Another Long Post on Lenses

    2 October 2006, mid-afternoon

My Canon 17-40mm L lens

My opinions on the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L

Since the last time I wrote about lenses, I ended up buying the Canon 50mm f/1.8 I mentioned, and a Canon 17-40mm f/4 L. I’m quite happy with both.

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is about $120 CDN; for those of you in the US it is much cheaper there. There is really no good reason not to own this lens if you have a Canon camera. The only exception to this rule would be if you own the Canon 50mm f/1.4 or the brand new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L. The 50mm f/1.8 is the cheapest Canon lens you can get; it takes very nice photos considering the price. However, as I have mentioned before, on the smaller sensors used in Digital Rebels, 50mm lenses have the same field-of-view as 80mm lenses. For many people that is a bit too ‘zoomed-up’. This lens is great for portraits, and can be used as a fairly good walk-about lens.

I told my brother I would would give him my kit lens when he bought a new camera. I have wanted to replace my kit lens for a while now, and he was trying to keep the purchase price of his camera as low as possible. He bought the new Digital Rebel last week, and so I started scouring Craigslist for lenses. Camera gear is something you shouldn’t be afraid to buy used. My K1000 is almost 10 years old, and was probably 5 years old when I bought it. It works the same way now that it did back when I bought it. I have a Yashica from the 70s which is a bit beat up, but still takes great photos. Lenses are mostly glass and metal. If they have worked well for a year, they’ll probably work well for 20 years. You need to be careful when buying anything used to make sure you don’t get a lemon, but you should always look for used camera gear first before buying new in my opinion.

I found a fellow selling a Canon 17-40mm f/4 L for a nice price, and decided to splurge on that. Even buying it used, it’s the most expensive lens I own. It’s the first L-series lens I own. I’ve been taking photographs since my last year of highschool, and have always managed to get by on fairly budget gear.

On a normal camera, a focal length of 17-40mm would make the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L an ultra-wide zoom lens. On my camera the focal length ends up being effectively 27-64mm, making it more of a standard-zoom. At f/4 the lens is a bit slow: it is probably meant to be used outdoors to take landscape shots. On a digital rebel I’d say it makes a good lens for street photography as well. Indoors you might have trouble using the lens with available light. You should keep in mind that on digital bodies, you can compensate by turning up the ISO. Also, with a focal length of 17-40mm, you can avoid camera-shake at fairly low shutter speeds. The L on the lens means it is part of Canon’s professional lens line-up. The build quality is excellent, the lens is weather proof, and the glass used in its construction is probably made from sand they get from outer-space. This is actually one of the cheaper L series lenses you can buy; there is a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L for double the price which I think would be bought by professionals, while this lens gets snatched up by enthusiasts. Most reviews I have read said there is little reason to get the 16-35mm f/2.8 L unless you are in desperate need of the extra f-stop, so you should keep that in mind.

This weekend I had a chance to use both lenses. On Saturday night, I wandered around Toronto taking photos during Nuit Blanche, using the Canon 50mm f/1.8. I’ve had the Canon 50mm f/1.8 for a long while now and am thoroughly impressed. On Sunday morning, I walked up and down University Avenue for the CIBC Run for the Cure event, taking photos with the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L. (I think a few photos could have been better had I used the supplied lens hood.) I’ve had the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L for a few days now, and am liking it so far. I’ll need to write more about it once I have used it for a while.

Me standing in my bathroom, snapping a self-portrait



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