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Author Topic: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L  (Read 23520 times)

JonAustin

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2013, 03:41:45 PM »
I own a 17-40L, and I don't love it.

+1

This was the first lens I purchased, back in 2003, to replace the 24-85 kit lens on my once-mighty 10D. I went full frame 4 years later, and my 17-40 doesn't see near as much use since then, but every once in a while it does, I need to go wider than 24mm.

I'm certain it has a metal body; at least, my 10-year-old copy does.

As seldom as I pull it out, I don't ever plan to sell it. I haven't thought of upgrading to a 16-35 for a long time ... it just isn't worth the extra $$ to me.
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Rey

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2013, 05:11:11 PM »
I pretty much agree with everything in the review, and I will add my opinion to the fray, as it seems that everyone is coming out of the woodwork to measurebate.

The 17-40 is the undisputed king of Return on Investment. Almost every working photographer that is interested in getting maximum ROI shoots with a 17-40 as their wide. There was a time when you could look at the AP wire, and almost all of the editorial shots (Read: people shot within the context of their environment, aka Local People With Their Arms Crossed) had 17-40 in their exif. This is slowly being replaced by the near term love affair that editorial photographers are starting to have with the X100, but again, we are talking about a specific use-case scenario... one that Jvl happens to specialize in... (As it stands, Canon has the opportunity to corner the editoral environmental photography market if they use the 70D focus system/sensor on a low priced eos-m/11-22M kit, but I digress.)

The reason this lens showed up so much is because it is inexpensive, and when you are shooting people in context, the typical f/stop is 8. It didn't help matters that until recently, the 17-40 was better at f/8 than the 17-35 and the 16-35. Same build quality, lighter weight, less ghosting, better af, better contrast when shooting against anything with blowblack (white seamless, 'when in doubt-blow-it-out' skies) and half the cost meant that it was a no-brainer to pick up the 17-40 vs the 2.8. In fact, the 17-40 has always been the better choice up until the 16-35II came out.

But even then, the only thing that the 16-35II wins at is f/stop and beyond the call of duty sharpness. To this day, most photographers in the trenches would still just as soon get the 17-40 and spend the money they saved on cheap booze.

I didn't even get to the best part. For the people that are interested in getting maximum image for minimum money, the 17-40 has an internal filter holder. While all those 14-24 fan boys are spending $400 dollars on the SW100 and 100mm filters to fit their lens, 17-40 owners are cutting down cinegel swatchbooks that they got for free and getting the same end result.

CarlTN

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2013, 05:23:55 PM »
At the risk of incurring the wrath of 17-40 fans on here, I notice Justin's review does not feature an MTF50 test.  So I find it lacking.

Have a look here:
http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/427-canon_1740_4_5d?start=1

Keep in mind these are my own opinions, most of you will probably differ.  However, you won't be convincing me that I'm wrong from my point of view, because I have done some research, and I'm not wrong.  Hopefully at least some of you can relate to some of what I offer, though. 

My own photographic interest is not limited to only the focal lengths wider than 20mm, or even 24mm...and if they were...see my last paragraph.  I'm also not interested in only being able to do daytime "landscape photography", although that would still be one of the primary uses for me.   

It looks to me like the Canon 17-40L is less sharp and has higher CA, higher vignetting, and more barrel distortion, than say the Tokina 16-28 f/2.8...besides being a far slower aperture lens to begin with.  Of course photozone's test of the Tokina didn't seem all that promising either, because they tried several copies and all were decentered.  The Tokina also seems to have other problems, such as flare and the huge bulbous front element.

I'm currently in the market for a wide angle lens.  Having looked at several tests and sample pics, from most of these lenses, it seems to me that the 14mm Samyang/Rokinon/Bower lens is almost on par with the Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 and Nikon 14-24.  And it only costs $300.  Google search tests of this lens, under Samyang...

However, I don't think I can make good enough use out of a 14mm prime lens, and would prefer a zoom.  Also if there is any architecture then you throw away a good bit of that 14mm, along with sensor resolution, to correct the mustache distortion...then of course there is the temptation to shift in post, in which case you wind up with less resolution than an iPhone...and then if you also want to correct some of the HUGE rectilinear projection distortion, then there goes the rest of the resolution.

Again the Tokina 16-28 has some flare problems, besides apparently being hit or miss with getting a sample that is properly centered.  I am however still heavily considering it.

So the Canon 17-40 does not look all that impressive to me.  It's decently priced, but is very similar in price to the faster aperture Tokina.  Ideally I would like to do wide field Milky Way shots, so the 17-40 is just too compromised for that.  Very high vignetting, very soft in the borders until it goes past about 24 to 28mm focal length.  It's probably usable for tripod-only photography from f/9 to f/11, but that does not endear a lens to me very much.  Most lenses are able to do this at a bare minimum, even decentered ones.

The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 is clearly the best wide-angle lens available of them all by a wide margin, but just isn't all that wide...and isn't a zoom.  If I wind up doing low light stitched panoramas, my Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 seems even better suited, and is not much softer than this mighty Sigma.

The Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC is clearly the winner overall in my opinion, but may not hold its value very well on the used market, because most everyone already sees it as the "bargain lens" (because the Canon 24-70 ii costs nearly double)...so they just buy a new one, rather than a used one for $200 to $300 less.  So the hit for reselling will be more like $350, at least based on amazon marketplace (the ones listed higher tend to stay on there forever.  I prefer to buy a lens like this and use it a while, then sell it...so in this case it would be cheaper to rent...but then the time is too limited.  This is probably just me, though.)  Also the Tamron's background bokeh is supposedly not all that smooth, but then it's not really much worse than the Canon 24-70 ii there.

The Sigma 24mm f/1.8 is clearly a bit better than the much maligned Sigma 20mm f/1.8...it costs less than the 20mm as well, besides costing less than the fully manual Rokinon 24mm f/1.4.  However the Rokinon 24mm probably has a slight optical edge.  Certainly the corners on the Sigma 24mm don't get usable until f/9 to f/11.  From the product pics, it appears this Sigma on Canon, has a new focus ring, where the Nikon versions do not.  All variations of this lens are now out of production.  Probably a big negative.

The Canon 16-35 ii can work but is too costly for its optical performance, in my opinion.

So if cost is no object, just buy the Nikon 14-24 (w/adapter) or the Zeiss 15mm or 21mm.  If cost is a concern, then I still don't know just yet.  The Canon 17-40 just seems too compromised for me, though.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2013, 05:38:40 PM by CarlTN »

klickflip

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2013, 05:31:14 PM »
Good review.. keep on telling myself I should get one just to try at £500 it seems like a steal.

The example shots are great - one question for the Author.. How were you getting flash sync on 5D III over 1/200s . Appears to be softboxed battery packs, profoto or elinchrom rangers?

Harald Wiking

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2013, 05:35:48 PM »
17-40 is one of the worst lenses Canon has regarding over all sharpness from the middle out  to corners
The lens is not good even at F-8 in the corner resolution
This no news, the lens have been tested many times, like here http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/427-canon_1740_4_5d?start=1

CarlTN

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2013, 05:39:31 PM »
17-40 is one of the worst lenses Canon has regarding over all sharpness from the middle out  to corners
The lens is not good even at F-8 in the corner resolution
This no news, the lens have been tested many times, like here http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/427-canon_1740_4_5d?start=1

+1 but I beat you to the punch with the link.

TWI by Dustin Abbott

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2013, 05:53:58 PM »
I'm already on record saying that I don't love the 17-40L, but here is the flipside.  It still boils down to the photographer.  Check out this guy's work:

http://500px.com/abeless

He uses the 17-40L for environment portraits quite often, and almost always wide open, and his work is STUNNING! (http://500px.com/photo/44300710 - this is a perfect example).  I'm sure there is sample variation (Bryan at the TDP has a pretty sharp copy), but at the end of the day you can create amazing images with any of the lenses under discussion.  They ALL have drawbacks; you just have to choose which one affects you the least!
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bgran8

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2013, 05:58:18 PM »
Awesome landscape lens when stopped down to F11...which most landscapes need anyways. Most of my fine art prints were taken with this lens. Other lenses are definitely sharper, but at F11 this lens does a great job.

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2013, 08:17:48 PM »
As usual, I'm going to say that the differences are not as large as they're made out to be.

Maybe I have an unusually sharp copy (so does TDP apparently?), but it's good wide open and very good stopped down. I have sharper lenses, but the 17-40L is usually shot stopped down, and after post processing the differences are trivial.

Likewise, if you applied lens profiles and post work to the test shots at TDP, how much difference would there be really vs. the 16-35II? A little wide open, and none stopped down.

Astrophotography seems to stress its weaknesses and for that I would recommend a fast prime. But your typical FF landscape photographer can make plenty of sharp, detailed, 24" and 30" prints with this lens.

Janbo Makimbo

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2013, 08:26:23 PM »
I'm already on record saying that I don't love the 17-40L, but here is the flipside.  It still boils down to the photographer.  Check out this guy's work:

http://500px.com/abeless

He uses the 17-40L for environment portraits quite often, and almost always wide open, and his work is STUNNING! (http://500px.com/photo/44300710 - this is a perfect example).  I'm sure there is sample variation (Bryan at the TDP has a pretty sharp copy), but at the end of the day you can create amazing images with any of the lenses under discussion.  They ALL have drawbacks; you just have to choose which one affects you the least!

As with any tool, it depends whose hands it is in.... many 'photographers' struggle with wide lenses!!!

wsheldon

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2013, 08:51:01 PM »
I pretty much agree with everything in the review, and I will add my opinion to the fray, as it seems that everyone is coming out of the woodwork to measurebate.

The 17-40 is the undisputed king of Return on Investment. Almost every working photographer that is interested in getting maximum ROI shoots with a 17-40 as their wide. There was a time when you could look at the AP wire, and almost all of the editorial shots (Read: people shot within the context of their environment, aka Local People With Their Arms Crossed) had 17-40 in their exif....

Thanks for this perspective. I don't have the world's best copy of the 17-40L (as detailed in another thread on CR about alignment/repair), but even so this lens  has helped me take a lot a really good photos on a 20D, 50D, and now 6D over the past 7-8 years in lots of conditions for not a lot of money. It's never been the best lens in my kit, but it's a good solid tool. To view it's relative weaknesses I have to pixel peep, which puts me in the territory of scrutinizing a 30+ inch print, which I rarely if ever make. I just shot this lens side-by-side with the Sigma 35 1.4 and you can certainly tell the difference at the pixel level, but not at web sizes (except for DOF, of course). Shot at f11 I'd need a *really* big print to see it, though, as impressive as the Sigma is. I'll decide which of these lenses to use in the future based on FOV/aperture/DOF, not IQ.

I'm with the news photogs you describe - the extra $1k (or extra weight) to get something measurably better can be put to other uses.

Canon 6D & 50D, nice set of lenses

CarlTN

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2013, 09:03:15 PM »
I'm already on record saying that I don't love the 17-40L, but here is the flipside.  It still boils down to the photographer.  Check out this guy's work:

http://500px.com/abeless

He uses the 17-40L for environment portraits quite often, and almost always wide open, and his work is STUNNING! (http://500px.com/photo/44300710 - this is a perfect example).  I'm sure there is sample variation (Bryan at the TDP has a pretty sharp copy), but at the end of the day you can create amazing images with any of the lenses under discussion.  They ALL have drawbacks; you just have to choose which one affects you the least!

Those are nice portrait work, but for most all of those shots...sharpness at even the borders is not required...let alone the corners.  For landscape that doesn't work so well. 

Frankly it seems to me most of those shots could have been done with any wide angle lens...there's a ton of post processing applied anyway...to the point that they look like paintings...which the photographer obviously intended.  And that's fine.

Again I say, if you're only shooting at f/11, then certainly it almost doesn't matter which lens you use.  They're all about the same sharpness and contrast at such a small aperture, with the main difference being the color rendition.  With post editing, even color rendition isn't all that important anymore.

Certainly I agree there could be sample variation among 17-40 lenses, no doubt.  This lens just doesn't suit enough of what I want to do.  Which gets back to my original point...the fact that the review in question here in this thread, is entirely too subjective...and seems not any more or less valid than anyone's opinion posting in the thread.

It would be nice if Canon can produce an approx. 14-24 f/2.8 that is as good or better than Nikon's.  But when will it happen, and will it cost under $2500?  I doubt it, and doubt it will appear anytime soon.

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2013, 09:08:30 PM »
Is the 17-40 really a metal body? Mine appears to be engineering plastic as the main body with a metal zoom ring.
It's plastic
http://canon17-40mm.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/canon-ef-17-40mm-f40-l-replace-sleeve.html

privatebydesign

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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2013, 09:15:48 PM »
Again I say, if you're only shooting at f/11, then certainly it almost doesn't matter which lens you use.  They're all about the same sharpness and contrast at such a small aperture

I have to take great exception to that. Shoot a 17 or 24 MkII TS-E with correctly applied tilt at f5.6 or f8, the sharpness and clarity will blow your mind, especially in big prints.
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Re: Review - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2013, 09:21:36 PM »
For what it costs, the size and weight, I think it is an excellent lens.
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