Canon 15 85 Review


Canon 15 85 Review

canon 15-85

Canon 15 85 Review

Last update:02/09/2014

Official name:

Canon EF-S 15 85 f3.5-5.6 is USM

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Specifications – Canon 15 85 Review
Focal length: 15 – 85 mm
Aperture: f3.5-5.6
Aperture blades: 7
Minimal focus distance:35 cm
Weight: 575g
Dimensions: 82×88/128 mm
Filter size: 72mm
Full time manual focus override:yes
Full frame compatible: No
Ring-type ultrasonic focusing motor: yes

Introduction – Canon 15 85 Review:

If you prefer a one-lens solution for your Canon Aps-C camera, and has a budget for this lens, look no further, this is it. If I would choose one lens for a Canon Aps-C sensor sized camera this would be the one lens I would prefer. But not everybody like me, for them I suggest three other options:
1. Sigma 18-35 f1.8. Significantly less range, but much brighter lens, and surprisingly sharp even wide open. Perhaps the sharpest lens you can get.
2. Canon 17 55 f2.8 – if we prefer brightness over focal length range, this is a very good lens.
3. Tamron 17 50 f/2.8 This lens is also excellent optically, but lot cheaper, has a loud micromotor, not so high build quality, but also brighter with less focal range, than the 15-85.
Perhaps there are many other options as well, but these are the most appropriate ones I think.
On my Canon 30D the 15-85 lens is a lot better than the Canon 24-105, which has also a broad range : it is sharper, more contrasty, and has a lot more useful range as well. Compare to the kit lenses (18-55,18-55is,17-85is,18-135) this lens has a better contrast and sharpness, nicer colours and an USM drive. Drawbacks of this lens that it is not compatible with Full Frame cameras, and not as bright as the Tamron or Canon f2.8 lenses. None of this f2.8 bright lenses can offer a 15mm really wide end or 85 portrait focal length though. On top seem this lens is very good at Macro range as well, which is not usual at this lens category, the Tamron 17 50 is not very good at Macro range and as I know the Canon 17 55 is is also not good for close distances. If you prefer brightness above focal range and perhaps the Canon 17 55 is, or the Tamron 17 50 is better.

Compatibility – Canon 15 85 Review

This is a dedicated Aps-C lens, cannot be used on Full frame cameras, like Canon 5d or 6d. Canon unlike Nikon doesn’t even support the idea to mount the lens on the Full frame camera. For this reason the lens back part doesn’t fit to Full frame cameras, don’t even mount on it, the lens back part can cause damage to the mirror. The only possibility to mount it to cut the plastic back part of the lens(Don’t recommend:)).

Build quality, ergonomics – Canon 15 85 Review:

Build quality is nice, the lens is solidly built with all kinds of scales noted on the barell, the Usm focus works quickly, silently and accurately. The lens has two rings, both of them operates quite smoothly, the narrower ring closer to the mount is the manual focus ring, the more wide ring little farer to the Mount is the zoom ring, I also prefer the rings in this order. The built quality of the lens is not match to the professional level lenses. Compare to the price of the lens, perhaps the build quality can be better, like current Sigma lenses for example. The lens has a duo-cam design, the lens significantly extends during focusing at the long end of the zoom range.

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Optical quality – Canon 15 85 Review:

This is a very good lens. Except some light falloff at 15mm f3.5, and some distortion at wide end, this lens makes nice sharp, contrasty images at every focal length. The weakest point is the long end, but even there is quite usable.

Canon 15 85 Review Sample pictures

without sharpening or any other post processing except resize and perhaps curve adjustment click on the picture to see in 1200 pix – Canon 15 85 review

Canon 15 85 review

Canon 15 85 review Canon 30D 15mm f5.6 iso500 1/6400s

Canon 15 85 is review

Canon 15 85 is 15mm f5.6 ISO 500 1/800s

Canon EF 15 85 is USM

Canon EF 15 85 is USM – 85mm f5.6 1/1000s ISO 500

Canon ef-s 15 85 is usm

100 %Crop of the above picture

Compare to Tamron 17 50 (non Vc) – Canon 15 85 Review

Compare to the Tamron 17 50 non Vc version, the Tamron perhaps a hair better optically, but the Canon is a lot better value overall: silent quick and precize Usm autofocus, which makes a real difference in usage, 15m wide end, 85 mm long end and better build quality. At price/performance ratio the Tamron is better.

Compare to Canon 17 55 f2.8 is

Compare to the Canon 17 55 f2.8 is: the Canon is a very good lens with constant f/2.8 aperture, which makes it more capable in low light, but neither has a 15mm wide end or the 85mm long end. Optically the 17-55 seems better and more bright, but heavier as well, the Canon 15-85 is more versatile at both ends of the focal length range.

Compare to Sigma 18-35 f1.8

The Sigma has significantly less range but much better built, much brighter and better optically. The Sigma is simply fantastic: sharp wide open at f/1.8, not like Canon 50mm f/1.8 lenses which are sharp at f/4, the Sigma is sharp at f/1.8. The Sigma is more serious lens, much heavier, bigger, but the less range makes it not so fun lens than the 15 85. If inside usage has high priority, the Sigma is much better, with the brighter aperture. If versatility is more important the Canon 15-85 is much better.

Compare to Canon 24 105 f4 is

The range of the Canon 15 85 is much more useful on Aps-C. The 24-105 is a full frame compatible lens, with better build quality, but the build quality is still far from the recent Sigmas. The 24mm is not very wide on Aps-C.

Positive qualities:

Best one lens solution for Canon Aps-C camera outdoors, with wide range, very good useful focal range, USM autofocus, good macro abilities, nice colours, sharp and contrasty


Not so bright aperture(not so good indoors and low light), not compatible with Full Frame cameras, distortion and heavy light falloff at wide end, price little high.

Other reviews/news/articles:

Canon 15 85 vs Canon 24 105
Sigma 18-35 f1.8 review
Tamron 17 50 f/2.8 review

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