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Question for other 17-55 owners

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Larty, May 15, 2007.

  1. Larty


    Apr 12, 2007
    (Sharp is a relative term here)

    My 17-55 seems pretty sharp at 2.8.
    More sharp once stopped down 2/3 to 1 f stop.
    Even tad more sharp once 2 f stops down.

    (If handheld, can be a tad soft due to my technique.
    If on a stable platform, pics are great.)

    At 2.8 50mm, my 50mm 1.8 @ 2.8 wins out ever so tiny bit slightly.
    Took picture of a dollar bill and the 50 1.8 has slightly more defined
    edges around the black letters. (Yes, I know, this is pixel ******.)

    Does this sound about right to you 17-55 owners out there?
    Just want to make sure I have a decent copy and not a bad

    Thanks so much!

    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2007
  2. jaleel


    Apr 3, 2007
    Toronto, Canada
    i don't have a 50 1.8 to compare it to but i do agree that it get's a bit sharper once you start stopping it down
  3. The performance you describe would be typical and expected, especially considering the prime is stopped down at F2.8 and the zoom is wide open. Some folks seem to get confused by the statement, "the 17-55 is sharp at F2.8". That is certainly true but just like any other lens, it gets sharper when stopped down. A more correct statement, and possibly less misleading, would be, "the 17-55 is sharper at F2.8 than most any other lens in the range".

    In essence, the 17-55 has usable sharpness when shot wide open, reaches ultimate sharpness around F4 to F5.6 and holds it through F8 and starts showing diffraction effects at F11 or a little tighter. Sample variation will account for the small differences.

  4. Larty


    Apr 12, 2007

    Thanks for the reply. That helps clarify the misconception/hype
    on the internet that the 17-55 is as sharp as it can be at 2.8.

    The truth is it is very sharp, usably sharp, at 2.8, and gets
    slightly sharper when stopped down a bit.

  5. Larty


    Apr 12, 2007

    Thanks, that's exactly my feeling too. Before I bought the 17-55, I
    thought the lens is sharpest at 2.8 and all focal length... I thought
    "SWEET!" Then before I decided to buy it (I needed the 2.8 for a lot
    of low light shots I take) I started reading more in depth into many
    articles, reviews, feedback and came to the conclusion that the 17-55
    benefits from stopping down, hence setting a realistic expectation.

    Just wanted to understand that my copy is indeed on par with what
    is expected of the 17-55.

    I don't understand, still, what would a bad copy of the 17-55 look

  6. I guess it depends on your definition of "pretty sharp". At f/2.8, I'd say mine is sharp to very sharp and it gets sharper until about f/8 and then drops off fairly quickly. Best thing would be to post a couple of sample photos for us to look at.
  7. Two thoughts come to my mind. 1st- you are comparing a zoom lens wide open to a prime lens stopped down a tad... and not just any prime lens, but a 50! 2nd- Since aquiring my 17-55, I have had a noticable improvemnt in sharpness in my pictures wide opne compared to my 18-70, which was no slouch either! As already stated, that phrase sharp wide open, or sharp at 2.8 has to be taken in the right way... otherwise dissapopintment will come next.
  8. If you really want to compare sharpness, contrast, etc, shoot something other than a dollar bill (unless you shoot dollar bills for a living). If you do, buy a 60 micro. Pick somebody's face or something in good light and shoot that. I suspect you'll find the 17-55 is sharp wide open and very sharp by f/4.
  9. I can't tell the difference. The thing is stupid sharp at every focal length and aperture so long as I do my part. Sharp by my standards, at least.
  10. The VAST majority of what people think are "bad 17-55s" are nothing more than camera focusing errors. For whatever reason, the 17-55 is far more prone to show camera AF misalignment than most other lenses. That said, the lens fault I see most with the 17-55 is one side softness. As a matter of fact, my copy is a little softer on the right side than the left. I will send it back to Nikon one of the days for a correction but haven't as yet because I don't see it in normal shooting. I would if I shot a lot of landscapes, though.

  11. Zensu


    May 5, 2006
    Alabama USA
    Focusing error

    When I got my 17-55, after using an 18-70 kit lens, I too noticed softness in my first few images. Turned out the focusing mirror on my D100 was mis-aligned. After Nikon's adjustment, it produces amazing images on the D100 (and D2H I aquired later). I often shoot wide open (f 2.8) and to me it's very sharp. Mine seems to be very sharp in the center from f 2.8 to f 11 but the edges are a little softer than the center. Stopping down to f 4 brings the edges equal to the center sharpness and from f 4 to f 11 everything is very sharp to me, but I'm not a pro so my impression is strictly from an amateur.
  12. sclamb


    Jan 2, 2007
    Pretty well matches my 17-55mm performance. Yours, from the image posted, looks fine. Only you can tell if it is 'good enough' and you really need to take with a pinch of salt expressions like 'mine is sharp at f/2.8 to f/11' etc. Everyone has a different percpetion of what is sharp. Some people will say it is sharp at f/2.8 meaning it is sharp for a zoom, which may well be less sharp than a prime at f/2.8.

    If you are happy with it then that is all that matters, and if it meets your criteria for sharp at f/2.8 then that is great.
  13. sclamb


    Jan 2, 2007
    Of course. So your goes from 'very' sharp to 'extremely' sharp. Mine goes from 'acceptably' sharp (for a zoom lens) to 'very sharp' from f/4 onwards.

    My point is that our lenses are probably identical in image quality and sharpness, it is just that we choose different ways to express how we perceive the sharpness. The only person who can determine if a lens is sharp (within their definition of sharp and range of acceptance of sharpness) is the person who has it.

    I have yet to see any image taken at f/2.8 on a 17-55mm that I would class as very sharp. Sharp for a zoom, yes, very sharp, no.
  14. I'm not trying to start something, but there have been reports of sample variation. I've compared mine directly to my 85 f/1.4 (a very sharp prime) and they are quite close, so perhaps you do have a less than ideal sample.
  15. sclamb


    Jan 2, 2007
    Of course :smile:

    I too have the 85/1.4 and stopped down to f/2.8 it is easily sharper than my 17-55 wide open at 2.8.

    I am aware of the sample variation and I have had 3 17-55 copies. If yours is as sharp as your 85/1.4 them your copy is probably the exception.

    I would be interested to see a side by side comparison of the same scene shot with the same settings by both lenses to see the equality that you describe.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2007
  16. If I get a chance, I'll do one this weekend. I should also add that I agree with a poster above, that the 17-55 is weaker in the corners and as I understand it this is because of field curvature.
  17. Actually, I remember I have these from a very old test. I later discovered that the camera was not parallel with the wall, so the test is a bit flawed, but it does give some indication of what I'm talking about

    17-55 @28mm @f/2.8
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    85 f/1.4 @f/1.4 (not apples to apples, but it is wide open in both cases)
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Link to the full size files
  18. sclamb


    Jan 2, 2007
    Thanks, I would appreciate that. Interested to see the results.
  19. sclamb


    Jan 2, 2007
    That is about the same as the performance of my 17-55mm, but I don't regard the f/2.8 shot as sharp (the 85mm shot at f/1.4 is not good though). Stop the 17-55mm down to f/4 and take the shot again and that would be sharp. You described your 17-55mm f/2.8 performance as sharp to very sharp, which bears out my hypothesis that everyone has a different perspective on what 'sharp' means and looks like. I'm not saying that either of us is right or wrong, just different in our perceptions.
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