No wonder the Canon EF 17–40mm f/4.0 L USM Lens is one of the company’s top sellers. It’s well built, produces excellent quality digital photos for many types of photography and is very affordable and convenient.
Many photographers shooting with a 1.6x FOVCF (field-of-view crop factor) camera have discovered that this Canon lens is a great all-purpose lens, delivering exceptional quality in relation to its cost. The 17–40mm focal length range becomes 27.2–64mm on those 1.6x bodies, which is all many DSLR hobbyists may ever need, especially as a starter lens.
The 17–40mm (27.2–64mm) focal length of this lens is just the right size for many types of photography. Landscape images needn’t be just wide views of distant scenes. Use this lens to add an interesting foreground object that is framed by the greater view of a panoramic scene.
The Canon EF 17–40mm f/4.0 L is also very popular with many photographers because it is so small and light. Its dimensions are only 3.3” x 3.8” (83.5mm x 96.8mm) and it weighs a mere 1.1 lbs. (475g).
The “USM” designation refers to Canon’s Ultra-Sonic Motor for auto-focusing, which just happens to be another popular reason so many photographers prefer this lens. The motor provides quick, quiet and precise focusing. Manual focusing and zoom control are also made easier with well-crafted focus and zoom rings, which rotate with the smooth operation you would expect from Canon.
Although the lens does change its length when focusing, it is very minor, being just the front-end elements. This doesn’t affect the use of polarizing and neutral density filters, however, because the elements only move behind the filter threads.
The 17–40mm f/4.0 can be used in so many environments, especially outdoors, because it is built with rugged weather sealing. You’ll want to add a UV filter (something you should do regardless) to make sure the lens is totally protected from the elements.
Considering the very affordable price of this lens, its sharpness performance makes it an outstanding value. Center sharpness is quite exceptional at the widest focal length and renders highly acceptable sharpness zoomed to 40mm. As is typical with zoom lens, the corners are not quite as sharp as the corners, but this will give the hobbyist’s images a pro quality, since the pros actually prefer a bit of softness in the corners. Shooting at f/5.6 eliminates any of the almost non-existent sharpness issues with this Canon lens. Narrow the aperture to f/8 and f/11 for landscapes and you’ll be just as pleased with the outcome.
Many photographers have also made the Canon 17–40mm very popular because of how well it manages lens flare, chromatic aberration, barrel distortion and vignetting. Chromatic aberration, for example, is not an issue, except when shooting at a very wide focal length, and then only in the corners. Quite noticeable barrel distortion at 17mm is not unusual at that very wide angle and can be easily corrected in post-production. Vignetting simply doesn’t occur when this lens is attached to a 1.6x body, although a considerable amount is visible on a full-frame body. The vignetting quickly disappears, however, as you select a longer focal length and narrower aperture.
What makes the Canon EF 17–40mm f/4.0 L USM lens very popular when this PhotographyTalk article is being written is that B&H Photo Video has a special offer through March 3, 2012. The regular price of $797.00 is reduced $60 to $737.00. Find it at http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=canon+ef+17-40mm+lens&N=0&InitialSearch=yes.
Canon had the wisdom to design the 17–40mm to be fully compatible with full-frame camera bodies too. Photographers who plan to advance to this next step in the future will already have a lens that performs equally well. It’s almost like two lenses in one.
Architectural and real estate photographers are better able to compose dramatic visions with the 17–40mm f/4. Typically, a wide-angle lens does not render attractive portraits, since it will often distort facial features. This Canon lens, however, does create portraits your subjects/clients will be happy to purchase when you position them in a natural setting or capture photos of their whole body. You’ll also like how much easier it is to take those sometimes difficult family group photos.
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