Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

Started Jun 17, 2006 | Discussions
Tomm Regular Member • Posts: 285
Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

I just rented the Canon 17-55 for the weekend. I already own the 17-40, which I really like, but I was wondering if this might be a better "single travel lens" solution for me.

Here are the positives:

1) The sharpness is amazing, even shooting wide open. It's noticeably sharper than the 17-40. I can apply a gentle unsharp filter to the 17-40 image to make it sort of look like the 17-55 image, but that's not the same as having sharply resolved details in the first place.

2) The color rendition looks truer to my eyes, although in some cases the slightly reddish warm cast of the 17-40 enhances the look of the image.

3) The IS definitely works as advertised. I can handhold it for 1/3 sec at 17mm and get a sharp keepers. Throw in the extra stop wide open (f2.8), and you're talking a 4 stop handholding advantage. Incredible.

4) The extra 15mm actually makes quite a difference. It becomes a workable short portrait lens at the long end. (I prefer shooting longer lenses for portraits, though.)

5) The bokeh is pretty nice and smooth on both lenses.

Here are the negatives:

1) Light falloff (vignetting) is a HUGE problem, not just in the corners but even along the edges. It's definitely very noticeable in the images, especially those with a bright blue sky. Honestly, this is the worst I've ever seen of all of the lenses I've ever used.

2) It's pretty hefty. If I hold the 17-55 in my hand for a few seconds, then hold the 17-40, I feel for a moment like I'm holding nothing. There's that big a difference.

3) The build is worse than the 17-40. The zoom makes that hollow plastic "thunk" sound at the ends, and the lens extends significantly as it zooms. Also, the grooves on the rubber of the zoom ring have this sharp notch in the middle that feels weird when you grab it. The 17-40, in contrast, has a wonderfully smooth zoom that works internally, and it makes a solid "tock" sound at the ends.

4) There's definitely some flare issues. I shot on the beach on a bright sunny day, so I got to put in some nice flare stress tests, and it didn't hold up well. I even got a few shots where flare unexpectedly snuck up on me when I wasn't trying to test for it. The 17-40 is pretty good at handling flare. I'm sure the hood would help, but that adds to the heft and the cost. Speaking of which...

5) This lens is pretty expensive, considering that it doesn't do full frame. The 17-40 goes for ~$700, so I think the 17-55 would be a fair deal at ~$800 including the hood. Instead, it goes for ~$1100, and the hood is extra, which makes for a more painful value proposition.

In summary:

+: sharpness, focal length, color, handholding
-: falloff, flare, ergonomics, build, price

Shooting 17-40, I could improve sharpness and color with Photoshop, carry an extra lens for focal length, and brace myself against something for handholding.

Shooting 17-55, I could use a hood for flare, but it's difficult to repair falloff, and there's nothing I can do for ergonomics and build. Price isn't a critical issue for me, as long as I feel that I'm getting my money's worth.

I'm currently leaning toward keeping the 17-40, but it's close, and I'm vacillating by the hour. I'm going to shoot some more tomorrow to get a better feel for what it can do, and hopefully that'll help me decide whether to switch.

I hope this helps others who are also looking at the 17-55.

  • Tomm

Boky Regular Member • Posts: 426
Re: Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

Very informative, thanks!

Boky

Anthony de Vries Veteran Member • Posts: 3,789
Re: Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

Funny that you consider the vignetting a "HUGE" problem. The lens is nothing worse than any EF lens does on FF camera's... You've just been spoiled by the crop factor effects on EF lenses.

I think your price reasoning is hilarious.

A full stop differnce means that for price, you would have to compare it with the 16-35L. That one is allready 1450 euro. Add in some 300 for IS, and another 300 for the longer range, and a FF EF-17-55 IS would go for a 2050 euro. At 'only' 1099 the EF-S could be considered cheap!

GraphikEdition Regular Member • Posts: 429
vignetting

1) Light falloff (vignetting) is a HUGE problem, not just in the
corners but even along the edges. It's definitely very noticeable
in the images, especially those with a bright blue sky. Honestly,
this is the worst I've ever seen of all of the lenses I've ever
used.

I guess you mean at f2.8? This is normal for any fast lens and is no where near as bad as a fast lens on a full frame camera. On full frame cameras you get black corners from a lot of lenses, not just fall off.

A sigma 30mm looks worse, more than a stop fall off, than the 17-55 and the 60mm macro at f2.8 has some fall off.

I guess your advice might be not to shoot landscapes at f2.8 and then it wont be noticable.

Graphik

blueuser Contributing Member • Posts: 516
Re: Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

Hi Tomm

I agree with you on most of your points. I am also impressed of the low barrel distortion, espeacially compared to the 17-85.

The light falloff decreases when you stop down which I normally do with all lenses when shooting outside. And when it becomes a problem it is easylier fixed in PSCS than that corner softness I have from my 16-35.

NYC 17-55 F8.0 ISO 100 1/250sec @ 17mm

I have done a comparison between the 16-35, 17-85 and the new 17-55 here: http://users.cybercity.dk/~nmb1805/lens_comparision/

blueuser Contributing Member • Posts: 516
Vignetting on 17-55 @ 17mm f3.5

I shot this picture at f3.5 by accident, but even at that aperture I don't think the vignetting a huge problem.

Shot in RAW and converted with no corrections and sharpness, only resized and sharpened for web.

See the fullsize here (917Kb):
http://users.cybercity.dk/~nmb1805/lens_comparision/IMG_7789.jpg

ben805 Regular Member • Posts: 370
Re: Vignetting on 17-55 @ 17mm f3.5

vignetting of the 17-55 IS isn't too bad really, if it bothers you then stop it down to f/4.0...problem solved. Though I do agreed with few other negatives that you pointed out, hate the fact that the lens physically extend when zoom, it suck in lots of dust.
--

http://www.pbase.com/ben805

Roy van der Woning Senior Member • Posts: 2,472
Re: Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

Funny that you consider the vignetting a "HUGE" problem. The lens
is nothing worse than any EF lens does on FF camera's...

Assuming that you mean EF-S instead of EF, where does it say that the OP is using it on a FF camera?

I think your price reasoning is hilarious.

A full stop differnce means that for price, you would have to
compare it with the 16-35L. That one is allready 1450 euro. Add
in some 300 for IS, and another 300 for the longer range, and a FF
EF-17-55 IS would go for a 2050 euro. At 'only' 1099 the EF-S
could be considered cheap!

So the fact that the 17-55 doesn't do FF shouldn't have an effect on its price? Now who's being hilarious?

Roy.

Elan Remford Veteran Member • Posts: 3,716
Re: vignetting

I too found some of the comparison standards to be well, non-existent. Sure, at a wide aperture and wide angle, a lens is going to exhibit light fall-off. The standard of comparison seems to be the 17-40 at f/4, which doesn't take much of an imagination to realize that the comparison is not apples to apples. I'd hate to see what a prime evaluation wide-open would yield at f/1.4 in this review.

The 17-55 is a home run, plain and simple. It's priced based on what it delivers, which is a fast stabilized standard zoom, the one one lens the entire EF lineup both lacks and needs most. Many of those who are complaining about the pricing are the very same who are marching right-out to buy one, and hating the fact that they love it. Sounds like these are the marketing guys that I want working for me, those that know how to price an item for its value.

I also found it interesting that it was compared (and unfavorably so) to the 17-40, and L lens, with its metal barrel and other design and build features inherent and specific to the "luxury" line of lenses, something the 17-55 never claims to be. How does the 17-55 compare to the buld of the 10-22, 17-85, 18-55, or 60 Macro? Now THAT one I might buy into.

Otherwise, everything that reaffirms this as being one terrific lens is spot-on. I own a 30D so I can shoot with it even over my 16-35, 24-70, and 24-105 when I need stabilized wide aperture zppm capability for available light event work and portraiture. At the moment, there's no lens finer for the task, regardless of the color of it's barrel stripe, initial, or if it includes a hood and case or not.

GraphikEdition wrote:

1) Light falloff (vignetting) is a HUGE problem, not just in the
corners but even along the edges. It's definitely very noticeable
in the images, especially those with a bright blue sky. Honestly,
this is the worst I've ever seen of all of the lenses I've ever
used.

I guess you mean at f2.8? This is normal for any fast lens and is
no where near as bad as a fast lens on a full frame camera. On full
frame cameras you get black corners from a lot of lenses, not just
fall off.

A sigma 30mm looks worse, more than a stop fall off, than the 17-55
and the 60mm macro at f2.8 has some fall off.

I guess your advice might be not to shoot landscapes at f2.8 and
then it wont be noticable.

Graphik

Katsoulis Regular Member • Posts: 393
Re: Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

I acutally like a little vignetting here and there, especially when shooting at a low DOF. It is easilly corrected in Photoshop if you shoot RAW.

What I can't abide is the "flare" or Chromatic Aberation. Having used the lens for a little over two weeks, the problem is clearly visible on 8x10 prints. This is not a matter of pixel peeping - in bright sunlight, in areas of high contrast, the lens (or at least my lens) produces unacceptable results.

Look for yourself along the left and top edge of this flower. This was shot RAW, converted with no correction, no sharpening and a slight reduction in contrast.

mfurman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,281
You are right, f/2.8 doubles the price of a zoom (NT)
-- hide signature --

Michael

mfurman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,281
Spot on! (NT)
-- hide signature --

Michael

mfurman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,281
Spot on! (NT)
-- hide signature --

Michael

blueuser Contributing Member • Posts: 516
Re: Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

I have noticed the same problem and the strange thing is that it almost disappears if you turn your the cameras buttom up - not a very practical workaround. Have other seen that?

Katsoulis wrote:

I acutally like a little vignetting here and there, especially when
shooting at a low DOF. It is easilly corrected in Photoshop if you
shoot RAW.

What I can't abide is the "flare" or Chromatic Aberation. Having
used the lens for a little over two weeks, the problem is clearly
visible on 8x10 prints. This is not a matter of pixel peeping - in
bright sunlight, in areas of high contrast, the lens (or at least
my lens) produces unacceptable results.

Look for yourself along the left and top edge of this flower. This
was shot RAW, converted with no correction, no sharpening and a
slight reduction in contrast.

Lee Baby Simms Contributing Member • Posts: 930
i agree

I shot with rented/borrowed 17-40s for weddings before getting the 17-55. Everything you say is true. For weddings, I don't find the light falloff to be an issue at all (forgot it did it until I read you post). My biggest issue is the flair from inside lights (spot lights, dancing lights, etc) which I encounter often.

I remember when the first "camera counter" shots of the 17-55 appeared. They were taken at a Canon show in Russia I think. They were not pictures of any note, and these forums here were full of nay sayers [remember the pages of "I'm not impressed" threads]. I remember seeing the back some a persons hand in one of the shots and remarking ... "that's one of the sharpest bits in a photo I've ever seen" My results from the 17-55 are like that. In almost every photo, there's a part of it that just looks off the chart on sharpness. It's still surprising because it looks sharper than the scene I remember shooting. Wow - I'm using USM far less often as a result.

 Lee Baby Simms's gear list:Lee Baby Simms's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EOS R6 Canon EF 135mm F2L USM Canon EF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM +10 more
carlk Forum Pro • Posts: 15,940
Re: i agree

Same here. Always give me a strange feeling when I see these sharp images that actually don't need sharpening. I still do a little USM but probably only about 50% as what I would normally use. It's really a nice feeling that you don't need to struggle between not enough and too much sharpening. BTW all of my other lenses are not bad lens.

With all the comparison in the world just the IQ alone will keep me from going back to anything else.

Lee Baby Simms wrote:

" My results from the 17-55 are like that. In almost
every photo, there's a part of it that just looks off the chart on
sharpness. It's still surprising because it looks sharper than the
scene I remember shooting. Wow - I'm using USM far less often as a
result.

 carlk's gear list:carlk's gear list
Canon EOS 50D Canon EOS 7D Nikon D800E Fujifilm X-E1 Canon EF 85mm F1.2L II USM +6 more
carlk Forum Pro • Posts: 15,940
Re: Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

I remember you posted another one to show the extroridianary CA with your lens. Either I have not paid enough attention or my lens is better, I really don't see much of a CA from mine. Especially strange is both of your images do not seem to be in a very challenging CA situation. I think you need to get in touch with Canon service to see if anything the can do.

 carlk's gear list:carlk's gear list
Canon EOS 50D Canon EOS 7D Nikon D800E Fujifilm X-E1 Canon EF 85mm F1.2L II USM +6 more
fStopJojo Veteran Member • Posts: 4,248
very good assessment..

..and report. it basically mirrors my findings: http://www.pbase.com/lightrules/fourpoundshowdown

Tomm wrote:

+: sharpness, focal length, color, handholding
-: falloff, flare, ergonomics, build, price

OP Tomm Regular Member • Posts: 285
Re: Canon 17-55 impressions (vs 17-40)

Anthony de Vries wrote:

Funny that you consider the vignetting a "HUGE" problem. The lens
is nothing worse than any EF lens does on FF camera's... You've
just been spoiled by the crop factor effects on EF lenses.

I think your price reasoning is hilarious.

A full stop differnce means that for price, you would have to
compare it with the 16-35L. That one is allready 1450 euro. Add
in some 300 for IS, and another 300 for the longer range, and a FF
EF-17-55 IS would go for a 2050 euro. At 'only' 1099 the EF-S
could be considered cheap!

Actually, there's a good example already exists for adding a stop and IS: 70-200/f4 (~$600) vs 70-200/f2.8 (~$1200). Since 17-40 is just a little more expensive than 70-200/f4, and since they're all L lenses, a good initial guess price for a Canon 17-40/f2.8 L IS USM lens would be ~$1300. Now add $300 for the extra 15mm, like you suggested, and we're at $1600. Now take $500 away for the lack of weather sealing, internal zoom, metal exterior, and red ring paint. Take another $100 for the apparent lack of proper flare-controlling coatings. Take another $100 for the missing accessories (hood, bag). And now you're down to $900. Finally, I personally feel that there should be some discount for EF-S lenses, so if you deduct another $100 and throw in the hood, you get my estimate of $800 + free hood. Of course, Canon has so far shown that they're not really discounting EF-S. But even then, $900 seems about the right place to be.

  • Tomm

OP Tomm Regular Member • Posts: 285
Re: vignetting

GraphikEdition wrote:

1) Light falloff (vignetting) is a HUGE problem, not just in the
corners but even along the edges. It's definitely very noticeable
in the images, especially those with a bright blue sky. Honestly,
this is the worst I've ever seen of all of the lenses I've ever
used.

I guess you mean at f2.8? This is normal for any fast lens and is
no where near as bad as a fast lens on a full frame camera. On full
frame cameras you get black corners from a lot of lenses, not just
fall off.

A sigma 30mm looks worse, more than a stop fall off, than the 17-55
and the 60mm macro at f2.8 has some fall off.

I guess your advice might be not to shoot landscapes at f2.8 and
then it wont be noticable.

Graphik

That's good advice in general, falloff or not.

However, one can imagine shooting large interesting foreground objects (e.g., statues) w/ shallow DOF on a bright day w/ lots of sky showing. That's actually not a rare photo situation when traveling.

That said, now that you mention it, I guess I've never shot a fast wide lens on FF before. When I shot film, I was more into telephoto stuff. So all fast wide lenses have this "problem"? That's interesting. There's no lens that can shoot

  • Tomm

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