Canon 17-40 vs Canon 24-105

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jake_hilleary, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. This seems to be one of the more common questions, but I still haven't found my answer yet, so here it goes:
    I currently own an xsi and I plan on buying a new "general purpose" lens in the next month or two because the kit lens just isn't cutting it. I already have a Sigma 10-20mm, Canon 55-250mm, and I recently purchased a 50mm 1.8 (super sharp!). Anyway, although the prime is great, it offers no flexibility. Also, super wide and telephoto are both fun, but they are limited as far as general purpose goes.
    I've read a lot about the 24-105 not being the best lens for a cropped frame camera. Although I understand why, I would be pairing it with a 10-20, so the wide end is not so much an issue anymore. However, in situations where I don't have the time to change lens back and forth, this could become a problem.
    I just recently considered the 17-40 as an option. This would eliminate some of the wide angle problem if I chose not to carry my 10-20 on me, but it would really limit me as far as reach is concerned. Also, I don't really trust the image quality of my 55-250 enough to completely rely on it for all of my telephoto needs. However, sample images from the 17-40 seem promising and on a cropped frame the 17-40 isn't a bad all-around range. Plus, the price is definitely right compared to the 24-105.
    I'm sure I could work around either lens. Photography is a hobby for me, and a small mistake in making this decision won't hurt me too much in the long run...I like to believe that my skill as a photographer could make great pictures happen with either of these lens. However, it never hurts to make the right decision the first time!
    Other things to consider...I usually carry a small bag with a second lens (this would be an argument for the 24-105 because I'd have my 10-20). However, I want one of these lenses to make it possible for me to walk out of the house with only one lens. If nobody can come up with an "all purpose" solution, a recommendation to supplement what I already have would be appreciated as well! Also, I'm pretty set on the "L" series...I see myself upgrading to a full frame in the future.
  2. Many here with good reason will suggest the 17-55 2.8 IS. But back to the OP. I used the 24-105 on a 40D for about a year paired with a 10-22 and it was not a bad combo at all, in fact it was a good range I could cover with 2 pretty small lenses. However, not really knowing what you shoot its hard to say but I would think a 24-105 would make more sense for you since 10-40 would not be a very useful 2 lens kit.

    Now that I have a full frame body I also purchased a 17-40 and to compare it to the 24-105 I would say they are very close in image quality ( both very good ) If I had to go back to my 40D I would have went with a 17-55. The 17-40 and 24-105 are both full frame lenses and neither really fits the needs of you body but If I had to pick one I would ( and did ) go with a 24-105. You also may want to look at the new 15-85 as the price on that lens starts to drop.
  3. The 10-22 plus 24-105L seems like the perfect match and ALL you would really need. Maybe a 100-400L to complete the full zoom range with top quality glass. Good luck with your choice. And yes I am one of those to suggest the 17-55 f2.8 IS.
  4. A few things to think about here.
    1. In what way, specifically, is your kit lens "not cutting it?" Assuming that the lens is not out of adjustment, if you aren't getting sharp images from it the odds are that the lens isn't the problem. The IS version of this lens is a pretty decent performer and shouldn't have any problem producing sharp enough images even for at least letter-size prints and perhaps a bit larger. If you don't resolve the reason for the sharpness problems with the kit lens (assuming that sharpness is the cause of the "not cutting it") then you'll like have the same problem even with a better lens.
    2. I love the 17-40... for small aperture landscape photography on a full frame camera. The "problem" with this lens is that it has soft corners at the largest apertures - and f/4 isn't a really big aperture to start with and you need to be concerned at least a bit about stopping down much beyond f/8 on a cropped sensor body. In the end I did not find it to be the idea cropped sensor lens.
    3. I also use and love the 24-105... again on a full frame body. I also used that lens on a cropped sensor body at one time. Its performance is fine... but 24mm for your wide end isn't very wide at all on crop. However, with your 10-22 you might be fine in that regard.
    4. If I still shot a cropped sensor body the first lens I would get if the kit lens didn't cut it would be the excellent EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. There is little to not like about that lens
  5. G dan, is that just your 17-40 or in general. I find mine is pretty sharp even wide open. I don't really pixel peep very often and I hardly ever shoot landscapes so I never really look at edge to edge but it seems pretty sharp. My 24-105 seems sharper at 5.6 then it does wide open but still very good at F4
  6. Thanks for the quick responses guys. G Dan, I see the "what's wrong with the kit lens?" argument all the time, and I just can't take it seriously. Imagine posting a "18-55 vs 17-40 vs 24-105" thread on here...the kit lens would get torn to shreads in most cases. I've taken some quality photos with both my 10-20 and 55-250, but the kit lens always seems to disappoint, so I pretty sure it's not user error. Anyway, I find that most of my best photos are wide angle and macro type shots. I love the 10-20, but I was simply looking for something to add some range. I also love taking pictures of animals, but my 55-250 has actually served me pretty well for that.
    I've looked at the 17-55 2.8, and I have to say that I wasn't quite as impressed with the sample photos when compared with photos taken with an L glass. Does anybody have a good set of sample shots for this lens that might change my mind? Plus, I have a pretty cheap set right now with average build quality, and it would be nice to have that "L" reliability.
    I agree that the 10-20 + 24-105 would be a pretty good match, but how about the 17-40 + 55-250? I'm a budgeted college student, and it's really hard for me to ignore the price difference between the 17-40 and 24-105, and even the 17-55. Here's another hypothetical...I don't mind carrying multiple lenses, what if I got a bigger bag and carried two extra? What combo would you use then? I'm trying to buy a great lens and also save some money, so fiscal comparisons are also important. Keep the advice coming, it's much appreciated!
  7. I use the EF-S 10-22 and the EF 24-105 L as my main travel lens combo. It has good image quality and great range for a two lens combo. Although people who don't use this combo seem to worry about the changeover point, I have not found it to be much of a problem in practice.
    The 17-40 in a 1.6 crop camera does not cut it for me. Its range is a bit too limited.
  8. Jake, I would check out third-party offerings such as the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (a new version with image stabilisation has just been released). I own both the 17-40 and 24-105 lenses and have both crop and full sensor bodies. It's horses for courses, but by and large for an all purpose lens I find the 17-40 on my crop my most useful lens, and the 24-105 my most used lens on my full frame camera...
    <p>I would also strongly urge you to go out, take photos, make some (large?) prints (if that's what you do) in lieu of what is commonly known as pixel-peeping :) Viewing samples at 300% mag on a computer screen isn't really the most constructive use of time as a photographer. Taking photos is :]
  9. Hi Jake, I own and/or have used extensively a very wide range of Canon L glass. I also own a fair bit of Leica glass that I have used on my Canon. Recently, I decided to purchase a complete system and had a budget of $30,000. I personally tested absolutely every body and lens combination I could think of - including a Hassy with some of their best Zeiss lenses. I tested multiple copies of the same lens, Nikon's D3X with almost every Nikon lens you can think of. I even tested the famed Zeiss 21mm on a 5D mk2.
    My conclusions that pertain to your question were as follows:
    1) The 17-40 is not bad at all. At f5.6 and above it's as good as you could need a lens to be. But it can't, for example, touch the new 17mm TSE at 17mm. In comparison to your 50 1.8, it's not as sharp in the corners, but in the center at 5.6 and above it's close enough. By close enough I mean that depth of field, camera shake due to hand-holding, muddy light, etc., are all much worse problems than lens design. Copy to copy variability is high. You should test any lens you are considering purchasing. In my tests, copy to copy variability was higher than brand to brand variability in some cases.
    2) The canon 70-200 f4L is stunning. I saw little copy to copy variability and the performance of the lens is spectacular for a 70-200 zoom. The 17-40, your 50 and a 70-200 f4 would make a very nice kit. Watch the 70-200 f4 for focusing problems. Make sure your copy focuses when it tells you it's focused.
    3) I would say that the 24-105 is roughly equivalent in performance to the 17-40. The same things I said about the 17-40 apply to the 24-105.
    4) The lens I own and use most is the 24-70 2.8L. If you get a good copy of this one (and there is significant copy to copy variability especially in the corners), you will always be happy with the performance. It's pricey I know but it's the real star of the Canon line for a semi-wide to portrait zoom.
    Now, you talked about upgrading in the future. This is the really important issue. If you are primarily a portrait/action/people photographer then it has to be a combination of the 24-70 2.8 and the 70-200 2.8 in the end. There are a lot of good reasons that these are the workhorse lenses for most pros. If this is too much for your budget then the 17-40 f4 L and 70-200 f4 L will do a fine job.
    So considering you are going to full frame in the end, it seems clear that the 17-40 f4L is a good choice if you don't want to go to a 24-70 2.8. The 24-105 would leave you without super-wide and telephoto. It would also be much lower IQ from 70 up than the 70-200.
    By the way, I have a lot of Canon glass and I don't own a 24-105!
    Best of luck, JJ
  10. I really appreciate all of the in depth responses! I originally was leaning heavily towards the 24-105, but I've heard enough people talking about its somewhat awkward range on a 1.6 crop that I'm not sure anymore. Here's my last question, given the lenses that I already have: 50mm 1.8, 55-250, and 10-20, can anyone see any real problems that could arise from purchasing the 17-40? It is the most realistic lens for my budget, and I believe I would be satisfied with its somewhat restricted range. Remember, I'm not using this camera for work, I just really enjoy photography as a hobby. I also believe that a restricted range requires you to be more creative. In any case, I've heard from a few replies that the 17-40 on a 1.6 crop is very useful as a "normal" range lens. Would the 24-105 users agree to some extent, given my budget issues? And one last question...does the lack of IS on the 17-40 make a huge difference in the long run? I'm pretty used to IS on my 55-250, but is it that important in the 17-40 range? My 50mm prime seems to be working great without it...although that's likely because of the f/1.8.
  11. I did lot of research on 24-105mm, its is like a great lens, but is it worth it? I din't think so and I dint buy it.
    I mostly use 17-40mm as my default lens while hiking, if I am going to a park or local town, I carry my 28-135mm IS (some people think IQ of this lens is in par with 24-105mm).
    If I had not bought 28-135mm, today, I would have bought Panasonic LX3 as my walk around photography device. Its got raw support, IQ is very good, its got 24-60mm (full frame) focal length, which is perfect for walkaround according to me. It costs about $400 today. I think its better to buy a LX3 than a walk around lens. I am pretty sure LX3 will serve better purposes: family get together and parties. And its less than 300grams.
  12. Regarding the "my lens or all copies" of the 17-40 question: On crop mine was very sharp in the center but not very sharp at all in the corners at f/4 or every f/5.6. It was better at f/8 but not quite what I hoped for. If you mostly stick to sharing online jpgs or perhaps letter size prints this might well not be an issue, but if you have ambitions to make larger prints the copy I have (which is great on FF by the way) would perhaps disappoint.
    Regarding the "I hear it all the time" comment about the 18-55 point I made earlier: Some I hear all the time is that "I need to get lens X because lens Y isn't sharp enough." I'm note going to claim that the 18-55mm IS kit lens can be as sharp as, say, a L prime - but the lens itself is indeed sharp enough to make fine prints to at least letter size and, from what I've seen, beyond. When I hear the "my lens isn't sharp enough so I'll get a sharper lens" idea I recognize that there are a range of issues that can make for "not sharp" photographs, and the resolving power of the lens is only one. Unless those other issues are eliminated as a cause, you won't see any significant difference. (If you have the older non-IS version of the 18-55 kit lens, they you probably should upgrade - the newer IS version is the better one.)
    Regarding the "not impressed with the EFS 17-55 f/2.8 IS" stuff: This comment only increases my suspicion that you are perhaps attributing the possibility of "sharp photographs" to the possession of lenses with red rings and embossed letter "L" symbols. Optically the EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS tests as a better performer and has a better feature set than the 17-40 L that you are considering as an alternative, and does so in virtually every way: corner performance, larger max aperture, addition of IS. Quite a few people who think they won't like it are reacting more to the lack of the red ring and "L" symbol than anything real about the lens. I own L lenses (and non-L lenses) and if I were getting a cropped sensor Canon DSLR this is the first lens I would buy... and I already own the 17-40.
    (If the EFS 17-55 did have the letter "L"/red ring and otherwise tested as it does and had its current feature set, would you even be considering the 17-40? What if neither the 17-40 and the 17-55 both lacked the "L" designation?)
    Take care,
  13. I've played around with a 17-40 L since buying it in 2003 and it's proved to be extremely reliable and an able performer. I used it extensively on my EOS 3, 5D, 40D and 50D and found it a sharp and contrasty optic. Wide open it's crazy sharp across the frame on crop bodies and only slightly soft in the corners on full frame (stop down a bit and the FF corners tighten right up).
    However there are lots of sharp lenses in this general range so this is nothing special. What I find endearing about the 17-40 is the rugged build, internal zoom and focus and petite form factor. It's so easy to grab and run out the door for a impromptu shoot or walkaround. As much as I like the 17-55 2.8 and 24-105 L, they're big and bulky and grow considerably as you zoom.
  14. I think the general direction then, is leaning towards the 17-40L. I knew from the onset that I would move to full-frame digital (I already shot film for quite a while before getting into digital), so I made a conscious decision to avoid EF-S lenses. As has been said, I think on a crop dSLR, given your other lenses, the 17-40 will give you the combination of build, focal range and quality of optics that suits your (current) budget. As for IS, I have found I can comfortably hand-hold at 1/8 on my 17-40L, a feat I would likely not be able to replicate on my 24-105 without IS.
  15. Maybe it's just my shooting style, but I use a 24-105 on my XTi as my main lens. I tend to shoot more in the short telephoto range and I do have a 10-22 for when I need wide angle so I'm not missing the short end. Since either lens (the 17-40 or the 24-105) is going to overlap your existing lenses on one side or the other, the questions you need to answer will be what range do you want? Will you be happiest with your changeovers at 22mm and 105mm or at 17mm and 40mm? Is the added focal length of the 24-105 (and the IS) worth the extra cash to you? I think your biggest deciding factor will be what range you normally shoot around.
    If you tend to shoot more in the wide range, I can't imagine why you'd spend more money for the 24-105 just to have more than half of that lens overlap your 55-250 (I'm discounting image quality here because I believe the 24-105 to be superior to the 55-250 in that regard). If, like me, you tend to use your 55-250 a lot and shoot in the 50-100 range then you'll really get a kick out of the 24-105 (like I do). And believe me, IS is nice in that range when you need it.
  16. Seems like you're just about in the same boat as I am. I recently purchased the 17-40 for the Rebel XT, myself. The zoom range is about what you'd expect - only slightly shorter than the range on the 18-55 kit lens. The upgrade from the 18-55, for me, was a stunning improvement. The sharpness is considerably better, the build quality is obviously very good, chromatic abberation is only really noticable in extreme conditions (as with all lenses, especially zooms, in my experience), and the colors that the lens produces are wonderful. A bonus feature is the full-time manual focus, which lets you adjust the focus via the focus ring while the lens is set to AF. Like yourself, I plan to upgrade to a FF body in the future, and the lens lineup i've been eyeballing is the 17-40, 24-70, 70-200. There is a bit of overlapping in the range of the first two lenses, but these lenses cover a good range at a great price for a semi-serious amateur, and the 2.8 wide aperture on the 24-70 is a big plus for a hand-held walk around lens. As an alternative, I've seen many people who use a 50mm prime in place of the 24-70, which is probably a viable alternative for most (plus you save over $1k), and one that I'd consider myself until I can justify spending the cash to fill the gap. Good luck, enjoy the experience, and happy shooting.
  17. Double post coming up, this forum set up is very unforgiving!
  18. Again, great responses everyone, it's nice to receive the help!
    Steven, it's good to hear another success story with the 17-40. I typically find that my best photographs are not telephoto, so I agree that, while tempting, the 24-105 simply isn't the best option for the money. I find the telephoto photos taken with my 55-250 to be of good enough quality for me. What I'm really looking for is that superior quality in the "normal" shooting range.
    G Dan, while I appreciate your concern about the possibility of me being "blinded" by the red ring, I can assure you that this is not the case. I've mentioned several times that I'm on a tight budget (I'm a college student) and that even $600-$700 for the 17-40 is pushing it. My situation is this: I need something in that general focal range (17-55 or 17-40), but within a reasonable budget. I'll be using my 50mm prime for indoor and low light, so the 2.8 and IS of the 17-55 become significantly less important. I'm also concerned about build quality, and the "L" will have an edge in this regard. When I said I wasn't impressed with the 17-55, I was looking at actual sample photographs taken with both lenses! How in the world is that not a legitimate way to decide which style of lens is a better fit for me? Aren't I allowed to say I'm not impressed with a lens without being accused of "L" worship? If the 17-55 really tests better in IQ, doesn't it tell you something that I'm still considering the lesser of the two? Maybe that I'm a low-budget college student trying to get the best lens he can for the money rather than some glamour-stricken prude who's in some kind of "L trance"?
    Despite the many alternatives, I just purchased the 17-40. I can assure all of the skeptics on here that if I receive a bad copy or if the lens is unremarkable, I'll be returning it and starting from square one. Thanks again everyone for the advice, you've all been very helpful.
  19. 1. If superwide really isn't that much of your thing, you won't like the 17-40 on a FF camera.

    2. If it were me the choice would be between the 17-40 and the 15-85.

    3. Try what 24mm looks like with your current lens to see if that's wide enough for walking around.

    4. What would the resale value of the lens you choose be? (as in: this choice is not for life, you can sell your lens lateron.)

    5. Could you rent or borrow the lenses for a test run?

    6. Do you mind gaps between your lenses? (I know I don't.)

    7. Would you sell your UWA to finance a great walk around lens?

    Etc etc etc.

    To answer the "what would you choose?" question: I'd take the 17-40. But I already have à very nice 70-200 so I don't
    need the range, and I have primes for speed. I don't want UWA but (as per question 2) I'm on the fence about the 15-85...
  20. I have the 17-40 and 24-70 for my FF. Looking back at my crop sensor days, I would probably find the 17-40 a little more useful given the good high ISO performance of DSLRs these days. The 27.2 on crop sensor 17 is a nice wide. In my opinion, the effective focal length of 160 odd for the 24-105 is neither here nor there. In fact with a crop sensor that lens really does not accomplish much for any tele use or wide use.
    But having said all that 2.8 is a magic number, and you probably would be well advised to get the nice EFS 17-55. But to make things more ambiguous, the 17-40 is one tough mother. And psychological or not, L glasses are L glasses for a reason. Show me a photographer who has retained non L glasses when they could afford L ones, and I will give my non L lenses to them. Except for my primes. L primes are way too expensive for me to get them :-D Iresh
  21. G Dan, while I appreciate your concern about the possibility of me being "blinded" by the red ring, I can assure you that this is not the case. I've mentioned several times that I'm on a tight budget (I'm a college student) and that even $600-$700 for the 17-40 is pushing it.
    I'm confused then. Why did you ask about the more expensive 24-105?!
  22. Matt, the OP posted that he bought the 17-40 L 25 minutes before you responded. May God have mercy on his soul. He's on the road to L.
  23. G Dan-
    Because I'd heard so much hype about the 24-105. If everyone continued to talk it up, even for an xsi, I'd have just dealt with the kit lens for awhile longer and saved my pennies! However, I've heard enough stories of awkwardness that my decision became considerably easier. Believe me, the specs for the 17-55 are tempting, but like I said before, the 2.8 and IS are deemed mostly useless by my 50mm prime. I feel that our minds probably just work differently, but I do appreciate your suggestions. If the 17-40 doesn't work out for me I'll certainly check out the 17-55.
  24. I'd offer another vote for the 17-55IS. I had the 17-40L for a year or so, loved it for its build, but ultimately traded up (and yes, I think it's a trade up) to the 17-55. The extra stop of light, the extra reach, the IS are all absolutely worth it. Also, my copy was very sharp - better than the 17-40. Here's an example where that is apparent... I did not sharpen beyond the default settings in Lightroom:
    Good luck regardless - you can't go wrong with any of the lenses you're considering.
  25. I'm with Geoff on this one - the 10-22 (even though it is an EFS lens - we have a xsi and a D50 so its a good combination for us); plus we broke the bank on a 70-200 and that gives us a great combination for landscapes, sports and family shots. Every one of these has performed above my expectations on cropped frame camers.
  26. I'm agree to some one said 10-20mm perfect matching to 24-105mm that two lens very useful for travel , I don't have 10-20mm but my lens 16-35mm & 24-105 are favor lens for travel . the other thing I would like to say is crop factor to me THAT not a matter at all even I use them with 10 D , 5D , 1D mark II N . have fun
  27. Apologies for not reading all the posts in this thread; i recently bought the 24-105 and the 17-40 for a trip to Morocco. I'm keeping the 17-40 and I sold the 24-105. Its just too heavy and the results not that interesting, although it can definitely come up with the goods with a following wind...
    17-40 plus the crop is a good zoom range and a great, light, cheap L lens
  28. I would sell the 10-22 and buy both the 17-40 and the 24-105. 2 Ls are better than one. I just sold mine for the same price as a 17-40 price! v/r Buffdr
  29. You won't go too far wrong with either lens, especially if you go full frame in the future. The 17-40 and 24-105 make a nice pair with a full frame camera (and some kind of telephoto zoom).
    If you walk out the door with just one lens, either lens will have some limitations. With the 17-40 lens you will have a 27-64 mm lens (35mm equivalent). Modestly wide to just a little longer than a standard focal length (I can remember when 58mm lenses were considered "normal"). On the other hand, the 24-105 lens will be the 35mm equivalent of 38-168mm, a much broader ranger but lacking at the wide angle end. Either way, you will lose some pictures because you can't get enough in (the lens is not wide enough) or the subject is too small (the lens is not long enough). Forced to choose, I would go with the 24-105, but that is because it matches my shooting style. Go back and look at the last 200-300 photos you have taken and make a chart of how many photos were taken at each focal length. That will tell you a lot and help you make your "one lens" decision. The question you are asking is this: "Which lens will cost me the most in lost photos if I don't have the other lens with me?"
    On the other hand, if you take two lenses, the 10-20 plus 24-105 seems to be the obvious choice to me. Other than a small gap from 20-24mm, you have a pretty broad range of focal lengths. 10-20 and 17-40 makes a lot less sense to me. When the 20D was my basic camera, I ran around with a 10-22mm lens and a 28-135mm lens. I had to change lenses a lot, but changing lenses isn't the end of the world. I remember when my small kit (35mm film camera) was three lenses: 28, 50, and 85. I was changing lenses all the time.
    Enjoy your lens, whichever one you choose.
  30. The IS in the 24-105/4 L and the 17-55/2.8 is very expensive, that is to say you can get better glass in cheaper lenses. As someone else mentioned your ideal set is likely the 10-22, 17-40/4 L, 50/1.8 and 70-200/4 L. You could sell the 10-22 if you ever end up with a full frame and still be set for most of your photography.
    I have never had much use for lenses between 40mm and 70mm on crop or full frame, and since you already have the 10-22 (this is the range I would use most on a crop body) I would lean towards the superb 70-200/4 L.
  31. Keep in mind that in a few years the body you have will be worth nothing and you will most likely have moved on. Your lenses will still be worth close to what you paid for them! Most likely you will be shooting with a FF by that time... SO, my advice? Buy for the lenses, not the camera. Your lenses will follow you the rest of your career - long after that body is a paper weight.
  32. "He's on the road to L" - PF
  33. "He's on the road to L"
    Building on that idea, I might point out that, "It isn't always better to spend more on lenses just for the 'L' of it." :)
  34. However, it would seem that the OP is 'L' bent on getting good glass ;-)

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