Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L Lens Review
I bought this lens at the same time as buying my first DSLR, a Canon 10D, in 2004. I used it a lot with the Canon 10D and also with the Canon 40D that I bought subsequently.
When I moved to a Canon EOS mirrorless system in 2013 I continued using some of my old EF and EF-S lenses with the Canon EF-EOS M Mount Adapter, but not this one.
I think the reason was because it is quite bulky and the Canon EF-M 18-55mm is an excellent lens. Why use a big, bulky lens when a much smaller and lighter lens gives excellent image quality and also has built in Image Stabilisation?
It's a shame because when I do occasionally use the EF 17-40mm f/4L, and when I look back at old photos, it is obviously a very good lens.
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 1/80s | Focal length: 27mm
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L | Canon EOS 40D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/6.3 | Shutter Speed: 1/200s | Canon 550EX | Focal length: 40mm
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L | Canon 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/6.3 | Shutter Speed: 1/40s | Focal length: 40mm
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 1/160s | Focal length: 40mm
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 1/200s | Focal length: 27mm
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/5 | Shutter Speed: 1/100s | Focal length: 39mm
This is the lens I bought at the same time as my first digital SLR (a Canon 10D) in 2004 and it is the one that lived on my camera most of the time for many years as my 'walkaround' lens. At the time it was the widest lens I had ever owned, but on a 1.6x crop body it becomes basically a 28mm lens in 35mm (full frame) terms.
It was wide enough for my needs most of the time but a little extra zoom in each direction would have been welcomed occasionally. The Canon EF-S 17-55mm IS sounds like a very interesting lens and it gets great reviews. Of course, it will only fit on crop bodies from the 20D onwards but the extra focal length and Image Stabilisation would be useful to have, even if IS isn't that essential on a lens of this focal length.
The Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS also has Image Stabilisation and an even greater zoom range. When I bought my 17-40mm there weren't many other Canon options but now there is quite a wide choice.
Image Stabilisation is valuable on long lenses - it was the thing I missed most when I sold my Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS and bought an Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L - but it is of lesser value on shorter lenses.
However, after saying that, when you get used to having IS on wide lenses and then go back to a non-IS lens you really miss it.
The EF 17-40mm f/4L never seems to excite people very much and generally reviews are luke warm but it served me very well as a general walkaround lens for many years, and I've taken some pleasing (to me) shots with it.
It was good for landscapes, indoor shots and portraits. Perspective distortion with wide-angle lenses doesn't always make for very flattering portraits but that hasn't been the case with this lens.
Focusing is fast and accurate, and consistency and reliability have been excellent. Being an 'L' lens the build quality is tough and it will ride out lots of knocks and bumps while travelling.
When I moved from a Canon 10D to Canon 40D the 17-40mm lens continued to give great results, however after buying an Ultra Wide Angle Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 I used the 17-40mm f/4L a lot less.
They are very different lenses but the extreme wide angle of the EF-S 10-22mm allows you to get some very interesting shots that are just impossible with longer focal lengths. The image quality of the EF-S 10-22mm, despite not being an 'L' lens, is also very good.
Upon entering fatherhood in 2011 I moved to a Canon mirrorless system in 2013. Carrying around a child, along with all the baby paraphernalia and a DSLR and bag full of heavy DSLR lenses just became too tiring.
The first EF-M lenses I got with my EOS M were excellent and even though I had bought the Canon EF-EOS M Mount Adapter there was nothing the EF 17-40mm could do that I couldn't do with either the Canon EF-M 18-55mm or Canon EF-M 11-22mm.
Both of these lenses are light and compact, they have built-in Image Stabilisation, and the image quality is excellent.
I didn't sell the EF 17-40mm f/4L, probably because of sentimental reasons. I had no qualms about selling other lenses I owned, such as the EF 300mm f/4L, that disappointed me, but the EF 17-40mm f/4L never disappointed me. It was always an excellent lens that gave consistently good image quality.
I'm not sure why anyone would buy one now. If you want to stay with a DSLR you can buy the excellent EF 16-35 f/4L or if you want to go mirrorless you can use the EF-M lenses that I mentioned above.
Sadly, the EF 17-40mm f/4L has probably had its day, but if you can get hold of a cheap used one in good condition it could prove to be a real bargain.
Would I Buy One Now?
Probably not. This is an old lens now, even though the image quality is very good. As a mirrorless user I prefer the smaller EF-M native lenses with Image Stabilisation.
For DSLR use I would probably be looking at the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS. It is a little wider (although it loses a little on the long end), it has better lens coatings and technology, and - most of all - it has IS.
If you are on a tight budget and find a used lens in good condition at a cheap price, it would be a good buy.
Most original images were shot in the RAW format and converted with Adobe Camera Raw. Noise was reduced using Imagenomic Noiseware Professional. Small amounts of image enhancement were applied using Adobe Photoshop CS2 (curves, levels, saturation) before sharpening using the Smart Sharpen filter (Amount: 30% - 120%, Radius: 0.2px - 0.3px, Remove: Lens Blur).
The large JPG images that open if you click on a thumbnail were saved with a 'High' quality setting of '8' on a scale of 0-12.
Weight: 17oz; 475g
Filter Diameter: 77mm
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.92ft; 0.28m
Minimum Aperture: f/22
Maximum Aperture: f/4
Autofocus: Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor
Serial Number: 184361
Lens Code: US0400
Date Manufactured: April 2004
Date Purchased: July 2004
Supplier: Fotofile, Bangkok, Thailand
Price: 31,000 Thai baht
Lens Hood: EW-83E (included)
Soft Case: LP1319 (included)
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Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.
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