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

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Reviews Views Date of last review
251 571486 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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ltmattman
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Registered: Jun 22, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $459.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IS, weight and feel, "long' performance
Cons:
$, wide performance

I picked this up at the end of May '06 as part of a 20D package. I swapped it with the kit lens that "came" with the camera. This is my first foray into dedicated digital after over 35 years of film. I'm not thrilled with it wide, but I didn't expect to be. Most of the problems I've had, I've worked out. The lens is fine, it's the loose nut behind the camera and the cameras learning curve. This is destined to be my carry-around lens.

Jul 8, 2006
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aero145
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Registered: Jul 1, 2006
Location: Germany
Posts: 333
Review Date: Jul 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small, light, fast, silent autofocus, FTM.
Cons:
Loud IS, flimsy hood.

This is my wide-angle lens.

I can't really say anything about it bad. Just everything is perfect.

And I do not regret of not having a aparture of 2.8. I use apartures most often about f/11, so no problems for me.

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/7.1 IS USM would be all right. :-)


Jul 1, 2006
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Methos
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Registered: Mar 23, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 13
Review Date: Jun 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $529.99 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Fast focus , Nice 'hiking' or walk around lens , suberb sharpness at 85mm
Cons:
Barrel distortion , minor CA , build could be a bit better

This lens is the one I use when I'm hiking and just goofing around. It works great for most of the shots that I take, but I wouldn't recommend it as an 'only' lens. The CA is in the acceptable levels to me, but the Barrel Distortion gets annoying at times, even if it can be corrected. If your looking for a good walk around lens, this one works great. It feels bulky, but in my big hand, it fits well. So far its been a joy Smile

Jun 21, 2006
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ThomasGermany
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Registered: Mar 28, 2006
Location: Germany
Posts: 2
Review Date: Jun 21, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 1 

 
Pros: did not find anything
Cons:
the kit-lens is much better

I tested it a whole weekend and I did not find any argument for this lens -despite the range, but a good range with poor images is not my idea. The kit lens EF-S 18-55 is defintely better: sharper and less distortions when wide open. I would not barter my kit-lens, not even for nothing.

If You really want an extremely good lens take a look at EF-S 17-55 2.8, but dont spoil Your money for the EF-S 17-85.


Jun 21, 2006
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burychka
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Registered: Jan 13, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 219
Review Date: Jun 5, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Only IS lens available in the zoom range
Cons:
Excessive CA, barrel and pincushion distortion

Conclusion: Excessive CA, barrel/pincushion distortion, and unknown future for EFS lenses, add up to a "Don't do it" recommendation on the EFS17-85mm IS lens.

I've had this lens for over a year and a half now, and I've become more critical as the novelty has worn off and its deficiencies have become more obvious. Nikon's new 18-200VR lens makes this one seem even less impressive.

Biggest gripe: Green/purple fringes with even moderate contrast in the image. Impossible to ignore with subjects like mountains, buildings, or trees against the sky, especially a gray or white sky! I wish I could get back that portion of my life I have spent fixing CA in images with this lens. Photoshop CS2 and Paint Shop Pro X both try, but they fail to eliminate those colored fringes.

I recently downloaded a trial of DXO Pro as a last desperate effort to make this a useful lens. My 30 image trial limit ran out before I could fully test the 20D/17-85 combo, but it appears that DXO Pro works pretty well on CA at 85mm but not at 17mm. I only tested the CA/purple fringing fix extensively, as the noise, sharpening, and lighting fixes in DXO Pro seemed more detrimental than helpful--but again, 30 images is an inadequate test. Still, if DXO Pro had worked on CA at both ends of the 17-85, it would have been worth the $150.

The good: Besides the 20D, I also have a Rebel XT, and the 17-85 is the best auto-focusing lens I have with this camera. The RXT AF is terrible with fast lenses (35mm F2, 50mm F1.8), but it seems to like the F4-F5.6 max apertures of the 17-85. I was once pointed to a study that explained that phenomenon--but it was written in German, so I got fairly little out of it.

Finally, since the introduction of the 5D and the 30D, I have my doubts about Canon's long term plans for the 1.6 crop factor sensor. The 5D says to me that Canon has excess CMOS manufacturing capacity. That Canon did not design the 30D with more pixels (a la Nikon D200) suggests to me that Canon may be done with development of the 1.6 sensor and concentrating on FF from now on. That will make EFS lenses short term investments.


Jun 5, 2006
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el-richie
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Registered: Apr 20, 2006
Location: Spain
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IS, focal length
Cons:
Barrel distortion @ 17mm, quite soft at the corners.

The power of this lens resides in its versatility. It's focal length and IS makes it perfect if you can carry only one lens. I have found autofocus fast and accurate event in low light conditions. I think it's very expensive if it is buyed new, but you can get it used at a very interesting price (you should read my ratings taking this into account). Ah! IS really works Smile

Jun 4, 2006
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Camm
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Registered: Apr 15, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 182
Review Date: May 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: focal range ideal for 'always on' lens, IS (really useful), sharp
Cons:
none so far (after several hundred shots!) bar the price - far too expensive for non 'L' glass

I recently bought the 30d and this was 'bundled' with it as the kit lens. I was initially happy with this until i started reading reviews of the lens on these forums - then i became VERY worried!
I must say that i needn't have been and i honestly don't understand why so many people are negative about this lens. I've not found any great distortions or softness - in fact, quite the opposite. (google the lens and you will find many positive reviews of this lens in direct comparisson to it's many rivals)
I find the lens to be sharp and absolutely ideal as a walk about lens. At the same time I also got the 70-200 f/4, so I'm covered for all the focal length i personally need.
This is my first taste of IS and i must say i'm greatly impressed by this also. a few of the reviews here say how noisy it is - again, my experience is that i cannot hear it at all (unless i physically press it against my ear, then you can hear it kick in)
All in all, a great lens, perfect for a walk about lens, great picture quality, IS, light, fairly fast - just make sure you get it at a good price!


May 27, 2006
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otten343
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Registered: May 20, 2006
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: ok sharpness from 17mm up to 50mm, very sharp above the 50mm, good portrait lens with nice background blur at 85mm/f5.6, great walk-around lens
Cons:
barrel distortion at 17mm, a bit chromatic aborration at high contrast parts of the photo (both easy to correct in Photoshop)



May 20, 2006
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curiousgeorge
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Registered: May 16, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 17, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Feels solid, IS, fast and silent focusing, versatile 'always-on' lens
Cons:
Less sharp than the kit lens at most apertures and focal lengths, excessive purple fringing, images look slightly washed out, slightly too heavy for the 350D

I read many reviews before buying this. I wasn't impressed because it was apparent the lens was generally not very sharp but I bought it anyway because I needed a greater zoom range.

I hoped my copy of the lens would be good, but my worst fears were confirmed when I compared images to the kit lens.

At apertures of f8 and larger, the lens is less sharp than the kit lens until you get to 50mm. You have to stop the aperture down to about f22 to get decent images at smaller focal lengths.

The contrast is also not as good as the kit lens, and you get much more purple fringing.

The barrel distortion at wide angles is acceptable for most shots. If you shoot window frames you will notice it.

I've sent my lens to Canon and hopfully they'll callibrate it. But I'm expecting them to return it and say there's nothing wrong with it. I'll probably keep it anyway, because of the zoom range, the IS and the fast focusing. If you really need decent picture quality, this lens is unacceptable, so go for an L series lens. I would have but there just isn't one with a good focal range for a 1.6 crop camera.


May 17, 2006
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bocaminus
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Registered: Apr 19, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 513
Review Date: May 15, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $750.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Great flexibilty and zoom range, IS
Cons:
Price, CA, wide open barrel distortion

I bought this lens as a part of Digital Rebel XT kit. After approximately 2 months of extensive use and testing, in my opinion this lens doesn’t live up to its reputation. I was really eager to try it out and make the best out of it. Besides the IS and the great zoom coverage, all other aspects will fall under average or just one notch bellow. I found CA could be a great problem. Outdoor shots taken with this lens could be either good or quite bad. The lens hunts in low light conditions ... problems with focus (auto & manual) are really noticeable. You must have a lot of patience working indoor with this lens. In addition, all shots (and this is been mentioned so many times before) looks really soft and anemic. Without computer processing, I think printing would be only possible for a small size printouts (4x6, 8x5 etc.). After all this is a consumer grade lens. Don’t expect too much out it. The thing that bothers me the most is the price. For the given quality I wouldn’t pay again $799 CAN for it. I want to love this lens but I just can’t go over some many disadvantages and flaws …. After all, I think you really have to know how to work with this lens …. knowing the limitations is the key.

May 15, 2006
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wadeja
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Registered: May 9, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Great sharpness above 35mm. Great range. Solid build. Image stabiliser is very effective.
Cons:
Distortion and softness at 17mm. Chromatic aberration at edges with high contrast. Barrel distortion (doesn't worry me, but no good for architectural shots).

I recently bought a 30d enthusiast kit after an enormous amount of research. The choice of camera was easy but the choice of lens was hard, largely because reviews on the 17-85 (my first choice) were very mixed. In the end I did buy it, and am happy to say I got exactly what I expected.

The first thing to say is that this lens is average from 17-35, and fabulous from 35 up. Maybe this is why it gets such mixed reviews, because those who are buying a wide angle lens will be disapointed, and those after a travel or portrait lens will be very happy.

Firstly, lets talk about the 35 and up range. I have taken hand held shots on a cloudy day at ISO 400 at 85 mm from 10 metres away that show every hair on the subjects head (with sharpening set to 0). How many lenses in this price range can do that?

But then I have taken shots at 17mm with bad chromatic aberration at the edges in high contrast areas (trees on bright sky), and the photo is soft all over. But is this really a problem? Turn up the sharpening to 4 or 5, and fix the CA in photoshop and the photos look great (almost as good as above 35mm). Sure the purists will say it shouldn't be necessary, but this is the digital age, and a few tweaks save lots of $$$.

Paired with the 30d this is a great lens, and performs better than my Tamron 28-300 or Canon 35-135 ever did. I'd strongly recommend it to anyone who can live with a bit of post-processing.

ps. My 30d had a dirty sensor out of the box - something to watch.




May 9, 2006
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shadesofafrica
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Registered: Mar 14, 2005
Location: Tanzania
Posts: 220
Review Date: May 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Focal Length Range, Image Stabilisation!, Build Quality, Sharpness at Long End, Full Time Manual Focusing!
Cons:
Sharpness at Wide End, Barrel Distortion at Wide End, Focus Changes with Zoom

I bought this lens as part of the 20D kit six months ago, and have been using as my sole lens up till now. As a single lens solution I believe it still is the best all round offering there is for the Canon 1.6 DSLRs - nothing else has the zoom range + IS. Mated to the 20D's superb high ISO performance it has enabled me to get some tremendous low light shots - one series outdoors at night, backlit by a single bulb at 1/8 of a second at 85mm, handheld with elbows supported on a table came out beautifully sharp - I was ecstatic with my purchase that night! IS is truly worth its weight in gold.

I have had some great sharp results from this lens at the long end, viewing at 100% crop. In comparison though, the wide end has been lacking and sometimes frustrating. The pronounced distortion also becomes very evident when straight lines (ie. horizon!) are in shot.

Because of the wide performance I'm now looking towards a two lens solution - probably the 10-22mm for WA (IS not an issue that wide), and ideally 70-200LIS for the long - I'm totally sold on IS after my experience with the 17-85! It is a more costly, weighty solution though - for allround use the 17-85 is still a good lens.

After using FTM focussing (with CF4 on the camera), I'm never going back to a lens that can't allow instant focus overide at any time - a very valuable addition to any lens.


May 9, 2006
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kevindar
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Registered: May 6, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2263
Review Date: May 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $550.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Fantastic travelling lens on a 1.6 crop. Fast accurate focus, excellent sharpness
Cons:
Marked distortion 17-24 (correctible). CA, not compatible with full frame

I have this lens primarily as a travellling lens. the range is fantastic, and the IS saves the day/night on many occasions. It has decent macro ability. my 85 1.8, tamron 28-75 2.8, both have better sharpness at the corspondin f stop, but the range and IS is so fantastic, the image quality very good, and the price reasonable.

May 8, 2006
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Archont
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Registered: May 1, 2006
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Fast and silent focus, Image Stabilizer, A great deal of variety in wide-angle / zoom, robuust built. Above 40mm very sharp and very good colours.
Cons:
Sharpness and colours up till and around 35mm dont stand out compared to the standard canon lens. The difference up till 35mm is small but in some cases the standard lens even beats the 17-85.

This lens is a very nice allrounder since the wideangle is impressive at 17mm but it can also reach up till 85mm zoom. With the 1.6X factor it is 27 - 136 mm.
I tested this lens with a friend of mine who bought the 350D kit with the standard lens. I turns out that the standart 18-55 lens can handle the comparison quite well up till 35mm. The differences are very small but dont forget that the standard lens only costs 50 euros instead of 480! In some cases the standardlens is even a tad sharper and the colours are slightly darker!

Somewhere in between 35 mm and 55 mm the standard lens loses its quality while the 17-85 seems to gain. At 55 mm the crisp and dark colours of the 18-55 lens get a setback compared to the 17-85. Also the pictures of the 17-85 turn out to be sharper at the full 55mm of the standard lens.

Onscreen at 1280x1024 you dont see a difference in any of the comparison pictures except you can tell the better quality of the 17-85 over the 18-55 at 55mm if you take a good look, especially at the colours. If you mainly shoot below 55mm and preferably mainly below or on 35mm you might as well go with the 18-55mm standard lens and save yourself the 400 euros. Even if you shoot up to 55mm just the qualityadvantage of the 17-85 is probably not worth the 400 euros. If you want to go pro you probably dont use any of these two lenses and if you shoot for serious fun you might not want to spend 400 euros to make up for a qualitydifference that is only shown at full focal lenght. You might as well go for the 18-55 in that case and add the extra money to save up for the 70-200L lens for example to get good coverage from 18mm all the way up to 200.

On the other hand, you dont buy a 17-55mm lens off course. You still have 30 more mm of coverage and it seems that the further you zoom the sharper it gets. Pictures with the full use of the 85 mm are even excellent while the lighting conditions are not optimal because you have the Image Stabalizer to rely on. Also the USM motor works like a charm. Even while searching for focus it runs up and down the complete 85mm very fast.

Summarized: the lens is worth the money if you like to use the zoom a lot while being able to make very decent pictures with the wider angles (which wont stand out in quality compared to the standard canon lens). I see it as a really big advantage to have very crisp pictures on 85mm zoom as well as decent wide-angle pictures in one lens with the IS αnd the USM. If you dont plan on using the zoom a lot and find it important to get the most out of the lens around or below the 35mm and to get best value for the buck then go for the standard 18-55. Limit yourself around 35mm and safe up for the zoom!


May 1, 2006
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ilind
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Registered: Aug 11, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Apr 25, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $525.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Good all around performance, color and contrast, quiet focusing.
Cons:
Somewhat bulky.

After using the Sigma 18-125 mm for a number of months with reasonable results, I yielded to Canon envy and bought this 17-85 zoom for comparison.

Here are my initial reactions:

http://ilind.net/reviews/canon-v-sigma/

The short version of this is that I prefer the Canon, mostly on vague or subtle comparisons. But when I put several photos side by side, the results surprised me. I was hard pressed to see a difference.

The Canon just feels a bit more sure, with slightly better color and contrast in some delicate lighting conditions. It seems to require less post-processing for best results.

I will probably keep the Canon and sell the Sigma, but after looking at these results I'll probably give them another round of comparisons before making the final decision.


Apr 25, 2006
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JLukeW
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Registered: Apr 20, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Especially sharp at f8+ between 35 & 85mm. Excellent build quality, great all-around lens.
Cons:
f5.6 is too slow for indoors, *severe* barrel distortion at (and near) 17mm, CA (Chromic Aberration) at the wide end, noticably blurry at the wide end, etc...

Maybe I have a bad copy, but this lens is awful at the wide end (between 17 and 24 especially). I would almost consider it to be a 28-85mm lens. Also, it has only taken 5 months for specs of dust to get inside the lens, noticable through the viewfinder (and looking at the lens itself).

Between 35 and 85mm this is an excellent, sharp lens. The autofocus is very quick. If you're okay with likely having to post-process every wide-angle shot you take, the full range of this lens shouldn't be much of a problem for you.

Here is a (very bad, cropped) photo taken from my front window at 17mm (with no regard to exposure). This is just to demonstrate the barrel distortion you can expect to see with this lens. A little CA can be seen too.

http://img412.imageshack.us/img412/6378/barreldistortion0ab.jpg

My advice with this lens is to stick to the 35-85mm range, and use a (likely more expensive) lens for wide angle shots. Also, I recommend a faster (prime?) lens for indoors.


Apr 20, 2006
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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 571486 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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