The Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens is a wide-to-tele zoom lens designed for Canon APS-C sized DSLRs like the Canon Rebel XTi and Canon 40D. It has the 35mm focal length equivalent of 28-135mm. It has Canon’s Image Stabilization system, allowing safe hand-holding at speeds up to three stops slower than otherwise possible. A ring-type USM means both fast and silent AF, as well as full-time manual focus when in the AF mode. It also has a non-rotating front element and the lens length does not change during zooming.
But, the Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens is going to be the right lens for a lot of people. With its wide 5x zoom range, the 17-85 makes a great walk-around lens. There is a huge range of subject matter that fits nicely in this focal length range. And in addition to being relatively small and light, the 17-85’s image quality is quite good.
So at the end of the day the lens is a tad better than the cheapo EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 but it can’t really compete with the EF 17-40mm f/4 USM L which offers a superior (corner) performance as well as build quality (for a few bucks more). The key feature of the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 USM IS remains in versatility. While this may sound a little sceptical I should note that I preferred the lens compared to other higher quality options during testing – it is simply a darn convenient lens and despite the flaws it can produce very decent images as you can see from the samples – at least with a little tool support.
It’s far from perfect and arguably over-priced, but none-the-less remains one of the best general purpose lenses for owners of Canon EF-S compatible bodies; as such it misses out on our top rating, but still comes Recommended.
I can’t help feeling that Canon have pushed the focal range a tad too far at the wide end of this optic because from the 20mm mark through to the 85mm end it is a cracking walkabout lens. It is only the widest few millimetres that let it down a touch. Having said that, with a little judicious work post processing images at that end, they are still very usable. The Image Stabilisation system is a boon in low lighting conditions and made pictures in those situations quite viable. For owners of the cameras that the lens will fit, it is a good addition to the camera bag.
- Recommended by 80% of reviewers
Where to Buy
First off, consider going to your local camera store (and I don’t necessarily mean Wolf Camera at the mall). By going to your local camera store, you’re supporting your community and you just might build a lasting relationship with people you can rely on when you need some help or answers. If you’re buying online, I recommend sticking with Amazon, B&H Photo or Adorama. These three vendors are reliable, trustworthy and generally have the best (legitimate) prices. Additionally, purchasing your gear through these links helps support this site.
[tags]canon, lens, review, 17-85mm, is, usm[/tags]