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17-35 or 17-55?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by BourbonCowboy, May 23, 2007.

  1. Yeah, I know. This topic's been covered ad nauseum. But before you you folks break out the torches to run the monster out of the village, please hear me out.

    I've got the Beast and the Beauty (70-200), but I need a bit of help choosing a wider-angle lens. I've thought about completing the "Trinity" by purchasing the 17-35 - but on the other hand, I've thought about going with the 17-55.

    I'd love to sit here and tell you that my shooting consists mainly of _______. But the fact of the matter is that I shoot everything I need/want to shoot. I have no true set pattern of shooting. I just want something a bit wider. I thought about the 12-24 (which I'm sure I'll eventually pick up - thanks Dave Dickerson:biggrin:) , but I really want to have the ability to shoot in low-light situations.

    So, here's my dilemma: should I pick up the -35 or the -55? I realize that there are certain "camps" on the Cafe that prefer one to the other - usually because they own one or the other. Very few people will admit that they would rather own a different lens - unless they own slower glass and wish they had faster. It's human nature to favor what you have (and if you don't believe that, go watch a Little League game coached by parents). With that being said, I would like your opinions on what would make more sense for me.

    So...does anyone have experience with both lenses? And if so, how do/did they compare in the 17-28mm focal lengths?

    Any help would be VERY much appreciated.
  2. Mark
    I have owned them both and used both extensively. For my style shooting I still have the 17-35. Both yeild outstanding images and image quality. I am not sure you can go wrong here no matter what we say.

  3. Hi Mark,

    I agree with Dave. I have owned both lenses along with the 12-24, 28-70 and 70-200VR. I sold my 17-55 a few years ago in favor of the Beast. I recently purchased the 17-35 and couldn't be happier for my style of shooting. Like you, I enjoy several types of photography though I typically focus on floral, macro and landscapes. Perhaps that's why I prefer the 17-35. Anyway, like Mark said, you can't go wrong no matter which lens you choose. :rolleyes: 
  4. Gr8Tr1x

    Gr8Tr1x Guest

    How about a 12-24mm DX?
  5. At some point in the future, I will own the 28-70.

    At some point in the future, I will own the 17-35.

    I *do* own the 17-55 and have for about 3 years. The fact that I own the 17-55 is the single reason I don't have to own the 17-35 or the 28-70 or have I found it necessary to beg/borrow/steal one for any reason.

    That said, I shot a 4 day event starting last Wednesday and could have used all three. The first evening was a casual get to know each other at a patio bar. My 17-55 spent most of the evening locked at 55. My 85 was just a tad too long. The 28-70 would have been perfect. The next event was a breakfast meeting and all my shots were from 17 to about 30 or so. The 17-35 would have been perfect. For all the other events (6 more) my 17-55 was all over the scale with a good balance short to long. I would have worn my mount out if the 17-35 and 28-70 had been in my bag.

    At the end of the 4 days, my 17-55 did the job (along with my 85 and 70-200 for the long stuff) even if a few at 55 were a little short. The 17-35 or 28-70 could not have done the job. It would have taken both.

  6. Perhaps I need the 17-55. I know there will be overlap, but that might be a good thing. I could often carry the 17-55 and the 70-200 as a 2-lens kit and leave the Beast behind. Just a random thought. Whaddya think?
  7. On film it was the 28-70. On digital it's 17-55 (and I own the 17-35 + 28-70, FWIW)
  8. Dawgneck


    Apr 25, 2007
    So Cal
    I shoot everything...

    I own the 17-55 and the 70-200 VR and shoot everything with these great lenses.

    I was looking for a good two-lens setup and the 35-70mm gap was too big for me.

    The only negative I have with the 17-55 is I wish it could go to 85 and keep the same quality. That extra umph would be great.
  9. Taylor


    May 21, 2007
    Toronto, ON
    I've only heard good things about the 17-55, even though it's not a FF lens. That being said, it's much more versatile than the 17-35 for street/event shots because you have the added bonus of the long (about ~80mm on 35mm). The 17-55 is also a lot sharper wide open than the 17-35. Most of the time I just carry my 17-55 and a 10-20, I leave my 70-200 at home unless I KNOW that I will need closeups.

    However, since you already have the 28-70, you don't want too much overlap and if you get the 17-55, I will guarantee that that's the lens that gets used the most! You'll love the wide and it's versatile enough for mid-range.

    It's a tough choice, but you can't go wrong with either one!
  10. I think the 17-55 and 70-200 match up better than any two-lens combo for a high quality, do just about everything set. Any time I have to absodamnlutely get the shot -- or just when I'm shooting for myself for potential wall hangers -- these two are in my bag. They work VERY well together image quality wise and there is never any doubt about which should be mounted for a given shot. They just get it done.

    The 17-35 and 28-70 are better choices for very specific type shots but neither come close to the versatility of the 17-55. I often go out with only the 17-55 and never feel short handed.

  11. Beast, Beauty, completing the Trinity...
    OK, we bite and play with these names some times, but please don't make your decisions based on these things. Just buy what you feel that will better serve your photography.
    I hate big and heavy lenses (just my style) but I had to own an all-purpose fast zoom for the moments that I could not swapping primes. I thought that the 17-55 would be more convenient and I bought it. It has never really disappointed me, although I always feel that my Leica-M lenses would do much better (but then, I feel the same about my Nikon primes too).
    I did have thoughts about buying a 17-35 as some people believe it is the best for landscapes, but then I read so much "if's" and "but's" and "sample variation" stuff that I decided to rather forget about it.
    My opinion about Nikon lenses on a high resolution Nikon digital body:
    All pre-digital lenses show some minuses when they're used for digital capture. All new designed lenses have defenitely better IQ. Nikon should urgently replace some lenses with new designed ones!
    When you search for "character" in a lens, it mostly means that the IQ it delivers is not quite as high as you would wish for.
    Just MHO though...
  12. This is very true!
  13. tasnim_fahim


    Oct 2, 2006

    Nice problem you have. I own both lenses. rarely use either of them, but
    when I do I go for the 17-35. Stopped down this is hard to beat..not to mention flare resistant, and superb mid to far resolutions. My copy is
    acceptable at 2.8, but I never use it at that aperture.

    The 17-55 is good to me if I use it on a tripod. This loses for me the advantage of the 55mm.

    That's why I carry the 17-35 and the 50/1.4. This to me is an unbeatable
    wide to normal combination..not to mention low light stuff.

    Handle both..Test them if you can..on the body you use and then make
    your decision. All what we say is just opinions..be guided by them but
    make your own decision.

    Good luck.
  14. rubendparra

    rubendparra Guest

    I have the 17-35 , i have buy and sold the 17-55 about three times , why? i use this lens most of the time for landscape and stop down f8-f11 of all my three copies of the 17-55 the details at those aperture are not good at all , also is prone to flare .

    So basically
    The 17-35 :landscape photography, photojournalism

    The 17-55 : photojournalism.

    good luck with your decision!
  15. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    The 17-35 is my bread, it is my butter, it is the honey too. If you were to take my liberty, and take my freedom, please just don't take my 17-35.

    But I am a landscape guy first and formost. If I was going to take it inside to shoot, then it becomes the 17-55, or outside low light, the 17-55 may well be the better performer all the way around. For important stuff outside, sure I'd like to have a shot with both, just so I can compare and take the best whichever lense produces it. Sometimes, the little bit extra from 35 to 55mm is important too, the 17-35 is a fairly narrow zoom, but then that is probably one of the things that makes it so good too.
  16. Well...it looks like I'm no closer to a decision. I believe, as Dave said, that I can't go wrong with either. I guess I just need to give it a bit more thought and decide exactly what I'll be using it for. Thanks to eveyone who responded. It's good to hear from folks who actually have experience with these lenses.
  17. yoyo


    Nov 9, 2006
    The Netherlands
    I owned both 17-35 and 17-55. I sold the 17-55.

    The 17-35 is smaller (handles better) and has the least flaws. (Flare, CA, vignetting, overall sharpness and you can use it FF)
    The 17-55 only wins with its reach and @ 2.8

    As said earlier. For PJ use the 17-55, else the 17-35.
  18. Lol, Mark, based on your reaction in Huntsville I was pretty sure you would end up with a 12-24. I hear what you're saying about needing something faster, though.

    If you're keeping the 28-70, the 17-35 would seem like the logical choice in terms of focal length coverage. The conventional wisdom, of course, is that 17-55 is better wide open. I don't have personal experience with the 17-35, so I can't say myself. I can say that I've found the 17-55 to be an excellent general purpose lens that is acceptable (to me) for some landscape use. When I briefly tried out your 28-70, my impression was that shooting with it seemed a lot like shooting with the 17-55 except that occasionally I wanted to be wider.

    Whatever you do, don't get both the 12-24 and the 17-35 and drop out of school. :wink:
  19. mematsu


    May 2, 2007
    los angeles
    Hey Phil,
    If you don't mind me asking, what did you use to carry your gear while over there?

    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2007
  20. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Mark :

    Probably the best answer for the question would be to borrow each lens, and try shooting for a day. Ultimately, it's going to come down to your personal comfort level within the lens choice.

    Me, I shoot a lot with "The Four Musketeers", the 12-24mm f/4 DX, 28-70mm f/2.8 AFS, 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS/VR, and the 200-400mm f/4 AFS/VR. It's my usual travel kit, along with TCs, filters, and the Canon 500D, as it's about the most flexible kit for shooting I've worked with (note that I will change that kit for specific needs like low light shooting in a city - I'm flexible, too ! :rolleyes: ).

    When I want WA, I want true wide angle, and even 17mm or 18mm often isn't quite what I need, so the 12-24mm lens does the job beautifully. If we get a FF Nikon DSLR in the next couple of years, I'll substitute the 17-35mm for that lens. The virtues of the 28-70mm and the 70-200mm lenses are well known, and the 200-400mm gives me distance flexibility for wildlife.

    I arrived at this set after playing with a fair number of lenses, borrowing some, test shooting others in stores, and reading a lot of reviews/viewing a lot of photos. I'm not one of the "buy-it-test-it-sell-it" group of folks, as I tend to be a bit like the old-fashioned carpenters who would say, "Measure twice, cut once". :wink:

    With all that long-winded discussion in mind, my advice is to find a sympathetic shooter in your area with the lenses, and try shooting for a full day with each, and then carefully assessing which one that you enjoy shooting with more. The lens that you like to shoot with more than the other will be the better lens for you. :biggrin:

    John P.
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