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Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 L
Full-Frame EF USM
(1995-2001)

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

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Canon 17-35mm f/2.8

Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8 L (77mm and gel filters, 1.4'/0.42m close-focus, 18.8 oz./534g, about $800 used.) enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these oldies when you get yours through these links, thanks! Ken.

July 2012    Canon Reviews    Canon Lenses    All Reviews

 

How to Use Ultrawide Lenses

Canon Ultrawide Lenses Compared

 

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II (2007-today)

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L (2001-2007)

Canon 17-40mm f/4 L (2003-today)

Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 L (1995-2001)

Canon 20-35mm USM (1993-2007)

Canon 20mm f/2.8 USM (1992-today)

Canon 20-35mm f/2.8 L (1989-1995)

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 (2011-)

 

Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

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The Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8 L is a lightweight full-frame f/2.8 professional ultrawide zoom for all Canon EOS digital and 35mm autofocus cameras. It's the same size as today's Canon 17-40mm f/4 L, but built tougher and a stop faster.

This 17-35mm has instant manual focus override simply by grabbing its focus ring at any time.

Used on a modern camera like the Canon 5D Mark III with a lens profile loaded, any color fringes are corrected in-camera. This gives better image quality today than we ever could get with this lens when it was new.

 

Compatibility and Formats

This lens is optimized for 35mm film and full-frame digital, and of course works on all 1.3x and 1.6x Canon cameras.

This Canon EF EOS 17-35mm f/2.8 works perfectly with every Canon EOS camera ever made, meaning every Canon DSLR and every Canon autofocus 35mm camera made since 1987.

This means of course it works great on today's 5D Mark III and Canon 7D, but it works just as well on my original Canon EOS 620 from 1987!

As a full-frame lens, this works on all Canon SLRs, regardless of format. As a full-frame lens, I will be reviewing this lens on full-frame.

 

Canon 17-35mm f/2.8

Canon 17-35 2.8. enlarge.

 

Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Name

Canon calls this the CANON ZOOM LENS EF 17-35mm f/2.8 L ULTRASONIC.

EF means "electronic focus," meaning that there is an autofocus motor in the lens itself. All Canon lenses since 1987 have been EF.

L means expensive as L.

ULTRASONIC means USM, which means you may grab the focus ring at any time for instant, silent manual focus override.

 

Optics       top

Canon 17-35mm internal diagram

Canon 17-35mm internal diagram. Aspherical.

15 elements in 10 groups.

The front element is a hand-ground glass aspheric, and another element is also aspherical for a total of two.

Internal focus.

Front and rear groups move inside the barrel as zoomed.

FIlter ring never moves.

 

Focal Length

17-35mm.

On 1.3x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 22~45mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

On 1.6x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 27~56mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

Clearly this is a silly choice for anything other than a full-frame or 35mm camera.

 

Angle of View (on 35mm and full-frame cameras)

104º ~ 63º diagonal.

70.5º ~ 38º vertical.

93º ~ 54º  horizontal.

 

Close Focus       top

1.4 feet (0.42m) from the image plane, specified.

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio       top

1:9.1 (0.11x).

 

Diaphragm       top

Canon 17-35 L

Front, Canon 17-35mm at f/2.8 and 17mm. enlarge.

7 blades, somewhat curved.

Stops down to f/22.

 

Focus Scale       top

Yes.

The ring turns from infinity to the closest focus distance in about 100.º

 

Depth-of-Field Scale       top

No.

 

Infra-Red Focus Indices       top

Canon 17-35mm f/2.8

Focus Scale, Canon 17-35/2.8.

Yes, marks for 35mm, 28mm, 24mm, 20mm and 17mm focal lengths.

These marks are probably for the 800 nm wavelength.

 

Filter Thread       top

77mm.

Metal.

Does not move, ever.

 

Size       top

Canon specifies 3.3" (83.5mm) diameter by 3.77" (95.7mm) long.

It doesn't change size as zoomed or focused.

 

Weight       top

18.840 oz. (534.1g), measured.

Canon specifies 19.2 oz. (545g).

 

Hood       top

Plastic bayonet EW-83C II, included.

 

Case       top

LP1216 sack, included.

 

Caps       top

77mm E-77U front, included. (ultrasonic cap with gold "ULTRASONIC" and silver "Canon" logos.)

Standard EOS cap rear.

 

Quality       top

Made in Japan.

 

Price, USA        top

Box, Canon 17-35mm

Box, Canon 17-35mm f/2.8.

2012 May: about $800 used.

 

Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Overall    Autofocus    Breathing   Color   Distortion

Ergonomics   Falloff    Filters     Flare     Lateral Color Fringes

Mechanics   Sharpness   Sunstars

 

Overall     performance      top

The Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 is a well-made, great-handling, lens with optics easily corrected electronically in Canon's newest cameras.

 

Autofocus     performance      top

Autofocus is as we expect from Canon, maybe on the slow side for an ultrawide simply because it isn't instantaneous.

 

Auto/Manual Switching

Just grab the focus ring for instant manual-focus override.

You never need to touch the AF-MF switch unless you want to lock-out autofocus.

 

AF Speed

AF is relatively leisurely for an ultrawide lens.

 

AF Accuracy and Consistency

AF accuracy is fine on my Canon 5D Mark III.

 

Manual Focus

Manual focus is easy; just move the ring.

 

Focus Breathing     performance      top

Focus breathing (the image changing size as focused) is mostly of interest to cinematographers who don't want the image changing size ("breathing") as the lens is focused among different subjects.

The Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 has almost no focus breathing. The only weird thing I see is at the wide end that the center of the image doesn't change, but the sides cave-in a bit as focused more closely. In other words, at 17mm, if you have two vertical lines on each side of your subject, their tops will move closer to each other as focused more closely!

 

Color Rendition     performance      top

The color balance of this 17-35mm f/2.8 matches my other Canon EF lenses.

 

Distortion     performance      top

This Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 has some distortion at every setting: barrel at 17mm and pincushion at 35mm. It's complex, so it never fully corrects with simple tools, but you can correct it with some of Canon's software, or in-camera with the 5D Mark III if you shoot CRW raw and then stop and convert to JPG in-camera in the PLAY menu.

The distortion can be obvious at the ends of the zoom range, but rarely in the middle.

Use these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool to remove most of it:

at 10' (3m)

on Full-Frame

17mm
+2.0**
20mm
+0.5**
24mm
-0.5**
28mm
-1.5
35mm
-2.3

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

** Waviness remains.

For less distortion in an ultrawide zoom, chose the Canon 20-35mm f/2.8 L (1989-1995), which has less distortion than any of today's Canon ultrawides.

 

Ergonomics     performance      top

Canon 17-35mm f/2.8

Canon 17-35/2.8. enlarge.

Ergonomics are the same as Canon's newest Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and Canon 17-40mm f/4 L.

The zoom flicks easily, with little to no damping.

The zoom range is a little congested at the 17mm end.

 

Falloff (darkened corners)     performance      top

Falloff is never visible with Peripheral Illumination Correction enabled, an option in the Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5D Mark II and others, presuming you have data for this lens loaded into your camera.

I've greatly exaggerated the falloff by shooting a flat gray target and presenting it against a gray background.

 

Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff on full-frame

No Peripheral Illumination Correction

 
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
17mm Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff
24mm Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff
35mm Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

With Peripheral Illumination Correction

 
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
17mm Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff
24mm Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff
35mm Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 falloff

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Filters, Use with     performance      top

There's no problem with vignetting even with thick or rotating filters, but don't push your luck: you'll get vignetting on full-frame at 17mm if you stack filters.

The filter threads don't move.

My Hoya HD polarizer works fine, but don't use polarizers on ultrawide lenses.

Gels can be cut and slipped into a slot over the rear element.

 

Flare and Ghosts     performance      top

The 17-35 has almost no ghosts if you get the sun in your image. If you do, there may be a dot or two opposite the sun if the conditions are just right.

 

Lateral Color Fringes     performance      top

Used on a modern camera like the Canon 5D Mark III, which corrects color fringes in-camera when a lens profile is loaded, there are no color fringes. Hooray!

 

Mechanics     performance      top

Canon 17-35mm f/2.8

Rear, Canon 17-35 f/2.8. enlarge.

The Canon 17-35mm f/2.8 is made as well as the current 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and better than the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L.

 

Filter Threads

Black anodized aluminum.

 

Hood Mount

Black anodized aluminum.

 

Fore Barrel

Metal.

 

Focus Ring

Metal, covered with rubber.

 

Mid-barrel

Plastic.

 

Internals

Seem like metal.

 

Zoom Ring

Metal, rubber-covered.

 

Zoom Cams

Feel like metal.

 

Moisture seal at mount

No.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Serial Number

Engraved into the bottom rear of barrel near the mount, and filled with paint.

 

Date Code

Printed on rear light baffle.

See Canon Date Codes.

 

Noises When Shaken

Mild to moderate rattling.

 

Made in

Japan.

 

Sharpness     performance      top

Lens sharpness doesn't matter much, but it sure distracts amateurs who confuse lens sharpness with picture sharpness.

In the center, the 17-35mm is always super sharp at every aperture. It's the same in the center as Canon's newest 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and 17-40mm f/4 L.

On my 5D Mark III which correct color fringes, it's about as good at the sides and corners as the older 16-35mm L. It's not quite as good as the newest 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and 17-40mm f/4 L, but none of these lenses are all that great wide-open in the corners anyway!

Unless you're a pixel-counter, I wouldn't worry about it. Far more of an obstacle to sharpness is that ultrawide zooms vary from shot-to-shot and sample-to-sample, and their planes of best focus are rarely planes, and often tilted! Spend too much time trying to compare ultrawides, and you can go crazy.

If you worry yourself sick about sharpness, get the 16-35mm f/2.8 L II or Canon 17-40mm f/4 L, or just stop down to f/11 with any of these lenses for much better results.

 

Sunstars     performance      top

Canon 17-35mm sunstars

At f/22.

With the somewhat curved blades of its 7-bladed diaphragm, sunstars are muted.

This is as much as I can get, and this is at f/22. The stars are asymmetrical 14-pointed.

 

Compared       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

See Canon Ultrawide Zooms Compared.

 

Usage       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

AF - MF Switch

Leave this in AF.

Set it to MF only to deactivate autofocus.

 

Focus Point

I haven't had any problem with this lens, but with my other Canon ultrawide zooms I usually get the most accurate focus with the center AF area.

 

Recommendations       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

This 17-35mm is lighter than any other Canon f/2.8 zoom, and performs almost as well as the newest.

Get one, I did, and I already own the 16-35mm L II and 17-40mm. I like having f/2.8 in the same compact size as the 17-40mm!

If you've found the time I've spent sharing this professional review helpful, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these oldies when you get yours through these links

Thanks!

Ken

 

More Information       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Canon's Museum page on it.

 

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May 2012