Best lens in the 15-85 range

Started Aug 22, 2011 | Discussions
basement artie Regular Member • Posts: 105
Best lens in the 15-85 range

I'm looking for a lens within the above range. I've somewhat narrowed it down to the Canon 15-85, Tamron 28-75, and sigma 17-70 and sigma 17-50. I'm leaning more toward the higher focal lengths than lower since I almost exclusively use a 50mm prime and if anything I feel like I could use a little more reach. I'm currently using a crop body and have no plans to move to full frame. I take a lot of family photos and am not averse to using flash indoors. The Canon did not get a particularly good review from Photozone although this would seem to suit my needs best and all of my other lenses are Canon, with which I am pleased. My price range is @700 or less. Thank you for any input you may offer.

Orogeny Regular Member • Posts: 153
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

I have heard very good things about the Canon 15-85. Nice range. I can't comment directly on it, though, because I have never used it. I own the Sigma 17-70 OS and highly recommend it. I strongly considered the Canon, but the price differential was too great to overlook. Plus, I had the Sigma 17-70 non-OS and loved it.
--
Tim
http://www.pbase.com/orogeny

 Orogeny's gear list:Orogeny's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 | C
Kwik-E-Mart Regular Member • Posts: 131
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

I have been shooting with the 15-85mm for a number of months now in many environments and find it to be a spectacular lens. I never have to stop it down for sharpness and the range is just right.

I've been shooting weddings with a 60D body and a T2i body with the 15-85 on one and a rented (can't afford it yet) 70-200mm 2.8L II. While the latter is considered by many to be one of the finest lenses ever made, I don't find myself favoring it because of picture quality. I'm as likely to grab the body with the 15-85 knowing that the shot will be gorgeous either way. It doesn't have the 2.8 aperture, but I don't regret shots that are too wide for the L. That says a lot about the 15-85. A lot.

I haven't used the others you mentioned, but there's certainly nothing about the 15-85mm to be ashamed of.
-david

spur Regular Member • Posts: 208
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

I've used the Tammy 28-75 and it is very nice. I have a good copy and it is very sharp across the frame on a crop body. It is good if you need the f/2.8 but with no IS it is not that great in low light unless you use flash. You don't have wide angle covered with it so you would need another lens.

I now have the Canon 15-85 and in my opinion it is just as sharp or sharper than the Tammy and the IS is really good. I can get better shots of static objects with it in low light than I could with the Tammy. If your shooting something moving in low light you need to use flash on both of them. With the 15-85 you get the wide angle covered and so you won't need another lens for that. The 15-85 is about twice as much but it is twice as good for the things I shoot in my opinion. I am very happy with the switch to the 15-85.

Steve Dell Senior Member • Posts: 1,174
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

I shoot primarily landscapes with a 7D.

I was using a 24-105 IS F/4 and a Canon 10-22. While nice, neither individually had the range I was looking for. I also own a 70-200 Mk II.

I sold both the 24-105 and the 10-22 and switched to the 15-85 IS and couldn't be happier. It's a great range on a crop body.

I have shot with the Tamron 28-75 F/2.8. It's a spectacular lens but not wide enough for my needs.

If I were to add a 5D or whatever comes next, I'd either have a 24-105 or the Tammy 28-75 as its main lens.

FWIW, the 15-85 is vastly superior to the older 17-85 IS
--
Steve Dell
Tucson AZ
http://www.stevedellphotography.com

 Steve Dell's gear list:Steve Dell's gear list
Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 Pro Olympus 12-100mm F4.0
bhollis
bhollis Veteran Member • Posts: 3,427
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

basement artie wrote:

I'm looking for a lens within the above range. I've somewhat narrowed it down to the Canon 15-85, Tamron 28-75, and sigma 17-70 and sigma 17-50. I'm leaning more toward the higher focal lengths than lower since I almost exclusively use a 50mm prime and if anything I feel like I could use a little more reach. I'm currently using a crop body and have no plans to move to full frame. I take a lot of family photos and am not averse to using flash indoors. The Canon did not get a particularly good review from Photozone although this would seem to suit my needs best and all of my other lenses are Canon, with which I am pleased. My price range is @700 or less. Thank you for any input you may offer.

I have no experience with the Tamron or Sigma lenses, but I do own and am very happy with the EF-S 15-85. My recollection is that Photozone's primary issues with the 15-85 were vignetting and barrel distortion. My own experience is that these haven't been been significant problems, and in any event are so easily corrected in post (one click in LR3) that they are non-issues.

Here's another very positive review of the 15-85.

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-S-15-85mm-f-3.5-5.6-IS-USM-Lens-Review.aspx

OP basement artie Regular Member • Posts: 105
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

Many thanks for all the replies. I'm getting the idea that criticisms in reviews may not necessarily be field relevant, although I am thankful for Photozone and the digital picture in-depth reviews. And thank you for the link to digital picture review of the canon 15-85. Not sure how I missed that one. It sounds like I can't really go wrong with any of these lenses as long as I'm not expecting prime lens IQ across focal range, obviously. I think it will come down to whether I want to spend the additional cash for Canon. Again many thanks and feel free to offer further input.
Artie

dougr Regular Member • Posts: 395
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

I can speak to the 15-85 and to a lesser extent the current Sigma 17-50/2.8. I had the 15-85 for about 4 months, and loved it except for one thing that turned out to be a deal breaker for me. Its use for close-up portraits was sporadic... even more so in low light. I found that I was not getting shots with the 15-85 that I was with my previous sigma 18-50/2.8 (non-OS, first version). Losing that 2/3- 2 stops always had me choosing between using a flash (which I prefer not to), objectionably high ISOs, or the chance of motion blur if my subject moved (usually kids do!). I noticed a tendency to miss focus in low light at close focus distance as well... maybe an artifact of not being able to use the precision 2.8 focus point of my camera. If realize that a fast prime is the ideal lens for this application, but I find a 2.8 standard zoom is serviceable in this regard, while the 15-85 was not. Other than that, it is a fantastic lens... I am sure I will miss its versatility when I travel, but I just could not deal with so many missed shots of my kids and decided the Sigma was a better option for me... so far, so good.

linzybel Contributing Member • Posts: 521
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

I haven't played with either lens you mention, but I'm confused about one thing. Isn't the Canon 15-85 (3.5) only one-half f/stop slower than a lens that's a 2.8 ? And if Canon's IS is worth 3 or 4 f/stops, why would there be such a vast difference in image quality?

Dan Finnerty Contributing Member • Posts: 884
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

Two things:

First, the 15-85 is f/3.5 at 15 mm, but by 85mm, it is f/5.6, so that is two full stops slower than the f/2.8.

Second, IS is great for stationary targets, but for moving targets like kids, the only thing that will stop the action is shutter speed, so IS can't make up for the aperture difference. Your other options are bump the ISO up (which increases noise), or add flash (an additional gadget that may not be on the camera at the special moment, and changes the mood of the photo, if natural light is what you want).
-- Dan

linzybel wrote:

I haven't played with either lens you mention, but I'm confused about one thing. Isn't the Canon 15-85 (3.5) only one-half f/stop slower than a lens that's a 2.8 ? And if Canon's IS is worth 3 or 4 f/stops, why would there be such a vast difference in image quality?

-- hide signature --

Dan

bhollis
bhollis Veteran Member • Posts: 3,427
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

linzybel wrote:

I haven't played with either lens you mention, but I'm confused about one thing. Isn't the Canon 15-85 (3.5) only one-half f/stop slower than a lens that's a 2.8 ? And if Canon's IS is worth 3 or 4 f/stops, why would there be such a vast difference in image quality?

The 15-85 is f/3.5 only at the wide end. The f/stop increases with increasing focal length, and is f/5.6 at the long end. And there isn't a vast difference in image quality between these two lenses--IQ is very similar, both excellent. As for IS, it's no substitute for a faster lens if you're trying to shoot moving subjects (like people) in low light.

So, if you want to shoot people (or other moving subjects) in low light without a flash, the 17-55 is definitely a better choice than the 15-85. (Although I would argue that if you really want to shoot people in low light without a flash, you're best off with a fast prime.)

AC1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,171
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

I find my 15-85 great as an everyday walkabout with a good combo of width and reach. And IQ is pretty damn good.

Yes sometimes you want to open wider than 3.5/5.6 and for those instances I put a prime on, namely my 50mm f1.4.

If I want more reach I switch beyond the 85mm I switch over to my 70-200 i.e. I enjoy some overlap. But if I had gone for the much-acclaimed 17-55 I would have had a bit of a gap. For some people the ability to open to f2.8 is more important, meaning the 17-55 would be preferable to the 15-85. But for me it wasn't as I'm happy to switch to my 50mm f1.4 if I need to open right up.

Not sure if this helps but there you go anyway!

 AC1's gear list:AC1's gear list
Canon PowerShot S95 Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM +2 more
OP basement artie Regular Member • Posts: 105
Re: Best lens in the 15-85 range

To update, after much research, I have recently decided to forego the long end and went with the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 non-VC. I am thoroughly impressed with this lens; the IQ is everything I had hoped it would be. My only reservations in purchasing were reviews concerning field of curvature and resultant out of focus corners at 17mm. To be honest I'm not really seeing that, possibly as a result of using a crop body.

You could likely get better imaging across the board with a Canon 17-55 along with IS but the savings with the Tamron were too good to pass up, and I am thrilled with the images.

Thanks to all for your recommendations.
Artie

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads