I didn’t have the opportunity of testing the wide-angle range. It just wasn’t to be. Either I didn’t’ find the time to take a tripod with me to shoot stopped down landscapes and buildings, or it was too cloudy or too cold to stay outside for a longer period of time. This is why I am going to report about the wide-angle range at a later date. On this occasion, I will particularly go into build quality and handling, macro-suitability and image quality (from wide-angle onwards).
Build quality and handling
The 17-70mm f/2.8-4 C is surprisingly well made for its price range. As I have already written in a previous blog article of mine, it feels just as well made as the 30mm f/1.4 Art, even though it is part of the comparatively affordable Contemporary-series. Just as with the Art, the non-gummed sections are no fingerprint-magnets, even though the photos suggest otherwise. The gummed area (focus-, zoom-ring and the semi-circle between port and zoom-ring which goes from right towards camera handle, all the way down) provide good stability and give a pleasant touch-feeling. Meanwhile, I’ve grown accustomed to holding the lens with forefinger and thumb on the zoom-ring and with the middle finger on this gummed semi-circle. This way, the lens lies comfortably in the hand and the rotating focus-ring doesn’t pose any problem anymore. As long as you don’t expect “manual focus override”, that is, because there is no such feature. While we’re on it, the focus-ring can be turned 90 degrees and is rather effortless. The zoom-ring is, in my opinion, neither effortless nor tight, but just right. People with weaker or stronger hands might see this differently. As so many things in life, this is a pure matter of taste. 😉
As already mentioned, you get very close to the subject with the 17-70mm C in the wide-angle as well as the tele-range. With a closest focusing distance of 22cm at the long end (70mm) an image ratio of 1:2.8 can be achieved. If you only shoot macros every now and then and are not yet ready to invest in a “real” macro lens with an image ratio of 1:1, the 17-70mm C and an achromatic lens are definitely worth consideration. Here are a few examples of what’s possible with the 17-70 C without an achromatic lens.
Here you can take a look at which blow-ups can be achieved with the DP3M and the Marumi DHG200 +5 achromatic lens. Don’t forget, the DP3M reaches an image ratio of 1:3 and benefits less from close-up lenses due to a shorter focal length (50mm vs. 70mm).
You cannot expect a zoom to measure up to the sharpness of a good fixed focal length. Similarly, you cannot expect the 17-70mm C to compete with lenses of the DP2M and DP3M. Still, the resolution of the 17-70mm C is fairly high, especially if you stop down just a bit. Just look at the eyes in the following photos. Simply click on the photos to view them on Flickr in full resolution.
Looks pretty good for a zoom, doesn’t it?
CAs, vignetting and distortion didn’t attract any negative attention, which can be quite the opposite with wide angle. The bokeh looks equally good, considering the fact that we’re dealing with a zoom lens.
I am highly satisfied with the lens so far. Let’s see if it stays this way after I’ve had time to take more photos in the wide-angle-range. It is generally known that the wide-angle-range is the weak spot of these kinds of zoom.