17-40L alternatives?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by orly_andico, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. Hi all
    I have just gotten about a month (and 10000 frames) out of my 17-40L and 40D while traveling.
    Aside from the nasty realization that traveling with a DSLR is annoying, I've discovered a few of the things people don't like about the 17-40L:
    1) it's not as sharp as it could be wide-open, and there is CA
    2) it's slow
    3) it's not wide or long enough
    However, I definitely like the ring USM, weather-sealing (getting caught in a downpour in Amsterdam wasn't fun but at least no worries about the lens). I'd like something "better" and would like everyone's comments. Possible choices would be..
    1) 17-55 IS - longer, faster, has IS, really sharp, but not sealed (dust-sucker) and not FF-compatible
    2) 15-85 IS - longer, wider, has IS, supposedly really good but again dust-sucker and not L (APS-C only)
    3) 16-35L II - wider, faster, sharper, but shorter, and costs a whole lot more
    4) Tamron 17-50 non-VC - longer, faster, costs 1/2, but no ring USM, dust-sucker, APS-C only (but at that price point I don't care), and I don't know how good the AF is or how good the build quality is
    I'm kinda leaning on the 16-35 but it's a lot of cash even after I get rid of the 17-40.
  2. I sold my 17-40 and upgraded to the 16-35/2.8 II. It was an overall improvement wide open and then some.
  3. I've owned the 17-55 2.8 since 2006 and have not suffered any dust problems, it has been around the world a couple times. No dust problems with my 15-85 either, but it is only 2 years old. Both are sharper than the 17-40L, have a better range and have IS to boot. Realize no lens is 100% sealed as interior elements move and the displaced air must vent air somewhere. Many Canon designs--17-40 L included--require a filter for effective dust and moisture resistance.
    My reviews:
  4. I put the 17-55, the 17-40, and the 17-50 non-VC through a long side-by-side comparison. The Tamron 17-50 was the easy winner in terms of optical performance. The only real question is whether you want to pay 500 bucks extra for IS (maybe worth it) and USM (not worth it all on a short lens). As for build quality, I've beat mine to hell and it still works great.
    However, it only gets you a stop and its not going to blow the 17-40 out of the water in terms of sharpness wide-open. As the 17-40 is a pretty good performer, even at f/4, I wonder if you have a bad copy, some focus adjustment issues, too high of expectations, or haven't mastered your technique. You could certainly do a bit better, but of all your proposals, only 3 are faster (and only by a stop), 2 are no wider than the 17-40 (though they are longer) and the other two aren't much wider (and one is substantially shorter). I don't think that you would be very happy with the 16-35 as it is about as good wide open as the 17-40 and is shorter. Of course, the 15-85 probably covers the range you want, but if you need speed, that isn't the lens for you.
    From your post, it seems like you may be a new DSLR shooter (sorry if this isn't the case), but given this, you may want to spend a bit of time with the kit you have as the 17-40 is an excellent lens for crop sensors so long as you can deal with the relatively slow speed.
  5. I've gotten rid of all my shorter zooms in favour of primes, which are faster and have better IQ. The only EF zoom I've kept is the 70-200/4 L IS.
    If sharpness wide open is your paramount concern, you might want to consider two or three primes instead of a zoom.
  6. A set of L primes is going to be hard on his budget if the 16-35 is going to break the bank for him. At f/4, the cheaper primes will be a bit sharper than 17-40 as they are stopped down a bit, but they aren't going to be any sharper wide-open. Besides, none of non-L primes offers much on top of the 17-50 or 17-55 other than you have to carry around a couple lenses instead of one.
  7. Hi all,
    I do notice that the 17-40 doesn't focus "exactly" - I can get better focus wide-open by using the live view at maximum magnification. I notice that the CA gets better (basically, disappears) wide-open when critically manually-focused, but that's usually not possible. The 40D doesn't have micro-AF adjustment.
    One other poster said that the 17-40 is great stopped down, and I agree. But there are times you need wide-open.
    I've been using DSLR's for many years but the 17-40 is my first L lens. I know I am a bit of a "lens shopper" but having used the 17-40 (alone) continuously for a month, I believe I have gotten a pretty good feel of the lens. It is a generally great lens, yes, but doesn't compare that well to my primes (maybe there's that expectation bit again).
    There also have been occasions when f/2.8 would have been useful to knock out the background a bit more (lots of crowded places in France and Italy! and it's impossible to get rid of the hordes). The way things are going I'll probably find a used Tamron non-VC ($350-ish) and play with it for a while. If it doesn't bug me I can get rid of the 17-40L, if the lack of the red ring bugs me, I can flip it and go for the 17-55 (which folks say is sharper than either of the 50 primes at f/2.8) or 16-35 II.
    I also have a couple of primes (cheapie-50, 85, 100 Macro USM). The situation isn't pretty for APS-C shooters, Canon has no compact wide primes. I realize that a 5D II + 24-70L would cover my focal length requirements well and be longer to boot making a decent portrait lens, but that's even more cash (and the 5D II is getting really long in the tooth).
  8. Tokina 16-28 f/2.8 has a small range, but it's worth considering too. Tokina 17-35 f/4.0 is just hitting the shelves and has a very competitive price.
  9. There also have been occasions when f/2.8 would have been useful to knock out the background a bit more​
    Then f/2.8 will isolate a close subject slightly better than at at f/4 (see attached photo taken hand held with an EOS 5D). The aperture blades in the 16-35/2.8 II are also circular. Since I don't have the 17-40 any longer, I believe the aperture blades are not circular.
  10. In the grand scheme of things, you still won't improve on your widest angle with any of the lenses you're looking at except the 16-35, and even then, it is marginal. But with that lens you lose 8mm (equiv) on the long end. If you want truly wide, you may need to consider wider EF-S lenses
    In addition, you have inherently greater DOF on an APS-C than a"full-frame" sensor. I am not sure how much shallower a DOF the f/2.8 would give you over your current max of f/4 when mounted on a 40D. However, for low light work (sans tripod), the extra stop is useful. I found that, for really low light, primes really are your ticket.
    I have read some very good reviews on the new Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS (Optical Stabilizer), so you may want to add it to your list. Ultimately, you need to prioritize your requirements, because you will not find a one-lens solution to your current quagmire. 'tis the nature of the beast :)
  11. I am not sure you know what you want, nor why.
    1 - where did you hear it is a 'dust-sucker'? Do you have FF camera or is this a 'wishlist'
    2 - where did you hear it is a 'dust-sucker'? Why is 'L' important to you?
    3 - if 17-40 is not wide enough, will the 16-35 really add anything meaningful? It also fails the 'not long enough' issue.
    4 - why is ring USM important?
    Aside from the nasty realization that traveling with a DSLR is annoying,​
    I've been using DSLR's for many years​
    So is this the first time you have travelled with a DSLR?
  12. I am not sure what you are looking for but I can comment on the 17-40 vs 16-35 F2.8 II. I had the former as I was not impressed enough with the Mark I 16-35 to pay the extra. I replaced my 17-40 with the 16-35 f2.8 II a lens which I am quite happy with. It is not as sharp as a prime and is better at the 16mm end than the 35mm end (the 24-70 F2.8 is sharper wide open between 24mm and 35mm). It is expensive but does clearly out perform the 17-40. That said if you shoot APS-C the differences may not be as great. The main issue I had with the 17-40 performance was towards the edges and these would not show as much on APS-C. It is hard for me to be exact on this as at the time I owned the 17-40 I only had full frame and APS-H bodies, I now have an APS-C body (the 7D) and the 16-35 is a standard lens for this camera. I am not sure that I would buy the 16-35 if I only shot APS-C as the 17-55 F2.8 has a good reputation and is cheaper (I have never used this lens).
  13. I would recommend the 15mm EF-S. Oh, that is right, they don't and I suppose never will, make one.
  14. I enjoy traveling with an SLR. Don't find it annoying at all (carrying a 15" MacBook Pro and gitzo tripod is annoying!). Gives me something engaging to do. The years have caught up to me and can no longer hump two cameras and 3 or 4 lens all day, but a single "normal" zoom and a small SLR like a 7D or 60D is still compact and light. I'm good for 10 hours or so with my 7D/15-85.
    Incidentally, the two millimeters of wide the 15-85 offers does make a lot of difference from the 17-40 or 17-55.
  15. While the Canon 17-40 L may not be the best wide angle lens I think it must be a contender for best value.
  16. I have owned both the 17-40/f4 and the Tamron 17-50/f2.8 (actually, my wife's) for years. The 17-40 is a good lens for a walk-around on an APS-C camera, assuming that you have a good copy. I prefer the Tamron 17-50 slightly, because of the extra reach, the f2.8, and the slightly smaller size. Unless I owned a "full-size" sensor camera, I would go with the Tamron, unless a shorter length of, let's say, 15mm is needed, or a longer reach of, let's say, 85mm is needed. Then that would argue for another obvious choice of the Canon 15-85mm. However, I don't see any SIGNIFICANT advantage to spending much more money for the very good Canon 17-55/f2.8 or Canon 16-35/f2.8 Mk II.
    Actually, all of the lenses mentioned and debated are good lenses. They will all produce very good results with proper usage and technique. I believe that expectations of significant differences in most cases are unrealistic.
  17. I am also wondering if you have a soft copy of the 17-40L. Granted it is not the sharpest lens, but I have made some really nice prints using this lens with my 5D mk I. Here is a shot I had printed for a teacher that was moving schools. He looked at the print (12 x 18) and said he could hear the frogs croaking! I ended up buying my 17-40 L for $600 Canadian (used). That is about half the price of the 16-35 II. You can't tell me that the 16-35 II is twice as sharp.
  18. 16-35 Mk I? worth it? some float around for not much more than the 17-40 used.
  19. 16-35 Mk I? worth it?​
    No. Lousy corners. Better to stay with the 17-40.
  20. Puppy Face (and others)
    This is the first time I've taken a long trip with a DSLR. And it was a trip first, and a photo project only secondarily. Ordinarily, I have all my time to myself and can bring a bunch of lenses, tripod, etc. but for this trip I only had the body and one lens.
    Given those conditions (and the fact I was in a group) the DSLR got quite bulky and after hours walking around, my neck was also complaining. The limited range of the 17-40 didn't help much either.
    Anyway, I got a good deal on a straight swap (17-40 for a new 15-85) so I think I'll do that. Certainly the FF capability is wishlist for me at this time, although the weatherproofing of the L (and build quality) would be missed..
  21. Realize that all of your complaints are subjective. I've traveled with medium and or large format kits that are far
    heavier and bulkier than your tiny little DSLR, so I would not consider it annoying.

    The widest lens in my LF outfit is about as wide as 17mm is on a 40D. I never found the need for anything wider. Of
    course, when I bought my 16-35 II, I found uses for the wide end that was now available to me.

    My fastest large format lenses are slower than your 17-40 f/4, and my fastest MF lenses are equivalent.

    Sharpness depends on many factors - camera stability, accuracy of focus, etc. Make sure that you maximize each of
    these before you blame the gear.

    CA can be fixed in post processing.

    No lens is as sharp wide open as it is when stopped down moderately.
  22. Dan, agree with all your points. Thing is, if you travel to photograph, then you can lug all the gear you want. You can move around or move backward if your lens isn't wide enough, bring all your primes..
    But if you're traveling to travel (and photographing is secondary) then you have much less flexibility. I'd have loved to take my entire kit, but forced myself to take only one lens - and my neck still killed me at the end of each day.
    As for stopping down - I've known that for years. But I'd thought one of the points of buying L glass (or Leica.. or Zeiss..) was that you could use 'em wide-open much more than consumer gear. And you can't stop down always.
    In any case, it seems that there is no correct answer. I'll have to have a look at that 15-85. I kinda miss IS anyway from my Pentax days.
  23. But if you're traveling to travel (and photographing is secondary) then you have much less flexibility.​
    Then, you should take only the Canon PowerShot G12 (or similar). Your neck (and shoulders) will not kill you at the end of each travel day.
  24. Peter, you are right! actually I was thinking of getting a NEX3 + 16mm pancake because I didn't want a small-sensor camera. Unfortunately I didn't buy one and the prices in Europe are quite high...
  25. Unfortunately I didn't buy one and the prices in Europe are quite high...​
    I was in Spain last month. The G12 sold for 500 Euros in Madrid. It was 600 Euros at the Barcelona duty free shop inside their airport! In the Toronto stores, the camera sells for $480 Canadian. Perhaps you should order from North America and have it sent to Europe? The Canadian dollar has dropped in the last month. Work out the cost and see if it is worth it.
  26. Peter, I already finished my 1-month Europe trip. I actually checked stores in London and Florence during the trip hoping to snag an NEX-3 (or even an LX5 or Coolpix) for a fair price. I learned in the process that the 17-40 could be wider (and longer..) which is why I started this thread.
    In any case, the 17-40 is gone, I was supposed to trade it for a 15-85 IS (straight swap) but the guy trading had a 180/3.5L (!) and since I'm not going on any trips anytime soon, I find myself without a normal zoom (unless you count the 18-55 non-IS Mark I) but with a long, long macro lens... whose working distance is great enough that the onboard flash actually is usable at 1:1.
  27. My 17-40mm L is laser sharp, edge to edge, perhaps I have a good one and you have a bad one. It's even centre
    sharp at f4.
  28. That's quite a jump from looking for an alternate to the 17-40 and then getting the 180L macro.
    Just sayin'.

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