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

The first step up Canon's ladder of standard zoom lenses

The first step up Canon's ladder of standard zoom lenses, at least from the kit lens supplied with the 550D and 600D, is the EF-S 17-85mm. It's better built, with a much sturdier feel than the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens for those cameras.

Improvements include a metal (rather than plastic) mounting plate for fixing the lens to the camera, a focus distance scale that's tidily positioned beneath a viewing window, ring-type USM autofocus and a non-rotating front element.

On top of that, the more generous zoom equates to an effective 27-136mm instead of a mere 29-88mm. Despite its impressive credentials, the EF-S 17-85mm was originally Canon's official kit lens supplied with the EOS 50D, and it's starting to show its age compared to the newer lenses. For example, its older-generation Image Stabilizer only delivers a three-stop advantage, whereas the latest edition featured on the humble 18-55mm IS provides a four-stop benefit.

Performance

There isn't a major increase in image quality compared with Canon's relatively cheap EF-S 18-55mm IS lens, and we only noticed a marginal gain in sharpness. When it comes to chromatic aberration, this lens is actually inferior to the cheaper lens.

The EF-S 17-85mm produces awful colour fringing especially at the wide-angle end of the zoom range. It's also the only lens in the group that doesn't come with a lens hood.

Tech focus…

Unlike Canon's basic version of USM autofocus, 'ring-type' USM enables full-time manual focus override, ideal for tweaking focus in One Shot AF, without the need to switch between AF/ MF on the lens.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeLens
Maximum Focal Length85 mm
Minimum Focal Length17 mm
Maximum Aperture Wide4
Maximum Aperture Tele5.6
Brand NameCanon
Filter Attachment Diameter67 mm
Lens TypeZoom
Magnification5x
Application/UsageCamera
Depth92 mm
Compatibility

Canon EOS Cameras

ManufacturerCanon, Inc
Product Model9517A003AA
Product NameEF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Zoom Lens
Product LineEF-S
Manufacturer Part Number9517A003AA
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.canon.co.uk
Marketing Information

Real freedom of framing in a lightweight, compact and fast-focusing lens. The EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is an excellent all-purpose lens for EF-S mount EOS cameras.

Weight (Approximate)475 g