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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 572695 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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rater
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Registered: Mar 26, 2013
Location: Canada
Posts: 22
Review Date: Apr 12, 2013 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Nice range.
Cons:
Image quality.

I bought this lens new some years ago with a Rebel XT and I was quite happy with it. The quality of the lens was far better than the rebel's "kit lens", but eventually I replaced it with a 16-35 2.8L and a 50mm 1.8 (later a 1.4).

I guess that if you are new to photography as a hobby it is a great lens to start with, as it gives you a nice focal range and IS comes handy in low light.

I have red in other reviews about quality build issues. Did not have any problem with it during the time I shot with, but I have to confess that once I updated my lens equipment to other better lenses the plastic 17-85 felt cheap.

Right now I would not recommend this lens, but back in 2004 it was a great performer for me.


Apr 12, 2013
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Munki481
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Registered: Apr 26, 2012
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 27, 2012 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

Pros: I have had this lens for just over 5 years now and generally I have been happy with the image quality of the photographs that I have taken with it. It may not be the sharpest or fastest lens around, but it has been a handy walkabout lens and I have found it very useful for landscape and wildlife photography.
Cons:
My main criticism of this lens is the build quality; it does not feel particularly robust and suffers from extremely bad lens creep, which has worsened over the years to the point that if you tilt it a few degrees forward, it will fully extend to 85mm unless you are keeping a firm grip on the zoom ring. Furthermore, after just 5 years of use it has now developed an issue with the autofocus mechanism that produces an 'Err 99' message on the camera body (in this case a 450D) when auto-focusing at certain focal lengths. I find this particularly disappointing as the lens itself has been well taken care of and has not seen extensive use. There seems to be quite a few cases of this issue occurring reported online, which seems to be related to the overextension of an internal flex cable that becomes damaged over time. Canon will fix this problem, but will charge a fee for doing so. I have also raised the issue with Canon who say that this fault is not very common, even though a quick search of Internet forums suggests otherwise, and they will refuse to repair it under warranty. To summarise, I think this is a good lens, with a useful focal range that I have been pleased with over the last 5 years, only let down by disappointing build quality issues.



Apr 27, 2012
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nswelton
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Registered: Jan 16, 2006
Location: N/A
Posts: 248
Review Date: Apr 11, 2012 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: nice focal range, reasonable walk around lens, light weight for what you get
Cons:
poor IQ

a reasonable lens for a crop body camera but really not the most ideal solution. it's pretty slow to focus, the AF tends to hunt a bit. slow on the long end, and really not very sharp. if you're looking for a convenience lens, this might be an option, but if you are seeking critical sharpness... move along.

all that said, it's a very useful focal length at basically 24-135 equivalent.


Apr 11, 2012
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BipBip
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Registered: Oct 29, 2010
Location: Belgium
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 3, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Silent, precise focus, good range and v good quality
Cons:
It's a bit slow for indoor shootings

I usually shoot with primes, but when I don't want to take several lenses with me I take this very useful lens. And I'm always pleased with the results ! Good colors and contrast. Of course I sometimes would like it to be f2.8...:) But that wouldn't be at the same price !
I'm wondering if there are different versions of this lens because of some unhappy users?
I'm very pleased with mine.


Feb 3, 2012
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Ingo R
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Registered: Jun 8, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 33
Review Date: Oct 17, 2011 Recommend? no | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Extremely versatile lens, with the equivalent of 28-135 field of view of a traditional 35mm SLR. Best at 50-85mm when shooting wide open. It was the best available for the money when I bought my 20D in the spring of 2005.
Cons:
Three issues: 1st:Chroma distortion and vignetting are rather pronounced, especially at the wide end -- and yet easily correctable in Canon's DPP software -- however, only in the latter model cameras (30D, 40D and later). 2nd (and far more troubling to me): If you shoot a lot (and I do, with probably close to 120k+ shots taken with this lens), the manufacturing defect of a ribbon cable makes itself apparent (in my case apparently every 60k exposures). Now this may have noting to do with exposure, but instead a result of the zoom action. The first time I had to send in the lens to Canon (after warranty had expired) was when I'd get an error by the wide angle at anything but wide open aperture. Err 99. ~$100 and two weeks later I had it back in my hands. A few months back I started having the same issue, except now the zoom action binds at the wide angle field of few as well. Haven't decided whether to send it in for repair yet (though I likely will) and purchased a new 18-55 all plastic 18-55is II lens for $100 locally, and have been very satisfied with the results -- though the cheapo lens certainly doesn't have the smoothness or build feel I would prefer. 3rd: The Price/performance issue. When I bought this lens it was discounted because I bought it with the camera -- but the discounted price was $600!!! So while I'm not anxious to through it out, there are better values for the $$ today. I'm guessing another ~$100+ repair will make it good for another few years, but this really shouldn't happen -- and it it's really a pretty heavy lens.

I guess I was effusive enough on my Pros and Cons above. There are better lenses out there for the money. I really liked this lens when it worked, despite it's shortcomings and think it's best to use it with Cannon's DPP to adjust for image and chroma distortion at wideangle. You're better off with the current 18-55is II on the cheap side or the replacement 15-85is for much better quality overall. If you do pick one of these 17-85 lenses used, be aware you'll likely need to have it fixed in the future -- and maybe more than once.

Oct 17, 2011
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Doug Vann
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Registered: Dec 18, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 50
Review Date: Jan 1, 2011 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

Pros: Nice zoom range. Decent sharpness.
Cons:
Build quality is not acceptable. Apparently this is a common issue with this lens. 3 internal screws came loose and the lens jammed at 17mm zoom setting. The cost of repair was too high to make fixing it worthwhile. I would not recommend this lens to anyone. Although not in the "L" price range it is expensive enough that it should not be falling apart internally. This lens came with my 50D when I owned that. I now have a 5D mkII.....

When functioning, this lens did give pictures with decent sharpness and the zoom range is ideal for most shooting. However the build quality is not acceptable and I would not recommend this lens to anyone. Seems the lens is built in 2 locations - Japan and Taiwan. The ones made in Japan might be better quality. If it doesn't say Made In Japan on the front of the lens then it is probably the Taiwan model. Canon should be ashamed of the build quality of this lens and should have given a refund to anyone having the lens fall apart internally - instead they have chosen to ignore the issue. Anyone owning this lens should consider selling it before it becomes a paperweight.....

Jan 1, 2011
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xxxrr
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Registered: Feb 18, 2006
Location: Italy
Posts: 391
Review Date: Dec 30, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great quality images
Cons:
Build a little cheaply for the price

Despite some reviews, I look here

http://www.pbase.com/cameras/canon/efs_17-85_4-56_is

and understood for my experience in L-series lenses I owned that images are high-quality.
This because there was an used copy in sell.

I am very satisfied with my copy, amazing images, this lens remember my serie-L, in one thing is superior: the weight is human.


Dec 30, 2010
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jasonpatrick
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Registered: Jul 8, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 1397
Review Date: Aug 23, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $225.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great walk around, spot on focus
Cons:
distortion, bit slow sometimes.

I feel a bit obligated to post a review for this lens as I've seen so many bad ones...they just don't do the lens justice I had the choice between this one and a 28-135 for the right around the same price. Reviews of this lens have been all over the board, but because I needed the wider end (planned to sell the kit) I went for the 17-85.

I've had nothing but good images out of this lens. I haven't had any "L" lenses, but I've owned the 50mm 1.4 and the 100mm 2.8 macro and now own the 50mm 1.8, and the 85mm 1.8...so I know what a sharp image is supposed to look like. When I want an artistic shot, a portrait or something else where I'm trying to blow out the background, I have the primes (and they're amazing). When I just want a lens at a party or gathering, the 17-85mm is the one I grab. I probably over analyze my pictures for sharpness...even though I don't make huge prints (most people do this) and even then this lens doesn't disappoint. You just can't underestimate the benefit of image stabilization. I've seen so many reviews where people say they don't need IS it at this range...my keeper percentage is around 75%. That's indoor, low light with no flash. They're sharp, even wide open. Is there distortion? Yes. Big deal. It's correctable. What isn't correctable is getting blur because your hands are shaking or having your back against the wall and still not fitting everything you want into the frame.

The facts are that even 2.8 indoors isn't enough sometimes. Do the math. At 85mm (which I basically never shoot indoors) I'm at a 5.6 f-stop. My 85mm prime is a 1.8. The 1.8 is 3.33 stops faster. With the 4 stop image stabilization, my 5.6 is acting like a 1.4 (for camera shake only), and yes, it works! All the reviews insist that there are better lenses out there. Well no kidding! If cost wasn't an issue...BUT IT ALWAYS IS! If you're not getting paid to take pictures, then you probably don't have the money to just throw away on your hobby. I know I don't. If you want an improvement in aperture, lens sharpness etc...then you have 3 options. the 24-105 f/4 IS at right around 1000, the 24-70 2.8 at 1200, or the 17-55 2.8 IS at 1000....I hear the 15-85mm is really good too, but that lens is still more then 2x more what you can get this lens for. In my opinion (just that, an opinion), the equivalent lenses in non canon brands (sigma, tamron) aren't worth the small amount you save. From what I've seen, they don't focus as consistently or have the color rendering/contrast of Canon lenses. If you're like 90% of the regular people out there you're looking for the least expensive option available that will give you the quality result you're looking for. This lens is it. Buy it and a 50mm 1.8 for when you really NEED the low light performance. No need to abuse the credit card more than necessary.


Aug 23, 2010
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Dan Fleury
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Registered: Sep 10, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 246
Review Date: Aug 3, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Great range, IS, light.
Cons:
build a little cheaply for the price

I have had 2 copies of this lens. The first I had was made in Japan, the second was made in Taiwan. The one made in Japan is tighter built and optically superior. The other was soft, and felt loose and wobbly. It was also lighter in weight.

My good copy is a great lens. Don't let the reviews scare you off in here. It is quite sharp, even wide open. I use it for mostly outdoor use. Indoors it is slow for sure. The IS works great on this lens. The focus is fast and quiet.

It's a great walk-around lens, with very good image quality. Just make sure you have the Japanese made version and you will love it.


Aug 3, 2010
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a1wilson
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Registered: Sep 8, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2
Review Date: Apr 15, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light, IS, reasonably cheap decent quality, range
Cons:
Not pin sharp (but not bad

I have a 17-40L to compare this to, and OK it is sharp and beautiful, this lens is not as good but it has twice the range and was half the price. Honestly it is brilliant value and gets good enough results when the L is too slow for the light thanks to the IS. Buy this one and get fair results, even if it does feel a little light it is a sound lens!

Apr 15, 2010
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nl_age
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Registered: Mar 2, 2010
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 3, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: IS range fast focus
Cons:
not the most sharp lens

For me, this lens is perfect. But if you have high demands, than this lens is maybe just not good enough.

Here you can view some photos i made with this lens
http://www.flickr.com/photos/arjan_gerritsen/tags/canonefs1785isusm/.


Mar 3, 2010
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realtime
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Registered: Sep 26, 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 20, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: good range, IS is fine
Cons:
over priced, inconsistently soft focus,

I couldn't overly recommend this lens. The 4-5.6 is simply too slow.

Probably the worst point is the inconsistent focus caused (I think) by the amount of play in the lens.

May be getting a couple of cheaper primes (the 35mm and 50mm 1.8) and the sigma or tamron 17-50mm.

Its not all bad - can also be decent, sharp and the range is good.


Feb 20, 2010
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dnauer
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Registered: Oct 22, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 11
Review Date: Feb 13, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: IS is great, sharp in the upper end, light, great range on my 40D. Focuses fast in good light.
Cons:
Lower end soft, also f5.6 at that upper end is pretty dark. Focus roams in dim light.

Not sure what I "paid" as this was part of my 40D kit when the 40D was new. I've used this lens a lot and have some great shots, some have made a special annual calendar that is pretty competitive to get in, and I've had some nice portriats ans well as nice walk around shots. I do not tend to shoot in the lower range (below 24mm) but feel the lower end isn't as good and intend to get a 10-22 down the road. About 3 months ago I obtained a telephoto prime that just has knocked my socks off, so I'm considering trying an L in this range (24-70 or maybe 24-105) but will keep this lens due to the low weight and excellent range (this matches up with my old Eos Elan film camera with the 28-135, which I also loved). I'm definitely an amatuer so have less demading expectations of my equipment, but would like to try a lens or two at the upper end to see how it fits my shooting style. I think this lens on the used market now (<$300 often) is a good deal -- great IS, great range on a crop, acceptable quality, relatively fast focus in good lighting.

Feb 13, 2010
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tonyliau
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Registered: Jul 5, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 13
Review Date: Nov 10, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $550.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Lightweight, great focal range for a walk-around lens, fast focusing
Cons:
Lack of sharpness, drab photos, slow maximum aperture

Did not like the softness of this lens on the wide end, and also when aperture was wide open. Stopped down was bearable. IQ was unacceptable for me. I sold mine and got the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 instead and have been MUCH happier - so much so, that I do not miss the lack of IS on my Tamron.

Nov 10, 2009
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Asmodeous
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Registered: Aug 9, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 139
Review Date: Nov 8, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Image stabiliser & light weight.
Cons:
17-24mm range, Chromatic aberations & price.

This can be a good lens. That is if you ignore the 17 - 24mm zoom range.

In this range the lens exhibits some terrible aspects. Huge amounts of distortions, Chromatic aberations and softening of the corners and then toss in a good dose of Vignetting, at least a stop's worth.

Sounds like a bad lens huh? Well, wind the zoom ring around past the 24mm and suddenly most of these problems go away.
The distortions are gone, the corners are much better and the vignetting is almost unnoticable. There is still a bit of CA, but hey. The lens makes a remarkable transformation.

Imho, this is really a 24-85mm lens. Resist the tempation to venture below 24mm and you have a fine lens. It's light and the IS works a treat. A great walk around lens. If you have a UWA lens such as the 10-22mm EF-s, then this lens makes a great partner. Use the UWA up to 22mm and this lens from there on up.

The price is the big hurdle for this lens. Shops want over $1,000 aus for one which is absurd. But this lens is plentiful and picking up one second hand with little use for around $300-400 aus makes it good buying.


Nov 8, 2009
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vince
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Registered: Mar 18, 2002
Location: China
Posts: 306
Review Date: Sep 28, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Fast focusing, reasonably good build quality for a consumer lens, IS.
Cons:
Image quality is average.

I bought this to replace the 18-55 kit lens before I got the 17-40L. I was a bit puzzled by the results. The cheap fisher-price 18-55 would often deliver sharper results than the 17-85 zoom specially from 18 through 30-35mm or so. I tried the micro adjustment on the 50D but no luck. Thought maybe my lens was a dog, and tried another one at the shop but it came out the same.

The lens is ok from 30-85mm though. Good decent focal length range for general travel, but stop down to f/5.6-6.3 for any sort of decent results. I still haven't been able to get a really sharp image at 17-35/40mm at any aperture.


Sep 28, 2009
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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 572695 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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