My Canon 50D came in a kit with a 17-85mm IS USM lens. The lens is of mid-range quality with a metal mount and fast USM ring focussing. It has a useful actual zoom range of 27-135mm and is ideal as a general walk-about lens. However, its downside is that it is only F4.5-5.6 and while it takes great picture in daylight, it takes poor pictures inside.

I needed one or more lenses that would cover the 17mm-ish end to 250mm. Canon do make an L lens that covers 18-300mm but this was prohibitively expensive and also heavy. It also has a push-pull zoom that I was not too keen about. So, the options were:

  1. keep the existing lens and purchase a 70-200mm F4 L IS USM
  2. keep the existing lens and purchase a 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 DO IS USM
  3. something else

Initially, I considered the 24-105mm but the 24mm was only really 38-168mm, so not wide enough - I had to find something else. Finally, I decided to buy the 17-55mm F2.8 and the 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 DO IS USM - this seemed a reasonable compromise. The problem here was the mixed reviews about the DO lens. Some loved it, some hated it. In the end I couldn't believe that Canon would make a poor lens at this price and that the bad reviews were people simply comparing image quality with an L prime lens. Of course the DO would be worse because it's a zoom, non-L and starts at F4.5. However, the added advantage over other zoom lenses was that the DO is less obtrusive when zoomed to 300mm and shorter when zoomed to 70mm. I'd also rather have another 100mm at the top end rather than a 70-200mm F4 L lens.

The 17-55mm is a lovely lens. Some say that it has the quality of an L lens but isn't L just because it is only EF-S. Well, it suits me.

After a lot of deliberation and research, I bought both lenses from Camerabox. This company received withering criticism on the Internet but the price was very competitive: the 70-300mm was £780 instead of £1700 list, the 17-55mm was £730 instead of £1210 list. In the end I had no problems with Camerabox.