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Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: May 30, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Outstanding image quality: sharpness, low chromatic aberration, contrast. Great built quality. Very fast and silent Auto-Focus
Cons:
Hood is too big. Distortion in the wide end (not really bad for a wide angle lens).

This is my first canon glass, which I am using on a 10D. It is my only canon lens right now, so I have no point of comparison in the canon line.

I was first impressed with the feel of the lens: very good finish, very comfortable control with two progressive and precise barrels for zooming and autofocus.
The front element moves inside the lens; a screw-in filter is apparently a must-have to procted the inside of the lens (from dust, humidity). The global length of the lens does not change while zooming or focusing.

The hood is also extremely impressive because of its size; however I think its efficiency is doubtful when used for an APS sensor. It seems to be a must have however, since it helps protecting the lens of shocks. I would not mind a smaller hood (this one is hard to fit in a bag).

The image quality is awesome. I cannot compare to any other L or non L canon lens since this one is the first I use among these; however, I can witness the improvement is huge compared to the lenses I previously owned (for instance the minolta 24-105 D I have been using for years is said to be quite a sharp lens but the 17-40 is ways better). I could notice very little chromatic aberration and the contrast is good thoughout the frame. The image quality does not really depend on the aperture that much: the maximum aperture is as good as higher apertures.
The barrel distortion is quite noticeable in the wide end (not so good for architectural shots).
I was nicely surprised to see I could take pictures really close and get some nice close-ups (it works nicely for flowers for instance).

The maximum aperture is a bit limiting in low light (eg for shooting indoors, with poor lighting).

My overall conclusion is that this lens looks outstanding to me; and provides a perfect standard range on a DSLR with APS sensor. I use it mainly for nature (landscape, close-ups) and I think it is excellent in this area.
Highly recommended.


 
Canon EOS 10D

10D
Review Date: May 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Wonderful pictures (low noise, good resolution); Very good build quality; Ergonomics is quite nice; Fast Autofocus
Cons:
Lack of a spot-meter; the Viewfinder could be better

I have been using film SLRs for a five years now and was anxious about getting the same feeling on a digital camera.
Coming from a Minolta Dynax 7, my expectations were quite high, especially regarding to ergonomics and metering. I am shooting mostly nature (trekking, wildlife...)

The 10D does not disappoint me.
The ergonomics is pretty nice. I have often heard that the Dynax 7 is among the best cameras in this area; but I immediately felt home with the 10D. I wished the viewfinder could be larger; however I can do manual focus with no real problem so I think this is not a very important complaint.
The autofocus is blazingly fast (with a 17-40 L). AF time is virtually unnoticeable.
The metering system has one drawback (which is the main limitation the camera has shown to me until now): there is no spot meter. However the center metering system is usable as an "approximate spot meter". I also noticed a tendancy to slightly overexpose; maybe it is just my unit, and it is not so bad anyway.

The build quality seems very good. The 10D is a little heavy, but the feel is very good, since it is well balanced and feels solid. Obviously the mag alloy body (and also the pentaprism viewfinder) explain and justify the price difference compared to, for instance the 300D.

The start up time is a little slow; but it is easy not to remark it: turn on the dial and then remove the lens cap and it is on! The review mode is also a bit slow but it is not too bad. The speed while taking picture is amazing. The 9 frames buffer is more than enough for me.

The image quality is very high, with good resolution. The dynamic range is also a pretty nice surprise to me (after my previous experience in digital photography, with a canon G1).
The noise starts to really show up at ISO 800 only and is no problem until ISO 1600: I will avoid to use ISO 1600 and H.

I have not much experience with the onboard flash, since the only lens I own right now does not allow me to use it without getting a shadow in the lower part of the picture. Though, I tested it, in order to asses the flash metering system. It is quite consistent, with a tendancy to overexpose, which can be corrected thanks to the FEC.

Overall, my conclusion is that the 10D is a great choice, good value for money.
Obviously more expensive than the 300D, but the extra control and the better build quality justifies the cost difference.

A very good choice.