By Scott Umstattd
Canon Lens Reviews: The Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens stays on my camera 80% of the time. It provides a great focal range and consistently returns sharp and colorful pictures. While this lens is not a Canon L series lens, it brings in great pictures, is solidly built and is well-balanced on my Canon 60D.
The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens is a similar lens. The focal range is close, with the Canon 15-85mm winning in that category. But the Canon 17-55mm has a constant aperture of f/2.8. And that is a big win for the 17-55mm. I personally cannot speak for the Canon 17-5mm but I have friends that use it and they are as convinced about their Canon 17-55mm as I am about my Canon 15-85mm. And believe it or not, the difference between 15mm and 17mm is substantial (at least in my eyes).
The Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 is well built. While it may not be an L series lens, it is still solid. The lens does creep out to full zoom from time to time when I am walking about. But when I pull the zoom back in, it feels snug.
This is not a studio lens (though one can argue that any lens used in a studio is therefore a studio lens). But not being able to open the aperture up beyond f/3.5 does mean that it is not ideal for fine detail work.
The pictures above show why I love this lens. As a documentary photographer, I shoot everywhere. My conditions vary and I seldom have the ability to control or create light. The Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens gives me tons of flexibility. I can go from wide to tight without moving or losing image quality.
While not a great low light lens, the Image Stabilization works very well. I have been shooting a lot of sunsets lately and I feel comfortable holding still for almost a full second to capture those last minutes of sun light.
The Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 is not a portrait lens, though I’ve had some success with it. Being able to zoom in to 85mm really helps to blur the background on a portrait shot.
With regard to camera blur (bokeh) the 15-85mm does a pretty good job considering that it is a general purpose lens and not a lens that someone would buy who is looking for outstanding background blur.
Here's my Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L review with example photos.
The Canon EF 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens is a work horse. If I was stuck on an island with only one lens, this would be it (at least with regard to the lenses I own. See my entire gear list here.)
The 15-85mm zoom range is great and this lens borders on incredible because it does not suffer much image loss at any point within that zoom range. There is some slight vignetting and light loss on the corners at the wide end (I should, at least, say that.)
Canon Lens Reviews - Here are some pictures taken with my Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens.
Canon 30D and a Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. Focal Length - 85mm. ISO - 200. Aperture - f/5.6. Shutter Speed - 1/250.
Canon Lens Reviews | Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
Great general purpose lens. Image stabilization works well. Sharp pictures, but not as sharp as I would like. Feels good on a mid-size or full body. Though it may be a bit big for entry level DSLRs like the Canon Rebel T5i. Focus is quick and silent. Great value for the cost. If you want a zoom lens with better pictures and a better body be prepared to spend twice as much.
Like I said in the beginning, this lens is on my camera 80% of the time. I highly recommend the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens.