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Canon 28-135 vs 15-85


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Initial post: Jun 8, 2012 9:28:52 AM PDT
Se Lee says:
I currently use a 28-135 for my walk around. Would getting a 15-85 be a upgrade in general image quality? Or is the difference not worth the upgrade?

Also, how would you compare the 17-85 lense to these two?

I mostly shoot portraits and some scenery.
FYI...I use a 60D.

Thanks in advance.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 12:26:02 PM PDT
Numerically...

28-135 is a 4.8X zoom ratio; 15-85 is a 5.7X ratio, and 17-85 is a 5X ratio.

Traditionally, the smaller the zoom ratio, the better the image quality over the range. However, if that 28-135 is a 20 year old design, and the 17-85 is new, the 17-85 may be higher quality -- this is because old lenses may have been hand optimized using just a few focal lengths for design, whereas the newer lens may have been computer optimized over a wider selection of focal lengths (in the bad ol' days, a 3X zoom was the limit of acceptability: 35-105, 100-300, 28-75 [2.7X ratio], 80-200 [2.5X]).

However, the first question to ask is: what focal lengths have you been using the most?

Full frame/35mm film portrait lenses are traditionally in the 80-120mm (+/-10mm) range. On a 1.6X APS-C, that range becomes 50-75mm (+/- 16mm).

The 17-85mm is basically an APS-C equivalent to the 28-135 (on full-frame).

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 6:22:10 PM PDT
28-135mm is an excellent range for a full-frame camera. On a crop camera like the 60D, however, it loses the wide end and, for that reason, I don't feel it makes a great general purpose/walk-around lens (unless you really never ever use wide angle).

The 17-85mm used to be offered as the kit lens with some semi-pro cameras. It has a good wide-to-telephoto range on a crop camera but its optics have a somewhat mediocre reputation.

The 15-85mm has an excellent range on a crop camera going from extra-wide angle to moderate telephoto. The optics are actually very good and beats the old 17-85. I would rate the 15-85mm as one of the better mid-range general purpose/travel/walk-around lenses available.

In sum, I would say that the 15-85mm is very much worth while as a versatile general purpose lens with great optics but it won't really be much of an upgrade in terms of image quality alone compared to your 28-135. Adding the wider end of the 15-85 to your toolkit, however, can give you more choices in terms of composition and add more variety to your images which is something worth considering.

Posted on Jun 9, 2012 2:47:10 PM PDT
Se Lee says:
Thank you both for your help.
Tech guy, feedback was exactly what I needed.
Maybe I'll skip the 15-85 unless I see it for really cheap.
And maybe I'll see if I can find a good deal on a prime.
Thanks again for your help.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 7:12:34 PM PDT
Happy to help! By the way, something like the Canon 10-22mm ultra-wide angle lens might be a nice complement for your kit.

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 10:34:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 10, 2012 10:35:00 AM PDT
Plan to purchase Canon EOS Rebel T4i w/out lens. Will purchase: 15/85 or 17/85 or 28/135.
Not sure which is best quality, sharpness, real speed. (Least optical imperfections). ANY ADVICE?)
This will be my general purpose walk around lens. rjj

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 10:48:25 AM PDT
Tom Martin says:
If you have any plan to do video I would suggest you purchase the T4i with the 18-135 STM kit lens.

Otherwise, the nod goes to the Canon 15-85.

I really like the 28-135 (There are 3 of them in my house).
But, I also have wider lenses available when I need them.
Since the 28-135 comes as the kit lens on the 7D, you can pick up a new one someone is selling from their 7D kit fairly cheap on ebay. If you are going to go with the 28-135, I would get the 18-55mm kit lens with the camera.

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 12:18:58 PM PDT
Thanks for the prompt reply. I was kind of leaning towards the 15/85 and thats the way I will go. Also will ck out ebay on the
28/135 if the price is right. Thanks again. How do you compare the Tamaron Lens (quality)?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 1:16:41 PM PDT
Tom Martin says:
Tamron's old focus system was awful. It was slow, noisy, and hunted in low light.
Tamron has a new USD focus motor that has to be better, but, I don't have any experience with it.
I wouldn't buy a (another) Tamron lens with the old focus system. I really don't know how good the USD system is, it may be great. Tamron has a reputation for good IQ, so if their USD focus system is a winner, then their lenses could be too.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 10:57:54 AM PDT
Thanks for the (Tamron) response. I sort-of had the feeling as to what you said. Also, for color consistency, I kind of want to stick with Canon lenses. Any thoughts on the new Canon 40mm lens?
Thanks again.

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 6:20:27 AM PDT
Michael C says:
I've not used the 15-85 or 17-85 but they can't be worse than the EF 28-135mm that came with my 50D. I used it twice and put it back in the box. It is probably just a bad copy and had a soft spot at left center through the entire zoom range and CA all over the place. I should have sent it to Canon service when it was still under warranty.
I know Tom doesn't like the Tamron focus system but based on my copy of the Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras I strongly recommend it. This review does as well: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Tamron-17-50mm-f-2.8-XR-Di-II-Lens-Review.aspx
Tack sharp throughout the zoom range with just a little softness in the corners at f2.8 at 17mm. There do seem to be some less than acceptable copies floating around out there so be sure to buy from a seller with a friendly return policy. I think because of the unique sound it makes during focusing, it seems like it is slower than it really is. The other issue to consider is that if any lens has centering issues that prevents sharp focusing, it will also have difficulty with autofocus and hunt longer. So the slow focus goes hand in hand with the lack of sharpness on the bad copies.
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Discussion in:  Digital SLR forum
Participants:  6
Total posts:  11
Initial post:  Jun 8, 2012
Latest post:  Sep 27, 2012

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