This is your "standard" zoom lens for Canon cropped bodies, the 17-85mm translates to 27~136 on standard 35mm full frame. This gives you reasonably wide angle and not too bad telephoto. The aperture goes from 4 at 17mm to 5.6 at 85mm. The price is around 600AUD/450USD. Everything about this lens is "standard" or just very average. Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing as this is one of the best standard (read:walk around) lenses for cropped bodies.
The lens is light and quite compact which means you won't be too worried about carrying it around with you all day. It is focuses fast enough to catch most types of action if thats your thing. Nothing about this lens stands out about the crowd but nothing about it is particularly bad.
Now lets talk image quality. Well thats average too... Looking at the photo from 30D it looks great when your zoomed out or printed normal size but at the pixel level it isn't very sharp. If we look at image quality towards the edges well that kinda gets a bit worse but still reasonable if your not pixel peeping. Towards the edge we also run into CA issues especially when using a higher aperture number (ie. anything over 16). Other things to be mindful of is the distortion and vignetting at 17mm.
What about macro work? Well this lens is not to bad for that since it can focus quite close at around 30cm. Flowers and insects won't fill the full frame but you will be able to crop a bit and get a reasonable sized bug. So I guess thats another average point in its favor.
Lets rap up here... This is a lens that I would recommend to anyone just starting out in the digital world and need to have a reasonable lens to try different things. It is and average lens that delivers average results at an average price. In this case being average might not be a bad thing. Oh and the images that you take will be anything you can make of it and some of them will be anything but average.
- Lightweight and reasonable size
- Good range (27~136mm)
- IS works well
- Good starter lens and walk around lens