a lens with f/4. 50 mm correspond to a more portrait-friendly 80 mm on film rather than the 64 mm the Canon gives you.
  9. seenew macrumors 68000


    Dec 1, 2005
    For most people, I would recommend the 50 1.8 (Mark 1 if you can find it in good condition) as a walk around lens. For me, though, my 17-40 lives on my camera most of the time. Of course, I'm shooting with a 5D which is fullframe, so I don't know how you'd feel with a cropped sensor. I guess actually the crop would make it a better walkaround lens..

    Anyway, it's top quality. I've never had an issue with mine.
  10. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Another EF 17-40mm f/4L USM owner here (along with EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM). I thought long and hard about getting EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM instead of 17-40 and 50 combo, but in the end, I was blown away by 50's performance and ability to use them on full-frame body (which I am planning on moving up to some day).

    As others have said, 17-40 has amazing construction (on par with 70-200), great focus, and nice overall image quality (not quite as sharp as 50 or 70-200, however). If you prefer to carry fewer lenses, however, 17-55 maybe a better buy as it has even better image quality than 17-40, while giving you image stabilizer and faster maximum aperture.
  11. tonie macrumors 6502

    Mar 29, 2008
    If you're willing to spend a little more, I would suggest 17-55 IS.

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