20D walk-around/travel lens - EF 17-40, EF 17-85 IS or Sigma 18-50/2.8 or...

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by patricks, May 10, 2005.

  1. I know this question has been up before, but I'm still somewhat
    confused about the different choices in this area. I want a relative
    light-weight all-round travel lens for my 20D. I had the opportunity
    to use a Nikon D70 kit for an extended period of time (let's not get
    into a technology/body comparisation war) but the real treat of that
    kit is really the very attractive Nikkor 18-70/3.5-4.5 lens,
    which 'only' costs around $300. It seems to me that Canon doesn't
    have a lens that closely matches the Nikkor one in terms of output
    quality, build and price point?!

    The EF 17-40/4 L may be an obvious, but ideally I would like to have
    a faster lens (as it will be used indoors as well). EF 17-85 is
    another obvious candidate, same price range, but again slow, even if
    it has IS and I've been reading about mixed opinions in terms of
    sharpness. Sigma 18-50/2.8 seems to have a loyal following, but
    test indicates strong vignetting and softness wide-open (what is the
    point with a f2.8 lens if one consistenly has to stop it down). The
    smaller size/weight makes it attractiv though (about the same
    price). Tamron 24-75 seems to be a hit and miss in terms of quality -
    life is too short for those type of experiences, but the price is
    certainly attractive.

    So, what did you chose and why? Am I forgetting any good candidates
    to assess? And when is Canon introducing a good "kit" lens? ;-)
  2. There's room for a mid-grade 18-70 (or thereabouts) in Canon's EF-S range. Canon has an EF-S equivalent to the cheapie 28-80/28-90 kit lenses, and an EF-S equivalent to the much more expensive 28-135 IS, and since there are two 28-105s between them (one cheapie, one mid-priced and quite good), surely they could find a spot in their EF-S lineup for an equivalent to the good 28-105. And clearly Nikon believes such a lens makes sense. But as to whether or not this is in their plans, only Canon knows.
    On a film body, the 28-135 IS has been my walkabout lens for the last few years. I don't mind that it's on the slow side, and on digital where I can crank up ISO whenever necessary, that's even less of a drawback (though of course this does nothing for DOF control). IS is a fantastic technology and has been very useful to me. So if I wanted to get an EF-S lens, the 17-85 would be it. But when getting a wider lens (primarily so that I wouldn't lose the 28mm-equivalent field of view when I went digital), I also wanted to be able to use it on my film body, so that ruled out the 17-85. I got the 17-40 instead, and the very day it arrived I ended up using it on my film body.
    But the 17-40 is not a one-lens solution for me, except for shooting indoors in fairly small spaces, and even there, it's not always long enough; I've had to crop some pictures that wouldn't have had to have been cropped with a 28-135(film)/17-85(1.6x). So I'll also be dragging the 28-135 around with me for general use. My other lenses have always been for special purposes, only taken with me when I thought they might be useful (so the 50/1.4 doesn't go to the zoo with me, for instance, nor does the 300/4 go to nephews' birthday parties). Having had the 17-40, I doubt I'd want to take a step back optically to the 17-85, even if it is roughly comparable to my 28-135; as others have mentioned in this forum over the years, L lenses are addictive.
    So I'm afraid I can't solve your problem for you. If I had to pick one walkabout lens for a 20D, the 17-85 IS would be my choice, but as with most other lens choices, it's not a slam dunk.
  3. Hi Patrick,

    I would try to get hold of a 2nd hand Canon 20-35 2.8. It's a really nice lens that you can
    usually get for a decent price.

    So how's the 20D?

    Take care
  4. Thanks for the input, Steve. I guess we are all (dUH!) face with the same compromises/contraints.

    Will, the 20d is what it is, another compromise and less than perfect execution on top of a very capable sensor/image processing technolgies. Why there isn't a on/off button by the trigger like on a D70/F100 baffles me, the viewfinder is small/squinty and there is no ISO info in the VF. But still, it is the best camera on the market today at this price point and life is too short/full of images to be taken to wait around for a "perfect" camera.

    I'm ordering a lens from B&H today before 3 PM - decision time...
  5. I have EF-S 17-85 and also Sigma 18-50/2.8. I like Sigma18-50 very much. It is lightweight, fast, good optical performance. But Sigma's quality control is a gamble. I had to return the first lense because of distortions. It was replaced and the second one is fine.

    EF-S17-85 is a good lense, with very useful zoom range for a walkabout length. I noticed soem CA at the wide end.
  6. My walk-around/travel lens of choice is the Canon 24-85. If I'm outside and restricted to just one lens, this is it. I wish Canon made an f/4L version of it.

    If I'm not restricted to just one lens, I replace the 24-85 with the 17-40, and take along either my 50mm prime (f/2.5 CM in my case) or 70-200 f/4, or both.
  7. Select one of the following lenses:<p>
    Canon EF 24-85 F3.5-4.5 USM<br>
    Canon EF 28-135mm F3.5-5.6 USM IS<br>
    Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 USM IS<br>
    Canon EF 24-70 F2.8L USM<br>
    Sigma AF 24-70mm F2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro SLR<br>
    Tamron AF 28-75mm F2.8 XR Di SLR<p>
    You can't find a perfect lens. I'm still waiting for the Canon EF 17-85 F2.8L USM IS that weights 500g and costs $795. No one can suggest you the best walk-arround lens. Ten of them will tell you a dozen of best lenses in their opinions.
  8. ted_marcus|1

    ted_marcus|1 Ted R. Marcus

    I have a similar problem with my 350D. My original plan was to get the Sigma 18-125 and a Tokina 12-24, as that combination is equivalent to what I've been using for years with film. The store from which I bought the camera had the Tokina but not the Sigma. The first copy of the Tokina had focusing problems, but I had no trouble exchanging it. That made me reluctant to mail-order the Sigma, especially since I've seen many reports of focusing problems with it. I called every camera shop in the Los Angeles area, but none of them stocked it. The overpriced Canon 17-85 is about the only other locally-available option.

    For the time being I'm using my five-year-old Canon 28-105 along with the Tokina. The test shooting I've been doing indicates that they both make good images, but it's far less convenient than I'd like. The break between 24 and 28mm is awkward because I shoot in this range a lot. I'm taking a trip next month, so I can see whether I can learn to use this combination comfortably. Perhaps a little bit of extra planning and thought while shooting could minimize the awkward lens changes.

    If that truly doesn't work out I'll have to give some serious thought about either biting the bullet for the 17-85 (and lugging my ancient and clunky 70-210?) or perhaps investigating the Tamron 24-135 (also locally available). The Tamron isn't a perfect solution but it could be the best available compromise. I wish there were a reliable alternative to Sigma's 18-125.
  9. sjg


    I got the 17-85 with my 20D, it's a good combination - assuming the
    price isn't an issue to you.<p>
    I considered the 17-40, but that (for me) would mean always having to
    carry extra lens - I tend to use 40-85mm far more than 17-40.<p>
    The IS works well, and for most out doors work, the small aperture isn't a problem. Indoors I often use a 50/1.4 and plan to add some other fast lenses too, but for walk-about the 17-85 is it for now.<p>
  10. "The 50 f/1.4 doesn't go to the zoo with me"

    It depends on the zoo of course, but a really wide aperture is great for making cages or dirty glass disappear from the foreground and blurring unsightly backgrounds.
  11. When I only take my 20D and one lens: For bright daylight days I bring my 17-85IS. For non-bright days/dusk outdoors I bring my 18-50/2.8. For indoors or at night, I bring my 28/1.8 and 50/1.4 (small enough to fit one in a poket).


Share This Page