Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8 USM L - Review / Lab Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published December 2007

Special thanks to André Heinicke for providing this lens!


Testing a Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8 USM L was like meeting an old friend for me. I owned this lens for several years and we went through a couple of interesting photo adventures during that time (see my portfolio section). Eventually I replaced the lens with an EF 17-40mm f/4 USM L which also marked the end of my EOS era a year later (...).
Anyway, the lens replaced the EF 20-35mm f/2.8 L in the mid '90s and was eventually succeeded by the current EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L. As usual we'll have a look how this old full frame zoom performs in the APS-C DSLR scope where its field-of-view is equivalent to 27-56mm on full-frame cameras so it behaves more like a standard zoom rather than an ultra-wide lens here.

The optical design is made of 15 elements in 10 groups with two aspherical elements (one ground and one molded variant). The lens features 7 circular aperture blades. At 84x96mm and 545g it's still quite compact and relatively light weight regarding the large max. aperture. A floating system is meant to provide a constant performance throughout the focus range. The minimal focus distance is 0.42m resulting in a max. object magnification of ~1:9 at 35mm. The filter size is 77mm which is a shared entity by many f/2.8 Canon L zooms. A petal-shaped hood as well as a hard case is part of the standard package (not shown here).

The build quality of this lens is very good with smooth but not overly well damped control rings. The outer length of the lens remains constant though the inner lens tube moves a little when zooming (if you look closely you may see this characteristic in the two product images above). The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer remains easily possible. The lens has a ring-type USM drive based on a front-focusing system resulting in an extremely fast AF speed. Typical for ring-type USM lenses full-time manual focusing remains possible in one-shot AF mode.

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