Support Cameralabs by shopping at our partner stores or donating via Paypal
 






Follow my RSS feed at Camera Labs RSS Feed
 
  Latest camera reviews

Canon EOS 1200D T5
Sony WX350
Nikon P600
Sony Alpha A5000
Sony Cyber-shot HX400V
Panasonic Lumix GH4
Panasonic TS5 FT5
Sony Alpha A6000
Canon SX700 HS
Canon SX600 HS
Olympus TOUGH TG2
Nikon AW1
Nikon D3300
Fujifilm XT1
Olympus STYLUS 1
Sony Cyber-shot RX10
Olympus OMD EM1
Panasonic Lumix GM1
Nikon D610
Sony Alpha A7
Nikon D5300
Canon PowerShot A2500
Sony Alpha A7r
Canon ELPH 130 IXUS 140
Nikon COOLPIX P520
Nikon COOLPIX L820
Canon PowerShot S120
Panasonic Lumix GX7
Canon SX510 HS
Canon PowerShot G16
Fujifilm X20
Panasonic FZ70 / FZ72
Canon EOS 70D
Sony RX100 II
Canon ELPH 330 IXUS 255
Panasonic Lumix GF6
Fujifilm XM1
Olympus EP5
Panasonic Lumix LF1
Panasonic TZ35 / ZS25
Olympus XZ2
Sony HX300
Panasonic Lumix G6
Sony HX50V
Fujifilm X100S
Canon SX280 HS
Canon EOS SL1 / 100D
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30
Nikon D7100
Nikon COOLPIX A
Fujifilm X-E1
Canon EOS 6D
Nikon D5200
Panasonic Lumix GH3
Canon PowerShot S110
Panasonic Lumix G5
Sony NEX-6
Panasonic Lumix FZ200
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Nikon COOLPIX P7700
Olympus E-PL5
Canon EOS M
Panasonic TS20 / FT20
Canon PowerShot G15
Nikon D600
Nikon COOLPIX L810
Canon PowerShot D20
Sony RX100
Panasonic Lumix LX7
Canon SX500 IS
Fujifilm HS30 EXR
Sony HX200V
Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62
Canon 520HS / 500HS
Canon 110HS / 125HS
Nikon D800
Canon EOS T4i / 650D
Canon PowerShot A3400
Panasonic ZS15 / TZ25
Olympus E-M5
Nikon D3200
Fujifilm X-Pro1
Canon PowerShot A2300
Canon SX240 / SX260
Samsung NX200
Sony Alpha SLT-A77
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Panasonic ZS20 / TZ30
Canon PowerShot G1 X
Sony NEX-7
Panasonic GX1
Olympus E-PM1
Nikon V1
Sony NEX-5N
Canon EOS T3 / 1100D
Canon EOS 600D / T3i
Nikon D7000
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EOS 550D / T2i
Canon EOS 7D

All camera reviews
 
 
   
 
  Best Buys: our top models
   
  Best Canon lens
Best Nikon lens
Best Sony lens
Best budget DSLR
Best mid-range DSLR
Best semi-pro DSLR
Best point and shoot
Best superzoom
Best camera accessories
   
 



Camera Labs Forum

Any questions, comments or a great tip to share? Join my Camera forum and let everyone know!
   
 
  DSLR Tips



 
lens rental
Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4~5.6 IS USM lens review Gordon Laing, December 2005
 
Canon EF-S 17-85mm verdict

On paper, the Canon EF-S 17-85mm promises to be the perfect general-purpose lens for owners of Canon DSLRs with compatible mounts. The longer 5x optical range is far more useful than the 3x range of the popularly bundled EF-S 18-55mm kit lens, especially at the telephoto end, and the Image Stabilisation features are genuinely useful. As such the 17-85mm seems ideal for anyone who wants to upgrade from a bundled 18-55mm, or who needs a versatile option for a new EF-S body alone.

In practice though, the Canon EF-S 17-85mm is a slightly mixed bag. On the upside, the range is considerably more useful than the basic 3x of the 18-55mm, squeezing in fractionally more at the wide angle end, and offering far more scope at the telephoto. Now you really can get closer to subjects and produce decent-looking portraits with a nice small depth of field.




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




























The Image Stabilisation facility is also very welcome, allowing you to genuinely handhold exposures at far slower shutter speeds than normal. The effectiveness will vary between different people, but we found IS allowed us to confidently shoot at 1/30th when fully zoomed-in and at just one quarter of a second at wide angle. IS may drain your batteries faster, but is a genuinely useful feature.


Canon Speedlite 580EX II

On the downside though there are several optical issues to be aware of, at least on the version we tested. Vignetting / light fall off is always going to be an issue with very wide lenses, but rarely have we actually seen it so obviously through the viewfinder and on images. Stopping down the aperture hardly made any difference at the 17mm end, and the only way to truly eliminate the dark corners was to zoom-in slightly. See our Gallery for examples.

Revealingly the humble EF-S 18-55mm also out-performed it in some of our tests, delivering sharper corner results at wide angle and open apertures, not to mention more useful macro close-up facilities.

Then there's the fact it's an EF-S lens which will never work on a full-frame body, which could prove to be a limited investment if you have your eye on a serious upgrade in the future. We also feel it could have been optically faster for the price, and that Canon's continued practice of not including the lens hood on non-L lenses is just plain tight.

Indeed one surprising outcome of this test is just how good value the 18-55mm looks compared to the 17-85mm. This popularly bundled kit lens may have basic build quality and specification, but it's small, light, performs surprisingly well and best of all is cheap, cheap, cheap.

But then the 18-55mm has a short zoom ratio, not to mention a slow and quite audible focusing mechanism which rotates the front element, thereby infuriating users of polarising filters. In contrast the EF-S 17-85mm has fast and quiet internal USM focusing, superior build quality, Image Stabilisation and of course, a far more useful zoom range.

Ultimately if you can accept its optical issues and the fact it will only ever work on EF-S compatible bodies, there's a lot going for the Canon 17-85mm. It's far from perfect and arguably over-priced, but none-the-less remains one of the best general purpose lenses for owners of Canon EF-S compatible bodies; as such it misses out on our top rating, but still comes Recommended.

Click here for the Canon EF-S 17-85mm video tour
 

UPDATE: we have now tested the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens and compared it against the three lenses here using our latest charts. Visit our Canon EF-S 17-55mm review for the latest results. To see how these lenses also compare on an EOS 400D / XTi body, see our latest Canon lens group test.

NEW: For an overview of the headline features of this lens, check out our Canon EF-S 17-85mm video tour.



Good points

Useful 5x optical zoom ratio
Effective Image Stabilisation
Fast USM focussing motor
Polariser-friendly internal focusing

Bad points
Visible light fall-off at wide and tele
Relatively expensive for specification
Lens hood not included
Only compatible with EF-S bodies



Scores

(relative to wide zooms)
 

Build quality:
Optical quality:
Specification:
Value:

Overall:

20 / 25
17 / 25
20 / 25
17 / 25

74%
 
If you found this review useful, please support us by shopping below!
All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

/ How we test / Best Cameras / Advertising / Camera reviews / Supporting Camera Labs