Customer Review

66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good general purpose lens spoilt by design flaws, 6 Sep 2011
This review is from: Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM Lens (Accessory)
In principal this is a great lens by Canon and it was supplied with the Canon EOS 40D I bought a little over 18 months ago. For general purpose photography the zoom range is perfect and I've taken some really good photos with it. By rights this lens should be getting five stars but in the last six months I've had two serious problems that, it turns out, are endemic and therefore must be viewed as fairly serious design flaws.

The first problem was a screw that worked loose inside the lens, jamming the zoom. I found numerous reports of this problem on the web as well as stripdown-rebuild guide to fixing it. Canon aren't using thread lock (or enough thread lock) and so internal screws can occasionally work loose.

The second problem is not constrained to this lens. Internally there are flexible, flat cables connecting various bits of electronics together (some are attached to moving parts). These cables can crack over time (presumably because of all the flexing caused by zooming in and out), causing the lens to fail over all or part of its zoom range, the classic symptoms being the lens having trouble focusing, and your camera reporting "Err 01" when you try to take a picture. The only solution here is to return the lens for servicing and pay for the repair. Ker-ching.

With a list price of over £500 these faults should (a) not occur in the first place and (b) be fixed for free when they do. Nobody spends this kind of money on a camera, let alone a lens, without an expectation of quality and reliability. It feels harsh giving only two stars, but needing two repairs to a lens that is less than two years old is inexcusable in a lens of this price.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 33 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Nov 2011 08:59:36 GMT
Yes there is alot of info on the internet regarding the lens 'Jam' = stuck with regard to the loose screw.

I have had my lens (second hand) for months and I have experieinced no problems.

Posted on 31 Dec 2011 12:59:58 GMT
Zorkman says:
My lens has suffered the same problem with the cracked flexible cable after just 2-3 years of moderate use. Bad design and poor quality - Not what you would expect from Canon.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2012 21:02:44 GMT
Cathy Cooper says:
My lens has just suffered from this Error 01 too. It is very frustrating as I have been very happy with it for the two years I have owned it. Do you know how much it costs to get it fixed? I am currently looking for a replacement lens but not the same model if this problem is going to happen again.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2012 07:21:32 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Mar 2012 07:24:37 GMT
Mr. P. HAIGH says:
I've unfortunately read too many reports on the web about the UK approved repairers and their costs. To be fair, you can't quote an exact cost for a repair over the web, or for that matter without disassembling the lens. If I can't walk in to the store and discuss the repair up front while looking the repairer in the eye, I'm not going to give them my lens. It could cost £100 or more.

So your post has prompted me to order a replacement part for the assembly that includes the cable that normally breaks. It cost me £20 including postage from the USA (part number YG2-2169-000, but that may not be the part you need). I've had to take the lens apart once already, so I'm prepared to risk £20 on a self-repair. If it doesn't work I will sell the lens for spares and get myself a replacement.

In this instance I may look at an EF rather than EFS lens. Being full frame they are (a) more expensive and (b) aimed at professional users so I'm less likely to suffer a repeat. Much as I appreciate the flexibility of the 17-85, I'd rather end up with a reduced zoom range than a lens with a built-in design flaw.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2012 07:23:40 GMT
Mr. P. HAIGH says:
The stuck lens problem is more an annoyance (to somebody comfortable taking apart this kind of thing) which is fixed with a few drops of thread lock and an hour or two of spare time. I'd hope Canon has improved their manufacturing process in this area by now.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2012 08:35:55 GMT
Cathy Cooper says:
Thanks for your reply. When my lens got this fault a couple of weeks ago, the error message sasid to clean the contacts. I promptly bought the alcohol and swabs and watched a You tube video on how to do it. I then found all the forums stating it was the flat cable causing the problem. If it is possible to repair myself then I am willing to try rather than spend over £100. Could you tell me what the part is called - thanks for serial number. I took my camera out on Saturday and noticed that the problem didn't exist if I shot at full end of zoom so I assume it is the cable at fault.

Also I would like to upgrade my lens but only have a 7D which is not full frame. Would I be wasting an EFS lens on my camera? Your advice would be really appreciated. Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2012 08:37:47 GMT
Cathy Cooper says:
Sorry I meant an EF Lens in my last post - duh!

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2012 19:01:55 GMT
Mr. P. HAIGH says:
The part I have ordered for myself is "Canon replacement power diaphram assembly for the EF-S 17-85 4-5.6 IS USM" which is, according to the blog posts I have read, the part I need. If you google the part numbed you will find both sites that sell the part and instructions on how to strip the lens and install the new part (you will need some good quality jeweller's screwdrivers and some thread lock to do the repair). Of course I can't be certain that this is the part you need ;-)

The EFS lenses are for non-full-frame cameras (the S is for 'short'), the EF are for full frame but will work fine on any compatible camera, full frame or not. I can't give you advice on specific lenses, it is so dependent on what you use them for. For the record I have an EF 100-400 zoom which I use with my 40D for airshow and motorsport photography.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2012 19:20:55 GMT
Cathy Cooper says:
Thanks. I spent yesterday looking at tutorials on how to replace the diaphragm assembly and decided that it was too fiddly for me to attempt especially if I make a mistake and ruin the lens even more. I contacted Canon to see their reaction and got what I expected - no help at all. It looks like I will have to get the lens repaired by an authorised dealer. I was quoted £123.12. Trouble is I need it or another similar. I have been recommended the 28-105 mm which would suit my needs. It's just finding the cash now! Thanks for all your help.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2012 20:53:28 BDT
Sanitary man says:
Mine has failed after light use. A non Canon technician has quoted £90, but says it may fail again as once the barrel guides are worn (he says they are plastic) it will fail again. He has repaired one for a professional & it failed again after 3 months. This is definitely not what one expects from canon, along with their attitude of saying it is not a well known problem.
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