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Thread: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?

  1. #1
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    Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?



    Hi Group!


    This is my first post. I just want to say that Brian runs an incredibly useful and informative site. Thank you, Brian!


    To the point... For our wedding anniversary, my lovely wife just gave me a fantastic dslr starter kit, including the Canon T2i and the Canon 18-200mm lens.


    I did a lot of research on lenses and asked for the 18-200mm despite the known and obvious drawbacks. Like many, I wanted a versatile super-zoom so that I would only need one lens for day to day use. I chose the Canon over the Sigma 18-250mm and Tamron 18-270mm.


    Now the Canon 15-85mm IS USM has come to my attention and I am seriously confused about having the 18-200mm. The 15-85mm appears to be of superior build and lens quality, as well as producing higher quality pics.


    After comparing the angle of view changes between the 85-200mm range, I notice that there is a drop off in change after about 135mm. I guess that is the result of the smaller change of difference in the percentage of the focal length. I hope I am articulating myself well enough.


    I also have a concern about the 18-200mm, as I have read numerous reports about the lens lock failing. Though, many seem to be very happy with the lens and the images it produces.


    So it comes down to, If I were to have only one lens for now, do I sacrifice the longer end of the zoom range (85-200mm), in favor of a superior lens, with a more than capable zoom (at the 1.6 crop).


    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I have ten days to make a decision before B&H won't take back the 18-200mm and the 15-85mm rebate expires.


    Thanks in advance!

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    Re: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?



    Hi Lynx!


    From 18 to 85mm the 15-85mm lens has superior image quality. But you can't ignore the versatility of the 18-200. It can do almost everything and although on paper it's IQ isn't as good, in real world use it's plenty good and IMO you shouldn't always judge a lens by lab results. To have the IQ of the 15-85 AND the versatility of the 18-200, my suggestion would be to buy the 15-85 and the 70-200 f/4L which will give you great telephoto performance and L build for around $600. Or, if you really like superzooms the 28-300L will do the same thing that the 18-200 does with better IQ.


    hope this helps


    brendan

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    Re: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?



    Hi Lynx!


    Welcome to the forum and obviously... Congratulations to you and your wife!![Y]


    To be honest, everyone can tell you that the image-quality of the 15-85 is better than the 18-200. But as I see it, I'm missing a few vital details before anyone could give you a good personal advice.


    - What kind of photographer are you? occasional shooter or more serious plans?


    - What are the subjects you'd like to take photos of?


    - What do you expect from a lens? Sharpness? Zoom and versatility? Strong back- and foreground differentiation? (wide aperture) etc etc


    - Have you got problems with post-processing and editing your photos(cropping etc)? Or do you expect clear results straight from the camera? (speaking of composition, not image quality)





    Jan

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    Re: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?



    Hi Jan,


    Thanks for your reply and kind words!


    You have asked very pertinent questions for background that I should have included in the original post, but left out because I thought I was already saying too much!


    - What kind of photographer are you? occasional shooter or more
    serious plans?
    <p style="padding-left: 30px;"]For all intents I am a newbie. Back in high school I had a Pentax K1000 and then a Minolta XG-7 (am I dating myself?) and had an active interest in photography. I even had my own dark room. After college I switched to point and shoots, and didn't look back at SLR's until recently. Let's say I am an ambitious amateur who has basic knowledge of how SLR's work and wants to grow.


    - What are the subjects you'd like to take photos of?
    <p style="padding-left: 30px;"]At this point, mainly be a recreational photography (vacations, landscapes, my kid's ballgames, etc.)


    - What do you expect from a lens? Sharpness? Zoom and versatility?
    Strong back- and foreground differentiation? (wide aperture) etc etc
    <p style="padding-left: 30px;"]Sharpness is important, but I don't have a L level budget. I'd like to have a fairly strong zoom capability (hence the 18-200mm), but might be willing to sacrifice the longer range, knowing that I could do some decent cropping with 18mp images (is that right?).
    <p style="padding-left: 30px;"]At this point in my development, I don't really want to carry multiple lenses such as a 15-85mm and a 70-200mm. From what I understand though, the 18-200mm is not very good at producing sharp images at the full 200mm. Also, as I mentioned before, the angle of view change from 135-200mm, isn't that dramatic to my eyes.
    <p style="padding-left: 30px;"]I really like the idea of strong back and foreground differentiation, as I've been learning about bokeh and how when done properly, with a good lens, you can get beautiful results. I may at some point get a fast 50mm prime.


    - Have you got problems with post-processing and editing your
    photos(cropping etc)? Or do you expect clear results straight from the
    camera? (speaking of composition, not image quality)
    <p style="padding-left: 30px;"]I have a basic knowledge of post-processing. I don't trust myself at this point with adjusting color, sharpness, vignetting and such, but don't have a problem with cropping. Ultimately, I'd like to develop my composition skills so that minimal cropping is needed to get a nice result.


    I hope that provides a bit more context on my situation. I'm feeling a strong pull toward the 15-85mm for the better quality build, USM, and sharper images, but I'm concerned about loosing the extra focal length that the 18-200mm provides. Currently my budget is for only one lens (in addition to the kit lens).


    Thanks again for any suggestions or thoughts!


    Randy

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    Re: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?



    Hi Brendan,


    Thanks for the reply!


    I keep seeing the term IQ, but I'm not sure I understand what it means as applied to lenses. If I understand what you are saying, it's that the 18-200mm performs better in real use, than it does when looking at specs and technical lab results. So, would you say that it is a decent lens for my purposes? (see my reply to Jan's post). I'd love to have the full range you suggest with the two lens, but at this point, I think I should start with one for simplicity sake and current budget limits. I think I need to earn the right to move up to an L build.[]


    Thanks again,


    Randy

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    Re: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?



    Hey Randy,


    thatks for your detailed reply.


    I must say I have never used the 15-85 nor the 18-200 and so my knowledge of these lenses comes from reading reviews, so at that point I'm just as far as you are.


    I can put some general thoughts into the equation though []


    From reading your answers I can get a lot of information regarding lens choice. For me it doesn't seem like you'd really need a long focal length. I'd really doubt it that you would miss the 85-200mm range when choosing the 15-85. You've got the ability to crop and you're willing to use it. 18MP is more than plenty to crop quite a bit I can tell you.


    Of course there will be times when you wish you have the 200mm, but when you do have 200mm there will also be times you want even longer. It's a non-stop road. If you shoot a lot of wildlife for instance, the 200mm will be a benefit. But then the f5.6 won't help you out a lot since wildlife is often seen in the less brightened times of days. (Not to mention you'd have to stop your lens down to f8 to achieve best results...) Also for your kids ballgames, you'd probably like something faster with a fast auto-focus.


    In my eyes you could do great with a decent general lens (like the 15-85) A lens with a nice wideangle to a good portrait focal length.


    I don't know a lot of people who buy the 15-85, mainly because normally the Canon 17-55 f2.8 is just a little more expensive and has a constant maximum aperture of f2.8. That being said, normally I would advise you to look at the Canon 17-55, but after rebates I'm not sure what the differences are.


    My conclusion, from what I've read the Canon 15-85 delivers very good image quality, a very nice IS implementation and good use for you. The only downsides to that lens is the variable and slow aperture. Not really an issue for normal outdoor snapshots, but the f5.6 maximum aperture is very often too little for inside.


    Also f5.6 minimum makes it hard to create that desired foreground/background blur.


    But when you're willing to buy a fast prime, this won't be much of a problem I think. (for instance: 50mm 1.8/1.4 or 85mm 1.8)


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    I hope that provides a bit more context on my situation. I'm feeling a strong pull toward the 15-85mm for the better quality build, USM, and sharper images

    Good points for choosing the 15-85. You could also look at the more expensive Canon 17-55 f2.8 IS(L-quality images, constant aperture, IS) or the Tamron 17-50 f2.8(cheaper, great image quality, no IS and no USM) perhaps with another lens?


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    but I'm concerned about loosing the extra focal length that the 18-200mm provides

    The Canon 18-200 proves to be more versatile, but at the expense of some, in my eyes very important, qualities. With that 18MP, you can crop a lot. Also if you can try it out, just put the 18-200 on your camera and start shooting and limit yourself to 85mm. See what the real life difference is between 85 and 200mm and how it affects your photos.
    <div>


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    I keep seeing the term IQ, but I'm not sure I understand what it means as applied to lenses

    IQ stands for Image Quality. It's defined by things like sharpness, colors and contrast of the pictures.


    I hope I didn't miss anything.


    Good luck,


    Jan
    </div>

  7. #7
    Senior Member Jarhead5811's Avatar
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    Re: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?

    If I were in your shoes I'd get the Canon 18-200. I find that it's rare that I need 17mm out of my 17-50 and those few 17mm shots never end up being favorites but I'd really miss 200mm. I tend to frame portraits pretty tight and longer focal length help most anyone's apearance.
    I don't have any expirience with the Canon 18-200 but have used the Nikon 18-200 and given ample light it's a hoot.
    Of course the Nikon body that it was on was a D300, maybe ? 12mp prosumer body? Anyhow it made my XSI look kinda bad. It make's me want a 50D or 7D really bad.
    T3i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 L, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 430ex (x2), 580ex
    13.3" MacBook Pro (late '11 model) w/8GB Ram & 1TB HD, Aperture 3 & Photoshop Elements 9

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    Re: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?



    Hey Randy!


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    I keep seeing the term IQ, but I'm not sure I understand what it means as applied to lenses

    It means the quality of the images it can produce in terms of sharpness, color &amp; contrast, susceptibility to distortion, etc. At comparable focal lengths the 15-85 has better IQ on paper and in lab results, but in normal use the difference will be smaller and if you're planning to have one, versatile lens than the 18-200mm is the best unless you want to shell out $2500 for the 28-300mm L. I suggest you review your shots and see how many of them were taken between 85-200mm. If there are many, than stick with that lens. However, if the majority of your shots are taken from 18-85mm than the 15-85mm might be the better choice.


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    So, would you say that it is a decent lens for my purposes?

    Yes.


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    I'd love to have the full range you suggest with the two lens, but at this point, I think I should start with one for simplicity sake and current budget limits.

    Sounds good.


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    I think I need to earn the right to move up to an L build.[img]/emoticons/emotion-1.gif[/img]

    Since you're considering the 15-85mm, you could also buy the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM for $300 more. You gain a fast f/2.8 aperture (really helpful if you shoot indoors a lot). It isn't an L lens but it has the optics and IQ of an L. However, I have a feeling that 55mm is probably too short a focal length if the 17-55 was your only lens.


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Thanks again,

    happy to help [H]


    brendan

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jarhead5811's Avatar
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    Re: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?

    I'd also get a 50 1.8 ASAP even if it is your only other lens.
    T3i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 L, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 430ex (x2), 580ex
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    Re: Help, please!: Canon 15-85mm IS USM or Canon 18-200mm?



    Hi Randy,


    This is also my 1st post/reply on Brian's website. I've been reading the forums forthe pastcouple of years, but never felt I could contribute as a newbie myself. But here goes anyway.


    I like Brandon's suggestion of the 15-85 coupled with the 70-200 f/4. The 18-200 has a very useful focal range, but I suspect you may want more out of your photos. And those lenses, from what I hear, can really deliver.


    My main lens is the 17-55, but itoften seems a little short in situations. I sometimes contemplate switching to the 15-85, but I really love the larger f/2.8 aperture. It comes in handy in low-light situations.


    I don't really have anything on the long end, other than my 85 f/1.8 (my favorite outdoor lens). Oh, and a Sigma 150 macro. The 70-200 f/4 L is has long been on my wishlist. But if you want to carry around something lighter and a little less conspicuous, how about the ef-s 55-250? I hear it has surprisingly good quality for a budget lens. Probably better than the 18-200 in the overlapping range.


    If you cannot afford a 2 lens solution, I would still recommend the 15-85. You can always add lenses to your system when you really develop as a photographer and know what you want in your photos. Eventually you may want to buy the 18-200 again as a travel lens.[]


    John

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