Canon EOS 350D Kit Lens upgrade

Posted by batman on Jul 24th, 2009
Jul 24


I have had my Canon EOS 350D for some years now, and have finally decided to upgrade my standard “kit” lens – the 18-55 mm cheap, plastic one that many wouldn’t want if you gave it to them. It has given me many good photo’s, but I must admit to looking longingly at those exquisite photo’s in the glossy travel mags, and wish that mine could look a little more professional, and a little less entry-level.

So far it seems that my upgrade options are the following:

  • Canon EFS 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM (ZAR 6,200)
  • Canon EF 17-40mm f4.0 L USM (ZAR 9,300)
  • Canon EFS 17-55 mm f 2.8 IS USM (ZAR 11,800)

To put this into perspective – photography is a hobby. I try to take photo’s that are interesting, unusual and “correct” – if there is such a thing. But I get no remuneration for my hobby (I can’t call it my work if I don’t get paid for it) – and from this point of view spending almost ZAR 12,000 (which in South Africa can get you a small, second-hand car) is difficult to justify, if not downright unaffordable.

I first started considering the 17-85 mm (because it is the cheapest “proper” lens). I am not yet considering Sigma and Tamron options, because I would dearly like to have a Canon lens, especially if I am paying a significant amount on it.

I would be prepared to pay the ZAR 6,200 for the 17-85 mm, but would really like to hear from fellow photographers if it would be worth my while spending this money to replace an 18-55 mm with a 17-85 mm lens – in other words since I am not gaining anything in lens length, I would need to see the results in quality of picture alone – would I get that with the 17-85 mm?

Although a lot of people love this lens, almost as many don’t. Many would suggest spending the extra money to get the 17-40 mm, but I need to find justification in spending an additional ZAR 3,000. This is an “L” lens, so has extremely top quality glass, but then again doesn’t have Image Stabilization.

The 17-55 mm is admittedly the cream of (this) crop – fast, with IS, USM and incredibly clear pictures – few would dispute this. But it is perhaps too expensive for me.

Would someone like me – an amateur photographer – be happy with and enjoy the 17-85 mm? It would be my walkabout lens, i.e. the lens that I would leave on the camera, and use it for kids birthday parties, the occasional sunsets and as often as possible – wide-angle landscapes? I have also dabbled with portraits, and so would use this lens for that as well.

Any comments would really be appreciated.

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