Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens, (tested with cropped-frame APS-C body)



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.

In this review we’ll test the Canon E 17-40mm on a Canon EOS 400D / XTi body and compare it against EF-S lenses offering a similar general purpose range. To find out how this same lens performs on a full-frame body, check out our separate Canon EF 17-40mm with EOS 5D review.

In terms of looks and focal range, the EF 17-40mm is closest to Canon’s EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II. The EF 16-35mm II gets a little wider, although not quite as long, but the big difference is of course focal ratio: the EF 16-35mm II 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 II 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 tested the EF 17-40mm with the Canon EOS 400D / XTi where it offers a general-purpose range; this may be a little shorter than the standard EF-S 18-55mm kit lens, but the EF 17-40mm offers a number of benefits including far superior build quality, quicker and quieter focusing, along with better overall image quality. Not only will the EF 17-40mm make the most of the Canon 400D / XTi’s potential, but unlike any of the EF-S models, it’s ready to fit right onto a full-frame body should you upgrade in the future.

So to see how the EF 17-40mm performs on the Canon 400D / XTi, we compared it against no fewer than three popular alternatives from Canon’s EF-S range: the EF-S 17-85mm, EF-S 17-55mm and the EF-S 18-55mm kit lens. Find out if it’s the perfect general purpose lens for your 400D / XTi in our Canon EF 17-40mm full review. And as always, check out the highlights in our Canon EF 17-40mm video tour.

Testing notes

Note: this is one of two Canon EF 17-40mm lens reviews on Cameralabs. Our other review compares the performance of the EF 17-40mm on the full-frame Canon EOS 5D where its full ultra-wide angle coverage is unleashed. To find out how it compares on a full frame body, check out our Canon EF 17-40mm with EOS 5D review which also has its own video tour.

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