Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

One of our two first kit lenses, this was definitely the better of the two. A canon hood was added later.

With an all-purpose 35mm-equivalent focal length of 28-135mm on a full frame camera, the lens can cover a number of general purpose photography needs. We used it mainly for landscapes, portraits, moderate close-up work and general 'day out' photos. It also got used for keeping records of stuff done at work in the server room.

Although it is a 'kit' lens the optical quality is surprisingly good, especially given its low price. It's also quite light and well made, making it even nicer to carry around all day. The IS certainly helps (with the relatively slow apertures f/4-5.6 it can make up for slower shutter speeds) without being noisy or interfering. Although we didn't use it very often the full time manual (ie you can manually focus without switching to manual focus mode first) is a nice addition with the full ring USM motor.

Despite all that it is still a 'kit' lens and so suffers in a few areas that made us upgrade later to the EF-S 15-85mm lens. The lens does show a lot of barrel distortion at wide angles, particularly noticeable on architecture (or server racks) with straight lines. The optics are also not as sharp as the more expensive lenses. While well made it does still feel a little plasticy.

The lens now has a new home with someone else who will likely get some very good shots with it. Ultimately we only upgraded because we wanted the best quality in a general purpose lens and could afford it but this lens coupled with a xxxD body would make a very good general purpose photography kit that's affordable and very portable.

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