Review Canon EF-S 17-85 USM IS review

Messages
2,378
Edit My Images
Yes
#1
The EF-S 17-85 USM IS is a fairly recent addition to the Canon stable, it sits as the main walkabout lens in Canon's medium quality lens range. With an effective 35mm equivalent range of 27-136 it is a direct replacement for the 28-135 USM IS lens for the digital 1.6x crop factor bodies, the EF-S mount means that it only fits EF-S bodies however (300D, 350D, 20D, 30D). The Image Stabilisation (IS) is Canon's third generation and provides three stops worth of compensation effectively providing a maximum aperture of f1.4-2.0 (although without the true DoF benefits)!
The build quality is also a step up from the kit lens, feeling solid with a clean and smooth zoom action without much in the way of front element wobble present on the kit lens. It has to be said that the build quality is not up to 'L' class levels but then the price isn't either.



Tech details
Focal length 17 - 85 mm
35 mm FOV 27 - 136 mm equiv.
Construction 17 elements in 12 groups
Diaphragm 6 blades
Maximum aperture F4.5 - F5.6
Minimum aperture F22 - F32
Closest focus 0.35 m
Max magnification 0.20x (at 85 mm)
Distance information Yes
Image stabilizer 3-steps
AF actuator USM with full-time manual focus
Filter diameter 67 mm
Dimensions 78.5 x 92 mm (dia x len)
Weight 475 g
Most photographers looking at this lens will be replacing an existing lens, most likely the standard 18-55 kit lens, another likely candidate is the kit lenses from the older 35mm film cameras such as the 28-105 USM.
The tests below compare the 17-85 USM IS to the 350D kit lens (18-55) and the 28-105 USM lens. The old favourite 'Nifty fifty' is thrown in to provide a control, but unfortunately it seems I got my focusing wrong and it is off focus in the centre....

Below can be seen, for size comparisons, the four lenses side by side. In order, left to right, they are the 50mm (Mk I) prime, the 18-55 kit, the 28-105 USM and finally the 17-85 USM IS.


and in full extension:




A test image was shot at different apertures and a centre and corner crop taken for comparison. For all result, top left is the 50mm prime, top right is the 18-55 kit, bottom left is the 28-105 USM and bottom right is the 17-85 USM IS (IS switched off).

100% centre crop taken at f4 for the 50mm and f5.6 for the rest



At minimum aperture the 17-85 is showing considerably more detail that both other zooms, the 18-55 has the measure of the 28-105.


100% corner crop taken at f4 for the 50mm and f5.6 for the rest



Not much between them here, 17-85 has the edge over the other two zooms with the kit lens in last place.


100% centre crop taken at f8



Again the 17-85 is noticeably sharper than both the other zooms; colour rendition seems to be more accurate too. It should be noted that even though the 50mm is out of focus it is still starting to provide comparable sharpness


100% corner crop taken at f8



Sharpness of the 17-85 is starting to leave the other zooms behind, 50mm prime is noticeably sharper than any of the others.


100% centre crop taken at f11



It's pretty even at this point between the kit lens and the 17-85 with f11 being the sweet spot for the kit lens.


100% corner crop taken at f11



50mm prime is massively sharper than the others. 17-85 easily better than both of the other zooms but the 28-105 also noticeably better than the kit lens.


Conclusion
So far I have been very impressed with the 17-85 USM IS. The optics of the lens for a medium range consumer lens are excellent. It easily out performs both the kit lens and the 28-105 USM on sharpness, saturation and colour rendition. It is much heavier than the kit lens and the 28-105 USM but the build quality is noticeably better too.

The price step up from the kit lens is considerable, approximately £400 over £60, but the addition of the 3 stop Image Stabilisation and ring USM with full time manual make this an extremely flexible and easy to use lens.

Recommended.
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#3
Hiya Sammy
Great review.I have a 17-85 on my 350D and noticed something the other day.In landscape the left hand +- 10% of the image(left vertical edge) is a bit fuzzy.Doesn't bother me much though because I always shoot with a slightly loose crop.Have you found this on your 17-85 as well?
Lens hasn't been knocked or dropped and I bought it new:thinking:
One other (personal)thing is that I find it a tad short for weddings.
Otherwise must agree-great all round lens and IS really works(y)
 
OP
OP
SammyC
Messages
2,378
Edit My Images
Yes
#6
Done a quick photo and cropped it at 100% straight from the camera:



I must admit that it seems perfectly fine to me.
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#7
Hey Sammyc
Thanks for your trouble there and yes it does look fine!
Maybe I should have a good look at it(y)
 
OP
OP
SammyC
Messages
2,378
Edit My Images
Yes
#9
No problem Anton and Davey.

I want to take some new shots with a proper comparison to the 50mm prime as that lens in one that a lot of people know and respect. THIS time I shall make sure the damn thing is in focus! I took several photos with the other lenses but just didn't bother with the 50mm prime, duffer!

IS is brilliant though. :)
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#10
Hi Sammyc

Check this out.This is what my lens does.Have a good look at the area around the smiley icon and also the web address line:thinking:
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#12
Thanks Braeden
What did I do wrong?I typed and double-checked the url from my gallery.
Also why does the image not open in my post but a link is displayed instead?:thinking: :thinking: :thinking: :banghead: :thinking:
 

Marcel

Kim Jong Bod
Staff member
Admin
Messages
53,009
Name
Marcel
Edit My Images
Yes
#13
Anton, if you click the link Braeden has provided, which is a link to the image.

Underneath the image is a box called "BB Code", if you just click on that box once, it highlights the whole line...copy and paste this into your post and it will automatically insert the image for you :)
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#15
Marcel:notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy:
Thanx posted a new thread in photo sharing.
This looks like a faster way of getting advice on pix than putting them in the gallery.
BTH is it allowed to make semi commercial use of the galleries:help:
 
OP
OP
SammyC
Messages
2,378
Edit My Images
Yes
#17
Hi Anton, that is definately wrong there mate, do have a similar issue with other lenses or just that one? If it's just that lens then its the lens otherwise its the body.

Is it still in waranty?
 
OP
OP
SammyC
Messages
2,378
Edit My Images
Yes
#18
Actually your rhs is off slightly too.

I'd get that lens back to Canon for a replacement. :(
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#19
Hi SAMM
OK I am now working on a similar image with my EF-S 60 to see if the body is at fault.
Will post shortly
 
OP
OP
SammyC
Messages
2,378
Edit My Images
Yes
#21
That looks as sharp as a sharp thing on a sharp day just after eating a lemon!

Any chance of getting the lens fixed?
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#22
Dunno but I sure will throw all of my 210 pounds around tomorrow morning.Already phoned the dealer up and told him he has to start thinking of some plan.... any plan....:bat: :LOL:
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#24
Looks like it was my @*^&$% UV filter.Should have checked that first I suppose:nuts:
Sam can you recommend a good quality UV?
The newly deceased one was from the armsun clan:banghead:
 
OP
OP
SammyC
Messages
2,378
Edit My Images
Yes
#25
Well that excellent news! :)

Well I don't have one at the moment, the best that I had in 58mm format was a hoya pro one:

See here
 
Messages
1,000
Edit My Images
Yes
#26
I can vouch for that exact same one and purchased it from exactly the same place.

It sits on my 17-85 and I bought another to fit the 70-200 I have.
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#27
Thanks SAMMYC(y)
Have saved link to my favs and I suppose they will accept international orders and the mastercard thing?
Strange how,when you try to diagnose you miss the most obvious things heh?
I was horrified to see (when I actually saw it) how impure that uv really was.
And to think I never suspected because I BOUGHT IT NEW...:bonk: :bonk: :bonk:
 
OP
OP
SammyC
Messages
2,378
Edit My Images
Yes
#29
Looks pretty even to me.

Actually, no, sorry, but that pink and blue building in the centre is very visually offensive.

;)
 

antonroland

Inspector Gadget
Messages
4,110
Name
Anton
Edit My Images
Yes
#30
Yep so it is:LOL:
That is the best place where I could find enough detail unfortunately.Sorry if the building traumatised you:D
By the way that is the view from the smokers' perch on the 3rd floor where our office is situated

Cheers
 

Steep

Nutcrack Rapids
Messages
15,593
Name
Hugh
Edit My Images
Yes
#31
Sammy, you've had the lens a while now, are you still as happy with it as before?

My experience the other week shooting a wedding has made me realise I need a better quality. wider range, all round lens and the 17-85 looks pretty much ideal. I see Kerso is selling them for £349 which is within my budget.
 
Top