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

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251 571503 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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ditalianishere
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Registered: Apr 3, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 111
Review Date: Apr 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IS, good build compared to other "consumer" lenses, fast focus
Cons:
Price off the shelves (definately buy used if possible), might require PP at the wide angle

I bought this lens recently after reading lots of reviews about this and other "walkaround" lenses. I used the kit lens in the past and do not notice a huge difference in sharpness outside in good light, but I do notice better colors and contrast. The IS does make a big difference when trying to go tripod-less in low light situations. The build quality is great as well. I don't count on this as an indoor lens in moderate to low light. I'll hop to my 50mm 1.8 for those situations. I plan on traveling and intend for this to be my primary lens. I love its mm range on my 350D. It's perfect really. I can see the desire for the 28-135mm IS, but if I'm going for telephoto, there are lots of lenses that start around the 70mm range and go up to 200mm or 300mm range and provide a better image value. Plus I found the 28-135 to being a little heavy for a walkaround and just not wide enough. As an amatuer photographer still developing my eye for composition, I think this lens is a big step up from the kit lens and recommend it to those (not professionals) interested in a reliable, versatile walkaround lens.

Apr 12, 2006
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riversen
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Registered: Apr 7, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 6
Review Date: Apr 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: I love the IS and it seems to focus quickly. Crisp shots and good build quality for a non-L lens.
Cons:
No hood included for the price.

I have enjoyed this lens as my main lens. I cannot say enough about it. Yes, this is NOT an 'L' lens and people need to stop putting unrealistic expectations on a very nicely built lens. If you want 'L' quality, then stick with 'L' lenses. They are indeed superb and are worth the money when one can afford them. This lens was a compromise and I am not at all unhappy. The 5x ability works nicely for most of my needs. Yes, I will probably buy a longer telephoto for my son's activities and sports, but this one works very nicely! To sum up, it is a nice lens for the price with good build quality.

Apr 10, 2006
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HomeBrew
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Registered: Mar 23, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: IS and good feeling lens on a 20d
Cons:
So So color/contrast. Lame barrel distortion at 17mm. This could be a good thing though. No lens hood or pouch. F isn’t the same through the entire focus range. Too much $

http://www.pbase.com/shabookie/image/53901756
Example of the barrel distortion at 17mm.
I traded it in. Sad


Mar 24, 2006
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Lani Kai
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Registered: Oct 3, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 782
Review Date: Mar 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Broad range covered by one lens, image stabilization very useful. The lens probably does what it is intended to do better than any other lens in this range.
Cons:
Weak on the wide angle, hood not included, rather pricey

Most people will find this range very useful for everyday shooting. However the wide angle is indeed weak, and since I shoot a lot of wide angle I will be parting with it, as my Tokina 12-24mm f/4 has replaced it as a walkaround lens. However in my several months with the lens I was never dissatisfied with it; most of the issues this lens has at the wide angle (barrel distortion, CA) can be corrected in post-processing. The price is a bit expensive (especially when compared to the 28-135 IS, the full frame equivalent); the used price on the Buy/Sell forum, however, is more sensible.

Mar 13, 2006
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ibilly
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Registered: Aug 29, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 432
Review Date: Mar 3, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Fantastic range, good weight, IS is a wonder, srarp, good looking results straight from the camera.
Cons:
Could be better at the wide end, should be faster, seems a bit over-priced.

While imperfect, this lens is excellent as a 1-lens solution, or a general in a bag of primes. I feel that it's quite good and quite consistent, especially for a compact 5X zoom. That said, it's not exactly tack-sharp, and I feel that the wide end is the weakest part of this lens. The IS has helped me out in a number of situations, and I love the full-time manual focusing.
All in all, a very nice lens, and a very big upgrade over the kit lens. While I haven't tried the sigma options, for the price and zoom range, this might be the best lens option on Canon EF 1.6 crop cams.


http://img214.imageshack.us/img214/2930/picture63eg.jpg
This shot is a small 100% crop @ 85mm. 1/200 sec @ 7.1 and ISO 200 on my dRebel.


Mar 3, 2006
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joeyseager
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Registered: Sep 19, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 67
Review Date: Mar 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: My most useful lens - very versatile, ideal 'walk-about' lens. Focus fast and silent, IS effective and silent. Optical quality generally good, construction quality very good.
Cons:
Chromatic aberration extreme at wide angle end of zoom range. A perfect walk-about lens should have a wider maximum aperture. It's big and bulky on my 350D (actually every lens looks too big on the 350D)

I use this lens all the time - it's the lens that lives on the camera ready for instant use. what I would really have liked is a wider aperture and better optics to eliminate that awful chromatic aberration - what's that you say? Canon have just announced the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS? With 'L' grade optical quality? Are you sure? Where can I get one???

Mar 1, 2006
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canonlight
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Registered: Feb 26, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 42
Review Date: Feb 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Actually 16mm on the wide end, "Almost but not quite" L-Like optics, sharp wide open especially from 40mm-85mm, 3rd generation IS (good for at least 3 stops), Ring USM and FTM, Fast AF and excellent in low light, Relatively small size and weight, GREAT focal range for walk-around, Good build, Nice overall feel and handling.
Cons:
Some vignetting at 17mm wide open, Barrel distortion at 17mm could be better, Not a fast lens, Not FF compatible, A bit over-priced, HOOD NOT INCLUDED (my gripe with Canon).
Feb 27, 2006
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james_willy2
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Registered: Feb 20, 2006
Location: Korea, South
Posts: 6
Review Date: Feb 26, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Zoom Range. IS. Decent Build. USM of course.
Cons:
All the problems associated with a consumer lens priced at under 500 bucks. Cost: 700. Dust made its way inside the lens in under six months

I'll keep this lens as a walk around. Which is its main function, of course. At this stage of the game it is worth more in my bag, than sold used or traded in on something better.

For the money, I could have purchased a 24mm 2.8 and a 50 1.4. or the 70-200mm F4 or many other lenses that would have been much more sensible purchases in retrospect.

Cheers

Tim


Feb 26, 2006
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Blakemore
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Registered: Dec 26, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 532
Review Date: Feb 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $550.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp; RANGE!; wide angle, it's nice to have 17mm (27mm equiv) on 1.6x crops; Image Stabilization!; close focusing distance, USM!; Solid build
Cons:
Price, price, price; no hood or pouch included. at this price, they really should include them; not gasketed against dust; some CA

At the time I purchased this lens, there were no 17-40 f/4Ls in stock at my local camera shop (yes, I still buy in my hometown and support local business instead of running straight to the internet) and the owner suggested I try it. My initial impression is this was a well built lens. I still feel that way except for it not being gasketed against dust like my 24-105 f/4L IS. I have a couple of specks inside and before long I'm afraid I will have to send it off for cleaning. It is very sharp even at f/4, though not as sharp as the 24-105L which is to be expected. This lens is, however, overpriced when purchased new, especially to not come with a hood and lens pouch. The hood cost me $40 extra, FOR A FREAKIN' HOOD! Price is this lens' major downfall. If you can find one used that is in "like new" condition at a good price, I suggest getting it and not buying new. I have seen them on teh FM forums as low as $450. There is some CA, though not as bad on mine as some people have experienced. The IS is one redeeming quality. USM is awesome. Focus is very snappy. Minimum focus is .35m or 1.2ft (very nice). I have found that it really works and does give 3 stops as Canon promises. It offers a very nice and practical range. I will still purchase a 17-40 in the near future and just use the 17-85 as my personal "vacation" lens.

Feb 13, 2006
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Geoff2
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Registered: Feb 7, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 15
Review Date: Feb 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: An excellent one-lens walkabout
Cons:
f5.6 is very slow in anything but bright daylight (although 800 ASA ability helps)

I just want to comment on Captainatomic's review posted on 29th December (in the middle of the Christmas break!)

He said "The Sigma 30mm was giving me 1/800th at f1.4 ISO 200 INSIDE!
The Canon was giving me 1/8th at f5.6 (at ~30mm) with IS ON."

Either There was a dramatic light change between the two shots, or the Christmas spirit got the better of him. 1/800 at f1.4 translates to 1/50 at f5.6 Alternatively 1/8 at f5.6 is 1/120 at f1.4. Either way, I think there would have been a fairer comparison, and I would back my 17-85 to at least equal his 30mm in that light.

As noted by many reviewers, 50 to 85mm on a 1.6 camera are great for portraits, but f5.6 is not. That's why I also use 50mm f1.8 and 85mm f1.8 when I'm shooting just portraits outdoors.


Feb 12, 2006
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UCSB
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Registered: Jan 10, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 4308
Review Date: Feb 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $575.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Range, IS, Sharp Center, Can Produce Nice Photos with Post Processing
Cons:
Barrel Distortion 17mm, Less Sharp Borders

If you own this lens, as I do, try processing your images with DxO Optics Pro v3.5. This software package will make corrections based on the lens and the camera body that you are using. It will correct the problems that exist in this lens and allow you to carry a light lens with a great range. DxO does an amazing job of correcting the problems around 17mm with this lens. DxO has a 30 day demo for free. My ratings reflect my post processing results.

Feb 11, 2006
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Thin_Man
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Registered: Feb 10, 2006
Location: Ireland
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Useful zoom range if it’s your only lens and you’re prepared to use Photoshop, sharp from around 35mm-85mm, fast focusing and - you’ve heard it before - IS works magic.
Cons:
Barrel distortion at wide end, CA very noticable up to 35mm, very dark viewfinder - really an f5.6 lens most of the time.

My 17-85 IS has turned out to be a bit of a Jeckyl and Hyde lens. At the wide end it’s allergic to straight lines, soft unless stopped down – and hardly perfect when it is - and paints wide purple fringing around anything slightly contrasty. Set wide I find myself having to work hard both while taking the shot and in post processing to get anything more useful than a 6x4 holiday snap. Zoom out to 28mm and there’s a marked improvement, at 35mm it’s transformed – while from 50mm to 85mm it’s very sharp.

Image Stabilization technology does what it says on the tin – allowing you to operate in aperture priority mode, stopping down for clarity and making up for it by eliminating camera shake in some mysterious Hogwarts-like fashion.

IS doesn’t make up for a very slow shutter speed though if you need to take pictures of fast-moving objects or people. In this respect the 17-85mm is let down because it’s really an f5.6 lens masquerading as an f4 for a few measly focal lengths. Still, hand-held shots at 85mm with a shutter speed of 1/15 (1/8 if you can stabilise yourself in a makeshift fashion against a wall or table) showing a clear, shake free image at 100% blowups, can’t be bad.

It seems to have a lot of negative reviews because it’s not as good as an L lens. This is Canon’s own fault if this lens’ retail price is close to the 17-40L, and clearly a lot more than ‘the poor man’s L’; the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8. But it’s still a long way off the price of a 24-70mm f2.8, for instance. Either way, a current average of 7.6 here on FM does this lens a disservice and if you have a 350D/20D, you should give it a good try if possible before you consider anything else, cheaper or more expensive. I recently field tested it against a range of lenses, either borrowed or bought on SOR, including a Sigma 18-50mm F2.8, a Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 SP, a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8, a Canon 50mm f1.8II AND a Canon 24-105mm F4L IS. Here are my observations.

VS Sigma 18-50mm f2.8: No contest from 18-28mm – the Sigma has much less barrel distortion and no CA to speak of. Then suddenly the Canon comes back into the game – from 35mm to 50mm it is equally sharp, better at f8. And the Sigma’s hearty red bias isn’t to my taste. Plus there’s an extra super sharp 35mm to play with on the Canon.

VS Tamron 24-135mm SP: This is a great lens and to be honest there’s little to distinguish between it and the Canon from 35-85mm (it’s better than the Canon below that, and overall has a slight edge on contrast) – but only stopped down to f8 or f11 and on a tripod. The Canon is sweeter wide open and IS also comes into play. Hand held at 85mm there is no contest, the Canon wins unless you’re shooting above 1/250 and the Tamron is a pretty slow lens. I found I could get steadier, clearer, sharper crops from the centre of the 85mm Canon image than I was getting from the Tamron zoomed to 135mm. The Canon also focuses much faster. IS is worth the extra money if you're not a regular tripod user.

VS Tamron 28-75mm f2.8: Now this is a formidable lens, yet from 35-75 at f5.6 the Canon matched it for sharpness scene for scene. Likewise at f8, f11. Maybe I had one of those infamous ‘bad batch’ Tamron lenses, but I actually thought it was excellent – strikingly clear. F2.8 was lovely and this lens has such a bright viewfinder image and beautiful bokeh; yet I had more consistent, ‘shake free’ hand-held images from the Canon in all lighting situations and for a standard zoom this is the most important thing.

A small gripe though: For a lens this much more expensive than either of the Tamrons, it’s a shame Canon can’t include some thoughtful features that both have: like a zoom lock or a bundled lens hood, or indeed lens cap that can be easily removed when a hood is mounted. Grrrr….

VS Canon 50mm f1.8. Comparible results at all apertures above f5.6. Better results hand-held for the 17-85mm and to my mind slightly better contrast. Obviously f1.8 is great, but IS compensates well for static shots.

VS Canon 24-105mm L IS. This lens was the holy grail. Having identified that my hands were probably too shaky for a non-IS lens, I thought the latest L would be the ultimate combination of quality, IS and zoom coverage (with a hood included in the price!). Brighter through the viewfinder itself, the images looked identical on the computer screen initially, but dammit if the L wasn’t slightly softer wide open from 24mm right through to 85mm on a 100% crop. This is a bit deceptive I guess because the 17-85mm switches to f5.6 around 45mm, while the L stays at F4. Stopped to f5.6 all the way, the L came back on board, while prints showed slightly more pleasing contrast. But is it worth the price? Common sense says not.

Conclusion: Apart from pricing it too close to the bargain basement L Canon also seems to have shackled the 17-85mm with such poor wide end performance that people are instantly turned off, as I think I was initially when I got it as part of my 20D kit (having had the Tamron 24-135 on my 300D). I haven’t the time or skill to conduct proper lab tests, but these rough static outdoor head to head tests reveal a quality lens – yet all of these competing products are rated far higher here at FM.

The wide end isn’t an issue any more as I’ve got a 10-22mm EF-S, another quality lens – one rated much higher than the 17-85mm, but similar in so many ways and not just the crop factor mount. My guess is if Canon had limited this lens to a 28-85mm zoom range rather than trying to achieve the barrel distorting, CA-inducing, ultra wide end too, it would have achieved similar ‘almost L’ accolades.


Feb 10, 2006
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jgsawyer
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Registered: Feb 21, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Fast AutoFocus, IS, range
Cons:
Weight

I have had this lens for a couple of weeks now, and am generally very satisfied with it. I am still deciding whether this lens or my Tamron 18-200 will be my "walk around" lens. Right now I can argue srongly for both of them.

Feb 10, 2006
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macshark
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Registered: Dec 13, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 159
Review Date: Feb 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $464.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: More than 5x zoom range, very sharp at the tele end, IS really works.
Cons:
Distortion at the wide end, a bit heavy and big.

I was mainly interested in this lens because of the very useful zoom range on a 1.6x crop body (Rebel XT) and the IS feature. Canon initially offered this lens at a pretty expensive price point, but as soon as the street prices dropped below $500, I grabbed one. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the pictures I am getting with this lens. 100% crops in the 50-85mm range look very sharp. It is also very decent in the 24-50mm range. The 17-24 range is where most of the distortion and CA problems crop up, but it is still good enough for me.

If this lens had a constant f/4 maximum aperture, it would get a 10 from me given the features it has for the price point.


Feb 3, 2006
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Chris Fawkes
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Registered: Feb 1, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 3794
Review Date: Feb 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Great zoom range.
Cons:

Perhaps there is some inconsistancy from lens to lens but mine is great. I did a test last month between it and the 70-200 is L
The L showed better contrast but resizing all the images to 20x30 and viewing at that size i could see no difference in sharpness.
The build i think is excellent for a lens of this price.
The fact i rarely have to change the lens is an obviouse bonus too.
If there is a variation in quality then ask to do some test perhaps before parting with your cash.
I love it.


Feb 1, 2006
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4830Deuce
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Registered: Jan 18, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 27
Review Date: Jan 28, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $475.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: IS, Range,
Cons:
Build, Barrel Distortion, Soft, Contrast

I understand this lens is not an "L" series so I wont compare it to one. The build is horrible for a 500 dollar lens, so it everything about the images that this lens creates. lens should be 375-400 dollars, then I would be a nice purchase. Lens is just useless anything close to 17mm Barrel Distortion is just monumental. I have since upgraded to a 17-40L and couldn’t be happier...Please do yourself a favor and buy a better lens... Cheaper or more expensive or in the same price range, just not this one…

Jan 28, 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 571503 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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