Pictures of nice trains aside, I've narrowed down my choices to a tamron non VC 2.8 17-50mm or the canon 15-85mm IS variable aperture USM lens. Both get good reviews, tamron seems to get very sharp results as does the canon. It comes down to fixed aperture versus the image stabilization and wider focal range.
I hope to test out the tamron tomorrow and compare it to the kit lens for pure sharpness to see what I can achieve on a cloudy day handholding without image stabilization.
The $300 price difference has crossed my mind, but I don't care about that, I care about sharpness.. optical quality. The rest I can take care of myself.
I suppose I shouldn't even be asking this here, I should just go out and test the lenses myself, and I will, but I will ask again anyways.
For landscape, for perhaps thunderheads taken from a distance (when it's not raining out) .. for mostly outdoor stuff.. do I need that fixed wider aperture? I have a nifty fifty mark 1 that seems to do fine for low light, although I'd like something like a 28-35mm for indoors. Somehow I think that 2.8 won't be enough for indoors anyways so why not just get a couple good primes along with the 15-85.. that's my thinking..
Right now I have the kit lens.. 18-55IS along with the 55-250IS.. would like to replace that with perhaps a 70-200L F4 IS at some point, and a good lens for the short end.. but what lens? I use the short end 90% of the time so the upgrade on the telephoto lens won't be happening for a while.
The 15-85 would be perfect for versatility. But the tamron is half the price, and tack sharp from what I've heard.. can I do without the image stabilization of the tamron?
I just test it myself and let you all mull it over here if you want.