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Canon EF-S 17-85mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM review

January 2008 | By Andy Westlake

First announced in August 2004 to coincide with the launch of the EOS 20D, the EF-S 17-85mm F4-5.6 IS USM is Canon’s logical upgrade from the basic 18-55mm kit lens supplied with its APS-C dSLRs. With a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 27-136mm, it covers a decent wideangle to telephoto range, making it a useful ‘walkaround’  lens which will cover a wide range of photographic opportunities. It also sports Canon's 2nd-generation optical image stabilizer, which allows hand-holding at slower shutter speeds than usual before the image-degrading effects of camera shake become apparent. This lens is clearly an attempt by Canon to replicate the success of their earlier 28-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM, which gained a strong reputation as an excellent performer on 35mm film; so is the 17-85mm up to scratch?

Headline features

  • 27-136mm equivalent focal length range; F4-5.6 maximum aperture
  • Optical image stabilization – 3 stops 
  • Ring-type USM focusing with full-time manual override
  • EF-S mount for Canon APS-C dSLRS only

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto:

17mm (27mm equivalent) 85mm (136mm equivalent)

Canon EF-S 17-85mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM specifications

Street price • US: $520
• UK: £360
Date introduced August 2004
Maximum format size APS-C
Focal length 17-85mm
35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C) 27-136mm
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 78º - 18º
Maximum aperture F4-5.6
Minimum aperture F22-32
Lens Construction • 17 elements/12 groups
• 1 Aspherical element
Number of diaphragm blades 6
Minimum focus 0.35m
Maximum magnification 0.20x at 85mm
AF motor type • Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor
• Full-time manual focus
Focus method Internal
Image stabilization • 3 stops
• Single mode (no panning)
Filter thread • 67mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
Optional accessories • EW-73B Hood
• LP1116 Case
Weight 475 g (16.7 oz)
Dimensions 78.5 mm diameter x 92 mm length
(3.1 x 3.6 in)
Lens Mount Canon EF-S only
Other Supplies distance information for E-TTL II flash metering

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2015 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Total comments: 3

After I read review of Canon EF 85mm Medium Telephoto Lens on! I purchase the Canon 85mm lens with the purpose of taking indoor volleyball pictures of my daughter. The f/1.8 has made a world of a difference in comparison to my other lens which was a f/2.8. The pictures came out bright and clear with the perfect boker to emphasize the subject. I have received many compliments on my pictures. The only downside is the fixed focal point but that’s why you have legs to move around to capture the right moment. You can’t go wrong this lens!
Canon EF 85mm Medium Telephoto Lens has become my new favorite lens!

piet nel

I like the canon 17-85 lens it work wonderful for landscape photos

san go

I like EF 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6

Total comments: 3