REAL WORLD Lens Test 17-40L
These lens tests are designed to show you what a rank amateur can do with these lenses.
Very little adjustment has been done to these images and, in certain photos, actual straight-from-the-camera images are provided. In other words, if "I" can get these results, you should be able to, as well.   samples
When I bought my first DSLR, the Canon Rebel XT, it came with a "kit lens" of 18-55mm range. One of the major selling points of a DSLR is the availability of a wide assortment of lenses, so while you may first want more of a zoom lens or a macro/portrait lens, sooner or later you'll want to upgrade the lens that came with your camera.

One option is the 17-40mm f/4L USM (retail US$799.99), which comes highly recommended, almost universally so, among reviews. True enough, the build is solid, the focus VERY fast, the images clean and clear. The 17-40mm is a wonderful step up - and attractively priced for L glass.

First impression

The very first impression was, "Gee, this thing is heavy." Not overly so, but heavy in the sense that it is a solidly put together lens, much heavier than the kit lens it replaces. Compared to that kit lens, the clarity is also impressive. Here's how the 17-40 stacks up physically with my other lenses, from left to right:

background: 50 / 100 / 70-300L / 70-300

Canon 17-40L

Standing next to the kit lens, the difference is obvious. But where the kit lens protrudes as it zooms, the 17-40 does not. And, of course, the kit lens takes a 58mm lens cap, the 17-40 takes a whopping 77mm. With glass that large, I had to put at least a UV filter on it, and normally a circular polarizer, if only for protection.

Canon 17-40L with kit lens

The 17-40 also takes a funky lens hood, which draws comments from the uninitiated, who obviously think that piece of plastic somehow makes the whole camera look special. Once I got used to it, myself, I thought it looked pretty cool, too. How it functions remains to be seen.

Canon 17-40L Manfrotto tripod

The lens has the requisite gauges for focal length and subject distance, along with one switch (auto or manual focus).

Canon 17-40L Manfrotto tripod

So, let's get to shootin'.

The first thing you'd want to know is the range of image capture.
The following three shots are from a stationary position at 40mm, at 24mm, and at 17mm.

A few favorite photos from the past few years.
Canon 17-40L fall landscape
Canon 17-40L Philadelphia City Hall
Canon 17-40L looming clouds

SAMPLES: See a slideshow of various images from the 17-40L

Visit the 2008 Valley Forge Mustang Club show with the Rebel XT and 17-40L

Visit the 2009 Valley Forge Mustang Club show with the Canon EOS 50D and 17-40L

BONUS: Take a walk through the famed Chanticleer Gardens with the 17-40L

Canon User Manual for the 17-40mm, for those who want it (PDF)

bottom line

The 17-40L, like my 50mm and 100mm lenses, is a lens that I can just grab and go. I know that I'm going to get good results with this one in all kinds of situations. This is the lens most commonly on my camera - my walkabout lens.

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dwight munroe
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