Canon 17-85 f/4-f/5.6 IS EF-S vs. 17-40 f/4 L

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Jay42, Dec 16, 2006.


Which Canon Wide-Angle Zoom?

  1. 17-85 f/4-4/5.6 IS EF-S

    2 vote(s)
  2. 17-40 f/4 L

    14 vote(s)
  3. Other

    3 vote(s)
  1. Jay42 macrumors 65816


    Jul 14, 2005
    I'm looking for a new wide angle lens, but cannot decide between these two. The 17-85 has a bigger range as well as IS and is less money, but the 17-40 is faster and supposed to be sharper. Please post other recommendations if you have them.

    EDIT: Poll should say: 17-85 f/4-f/5.6, my bad.
  2. timnosenzo macrumors 6502a


    Jun 21, 2004
    ct, us
    The 17-40 also has better build quality and is weatherproof. I have the 17-40 and I think its a great lens, but you should think about what other lenses you have. Do you have something that will cover from 40mm and up? Also, will you ever move to a full frame camera, or consider shooting film?

    A friend of mine has the 17-85 and its a nice lens, but its also his only lens so the extra zoom is really useful for him.
  3. mcarnes macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2004
    USA! USA!
    It's only weatherproof if you keep a tight filter on the front. But yes, it is a great lens. I would go with the 17-40. I had a 17-85 and just didn't like the feel of it.
  4. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Going by these reviews:

    I'd get the 17-40. Less distortion. Sharper. Lower CAs. Wider aperture on the long end. The IS seems like the only thing the 17-85 really has going for it.
  5. Qianlong macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2004
    I don't know what camera or lenses you're using now, but I guess you got the 18-55mm kit lens and want to upgrade?

    if so, I would keep the 18-55 and buy a 10-22mm lens for your wide angle shots.

    the 17-40 wide open has some serious distortions

    17-40 on a Rebel will give you 27-65mm, which is not very long

    overlap if you have a 18-55 and want to keep it

    a 10-22, 18-55 and a 70-200 f4 setup would be nice
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Why in the world would you need IS on a 40mm lens? Do you really shoot with the shutter slower than 1/40th? I doubt you would miss IS on a wide to normal lens.

    Also wide lenses tand to get used indoors. that's exactly where you need the wider f-stop. Also with people pictures I like the shorter DOF. but even f/4 is not all that fast. Nikon makes a 17-55 f/2.8 Does Canon make a lens like that? If so go for it.
  7. xPismo macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2005
    The L is heavy and bulky. Its not worth it for me. fwiw.
  8. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
  9. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2003
    Faster is always better. I agree with the post that IS is not needed. With wide angle lenses you should be able to hand hold at almost any shutter speed. Always buy the fasted lens you can!
  10. BryanP macrumors member


    Dec 12, 2006
    I'd get the 17-40s. Those are not only built better, or is faster, but it's also sharper than the 17-85s (edit, NOT 17-55 IS). The 17-40s compare well with the 16-35/2.8Ls and those cost over 2x as much in terms of image quality.

    There's tons of reviews. 17-40s appears to have really good overall sharpness. I was very happy with mine but I sold mine so I can get the 300/4Ls.
  11. K20 macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2006
    Torrance, CA
    Agree with this. I personally own a 17-85 IS and at times I wish it was sharper (when I take pics of cars). I'd go with the 17-40 as well.
  12. Jay42 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jul 14, 2005

    Looks like it has some heavy barrel distortion on the low end, but its a very attractive price.

    At this point, I think I'll shell out the extra cash for the 17-40 since it will last me forever on any full frame body.
  13. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
    I think that's a good choice. I'm attracted to getting all full-frame lenses as a Canon user for future-proofing. Realistically, whenever I replace my camera (I'm hoping 10 years from now or so), I'll probably buy whatever is Canon's lowest-cost new camera. I really have no idea if Canon will keep its three lines of full-frame, 1.3x, and 1.6x cameras, but this way I'm set in any case.
  14. Joony macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2005
    L power! I have a 17-35L myself :)

    Constant aperture!
  15. Jay42 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jul 14, 2005
    Well, I ordered the 17-40 from amazon today (only because they ship faster than B&H and I'm leaving in three days), $680 - $45 Canon rebate...not too bad, I just hope I get a sharp copy!

    Thanks for everyone's input.
  16. sjl macrumors 6502


    Sep 15, 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    Coming in late (been offline for a while), but my two cents:

    The 17-85mm is a decent lens. Its biggest flaw is some noticeable barrel distortion; it's not objectionable, but it is there, and may be of concern. The 17-40mm should have less (but I can't judge, as I don't have it.)

    If you think you'll want to move to a full frame body down the road, the 17-40 is the way to go, no questions asked. If you're comfortable with having a reduced zoom range, again, the 17-40mm wins out. Otherwise, a toss of a coin will pretty much answer the question.

    If I were buying again today, I'd be going the 17-40mm rather than the 17-85mm ... but that's me.
  17. ziwi macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2004
    Right back where I started...
    I currently have a 17-40 and have used the 17-85IS - prefer the results of the 17-40, but I was intrigued by the Tamron as well and was highly recommended when I purchased the 17-40 - I was new to the Canon brand and spent the extra $$ - Love the 17-40, but saving $$$ and gaining a stop may not be a bad direction for you.
  18. coldrain macrumors regular

    Dec 20, 2006
    Nothing about the 17-85 IS is actually good. Colour and contrast are disappointing, the chromatic aberations don't help there either. A lot of barrel distortion. It is one of Canon's weakest lenses, which is a shame.

    If you NEED IS, then consider the expensive but very good 17-55 f2.8 IS, or the 28-135 IS (and get a wide angle lens to complement it, like a Tokina 12-24 f4).

    Else, consider the new Sigma 18-50 f2.8 macro, the Tokina 16-50 f2.8, or even the Tamron 17-50 f2.8.

    If you want the silent and fast USM, the 17-40 f4 L is an option. On a 350D/XT it will focus more accurately than the above trio.

    Weather sealing is not a pro, only if you have a weather sealed 1D DSLR (and you are yourself ok making photos in streaming rain).

    My advice: avoid the 17-85 IS. It gives lacklustre results. Even the cheap 28-105 f3.5-4.5 USM II is a much better choice, again pair it with a wideangle zoom like Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6, Tokina 12-24 f4, Canon 10-22 f3.5-4.5 USM).
  19. Hummin macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2006
    I own the 17-40L and efs 18-55. I also tryed many times the 17-85 IS from a friend.

    The difference from the L lens in respect to thers two (and also the sigma) is the color accuracy. The 18-55 is quite good but not have good saturation and colors in respect the 17-40L.
    the 17-85 IS is a mid was a bit better than the 18-55 and a few quality colors in respect at 17-40L.
    I noticed that since I looked at the raw from the 17-40L that need no color adjustments ....

    The 17-85 IS used at wide angle isn't so good as the 17-40L that's better.

    if you want a walkariund lend with a wdie angle capacity but you don't shot so frequently at wideangle get the 17-85IS if you like wide angle shoting get the 17-40L. I dont' find it too shot, I use it as my walkaround lens on my 20d.

    my photo portfolio


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