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Old Nov 7, 2011, 8:02 AM   #1
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Default 17-85 usm or 18-135 is?

I just upgraded from a 400d to a 600d and only have one lens - the lovely little 1.8 50mm. I need something a little more flexible to compliment it on a student budget.

I can get a brand new 18-135 IS on ebay for 200, or a second -hand 17-85 USM for the same sort of money. I assume the latter is a better lens? It's hard finding good reviews.

Is USM that important?
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Old Nov 7, 2011, 12:35 PM   #2
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The canon 18-55is is the standard kit lens and its not a bad lens, If it was me I would look at a sigma 17-70
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Old Nov 7, 2011, 12:57 PM   #3
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I sold the kit lens with my 400d. Was never very impressed with it tbh.
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Old Nov 7, 2011, 3:15 PM   #4
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If I'm not mistaken, the kit 18-55 lens that came with the 400D was the older, unstabilized version. The newer, stabilized version is better. In fact, where their ranges overlap, it has less distortion and vignetting, and is sharper than the 17-85 or the 18-135 you're considering.
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Old Nov 7, 2011, 4:44 PM   #5
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Is the new kit lens really that much better than the old one? Oh this is so confusing...
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Old Nov 7, 2011, 5:45 PM   #6
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depends on what you are looking for, the 17-85 focus faster and allot quitter. And it is about the same sharpness as the new 18-55. Both 18-55 and 17-85 are better then the 18-135.
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Old Nov 7, 2011, 6:52 PM   #7
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I think it's a shame you sold your original kit lens - unless you really needed the money back then - because normally the kit lens is useful to have (eg giving some zoom / range that a prime doesn't). I bought the Canon 350D (the model before the 400D) with the kit lens - which cost less than GBP 50 for that lens.

A (very) few times I have thought 'should I sell the kit lens' - but I never did and I'm glad. A number of reasons to keep it:
a) it made a decent 'semi-macro' lens (until I bought a dedicated macro lens).
b) if I want a light DSLR travel kit, I can use my 18-55mm and 350D (I now have a 7D and 15-85mm as my 'standard' kit and 90^ of the time I travel with that, and another lens or two also)
c) maybe one day I will give my 350D to a relative (eg my dad who sort of likes photography or a nephew / niece who might get into photography) - and the kit lens is a good 'starter package'

Now... obviously this might not sound like a useful post to the OP (original poster). However some of the my post above might help jimjiber think about 'why I sold - and what I need in another lens'.

About the lenses mentioned, some good lens review sites are www.slrgear.com and www.photozone.de as well as www.the-digital-picture.com I've heard a lot of people compliment the new 18-55 IS kit zoom lens as having great Image Quality (IQ) ie sharp & contrasty, with effective IS. For me the 18-55mm is somewhat too limited as a 'all encompassing walk around' - but it's not bad.

I had used the 28-135mm early on as my 'walk around' more - (but obviously missed out on the wide angle).

Most users and reviews agree the 17-85mm is softer on the wide angle than the 18-55mm IS, but from around mid zoom onwards it is quite decent. I do like Canon's USM focus so much.

There are many happy users of the Sigma 17-70mm (useful as a semi-macro too).

The very useful focal range and 'reasonable' image quality of the 18-135mm IS makes some happy users. For 200 GBP that seems a decent price for a new lens. If you're super critical of sharpness, this might not be the lens for you though, as there are some spots which are soft, especially at the edges / corner of the frame.

If you need a quick focussing lens and aren't too worried about the 'softer wide end' of the lens, the 17-85mm might be your best bet. I like the build quality of that lens too (zoom & focus ring - similar to my 28-135mm). There are lens variations... so that's a consideration - especially with a used lens (but you could get a great copy too!)

All the best. Please let us know what you decide and enjoy taking (& sharing) photos!


Last edited by pj1974; Nov 7, 2011 at 7:14 PM.
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 5:12 PM   #8
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The 17-85 has had an issue with internal screws coming loose. The lens then jams at 17mm and costs almost as much to fix as it is worth. Happened to me and would not recommend this lens. There have been others online with the same issue. I have used the 18-135 and seems to give good results and holds together without screws coming loose....
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