Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Lens Reviews / Canon Lenses i Lab tested
17-85mm $444
average price
image of Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Lab Test Results

  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion

Your purchases support this site

Buy the Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

(From Canon lens literature) Equivalent to a 28-135mm lens, this EF-S lens brings true wide-angle to telephoto coverage to EOS 20D and Digital Rebel shooters. It has Canon's Image Stabilization system, allowing safe hand-holding at speeds up to three stops slower than otherwise possible. And it's optically optimized for digital SLRs. A ring-type USM means both fast and silent AF, as well as full-time manual focus when in the AF mode.

Available in the more expensive 20D and Rebel XT bundle, this lens is an excellent choice for those intent on never buying another lens. It offers good wide angle and telephoto coverage, and its image stabilization allows you to get more indoor and telephoto shots that you'd have otherwise missed.

Test Notes

Although higher priced and including optical image stabilization, the Canon 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS could be seen as Canon's answer to the excellent 18-70mm lens that Nikon offers in bundles with the D70S. Optically, the two lenses are surprisingly similar, with good to very good sharpness across the frame, and across the entire focal length range. The Canon 17-85 IS is sharpest at the telephoto end, but doesn't give up much when shooting at shorter focal lengths either. At wide angle, sharpness doesn't change much at all, from wide open down to about f/11, a somewhat unusual characteristic. At other focal lengths, the first full stop down from wide open brings the most significant increase in sharpness, except in the vicinity of 60mm, where we found that it took two stops down (to f/11) to get the sharpest images.

Chromatic aberration is quite good from roughly 60-85mm, but heading the other direction, it rises a bit at 35mm, and takes a real leap at 17mm. - Aberration at maximum wide angle is well on the high side of average. Vignetting or light falloff in the corners of the frame is on the high side of average at 17mm, at about 0.8 EV, but that's still somewhat less than the roughly 1.05 EV of the competing Nikon optic. Falloff at wide angle decreases to 0.5 EV when the aperture is closed down a stop, to f/5.6, and at longer focal lengths never exceeds 0.3 EV. The 17-85 struggles most with geometric distortion, starting out quite high at 17mm, with about 1.2% barrel distortion, then dropping rapidly to about 0.5% pincushion at 35mm, and finally tapering down to about 0.4% pincushion at 85mm.

Overall, this lens is a nice performer, and the IS is a real boon for hand-held photography in uncertain lighting. As such, it deserves strong consideration for your main lens, if you're buying a Rebel XT or EOS-20D, both of which are offered in bundles with this optic. If you have one of the original Rebels, this lens might be a nice upgrade for you, giving you a bit more range at the telephoto end and Canon's very capable Image Stabilization at an affordable price.

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM User Reviews

7.8/10 average of 64 review(s) Build Quality 7.7/10 Image Quality 7.3/10
  • 2 out of 10 points and not recommended by transiently (26 reviews)
    Decently sharp and reasonably problem-free when used as a as a slow short telephoto. Ring USM AF, IS, useful zoom range.
    Very poor performance at shorter focal lengths - not just edge sharpness, but fringing, vignetting, linear distortion and flare are all worse than any other lens I've ever used. It's a little better at 35mm and higher and quite good at 85mm. A bit bulk

    My brother bought this lens new and spent a lot of money on it. He didn't like it enough to use it much, and I can see why.

    If you are even slightly critical about image quality, don't buy this lens. It's not impossible to take a good photo with it, but it introduces more difficulties than any other Canon lens I've tried. For example, the EF 75-300 lens is often cited as Canon's poorest. It's actually fully usable at most focal lengths. This 17-85 isn't. The 75-300 and similar cheap Canons are poorly-constructed - but I've never had an example of any of them that has the zoom creep of my brother's 17-85.

    Even the cheapest, oldest 18-55 kit lens doesn't perform as badly as this one at short focal lengths.

    reviewed October 23rd, 2020 (purchased for $400)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by Perry Rhodan (42 reviews)
    Cheap, flexibel, nice AF
    At the wide end there is some work to be done.

    Found this one in my drawer, serious. Erm. Got it with my 20D years ago and forgot about it entirely. Now used it on 80D and my latest the 250D. In short, of is a Nice and flexibel lens. AF is good. But at the wide end of needs some work. And being a jpeg only shooter that hinders it. To my surprise last week when I tried it on my 250D I got a lot better OOC JPEGs. Very well done canon! However it has to compare with my 18 135 nano usm, so no contest.

    reviewed June 24th, 2020 (purchased for $350)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by jamhoward (3 reviews)
    Really great zoom range. Good image stabilization
    Not as good as my 17-40, but hey what do you want for the price.

    I bought this lens when I upgraded from 50D to a 7D mark ii. The ability of the 7D mark ii to store in camera lens correction profiles is a game changer for lenses like this. It may not be a perfect lens, no lens is, but now you have the ability to fix it in camera without having to play around in your computer all day. This is a game changer that makes any choice for a third party alternative hard to justify. If you have a 7D mark ii, this is a good lens for you, with far better range than most of the alternatives.

    reviewed June 26th, 2017 (purchased for $299)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by makcv113 (8 reviews)
    IS, zoom range, image quality
    image quality, poorly built, F4 aperture

    I put image quality for both Pro and Con just because it isn't that good but also isn't that bad. I use this as a street/walkaround lens. The only lens I would get to replace this is the Canon EF-S 15-85mm.

    This lens came with the 40D I currently use (less than 2k actuations) for $400 for body and lens (what a deal!). The thing about the lens though is that the zoom gets semi-stuck at 70mm but with a little more pressure it'll get to 85mm . I don't know why, and I was going to sell it because of it, but after going on the streets I just might keep it for now. The image quality is good enough but it has lens creep.

    I've read about it about CA and image quality. To be real, they're almost right about that, but maybe a little overexaggerated.

    This lens is fine, minus the build quality and how outdated this lens is. I still find this lens on my local Craigslist for ~$300 (I've sold one before for that price too). When with $300 you could find yourself the 18-55 and 55-250 together for ~$250, both IMO having better image quality than this one lens alone.

    But if you don't like to change lenses and want a nice zoom range, there's the Canon EF-S 18-135mm that I can find for ~$200 on Craigslist and STILL have better image quality. So yes, this lens is outdated, and parts or the lens itself might just fail on you.

    I wouldn't recommend this lens for the price, but if you can find one ~$200, I'd jump on it, and that's only because it looks better than the 18-135mm. If we're talking quality, just go get the 18-135mm with that price.

    Here are some photos taken with the Canon EF-S 17-85mm on a Canon 40D (street photos taken at ISO 800, and indoors taken at ISO 1600):

    reviewed August 19th, 2012 (purchased for $250)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by loristm (1 reviews)
    • Effective image stabilizer (IS) that works as promised
    • Intrusion of magenta chromatic deviation and marked barrel distortion brings poor performance at wide-angle

    Canon EF-S 17-85mm, a major improvement from Canon’s EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 II kit lens offers attractive features appropriate for individuals who are into photography while traveling light. Its extended focal length range, image stabilization (IS), good manual focus option for fast and silent autofocus, and essentially improved build quality makes it an ideal all-in-one “walk around” lens for Canon’s APS-C SLRs.
    Canon EF-S 17-85mm key feature is its good imaging performance across almost all range specializing in the telephoto region and image stabilization (IS), which is one of the recent developments in digital camera technology promising photos to appear less-blurry or clearer compare to its original result.
    On the other hand, Cannon EF-S 17-85mm exhibits poor optical performance at wide angle end by the interference of green/magenta chromatic deviation at 17mm, which is extremely visible in almost any of shooting situations. Also, at 17mm range, the lens displays a barrel distortion which makes it far from being an ideal lens for photographic architecture. But need not to worry, with the help of Photoshop Lens Correction adjustment or Canon's Digital Photo Pro (v3.4 or later) the “uninvited substance” can be eliminated.

    Its been so good so far. I would really recommend this lens to anybody. Click here for other review of this lens that helps a lot.

    Hope I did helped anyone of you! :)

    reviewed December 26th, 2010
  • 5 out of 10 points and not recommended by elho_cid (10 reviews)
    Covenient by specification

    Not a particulary bad lens, but does not shine either. You can use it for years without noticing any problem until yu come upon some lens with real optical qualities. Which isn't difficult.
    Pictures taken with this zoom require quite a lot of postprocessing and sharpening to cmpensate for the dull image this lens renders.
    Stabilizer works well but it doesn't really make up for the lack of light.
    If you can get it cheap second hand than it could be good enough for snapshots in good light. But probably any other lens in it's price range is a better investment.

    reviewed November 16th, 2009 (purchased for $500)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by Pugwash9 (8 reviews)
    Build, handling, USM, IS, Zoom Range, Price
    Not a lot

    Not as sharp as my Tamron 17 – 50 F2.8 but the canon is much better built & focus is so much better. I also like the handling of this lens with my 40D.

    reviewed August 12th, 2009 (purchased for $400)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by spectrum (1 reviews)
    Appearance, IS, USM, zoom range, focuser scale
    no red stripe

    What I like most about this lens is how it looks. In my subjective opinion, it's the most beautiful of all Canon lenses, especially among the low end models. With it my camera (450D) looks really "pro". The build is unusually good for such a price, and it doesn't end with appearance - there is the fact that the front doesn't rotate when focusing or zooming. USM makes the focusing fast and silent, and the full time manual focusing is a nice feature.
    5X zoom may not seem like much with all those 20X bridge cameras out there, but it turned out to be quite acceptable. I went on a 2-week trip all over the Far East, shot well over a thousand photos, and there were just a handful in which I felt constrained by the 17-85 range.
    Sharpness may not be perfect, but nothing that a sharpness filter can't handle. Anyway, I took a photo of the Moon at 85mm f/5.6, and a crater just 4 pixels wide looks undeniably like a crater, even before the sharpening, and with less than perfect focusing.
    The lens is not without its disadvantages, however. Perhaps the most bothersome one is the chromatic aberration (especially at the wide end), though it's not that terrible, and, besides, there is a lot of software out there to deal with CA.
    Also, it's relatively large and heavy (and expensive) compared to EFS 18-55, which is a decent alternative to the EFS 17-85 (if you don't mind the lower quality build and appearance, and a more restricted focal length range).
    But if I had to buy my first lens again, I 'd probably make the same choice. No regrets so far.

    reviewed August 4th, 2009 (purchased for $500)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by mike051051 (2 reviews)
    IS, weight, balance, USM, speed of focus, focal length range
    uninformed critics

    I've had this lens a bit over a year and I find it a pleasure to use, priced right, well designed and quite well suited to it's purpose. Does it have color fringing at wide angle settings?...yes, but only in high contrast areas; does it exhibit distortion?...yes; is it the sharpest lens on the market?
    Every single lens on the market has shortcomings in one way or another. One of the fun/interesting/challenging things about photography is learning how to work well with the tools you have. Fringing, distortion and sharpness can all be taken care of on the computer if they are bothersome or detract from the image.
    The focus on this lens is fast and accurate, exposures are excellent and reach is super-convenient. It's simply too easy these days to overcome anything you don't like in an image on a computer, for me to waste time bashing good glass when I could be using that time to learn more about how to use that lens to the best of my ability.

    reviewed April 12th, 2009 (purchased for $515)
  • 5 out of 10 points and not recommended by f43tgv (16 reviews)
    wide range
    poor sharpness, expensive for what it is optically.

    I purchased this lens with my 30D not having used a copy before. I regret that choice. I know QC issues seem to be fairly rampant at the moment, perhaps I was unlucky, but I soon parted with it.

    I liked the focal length range, and the IS is very nice, a pity that the image quality was so poor.

    The lens just never got sharp at any aperture and chroma was very visible at 100%, maybe ok on a budget kit lens, but this isnt one.

    I got rid of it as soon as I could, I shall use the excellent 10-22 USM and add a 70-200F4, a known quantity, with maybe a 50mm to plug the occasional gap.

    Not really good eneough Canon.

    reviewed January 19th, 2009
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by photonut (5 reviews)
    versatile, decent build, IS
    large & heavy, poor image quality at wide angle, large filters

    Bought it as a kit with my camera because I didn't know any better.

    This is a very convenient lens and if you're only going to have one lens on your camera this could very well be the one to get. The focal length is very nice and covers most situations. Auto focus is fast and accurate. It also transmits distance information to the body for E-TTL II, something which I think most other kit zooms don't do (in practice I've found that this only matters when the subject is very close). It also has IS which means it's useful indoors without flash even with the slow aperture.

    After having bought a few primes I found that lens was bulky and produced poor images in the 17-24mm range. This could be forgiven if the results improved when stopping down... but they don't. I was using less and less so I sold it last spring after buying a 18-55 IS.

    I still think it's a decent starter lens though... but it's a little overpriced for that. If canon could just fix the IQ issues at wide angle it would be a great lens. I wouldn't recommend buying it new because of the price but if you can get it second hand, it's probably worth it.

    reviewed November 15th, 2008
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by GeorgiaJedi (4 reviews)
    Compact, IS, price, overall quality, fast AF
    Aperturem, construction

    Great travelling lens. Compact size and good focal range for road trips. The picture quality was surprising, and the AF performance was good. If a family member hadn't dropped this (attached to my XT) in a bucket of koolaid, I'd still be using it. Not sealed as well as other lenses I have had. But I would buy again.

    reviewed November 14th, 2008 (purchased for $275)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by wowwy91801 (2 reviews)
    IS, USM, Good focal length, Not too pricey.
    Widest is f/4, Image quality.

    Sold this lens after 3 months. Going to buy a lens that offers f2.8 instead since I take mostly low light photography. The range is good and it is a great walk-around lens, but I find that the IQ is not that great.

    The AF is great. I've compared this to the EF 28-135 IS USM which focused slowly than this EF 17-85. Tried focusing on a close object then focusing on a distance object. The difference was obvious. This lens AF much faster.

    I haven't experienced any zoom creep, even when I intendedly tried to. Carried this lens on a hiking trip and there was no zoom creep what-so-ever.

    Some people complain that this lens is heavy. I thought so at first but after attaching a grip to my XT, it balances out nicely.

    Good lens if you don't take handheld pictures in low light and this makes a great walk-around lens.

    reviewed July 31st, 2008 (purchased for $340)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by gnoptiy (1 reviews)
    IS, USM fast focusing, 0.35m minimum focus distance
    No fixed aperture, loose barrel

    Definitely better than 18-55 kit lens.

    I'm glad this lens can still focus at a close distance. At 85mm with IS, I can take satisfactory macro/close up shots.

    Unlike L lenses, the build quality is not perfect. The barrel of my 17-85 extends out whenever i face the camera downwards and had a little small jerk (try walking, or going down the stairs).

    Some people said this lens is heavy, but i find it acceptable.
    Photo quality.. you get what you've paid for. But, there are better lens out there.

    Some of my photos with this lens:

    reviewed June 6th, 2008 (purchased for $531)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by Focus (11 reviews)
    Excellent IQ

    Superior to the Nikon 18-70 and 18-135. Very good, sharp images threw the whole zoom range.

    reviewed May 11th, 2008
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by tukaway (6 reviews)
    Perfect focal length range, very responsive, solid optical performance, light weight
    Geometric distortion, variable aperture

    Whatever this lens' shortcomings may be, it is a VERY useful and usable lens. For general use, it's just tough to find another lens that does as many things this well. It's primary limitation? Too slow in low light (by the time you get to f5.6 at 85mm, you're really talking slow). If it's indoor work you do, skip this and go to the 17-55. I have both and find them both useful in their element.

    Of the lenses in my kit, this is my wife's favorite for its light weight and jack-of-all-trades utility. I lean toward my f2.8 lenses (including the 17-55 which I own), but still find this one to be a consistently useful and predictable tool.

    reviewed March 12th, 2008 (purchased for $535)
  • 4 out of 10 points and not recommended by uamsstudent (3 reviews)
    Image quality

    I have recently discovered the superior image quality available by owning a prime lens (w/out image stabilization). Had I known that the difference would be so significant, I would not have bought this zoom lens.

    reviewed January 20th, 2008 (purchased for $550)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by Sea Dragon Rex (5 reviews)
    Range, IS, USM
    IQ is not great at the wide end

    This lens is compact and has a great range and the IS is quite nice. The build quality is okay and the AF is pretty fast.

    The IQ is pretty sharp from mid range to the long end but leaves a little to be desired at the wide end. There is quite a bit of distortion at the wide end.

    It is better than the kit lens (18-55 non-IS) and is pretty good for the price. I replaced this lens with the 17-40L (giving up range but I already had the 24-70L) and now the 16-35L II for the wide end.

    As a travelling lens, this lens plus the 70-300 USM make a nice combination that is easy to pack and carry.

    reviewed January 8th, 2008 (purchased for $500)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by PsiBurn (8 reviews)
    insanely versatile, covers a very useful focal length, portable
    not the best optically (knew that); ZOOM MECHANISM JAMMED (???)

    When this lens is ACTUALLY WORKING, it never leaves my 20D. Yeah, it has its problems, but I was fully aware of this when buying it; not as sharp, distortion and CA prone, et al.

    What I didn't expect was the lens to stop zooming and jam at 24mm; I only had 17-24 accessible... I can live w/ the double barrel extension thing, but not a loose screw internally that forced my lens to stop turning after further investigation.

    If it weren't for such gnawing build issues, externally AND internally, I would recommend this lens in a heartbeat. As of now, I must hesitate to recommend; come to think of it, all my problems have involved IS lens... Hmmm... I hope it's bad luck.

    Good, if it works. Otherwise, terrible construction quality.

    reviewed December 21st, 2007 (purchased for $460)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by uwalover (6 reviews)
    super fast AF , wide range with good IQ except the barrel distortion
    barrel distortion at 17mm is very pronounced but I have DXO.

    I bought it as a part of my 40D kit so I got it for really cheap and how would be able to complain about it?

    it is sharp from 24mm to 85mm , peaks at 85mm f11.

    for me , it is a great lens for travel as a light weight, do-all kind of lens.

    usually , I use my EF-S17-55IS or Tamron 17-50 for my work but for my personal thing , I use this lens and just enjoy it...........I recommend it especially when you can get it with a 40D ..........use it with the10-22 that is another Canon's great lens and you wont have to deal with the distortion problem of this lens because the 10-22 has vrtually no distortion at all at 17mm.

    any way, this is a good lens for digital cameras since all of us 've got computer at least PS or DXO.

    I dont think distortion or CA are problem any more.

    reviewed October 12th, 2007 (purchased for $350)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by touristguy87 (33 reviews)
    a decent "all-rounder" upgrade from the 17-55 kit lens
    just a little slow, the focus accuracy is not all that impressive

    This is a good lens, a good all-around value considering what else is out there for EOS mount. Like any lens on the 400D the limit is the focus accuracy, not the lens sharpness.

    reviewed August 6th, 2007 (purchased for $420)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by EF-S10-22 (19 reviews)
    sharp at center throughout the range , excellent AF , excellent color
    pronounced barrel distortion at 17mm.

    always think about get rid of it , but always come back to it .

    I think I will never ditch it , it is the best compromise , all its issues (CA, distortion, small apereture) are not serious when you know how to use photoshop or something similar .

    The IQ is superb , very sharp and excellent flare performance , with vibrant color.

    The AF is so fast , the IS is very powerful.

    I think it is a good lens , at lest suites into my style very well .

    I am mostly shooting real people in a city so I have no time swapping many lenses or can not miss focus , I dont need f2.8 either since I need deep DOF .

    So if you shoot action or into street photography , there is no better lens than this , the 17-55IS is too short and too prone to flare , it is only good in low light .

    I expected to replace this with the EF-S17-55, though, I now realize how nice this 17-85 actually is, it is not much less sharp than the overly worshipped EF-S17-55IS and a bit sharper than the 17-40L at least my copy .........

    I bought the second 17-85IS in this June , and how can I say , it is the best lens ever made IMHO and my second 17-85IS is a bit of improvement over my 2 years old first 17-85IS , I think Canon fixed the distortion issue and CA issue at the 17mm without announcing anything about it.

    Any way , I highly recommend it with the EF-S10-22 , which covers very nicely the weak range of this lens from 17-20.

    This lens is truly sharp from 35 to 85 so when it is combined with the excellent EF-S10-22 , it works great.

    I think if you are thinking of getting the 17-55IS to replace it , you would better get the 10-22 in additon to this excellent 17-85IS .....most of people never need F2.8 and IS in the same lens.....

    Think about this when you need IS , you also need DEEP DOF not shallow DOF , so you dont need the F2.8 and the IS in the same lens.

    When you really need fast SS in low light, you'd need more than f2.8 , dont waste your money on those silly f 2.8 third party zooms like Sigma 18-50 , which is actually designed for Nikon 1.5 crop factor models , we , Canon users , need 17mm wide end to get 28 or 17mm , so the 18-something(actually , the Sigma 18-50 is even not a true 18mm lens, is in fact 19.3mm lens according to Pop photo) is pretty much useless on Rebels and x0D series Canon bodies.

    The Tamron 17-50 is ok , but not great , sharp but not as sharp as my 17-55 IS wide open and not as fast focusing as my Canon 17-55IS and 17-85IS .

    So if you are into action photgraphy or street photography , get a Canon .

    Tokina , Sigma and Tamorn are all junks , and they have severe CA problem.

    Also, their re-sale value is so so so bad.

    You can get a third party but you will regret in the long run.......and lose some money by returing or re-saling it .

    reviewed July 31st, 2007 (purchased for $540)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by random (10 reviews)

    This is the EF-S equivalent of the venerable EF 28-135 IS USM, with the same zoom ratio and a newer IS corrector unit good for up to 3-stops of handholding capability. It has a faster & quieter AF than the kit lens, but optically they are almost the same, especially in terms of corner sharpness, geometric distortions (especially at wide angle), CA & vignetting. Given its price, which is slightly more than its full-frame equivalent, it does seem rather underwhelming. I honestly expected more from this lens. The IS is a must-have due to the slow maximum aperture, but this lens still can't stop action in less than ideal lighting conditions. I would recommend getting this one over the full-frame 28-135 IS USM if you need the wide-angle more than the extra tele reach. 28mm isn't wide enough on a 1.6x crop body.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by noksukau (4 reviews)
    Range, IS, focus speed, looks 'right' on EF-S bodies
    Corner softness, aperture a bit slow

    This was my first IS lens to own, having tried out IS on other lenses it was a joy to have at last. Like many others, I bought this lens as a kit when I upgraded to the 30D. Six months later, I sold it, but not because it was that bad, more that it showed me a way forward with my photography and I wanted more of what it gave me a taste for.

    Good bits

    The range is awesome and will really spoil you, you won't find this elsewhere. IS is a godsend and does make up largely for the slow-ish aperture for most sorts of shooting. This lens also balances very well on all the EF-S bodies, allowing you to really cup it in your palm, not hold it with your fingertips like the 18-55mm kit or small primes. Focus is swift and silent, the major plus moving up from lesser lenses, plus it looks cool having the switches and distance scale on it (never had the need to use them, but it adds to its visual credentials).

    Bad bits

    It takes decent shots but I must confess to finding the corner softness disappointing. It wasn't just soft it was plain blurred in the extremes and did spoil some otherwise lovely shots if they had edge-to-edge detail of interest. Some may level criticism at its build but for the money it's on par, I never had any issues with my copy.

    The price is really very good when bought in the kit and holds its value well. That alone speaks volumes about its abilities. Like me, you may love it for a short time, and without it I don't think I'd appreciate my 17-55mm f/2.8 as much as I do. If you have the budget I'd stretch to that, but the 17-85mm provides a more affordable solution that gives you 80% of that lens' performance.

    Buy it, enjoy it, but carry on saving. For most people SLR photography is all about enjoying and upgrading, this lens isn't the one to change that. It's your mad girlfriend that you'll fondly remember, not your future wife!


    reviewed January 15th, 2007
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by CeeJay (4 reviews)
    Focal range , Image stabiliser , fairly good sharpness across the entire range , smooth bokeh
    Slow .. not good for low light situations, some barrel distortion at the wide end.

    I just got this lens for Christmas and so far I like it.

    It covers the 35mm equivalent of 27 - 136mm focal length which is very good and the sharpness is good , though not perfectly sharp.
    It also has pretty even performance across the entire focal range , though it does have some barrel distortion in the wide end , but that doesn't bother me and could easily be corrected for should I need it.

    It's minimum aperture is however small which makes it a poor performer in low-light situations , which is a shame because otherwise it would have been the perfect all-round everyday lens.
    It still is outdoor and under clear skies so I'm happy with it.

    While it's small aperture limits the amount of bokeh you can get when you shoot portrait , the bokeh it does produce is nice and smooth.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $800)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by CharlesH (3 reviews)
    Image stabilization, wide range of focal lengths (5x), decent sharpness, particularly for a lightweight mid-priced zoom lens.
    Heavy barrel distortion at wide-angle.

    This is a very decent middle-of-the-road lens. It is nice to have image stabilization in this focal range. The 5x focal length range permits you to use this as your only lens and still have flexible framing options.

    The only obvious limitations in use are the small aperture, particularly at longer focal lengths (which sometimes forces excessive exposure times when using limited, natural lighting) and the large amount of barrel distortion at short focal lengths.

    If you will be doing photos in low-light with this lens, you will want a good flash unit (like the Canon Speedlites) unless you can shoot long exposures on a tripod.

    If you shoot wide-angle photos of straight lines (e.g. most house or office interiors), you may want to invest in software to correct the barrel distortion, such as DxO Optics Pro.

    As one might expect from the test results here on SLRGear, softness has never been an issue with this lens. In my uses, Chromatic aberration and Vignetting have also not been a problem.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by fergusonjr (15 reviews)
    Relatively inexpensive. Great focal-length range. Fast, quiet AF.
    Slow lens (f/4-5.6), mixed bag on sharpness and distortions

    First the positives --> This lens has probably the best overall focal-length range for an everyday zoom lens for the 1.6 FOV cameras (Rebel, 20/30D). You get great wide and long coverage. The autofocus is very quiet and very fast. It's relatively light, and you get pretty decent center-sharpness throughout the aperture range.

    Then the negatives --> For the price, the build quality is probably about what you should expect -- okay -- but some of the plastic elements do feel a bit cheap. I've already seen at least one lens whose inner plastic shell got cracked, although I'm not sure how. The maximum aperture is frustratingly small, making this a rather slow lens for its focal-length-range. If you're shooting static subjects, then the IS will help a great deal, but people are impossible to shoot indoors without a flash. The barrel distortion at full-wide-angle is rather pronounced, but I suppose not as bad as some point-and-shoot cameras. Still, it shouldn't be this bad. It's correctable in Photoshop, but not without some loss of your edges. I found Chromatic Aberrations to be quite obvious in many photos, and not just at the largest aperture. Perhaps I'm picky about that kind of thing, or am more likely to notice than most, but I found that to be an annoying trait of this lens. I was also not happy with the way the sharpness seemed to be inconsistent from the center to the edges, with the edges sometimes turning out quite soft.

    This lens has a very enticing focal-length range, but really disappoints with its small max aperture. It's certainly not an available-light indoor camera, but it performs just fine with a flash or outdoors. It does make a great every-day carry-around lens if you can forgive its shortcomings.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $500)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by thf (8 reviews)
    very versatile lens, fast AF, IS
    no lens hood included, barrel distortion at wide end, some CA

    It's an extremely versatile travel lens! It covers 27-136mm in 35mm terms. AF is fast. IS helps in low light conditions. Good image quality and sharpness. It has a bit irritating barrel distortion at wide end and some CA when wide open. It gets much, much better at standard and long end. There's some vigneting when used wide open with not-slim filters, e.g. with polarizer.

    Lens hood is unfortunately not included and is rather expensive. On the good side, it's rather nice, not too big and very useful. It's possible to operate polarizing filter with the hood on.

    I've been traveling with this lens all around the world and am very happy with it.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007 (purchased for $570)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by element66 (6 reviews)

    I bought this len as a kit for my Canon 20D back in 2005.

    - Good walk around lens. Jack of all trades, but not great at one.
    - Gives a nice wide angle for my 1.6 crop 20D
    - IS works really well. Save me many times in low light shots
    - AF is pretty fast and quiet

    - Dark corners in the wide end.
    - Distortion in the wide end.

    I originaly purchase the 20D with the Sigma 18-125 because it was cheaper and offer a longer zoom, but the pics look very soft. It was much worst than my Rebel w/18-55 kit. I can't tell if it was the camera or the lens so I returned both of them and got the 20D w/17-85 kit. This lens is much sharper than the Sigma. I took it on a 3 weeks Europe trip and it performs very well in most situations, since I didn't want to bring extra lenes. I think the seals can be better since I see dusts between lens elements after it got a little wet from the rain. Sharpness is very good, but not great. Good at taking lanscape scenery, but not ones with buildings in the wide end due to distortion. Dark corners are sometimes a problem, but it only happens in the wide end. Gets very good 1/15 hand held shots with IS. This lens works very well with my 20D.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007 (purchased for $660)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by Lee Jay (16 reviews)
    Ideal range on 1.6 crop, decent optics, great IS, low price

    Pretty good walkaround lens on 1.6 crop. Optics are pretty good, focusing is fast and accurate. If you don't need a lot of speed, I'd get this lens over the other options in this range (17-55, 17-70, 24-70, 24-105, etc.).

    reviewed January 7th, 2007 (purchased for $450)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by twin (2 reviews)
    Great carry around lens. Excellent zoom range, it stays on my camera 90% of the time. IS is great!
    EF-S, but who cares? FF on the Rebel/x00D price range is still a long way ahead...

    I’ve had this lens on an EOS Rebel/300D for more than a year now, couldn’t be much happier. It replaced my 18-55 from my 300D kit and I’ve never looked back!

    No, it isn’t the perfect lens as it isn’t as fast as everyone would like, No, it isn’t build like a tank as the L’s lens but it’s the best carry around lens that one can buy for a Canon APS DSLR.

    Its zoom range and last generation IS helps to get the picture that otherwise would probably miss. Its size and weight makes it portable on a day basis, so you can carry your gear with you most of the times that you wouldn’t do with a heavier gear.

    Ok, someone could argue that the EF-S 17-55 F/2.8 IS USM (I haven’t used one) could be a better lens – I agree – but it cost twice as much, an it’s not as convenient zoom range wise. I've tested a friend's 28-135 IS and my 17-85 is much better, sharper and feels more solid (sample variation or I'm just lucky?).

    For me is a keeper. And will make a long companion through my photographic outings.

    reviewed January 1st, 2007 (purchased for $750)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by rupa13 (8 reviews)
    Quite sharp, light, good carry around lens.
    high distortion at wideangle.

    It's an excellent carry around lens. I like IS lenses, and this one can be a good choice for low light situations, candids, etc. Nevertheless I found it sometimes not so sharp at max. focal lenght, and I had diffcultiers due to the very high distortion at full wideangle. I switched to a 24-105 L IS , of which I am very happy, but I believe that the 17-85 is still a good choice especially in its price range.

    reviewed December 31st, 2006 (purchased for $600)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by tdotduffman (10 reviews)
    Focal range, IS, all-day portability, image quality (especially for the size)
    Temperamental focus ring, wide-angle barrel distortion

    I don't have any experience with Canon L, but I like this lens a lot. It's quite good at maximum aperture, though at the wide end I suppose it gets a little soft. Moreover, chromatic aberration can be a problem at ~17-20mm. However, this lens, combined with a Canon CMOS, and compared to some cheaper lenses, produces technically excellent images — my job is to look out for the subject itself and make sure I've focused properly. All in all, I suppose this lens won't always produce extraordinarily crisp and contrasty images that pop out of the screen (I've had a few "woah, that's shiny), but they won't be anything close to subpar either.

    Sure, the focus ring is a little narrow and a bit stiff, but it isn't sloppy or inaccurate. The zoom ring can feel sticky and imprecise if the torque is unbalanced or if one turns the ring slowly; turning it quickly and stopping at the desired focal length works better.

    The focal range covers a very useful range, though for me lacking on the telephoto; for that I'd want something between 135mm and 300mm, but that can't be fit into a lens this portable. The Image Stabilizer is fantastic, but since I find myself shooting indoor performances for school, a 2.8 or larger would be good to have. So except for that venue, the f/4-5.6 isn't a hindrance. This lens' focus hardly hunts, even in said dark venue. I can carry this lens with me all day, every day. Finally, I don't think I'd give up the 55mm-85mm range to get the 17-55mm 2.8 IS, because of the bulk for perpetual carry, and the extra tele and magnification ratio for close-ups.

    As is often said, one can't take a photograph with a lens one left at home. This lens is relatively compact and lightweight, and combines a very useful range with very good image quality and shot-saving IS.

    reviewed December 31st, 2006 (purchased for $680)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by logogogue (10 reviews)
    Wide angle, IS, Solid build, Great starter lens, quiet - USM
    Slow, no case, no lens hood

    A great starter lens. If you can spring for this lens over the 18-55mm in the "kit package," you are ahead of the game. It doesn't do anything stellar but it doesn't do anything bad either. In controlled settings, i.e., lighting, the image quality can be excellent. The IS is fine for stationary objects but not helpful for movement because of the minimum f stop. The 17mm, wide angle, shots are a lot of fun and the 85mm range makes this a very versatile lens to walk around with. For the cost, the lens should come with a lens hood.

    reviewed December 27th, 2006
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by CronoZero (3 reviews)
    IS, large focal range, fast autofocus
    f4-45.6 is pretty slow, noticeable CA and distortion (not too terrible)

    I got this lens as part of a kit with my 20D and as a result, I'm not sure how much I actually spent on this lens (bought it last year). It is definitely better than the normal kit lens, which is a EF-S 18-55 f3.5-f5.6.

    The EF-S 17-85 looks great on paper because of the IS, autofocus motor, and the very usable focal range, and those are the greatest selling points. The IS works great for minor shake, especially if you keep forgetting to buy a tripod like me, he USM autofocus is very fast, although my lens takes longer when there is not a lot of light, and lastly the range on this lens is amazing as an everyday lens. It has become extremely useful to me since I will sometimes shoot scenes and then decide to shoot closeup later in the day. I really haven't needed another lens for a while.

    However, one should watch out for a few things. I've noticed a decent amount of CA and distortion when using this lens zoomed all the way out. It isn't awful, but it is prety noticeable. The lens produces some great bokeh, but it would be easier to take advantage of the bokeh if the lens were a little faster.

    The lens is great though if one remembers the few shortcomings. There are better lenses, but they also might cost more.

    reviewed December 27th, 2006 (purchased for $600)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by mikeyL (2 reviews)
    great range, IS, fast focusing, reasonable size and weight

    I purchased this lens for a vacation trip to Europe this past summer. I wanted something better than the 17-55 kit that came with my Rebel XT, something with a little more range, and something I could expect to use indoors without flash in museums and the like. I was budget constrained to something less than $600 or so, so many of the L quality lenses were out. I purchased the 17-85 IS. After 3 weeks of shooting (~1700 shots overall) on my trip in every type of light, I was very pleased with the results. I also had my 50 1.8 with me, but almost exclusively used this lens, except in nighttime shooting and a few indoor shots. It was easy to handle, its range made composing and framing much easier than the fixed lens, and the IS was simply the difference between getting a bunch of 'keeper' shots with good sharpness as opposed to a bunch of blurry shots, whenever we were indoors. The color and saturation were maybe not quite up to what I was expecting, although that might be due to the fact of not having a lens hood on. Since my trip I have continued to use this lens with good results - it is on my camera probably 80% of the time. I simply never use the kit lens anymore, and only use the 50 1.8 for low light or indoor sports shots (which this lens is a tad too slow for...)

    My primary interest in photography is scenic, and I think this lens excels in that area. There are better zooms out there, but they cost significantly more. This lens has a unique focal range especially when used on a cropped image sensor camera like the Rebel XT, and also has a price that, while maybe higher than I would like, is still significantly cheaper than most of the alternatives. A great scenic lens for the money, a great walk around lens for the Rebel XT.

    reviewed December 26th, 2006 (purchased for $520)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by btjh86 (10 reviews)
    IS, Price, good AF
    slow optically, some CA and distortion

    I borrowed this lens to use for awhile and found that it is a great walk around lens! The IS is a real helper when you just need that shot when the last rays of sunlight are left.

    The lens does however exhibit some distortion at wide angle and this could be irritating if used for architectural shots. I had to 'unbarrel' most of the photos in Photoshop. CA could be fixed in Photoshop too, but I'd like to see less of that from a lens like this.

    It is sharp enough for most applications, and its zoom range covers enough for most people.

    If you want better image quality and IS and a faster lens, get the 17-55 IS F2.8, but it comes with a price.

    reviewed December 26th, 2006 (purchased for $600)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by caries (4 reviews)
    Sharp for non-L glass, useful range, good color, IS
    slow, not in par with L lenses in terms of sharpness and build quality

    Great all-around everyday lens. i use it 60-70% of the time on my 20D.

    reviewed December 25th, 2006 (purchased for $430)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by amelo14 (10 reviews)
    Unique Versatile Focal Range, Image Stabilization, USM, Low Weight, Low light possibilities
    No hood, requires corrective post-processing, only EF-S.

    I got this lens as part of a deal which included it and the Rebel XT. If you can buy it as part of this kind of package, then it is a really GREAT deal. This lens is extremely convenient, specially for travel and those situations (quite common) in which you just can’t take too many lenses with you. Its versatility means it will be the only lens many will need. Some criticize its image quality and its distortions. The distortions can be fixed in very affordable programs such as PTLENS, and the image quality, specially above 35mm is extremely good. It is a great lens to have as a low-light alternative for situations such as those in museums where no tripod/flash is allowed. Besides, if you check out resolution figures which compare the famous “85 1.8” at 1.8 and this lens at 85 f/5.6 (+ 3 stops with IS which would be more or less equivalent to 1.8), you will see that the figures are almost identical (see, This lens also allows for nice bokeh.

    All in all, a convenient lens for those who are ready to sacrifice some image quality for the chance to take photos which otherwise might never be taken.

    reviewed December 25th, 2006 (purchased for $610)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by einsteindouglas (1 reviews)
    Good "Walk-Around" lens, Very sharp, Not too bulky

    To shoot an upcoming wedding, I purchased this lens, plus the new Rebel XTi, plus the 430 Speedlite Flash. So, suitable equipped, on with the wedding shoot.

    I must say that this lens performed admirably. At 17mm (~28mm film equivalent on 35mm cameras) it's wide enough to take in all the action, and at 85mm (~135mm film equivalent on 35mm cameras) it can reach out so I could isolate an individual or a small group.

    The zoom action is very smooth, and the image stabilization is a great feature.

    The wedding shoot went smoothly, and my clients were very pleased with the results. Several of the best prints were printed on a 13" x 19" printer, and the prints looked very good indeed.

    Overall, if you have a Canon digital camera and are looking for a "Universal Lens", I'd recommend the 17-85 very highly.

    reviewed December 25th, 2006 (purchased for $500)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by hakuryuu (2 reviews)
    Decent IQ, build quality, IS.
    Could be sharper, some CA, barrel distortion at 17-18mm

    As a 400D kit lens replacement this lens is exactly what I needed. Any IQ problems it has are all easily remedied in PP other than softness at some focal lengths in the corners. Stopping down helps of course.

    Considering I only paid $400 for it I can't say much about it that I consider bad. The IS helps a lot. Amazing walk around lens without going for "L" glass.

    reviewed December 24th, 2006 (purchased for $400)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by steinr98 (1 reviews)
    Is lens- lets me shoot uner low light conditions
    Chromatic aberration-just a bit at wind angles settings- not real bad though

    I found this lens to be a great all around lens. I rarely take it off. At the widest angel setting, (17mm) I do get a small amount of Chromatic aberration- but very small and it depends on the scene. I have shot pictures hand held at 1/13 of a second that were perfectly sharp blown up to 13X19 inches. I would reccomend this lens to anyone!! I hardly ever use my 70-300 Is telephoto.

    reviewed December 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $600)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by Zinger (8 reviews)
    Versatility (focal lenth range, IS, weight)
    Some slight issues with distortion, vignetting, and CA

    This has been said countless times before, but I'll throw my hat into the ring....

    It's not perfect, but it is a *fantastic* walk-around lens for all of the reasons I listed in the "Pros" section.

    As has been said, there are some issues (especially at the lower focal lengths) with image quality. However, I have yet to find any problems that couldn't be corrected in post-processing.

    Especially for those with DxO Optics pro....their correction algorithms make this lens absolutely shine!

    Slightly expensive, but I still think a good value. If you're only going to buy one or two lenses, I think this is a great choice for one of them.

    reviewed December 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $512)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by mortensven (2 reviews)
    focal range
    mechanical build, optics/price

    Of the 5 lenses currently in my possession, this is definetly the one that sees the most time on my 20D body. And for one reason: Versatility. The focal range of 17-85 mm (equivalent to 28-135mm on 35mm format) is very useful indeed. I read somewhere that it was the only thing Henri Cartier-Bressons ever used(?). The optical quality isn't the best, but then again, it isn't a blocking point either. I never use it on f/4, but always step down to f/5.6 or less. The little remaining lack in sharpness/contrast can easily be fixed in Photoshop with acceptable results. Indeed, of the dusin or so photo's that I've ever sold for professional use, more than half of them were taken with this lens. F/5.6 is a bit slow though. The IS and ISO-800 does help, but f/2.8 would have been better. But you don't get that without sacrificing focal range (e.g: EF-S 17-55 f/2.8). Again, of the photo's shot with this lens, and sold for real money, the whole range is represented. 17mm, 85mm and in between. A fair share was actually shot on 85mm even though I'm a big fan of wide-angle. But sometimes it's just not possible to get close enough to the action and there's no time for goofing around with lens changes - tear gas and bricks flying around my head.

    It balances well on the 20D, but the zoom ring moves somewhat unsmooth. After a year's rugged use, it started giving me Error 99 messages. Turned out to be a broken apperture control wire, they said. It was fixed and it's now back on the 20D where it belongs.

    All in all, I have sort of a love-hate relationship with this lens. I suppose I use it for much the same reason that I usually use my pocket knife instead of a proper tool. It might not be an A-grade tool, but it's always handy when I need it.

    reviewed December 18th, 2006 (purchased for $600)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by johnkeats (7 reviews)
    compact, pretty sharp, IS
    wide angle vignetting and barrel distortion - there, but acceptable

    Disclosure, I'm "just" a hobbyist, and this is the nicest lens I've bought myself yet. Still - I'd say it was very nice, easy to like. The focusing is quick, it has a nice zoom range, and it's light and easy to handle. It won't do true macro, of course, but it focuses very close. This is a great walkaround lens for me, it can handle portraits, tight and wide group shots, landscapes, and nice close-ups. With IS, I can take a lot of pictures that I just wouldn't have when the light starts to fail, or when I didn't want to intrude on people with a flash. I count my money well-spent so far.

    reviewed December 18th, 2006 (purchased for $498)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by ralph m (3 reviews)
    IS, good range (17-85), good contrast and color, USM, full time manual focusing
    distortion at low end but easily fixed in PS or PSE

    This lens is a step up from the kit with IS, better color an contrast, USM, full time manual focusing. It is now selling for less than $500 US at some stores and that makes it a good choice for those who don't want to pay or can't afford L glass at some $1200 a clip. While some folks have been critical, I have seen some very excellent work done with this lens. It is a good travel lens with the equiv. range of 27 to 135 for APS sensors. The fact is, there are not many alternatives in the Canon lineup to cover this range in one package. I have used this lens and have to say that I am pleased with the results. It may not be as sharp as L glass, but it costs 1/2 to 1/3 the price, is lighter, and has good range. A little post processing and you can get some very nice images. I carry this with the 70-300 USM IS (nonDO) and the combination covers a huge range of 27 to 480 equiv. with IS and USM all around. Not too shabby.

    reviewed December 15th, 2006 (purchased for $490)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by killersnowman (10 reviews)
    versatility, IS, versatility
    image quality, speed, EF-s

    this is the first IS lens i have used. the greatest thing about this lens is that it covers such a wide range of focal lengths in such a small package. throw in IS and you got a near perfect walkaround lens. since i have aquired the 35L i havent been using this lens quite as much. i feel that the image quality this lens gives just isnt good enough for the type of shooting i do. the speed of this lens is another neg for me. i guess f/1.4 spoiled me. =)

    overall a nice entry lens for someone that doesnt want to bother with changing lenses or that is going to be taking snapshots of which the Image quality is not of much concerne. but! dont get me wrong; under the right circumstances this lens can produce amazing images...

    reviewed December 12th, 2006 (purchased for $600)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by kirehe (9 reviews)
    Convenient travel lens. IS. Fast focusing.
    Slow aperture, distortion.

    Decent sharpness. IS is great - gives ~3 stops. Fast focusing. Best for travel photo. Not so good for anything else.

    Poor, outright bad distortion (straight things bend horribly). Slow aperture doesn't freeze action or blur background.

    I ended up getting rid of it for a Sigma 18-50 f/2.8. YMMV.

    reviewed December 5th, 2006 (purchased for $520)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by gadgetguy (62 reviews)
    near prefect walkaround range, IS, lightweight
    slow apertures, EF-S

    This is the near-perfect walkaround range for a lens (would be nice to get 24mm equivalent). IS helps a lot to make up for the slow apertures.

    IQ is not bad, but considering the price of this lens, it would have been nice to have at least a max aperture of 3.5-5.6 - kinda like it's full frame equivalent the 28-135 USM IS and maybe just a little better IQ.

    reviewed December 3rd, 2006 (purchased for $600)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by sacchini (2 reviews)
    Range, IS

    I bought this zoom lens with a 350D/XT instead of the kit lens.
    I was searching for a lens good for travel shots; wide range without replacing lens was an issue.
    I'm really satisfied with the image quality of resulting pictures and Image Stabilization has been a positive surprise; tripod is heavy and this lens has allowed me to shot pictures that I wouldn't be able to do even with a faster lens.

    reviewed December 2nd, 2006 (purchased for $750)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by AMB (4 reviews)
    Zoom range, IS

    I bought this lens with a 350D. Main reason for buying this lens was the range and the IS. The IS allowes me to take pictures I couldn't have made without it. The range makes it less necessary to change lenses.

    reviewed December 1st, 2006 (purchased for $750)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by Tomti75 (13 reviews)
    Range, IS, IQ at the long end
    IQ at the wide end

    I bought this lens with a 350D (Rebel XT). First DSLR, but after 15 years with SLRs.

    The range is extremely useful, and have to be put in balance with image quality.
    5x zooms are definitely a compromise... of course, there are better IQ options (Sigma 18-50 f:2.8 or Canon 17-55 f:2.8 or 24-105 f4) but... much higher price tag and/or shorter range.

    As for image quality, the wide end (17mm) is indeed on the lower side (distorsion, strong CA, only correct sharpness). Pixel peeping is a little disappointing, but only distorsion is visible on small to moderate sized prints.
    On the other end IQ gets better as you zoom in, and 85mm is surprisingly good.

    It was my first experience with IS, and to be honest I'was blown off by the result and definitely think IS is useful, even at wide angle.
    I had the opportunity to shoot in low light with this lens and with a 85 1.8, and I was very surprised to realize that handholdability of both lenses was quite the same. Apart from DOF, on a static scene 1.8 @ 1/60 and 5.6 @ 1/10 with IS gave roughly the same small amount of motion blur in my hands.

    When I need to stop motion in low light, or a small DOF for portraits, I've got fast primes with a better IQ, but as a one lens walkaround solution this lens is extremely useful, has a better IQ than the kit lens, a longer range and IS.

    reviewed December 1st, 2006 (purchased for $750)
  • 5 out of 10 points and not recommended by theoak (7 reviews)
    Long zoom range, IS
    Maximum aperture not very wide

    I bought my 20D with this as the kit lens figuring that I would like the extended zoom range.

    But this lens is the proverbial duck - it can swim, walk, and fly, but can't do any of the three very well.

    In retrospect I with that I had bought the 20D body and an L series midrange zoom like the 17-40 or 24-70, or the EF-S 17-55/2.8.

    I haven't used this lens in months, it just sits on my desk collecting dust.

    reviewed November 20th, 2006
  • 4 out of 10 points and not recommended by pz (8 reviews)
    terrible picture quality

    I bought it for my 20D. I regretted it very very much!!! I have never used a 'digital only' (or EF-S) lens before. I used 28-135 IS and I was satisfied with it. The IS is very useful, but the picture quality of this lens is terrible! Every lens has got optical defects - of course - but the defects of a good lens can be corrected easily. The vignetting of this lens was as disturbing as I did have to use at least aperture 8 for a good picture! In the end I bought DXO for the correction. But for RAW it wasn't the best (I didn't like the RAW converter of DXO). I sold it at the first time. Do not buy this lens! Buy 17-40 instead of it for the same price! 17-40 is a shorter zoom but its picture quality is incomparable with 17-85!!!!!!!!!!

    reviewed November 17th, 2006
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by przemekszymbra (3 reviews)

    Bought with with 350D body. Overall I was happy. It is fine lens to start and experience with.

    Recently replaced with Canon 24-105L f/4 IS.

    reviewed November 16th, 2006
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by Jon S (4 reviews)
    Image Stabilization, decent zoom range
    vignetting at wide end of lens, slow speed

    After reading the reviews on this lens, I did not expect much and therefore the lens ended up being what i expected.

    At the 17mm side, there is obvious darkening at the corners, moderate barrel distortion and some CA. All of this goes away as you zoom in a bit.

    I find the lens to be a bit on the soft side, not as sharp as i thought.

    The lens is a lot bulkier and heavier than the standard 18-55mm kit lens. The IS is probably the best feature of this lens. My prior non-SLR digital camera had a F2.4 28-200. In a way, the IS compensates for the F4 on the lens. But the XTi can be exposed to ISO800 with no objectionable noise compared to my older camera. So overall, I can take more usable shots with this lens than i could with my older setup.

    reviewed November 15th, 2006 (purchased for $500)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by smallypauly (3 reviews)
    Good zoom range, IS
    Not the sharpest lens I've ever used

    Very useful lens to have. The IS works well and focusing is quick. However I never seem to get a photo that I'm really happy with. When sharpness is critical I would use any of my other lenses.

    reviewed November 15th, 2006 (purchased for $800)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by Tom (2 reviews)
    Image Stabilizer, Range, Cost
    compared to other lenses I was considering, aperature...

    I just got this lens at a great price at a camera show, practically brand new. I was debating over a Sigma 24-70mm and a Sigma 18-50mm, both f2.8. Then I saw this lens and realized it had the perfect range that I was after. However, it wasn't f2.8. Not such a big deal when you throw in the image stabilizer. I was COMPLETELY amazed by how well it did taking photos indoors. I couldn't hold the Sigma steady enough for my liking plus it was bigger/heavier/bigger filter size/blocking flash, etc. So this lens quickly became my choice. Getting it for about the same price just made it a no brainer.

    The only thing I'm curious about is image quality. Everyone gave wonderful reviews of the Sigma lenses I was after for image quality; however, from my testing today I like the quality of this lens. Though I have no basis for comparison. However, if I had to use the Sigma lens with a tripod .... at 18-50 or 24-70 just to get clear images if it wasn't sunny sounds kind of silly. My Sigma 50-500mm is the same way. I need a bright sunny day or a monopod. Could be me, I mean I could shake or dip the camera yet...could also be the weight of the Sigma lenses.

    So what good is a lens that I personally can't hold? No good, no matter how clear it is - I can't use it. Period. This lens, I can! Quite well too. This is very important because I shoot a lot of indoor shots or on during dusk or darker overcast days. Indoor/party shots are NOT just "drunk" pictures and sometimes it does matter. Weddings, events, etc.

    However, I think the most underestimated part about the image stabilzer is the use in any circumstance - with filters. Even if it's a normal day out - and you have a few filters stacked or even just one that's taking you down a stop or two...not a big deal with the image stabilizer. Think about circular polarizer + enhacning filter... Think about neutral density filters... They suck your light up bad, but not so bad with the image stabilizer..

    SO.. I'm quite happy so far (with a few hours of shooting). I love Sigma, but I'm afraid this lens is better for me at least and my shooting habits.

    Also, I don't really notice bad vignetting....anyone who thinks there shouldn't be any at 17mm better rethink some things. I didn't notice any w/o filters, but some did exist with even one filter. I don't mind though. You won't find any lens in this category to not have vignetting, you need another lens.... a 10-22 or 10-20 or 12-24, etc. if that's your issue.

    reviewed September 17th, 2006 (purchased for $450)
  • 10 out of 10 points and not recommended by redex (1 reviews)

    First of all would like to say that I had a 2 Canon cameras before purchase of EOS 350D and and you couldn't find a biggest fan of the Canon but me.

    Let's begin with good impressions about this lense:

    build quality - excellent
    ease of ops - excellent
    sharpness - excellent
    focus range - the best if you are not willing to change the lence before every shot. Have shot portrets, landscape, night, sports. It works for all.
    colors - excellent
    auto focus - excellent

    And now disapointments:

    VIGNETTING !!!!!
    Fortunately the only disapointment in this lense...... but unfortunately the essential why I will not recomend this lense to anyone who would not like to cut their photos in afterprocessing for about 1/3 of the picture!!!!!!!!
    Just absolutely unacceptable black corners, especially when polaroid filter used.

    After return I was extremely disapointed when had to just throw away about 70 pictures taken in Dominican Republic and about 50 after return from Turkey.

    The only photographers I can recomend this lense is for taking shots in halfdark rooms, night shots and drunk parties, where nobody cares the quality.
    Definately would not recomend to people who would like to progress in the future as this lense may kill they wishes to continue with photography and/or definately may kill the peoples love to Canon.

    Some pictures which I haven't trhrowed away might be seen at:
    in the "Canon EF-S 17-85 IS Vignetting"folder. To be enlarged, press on the photos.

    Do not disapoint your selves and do not spoil your memories (

    reviewed June 30th, 2006 (purchased for $800)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by Doug Pardee (1 reviews)
    Overall versatility, focusing, image stabilization
    Wide-angle shots need postprocessing for best results

    The 17-85 is the best general-purpose zoom lens that Canon makes for its DSLRs with APS-C sized sensors. Nothing else in the Canon line comes close to it for sheer versatility. It's also very pleasant to use.

    I do a lot of existing-light work, and I hate carrying - and setting up and taking down - a tripod. The Image Stabilization (IS) system works amazingly well. I've taken handheld shots at 1/5th second and over 50mm focal length that came out with no visible camera shake. The extra drain on the battery when IS is switched on is minimal - I don't really notice it.

    I was surprised at just how nice the Ring USM focusing mechanism is. One thing that I wanted from a DSLR was elimination of shutter lag, and the Ring USM focuses almost instantly. It's also extremely accurate.

    The Ring USM also makes manual focusing very pleasant, with its rubberized focus ring and distance scale. It also includes Full-Time Manual focusing, although probably few people would use that particular feature.

    The front element does not rotate, so it's straightforward to use a Circular Polarizer or Gradient Neutral Density filter on the 17-85.

    The downside of the 17-85 is undeniably its optical performance at wide angles. Barrel distortion, light falloff (vignetting), and chromatic aberration are all fairly apparent at 17mm. All of those problems are easily corrected in postprocessing, using tools such as PTLens, DxO Optics Pro, or PhotoShop CS2.

    Some coma (softening of the extreme corners) is also noticeable when the lens is used at f/4 at 17mm. Either stopping down a bit or zooming in a bit will eliminate that. I'll add that some of the softening isn't coma at all, but rather is the result of chromatic aberration. Cleaning up CA in postprocessing will make the corners not so soft. My lens is sharp at f/5.6 throughout its zoom range.

    I have seen some reports of people having softness on the far right side of images taken with this lens. I don't accept that as being normal; MY lens isn't soft on the right and I've seen many other shots from 17-85 lenses that weren't soft on the right. I would recommend anyone buying the lens to check that the right edge is not visibly softer than the left - the examples that I saw were WAY softer, we're not talking pixel peeping here. If it is, you might want to exchange the lens or get it repaired.

    As for price, I'm satisfied. The 17-85 is highly versatile and a joy to use, and there is no other lens currently available that does what the 17-85 does. For me, it was worth every penny.

    reviewed December 14th, 2005 (purchased for $500)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by snapper (6 reviews)
    perfect range for 1.6x camera, useful & capable I.S., good image quality
    'purple fringe' @ 17mm but quickly decreases from there, about $150 over priced

    this lens is a perfect match for walk around lens for a 1.6x camera. 17-85mm zoom is useful and you get pretty good image quality across wholethe range. LOTS of primes and zooms are sharper and cleaner... but this gtets the MIX of shots .. whole buildings, facade/gargoyle detail, 'flashless' museums inside a little 'macro'-ish flower shot here and there. It travels well. THe NEW 70-300 I.S. is better image qual but a good matchup for some decent travel range.

    reviewed November 18th, 2005 (purchased for $620)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by saudidave (2 reviews)
    superb range on a 1.6x crop
    This lens cost me $700 from Hong Kong & the CA isn't acceptable at that price

    In reviewing this lens I have compared it with my 28-135 IS lens.

    Image Quality; compared with 28-135 IS

    Not much in it really. Pixel peepers excluded, you would be hard pressed to find too much to complain about with my copy of the 28-135, despite widespread reports that it is too soft. Mine is excellent. Overall though, I reckon the 17-85 has the edge. It tends to be fractionally sharper, about 75% of the time. The colours are a fraction better too. The only down side I have about it is the occasional display of CA, which is a tad dissappointing in a lens costing anything between £425 & £500 in the UK

    Image Stabilisation; compared with 28-135 IS

    Surprisingly, I can see no difference between the two. I expected the 17-85 to be superior, since it’s a later generation, yet the reality is they’re both around 1.5-2 stops. No difference.

    Build Quality; compared with 28-135 IS

    Again, very similar, but again my copy of the 17-85 has the edge. It is a little more precise in its feel and operation. The main gripe with the 28-135 is the irritating lens creep. No sign of that with the 17-85.

    Handling and operation; compared with 28-135 IS

    Both lenses focus quickly and quietly most of the time but occasionally the 17-85 hunts at the long end. Not too much, but more than the 28-135, for sure. Despite the facts and figures that tell me that both are very similar in size and weight, the 17-85 feels much lighter and smaller!

    Range; compared with 28-135 IS

    A totally subjective point, but I find the 28-135 isn’t wide enough in town. I find the 17-85 is good for 95% of the photography I do.

    To conclude, then; I shall probably sell the 28-135, despite the fact that I can use a cheap collapsible rubber lens hood with it instead of a £20 odd quid Canon petal rip off!. It wins on most of the aspects that I have considered, albeit only fractionally. The main factor is the range (which is totally subjective), the fact that it’s more or less a single lens option (personal bee in the bonnet) and the fact that if I go down that road I can dispense with the kit lens and get £50 for it on ebay.

    reviewed October 30th, 2005 (purchased for $700)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by gregoire (1 reviews)
    Nice range; IS; ringtype USM; FTM; sharpness
    Had to return the lens due to a mechanical problem

    Next week this lens will finally be returned to me after 6 weeks in Canon's repair shop. I had some doubts about the mechanics: sometimes zooming produced a rattling noise, so I decided to return it.

    I am so glad it is coming back. Apart from the mechanical thing, this lens is superb. Pictures are very sharp and the range is ideal to make this your everyday lens.

    The IS is perfect. I have the original IS in my 75-300 IS USM but this latest version is much better by far. It is less clunky and so quiet you sometimes wonder if it is working. This lens produced some very nice nightshots of the city I live, all handheld.

    Colors, contrast and sharpness are all very good. I don't own a L-type lens so I can't compare but I cannot imagine there is that much difference as this lens is so good.

    Highly recommended. If I change my mind after it has returned from Canon, I will let you know.

    --- edit after Canon returned the lens ---
    All problems now solved and I've got the distinct feeling they made some minor adjustments because the sharpness now is simply amazing: I have no need for USM in PS anymore!!! However, during a shooting last week I did notice some distinct barreleffect @ 17 - 20mm which is why I downgraded the overall rating from 9 to 8. Still, it remains highly recommended.

    reviewed October 28th, 2005 (purchased for $600)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by richardbrackin (1 reviews)
    Good all-purpose lens, performs nicely on some 'macro' shots, also good image quality at 85mm focal length
    Quite a bit of distortion at 17mm, a little bit pricey

    I am reviewing a product that is on its way back to Canon for testing and repair for a possible front-focusing issue. I will not allow that little blip to affect my overall impression of the lens.
    Indeed it could be an issue with my 20D so I'll simply base the review on the positive aspects of the lens.

    Overall I think I will be happy with the lens once the issues are resolved (camera or lens issue). I'd have preferred perfect working components straight out of the box but that's life. That's why Canon gets an 7 on overall rating. Otherwise it would have been a 10.

    Lens construction quality gets a 7 because I'm still not sure if the issue is with the lens or with my 20D. The lens takes a hit on this one for that reason. Otherwise it would be a 9.

    85 percent of my photos are out of focus just enough to be annoying.
    When it takes a picture that is IN focus (usually manually focusing) it captures a very sharp image.
    I'd say 8 is the maximum image quality one can expect from a non-L-series Canon lens.

    Even though I'm having problems initially, I think the lens is a great lens to use for prosumer or even straight consumer level usage.
    The lens is very quiet when it focuses and I can only imagine that when I get it back that I will be extremely happy with it.

    November 3rd Update
    I got the lens back yesterday. Canon's work note said they adjusted both my 20D and my 17-85 lens. There's a significant improvement in the focusing now that the lens is working correctly.
    While I won't change my overall rating due to the issues I had, I can say that the lens is a very sharp lens. Kudos to Canon for fixing my problem.

    reviewed October 20th, 2005 (purchased for $559)