Rating: 9 out of 10

Exceptional images are definitely not the exception with this lightweight, affordable, L–class ultra-wide zoom.

I must admit that, when I first purchased this lens, I expected it to see limited use. I had only occasional need for an ultra-wide so, exercising great fiscal responsibility, I chose this model over Canon’s 1-stop faster, 3-times pricier 16-35mm f/2.8L. Since I would mostly use the lens for the occasional landscape or architecture shot—two disciplines requiring good depth-of-field—I wasn’t too concerned about the f/4 aperture. I would, in most cases, be using it at f/8- f/11 and, as I already mentioned, it wasn’t like I was going to use this lens all that much, anyway…

Yeah, right. In 2008, I took more photos with the lens I “wasn’t going to use much” than with all my other lenses combined.

What I didn’t know, when I purchased this glass, was that the bulk of my 2008 photographic income would come from landscape and architecture work — two areas that, until 6 months ago, were only hobbies for me. Instantly, this lens rose from “novelty” to “bread and butter” status, and not once did I ever think, “I wish I had purchased the 16-35.”  In fact, it was quite the opposite — spending a summer climbing mountains and hiking many rugged and steep trails made me appreciate every ounce I didn’t have in my backpack, and the 17-40 is one of the lightest lenses in my kit. Stopped down and mounted on a tripod, this lens is both an architecture and landscape-capturing machine. Handheld at f/4, it’s still surprisingly terrific, though a little softer in the corners than I would like. On the new breed of 21+ megapixel bodies, cropping away unwanted width (or softness) actually becomes a feasible alternative to swapping lenses. Never before has “thriftiness” actually worked out so well for me.

Sample Images

The following are just a few photos shot with this lens: