Canon EF-S 17-85 USM IS F/4-5.6 good for amateur?
I've owned (briefly) the 17-85 and found it to be a lot better for everyday use than reviews would have you believe. And if you can find one for $300 or under it's a great deal. But if you can swing the 15-85 I promise you will not be let down. Now that I can see images from both lenses side by side, it's just so obvious how much better the 15-85 is. My wife has been my second shooter at a few weddings and last time we rented a 15-85 to put on her XTi for the day. Even at 15mm and f/3.5 it's pretty solid. At f/5.6 it's a razor, which is what you need to really take cropping and enlarging advantage of that 18MP you've got.
In a nutshell, if you don't know the difference and you can get it cheap, the 17-85 will be great. But you would not regret the extra investment for the 15-85 if you can afford it. That and a fast prime and you've got your whole kit.
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