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Author Topic: EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Upgrade?  (Read 1142 times)

hgraf

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EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Upgrade?
« on: March 07, 2013, 03:03:28 PM »
Hello all,

I'm a "serious" amateur with not much money. :)

I'm starting to branch out into some easy working gigs (family portraits, pet photos, baby photos), nothing too pro, mostly just a taste to see if it's something I want to dive into more seriously (I THINK I'd really love to do wedding photography, but that's a little beyond my skill at the moment).

I have a 650D/T4i, a VAST upgrade to the 1000D/XS I shot for years with. Since it basically has the same sensor as the 7D it takes what I consider to be very nice pictures.

I long ago upgraded from the kit 18-55mm to the 18-135mm. I found the difference dramatic. My T4i came with the kit 18-135mm STM lens, which is rated even better then the original 18-135mm IS, but frankly image quality wise I don't see a vast difference (it is shaper at wider apertures, but not by a huge amount).

That said, the 18-135mm STM is still a kit lens, and while it is an amazing single lens solution for travel, I do wonder if it's "good enough" for outdoors portait type shoots, especially if people starting paying me money.

So, with all that said, I've looked into things and ALOT of people recommend that a good "next step" is the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6. It's not L glass obviously, but it is supposedly quite an upgrade from kit glass.

Would I notice much of a difference? I know there are other a couple other common options, but they are all quite a bit more expensive:

EF-S 15-85 f/3.5-5.6
EF-S 17-55 f/2.8

The 15-85mm is about $200 more then the 17-85.
The 17-55mm is WAY more, obvious since it's much faster, constant aperture. Alot of people say that lens is a L without the L designation.

According to DXOMARK there isn't much difference between my 18-135 and the 17-85 or 15-85. But alot of people say that DXOMARK isn't very close to real life. The 17-55 DOES score much better, but it's out of my price range, plus I don't like being limited to 55mm on the long end.

So, any advice? Is the 17-85 worth the upgrade? Should I stick with my 18-135 and save up for better glass?

Thanks for any advice!

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EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Upgrade?
« on: March 07, 2013, 03:03:28 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Upgrade?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2013, 03:06:28 PM »
Is the 17-85 worth the upgrade? Should I stick with my 18-135 and save up for better glass?

Door number two.

The 15-85 would be a step up from the 18-135's in IQ, the 17-85 would not.  As for the 17-55, the draw there is a constant f/2.8 - useful for low light and portraits.
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sagittariansrock

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Re: EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Upgrade?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2013, 03:42:29 PM »
Hello all,

I'm a "serious" amateur with not much money. :)

I'm starting to branch out into some easy working gigs (family portraits, pet photos, baby photos), nothing too pro, mostly just a taste to see if it's something I want to dive into more seriously (I THINK I'd really love to do wedding photography, but that's a little beyond my skill at the moment).

I have a 650D/T4i, a VAST upgrade to the 1000D/XS I shot for years with. Since it basically has the same sensor as the 7D it takes what I consider to be very nice pictures.

I long ago upgraded from the kit 18-55mm to the 18-135mm. I found the difference dramatic. My T4i came with the kit 18-135mm STM lens, which is rated even better then the original 18-135mm IS, but frankly image quality wise I don't see a vast difference (it is shaper at wider apertures, but not by a huge amount).

That said, the 18-135mm STM is still a kit lens, and while it is an amazing single lens solution for travel, I do wonder if it's "good enough" for outdoors portait type shoots, especially if people starting paying me money.

So, with all that said, I've looked into things and ALOT of people recommend that a good "next step" is the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6. It's not L glass obviously, but it is supposedly quite an upgrade from kit glass.

Would I notice much of a difference? I know there are other a couple other common options, but they are all quite a bit more expensive:

EF-S 15-85 f/3.5-5.6
EF-S 17-55 f/2.8

The 15-85mm is about $200 more then the 17-85.
The 17-55mm is WAY more, obvious since it's much faster, constant aperture. Alot of people say that lens is a L without the L designation.

According to DXOMARK there isn't much difference between my 18-135 and the 17-85 or 15-85. But alot of people say that DXOMARK isn't very close to real life. The 17-55 DOES score much better, but it's out of my price range, plus I don't like being limited to 55mm on the long end.

So, any advice? Is the 17-85 worth the upgrade? Should I stick with my 18-135 and save up for better glass?

Thanks for any advice!

I was in a similar position a year ago. I had the 28-135 and felt the need for a 15/17-XX lens. I bought the 17-85 but in a few months decided to upgrade.
My main reason for upgrading wasn't so much image quality as it was low-light performance. So I ended up buying the 17-55 after trying both the 15-85 and the 17-55.

In your situation, I give the following suggestion based on my (humble) experience:

The 15-85 is better at the wider end, with much less distortion (at 15mm, compared to the other one at 17mm) and is quite sharp wide open. I believe the image stabilizer is also a generation newer, and the build is much nicer. However, the IQ of the 17-85 is quite acceptable, especially if you stop it down 1 stop. In fact, I think some of the criticism of the 17-85 is unjustified- I quite liked the lens and my copy was actually comparable to the 15-85 wide open (although I hear there is some sample variation there). However, the price of the 15-85 is more than double (used)- so if it is a question of buying a 17-85 now or waiting for 15-85, I'd go with the former. In fact, you can use the extra cash to get an 85/1.8 or a 50/1.4 (depending on your preferred focal length for portraits) and that'd be better for outdoor portraits anyway.

If you do upgrade later, then I'd pass on the 15-85 and go for the 17-55. Of course, you mention the shorter range is an issue for you- I admit it irritates me as well- I'd have preferred it to be 85mm, but what can one do about it! The f/2.8 IS clinches it for me.








« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 11:56:43 PM by sagittariansrock »
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Re: EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Upgrade?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2013, 03:42:29 PM »