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From Adarama by Lenspiration from Salem, WV on 2/11/2014

5out of 5

Pros: Fast, Accurate Auto-Focus, Durable, Lightweight, Easily Interchangeable

Cons: Distortion

Best Uses: Indoors/Low Light, Night Photography, Weddings/Events, Landscape/Scenery

Having sold my wide angle lens from the EF-S line, it was time to upgrade to the EF line! The 17-55mm EF-S lens was great for the APS-C, cropped sensor 40D camera I upgraded from last year. However, with the crop factor, it was truly only 27mm. To truly be shooting wide angle had been a dream of mine since I first bought a digital SLR in 2006. Now it’s finally a reality. One step at a time; one upgrade at a time. Patience pays. I will truly appreciate viewing the world in a completely different way in 2014.

The purchase of a new lens always begs the question: “How did I know this was the lens to get?” Here are the factors that I consider in determining what lens to upgrade to:

1. What am I going to use it for?

I absolutely love landscape photography so I wanted to go wide. So, I began looking around for lenses starting between 15mm and 18mm. There are a lot of lenses out there! But knowing what focal length you want will narrow the playing field quite a bit.

2. What size sensor do I have?

Many of the cheaper lenses are designed only for APS-C cameras and do not work well (if at all) on full-frame. In the Canon lens lineup, you can tell the difference by the name given to the lens: EF-S means they only work on APS-C sensors; EF means they work on both cropped and full-frame sensors.  This is a drawback for upgrading to full frame, but I knew I needed to make that jump at some point, which happened to be last year. Now my playing field was much narrower.

3. What brand do I shoot with?

I shoot Canon, and I discovered there weren’t very many lenses in the Canon lineup that had the focal length I was going for. So I went searching for off-brand lenses too. Of course, I couldn’t search within Nickon because their mounts are a completely different size, but I could consider Sigma, Tamron and others. However, after doing my research, I was shocked at how few off-brand lenses were compatible with full-frame. I gave up my search and went to the Canon lineup. My playing field consisted of just a few options now.

4. Zoom or fixed?

With my 24-105mm, I am almost always shooting at 24mm, so I thought perhaps a fixed lens would do just fine at super-wide. Plus, zoom lenses are heaver and bigger. Why buy a big bulky lens that can zoom if I’m not going to use the zoom? As it turns out, there are no Canon fixed lenses in the focal range I was shooting for, so I was forced to look for a zoom. But that’s ok; at wide angles, even zoom lenses are very light weight.

5. What aperture do I need?

I always ask myself what the lowest aperture is that I need. A lowest apertuture of f/4 is pretty common and less expensive. However, an aperture of f/2.8 or lower is going to let in more light: good for indoor shooting but much more expensive. I decided that because I’ll mostly be doing landscape work where I’m using narrow apertures more often than not, I didn’t need the f/2.8 aperture. Plus, with a wide angle lens, I can hand hold at much slower shutterspeeds than at longer focal lengths.

6. What perks am I willing to pay for?

I think of Image Stabilizer, L glass, auto-focus speed, light weight, weather sealing and durability all as perks. First I set a budget; then I try to get as many of these perks as I can within my budget. Having just sold the EF-S however, I had a great budget! But alas, I still didn’t have $2000 to spend on Canon’s 16-35mm, so that ruled out all the lenses . . . except for one: the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM ultra wide angle lens!


9068_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 17 mm, 1-50 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 800

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