Canon EF-S 17-55 first choice, which is second choice?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by kate_o'neill, May 17, 2010.

  1. I am re-thinking which lens I'm going to upgrade to.
    I could afford the Canon 17-55 but I can't justify the cost as I'm not a photographer, I just take pictures as a hobby and as a mom. The size of this lens also makes me a little nervous. I was thinking of going for the Tamron 17-50 (non-VC) because then I could buy an external flash as well, maybe even an 85 1.8. (All I own now is the 50 1.8 and the non-IS 18-55). I'm a little nervous straying away from Canon though, so my question is, do I have any more affordable Canon options (other than the $1100 17-55) for a general purpose lens on a crop frame (xTI)? Or do I just go for the Tamron 17-50 (would love to hear from owners of this lens!).
    Thank you!
  2. Just get the Tamron, you can use it instead of that el cheapo plastic toy when it stops working too.
    The Tamron is not quite as sharp as the Canon 50mm 1.8, but it's pretty close. I've been using my Tamron 17-50mm for a couple of years now, it has superceeded my 50mm 1.8 which seems to have developed a focussing fault after a similar period of use. Contrast and colours are equal or better than the Canon 50mm 1.8 11. Both lenses are bargains, Tamron seems to last longer.
  3. Another option: Sigma 18-50/2.8, TAMRON 17-50/2.8 and TOKINA 16-5/2.8. I Am thinking of getting tokina 16-50/2.8
  4. In that focal length the Tamron 17-50 2.8 is probably the best alternative. If you don't need the fixed 2.8 aperture, the options increase. The Sigma 17-70 and Canon's 17-85 IS or newer 15-85 IS all become options. The latter two options then get you into the 85 range too. Add the external flash and you should be able to offset the loss of the 2.8 aperture where light is concerned, even though that won't give you the reduced depth of field of the 2.8 aperture. And, in low light conditions the 2.8 is not that fast a lens either. In a dimly lit room an f/ 5.6 lens with an external flash may very well be better than an f/ 2.8 without the flash.
    That said, I love my 85 1.8 and 430 EX flash.
    DS Meador
  5. Try the Canon 17-40L lens. You still get wide angle coverage and it's an excellent quality lens. Also if you ever get a full frame body it still works. About $500 less than the 17-55. You're smart in wanting to stick with Canon lenses - they have no compatibility problems and I've never had a lens issue (all my lenses are Canon).
  6. The Canon 15-85 is cheaper, covers a great range, and has great image quality and IS. The only downside is that it's a little slow (f/3.5-5.6).
  7. If you can swing a Tamron 17-50/2.8 -- highly regarded by many -- along with a 85/1.8 and a 430EX flash (used or not), you will have a superb kit with considerable creative potential. Even the newer 18-55 with IS is quite an upgrade, it seems, but f/2.8 on your everyday zoom will be handy.
  8. Another vote for 15-85. Excellently made, takes amazing pictures.
  9. I tried two copies of the Tamron 17-50 and found them very good. That said, I'd never tempt to replace my 17-55 with anything. Fast aperture, ring USM and IS mean a lot to me. And BTW, I'm an amateur photographer as well.
    Happy shooting,
  10. I have the Tamron 17-50/2.8 w/o VC. It's an impressive lens. Maybe the Canon 17-55 is better, I don't know but still I can't justify the cost. You can look here All the pictures are with the Tamron on 20D.
  11. I like the Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS. It is very affordable for a good used one; I've seen them go for less than $300 lately on ebay. It has a nice range and IS, but it is quite a bit slower than the 17-55mm. If you're looking for fast shutter speed in low light, then the 17-55mm is the way to go, otherwise the 17-85mm should do fine. I'd also look at the 70-200mm f/4L as a telephoto lens. I like this lens more than the 70-300mm IS for many reasons, but the main one being the fast auto focus speed. Most shots I take in this range are action shots (sports/wildlife) and a fast AF is the difference between the perfect shot and not getting a shot at all. This would be a great lens to take pictures of your kids playing outside.
  12. My vote is for the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 AF SP XR Di II LD IF. I bought this lens used about a year ago. It's the only third party lens that I have and it's almost as sharp as some of my Canon "L's."
    I've never been a fan of the third party lenses, and probably will never buy another now that I seem to have about all the focal lengths I need covered for both the crop sensors and film.
    It does seem that I read more "compatability" issues with the Sigma's & Tokina's. But like I said earlier . . . "this is probably the only third party lens I will ever own!"
    I do wish that I had the "VC" or image stabilization model though. IS can be handy for any and all hand held shots at some point or another!
  13. I was on the same situation as you a couple of months ago.I was looking for walk-around lens. Never had a non-Canon lens before. My first choice was the Canon EF-S 17-55 f2.8 but was the cost was a big factor. I finally went for Tamron 17-50 with VC. It's now my favorite walk-around lens and is mounted on my camera 90% of the time. The extra money allowed me to buy the Canon S90, and which by far, is my favorite point and shoot cam an is with me everyday (in my pocket or in my car).
    By the way, there's a $70 rebate for the Tamron lens right now , so it's the best time to buy.
  14. All of the above suggestions are good. But, before doing any of that, I suggest you spend $139 and get the IS version of the lens you already have and you may find that it suits your needs perfectly. B&H sells said 18-55 IS version in a white box for $139. "White box" does not mean "used" or "gray market"; it simply means they pulled it out of a kit. The same warranty applies, I believe. You may find that it is all you really need. And if you don't like it, there is a good return policy which I believe is without any restocking fee. If you go beyond the time period, you could easily sell it on craigslist and get at least $100 back and maybe more.
    FWIW, I got good results from the non-IS version but the IS version gets excellent reviews all around.
  15. did you change your mind about getting the primes and IS Kit lens?
  16. I'm in the same camp with Vladimir. Others may be better but I used the extra money elsewhere. I use mine on a 40D, it takes great photos of my grandkids as well as the occasional landscape.
  17. Kate,
    In my opinion the Canon 15-85 would be a very good general purpose lens for your rebel. It has a 4 Stop IS, FTM override and a great range. If you need a faster lens in future, I would recommend complementing it with a fast prime such as a Sigma 30 f/1.4 or Canon 50mm (1.8 or 1.4) depending on the focal length you need and how much you're willing to spend.
    Also, the 15-85 has a $100 instant rebate right now, so that might be something you want consider as well :)
    All the best.
  18. Thanks everyone.
    I should have mentioned in OP that lowlight capabilities are important, that's why I've been looking at the 2.8 and ruled out the 15-85 and 17-85.
    I'm leaning towards giving the Tamron a shot. That way I could grab a flash and 85 1.8 with it. If I don't love the Tamron, maybe I'll have to splurge and hold off on the others. The zoom would be on my camera most of the time so I want it to take pictures that look close to the ones I get with primes!
    Yes, I think I did change my mind. LOVE the 85 1.8 but the 28 1.8 just didn't do it for me. I just wasn't happy with it after testing it out for myself. I think I've just decided to go for a really good zoom and then supplement with my 50 1.8 and (maybe) the 85 1.8 as needed.
  19. Sorry it did not work out for you, maybe I am the only person that likes that lens. FWIW I also liked the Tamron 17-50. :-}
  20. I use the Canon 17-55mm 2.8 lens and I wouldn't hesitate to get and use the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 non VC instead. I have tried it out several times and found it to have outstanding image quality. I was going to get one as a back up for my 17-55mm but I have gone full frame and have somewhat different lens priorities. I have still kept the 17-55mm and the 10-22mm to use with my newest T2i because they are both so good. I may still get the Tamron 17-50mm to use on the T2i on the street because of the small size and light weight with excellent image quality. There seems to be a rebate going right now. Good luck!
  21. Canon 15-85 is cheaper, covers a great range, and has great image quality and IS. The only downside is that it's a little slow (f/3.5-5.6)​
    Says it all. You could also find its predecessor, the EF-S 17-85mm IS lens, which has a couple more warts, all easily worked out when they show in an image. These are the EF-S equivalent of the legendary EF 24-105mm IS L lens (which, by the way shares the same inescapable 'features' for this class of lenses).
    I buy lots of old lenses, but for new AF lenses for a APS-C camera longer than 30mm, I will never get another one without image stabilization of some kind. (this sentence somehow a little awkward seems, but I cannot it quite out-figure.)
    With modern ISOs the 'slowness' of them is not practically a problem.
  22. It depends of what kind of shootings that you will do. If you shoot quite a bit of moving subjects in low lights, I would go with the Canon lens due to the AF capability, coupled with USM and IS.
  23. One more vote for the 15-85 from one who has the 17-55 as well as this 15-85 for about 6 months now. I hardly use the 17-55 anymore. Yes it's faster, that's about the only advantage it has.
    The 15-85 gives you the bonus of going extra wide, even better IS, has great optical quality (some vignetting, easy to get around, only happens occasionally), and the 85 on the long end is perfect for portraits even though its at F5.6. In combination with a 70-200 F4 IS and maybe one or two special purpose lenses (85mm for portraits?), you have everything you want. The price is not cheap but good for what you get.
  24. I have a 17-85. Great zoom range but unacceptable distortion at the wide side. Chromatic aberration is shocking but luckily it stopped working due to lens electrical contacts not communicating with the camera body. The camera displays a message "clean the contacts" but that helps for about 3 shots if at all. Canon quality? Well... perhaps if you cough up thousands of dollars for an "L" lens. 15-85 any better? I have not had my hands on one but I doubt it. When faced with a dead lens weeks before going on holiday, I bought a Pentax - the camera and lens was cheaper than replacing the Canon lens and it is a weather sealed K200 which helped in rainy NZ.
  25. Good for you Julius. It sounds like you and the Pentax were meant for each other.
    Most people have had better luck and find that the problems you mention are rarely visible in real shooting--and when they are, can be fixed easily in post.
  26. OK, I think I came up with a great plan. Tell me what you think:
    1. Buy the Canon 15-85, this will be great for outside stuff with the kids, parties, sports, BBQ's, etc. Also a wonderful travel lens.
    2. Buy the Canon 35 f/2, this will help with my indoor shots of the kids when the 50 1.8 is too tight. Plus, I love primes!
    3. Buy a used Speedlite flash for when I need the extra light, maybe if I want to bring the 15-85 in a lower light situation.
    I could probably swing this for the same cost as the Canon 17-55. I'm starting to think this is the way to go. The next plan down the road is to update to the 50d maybe at the end of the year.
  27. Ooooh. I should have thought of that!
    Good idea. I have the 35mm f/2, and it is a sweetie on either an APS-C as a long normal or as a modest wide angle on a 35mm-sensor camera.
    As I said, a few people have been sour about the old 17-85mm, but almost everyone who has one uses it with great glee--the 15-85 is supposed to be even better.
  28. How about these 2 options:

    Option 1(the one I just mentioned a couple posts ago):
    Canon 15-85 IS - for outdoor kids shots, sports and travel
    Canon 35 f/2 - for indoor shots in lower light
    Used Speedlite flash

    Option 2
    Tamron 17-50 2.8 (probably non-VC) - for indoor shots in lower light and for outside shots of kids
    Canon 85 1.8 - outdoor shots of kids, sports
    Used Speedlite flash

    Basically, this decision becomes a comparison between the Canon 15-85 IS and the Tamron 17-50. The Tamron has some pretty dedicated followers from what I've seen. The Canon is relatively new but seems to get decent reviews. Can you tell I over think things too much? The truth is, this will be my last lens upgrade for a while so I want to make the right move, add to that I over analyze the littlest things in life and you get posts like these. :)
  29. I purchased the Tamron 17-50mm VC and haven't been that satisfied with the lens. I wish I would've just waited and used the kit lens until I could have afforded the Canon 17-55mm.
    Sigma has now released a 17-50mm with OS and HSM. It's not shipping yet, but you can purchase it for $669. I may look further into that once some reviews are out on it.
  30. Tamron 17-50 f/2.8. I've done tons of street pix and street portraits with that lens for my urban photoblog.

    Smaller, lighter weight, and cheaper than the Canon IS. It's a superb lens. Use the money saved for a flash like you
  31. Kate,
    Hehe...I went through something similar, so I can see what you mean :) However, think of it this way...what is the most important feature that you have to have in your main lens? For me it was good range, Image stabilization and sharpness...which I got from Canon 15-85. My first choice would NOT be a NON-IS lens as my main kit. A fast lens might not require IS if you're only needing subject isolation all the time...however, when you need to Stop it down for more DOF, IS is quintessential! (Else you'll end up using tripod mostly)
    Choice is ultimately yours, but I personally don't like changing lenses too often especially when I'm out traveling or so. Indoor pictures and portraits don't bother me as I can change the lens at my will. However, outdoors you won't like to change the lens as much. So, get the lens you think you'll be using the most.
    Hope this helps.
  32. I have Canon 17-55mm/f2.8 which is an excellent lens, specially for low light. I will always recommend this lens. Otherwise 15-85 is also a very good choice and covers a very nice range compared to 17-55, the only downside is that it is a bit slow and has variable aperture.
  33. I have the Sigma 18-50/ 2.8 macro, and have great success with it. I cannot speak to some of the other lenses, as I have not used them.
  34. Kate,
    I own the Tamron lens for last 3 years. Before buying it I had the same dilemma like you and finally could not justify paying a grand for the Canon. I have been extremely satisfied with the Tamron. Just for curiosity I rented the Canon once and compared it with the Tamron. The only difference I found was slightly faster AF with the Canon. I did not find any difference in IQ. However, the IS on Canon was a certain plus (but now you can get it on the Tamron as well). Both these are great lenses. The Tamron also put my once beloved 50/1.8 to rest ... if you talk to the owners of either the Canon or the Tamron many will vouch for their prime-like IQ (even wide open).
    Personally I like the combination of Tamron 17-50/2.8, 85/1.8 and 430EX - that combo should come at the price of the Canon.
    The 15-85 garnered good reviews so far but personally I would rather have f/2.8 than IS. Under certain situations e.g. indoor/low light shooting with fast moving subjects (kids, pets) is way better with the former. But its just a personal choice.
    BTW, for a $1100 lens Canon doesn't even include a hood, which Tamron gives for free!
  35. Kate, if you can afford it, the EF-s 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens is in a class by itself (as I see it, anyway). It doesn't matter if you are a pro or not, as images you capture for your hobby, or as a Mom recording your family history are no less important than the shots I record for a client to pay my bills. The size of the lens may seem intimidating at first, but that feeling quickly fades, and it soon becomes "just right". I suggest that the lens hood is also purchased, and always used as well, which makes it an even more imposing vision, but again, it doesn't take long before it becomes a welcome friend in your hand.
    Consider that the initial cost will be long forgotten within several months to a year, yet the lens will remain for a lifetime. Camera bodies may come and go over time, but the 17-55 will always be there, and you will never second guess yourself in the way of wondering if you could have made a better choice while you review your photos in the distant future.
    I have owned mine for quite a few years now, and I have no regrets. It is heavily used for both work and pleasure, and I have never found any other lens in the range that can compete with it in a "no holds barred" fashion to this day. Don't get me wrong, as there are many fine third party lenses available at less cost today, and if budget is the prime consideration, they represent a valid choice. On the other hand, the 17-55 f/2.8, like most other high end Canon lenses has a fine track record for durability that third party lens manufacturers are still trying to duplicate. The cheaper price of third party lenses always represents a compromise in functionality. That can easily be justified by folks when they press the buy button, but it is still a compromise in the end. Most third party brands offer extreme warranty periods as well, but again, it is their overall track record that forces them to do so, even though their products are far better built today than in the past.
    Sorry for the third party rant, but you mentioned right at the top of your post that you can afford the 17-55, and it matches the features you desire perfectly, except for it's imposing presence, which, as I mentioned before, quickly becomes an non issue in practice. In fact, it becomes a comfort. Think carefully before you buy. There will always be plenty of endorsements for third party lenses if you pose the question, but most are really purchased because of their price alone, and the real value of the choice is taken and offered as a matter of faith, rather than as a result of direct experience with the Canon offering.
    It is a beautiful lens in all respects, and it is anvil tough to boot. Rant over.... Here are a few pics. The first shot needs explanation, as it won't make sense otherwise. The setup was at a TGIFridays pub in the dead of night. The view from the inside out was coal dark, as there were only random tower lights in the parking lot, and the external signs on the building. The interior was also too dark to make out much detail, and the only illumination was from the various neon lights, and colorful signs placed around the bar. Anyone who has ever been to a Fridays at night can picture the scene.
    The shot of the woman sitting across the aisle from me was taken with the 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens mounted on a 40D body. The lens was zoomed to 55 mm, and the aperture was set wide open to f/2.8. The ISO speed for the shot was 3200. The shutter speed was 1/4 of a second, and the focus was provided by the camera AF. The shot was made HAND HELD. The Raw image was converted to jpg with DPP at the time. No Photoshop tweaking was involved. I left the WB as it was recorded as it fit the scene. The camera metering made the lighting look daytime bright, and I left that alone as well. It was just a fun shot, after all. You can clearly see that she was tapping her fist on the table, and crossed her right leg with her left leg during the exposure by the blur in those areas, but the IS performed perfectly at 1/4 second, wide open, and hand held at ISO 3200. That shot was made back in 2007, but it helps illustrate the amazing potential of the lens. It doesn't matter if you need to capture a typical scene, or if you see a shot that pushes the envelope, this lens will deliver. Birthday parties for your Kids? Family moments in natural light? It's a great lens. The second shot is just a typical NJ snow scene captured with the 17-55 zoomed short on a 50D a few months ago.
    By the way, it also makes a great wedding lens... Even if not for pay, your kids will have their moment in time....
  36. I would encourage you to purchase the Canon 17-55 f/2.8 for all of the IQ and IS reasons stated and restated but also for the resale value. You can easily get most of your investment back on this lens as long as it's cared for.
    Though not spoken about enough f/2.8 in dimmer light makes for easier AF and this lens will out perform the Tamron which has no IS (of course only costs half as much).
    IS is a more important feature than I originally gave credit for, prior to owning lenses with IS. It does have a positive effective on what you can do with the lens. It is also a great walk around lens for the cropped bodies and the size isn't a factor for me as I have smallish hands and have never had problems operating the lens.
    You won't go wrong with the Canon, it's got more going for it that just pride of ownership.
  37. Tokina AF16-50mm F/2.8 AT-X is worth considering too. I've got it to fill the gap between my Canon 24-105 and my Tokina 11-16 F/2.8. I felt Canon 17-55 F/2.8 was too expensive for that and got the Tokina instead, especially due to the positive experience I had with the 11-16.
    Hope it may help.
  38. When doing most nonprofit events, I do not hesitate using my Tamron 17-50 on my 7D or 50D. It is an excellent lens. I have numerous L lens and I don't always want to take them for the small quality increase.
  39. I have the 17-55 and will echo the comments of those praising its qualities, and f2.8 can offer some excellent creative options for portraits or indoor (low light) shots. But if you want a walkaround lens then the range of the 15-85 combined with its quality makes it a very hard act to beat. As JDM commented, the 17-85 has a lot of admirers for the same reason.
    So it is focal range versus f2.8.
  40. Kate O'Neill wrote
    "How about these 2 options: "
    Another option to consider:
    Tamron 17-50 f2.8; Tamron 28-75 f2.8; Speedlite.
    This one has worked pretty well for me (with an XTi).
  41. I purchased the 17-55 Canon lens in January 2007 from B & H. I complained about the $50 for the lens hood, but never about the grand for the lens. In fact, I just ordered the Canon 7D rather than go full frame, so I could continue to use this lens. I have five other lenses which account for 10 % of my lens use, and the other 90% is with the 17-55 lens. I , too, am an amateur. Listen to the voices who recommend this lens. You will not regret it. Rest my case.
  42. >>> When doing most nonprofit events, I do not hesitate using my Tamron 17-50 on my 7D or 50D. It is an excellent
    lens. I have numerous L lens and I don't always want to take them for the small quality increase.

    Agree wholeheartedly... I have a 24-70 f/2.8 L that I use on a 5DII body. But I like the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 much better on
    a crop body I still shoot on the street with. In fact, I like it better than my other Canon lenses as well, except for the 85
    f/1.8. I do a lot of impromptu street portraits of strangers and the Tamron is exceptional for that.

    I compared the Tamron with the Canon 17-55 IS, and for what I do, the Tamron was better. Also includes a hood,
    (though unlike the 24-70 f/2.8, I rarely use it because the lens is so inherently flare resistant), nice case, and a 6 year
    warranty. Smaller in size, less weight, and much less money ($415 at B&H). Having a decent flash like a 430 or 580 is much more
    important than any differences between the two lens choices.
  43. I am definitely not a Canon fanboy, and the Tamron and Sigma lenses I have serve me well. That being said, I wouldn't hesitate for a moment in choosing between any of the lenses that top out at circa 50mm and the 15-85mm. I'm not afraid to use high ISOs tho', so if you are, the attraction of a faster aperture might be a datum on the other side of the scale.
    A prominent existential counsellor once taught me that some decisions simply have to be made, accepted, and not worried about any more. Stop worrying and choose, and don't look back!
  44. Wow, thanks for all of the great input - I have a lot to think about.
    I think I'm leaning towards the Canon 15-85. I am positive I will be purchasing the Canon 35 f/2 or Sigma 30 1.4 for indoors so the zoom will be used primarily outdoors. The only reason I am hesitant towards the Canon is that I love to have a shallower DOF sometimes for that background blur. I don't know how much of that I can achieve with the Canon.
    Does anyone have portrait pictures using the 15-85? Will 5.6 at 85 mm have a nice look to it or 50mm at 5.0? I don't have enough experience with zooms in this sense.
  45. Kate,
    I think you have to decide what is most important to you. Is a single walkabout lens with highest image quality? Is it low light capability? (For moving or for still subjects?) Image quality? Shallow DOF?
    I have both the 17-55mm and 85mm 1.8. I can't speak about the other lenses.
    I like the 17-55, but I get far, far more "holy cow" shots from the 85. That lens is small, light, works great in low light, and has incredible (shallow) DOF and bokeh. I'd consider finding a way to include that in the mix.
    You might consider the 18-55 IS, 85 1.8, and a flash. That would give you a decent set of focal lengths, small size, IS, flash, and at least one lens amost eveyone agrees is just killer.
  46. Kate,
    I've owned both the the tamron and the canon lenses in question. As much as I thought I liked the tamron when I finally had the money for the canon 17-55 I realized this is the best lens in this category hands down after a couple weeks of shooting. I'm certainly not a pro but as others have mentioned all photos are important to the person taking them, why not get the best if you can afford it. You won't regret it.
  47. I recommend the Tamron 17-50 (non-stabilzed, it's much sharper than the new pricey VC version). I just bought mine this month from Abe's of Maine for $460, tamron has a $45 rebate on it, so I got it for about $415! This camera is super sharp and a steal for a f/2.8 lens. sure, it's not in the canon 17-55's class, but then again, it's not $1100! I've taken some amazing shots with the Tamron over the last few weeks. Here's a couple reviews HERE and HERE that I used to base my decision on. Here's some photos I've taken with my Tamron 17-50, all shot at f/2.8
  48. Thanks for all of your advice!
    The decision has been made. After all the over-analyzing, I'm buying the Canon 17-55 2.8 with a 430EX II flash. Yeah, I broke the budget. I think my husband is so tired of hearing me talk about lenses that he told me to "just get what I want!" Don't have tell me twice! :) Little concerned about the size of it but I guess I'll get used to it.
    Now my husband can analyze the stock market in peace. No more lens talk....for now.
    Thanks again,
  49. High five! Your husband will love the lull in budget busting discussion, and when the inevitable chorus of "wow" moments reaches a fever pitch after the lens arrives, he will at least be able to look at images captured with the lens that will put a smile on his face...
    You will love it. Don't resist the factory lens hood when you buy the lens (remember, he did give the green light). Get used to it, and always use it. It will become a comfortable part of your identity in short order, maximize IQ in all situations, and it WILL save your camera and lens from a date with gravity at least once in the future. Even with all the many knocks, gravity adventures, and scars my hood took for the team over nearly 5 years of commercial use, you have to admit that it still looks beautiful....:). The little battery is there to keep things in size perspective.
    Considering the high level of praise offered by folks here who already own this lens, I can't wait to read your impressions over time.
  50. Thanks Jim! I'm so excited.
    I did order the hood and a B+W MC filter. Can't wait to try it out!
  51. Kate,
    You are going to love your lens, er I mean you are going to love the images you make with your lens, they will be uber uber sharp!
  52. I'm back to say thank you. I've had some time now to really use my new lens, the 17-55 2.8, and I love love love it. I appreciate everyone's advice. The images this lens produces are super sharp and wonderful!
    Thanks again!

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