8 out of 10 points and recommendedGood build, good opticsno stabilizer
I only use it occationally, but it does deliver some fine shots. For portraits and macro stuff (for which it was build), it draws superb images. If you can handle it, that is. Because it isn't exactly very well balanced on the 20D. It's too long for it's light weight, I gather. I have to use 1/180 sec exposure time or less to be sure to avoid motion (photographer's) blur. Could use my tripod, but usually can't bother logging it around. If this just had the gyro-things (Image Stabilizer), wow...But it doesn't.reviewed December 18th, 2006
In daylight situations, it is a pleasure to work with. The focus ring is nice, big and smooth. It's f/2.8 aperture delivers a bright image in the viewfinder. The recessed front element and included hood gives good protection from raindrops, dust and sunshine.
Sharpness isn't really topnotch on my specimen, but so far it hasn't given me any tension. Other optical issues: Nope, it performs brilliantly.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedfocal rangemechanical 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.reviewed December 18th, 2006 (purchased for $600)
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.