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

EF17-85
Review Date: Apr 25, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $380.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Better range than 17-40L, very sharp wide open at 85mm, moderatly sharp at 17mm wide open, no visible CA, nice OOF and very little sun flare. Lighter, more range, IS, cheaper, etc than many other lenses in this range
Cons:
Could be a tad bit sharper wide open at 17mm, but it's not an L. Build quality not an L. Needs to be "reconfigured" to fit 10D, but that's easy enough. Very heavy barrel distortion when at wide end

I own a 17-40L, so I can directly compare. To keep it short and to the point, this lens has better range, slightly less sharpness wide open, lower (but not bad by any means) build quality, and it's cheaper than the 17-40L as well. I was very, very skeptical, but I bought this because I kept complaining (to my wife's dismay) that I couldn't zoom in on stuff enough. I wanted to prove to myself that this wasn't anywhere near L-class and then I could sell it and keep complaining. I've shot night shots, day shots, indoors and outdoors, and this lens just impresses me.

It has heavy barrel distortion at 17mm, and the edges are slightly soft, but it is an ultrawide lens, essentially, so those are to be expected. I haven't seen the IS kick in and save the day, but that's not to say it isn't there helping and I just shake too much...

Sharpness, especially at 85mm wide open, is downright impressive. Zoom range is virtually identical to 28-135 and perfect in my opinion (unless of course Canon makes an 18-200IS or similar). I haven't noticed any CA and seen very little lens flare when aiming at the sun or birght lights. OOF looks relatively round, but sometimes you can see the 6 aperature blades and it's not as pretty as the 17-40L's 8 (I think 8 blades...).

Overall I would've given this a 10 if it was a bit sharper at 17mm wide open, but a little USM and it's completely awesome. The build rating was because once you've experienced L, you can hardly call a consumer a 10, and the price rating is a 9 because I think it should be more comparable to a 28-135IS, which I think is about $300 or so. The price does seem to be coming down, though.

In case anyone is interested, to fit it to a 10D (or a 1D or FF), remove the four small tiny screws on the mount (careful as this holds the shell and electronics in, too), push out the plastic EF-S ring, and viola!, instant EF mount. The glass does not (at least in every version I've come across) protrude farther than a standard 50mm f/1.8 mk2, so no worries about mirror slap. Enjoy!