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Old 20th of August 2004 (Fri)   #1
cmM
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Default Canon 17-40 vs. 18-55 review

Hello folks.
As some of you may know, I recently purchased a 17-40mm f/4 L lens, and have owned the 18-55 EF-s lens since I bought my camera so I wanted to take a couple comparisson test shots and post them in here in case other users are interested to find out how the two lenses perform side to side.
Facts first, opinions after:

Note: Images are taken with my 300D on a tripod, RAW, manual everything, manual focusing (to infinity in most cases). Post processing... well none except downsizing for the web. No levels, no sharpening, no nothing, so the pics look like crap, but what matters is the ability to compare between the 2.

•Physical characteristics:



Well, in terms of build, look, and feel... the L series lens is by far the winner:
-metal mount vs. plastic mount
-the focusing ring on the 18-55 is about 10 times as thin and positioned at the very top of the lens, so that's another disadvantage towards the 18-55.
-the 18-55 is a feather compared to the 17-40 (I guess this might be an good thing for some, but I personally preffer the much heavier 17-40 on my camera).
-the 18-55 doesn't have a sexy red stripe around it

•Autofocus:

Again, the L series lens wins with the fast and quiet USM autofocus, while the 18-55 takes a while longer and is much noisier when focusing.
Which one performs better in low light.... I didn't get to test that, and I don't know if there would be much of a difference, as it depends more on the body than lens.

•Samples
Okay, enough of this... look at these pictures and see for yourselves:
-Overall picture quality (I guess ):
17-40L @ 17mm, f/11
Click here for hi-res jpg

18-55 @ 18mm, f/11
Click here for hi-res jpg


-Overall picture quality, again (I guess ):
17-40L @ 17mm, f/11
Click here for hi-res jpg

18-55 @ 18mm, f/11
Click here for hi-res jpg


-Sharpness and out-of-focus quality (these were taken handheld, about 1 minute apart from each other, so they're not quite identical, but they should give you an idea)
17-40L @ 35mm, f/4

18-55 @ 35mm, f/4


-Colors:
17-40L @ 17mm, f/8
Click here for hi-res jpg

18-55 @ 18mm, f/8
Click here for hi-res jpg


Conclusion: Is the 17-40 worth paying about 5 times the price of the 18-55?
Well, I was expecting the L lens to beat the 18-55 by far, but judging from the results they seem to give quite similar results. I know these are not the best photos to judge from, but I thought they would give people an idea. Also, this is the first time I attempt to review/compare anything, so go easy on me. I will try to take some more comparisson shots and update this post.

Ok, let the discussions begin:
... opinions ?
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Old 20th of August 2004 (Fri)   #2
CyberDyneSystems
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Awesome cmM!

I just added a link in our budding "reviews" sticky

Thanks.
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Old 20th of August 2004 (Fri)   #3
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Great review.
This shows that for web images, or 4x6 prints, both lenses will work well.
I think the difference would be more obvious at 100% or large prints.

Would you be able to show a couple of 100% crops, especially in the corners of the images?

Btw, the first picture is a great one... a comparison of the actual sizes of the lenses. I always thought the 17-40L would be huge, but it's actually not that big at all!
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Old 20th of August 2004 (Fri)   #4
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Good review.
You might include 100% crops from the center and from the edges of the photos in the review. That way it's much easier to compare the sharpness. You should also try to take some pictures so that the sun hits the front lens element.
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Old 20th of August 2004 (Fri)   #5
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Thanks, i look at these, and i'm still just not convinced. The L is obviously better built, but for the price...i'm just not sure it's worth it optically. And i'm not just basing this on your review, 'im basing it on many of the same reviews.
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Old 20th of August 2004 (Fri)   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drisley
Great review.
This shows that for web images, or 4x6 prints, both lenses will work well.
I think the difference would be more obvious at 100% or large prints.
ROFLMAO

You should've scaled them down to 90-60 pixels

And it helps when you are comparing, to make all things equal, IE: One of the non-changing WB settings, same focal distances, manual mode... etc
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Old 21st of August 2004 (Sat)   #7
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I'll add some 100% crops tomorrow to give you a better idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DocFrankenstein
And it helps when you are comparing, to make all things equal, IE: One of the non-changing WB settings, same focal distances, manual mode... etc
In case you didn't read my entire post,
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmM
Note: Images are taken with my 300D on a tripod, RAW, manual everything, manual focusing (to infinity in most cases). Post processing... well none except downsizing for the web. No levels, no sharpening, no nothing, so the pics look like crap, but what matters is the ability to compare between the 2.
I took pictures at each lens' widest focal length. The difference is 1mm
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Old 21st of August 2004 (Sat)   #8
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Whoops. What about "pre-set" white balance? (shadow, sunlight... etc)

I know, I know... I'm a picky little bastard.

And it's not like I can do better. I still have the comparison of the Sigma 70-200 and L 70-200, All I did was this:

http://andrew4137.fotopic.net/p6244664.html

Apparently I screwed up the placement of the crops Fine job
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Old 21st of August 2004 (Sat)   #9
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This reminds me of an older comparison between the "fantastic plastic" Tokina 19-35mm (the one with Hoya glass, not the cheaper Cosina-made version) and the 17-40mm L:

http://www.canonians.com/wideanglecompare.htm

For general purpose use and smaller print sizes, the less-expensive WA lenses seem to do the job adequately. However, in the fine details (chromatic aberration, flare, bokeh, etc.) I believe the L glass is superior.

Also, the crop factor comes into play. If we were able to compare edge distortion on a full-frame camera, it would be reasonable to expect the 17-40 to give far better results. If you plan to eventually upgrade to a 1.3x or full-frame camera, the L glass is probably the better choice.
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Old 21st of August 2004 (Sat)   #10
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these reviews make it very difficult to justify an L glass purchase.
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Old 21st of August 2004 (Sat)   #11
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Thanks for taking time to do this comparison cmM!

This comparison combined with the fact that we have better control over color, sharpness while using digital, it really makes me wonder if it always makes sense to go for an "L"!
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Old 21st of August 2004 (Sat)   #12
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I'd like to see some 100% crops, as well as some wide-open aperture shots.

Still, a good comparison.
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Old 21st of August 2004 (Sat)   #13
cmM
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I added full res jpegs. (links above the images).
Keep in mind, that these pictures were not post processed at all.
0 sharpening in C1, 0 sharpening or anything else in PS.

If you have an idea of instances where the differences will show more, please speak, and I'll be happy to exploit the crap out of 'em :P
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Old 21st of August 2004 (Sat)   #14
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Default There is a difference...

Good job on the comparisons. There is a difference. It is very apparent in the comparison of the 17-40L @ 35mm, f/4 shot vs. 18-55 @ 35mm, f/4.

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Old 21st of August 2004 (Sat)   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slejhamer
This reminds me of an older comparison between the "fantastic plastic" Tokina 19-35mm (the one with Hoya glass, not the cheaper Cosina-made version) and the 17-40mm L:

http://www.canonians.com/wideanglecompare.htm

...
Does any website have the comparison of Canon 18-55 EF-s vs. Tokina 19-35?
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