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Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

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The new EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM sets a new standard for everyday photography on APS-C sensors. With a focal length range equivalent to 24-136mm in 35mm format, image stabilization and high-precision optics, the EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM offers stellar performance from wide-angle through to telephoto.

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 15 - 85mm 1:3.5-5.6
Lens Construction : 17 elements in 12 groups
Diagonal Angle of View : 84 30' - 18 25'
Focus Adjustment : Inner focusing system with USM
Closest Focusing Distance : 1.15 ft./0.35m
Filter Size : 72mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight : 3.2 x 3.4 in./81.6 x 87.5mm, 20.3 oz./575g


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Registered: Sep 8, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 7
Review Date: May 24, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $639.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: range, image quality, solid build (for ef-s), fast focus, excellent IS
vignetting, no hood (but really stretching here since that is par for the Canon course)

Bought this lens from canon as a refurb... looks and operates as new. No issue with creep yet (maybe later?). IQ is fantastic, and the range makes it an ideal lens to have on your camera most of the time. Excellent sharpness, very good contrast. Best EF-S build I've seen yet (though not 'L' level). In my view, Canon has traded things that can be fixed easily in post for things that can't. The level of vignetting is mildly annoying given the modest speed of the lens (I'd generally not expect vignetting from a 3.5-5.6 lens), but easy enough to fix in post (or peripheral illumination in newer cameras to a lesser extent). The focus is fast and accurate with my cameras (7D and 20D), the IQ is excellent and the size is just right... making this 2.8 would make it too heavy as a walkaround for EF-S cameras, and 2.8 is not fast enough for low-light action anyway... pair this with a tele and a fast prime and you're set.

May 24, 2011
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Registered: May 12, 2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 36
Review Date: May 12, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $825.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, colour rendition and overall IQ, build quality, great focal range as a walkaround.
For the price it should come with a lens hood, lens creep.

I brought this lens to use as a walk out the door with only one lens in a shoulder bag when we are travelling, rather than walking out with a 7kg backpack full of lenses every time we left a hotel. It fits the bill almost perfectly, it did not however make my Canon 10-22 as redundant as I would have liked.

I still find myself walking out with the 10-22 as well as the 15-85, particularly in closer urban situations like NYC etc. For rural settings and more open urban though the 15-85 is pretty near as perfect as it gets. It does spend the most time on the front of my camera these days.

It is sharp, has a great build quality, great colour rendition and good autofocus. Overall IQ is very good, better than I expected. The only downside I have come across really is a bit of lens creep, mine has it but it is not really too much of a worry as I adjust focal length every time anyway. I would definitely recommend this lens to anybody with a crop sensor Canon.

May 12, 2011
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Alan Jones
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Registered: May 24, 2006
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 2
Review Date: Mar 12, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: A very sharp lens corner to corner good contrast and colour IQ IS EXCELLENT (color to my USA mates !!) Good IS,extremely useful 24-136 mm range
none !

I was using a 17-40L as the standard lens on a 50D that my wife uses ( and i use when i want a crop camera for 1.6x macro or 640mm with the 400 5.6L) ..i use a 5d2 and sometimes i needed the 17-40 for the 5d2 so i bought my wife the 15-85 IS..WOW what a great sharp lens i was very surprised at how good it was on the 50D it outperformed the 17-40L !
it is sharper with good color and contrast.. i was not expecting it to be that good..Her keeper rate has gone up dramatically due to IS as she doesn't always keep her eye on the shutter speed !! A highly recommended Lens

PS the 17-40 L performs extremely well on my 5d2
regards Alan

Mar 12, 2011
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Registered: Jan 20, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 6
Review Date: Feb 24, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $699.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Perfect Walk Around Lens

After reading many positive reviews, and not having a high quality walk around lens, I decided to get this lens.

I was not disappointed. The lens is fantastic. Every time I load pictures onto my computer and view them I am amazed at the image quality. Images are sharp even into the corners. Colors look good. The range from wide angle to mild telephoto is perfect. The lens feels good in my hand, it's just hefty enough to balance well, but not too big or heavy.

Vignetting is a bit strong under some conditions. The 7D does a decent job of correcting it with the peripheral illumination correction turned on.

I have had it for about a month, used it quite a bit, and have not experienced the lens creep yet.

I bought a lens hood for $5 from Ebay, fits perfectly...

All in all I highly recommend this lens. It could and should be a little cheaper, but I guess photography is becoming an expensive hobby.

Feb 24, 2011
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Registered: Dec 1, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3017
Review Date: Dec 31, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $799.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent image quality, very sharp with beautiful color, IS works extremely well, the 35mm equivalent focal range of 24-136 is very, very useful!
Pricey! Other than that, there is nothing that I don't like about this lens.

I have a 24-105L that I used on my 7D for quite some time, but I really wanted something wider so that I didn't have to keep switching to my 17-40L. I had read a lot of positive reviews about the 15-85 so I thought I'd give it a try. Since buying it, I have kept it on my 7D almost all of the time. I'm very impressed with this lens, and the sharpness is amazing as is the color rendition! Fortunately I have not had any problem with lens creep; my 24-105 creeps a little so it's not that big of a deal even it were to occur. I think this is an outstanding lens and it has replaced my 24-105 on my 7D as my "standard" lens. I wish it didn't cost quite so much, but that seems to be the trend with Canon lenses lately. I must say that after using it I don't regret one penny spent. I most highly recommend this lens!

Dec 31, 2010
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Registered: Nov 3, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 577
Review Date: Dec 28, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharpness, quick focus, light, reasonably priced
Vignette, lens creep

Great lens, equal to my 24-105L lens. I used it on the 50D and 7D with great results. It looks even better than on the 7D. No complain on the picture quality.

On the vignette, actually I don't mind it that much and it can be easily fixed with lightroom. The lens creep does bother me though, however, interestingly my son got the same one a couple of months ago (mine was like 6-8 months old), and his has no problem with the creep. I think newer version, Canon fixed this issue.

I'm thinking about bringing both lenses back to Canon and let them see the differences.

Wish that the F stop is constant and 2.8, however, Canon probably would raise the price and it would heavier too.

Overall, highly recommended.

Dec 28, 2010
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Registered: Jul 23, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 516
Review Date: Dec 19, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp and contrasty, nice colour, great range, not too heavy, very effective IS, nice build, its only optical imperfections are easily dealt with automatically in LR/Photoshop.
A bit pricey, hood should be included at the price, variable aperture, not weather sealed.

Probably the best available walk around lens for 1.6 crop. It is every bit the equal of the 24-105L IS on FF IMO and a much more flexible range on a 1.6 crop.
IQ is excellent with great sharpness across the frame at all focal lengths. There is some distortion at the wide end, it vignettes a bit and there's some chromatic aberration at the edges but these are only a minor inconvenience in the digital era - These are probably design compromises which allow the production of a lens with such a great range which is this this sharp and still keeps size and weight to a minimum. Canon seem to be designing lenses which provide great contrast, colour and sharpness at the cost of some vignetting, distortion and lateral CA which can be easily fixed in post. I'm very happy with this compromise.
Constant f4 aperture would be nice but I can easily live with variable aperture in return for the performance throughout the range and its compact dimensions.
I've seen some complaints of zoom creep but mine doesn't do this at all. It's the best built EF-S lens I've come across. Very effective four stop IS greatly mitigates the effects of the slow aperture, though obviously it's not the best for action shots.
It's a lens that does exactly what it sets out to do and does it very well. Really no complaints at all about this one (apart from the almost criminal failure to supply a hood on a lens costing close to 600).

Dec 19, 2010
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Registered: Oct 5, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 17, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $598.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Nice build. Very sharp. 15mm is nice. No lens creep. Perfect with my 7D.
It is expensive. It is slow.

This is absolutely the lens I have been looking for. Thank You Canon. At one point I owned a 17-40L, then a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 - got rid of them both. 17-40L very very soft in the corners (and that's on a crop camera), couldn't depend on focus for the Tamron. The 15-85 takes care of both of these problems - I am very impressed with the build and sharpness of this lens. It has silent and dependable focus, it is just the right weight and size and the IS works. It will stay on my 7D. I think I will buy some red pinstriping . . .

Got mine on Ebay.

BTW - I haven't seen anyone anywhere mention this web site:


These guys have great lens reviews - they really no what they are talking about - and they really like the 15-85

Dec 17, 2010
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Registered: Aug 31, 2010
Location: Denmark
Posts: 119
Review Date: Nov 20, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: range: 15-85, IS, image quality
slow speed, zoom creep

My experience of lenses before I bought this was of the kit lenses: 18-55 IS and 55-250 IS. Compared to the 18-55 IS the 15-85 is a huge improvement in image quality and the extra range at both ends is fantastic. A 24-136 mm 35mm equivalent pretty much satisfies my general purpose needs.

Unfortunately after I had this lens for two weeks it began to suffer seriously from zoom creep between 24 and 50 mm where the lens pointed down at 24 mm falls out to 50 and then opposite at 50 mm. I decided that I wanted my new and expensive lens to be perfect within the parameters I was aware of (slow and variable aperture) and sent it back and got a replacement. Unfortunately the replacement became loose and zoom crept after a few days of usage.
Also it seemed that the replacement had worse sharpness and combined with the slowness of the lens I returned this one too and exchanged it for the safe option a 17-55 IS. I haven't looked back since. The 17-55 is fantastic, IQ is better: exactly what I wanted, no zoom creep, and fast (enough) for all the indoor shots in cold Denmark during the long winter months.

I miss the wide and the tele ends of the 15-85 but I don't miss the slowness and zoom creep. For me the 15-85 was the wrong compromise,
I love my 17-55.

Nov 20, 2010
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Registered: Jul 8, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 1805
Review Date: Oct 19, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp!!!! even wide open. Great IS. Best of any lens I've used.
It's slow for a $700.00 lens. No hood, but the thing that really gets me is the lens creep.

I traded a couple primes for this lens with the thoughts of trying it quickly, but ultimately trading it on for a 17-40mm f/4. The reviews I read gave me pause...because it was getting some pretty darn good ones. My first impressions were that it was pretty ugly...I had the 17-85mm lens, and it was more aesthetically pleasing, but there it is. The zoom ring and the focus ring are silky smooth - way better than the 17-85mm lens, but the real kicker was the IQ. It's just sharp. Canon really focused on the wide end of this lens as the 17-85 was pretty bad at the wide end. The results were very very good. Colors are better on my 70-200mm f/4, but I kinda expect that.

What I didn't expect was the zoom creep, which my 17-85 never did. Unlike some, this one stays put at 15mm and at 85mm, but between 20 and 70, it slides in and out pretty quickly. No setting it at 35 and pointing over your head unless you're holding on. No holding near the ground and pointing up...it's not a slow slide. It takes a fraction of a second for it to go from 20 to 70 and from 70 down to 20. I sent it into Canon and they told me that it was "well within factory settings". When I called them to complain they told me that I could send it in and they would take another look, but couldn't guaranty a fix. For a lens of this price, I'm just not ok with that. If it wasn't for the creep I'd give the build an 8, but as it is...

So take it for what it's worth. If that doesn't bother you, you're in for a treat. For an outdoor walk around lens...it's the best on a crop camera that you can get. The image quality rivals, and in some areas bests the exalted 17-55mm IS. The 2mm on the short end make a HUGE difference in the angle of view you get (equivalent to 24mm on ff).

Oct 19, 2010
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Registered: Feb 1, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1954
Review Date: Sep 28, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fast AF, state of art IS, and of course, Awesome IQ and the best focal length that I have EVER worked with.
some vignetting at certain FL

First, this is the focal length I have been waiting for. I could have bought a 17-55 IS years ago but 17 on a crop body does nothing for me, yawn. But 15 is finally getting there. This is simply the best FL I have ever worked with and the sharpness is right there with my 24-105 (and I get the longer range). My copy is sharp wide open, which is great, because I only wish this lens were a stop faster. But no real complaints on this guy.

Oh, yeah, I just took an around the world trip and this is the *only* lens that I took. No regrets with this and the 7D. Good enough for paid work on a huge mother-of-all-trips. AF nailed stuff out of speeding cars, focused in dark rooms, IS worked (with care) down to 1/20 sec, and some 1/5 sec shots came out fine.

Owned this since it came out on a 40D and 7D.

Sep 28, 2010
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Registered: Sep 26, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 9
Review Date: Aug 31, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $620.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sturdy, compact lens with excellent IQ. Images are razor sharp, contrasty, and colorful.

When Canon offered a $100 instant rebate on this lens a few months ago, I grabbed it and have had no regrets. It's an excellent performer and the perfect walk-around lens on my 7D. I am simply amazed at the IQ of this lens. It matches, if not exceeds, the IQ on my 24-105L, which up until this time has been my walk-around lens on the 7D; however, its simply not wide enough on a crop camera.

Highly recommended!

Aug 31, 2010
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[ X ]

Registered: Oct 7, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 1107
Review Date: Aug 31, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great walkaround lens. Great IQ. Sharp. Good build quality. Fast focusing. Modern IS system.
Slow aperature. Maybe prone to lens creep.

I bought this lens after reading great reviews of it and was not disappointed. The IQ is equal to that of some L lens and this was one of the best built EF-S lens I came across. The USM focuses fast and captures action shots at a very good hit rate.

Not the perfect lens. I wished it was a constant zoom or a 2.8 to 4.0 range like it's Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.0 OS competitor.
This lens also may be prone to lens creep later on. The demo of this lens at the dealer had bad lens creep, though mine hasn't done it yet.

Aug 31, 2010
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Registered: Mar 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 76
Review Date: Aug 30, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $750.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, satisfying heft. Sharp, fast focusing.

I've always wanted the perfect walk around lens. I thought I had it in the 16-35L, but I found that lens was way too big for unobtrusive shooting. The 15-85 has just the right range for most of my shooting preferences. Wide enough for architecture and street/landscape scenes, and long enough for comfortable street candids. Since buying it, nothing else has been on my camera, I find it that well suited to my needs.

Aug 30, 2010
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Registered: Mar 6, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 13641
Review Date: Aug 27, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fast focus, good and effective Image Stabiliser, Good build quality, sharp throughout the zoom range.
variable aperture, vignetting at 15mm and 85mm, lens hood not included.

I bought this lens when it was first released to use as a general purpose walkabout lens on my 7D.

The lens has a nice solid build quality and a step up from previous EF-S lenses. The lens is also nice and compact, making it ideal for travel and walkabout photography.

The Image stabiliser works very well! Canon claims 4 stops, and I think they are about right as it works very well.

The only real downside to this lens is the noticeable vignetting at 15mm and 85mm even with the peripheral illumination feature found on the newer cameras enabled.

This lens would have been even better if Canon had made it a constant aperture lens (f/4 would have been great) but it's only a small gripe. The lens is sharp, even when shooting wide open, and contrast and colours are good.

Overall, this lens would suit those who are looking for a good general purpose walkabout lens for a crop sensored camera, and don't need a fast aperture.

I have a more detailed review here:


Aug 27, 2010
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Registered: Nov 19, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 698
Review Date: Aug 21, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $799.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extraordinary image quality when mated with a 7D, great travel lens, Versatile, Fast Focus, Tack sharp
"Slow" i.e. not a constant aperture, no problem if you're outdoors, but low light indoors then this lens need not apply

I bought this lens the day it came available at Adorama, so I was an early adopter. When outdoors, I find the image quality simply breathtaking (you can check my brief review and sample images here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5EmRb04GUo) especially at sunset.

Build quality is high - for an EF-S lens (consumer grade) its mostly plastic - high grade plastic - and only suffers from minor lens creep.

Focus is ultrasonic and therefore lightening fast.

Some of the best images I've taken have been with this lens and my 7D - they're a great combo, and oh by the way, if your subject is stationary, you can get good results in low light with as little as a 1/4 to 1/10 of a sec - that's how good the IS is on this lens. Moving subjects indoors or in low light is another story completely... Given the "slowness" of the lens f/3.5-5.6, you'd better crank up the ISO (3200 or higher) and use a flash in order to freeze the action... If you're shooting outdoors or in good light, this lens is a winner! If you need a versatile low light lens, then you better opt for the EF-S 17-55.

A little overpriced for a non constant aperture lens, apart from that though, I highly recommend it (outdoors)!

Aug 21, 2010
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Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
34 97692 Jul 27, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
88% of reviewers $682.44
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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