New Addition to the Camera Bag!

by | Feb 11, 2014 | Recommendations | 3 comments

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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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  1. Daniel Hancock

    I’ve been quite pleased with the 17-40mm also. It offers great quality, while also holding up nicely to the weather and my other landscape photography abuse.

  2. James Staddon

    That’s good to hear, Daniel! Any problems you’ve discovered with it yet?

  3. Daniel Hancock

    No problems for me. Maybe since it is L-series, it might be heavy for some people.


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