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Author Topic: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.  (Read 3985 times)

drmikeinpdx

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EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« on: December 12, 2017, 11:44:02 PM »
I've been trying to figure out an alternative to the traditional 18-55 kit lens as a walking around lens for my 77D.  I feel that the high resolution sensor is terribly limited by the low resolution of the old kit lens.  I tried a recently manufactured kit lens to see if perhaps my 10 year old version was worn out, but didn't see much improvement.  I also have the 18-135, which is better, but still not as sharp as I feel the sensor deserves.

I checked out my options and decide to try a Canon EF-S 15-85 IS.  On Amazon a new copy with USA warranty is $799 and a Canon refurbished copy is $599.  I didn't want to spend that much for this lens, so I looked at used lens options.  I ended up getting one from MPB.com for $299.  They had three copies in different conditions.  I picked the middle one which I think was labeled "good."  I inspected it on arrival this morning and it looks almost new to me.  It was in an original Canon box, for whatever that's worth.

I immediately tested the focus accuracy and found that it was not front or back focusing.  Frankly, it's not that important on a lens with a max aperture of 3.5 to 5.6, but I have a focus accuracy complex that demands respect.

Then I put up a resolution target and shot side by side comparison images with the 15-85 and the 18-55.  Both zooms are at 55mm on a tripod with strobe illumination.  Both were taken with the aperture wide open.  The 15-85 was at F/5 and the 17-55 was at F/5.6. 

The two images below are as close as I can get to a 1:1 export with Lightroom.  Normal sharpening was used.  This is a pretty quick and dirty resolution test, but I think the results are pretty clear.

This one is the 18-55 kit lens at F/5.6:



     

This one is the 15-85 at F/5:



You would not confuse either of these images with something from a full frame camera with an L lens, but I think I'm going to be reasonably happy using the 15-85 as my walk around lens.  It is bigger and heavier, but if I want light and compact, I will use the excellent 24mm pancake lens rather than the kit lens.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2017, 11:46:59 PM by drmikeinpdx »
Current bodies:  5D4, 5D3, 77D, T5i, S100, S90
Lenses: 24-70 L2, 135 f/2.0 L, Tamron 85 f/1.8, 200 f/2.8 L, 50 f/1.2L, 24-105 L, 70-200 f/4 L, 35 f/2 IS, 24&40 pancakes, EF-S 18-135, EF-S 15-85
blog:   http://www.BeyondBoudoirPhoto.com

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EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« on: December 12, 2017, 11:44:02 PM »

docsmith

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2017, 01:32:49 AM »
I loved the EFs 15-85 on my 7D. Honestly, I am a bit surprised the results aren’t better. While it is no 24-70 II, it was in the ballpark of my 24-105 mk 1.

But, great walk around focal length. Great lens.  Enjoy!

haggie

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2017, 07:27:56 AM »
I have had the 15-85 for nearly 4 years now, and I find it a fantastic lens for walking around. Especially on holidays and on trips where both 'village life' and general landscaping are the main subjects. Sharpness at the far edges gets a bit less, but often that is not visible in real life images of the subjects I mentioned.

It is even useable for portraits, although you need some distance because the depth of field is quite large even when fully open.

And focus is pretty fast and accurate too.

I think you have a good buy.   :)

Canon EOS 80D          ;          Canon EOS 7D Mk II          ;          Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM          ;         Canon EF-S 15-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM          ;          Canon  EF-S 10-18 IS STM f/4.5-5.6

Luds34

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2017, 09:10:16 AM »
I loved the EFs 15-85 on my 7D. Honestly, I am a bit surprised the results aren’t better. While it is no 24-70 II, it was in the ballpark of my 24-105 mk 1.

But, great walk around focal length. Great lens.  Enjoy!

Ditto, I loved the 15-85 on my 70D. It was well balanced for the body and I loved that it went as wide as 15mm (24mm FF equivalent). The various 18mm-xx kit lenses just never felt wide enough to me.

unfocused

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2017, 11:30:21 AM »
I'm also a big fan of the 15-85. Unfortunately, I loaned mine to my wife and now it's gone forever. Same thing happened to my 100-400 II, and in that case I had to buy a second one. I may have to do that with the 15-85 someday too.

hendrik-sg

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2017, 12:08:34 PM »
According to TDP and my own expieriences the 18-55 lenses are very different. The old Versions without IS were as bad as their reputation is until now, but the newer ones with IS are much better and the STM Versions are much better built on top of it. Despite their price, this are good lenses within their (undspectacular) specs. The 18-135 are similar in IQ, the 18-200 should be worse.

The 15-85 and 17-55 2.8 lenses have better specs and similar IQ.

Even mid range L-Lenses like 16-35 F4 or 24-105 are not much better on a crop camera, they are FF compatible and deliver better results when combined with a FF body.

In general, the modern 18-55 lenses are a fantastic value, good quality and very light/compact.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2017, 05:19:18 PM »
The results will vary depending on which model of 18-55 you chose to test.  Professional testers say the latest 18-55mm STM versions are very good.  I have the first 18-55mm IS version and its not very good, my 15-85 really sits apart from it.

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2017, 05:19:18 PM »

midluk

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2017, 06:20:39 PM »
I don't know exactly how the sharpness of the 15-85 compares to the 17-55, but the IQ of my 18-55 STM is better than that of my 17-55. The 18-55 STM is slow, variable aperture and focus by wire, but the optical performance is very good.
5D4+BG-E20, 70D+BG-E14, EF 24-70 f/4L IS, EF 16-35 f/4L IS, EF 100 f/2.8L IS macro, EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, EF 100-400 L IS II, 2x 600EX-RT, 430EX III-RT, MT-26EX-RT

drmikeinpdx

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2017, 06:58:25 PM »
The photo I posted from my 18-55 was shot with the IS II version.  A recent copy, but it was not the STM version.  That would be an interesting comparison.

I did take my new 15-85 out for a little urban photo safari today mounted on my 77D.  I'm pretty pleased with the IQ and the handling as well.  I sort of wish it were lighter, but the weight balances very nicely when you are shooting and made me feel like I had solid shooting position.  That portends well for use as a walking around lens without a tripod.

Here is a shot I took today:  F/8, 1/200, ISO 100, 50 mm, with a big bump in contrast via Lightroom for effect.  This was a vertical shot, I cropped the top and bottom quite a bit to get the squarish format.



There was a tiny bit of CA in the corners, but I could only find it by toggling the CA correction in Lightroom.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 07:01:39 PM by drmikeinpdx »
Current bodies:  5D4, 5D3, 77D, T5i, S100, S90
Lenses: 24-70 L2, 135 f/2.0 L, Tamron 85 f/1.8, 200 f/2.8 L, 50 f/1.2L, 24-105 L, 70-200 f/4 L, 35 f/2 IS, 24&40 pancakes, EF-S 18-135, EF-S 15-85
blog:   http://www.BeyondBoudoirPhoto.com

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Re: EF-S 15-85 vs. 18-55 kit lens. A quick and dirty test.
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2017, 06:58:25 PM »