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Old Dec 23, 2009, 2:31 AM   #1
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Default 17-40mm L: IQ & IS question

Hi,

As some of you may know, I was helped by the wonderful members of this forum to decide on a 500D not too long ago. I got it with the kit lens and it has been simply superb.

Now, I am looking at upgrading to a better lens and for weeks (yes, for weeks!), I have been reading the reviews and the discussion forums (been searching through them) of every dslr/photo review site I could find on the first 3 pages of google.

Ok, so here's my question. I was playing around with the IS on my kit lens (18-55).

With IS on, flash off and 1/15 shutter handheld, I can get a very decent shot. When I zoom into the tiniest details, I can still read text off some bottle labels and overall sharpness is very good.

With IS off, all settings same, I get a very similar looking shot at first. But when I zoom into the details, the non-IS shot is clearly much worse than the shot with IS.

So my question is, does the better glass in the 17-40 offset this to some extent? Or will I never be able to do a flash off, 1/15 handheld shot once I get it?

Also, I was very gung ho on getting the lens soon, but after reading up on some comparisons between the kit 18-55 lens and the 17-40, it seems that IQ, while being better, is not markedly better than the kit. This seems strange and I was wondering if anyone could shed light on this?



For those of you who want to discuss or know more on my decision for the 17-40, here it is:

After reading up and being in both camps at one point of time, I was torn between the 17-55mm IS and 17-40mm L for the longest time.

I finally made up my mind for the 17-40mm L, even though I might not be going full frame in the next 2 years. But who knows, I might switch after that!

Anyway, decided on the 17-40mm because of the superior build quality and heard too much of the dust issues with the 17-55.

I was also looking at the Tamron 17-50 2.8, but heard its got a few issues too.

Overall, I think the 17-40 will be a very longlasting investment which gives me the flexibility to upgrade to FF in the future, while giving me excellent quality right now.

Thanks!
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Old Dec 23, 2009, 4:57 AM   #2
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I personally think you will be disappointed as the 18-55 IS kit lens is a very good performer and in lab tests produces noticeably better results (lens resolution) than the 17-40, it also has a bigger zoom range.

Also the 17-40 on FF is incredibly soft wide at the extreme boarders.

You can check out some tests here, both done with APS-C, there is also a full frame review on the site of the 17-40.

18-55 http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/18...review?start=1

17-40 http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/17...review?start=1

What are you looking to gain with the new lens and which areas are you most concerned about?

The Tamron 17-50 VC lens is looking like a really good option but it is a bit early to tell for sure. This will give you f2.8 throughout the range as well as vibration control. Two things the 17-40 doesn't give.
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Old Dec 23, 2009, 5:08 AM   #3
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Well, mostly, the 17-40mm focal length is great for me, as I am more of a wide lens guy. And this is the best focal length I can carry around with me.

I am mostly looking at a bigger jump in performance, which means clarity, sharpness, focusing, etc.
Build quality comes in at a close second.

Hmm..frankly speaking, I would much rather prefer the quality (build and general) of a Canon L lens, than go with a manufacturer like Tamron. I understand the benefits of the Tamron, just not sure of the longevity of the lens (if it will work with my next camera, etc.).

In what way will I be disappointed? That it is not a huge jump in IQ? Or that it is worse without IS?
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Old Dec 23, 2009, 5:18 AM   #4
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The IQ of the 17-40 is no real change than what you have, actually is shows slightly worse resolution. It doesn't' have IS and you mention times when you've shot with IS where shutter speeds have been low and got a far better shot than without IS so you will lose this.

The Tamron will allow you to shoot in lower light conditions than what you have now, or get faster shutter speeds in the same conditions. The f2.8 over f5.6 at the 55mm setting means if you were getting a shutter speed of 1/250s now you could get 1/1000 with f2.8. At the slow speeds of say 1/10s you would get 1/40s, these are big differences. The best build quality with good IQ is the Canon 17-50mm f2.8 IS but the cost is high. The L lens that does a better job than what you have now and that will work if you switch to FF is the 16-35mm f2.8 L, but that will really hurt your pocket.
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Old Dec 23, 2009, 5:27 AM   #5
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Haha, no the 16-35 is out of the question!

Hmm..I see what you mean..

2 reasons why I am not too much in favour of the Canon 17-55mm 2.8 are that its heavy and pricey.

The Tamron seems like a nice compromise between the 2. Where I am, it will be more difficult for me to locate the Tamron and then get good after sales service, in case I need it. That is another reason for leaning towards the Canon, but as you say, it doesn't offer that much more over the kit lens.

I will be going to Bangkok in the next few days, maybe I will look for the Tamron over there. Do you think a warranty is very necessary to have on a lens? Do lenses go bad after working for 3 months? Or is it that once you have a good piece, it usually remains good for its life.

Ah, I am totally confused now! I am looking more into seeing how I can get the Tamron locally.
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Old Dec 23, 2009, 5:34 AM   #6
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I personally would probably stick with the kit lens as we are only talking 1mm difference and put the money towards something that is going to help your photography more. The only time I would change is if you needed better low light performance.

As for warranty there can be problems so it is better to have it and you should have one no matter which option you choose if you purchase from a recognised store.
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Old Dec 23, 2009, 5:41 AM   #7
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Thanks. I think that's good advice. I generally tend to get everything on warranty, so was not very comfortable with the whole Tamron thing and their support system.

Well, its Christmas time and I am in a lot of money, I guess its time to splurge it elsewhere maybe!

The L glass is tempting and I was going out to buy it today, but this whole 18-55mm vs 17-40mm thing has put a damper on things. I guess in a way, its good. More money in the pocket!
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Old Dec 23, 2009, 5:52 AM   #8
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Tamron should have worldwide warranty so you should be OK if there was a problem but I think I would still be better staying with the current lens.
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Old Dec 23, 2009, 6:44 AM   #9
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Thanks so much for the help! I think I am going to keep my kit lens for now and look more into the Tamron's availability and optics.

To people just seeing this thread, please feel free to give your opinions as well. I would love to hear if someone has a differing opinion.

Thanks!
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Old Dec 23, 2009, 1:10 PM   #10
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Here's an idea.

I agree with Mark; really the 18-55 IS is very sharp and you have to spend a lot of money to improve on it. Don't buy lenses for a camera you may own one day - it's madness. All those people who did that last year and now see the 7D are probably kicking themselves.

Try out a Canon 28mm f1.8 lens for a lark; getting rid of that zoom ring will do wonders for your photography.
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