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Canon 17-40 vs. 18-55 review

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Thread started 20 Aug 2004 (Friday) 20:21   
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cmM
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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:

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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 :wink:

•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 :roll: ):
17-40L @ 17mm, f/11
Click hereexternal link for hi-res jpg
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http://www.cmuntean.ne​t/images/aug20revl1.jp​gexternal link
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18-55 @ 18mm, f/11
Click hereexternal link for hi-res jpg
IMAGE NOT FOUND IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
http://www.cmuntean.ne​t/images/aug20revs1.jp​gexternal link
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-Overall picture quality, again (I guess :roll: ):
17-40L @ 17mm, f/11
Click hereexternal link for hi-res jpg
IMAGE NOT FOUND IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
http://www.cmuntean.ne​t/images/aug20revl2.jp​gexternal link
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18-55 @ 18mm, f/11
Click hereexternal link for hi-res jpg
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http://www.cmuntean.ne​t/images/aug20revs2.jp​gexternal link
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-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
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http://www.cmuntean.ne​t/images/aug20revl3.jp​gexternal link
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18-55 @ 35mm, f/4
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http://www.cmuntean.ne​t/images/aug20revs3.jp​gexternal link
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-Colors:
17-40L @ 17mm, f/8
Click hereexternal link for hi-res jpg
IMAGE NOT FOUND IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
http://www.cmuntean.ne​t/images/aug20revl4.jp​gexternal link
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18-55 @ 18mm, f/8
Click hereexternal link for hi-res jpg

IMAGE: http://www.cmuntean.ne​t/images/aug20revs4.jp​g

•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 ?

Post #1, Aug 20, 2004 20:21:48




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CyberDyneSystems
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Awesome cmM!

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

Thanks.

Post #2, Aug 20, 2004 20:27:49


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drisley
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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!

Post #3, Aug 20, 2004 23:42:58


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Panza
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Good review. :D
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.

Post #4, Aug 20, 2004 23:45:55


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timmyquest
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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.

Post #5, Aug 20, 2004 23:48:49


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DocFrankenstein
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drisley wrote:
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 :lol:

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

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 :lol:

Post #6, Aug 20, 2004 23:57:19


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cmM
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I'll add some 100% crops tomorrow to give you a better idea.

DocFrankenstein wrote:
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,

cmM wrote:
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

Post #7, Aug 21, 2004 00:15:19




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DocFrankenstein
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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.foto​pic.net/p6244664.htmlexternal link

Apparently I screwed up the placement of the crops :twisted: Fine job

Post #8, Aug 21, 2004 00:23:13


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slejhamer
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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.c​om/wideanglecompare.ht​mexternal link

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.

Post #9, Aug 21, 2004 07:25:46


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mdude85
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these reviews make it very difficult to justify an L glass purchase.

Post #10, Aug 21, 2004 08:24:44




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rraman
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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"!

Post #11, Aug 21, 2004 09:59:22


Raman
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Tom ­ W
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I'd like to see some 100% crops, as well as some wide-open aperture shots.

Still, a good comparison.

Post #12, Aug 21, 2004 10:18:15


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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

Post #13, Aug 21, 2004 11:18:13




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JX
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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.

_______________

Jim

Post #14, Aug 21, 2004 11:25:17


JX

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rraman
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slejhamer wrote:
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.c​om/wideanglecompare.ht​mexternal link

...

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

Post #15, Aug 21, 2004 11:36:33


Raman
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