/ Which Canon L lens for adventure photography?

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CrushUnit - on 27 Jan 2014
Ok so I am looking at getting a decent lens for my APS-C DSLR. The problem is I am having a really hard time deciding what to get. I wont be able to afford another lens after this for quite a while so am keen to get one that will cover most of my bases.

I mainly do landscape/adventure photography but also travel and general street photography (but less so).

I am looking at the 24mm-105mm f4 lens but I am concerned the 24mm will not be wide enough on my crop sensor. The other alternative is the 17mm-40mm f4 which will go wide but then leaves me with limited scope zoom (where I cant physically just walk closer).

Also the f4 concerns me a bit as I also do a fair amount of low light stuff and this just wouldn't be fast enough but going to f2.8 just get into crazy money.

I know I am being totally unrealistic about getting one lens to cover it all but I am trying to get my head around what will get the most overall benifit from if that makes sense?

Has anyone used these lenses on a crop sensor camera and got any advice or maybe there are options I have overlooked completely?

Tom Last - on 27 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

I've got the 17-40, amongst others. I occasionally use it on my 1D mkii.

unno what to tell you really, other than it's a good lens, although mine is ragged to sh*t, it's holding up well.

Sounds to me like you'll be better off with your 24-105 though if you're after a bit more of a one-size fits all job.

Christ knows how much a 2.8 would cost in that, if there is one. To be honest you'd spend less updating your body to a 5Dmkii/iii if you want low light performance on that sort of lens, without the cost.

You could always buy a cheapo 50mm 1.8 too for a bit more aperture when you need it. Mine cost me about £60 and I use it more than my f2.8 70-200 or f4 17-40 these days.

Alex Ekins - on 27 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

I use the 17-40 f4 on a 7d (crop sensor) and its excellent, I shot most of the Wideboyz pics using this lens, good for street stuff as well. I have never really worried too much about it being f4.
Skyfall - on 27 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

Hi - I currently use a crop Canon body and have both the 17-40 L (been shooting with it for a year or so) and 24-105 L (which I only recently got). I've also has the 70-200 L for quite a while.

Of them all, I really love the 17-40. As you don't need a particularly fast lens at that focal range, I've not struggled with the f4 outside. Inside the low light it is more of an issue. Ratcheting up the ISO helps of course but you will start to get more noise of course and, if you are taking portraits for example, you can't produce the really shallow depth of field you sometimes want. However, that aside, this lens covers a very nice wide angle (I rarely want to go wider) to almost portrait lens range. I used this on a trip to the US last Autumn and didn't need anything else really.

If, however, you want to get in close to take shots of people from a distance or pick out bits of a landscape, or a flexible lens for portraits, you will need more. Which is ultimately why I got the 24-105. Other than at the wide end (and it isn't really wide enough on a crop for much of what I do with landscapes), it is a very useful focal range. If I am being honest, however, I am a little bit disappointed by the optical performance of the 24-105. It is slightly softer generally than the 17-40 and 70-200 (or at least my version is) but edge to edge (at least on a crop) it is pretty consistent, the distortion is fine etc. The IS is handy for indoor shooting in low light. I am still getting used to what it can do and do like it a lot so I can see why it is considered the workhorse for many full frame users (where the focal range makes a little more sense if you have only one lens).

With a crop body, you get the advantage (if you consider it that) with the L's that you don't use the edges and experience the drop off in IQ at the edges. However, the focal ranges aren't ideal and you end up buying more lenses than perhaps you could get away with. Which is your real dilemma it seems.

At the moment I have the 24-105 stuck to my camera as I get used to it. It's a very useful range as I say but, somehow, I still love the 17-40 more. If you look at my (small) gallery on here, there's a colourful one from the USA using the 17-40 which I couldn't have taken with the 24-105, just not wide enough. It depends what your shooting preferences are pehaps.

I know I am a good one to ask this, having that line up of lenses (and one or two others) with a crop, but have you considered the lenses with focal ranges perhaps more suited for crop bodies? Like the canon 17-55 f2.8 IS which seems spot on for you in many ways ? I decided I didn't need the f2.8 and have intentions to move up to full frame at some point so considered the L's an investment but, in hindsight, I might have been better off getting the 17-55 as an all-rounder if only in the medium term. As someone on here rather wisely said in an old thread, maybe buy the lens for the camera body you have now than the one you "might" get? If that's part of your thinking.

Hope my ramblings helps a little.
richardcreagh - on 27 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:
I know L glass is king but have you given any thought to the 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6? It's got USM II and IS and while it not be as sharp as an L lens, or weather sealed (the barrel opens when zooming) it's a hell of a lot cheaper and still a superb piece of kit. Granted f/5.6 isn't wow at the longer side of things but I've had one for about 2 years now and I love it (see for some samples - a lot on there was made with the 15-85mm).

The wide is great (I find a lot of scenes need that bit more than the standard 18mm on most crop sensors - think tight belays, interesting foregrounds, small rooms), and the zoom goes a long way for a walkabout lens. With any decent SLR these days you can crop for extra zoom too without losing too much IQ. I've thought about the 17-40mm but I just couldn't have my all-rounder lens that lacking at the wider end. You could spend the extra money on a 50mm f/1.8 for portraits/low light stuff then. Another great lens for silly cheap money.

Ask yourself why you really want an L lens. Some of the 'lesser' lenses are really very good.
Post edited at 23:52
Hannes on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

Unless you have a 7D or a 70D I wouldn't worry too much about the lens being an L lens for weathersealing as the body won't be particularly weather sealed either. If you do landscapes properly with filters and a tripod then I can almost guarantee 24mm is not wide enough. If it is shooting a nice vista as you walk along it will be but only if you are prepared to stitch the shots together afterwards.

I have the 24-105 and use it mainly on a 1D with 1.3 crop which makes it a bit more wide angle than on your camera. There it works reasonably but on the crop body I often end up stitching shots. If you are used to crop lenses it is also significantly heavier and bulkier. Why not get the 17-55 f2.8 instead? They go for very reasonably money on the used market.
Durbs on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

I've got a 24-105 semi-permanently on my 7D. If/when I need to go wider, I've got a Sigma 10-20, but I don't use it as often as I thought I would.

For low-light work, although f/4 isn't mega-quick, the IS is pretty good (2-3 stops I reckon), and any slower you would end up using a tripod for most things. It's only low-light action shots where you'd really need faster lens, and you can always bump the ISO.

CrushUnit - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

Thank you all for taking the time to respond, it has been very helpful.

I think the reality is I need more than one lens to cover my needs. I think will look for one lens to do one thing very well rather than a jack of all trades.

My aim is to upgrade to full frame in the next 12-18mnth which is why I am keen on the L series. I may rent a couple of options for a weekend and see how I get on with them.

AndrewHuddart - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

24-105 every time. You want wide, you can stitch panos. It's not too heavy and it's versatile.

The point of adventure photography is, to me, picking out activity and showing it. Wide is nice for the context shots but for me, "fill the frame" is rarely bad advice.
CrushUnit - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to AndrewHuddart:

That is the way I am leaning at the moment, I have a nifty fifty for low light situations and if I pair it up with Sigma 10-20mm it gives me quite a lot of options
keith sanders - on 28 Jan 2014
sIn reply to CrushUnit:

I There, I use a 17 to 50 Tamron sp 2.8 Fantastic lens gets 5 stars in all the mags then I have my 70 to 200 f4 canon L lens. as an ex profesional I reserch everything before I buy and evaluate the cost.
take care,
keith s
shaun walby - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

I used a 17-40mm on crop Canon 550 for a year or so...i think it gives about 26mm wide end?and of course the advantage of longer FL long end. Its a great lens well built not too heavy,and cheap compared to other options still use it.f4 take a small light tripod never found it a problem.
Not wide easy way round that if you want top quality, the equation needs thinking about as if your using crop sensor your probably already quality compromised??? So does it have to be an L series lens?

Bottom line for the cost the 17-40 is excellent
AndrewHuddart - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to keith sanders:

The 70-200 is a workhorse but I struggle to justify the weight and bulk a lot of the time. I find that with the 24-70, or, worse the 17-40, I struggle to get into the action.

We all have different styles though. I'd recommend to the OP that the consider hiring one before taking the plunge.

It's worth thinking about what you're willing to carry. L lenses are heavier, often significantly so, when compare to the more consumer oriented lenses. But, weather sealing and optical and build quality make it worth it most of the time.

Having said that, I'm increasingly using my Fuji X series body and lenses and might be off skiing next week without my Canon kit.
John2 - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to AndrewHuddart:

The 24-105 is a very good lens. It's sharp across the frame, and although it suffers from obvious distortion at the wide end that can easily be corrected by a lens profile in Lightroom or Photoshop. It's nowhere near as heavy as the L telephoto lenses.
Tom Last - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to AndrewHuddart:

> I find that with the 24-70, or, worse the 17-40, I struggle to get into the action.

I agree Andrew. For the OP doing adventure photography, if you wanna fill the frame on 17mm, you're practically in the subject's face.
Skyfall - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to keith sanders:

> I There, I use a 17 to 50 Tamron sp 2.8 Fantastic lens gets 5 stars in all the mags then I have my 70 to 200 f4 canon L lens.

That was the combo I used for a long time. The Tamron (non VC/IS) was fantastic, particularly at the price, but literally fell apart after a few years use which is partly what persuaded me to switch to L series.

The 70-200 f4 is very nice but, in my view, best to go with an IS version if possible.
Post edited at 14:05
CrushUnit - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

Also just seen Sigma have an 18-35mm f1.8 lens which is about same price as 17-40mm and is getting rave reviews!
AndrewHuddart - on 28 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

It's a stunner for indoor event photography but too wide and too fast for most adventure stuff, especially on bright days where you're at >5.6 anyway (and nothing will be in focus at f1.8).

I'll say it again: 24-105 gives versatility for landscapes and to fill the frame with action.
Skyfall - on 29 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

The 18-35 would be far too wide to be a general purpose lens.
Jon Read - on 29 Jan 2014
In reply to Skyfall:
> The 18-35 would be far too wide to be a general purpose lens.
I agree for a full-frame sensor, but not on a 1.6 crop version as the OP has. Bonkers limited on the other end of the range for the purpose, mind...

CrushUnit - on 29 Jan 2014
In reply to CrushUnit:

Really appreciate all the feedback everyone.

I am going to rent a 24-105 and see how I get on

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