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

EF17-85
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.