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Thread started 30 Dec 2013 (Monday) 21:45
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17-55, 17-85, 15-85 Dilemma

 
Jack ­ Dawe
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Dec 30, 2013 21:45 |  #1

I have both the 17-55 f/2.8 and the 17-85 f/4-5.6 (the latter came as a kit lens). Mostly I use the 17-55 as I shoot a lot in low light situations (e.g. church interiors) and it's OK for landscapes and walk-arounds too. The 17-85 actually has a much nicer focal range for walk-arounds. Although it can't match the 17-55 at the widest angles (it suffers badly from colour fringing and softness here) it is pin-sharp at the longer ranges - far superior in this respect to the 17-55. The main thing I don't like about 17-85 is that the colours appear 'flat'. For all its sharpness the images are a bit "meh" - which inevitably means that it tends to get left in the bag.

I have been wondering for some time whether to ditch the 17-85 for the 15-85. In theory it could replace both the above lenses. However I don’t think I could ever give up the constant f/2.8 of the 17-55 and I have read elsewhere on this forum that this lens is sharper than the 15-85. If the 15-85 isn't as sharp as the 17-55, then it sure as hell isn't going to match the sharpness of my 17-85 at the longer ranges. So I suppose it boils down to the IQ/colour/contrast handling in the 56-85mm range. This seems a fairly narrow band on which to be spending what is for me quite a lot of dosh. Would I really be gaining that much in IQ if I got a 15-85?

I have looked through the threads for each lens in the Lens Sample Archive, but even the great pics there haven't really helped.


Canon 7D2 · 50 f/1.8 · 17-55 f/2.8 IS · 18-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS STM · 100 f/2.8 Macro · 100-400 L IS II
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markeb
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Dec 30, 2013 22:04 |  #2

So, I have the Sigma 17-50 and the Canon 15-85, which is a little odd around here. I find each fits a niche, and suspect you're in the same boat.

I can't compare to the 17-85 as I've never had it, but the 15-85 is, IMHO, the best "good light" walk-around lens out there. The color, sharpness, IQ, etc., are amazing. BUT, there are times when I really want good low light performance, and the 17-50 does that for me (as the 17-55 for you).

I use the 15-85 as my general purpose lens, and the 17-50 as my "I know the lighting's going to be so-so" lens, with the 30mm f/1.4 as the truly low light lens. I can't compare the 17-85 to the 15-85 directly, but every post I've seen in 3+ years would suggest the 15-85 is MUCH better than the 17-85...


T2i 18-55 IS, 55-250 IS, Sigma 30 mm f/1.4, Canon 60 mm f/2.8 Macro, Canon 15-85 IS USM, Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 EX HSM OS, 430EX II S95 G7X

  
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jbrackjr
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Dec 30, 2013 22:22 |  #3

I've never used the 17-85 and have no opinions on it. I do have the 15-85 and it really is a great all around lens (15mm works very well with a flash indoors). Sharp, good color and a great range.

Last week, I picked up a used Tamron nonVC 17-50 just to try out. The lens is very sharp and I do like it as well. I have only used it indoors so far. In the short time I have had it, I can say that it will not replace my 15-85 as its range is limited. But at the price I paid for the Tammy I'm going to keep it for those times when a fast lens might be needed.


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EOS5DC
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Dec 31, 2013 03:03 |  #4
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I have the 15-85. I like it. It is hugely better than the 18-55IS II. Never shot a 17-55 or 17-85.


Bodies: 60D, 6D.
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kent ­ andersen
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Dec 31, 2013 05:29 |  #5

I have used the 15-85 for several years. Loved it. Sold it when I jumped to a 5dmkII. Bought a 24-105 then.

I have also used several primes. 135L, 50 1.8, 35mm 1.4 Samyang. The image quality of the 15-85 was continualy supricing me. And was not far away from the Primes. It has a better IS than the 17-55. But the thing I apreciated alot was its great macro capabilities. Though it has the same distance as 17-55, 85mm brings you alot closer. As an walk-around ona crop, it is difficult to beat. It has more wide angle and more tele. Only thing thats not there is f.2.8.

The gain compared to 17-85 is definently great. IQ, AF, IS and sharpnes is all bettter. A relative has used that lens, and changed it to the 15-85 (he bought mine). He was extremly happy with the improvement.

I found that the 15-85 as an all around lens, combined with 2 primes, gave me everything that I needed. You can get both a 15-85 and a samyang 35mm 1.4 for the same price as a 17-55.


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Scott ­ M
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Dec 31, 2013 08:42 |  #6

I was going to suggest supplementing the 15-85 with a fast prime or two, but Kent beat me to it. ;) I find that when I want a fast lens, I usually want something faster than f/2.8 anyway, so having a walk around zoom with greater focal range plus fast primes works better for me.


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cbkoontz
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Dec 31, 2013 12:28 as a reply to  @ Scott M's post |  #7

Any thoughts on the sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4 as a faster alternative to the 15-85 while still maintaining most of the range?




  
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Lexar
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Dec 31, 2013 12:31 |  #8

markeb wrote in post #16565741 (external link)
So, I have the Sigma 17-50 and the Canon 15-85, which is a little odd around here. I find each fits a niche, and suspect you're in the same boat.

I can't compare to the 17-85 as I've never had it, but the 15-85 is, IMHO, the best "good light" walk-around lens out there. The color, sharpness, IQ, etc., are amazing. BUT, there are times when I really want good low light performance, and the 17-50 does that for me (as the 17-55 for you).

I use the 15-85 as my general purpose lens, and the 17-50 as my "I know the lighting's going to be so-so" lens, with the 30mm f/1.4 as the truly low light lens. I can't compare the 17-85 to the 15-85 directly, but every post I've seen in 3+ years would suggest the 15-85 is MUCH better than the 17-85...

+1

I have both 15-85 and Sigma 17-50 f2.8

For traveling and general daylight shots I always bring the 15-85. Super sharp, great contrast, fast AF, and very useful range!
When I know I will be indoors in lower light I use the 17-50. I have Sigma 30f1.4 also but the zoom is more convenient for quick shots.


Canon 70D | 15-85IS | Σ17-50/2.8 | Σ30/1.4 | 40/2.8 Pancake | 100/2.0 | 55-250STM | 430EXII

  
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p32shooter
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Dec 31, 2013 16:24 |  #9

got a 17-55 years ago and it was glued to one of my 40ds, used the 17-85 as a light walkaround but traded it for a 15-85 and never worried about the trade

still use both for different things


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kin2son
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Dec 31, 2013 16:51 |  #10
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I've owned 15-85 and Tamron 17-50 back in the times, and I hated the 15-85...

Also I just cannot agree with comments such as 'I'll bring 15-85 in good light and fast prime in low' as if slow aperture in good light is ok and fast prime can only be used in low light.

It makes me wonder whether those people actually use fast aperture in good light?

Good light doesn't compensate slow aperture, similarly fast aperture is not reserved for low light....

One should always choose a particular aperture to get the desired effects one envision, and that decision shouldn't be affected by the amount of lights.

It's a toss between focal length vs aperture, simple as that.


5D3 Gripped / 17-40L / Σ35 / 40 Pancake / Zeiss 50 MP / Σ85 / 100L Macro / 70-200 f2.8L II IS / 430 EX II / 580 EX II / Canon 2xIII TC / Kenko Ext. Tubes
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Geejay
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Dec 31, 2013 17:48 |  #11

kin2son wrote in post #16567592 (external link)
I've owned 15-85 and Tamron 17-50 back in the times, and I hated the 15-85...

Also I just cannot agree with comments such as 'I'll bring 15-85 in good light and fast prime in low' as if slow aperture in good light is ok and fast prime can only be used in low light.

It makes me wonder whether those people actually use fast aperture in good light?

Good light doesn't compensate slow aperture, similarly fast aperture is not reserved for low light....

One should always choose a particular aperture to get the desired effects one envision, and that decision shouldn't be affected by the amount of lights.

It's a toss between focal length vs aperture, simple as that.

What did you hate about the 15-85mm ? I am currently considering one, might get a 50mm f1.4 or an 85mm f1.8 to go with it for portraits, but use the the 15-85 as a walkabout lens. So your input would be of interest.


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Jack ­ Dawe
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Dec 31, 2013 17:56 |  #12

kin2son wrote in post #16567592 (external link)
One should always choose a particular aperture to get the desired effects one envision, and that decision shouldn't be affected by the amount of lights.

It's a toss between focal length vs aperture, simple as that.

Fair comment, but I think to take it to its logical conclusion also brings a tripod into the equation. I should use one a lot more than I do, but I have (and prefer) to do without a lot of the time.

Thanks for the illuminating replies. Keep them coming. Since I already have the 56-85mm range covered by my very sharp (albeit "unpopping") 17-85 I'm still unsure quite how much I would gain by trading it in for the 15-85. More exciting colours and contrast maybe?


Canon 7D2 · 50 f/1.8 · 17-55 f/2.8 IS · 18-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS STM · 100 f/2.8 Macro · 100-400 L IS II
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kin2son
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Dec 31, 2013 18:11 |  #13
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Geejay wrote in post #16567715 (external link)
What did you hate about the 15-85mm ? I am currently considering one, might get a 50mm f1.4 or an 85mm f1.8 to go with it for portraits, but use the the 15-85 as a walkabout lens. So your input would be of interest.

Slow aperture :)

I know everyone is different, but what kind of images are you looking to capture when 'walking around'?

If your answer is city/landscape 15-85 seems like an appropriate lens as small aperture is often required.


5D3 Gripped / 17-40L / Σ35 / 40 Pancake / Zeiss 50 MP / Σ85 / 100L Macro / 70-200 f2.8L II IS / 430 EX II / 580 EX II / Canon 2xIII TC / Kenko Ext. Tubes
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kin2son
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Dec 31, 2013 18:14 |  #14
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Jack Dawe wrote in post #16567733 (external link)
Thanks for the illuminating replies. Keep them coming. Since I already have the 56-85mm range covered by my very sharp (albeit "unpopping") 17-85 I'm still unsure quite how much I would gain by trading it in for the 15-85. More exciting colours and contrast maybe?

I believe 15-85 is just an overall better lens compared to 17-85.

If you are happy with it then don't switch....


5D3 Gripped / 17-40L / Σ35 / 40 Pancake / Zeiss 50 MP / Σ85 / 100L Macro / 70-200 f2.8L II IS / 430 EX II / 580 EX II / Canon 2xIII TC / Kenko Ext. Tubes
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Geejay
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Dec 31, 2013 18:44 |  #15

kin2son wrote in post #16567767 (external link)
Slow aperture :)

I know everyone is different, but what kind of images are you looking to capture when 'walking around'?

If your answer is city/landscape 15-85 seems like an appropriate lens as small aperture is often required.

Thanks...


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17-55, 17-85, 15-85 Dilemma
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