Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM Lens


Many people buy a DSLR with a standard kit lens and are often a little disappointed with the results that they get. What many don’t realise is that the glass you put on the front is as important as the camera itself, and the standard lens will not release the full potential of the camera. If you are looking to upgrade your lens then the 17-40L is Canon’s most affordable offering in the acclaimed professional L series range. At around £500 it isn’t cheap, but this lens WILL improve your pictures. Think of it as an investment as good glass retains its value well. It is perfectly suited to crop sensor bodies and with an effective focal length of approximately 27-64mm it covers anything from scenic shots to catch pictures. I have used several different copies over the last five years and each has been excellent, with the pictures gracing many different publications.

So what makes this lens so much better than the standard kit lens? Well firstly it is very sharp for a zoom lens and remains so right to the corners of the frame where some softness can creep in on inferior glass. It also gives great colour saturation and contrast with pictures bright and colourful straight out of the camera. Compare it to results from the kit lens and it is instantly noticeable how much more washed out and under-saturated the pictures are on the cheap lens. Although at f4 this isn’t considered to be a ‘fast’ lens, it handles low light well and is great for long exposure shots. The bokeh is also surprisingly good for a wide-angle zoom. As you would expect the construction is much more robust than the kit lens, with metal mounts and full dust and weather sealing meaning you can use this lens in the rain without fear of damaging it and be sure that it will give you many years of service. I wouldn’t go anywhere without my 17-40 in the bag…

Check for tech spec and more info

Available from Amazon, and a range of specialist photography outlets, expect to pay £480 – £580


Reviewed by Oli Davies

6 Responses to “Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM Lens”

  1. Craig Peters

    Great post i couldn’t agree more, nothing worse then having poor shots of your prize or not having the equipment to capture those magical moments in all there glory. I too have had the 17-40L for quite some time and have used it on both a Full Frame and Crop Sensor camera and for the money its an awesome lens that as said covers a multitude of different situations for any angler! and i too wont go without it!

    The other lenses i would recommend:

    Canon 50mm 1.8 (Nifty 50) – if you cant afford the 17-40L straight away you can pick up a 50mm F1.8 for about £80 and this will improve your capture shots ten fold compared to the kit lens. It offers great bokeh and sharp images its not the best build quality but for the money its worth every penny and whilst your saving for your 17-40 this will easily tie you over. Personally I would recommend shooting with an aperture of F4 for the best results with this lens. Oh and this lens has a fixed focal length (prime) and as a 50mm its not any good for landscape photos.

    Cant wait for the Journal keep up the great work guys ;]

    • Oli

      Hi Craig
      I had a nifty fifty and quickly sold it on. The effective focal length on a 1.6 crop sensor of 80mm makes it unsuitable for general catch shots, unless they are giants!! Apart from it feeling like a plastic childs toy, the pentagonal bokeh is harsh and not very pleasing to the eye, although I have to admit it is a remarkably sharp lens especially when you take the price into account.

      I’d recommend the EF35mm f2 instead (while you are saving for a 17-40L!!). Yes, it’s twice the cost, but the focal length is much more suitable and bokeh more pleasing.

      • Craig

        Hey Oli,

        Yes i totally agree with the 35mm F2 the focal length is much better for a crop sensor but the same could be said for the plastic child’s toy feel with the 35mm f2.0 especially the noise of the AF, optically its very good but for twice the price i wouldn’t bother (while you are saving for the 17-40L!!) and just put the money towards the L.

        So if we are both in agreement everyone should just save for the 17-40L! ;-)

        Anyway the photos on here are awesome and i don’t want to diverse from your post as its spot on!

        Look forward to seeing and reading more…

  2. James Crosby

    You mentioned the ‘kit lens’ not being up to the mark when it comes to detail, but can I ask which lens you are referring to??

    I just purchased a new camera which came with an fs 24-105mm and I’m hoping this will be adequate for general Bankside photography.??

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