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Old Feb 16, 2006, 2:45 PM   #1
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there's so much conflicting information out there, it's hard to know what - or who - to believe. i'm hoping to get some answers here...

i'm contemplating either the EF-S 17-85 IS USM lens, or the EF 28-135 IS USM as a general-purpose lens for a 20D. i know the28-135 is about a half-stop faster wide open, but i've also heard it's a bit softer. the price difference between the two isn't a major concern, nor am iworried about the long end so much, as i'll be using a 75-300 for the long zoom shots. i'm interested in these lenses mainly for general purpose and landscape use, and i want the best image quality i can get, short of the outlandishly expensive "L" lenses... can anyone offer any comparisons between these two short-zoom lenses that would be helpful in choosing one over the other?
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 3:42 PM   #2
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squirl033 wrote:
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. the price difference between the two isn't a major concern, nor am iworried about the long end so much, as i'll be using a 75-300 for the long zoom shots. i'm interested in these lenses mainly for general purpose and landscape use,
So, to summarize, price difference isn't an issue and you want to use the lens for landscape use and don't care about the added reach of the 28-135. I would say that leaves the 17-85 as the right choice for you. Image quality between the two (not just sharpness but overall quality) is about the same. So no clear winner on that front. The IS on the 17-85 is newer and better so that's a clear point in it's favor. In fact, the only strike against the 17-85 for YOUR use is that it's an EF-S lens. Which means it wouldn't work on a camera with a larger sensor than the 20D, 300D or 350D. The lens won't work on the 5D, 10D or any 1-series or I would assume any new camera bodies Canon comes out with that use a larger sensor than that used by the 20D, 350D or 300D. So, to me, that would be the only potential reason to NOT go with the 17-85.

One approach I might suggest - if you can wait a couple weeks - Canon is RUMORED to be announcing a replacement for the 20D at the PMA trade show starting Feb 26 (I believe that's the date). Anyway, there is always rampant speculation about what features the camera will have. For your purposes it would be good to know if the 20D replacement will function with EF-S lenses or if Canon will only relegate their use to the entry level 'Rebel' models. I won't even begin to speculate on which way Canon would go (support EF-S on 20d replacement or go with larger sensor). But, if they did go larger your future compatibility goes out the window as does, probably, the resale value for an EF-S lens. If the 20D replacement supports EF-S then that's a fairly clear indication Canon plans on sticking with the 1.6x sensors on their midlevel DSLR.
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 6:10 PM   #3
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thanks for the info. i haven't bought the 20D yet, but am seriously considering venturing into the DSLR market, upgrading from a Panasonic FZ20. i really like the image quality i've seen with the 20D, and from the research i've done, reviews, etc., it seems to pretty much outdo anything else in its class, but i'm just not in a financial position to lay out the cash for a full-frame model like the 1D. i don't have another SLR, unless you count my 20-year old Pentax ME Super, and i would expect to be using the 20D forseveral years at least, so the fact the 17-85 wouldn't work with other Canon models isn't a huge concern.

do you have an opinion about the new 75-300 DO lens? how does it compare to the other long zooms like the EF 75-300 USM? is it worth the extra $400?

sorry to ask what are probably elementary questions to long-time Canon users, but like i said, i'm just getting into the idea of a DSLR, and there are SO many lens options out there, it's really hard to know which ones are the best values... i'm not averse to spending areasonable sum for good optics, if i know it will produce good quality results, but most of the "L" series lenses are just a bit toorich for my blood... at least for now.
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 7:10 PM   #4
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I just bought a 20D and I had the problem I went with the 28-135 and I'm glad I did. Some of the pics I'm getting from this lens are amazing and the extra zoom comes in handy. I really didn't do any comparison with the 17-85. For my use the was the best choice for me. It's fast, quiet and feels good in your hands.

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Old Feb 17, 2006, 8:07 AM   #5
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SQUIRL - The difference in the EF and the EF-S mounting, as previously mentioned is a VERY important factor.

Your question regarding the 28/135 - I have 2 of them mounted on my 300D and my 20D. They are an excellent choice for a 'working' lens. My wife and I shoot horse events and the 28/135 does a very adequate job - they have made us a lot of money.
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Old Feb 17, 2006, 8:46 AM   #6
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squirl033 wrote:
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do you have an opinion about the new 75-300 DO lens? how does it compare to the other long zooms like the EF 75-300 USM? is it worth the extra $400?

I think you're confusing several lenses here. Canon has an old 75-300 (both with and without USM) that is not a very good lens - I think it sells for around $170. There are 2 70-300 lenses Canon currently makes:

70-300 DO IS USM which retails for around $1200 - you're paying a lot for the 'DO' here.

70-300 IS USM (non-DO - this is their newest lens) - retails for around $560.

I don't have any of these lenses, but from what I've read the new 70-300 gets very good marks for what it is. It has a good IS system and gives you good range with good picture quality. Is it the same quality you would get from a 70-200 f4 or 70-200 f2.8 or 100-400L? No. But, again there are trade-offs to every lens. The real question is: what do you want to use it for? I think it's a great option for all-around use as a telezoom with minor use as an outdoor good light sports lens or occasional wildlife lens. But if you want a primarily sports lens you will want something different - usually a lens capable of f2.8 throughout the whole range. If you want a primarily wildlife lens you probably want something capable of 400mm.

I don't recall too many comments on the 70-300 DO lens though - so I can't say that it's worth $1200. I guess I have a hard time paying over $1000 for a Canon lens that they don't even think is optically an L lens.

So, for the price point ($560) the lens seems to be a great bang for the buck
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Old Feb 17, 2006, 9:26 AM   #7
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thanks, John... like i said, i'm just getting back into SLRs after many years, and the options and choices are pretty daunting. it's hard to know which way to go when there are so many people make so many claims. i know image quality, especially things like "softness" or color rendition, are often very subjective assessments, and a lens that's too soft for one person will be perfectly fine for another. i'm just trying to weed through the hype and hyperbole and find a good quality lens that will produce clear, clean images without breaking the bank.

i know there are two models of the 70-300, and i wasn't considering the cheap one. i'm willing to bite the bullet and pay a few bucks for good quality, but $1500-$2000 for one lens seems a bit excessive. are the "L" series lenses that much better? i'll be using the long zoom for primarily wildlife and outdoor work, no sports. i do need it to befast enough to let me freezeaction clearly, like birds in flight, but i can do that with an f4 lens, even f5.6, in decent light by using a higher ISO setting (my FZ20, though the lens is f2.8,is limited to ISO 100 if i want to control noise...). i'm not going to scrapa $500 lensif it's a teeny bit soft at the corners, but i do want good clarity, fast AF, and a non-rotating front barrel (don't want to have my polarizer rendered useless if the lens rotates...). it sounds like the DO lens is probably not the best value out there, and the current 75-300 IS USM lens might be a good all-round zoom.

my FZ20hasa 430mm equivalentlens, and i'd like to get close to that. the 70-300, with the 1.6x factor of the 20D, would give me 480mm, so that'd be pretty close to what i need for birds, etc. does using a teleconverter significantly degrade the performance of the Canonlenses? i have a 1.45x converter for my FZ20 that gives me the equivalent of 620mm, and seems to introduce virtually no error or image softness; can i use a 1.5 or 2x converter with the 70-300 with the same results?

it's beginning to sound like i'd be okay with the 70-300 IS USM for now, at least. if i ever start making money at this, maybe i can justify the 100-400L, but that'sa pretty steep price tag for a non-pro to swallow right outta the gate.


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Old Feb 17, 2006, 9:41 AM   #8
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squirl033 wrote:
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my FZ20hasa 430mm equivalentlens, and i'd like to get close to that. the 70-300, with the 1.6x factor of the 20D, would give me 480mm, so that'd be pretty close to what i need for birds, etc. does using a teleconverter significantly degrade the performance of the Canonlenses? i have a 1.45x converter for my FZ20 that gives me the equivalent of 620mm, and seems to introduce virtually no error or image softness; can i use a 1.5 or 2x converter with the 70-300 with the same results?

it's beginning to sound like i'd be okay with the 70-300 IS USM for now, at least. if i ever start making money at this, maybe i can justify the 100-400L, but that'sa pretty steep price tag for a non-pro to swallow right outta the gate.

OK, since it sounds like you want to use the lens for wildlife - primarily birds. First a general comment - adding a 1.4x TC to a lens will cause you to lose 1 stop - so an f4 lens becomes an f5.6 lens. A 2x TC causes the lens to lose 2 stops so that f4 lens is now an f8 lens. You also lose some picture quality. For lenses that have superb quality to begin with, using a 2x TC isn't a problem (quality wise). Now, the other thing you need to know is the 20d loses autofocus above 5.6 (yes it still works on lenses rated at 6.3) - but if you slap a 1.4x TC on the 70-300 or even 100-400L you lose autofocus and must focus manually.

Now, back to the 70-300. You have 2 questions you need answered: is the 70-300 a good birding lens and does it take a TC well. I'm going to guess it won't take a 2x TC well at all - many lenses don't. So, the question is how well it takes a 1.4x TC. That, I don't know.

What I would suggest for you is to ask these 2 questions in the wildlife section and, if you aren't already a member I would suggest looking at dpreview.com 's forums - there are a LOT of birders over in those forums (check the 20d, 350d and lens forums there) - between steve's and dpreview you'll find someone who has used this lens for birding - hopefully several people. Or at least you can find someone whose used it with a TC. The other thing you might want to add to your list of questions - is how is the focus speed? Not all USM lenses focus as fast as others - max aperture has a lot to do with it.
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Old Feb 17, 2006, 12:09 PM   #9
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thanks again, John... very useful information. i didn't know the 20D reverted to manual-only focus above f5.6!

one thing i've enjoyed about my FZ20 is that the lens is excellent. it's Leica designed, and even with the Olympus TCON-14B(1.45x) TC on, it doesn't lose any speed, and the autofocus still works. i'd hate to take a step back from that...

i'll check on the wildlife and birding forums to see how this camera/lens combo would work. i've seen so many absolutely gorgeous photos taken with the 10/20D's, i expect those who took them can probably help...


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Old Feb 21, 2006, 4:42 AM   #10
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Hi squirrl033,

Back to your original question re 17-85 vs 28-135 lenses... Well I own a Digital Rebel XT and matched it to a 28-135mm lens. I'm very happy with this combination. (As you were / are considering the 20D, you may be interested to note this URL showing the new / confirmed Canon replacement for the 20D, the new 30D! http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/mul...id=7-7891-8214)

About the 28-135mm (vs 17-85mm lens), I can't give you a direct comparison. But on various websites the sharpness of both is VERY similar. Some show the 28-135mm to be slightly sharper, and other sites show the 17-85mm to be slightly sharper; but in both cases differences are veryminor and this shows normal "copy to copy" variability.

It's true at times the 28 "wide" end of my lens isn't quite as wide as I want, but I have the 18-55mm kit lens to use for when I really need/want wider angle shots. I do a lot of photography in the 70 to 100mm range, and also quite often use it at 135mm. I know I would miss this extra range if I had the 17-85mm lens. So it's always going to be "one or the other". Depends your shooting style. For pure landscape maybe the 17-85mm fits the bill, but if for mixed and also doing more portrait or zooming a bit, then the 28-135mm's extra reach and flexibility at the tele end is handy.

The 17-85mm lens has a bit better IS (the IS on the 28-135mm is still very useful though), on the other hand the 17-85mm lens is a bit more expensive. I am very happy with my 28-135mm lens, it's on my camera 90- 95% of the time. I use also a lot for landscape shots too, at 28mm mine is nice and sharp!

Wishing you all the best with your choice!

Paul
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