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Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens (full-frame tests) Gordon Laing, December 2006 / updated July 2007

Canon EF 17-40mm introduction

The Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L was announced back in February 2003 as a lightweight ultra wide-angle zoom and has since become a bit of a classic lens for owners of Canon EOS digital and film SLRs.

Its ultra-wide focal range delivers spectacular coverage on film or full-frame digital SLRs, although it’s sufficiently wide to also be considered as a general-purpose zoom on APS-C bodies like the EOS 30D and 400D / XTi. When fitted to an APS-C body, it delivers a range equivalent to 27-64mm, and while the long-end is clearly shorter than general purpose EF-S zooms, it does have the advantage of being compatible with a full-frame body should you wish to upgrade in the future.






Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens























In terms of looks and focal range, the EF 17-40mm is closest to Canon’s EF 16-35mm f/2.8L. The EF 16-35mm gets a little wider, although not quite as long, but the big difference is of course focal ratio: the EF 16-35mm with a constant f2.8 aperture is a whole stop brighter than the EF 17-40mm, but that extra stop comes at a high cost. The EF 16-35mm is almost twice the price of the EF 17-40mm, and 100g heavier too. In our view this makes the EF 17-40mm a bit of a bargain, and indeed it’s one of the cheapest ‘L’ lenses available.

In this review we’ve concentrated on using the EF 17-40mm with the full-frame Canon EOS 5D, where its enormous wide angle coverage can be truly unleashed. We’ve compared it against the EF 24-105mm f/4.0L and the older EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, as many photographers will actually consider using the EF 17-40mm as their main general-purpose walk-around lens. While it clearly can’t zoom-in to anything you’d describe as telephoto, the 40mm ‘long’ end makes it more flexible for day to day use than you’d think.

Click here for the Conon EF 17-40mm lens video tour

As mentioned earlier though, the focal range also allows the EF 17-40mm to be considered as a premium option for owners of APS-C bodies. We’ve fully tested the EF 17-40mm on an EOS 400D / Rebel XTi and prepared a separate review and video tour dedicated to how the lens performs on a cropped-frame body - see our Canon 17-40mm with EOS 400D review. You can also see how it compares against the more traditional general-purpose EF-S lenses in our Canon EOS 400D lens upgrade group test.

In the meantime, lets take a ride with the EF 17-40mm – one of the most exciting, yet best value options for full-frame bodies like the EOS 5D. Note: the serial numbers of the EF 17-40mm, EF 24-105mm and EF 24-70mm lenses tested were 338244, 305841 and 54788.


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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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