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

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251 572262 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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unsharpmask
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Registered: May 18, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 149
Review Date: Jan 26, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: small, good range, has IS, good build quality, versatile
Cons:
not sharp on the wide end, pricey

This lens is way underrated! Its small and compact and does the job. I have used every Canon lens from 16-35 L to 600 L and this lens is surprisingly good.

I use this lens for portraits on location with strobes and shoot mostly in the f8-f16 range of my lights. At that f-stop the lens is pretty sharp from about 24mm to 85mm. Yes this lens has some problems at the 17mm range in the corners and I would try to stay away from using it wide open.

But if I am shooting a portrait, this is the go-to lens. Subjects hate when you stop shooting to change lenses and with this lens you don't have to.

I have a wide range of lens in my bag, but Canon hasn't really made a nice compact zoom lens in this range that does the job. The 24-70 L is okay but its super clunky. The new 24-105 L sounds nice, but it costs around 1400 USD.

My 20D, this lens and a set of battery operated strobes with pocketwizards and I'm good to go for any magazine cover shoot. Yeah, I know, it doesn't exactly exude professional equipment, and kinda of embarassing when your client has the same stuff, but who cares? I can always haul out the 1D mkII and some L glass, but this works better.



Jan 26, 2006
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djb85
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Registered: Jan 25, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 25, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Nice range, light weight, IS
Cons:
Not sharp enough for my purposes, especially at the wide-end

I find many of the review less helpful than they might be, because the reviewer does not tell us what he or she is doing with the lens. I am a relative newcomer to digital photography. For many years, except for occasional snapshots, I used a Hasselblad 500c/m with a 40mm and 150mm lens. (Well I also usually carried the 80mm, but I rarely used it.) I like to make big prints.



Jan 25, 2006
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dukeblue01
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Registered: Jan 9, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Wide range, fast focus, FTM, build quality, Versatility, IS
Cons:
Distortion at 17-24mm, Price, small max aperature, EF-S

The 17-85 is a versatile lens and since its purchase, has been on my camera nearly 70% of the time. It swaps in and out with other lenses to extend the telephoto range, and (often) to enhance low-light abilities.

While the IS is great for landscape shots, it is not a substitute for a larger aperature when indoor shots are required.

The image quality is pretty good. It is not as sharp as the 70-200 or a stopped down 50 f/1.8, but does provide a notable increase in detail and quality over the kit lens. Distortion is significant at 17mm but can be fixed in pp. The allure of the versatility and range of this lens led to purchase it over the clunkier combo of the Sigma 10-20 and 24-70.

The price at between 450 and 550 is a bit higher than I would have expected. I feel that 350-400 would be a more appropriate range, seeing as the 35mm equivalent lies within or below that range. The discrepancy lies in the EF-S lens' smaller size (barely) and newer IS.

While I would love to have a 17-85 lens with IS that is L quality, the price is high, but right, at less than 1/2 the price of a 24-105.

Build quality is good. Not the same as L but not noticably behind.

I would give this lens a 6 because of distortion at the wide end (which is what gives this lens much of its appeal), small variable aperature, EF-S incompatability issues with film cameras. But IS, good image quality, solid build, and dynamic versatility encourage me to give it an 8.


Jan 9, 2006
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Psilonaught
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Registered: Jan 3, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 17
Review Date: Jan 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent travel lens, very good clarity and sharpness, little distortion at 17mm, Image Stablizer is a god send and works amazingly well
Cons:
costly and quite heavy. IS does drain the battery. Zoom ring a bit loose and plasticy

I consider this one of the best travel lenses around, and will not be buying any further lenses since this gives me everything I need. Eveb with the 1.6x Canon crop factor, 17mm is more than wide enough for landscape/architectural photography, and and I can live with 85mm zoom.

Image Stabalizer is some dark magic - I have no idea how it works but it does the job astoundingly well, and have taken photos at 1/10 of a second ISO100 and they are still razor sharp.

Both myself and friends have been amazed by the detail and sharpness of this lens - it's just superb.

Hopefully Canon will emulate Nikon and try to build a 17-200 IS USM version!!


Jan 3, 2006
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Erwich
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Registered: Oct 20, 2005
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 2, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: range, Image Stabilizer
Cons:
sharpness, a lot of barrel distortion

I bought this lens for my EOS 350D because I thought this would be a perfect match. In terms of range it is the perfect match.

I was very disapointed about the results. There is a lot of barrel distortion in the range from 17-28 mm. and it just doesn't produce sharp pictures.

I returned this lens in exchange for the 17-40 L which was a very good thing to do.


Jan 2, 2006
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deansy
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Registered: Dec 30, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 30, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Good zoom range, Fast AF, IS
Cons:
CA, Not very sharp, Expensive, Significant Distortion at wide end

Got this lens as a kit with my 350D (XT) just over a month ago.

Overall I'm a bit disappointed with the image quality for the money. Just realised how inferior the quality is when I purchased an EF-S 60mm Macro lens today and rediscovered sharp images again.

It's not that sharp (but usable with tweaking in Photoshop) for a lens of this price. In fact I was beginning to believe that my 350D produced soft images as I'd heard many times. This is just a lens issue not the SLR as I know now.

There's a significant amount of CA throughout the zoom range and also a lot of distortion at the wide end (OK for creative uses I suppose) which requires post processing with CS2's lens correction filter.

The zoom range is good though and probably worth the expenditure if you want only one walkabout lens for an EF-S mount camera. It also looks good! The AF is fast also.

I've taken a good number of pictures now but still feel just a little short of satisfied with the overall image quality.

Overall it is a useful starter lens and its wide zoom range does appeal. The IS does work but only for 2 stops in my experience (unless I have shaky hands!).

Think carefully before purchase and try one out if you can. I still haven't decided whether I'm keeping mine or not.


Dec 30, 2005
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captainatomic
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Registered: Oct 8, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 335
Review Date: Dec 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Excellent range for Travel, IS System, Strong build quality, Great Fast USM Focus (no AF hunting!), Weight is acceptable, Very smooth focus ring.
Cons:
90% of the time its f5.6 (way to slow), focus ring behind the zoom (not the normal way of doing things), Focus ring isn't butter smooth, Large Size

This Canon EF-S 17-85 F4-5.6 IS USM lens is the best option for those wanting to take their XT/20D Travelling without swapping Lens' over to often.

Because it is the EF-S model - the crop factor works well making it a 28-135mm lens. Its very similar to the exact EF equivalent. Canon must have realised people wanted the same range offered by the EF model, so with some small adjustments gave us the 17-85mm EF-S.

After reading so much about distortion and CA wide open I was a little worried about how some landscape photo's were going to look. Much to my suprise foliage leaves and area's of high contast suffer very small abberation's.
Trust me - a small adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw and it solves the problem. To even see hints of CA you would need to make massive sized prints to even worry about it.

Sharpness is good, I am sure 8"x12" enlargement prints would be fantastic. The lens does get better stopped down to f8, and then the shaprness get's that little bit better and shows more details. Prime's are always better than a zoom in this department.

And the Image Stabilization is over rated. Sure it works, but the joke is f5.6 still is bloody slow in the first place.
In a fully lit room where f2 would give pefect hand held results - this lens just struggles. I found myself loosing so many indoor shots it was a joke - back to 50mm f1.8 I go for indoor shots.

Everyone must remember that IS does not suddenly stop camera shake 100% at insanely slow shutter speeds for handheld. Its a joke thinking WOW Handheld at 1/15th is just so amazing - its not. A fast prime will get the job done, this zoom will not.

The new Sigma 30mm f1.4 is looking to be a fantastic lens, I tried it today and loved the speed of it.

For comparison I tried the two lens (17-85 vs 30mm) to see what shutter speeds I could obtain for camera shake free photos inside the camera shop.

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.

The photo taken with the Sigma was very sharp and camera shake free. Sadly, the Canon had signs of camera shake even with the IS. A postcard print would not have shown the effect to badly so all is not lost but pefect results simply could not be obtained with this zoom due to it being so slow.

The other problem is people photography. This lens is a poor choice for any portrait. f5.6 holds far to much background information that distracts away from the subject. 85mm is the pefect length on crop factor camera's, but an aperture of f5.6 is not. You are much better to use, again, a prime lens to blur away the background nicely.

The build quality of this lens is fantastic - its very solid and I wouldnt be to scared to drop it outside. Of course great care should always be taken with glass! All zoom rings, mounts etc are solid and feel nice to hold.

For those who like to focus manually, the focus ring is thin and not butter smooth to use (like the EF-S Macro). It is placed behind the zoom ring which is hard to get used to when you have come from a Lens where its the normal way around (zoom first, then focus).

Being f5.6, the viewfinder is much darker than it should be. I found it very hard to focus manually in poor light conditions.

I should note that the Autofocus just works a treat in almost any light condition I have tried to use it in. The funny thing is my EF-S Macro lens which is much brighter than this zoom, hunts alot in low light where as this zoom manages to lock foucs no problem!

I think for anyone wanting the flexibility of a zoom and owns a XT/20D - this is the lens to buy WITH a fast prime aswell.

Overall if you can get some rebate or cashback - buy the lens and enjoy it outside on your travels. Just dont be to disapointed when the IS still isnt enough for inside!

Jeremy Barr


Dec 28, 2005
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Sea Dragon Rex
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Registered: Oct 28, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 31
Review Date: Dec 23, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Light weight, range, fast AF, ring USM, IS
Cons:
Distortion at the the end of the range, EF-S and can only be used with a limited number of other bodies.

I purchased this lens for my Rebel XT because I wanted a lens that I wouldn't be afraid of hiking into the backwoods.

I noticed that there is distortion at the ends of the focal length but photos I've taken with this lens are very sharp. Interestingly, it was because of the photos I got with this lens that I sent my 24-70 back to Canon. When I first received my lenses, I noticed that this lens was much sharper than my 24-70. So, I shipped 24-70 back to Canon.

After receiving the 24-70 back, the picture quality of the 24-70 is definitely better than that of the 17-85. Both lenses are very sharp but the the color seems richer with the 24-70 (I'd expect that considering the price difference).

Comparing it to my friend's equivalent Tamron 28-75 2.8, the focus is faster, quieter and the images are slightly sharper. Of course, this lens costs more than his.

The 17-85 is much lighter than my 24-70 and for a walkaround lens that it works great. Focus is as fast as my two L lenses and the IS is great (I'm sure in the future I will upgrade my 70-200 2.8L to the IS model). The image quality isn't quite up to the L's but neither is the price.


Dec 23, 2005
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winsie
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Registered: Sep 11, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: IS, Ring USM - fast & quiet, tact sharp
Cons:
CA at 17mm, a little slow for indoor natural light photography

I've had this lens for 7 months and it has taken very sharp 2K+ photos for me. It is an excellent lens inspite of its limitations.

As many have posted, you'll be hard pressed to find another lens that competes with the features and versatility of this lens. I've owned the 17-40L for a short while, but missed the extra 45mm the 17-85mm offers. This is the ideal travel lens for me.

The IS is incredible - it has spoiled me. I can't see myself buying anymore zoom lenses without it. I use the 50 f/1.4 in low light and I've taken steadier shots with 17-85mm at lower shutter speeds.

My response is subjective, like all other responses in this forum. You have to give the lens a chance. It's not the perfect lens; but given the time, it grew on me.


Dec 19, 2005
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tomkludy
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Registered: Jan 18, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Focal length is perfect for walk-around, IS works wonders, light, good (not great but perfectly acceptable) quality
Cons:
Price, max aperture is f4-f5.6, QUALITY CONTROL

Bought this lens from a local store, for a family vacation. When I got home I found about 50% of my pics were too soft or slightly out of focus (all taken with AF). Returned the lens and did some more research but decided to give it another chance because this lens really has the perfect focal length range for the Rebel XT.

Boy am I glad I did! The second copy is not *perfect* but definitely good enough! Much better than the kit lens. I bought DxO Optics Pro and after running my pics through that, the quality is stunning. If you get a bad copy, don't be afraid to try again. Canon's QC on this lens seems to be pretty poor.

The IS on this lens is amazing. Canon claims 3 f-stops improvement in hand-holding and I believe it. I get just as many "keepers" from this as from my Sigma 30mm f1.4 lens. The IS doesn't stop your subject motion like the higher aperture/faster shutter will, but in most cases that isn't a big issue.

This is my primary lens now, and while I have a couple of fixed-focal-length lenses, I just find the zoom to be so convenient that I rarely switch lenses anymore. Highly recommended!


Dec 19, 2005
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jgonzo
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Registered: Dec 17, 2005
Location: Germany
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: fast AF, IS, 17-85, sharp, good build quality, flexibility
Cons:
price, no lens hood, f4 - 5,6

It is the lens i use about 70% of all days.
It is opticaly not the best one, but i like its great flexibility.


Dec 18, 2005
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bitflogger
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Registered: Dec 12, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 4
Review Date: Dec 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: The versatility is superb! I can pack this lens, XT body and the smaller 430 flash in my CamelBak! IS is not hype, and has allowed me to get extremely sharp images from hand held camera. Focus if very fast. I'm glad I did not listen to the whining pixel peepers or I would never have this great product.
Cons:
It's not outstanding at full zoom and wide open, but also not bad. It does improve a lot just slightly stopped down and not quite at 17mm.

Bottom line: Packs a lot of capability and utility on one package.
Not cheap, but made better by my seeking it in the camera kit.


Dec 15, 2005
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ccougar
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Registered: Dec 13, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 242
Review Date: Dec 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: IS, Excellent zoom range for a 1.6 body.
Cons:
Some optical aberrations at wider angles. Less than L-quality construction - but good enough.

This lens has not received the credit it is due. If I were still shooting with film, I would probably not be happy with this lens. But this lens was designed for 1.6 digital cameras who's images are processed on computers. The higher ISO capability of these cameras make its limited aperture hardly an issue. As for its optical aberrations, there are none that can't be corrected with software. Having used this lens on a 20D for the past several months, I am very impressed. This is a great walking-around lens. Sometimes I go all day without switching lenses, which aids greatly in keeping dust off the imager. When printed at real world sizes, images from this lens are indistinguishable from my L lenses. This is a much better lens than some people are giving it credit for.

Dec 15, 2005
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kendallkoning
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Registered: Nov 26, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 90
Review Date: Dec 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

Pros: IS, good focal length range on 1.6x crop
Cons:
Very soft, poor contrast, strong CA,

Disappointed with this lens compared to the 28-135 IS I owned previously. Moving to the 17-85 was not an upgrade. It may be a good low-cost single-lens solution for many people, but once you've used some of the better L zooms (17-40, 70-200) or just about any decent prime (50/1.4, 60/2.8) you'll be disappointed in the optical quality.

On the other hand, if you need a normal zoom with IS on a 1.6x crop camera, this is pretty much your only option. Sad


Dec 7, 2005
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acscardoso
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Registered: Dec 6, 2005
Location: Portugal
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 6, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: USM, IS, zoom range, fast focus
Cons:
Distortion at the wide range, flare. Dust problems due to front tube extends.



Dec 6, 2005
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mckytm
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Registered: Aug 25, 2005
Location: Philippines
Posts: 7
Review Date: Dec 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great range, IS really works, FTM
Cons:
Price, doesn't come with a lens hood

Got this lens a few months ago to replace my kit lens. At first the reviews on this site made me hesitate, but I'm glad I took the plunge. The range is perfect on my EOS350D! I think image quality is ok, and sharp enough once run through a decent digital workflow with USM. This isn't an L, so I don't understand why people keep comparing it to a 24-70... :P

Wish it came with a lens hood though... I had to buy one separately, adding to an already significant price. However, you can't fault the build quality Smile

Highly Recommended


Dec 4, 2005
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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 572262 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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