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Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

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251 573547 Apr 12, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
80% of reviewers $569.41
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
7.70
6.70
7.6
EF17-85

Specifications:
Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 17 - 85mm; 1:4-5.6
Lens Construction: 17 elements in 12 groups
Diagonal Angle of View: 78 30' - 18 25'
Focus Adjustment: Inner focusing system, with focusing cam
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.35m - 1.15 ft.
Zoom System: Ring USM
Filter Size: 67mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: 3.1" x 3.6", 16.8 oz. / 78.5 x 92mm, 475g


 


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joelypolly
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Registered: Mar 29, 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 1
Review Date: Apr 24, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Lightweight and reasonable size, Good range (27~136mm), IS works well, Good starter lens and walk around lens
Cons:
Contrast isn't quite as good, Plastic body, Image quality could be better

This is your "standard" zoom lens for Canon cropped bodies, the 17-85mm translates to 27~136 on standard 35mm full frame. This gives you reasonably wide angle and not too bad telephoto. The aperture goes from 4 at 17mm to 5.6 at 85mm. The price is around 600AUD/450USD. Everything about this lens is "standard" or just very average. Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing as this is one of the best standard (read:walk around) lenses for cropped bodies.

The lens is light and quite compact which means you won't be too worried about carrying it around with you all day. It is focuses fast enough to catch most types of action if thats your thing. Nothing about this lens stands out about the crowd but nothing about it is particularly bad.

Now lets talk image quality. Well thats average too... Looking at the photo from 30D it looks great when your zoomed out or printed normal size but at the pixel level it isn't very sharp. If we look at image quality towards the edges well that kinda gets a bit worse but still reasonable if your not pixel peeping. Towards the edge we also run into CA issues especially when using a higher aperture number (ie. anything over 16). Other things to be mindful of is the distortion and vignetting at 17mm.

What about macro work? Well this lens is not to bad for that since it can focus quite close at around 30cm. Flowers and insects won't fill the full frame but you will be able to crop a bit and get a reasonable sized bug. So I guess thats another average point in its favor.

You can check out some sample images from http://joelypolly.blogspot.com/2009/04/canon-17-85mm-f4-56-ef-s-usm-review.html


Apr 24, 2009
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saxologist
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Registered: Feb 9, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 21
Review Date: Apr 11, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: fast quiet and nice range and tack sharp for me.
Cons:
less contrast than other lenses

I have found that flash helps alot, and just got a polarized filter (linear) and this helps the contrast immensley...so can't sell it yet.

Apr 11, 2009
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hypadizysoiboi
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Registered: May 4, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 27
Review Date: Apr 2, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $460.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Relatively Cheap, Good Standard Zoom, Semi-Sharp
Cons:
Not a lens for anyone serious about photography

I bought this lens to replace my kit lens on the 400d. Back then, I knew very little about the world of photography and i just wanted a good standard zoom. This did the job. NOTHING MORE.

If I could rewind time, I would get a 17-40L over this. For about 200 dollars more, you get a much richer tone and sharpness as well as a L-quality build.

After using this lens for a while, i realized that i use it as a prime at 17 usually. I've never actually captured any nice images at any magnification past 50mm.

Also, EF-S means its not compatible with the 5d FF-Sensor. If you want to stick with your 1.6 crop, this lens will do, but if you are planning to upgrade to a 5d, get the 17-40.

I recommend this lens to amateur photographers who just want a lens that covers decent range. If you plan on going professional, stick with the L glass, you almost cant go wrong.


Apr 2, 2009
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another_mikey
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Registered: Mar 2, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 623
Review Date: Mar 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: IS, handling, range, reasonable IQ for price
Cons:
variable and somewhat slow max aperture, some distortion and CA at 17mm (fixable in PP)

I have used this lens for a very large number of shots over the almost 3 years I have owned it. It really has never let me down. I have done travel photography with it as my main lens on a trip to Europe, I have done landscape stuff back here in the states with it, as well as people pictures.

Pros:
- The IS is great. It was literally the difference in getting decent shots or not in many dimly lit churches and museums in Europe.
- The 17-85 range on a crop body really is quite excellent for a walk around lens
- For me, the IQ has really been good. Granted, up to now I have not really has any L quality glass to compare it to, but I have take a number of shots I am very happy with with this lens.
- The size and weight are very manageable, and it has a nice balanced feel on my 40D.

Cons:
- some CA and and distortion, mostly at 17mm. I fix it in PP
- Sometimes there is just not enough light (even considering IS), to get the shot with this lens.

Summary:
Are there better lenses than this one out there? Absolutely. But for the money, it is a nice package of range, reasonable if not outright stellar IQ, and price. I think this lens gets somewhat of a bum rap, it can take excellent pictures.

ML


Mar 28, 2009
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jlandaue
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Registered: Feb 4, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 673
Review Date: Mar 4, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Zoom range, fast focus, accurate, not too sharp but not to soft, reliable, Image Stabilization.
Cons:
Some Purple Fringing, some Distortion wide open.

Zoom Range, Image Stabilization and being reliable is what makes me not to get rid of this lens. This is the lens that I would never sell.

Because of the zoom range, I will take this lens anywhere. Although not too sharp, the IS and accuracy in this lens helps a lot.

I have used this lens outdoors and for travel, as well as for indoors event, parties, babieshowers, etc. Everything informal.





Mar 4, 2009
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st_dimov
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Registered: Sep 29, 2005
Location: Bulgaria
Posts: 13
Review Date: Jan 15, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Good range, IS.
Cons:
Nasty purple fringing at the wide end, not sharp at corners, variable aperture is a PITA.

I decided I do not need the IS in such a short lens and sold it to finance a 17-40L. Quite happy with my choice.

Jan 15, 2009
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hdco1098
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Registered: May 20, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 9, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $550.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Perfect range for a one-lens lens on 1.6x. IS. Relatively light and compact.
Cons:
CA at the edges. Not quite as sharp as the top glass.

Now that my 17-85 has apparently died, giving me an Error 99 message on my 30D, I had to post in support of this workhorse that has been carried all over the world on a Rebel XT and now 30D. Probably has 10,000 shots on it or so. It has produced some great captures and generally exhibits good quality. In thinking about a replacement I rented a 24-70L but found it too big and heavy for the walkaround use that the 17-85 covered.

This is one of those lenses that you probably will not buy if you read the forums and maybe won't buy if you read the reviews here. It's very difficult not to get caught up in getting the best possible theoretical quality. But if you buy it and get out in the world and use it (particularly it's necessary to travel light) you will likely appreciate the overall good qualities of this lens.

That said, I'm a little disappointed that after those 10K shots I am getting the Error 99. It's not a very high number, really. There is a brief buzzing noise when shooting that probably has to do with stuck aperture blades. With Canon charging a base 110 (I think) fee to fix it, it's a good excuse to try something new and I just got the 17-55.

Still, with the price now down to less than $400, it's a worthwhile choice.


Jan 9, 2009
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oajlu
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Registered: Nov 19, 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 170
Review Date: Dec 23, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: ring USM, IS, metal mount
Cons:
blur, ca, and distortion at 17mm, but dpp can fix it. slow speed

I traded my sigma 17-70 for this lens.
overall, it's a good walkaround lens for outdoor. IQ is not very decent at this price range. Canon can make this lens a little better, and they really should include lens hood on all of canon's lens. however, it has ring USM and IS. they are kind of essential functions to me. So even though its IQ is not as good as 17-70, i dont feel regreted to make this trade.

After all, i dont need this lens to shot moving subject or protrait. i just use it as a walkaround lens for outdoor.


Dec 23, 2008
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PhilO
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Registered: Dec 21, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Oct 13, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Underrated - a great value for the money
Cons:
None

I've shot all of the L glass mid-range zooms and COMPARATIVELY speaking this lense is a great value!

No, it not the sharpest but images are quite sharp when properly post processed as all digital images should be.

No, it is not the fastest but is quite fast in good light with proper camera settings.

Yes, it is light and well balanced on the 40D.

Yes, it has a great zoom range for general purpose use.

Yes, it may be the best value walk-around Canon offers.

For these reasons I rate it overall a 10.

Here is a small gallery of sample images:

http://www.pbase.com/pao/1785_images

Hope this helps some buyers.





Oct 13, 2008
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MI2CA99
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Registered: Aug 19, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good range and nice weight.
Cons:
f5.6 max! but it would be heavy if it was fast.

I have shot with two of these and this second one I bought to have on the office rebel. I shot around for the day and found it to be excellent through the full range, This lens is a good copy IQ is awesome, except at 17mm wide open. If the f/stop is at 5.6 or smaller at any focal length its performance is great. Also, the lens barrel is not wiggley like others I have seen. Maybe that is the key, a loose barrel = poor IQ.

Aug 19, 2008
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klosz007
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Registered: Aug 5, 2008
Location: Poland
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Versatile zoom range - from moderate wide to moderate telephoto.
Cons:
Poor IQ at wide end - distortion, CA. New too pricey - buy only used or as a kit. A bit too heavy/large for what it offers.

I've bought this lens as as kit for 40D, so it was my first 40D lens.

This lens is a kind of one that gives and takes.

It gives you superb versatility due to its zooming range - from decent wide to moderate telephoto. Ideal walkround lebs. Even though now I own superb 17-55, If I was only to take one lens with me (e.g. going with small photo bag to the beach etc.), I would take this one.

It also gives good image quality in focal lengths range approx. 24-85mm - decent sharpness, low chromatic abberations and low distortions. Also low susceptibility to flaring across all focal lenghts. IS works perfectly and silently. Ring USM is very fast and silent plus it allows full time manual focusing (FTM). Decent build quality.

What it takes from you is image quality at wide end (approx. 17-24) - visible chromatic aberrations, image sharpness goes down, especially at image borders, strong barrel distortions...

It also takes a lot of size and weight in your bag, especially for the limited brightness that it offers.

However I would still recommend this lens as a versatile walkround lens, but you have to know its limitations (eg. avoid shooting at focal lenghts of 17-20mm, if you do not have to).

It is worth buying as a kit lens or second hand. Brand new bought separately is a bit too expensive for what it offers.


Aug 5, 2008
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deepakev1976
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Registered: Jul 28, 2008
Location: India
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great range, IS, USM focus, Solid Build - A very good walk around lens.
Cons:
f4-5.6 = slow, Barrel distortion at 17mm

To begin with, this is a much much better lens than how it is being portrayed. I have been using this lens for quite sometime now and while its not the best out there, it definitely isn't a slouch either. Its advantages far outweigh its negatives and for an amateur/hobby shutterbug this could be the only lens they would ever need. My lens has managed to hold its fort against the tough weather conditions and dust I expose it to on an everyday basis while traveling across India, and I would rate its build very high in this regard.

The positives :

1. Great Travel Lens - very useful focal range
2. Sharp from 24mm
3. Very effective IS
4. Fast Autofocus
5. Build Quality
6. Nice color balance

A lot of people say Tamron 17-50 is way better than this lens but my personal experience suggests otherwise. I had the 17-50 with me for a month and while its a fast lens its performance left a lot to be desired. A friend of mine had briefed me about the notorious Tamron quality control so i decided to try an other copy of the 17-50 lens but that one turned out be even worse. I guess you need to be plain lucky to get a good copy of a tamron and for that matter a Sigma lens. I sold my tamron off and bought a nifty fity (Canon 50mm 1.8) which just blew me away with its performance.

So I use the 17-85 as a walk around lens and the 50mm as my low light, motion freeze alternative.

Hope this helps.


Jul 28, 2008
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af120835
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Registered: Apr 21, 2008
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 892
Review Date: Jul 15, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Good IS, good zoom range, fast & accurate AF, produces great colours, can be sharp wide open above 50mm,
Cons:
Distortion from 17-24mm, can be soft wide open from 17-24mm, some CA 17-24mm, dust can enter the barrel (but can be removed).

I've owned two of these lenses now, and am very happy with both (even more so with my new one. The IS started to die on my first, so I sold it on).

OK, so the cons above pretty much sum up the lens: it's weakspot is 17-24mm. Nutshell.

However, you can still get good results, and my new 17-85 seems sharper at 17mm wide open that the old. Maybe I got lucky again, or maybe Canon have pulled their finger out? Who knows...

On a 6x4 print you aren't going to notice the problems, or 8x6. but maybe A4 or above will show the weaknesses.

Stopping down helps a lot at these zoom ranges, but then it takes away the point of the F4 aperature....

The other problem I have come across is dust entering the barrel and sticking to the front lens element. For the brave, it can be removed, but for the weak at the knees, you're stuck with it I'm afraid. It doesn't seem to affect the picture quality however.

Having said that, having a piece of lint attach itself to the inside of the lens was the last straw, and it had to go.

Right, nag over, what is good about this lens then?

The IS is brilliant and makes the lens great for low light photography and night scenes.

It sharpens up above 24mm, much improves by 35mm and above 50mm is generally sharp wide open, but obviously stopping down improves things further. I'd say F7.1 to F8 is a nice sweet spot.

The zoom range is great too, making it a good walkabout lens for landscape photography at the wide end and the the 85mm (135 equiv) is there when you need it.

This is why it is bolted to my camera most of the time and I'd personally recommend it.


Jul 15, 2008
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mmari
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Registered: Mar 20, 2008
Location: Singapore
Posts: 21
Review Date: Jul 11, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $550.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: range, IS, IQ, looks good
Cons:
zoom creep, f/4-5.6, barrel distortion at 17-23mm, low resale value

this lens was included in my 400D kit 2.

range & IQ is good enough for my needs

i can live with f/4-5.6, it can be compensated if you have flash.

barrel at 17-23 doesnt realy bother me but i know its there.

the biggest dissapointment for me is the zoom creep.

i sold it for $400, very low resale value. now you can even have as low as $300 for a month old.



Jul 11, 2008
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Ulan
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Registered: May 14, 2008
Location: Belgium
Posts: 138
Review Date: Jul 3, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Handy focal range, acceptable sharpness (especially when you stop down), good IS, satisfying build quality
Cons:
heavy distortion at 17-20 mm focal range, not luminous lens

I bought this lens two years ago to replace the 18-55 mm kit lens that came with my new Canon EOS 30D and was rather soft. I used it in Peru and it performed its duty as expected. It resisted extreme conditions in the coastal desert and in the Amazon, no dust, no problems either wit the altitude, the AF always responded fastly, accurately and adequately. Build quality seems better than the 17-55 mm f/2.8 which looks rather frail in comparison. Sharpness is OK when you stop down. At lower focal range, distortion is dramatic and it's not easy to correct in post-production. Colours are well restituted, contrast also. Of course, not the tremendous optical quality of the 17-55 f/2.8, but you must consider the price which is twice as cheaper... The focal range makes it an appropriate walk around lens.

Jul 3, 2008
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RobertLynn
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Registered: Jan 5, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 11639
Review Date: Jun 20, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $515.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: A step up from the kit lens. Better build than cheaper alternatives. Image Stabilizer.
Cons:
Distortion is bad at 17-24mm, and over 80mm. Must use correction software.

This lens is a good starter lens. It's a shame it's not f/4 throughout but that would be a kick into another Canon lens option.

The iS works, and works well. The lens focuses quickly, and accurately.

There's distortion from 17-24mm that you need software to correct.

It's a good walk about lens, but for critical work I wouldn't suggest it. For a beginner full range lens, I'd suggest it. Definitely buy used though.


Jun 20, 2008
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Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
251 573547 Apr 12, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
80% of reviewers $569.41
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
7.70
6.70
7.6
EF17-85


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