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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 11 May 2014 (Sunday) 01:57
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Canon 15-85mm best affordable lens for landscapes?

Mostly Lurking
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Joined May 2014
May 11, 2014 01:57 |  #1

I will be going on a road trip in the next two weeks and I will be hitting a lot of major national parks. I currently have a Canon T3i with the kit 18-55mm and a 50mm.

I asked around and I found the 15-85mm. After reading reviews and seeing sample pics I am very impressed with the lens. I am just worried this lens is a little too outdated.

Is this lens the best bang for my buck or are there better landscape lens out there? I am trying to keep it under $600. I also like the zoom as well as I haven't had a lens that can go that far yet...

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Sleepless in Hampshire
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May 11, 2014 02:51 |  #2

It is an excellent walk round lens with a good focal range, it's only drawback is f5.6 at the long end, but then you can't have everything. Though I doubt f5.6 would be a problem with landscapes as likely to be f11 or more.

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"Looks rough and well used"
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May 11, 2014 03:18 |  #3


I would not call it best bang for buck. It's a great lens, with a very good focal range for "everything" and is great for landscape, as well as everything in between. But I wouldn't call it the best for landscape, at least, for the cost.

I find most national parks like wide angle lenses, but, you always often want a telephoto for wildlife while there, as you're bound to see something at least. You may want to consider that, as well, unless you already have something. Since you're on aps-c (I assume since you're looking at the EF-S 15-85), a 200~250mm long end lens will do quite well and cost little.

Some lenses maybe to consider:

Rokinon 14mm F2.8 - Sharp, fully manual, inexpensive.

Rokinon 16mm F2 - Another lens that is a stop faster, worth looking at if you like wide field astrophotography. Fully manual.

Tokina 11-16 F2.8 II - Ultrawide with a great range, sharp lens, fast aperture, prone to flare if pointed at a light source. Takes filters.

Tokina 16-28 F2.8 PRO - Their latest ultrawide zoom, very sharp, fast aperture. Not as wide as the others, as it was meant for working on full frame as well as aps-c. Great focal range though.

Canon EF-S 10-22 - Ultrawide, very sharp, great control. If shooting landscape in the daylight this is probably the better lens to have on a crop. Takes filters. Only con is the slower apertures, but this doesn't matter for landscape, it only matters if you want fast aperture for night sky photography.

Very best,

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May 11, 2014 03:22 as a reply to  @ artyman's post |  #4

It's my favorite landscape (and walkaround) lens. Very sharp, great colors, excellent IS, awesome range. It is NOT a low-light lens, but i still get decent pics at ISO 640 on overcast days. You can get good shots down to 1/30-1/20 at the wide end.. handheld.

And no.. it is not too outdated! ;)


"I wish to be spared"
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May 11, 2014 03:33 |  #5

I would rather take the Canon 10-22mm lens. It is wider, lighter weight, and tack sharp. Also bring the 50mm.
With or without a tripod it will shine. It is less than $600 refurbish with warranty from Canon direct.

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May 11, 2014 08:19 as a reply to  @ InfiniteDivide's post |  #6

For landscapes, I agree with others that the 15-85 is not necessarily the most affordable. It's a quality lens that is still very relevant, can be shot wide open and be sharp, has excellent IS, but your kit lens stopped down a bit can yield excellent results as well.

Although I have the 10-22, it's rarely out of the bag in Nat'l Parks. I frequent Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park through the year, the CO mtns, and been to Badlands and the Black Hills multiple times. I've never used it in RMNP, and rarely have every used the 10-22 elsewhere. I personally find that in these parks, it tends to minimize and reduce the impact of scenes. It's really easy to make really boring images if the intent is to just to fill the frame with as much as possible. You will generally need something in your frame that anchors the scene to make UWA images less boring.

The more I shoot, the more I find for me, that having a longer lens alongside the 15-85 opens up a lot of possibilities with "landscapes". As with anything though, your needs, results, and likes may differ.

Although for $600, you could consider picking up a 55-250is and a used Sigma 10-20, and you'd add two different tools to your kit that would open up some significant options depending on what your cumulative shooting wants are.

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May 11, 2014 19:00 |  #7

The 15-85 is an excellent general lens. I recently took my 600D (T3i) to the Himalayas, and took probably 95% of my shots with the 15-85. I found that 15mm was plenty wide for that kind of predominantly mountain scenery.

The IQ is very good, both wide open and stopped down (sweet spot is about f5.6 to f8). The IS is effective. It's light (well, heavier than the 18-55, but light compared to EF and f2.8 zooms).

The only real downside is that it is slow. I usually travel with a fast prime as well as the 15-85 for lowlight shooting.

Cheers, Damien

Senior Member
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May 11, 2014 19:23 |  #8

I love my 15-85. It is a great lens and very sharp for a zoom. I doubt you can find a better walk-around for a crop sensor camera. However as said it is slow, but if you are talking outside most the time the sun (light) is there. You might think about adding a prime for dawn & dusk.

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May 11, 2014 19:30 as a reply to  @ Lumens's post |  #9

15-85 was my my walk around on my 60D before i just upgraded to mark 3. Great lens and when i needed something in lower light i would use my 17-55 with it.

happy with myself for not saying anything stupid
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May 11, 2014 20:35 |  #10

for $600, i'd rather get a sigma 10-20mm, and a 55-250IS to add to your'll be able to go wider than 15mm when you want to, and longer than 85mm when you want to as well...yes you'll have to change lenses, but you should get used to that...changing lenses is what makes DSLR's great

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May 11, 2014 20:52 |  #11

I think the 15-85 would be an excellent choice for you. Though some of the other lenses mentioned in this thread would certainly be nice, the 15-85 should be your first choice. It's a lens that can be your goto lens about 95% of the time and will be a good compromise for landscape. And the extra 3mm over the kit lens is actually quite big at the wide end (think percentage rather than length).

Some people just automatically think wide angle when they think landscape. But normal and short teles are very useful for landscape and the 15-85 incorporates all of those lengths in one lens. Wide lenses cause distant objects (like those majestic mountains) disappear into non-majestic status. A WA CAN be very useful for landscapes but should not necessarily be the first choice.

Get the 15-85. You'll love it in Colorado (says the guy who just ordered a 10-22!)

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May 11, 2014 23:59 |  #12

It is definitely not outdated, of the 4 "quality" ef-s lenses is is the newest by like 4 years or something like that. Now that being said like others have said that going ultrawide along with what you have now will give you a more drastic change from what you have now. and as stated above you can easly get a sigma 10-20 used or a canon 10-22 refurbished and 55-250 stm (new or used depending on which of the other 2 options you chose) for that price, and extend your range by a ton in both directions while adding higher quality optics than you have now.​photos/81190407@N08/ (external link)
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May 12, 2014 11:41 |  #13

For landscapes, I'd take a 18-135 STM, great bang for the buck, single lens vacation solution for crops. For UWA landscapes (there are a lot of things people will call a landscape that is shot with 50mm or longer, much less 22) I'd pick up a 10-22 for sure.

Cream of the Crop
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May 12, 2014 13:14 |  #14

Another vote for Tokina 11-16/2.8.


Senior Member
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May 12, 2014 14:56 |  #15

The 15-85 is the most versatile lens for wide to short tele.

I think that once you have 15 you will likely not need anything wider except for some rare occasions. (and will probably not even both carrying that wider lens unless you know you will definitely need it)
Its also very handy to be able to go to 85 without switching lenses. This way you can keep switching to a minimum and carry a long 70-200 or 55-250 when you really need to zoom.

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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Canon 15-85mm best affordable lens for landscapes?
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