16-35 vs 17-40

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by christa_moore, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. Hi!
    I am in need of a good wide-angle zoom for my 5D II. I read here and there on the web that
    17-40 seems as good as 19-35: better flare resistance and slightly less sharp at 35.
    Si I bought a second hand 17-40 in good condition, and I found it really bad comparing to my old nikon
    17-35 on D700.
    I wonder I I got a lemon or what.
    Would 16-35 be my best bet?
    Thank you for your comments
  2. Well, you will probably see more flaws on the 5dII because the file is going to be a lot larger at 100%. About 60 inches wide @100dpi vs about 40 inches wide with the D700. That will show up more flaws with either lens.
    I have both lenses and although I don't use the 17-40 as much, my tests and practical uses of each lens gives me the overall impression that they are very close in quality. Certain things are different, but generally I don't know that they are much different.
    That said, I don't think either lens is suitable for certain things--or in every case. The corners are soft and unusable, IMO, on an FF camera for something like most landscape work. The curved focal plane just doesn't render flat fields very well (or near far). On the other hand, I have been surprised how sharp the lenses can be if the terrain is somewhat uneven and works with that curved field (couldn't tell you I am confident when it would or wouldn't work though).
    The Nikon lens might in fact be better, I don't know. But if I was going to spend the money on getting a 16-35, I would probably put it towards the Zeiss 21mm which is tack sharp edge to edge--but manual focus.
  3. Post an example, so we can better judge if you got a lemon or not. The 16-35 is not much better than a good copy of the 17-40. I use the 17-40 on a FF 5D for landscape work and have no complains - i use small f-stops mostly!
  4. I use the 17-40 a lot, currently on a 5D2 and previously (and still on occasion) on a 5D.
    Unless there is something wrong with your lens (not too likely, but not impossible) both the 16-35 and the 17-40 are excellent lenses capable of producing fine results.
    The 16-35 f/2.8 is an excellent lens if you need the specific functionality it provides. Its special strength it performance at the largest apertures on full frame cameras. With that in mind, if your need is to shoot handheld in low light on a full frame camera at UWA focal lengths, it can be worth the higher cost. If you use filters, keep in mind that it uses a larger and somewhat non-standard 82mm filter thread diameter.
    The 17-40 f/4 is an excellent lens if you need the functionality that it provides. At a lower cost and in a smaller package it provides a slightly larger focal length range, excellent center sharpness at all apertures, and fine performance across the frame as you stop down. If your main need is for a lens that you will shoot at medium to smaller apertures (let's say you are a landscape shooter) then its performance can be as good (or slightly but insignificantly better than) the 16-35 in this sort of use at a lower cost and smaller size.
    As breeds, unless your type of shooting favors one over the other, neither lens is "better" than the other in a general way.
  5. At wider apertures, the 17-40 is softer than either version of the 16-35, particularly away from the center. At narrower apertures, their image quality is virtually the same.
    If you are concerned about maximizing IQ, and find yourself shooting mainly at wider apertures and at a specific focal length or two, you might want to consider picking up a wide angle prime such as the 35/1.4 L or or the 24/1.4 L II to "replace" your 17-40. I found that I rarely if ever was using my 17-40 at focal lengths other than 24mm and 35mm, so I finally sold my zoom and now use just the primes.
  6. I second what Mark has said in part.

    ALL lenses are compromises in one area or more. Even prime lenses involve inevitable compromises among aperture, sharpness, contrast, and so on. Zoom lens face the same sort of compromises, but amplified by the range of different focal lengths available. If you want the convenience of zooms, you need to accept the contradictions.
    100% pixel peeping makes even the best lenses look crappy
    There are also differences among camera marques as to what kind of 'processing' such as sharpening happens before you see the image. Nikon in its default mode, I have been told, applies more sharpening than does a Canon camera. You can certainly set default sharpening higher on the Canon and, I think, lower on the Nikon. Depending on what you are comparing, this might explain your impressions of Canon vs. Nikon.
    Shoot RAW and avoid 100% viewing at two inches from the screen.....
  7. I used to own the Nikkor version too. I t was an excellent lens on my F5.
    I compared the Canon 16-35 Version I with the 17-40 and purchased the latter for my 5D. Then I upgraded to an even better 16-35 Version II for my 1Ds II. Hope this chronology helps.
  8. it


    yes, the 16-35 is your best bet
  9. For 5D II, Nikon's 14-24 F2.8 with a G-EOS adapter is probably the best bet.
  10. David, unless you want to use filters...
  11. From my experience the 16-35 I was not a lot better than the 17-40. Like Peter J I bought the 17-40. When the 16-35 II was released I replaced my 17-40 with the 16-35 II. The 16-35 II is the best wide angle zoom canon makes but it is not perfect. It is softish wide open and is optimized for the 16mm end. It tends to be better at wide angles than at narrower angles. IN addition it takes 82mm filters so unless you shoot MF you may need new filters (Cokin P will vignette for example).
  12. Your copy is softish wide open, optimized for 16mm, and tends to be better at wide angles than narrower.
  13. Tokina 16-28 f/2.8 could be another option to consider. Unless filters are very important for you. See the review here:

Share This Page