9 out of 10 points and recommendedSuperb look and feel, f/2.8 and IS are photographic life-saversFlare
I could write a load about my angst in deciding which lens to replace the 17-85mm on my 30D but I shant because everyone has their own stories to tell and reasons for looking at this lens. So, I'm just going to say why I like it, what I may dislike about it, and if any lens comparisons prove useful in doing that, so be it. After all, performance is relative, not absolute.reviewed January 15th, 2007
Firstly, I didn't always think I would love this lens as much as I do now. I didn't think I could live with myself for choosing the uglier, more plasticky, more expensive option than the reknowned and beautifully made 17-40mm f/4 L. This lens has had to work to impress me, and has done because it does, work, in almost any situation I have put it in.
What's in a stop? A lot more than I imagined certainly. I mainly bought this lens for its reputed sharpness, with the f/2.8 bundled in as a bonus. After all, I've got a 50mm f/1.4 for low-light work. Those who cry that you can always just boost the ISO setting to compensate clearly don't live on the sensitivity edge; when you're at 3200 there's nowhere else to go. Shooting at an 1/8th of a second, ISO 3200 and still getting sharp keepers, you know you're in a different place and smile to yourself about just how long ago the 17-40mm you were thinking of buying would have given up!
What about committing to EF-S crop sensor bodies? The 5D is of course a very tempting camera but after buying this lens and reading other reviews on slrgear about lens performance on full-frame bodies, the APS-C sensor actually looks like a better photographic option, depending on your goals of course. As an overall solution for 'getting the shot', I don't think it's possible to beat this lens for flexibility and performance. What lens would you put on your 5D after all? The 24-105mm has IS but is a stop slower, the 24-70 matches the f/2.8 but has no IS and a shorter zoom range. Sure, there is some vignetting wide-open on this lens, more than the 17-40mm f/4, but take a look at what those 24-105 and 24-70 lenses look like on a full-frame and you'll see that vignetting is pretty similar. Honestly, check the reviews, I was surprised.
So, what I'm saying is that once you buy this lens, there's no going back, until Canon make a 24-80 f/2.8 IS there isn't going to be a lens that can take pictures in dark places like this one can and still give you the flexibility of a wide-angle walk-around zoom lens. If you're tempted to go full-frame, ask yourself hard questions about why you want to go there. More megapixels are nice, yes, as is a large viewfinder, but the image quality of the 30D really does allow me to do everything I want. Were people complaining 5 years ago that the Pro cameras 'only' had 8MP?
I have to agree with the previous reviewer; buy the hood! Shop around and get it cheap rather than balking at the 'recommended' price that only fools and desperados pay. It's not 'just a bit of plastic', it has a lovely furry lining to keep light at bay, plus it makes this lens look cool as ****. Without it, I felt the camera looked a little chunky and bloated, with it, I feel like a pro shooter. Ridiculous, yes, but it does make the lens feel and look more expensive (and be more expensive, but you get the point). It also lets you know that if there is any flare in your images then you did all you could to stop it under those conditions. It's no miracle worker, folks are right, this lens does flare, but I'd still prefer to have a slightly flare-prone lens that shoots fast and sharp than one that is blemish-free but a little soft and slow.
Any other criticisms? I don't like the telescoping barrel on zooming, but even some 'L' lenses have that so it's hard to complain to much. It would be nice if it telescoped inside the hood like the 24-70mm f/2.8 L but that's only hiding the truth, and surely making the hood less effective too. I can live with it. The lens is heavy, but physics is inescapable here, you want small and light, buy an Ixus. IS is slightly noisier than it was on my 17-85mm but by no means obstrusive, it's actually quite nice to know it's working. I wish it was a bit sharper at f/2.8, but f/4 is pretty much perfect and improvements are small upto about f/6. Like with any lens, you have trade-offs, speed for sharpness is the oldest around.
Photography is an art of juggling compromises and with this lens there's a lot less to compromise than with almost any other. It may not be the lens for you, but it certainly deserves your consideration, and in my opinion your money. If you just want to shoot landscapes and still life, get the 17-40mm f/4. If you want your camera to come alive, then buy this!
P.S. I've had the lens over 3 months and no dust in sight, just lots of lovely pictures on my walls!
7 out of 10 points and recommendedDid someone mention it was cheap?Loads of course, but that doesn't mean it's altogether useless, read on!
I can't think of a good reason NOT to get this lens. As many others have commented, it's performance is not brilliant, but like with any lens you have to learn how to use it to get the best results.reviewed January 15th, 2007
As you can see from the sharpness plots here that means stopping down to f/8-11, not ideal for most work but if you doing stills or in bright conditions it's not that hard, and let's face it, you're not going to be getting buttery bokeh at f/5.6 so you might has well have a sharp shot at least! If this is your first SLR it also lets you play around with your aperture priority settings and have some in-control camera fun.
As a wide-angle lens it serves admirably and earns a place in your bag for that reason alone when you start to add other lenses. This is the first lens to upgrade, definitely, but that doesn't mean you should ditch it immediately. Buy the 50mm f/1.8, a telephoto zoom, and then upgrade when you know a bit more about what you want from your shooting in terms of range, low-light performance and image quality.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedRange, IS, focus speed, looks 'right' on EF-S bodiesCorner 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.reviewed January 15th, 2007
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).
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!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedAbsolute stunner, very portable, looks superb and shots to matchOnly what it says on the tin, will give you a taste for more
Just a quickie, as there's not much left to say! It really is as great as everyone says and I still feel a tinge of excitement everytime I mount this on my camera.reviewed January 15th, 2007
Focus is sensational, you can pluck birds from the sky with ease and the snappy zoom ring takes plenty of abuse and allows you to go end-to-end with a quick snick of the wrist. The lens also hangs very nicely on all the bodies I've tried it on, feeling like a dangling weapon, always ready to fire.
That said, beware! Once you see what it can do it will give you an itch for more of what it offers and will frustrate you that you can't use your favourite lens all the time. 200mm on a cropped sensor and no IS means this lens goes to bed before your kids do. If I had to do this all over again I'd get the new IS version. As it is the vanilla f/4 holds its value remarkably well and with high build quality is a safe second hand buy. You can practically rent it until you can afford the IS version and have a load of photographic fun in the meantime.