Canon 17-55 and 15-85 lenses

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Canon 17-55 and 15-85 lenses

Postby NSS8921 » Jan 19, 2012 10:16 am

Does anyone out there have experience with both lenses? If so, which do you prefer and why?

Thanks,
John
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Re: Canon 17-55 and 15-85 lenses

Postby NZcaver » Jan 19, 2012 3:25 pm

NSS8921 wrote:Does anyone out there have experience with both lenses? If so, which do you prefer and why?

I own the 17-55 f2.8, and I've tried the 15-85 in a store. I prefer the 17-55. Virtually all lenses are a compromise. If you need fast, sharp glass - get the 17-55. It's the sharpest option in the EF-S range, and the build quality is pretty good for a non-L lens. But you do pay the big dollars for it. If you really need a little extra focal length at both ends out of a single lens, get the other one. Personally I don't really miss having the extra range.

I have a 10-22 for doing wide shots, and although the IQ and build are not as good as the 17-55 it's still a really fun lens. I keep it on the 40D body most of the time. Several cavers I know also own the 10-22. Not sure if you'll be using your DSLR in a cave, but if so you mostly only need two types of lenses - wide and macro.

There are countless lens reviews out there, but if you just want to pixel-peep and compare lens IQ check out http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Revi ... Tools.aspx
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Re: Canon 17-55 and 15-85 lenses

Postby NSS8921 » Jan 20, 2012 7:19 am

Thanks Jansen. The Digital Picture is the best resource I’ve found. They and others indicate that the 17-55 and 15-85 are very close in resolution, and sharpness is key to me. I am not happy with the 18-200 I purchased with my 60D.

I want a sharp lens for outdoor, portrait and cave photography. I particularly enjoy wide shots from the tops of mountains, sometimes including sunsets, which brings us to the 17-55’s big negative – flare. That is why I am leaning toward the 15-85. Is the 15-85 wide enough for cave photography? Is the 17-55 flare a problem for you?

The 10-22 is interesting, but I dislike distortion. I remember a Mulu shot where the person in the shot appears to be standing at 60 degrees instead of 90 degrees. Ruined the shot!

BTW, my other lens is a 100 f/2.8L Macro and I love it.

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Re: Canon 17-55 and 15-85 lenses

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jan 20, 2012 10:55 am

NSS8921 wrote:The 10-22 is interesting, but I dislike distortion. I remember a Mulu shot where the person in the shot appears to be standing at 60 degrees instead of 90 degrees. Ruined the shot!


There isn't all that much distortion on the 22mm end of that lens. Actually, I love the distortion and wish the 22 mm end did have it. But everyone has their preferences.

You could consider getting 10-22 and 50mm. I have the 18-135 and it's OK, just not a super quality lens.

Wish me luck, ya'll. This weekend I'm going to experiment with portraiture. Something I know nothing at all about and have no experience with. I plan on using my 50.
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Re: Canon 17-55 and 15-85 lenses

Postby NZcaver » Jan 20, 2012 3:40 pm

NSS8921 wrote:Thanks Jansen. The Digital Picture is the best resource I’ve found. They and others indicate that the 17-55 and 15-85 are very close in resolution, and sharpness is key to me. I am not happy with the 18-200 I purchased with my 60D.

I want a sharp lens for outdoor, portrait and cave photography. I particularly enjoy wide shots from the tops of mountains, sometimes including sunsets, which brings us to the 17-55’s big negative – flare. That is why I am leaning toward the 15-85. Is the 15-85 wide enough for cave photography? Is the 17-55 flare a problem for you?

The 10-22 is interesting, but I dislike distortion. I remember a Mulu shot where the person in the shot appears to be standing at 60 degrees instead of 90 degrees. Ruined the shot!

BTW, my other lens is a 100 f/2.8L Macro and I love it.

Yeah, the 18-200 - like virtually any 'super zoom' - is optically lacking. But somebody will still want to buy it off you. :wink: The 15-85 is by most accounts a rather good lens. The difference between 15 and 17 at the wide end is the equivalent of about 24mm and 27mm in full frame (35mm) format. It's noticeable, but not huge. Tough choice. I don't think 55mm and 85mm at the long end will make much difference in cave, but outdoors it might. Of course you do have that nice macro lens which I'm sure works great for outdoor tele shooting too. I'm not a huge macro guy, but my big zoom is the new 70-300L and it's great for wildlife and bird shots.

Regarding flare in the 17-55, honestly I haven't really noticed it being a problem. It's rather more noticeable on the 10-22 of course. I shoot with hoods on all my lenses to provide some protection against flare and physical damage to the lens. Depending on what type of shooting I'm doing I may or may not have a UV filter on there (for protection rather than effect). With all but the most expensive filters, the flare factor goes up and the IQ goes down. If I'm shooting into the sun or with other difficult lighting, or I want high quality shots in a safe/stable situation, I usually remove the filter.

You're right about the rectilinear distortion of the 10-22, but like Squirrel Girl I also don't consider this much of a distraction. Depending on what you use for post-processing, it can be a one-click fix anyway if you choose to.
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Re: Canon 17-55 and 15-85 lenses

Postby NSS8921 » Jan 23, 2012 1:58 pm

Wow, this is a tough one - the 17-55 and 15-85 are so close overall! I prefer f/2.8 but the flare problem looks so much worse. And for portraits, I can use my 100mm macro.

Past which f/stop does resolution start to degrade? That is unclear for the 17-55, even after reading many, many reviews.

So enough! I am going with the 15-85.

Next I’ll have to consider a 10-22 or maybe that 70-300L NZ mentioned. Like Squirrel Girl said ‘you can never have too many lenses’.

Squirrel Girl and NZ - thanks to both of you for your input!

John
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Re: Canon 17-55 and 15-85 lenses

Postby NZcaver » Jan 23, 2012 3:42 pm

Let us know what you think of your 15-85 after you've spent some time with it.

Forgot to ask earlier, but have you thought about renting a lens to try before buying? Also good if you need a 400mm prime like this to shoot, but don't have twelve grand burning a hole in your pocket. Try lensrentals dot com for the 15-85 or the 17-55.
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Re: Canon 17-55 and 15-85 lenses

Postby NSS8921 » Jan 24, 2012 7:57 am

May I borrow your 400mm prime? I can't afford the rent, ha ha. Thanks for suggesting renting; I will likely rent both 17-55 and 15-85 at the same time. Roger's take on the 15-85 has again made me uncertain as to which will be best for me.

Also, I took a few shots last night with my 100mm L macro in really low light conditions, and that reinforced how nice a f/2.8 can be. I have attached one of those, I hope correctly.

John


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