Review EFS 17-85 IS f4-5.6 compared to ... (Not 56k!)

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#1
Ok, I currently find myself in the unique position of having just upgraded my 17-85 to the EFS 17-55 IS f2.8 (Thanks Kerso (y) ). So now have both, a nifty 50 and a the :notworthy: 70-200 f2.8 IS :notworthy:

I thought it prudent to check out the 17-85 against the 17-55 to make sure that I've not been wasteful :bonk: :wacky:

What I've tried to do is see how the 17-85 stacks up against the other lenses in my kit bag... Here goes.

The shots are all taken out of my bedroom window of the house across the street ('cos I'm off work with "manflu"). All taken in (in the space of 5 mins when the sun stayed out :eek: ) RAW, converted using the same settings and had the same USMask applied (1.9pix 100%). Hence as even as I could make the playing field. What I've posted are the webified 800x500pix [edit ... urm.. ohh no they arn't, but since are from another site should be OK] shots, but am commenting from the full size.

First off lets look at the "middle" range 50mm. Here the 17-85, 17-55 and nifty 50 all play on the same ground.


Firstly the 17-85 (@f4)


Secondly the 17-55 (@f5.6)


Lastly the nifty 50 (@f4)



So how do they stack up...
- The 17-85 is noticeably the softest of the 3. Also has less of a tonal range (see plants at bottom).
- As I'd expect the nifty50 has the edge over the 17-55 in sharpness, but its not as marked as the difference to the 17-85.
- Colour and contrast on the 17-X's are on a par, the nifty50 getting the upper hand here again.

Here's a crop/zoomin on the ariel in the top middle of the shot @100%
Left to right 17-85, 17-55, nifty 50



The 17-85 starts to show its blue underwear here as it fringes, the 17-55 has a tinge of red when compared against the nifty, but all of them hold up to scrutiny.
 
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oldgit
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Now lets move on to the 17mm end...

Here's the 17-85 @ F4



and now the 17-55 @ f4


It might not be immediately apparent, but look at the left hand verticals and wind ow frame (especially the white walls of the 2nd house, and the lines of the van door), and you'll begin to see/discern that the 17-85 suffers from a greater degree of barrel distortion. The 17-55 behaves itself far more here. So much so that it is ignoreable.

Again the 17-55 wins out on sharpness, on the full size image this is quite clear.

Finally for this section here's the fringing at the top left corner. Left is the 17-85 and right the 17-55.



ewwww... that suprised me. I didnt expect the 17-55 to be that much better, or put another way the 17-85 to be that bad.
The 17-85 gives us more of a showing of its blue longjohns, whereas the 17-85 has starts to show its red racing thongs.
 
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oldgit
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Finally (and it's an unfair comparison) lets look at the 17-85 and the 70-200L at the 85 end.... yeah I know it's a foregone conclusion, but...

Cut to the chase and look at the a 100% crop.. (70-200 on the right incase you can't tell).


Told you it was a foregone conclusion didn't I, but then comparing a £3X0 'sumer lens against a £1X00 pro L lens there was never gona be a debate (thankfully)
 
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oldgit
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So to summarise:

Am I slating the 17-85, NO NO NO. It is about half the price of the 17-55, has one of the largest zoom ranges that canon makes. As an everyday walkabout lens it is great. It lived on my 20D almost 100% of the time until I (foolishly?) bought the 70-200 and saw what an L does...

The 17-55 is undoubtedly better. It's obvious disadvantage is that it's 30mm shorter than its brother. Externally the 2 are about identical. The 17-55 is slightly taller, but not much, and has a 77mm filter (as does the 70-200), but is it worth the extra. Since I've just bought it I almost have to say yes, but if I was counting the beans then No. Let's just say that I'm satisfied I've not wasted my money and will be keeping this lens as long as I have a 1.6 factor camera.

If you are on a budget go for the 17-85 it is a good solid day to day lens and will produce the goods. What it has against it are optics that are 'sumer level in the sharpness, fringing and distortion areas, but that dont make it a bad lens.
 
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#5
Now try the comparison with the 17-85 at f2.8 :LOL:
 
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#6
17-85IS is a good £280 lens priced at £450. My copy did not exhibit CA so badly though. Can be corrected with sat control in PS.

that 17-55 looks niiiiiiiiice
 
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