10 out of 10 points and recommendedExceptionally sharp and responsive lens, rapid focus, image stabilizerweight and long minimum focus distance
To get a long zoom with a wide constant aperture, weight is to be expected. And you'll grumble about that weight only until you see the results. Shots take post-processing well but require almost none. For someone like me who does a lot of candids and thus feels constrained by tripods, the benefit of Image Stabilization is hard to overstate.reviewed March 21st, 2006 (purchased for $1,590)
Sharpness is consistently excellent even at f2.8. Colors and bokeh couldn't be better. This is my favorite lens for portraits, hands down.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedGood handling, very fast focus
This is my primary lens because of its focal length range, but especially because of its responsiveness. It just works and feels right. Most of my shooting is either candids or landscape. For the former, the focusing speed of this lens is its best attribute - focus is extremely quick and accurate, easily quick enough for anything I have been able to throw at it. Build and lens action (zoom, focus) are tight and silky smooth. I've now shot several thousand frames with this lens - it just works right. It takes physical punishment (snow, dust, rain) without missing a beat.reviewed March 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $1,150)
I have a post-flare-fix (aka blue-dot) version of this lens, and have not seen any flare problems so far. I often use the lens hood, but even when I don't, flare is something I only see in EXTREME circumstances.
At f4 above 100mm, unprocessed images generally do appear a bit soft. However, the same images take sharpening very well such that I have no worry about shooting wide open at any focal length. Canon's DPP software works well for that purpose, although DxO is my preference because of its comprehensive automatic corrections.
Of course it would be nice if this were an f2.8 lens - but it isn't, so it seems pointless to yearn for something the specs explicitly disclaim. I love the 24-70L 2.8, but find that the extra focal length and IS of this lens cause me to use it more than the 24-70L.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedExtremely sharp, beautiful bokeh, accurate focusOccasional focus hunting when not used for macro work, IS would be helpful
This lens is remarkably sharp across every part of the frame. It may addict you to macro work. Bokeh is liquid smooth.reviewed March 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $450)
Perhaps this is unique to my copy, but I have found that when shooting at normal (non-macro) distances, the lens can tend to hunt a bit more than my other lenses when focusing in reduced light.
It's a specialized tool, and is truly excellent in its niche.
6 out of 10 points and recommendedWeight, very inexpensive, sharp when stopped downSoft (even on cropped body) until you get close to f4, slow focus tracking
Sure, this is a very inexpensive lens - so the cons really shouldn't weigh too heavily in the balance. Build is cheap, but no more so than Canon's 18-55 EF-S (as one example).reviewed November 23rd, 2006
Focus is louder than USM motors, but still not loud, and certainly quieter than the motors in a number of Tamrons I've used. What is more noticeable for me is that the lens does struggle to keep up with moving subjects.
Image quality is very good once it's stopped down to f4 or beyond, otherwise your subject better be in the center of the frame for acceptable results.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedExcellent IQ, very fast AFZoom action could be better damped, can flare w/o hood in place
This is the ultimate available-light zoom for EF-S bodies. It is very responsive, impressively sharp even wide open. It's color and contrast produce delightful results. It is a moderate weight lens, and mounted on the 20D it balances very nicely.reviewed March 12th, 2008 (purchased for $910)
It is absurd that Canon doesn't include the lens hood with an optic this expensive, the more so because when used outdoors you do need the hood if you want to have some protection from flare. With the hood in place, it's business as usual.
This lens is ALMOST an L - about the only change would be the metal barrel and smoother damping of the zoom and focus action (mine clunks a bit when zooming and the resistance is uneven when zooming). On its optical attributes, it easily equals the performance of my L glass (24-105, 70-200 2.8 IS).
I still have and use the 17-85mm IS because of the additional focal length (my wife loves the flexibility of that one, plus it is definitely smaller - lighter weight), but there is a noticeable difference in IQ. Indoors though it's no contest - I stick with the 17-55.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedPerfect focal length range, very responsive, solid optical performance, light weightGeometric 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.reviewed March 12th, 2008 (purchased for $535)
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.