Review: Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

The primary feature I was searching for in a new day-to-day lens was inner focusing and Image Stabilisation. I was previously stuck with the original kit lens (EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) which lacked both of these features. After doing a little research and asking a few people about their thoughts, I decided on the EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM.

This review was based on a Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM and Canon EOS 450D Combination.

Specifications

Focal Length (35mm equivalent) 17-85mm (27-136mm)
Weight 475g
Diagonal Angle of view 78
Maximum aperture F4-5.6
Minimum aperture F22-32
Lens Construction - 17 elements/12 groups
– 1 Aspherical element
No. of aperture blades: 6
Minimum focus 0.35m
Maximum magnification
AF System - Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor
– Full-time manual focus
– Inner Focusing
Image Stabilisation - 3 stops
– Single mode (no panning)
Filter Size 67mm

At the time of this review, I have had this lens for close to 3 months now and have used it to shoot over 6000 photos. The lens weighs in at 475g and has been built with strength and practicality in mind. The wide focal range 17-85mm (~ 5x for those with compact digital) is perfect for a large number of subjects. I have shot portraits, landscapes, macro and action photos; I am pleased with the outcome for all of them.

That said, I think that Canon has pushed a few mm too much on the wide end. Anything taken using a setting of 17mm, f/4 will show signs of distortion and vignetting. Adding a UV/Polarizing filter multiplies this effect even further. Though most of the distortion problems are easily fixed with some post-processing, and to avoid vignetting I will usually shoot above 22mm (With a UV Filter).

Given the cost of the lens (AU$1100.00 RRP), my expectations were quite high, but even with its flaws I must say that this lens has stepped up to those expectations. There is no doubt that this lens has been very well made. It’s small, it’s light and it features fast auto focusing. When it comes to real world photography, this lens supports the ability to capture almost any scene you might run into, making it the perfect walk-around lens.

Sample Photos

Below are some sample photos showing how versatile this lens really is when it comes to real world photography.

17 mm | f/11.0 | 8 sec | ISO 100

A photo taken of a sydney balconey, you can see some warping on the right hand side.

85 mm | f/5.6 |1/125 sec | ISO 400

This was an interesting photo taken one night using no additional lighting at all.

30 mm | f/4.5 | 1/30 sec | ISO 800

A photo taken indoors without anything more than natural light though the windows.

85 mm | f/5.6 | 1/320 sec | ISO 400

Action photos are no worries for this lens. This rally car was traveling over 100km/h.

17 mm | f/7.1 | 1/100 sec | ISO 100

Landscapes at 17mm usually turn out without major distortions. However, vignetting is still present.

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