An inexpensive lens for professional photographers

was surfing Kentucky-based photographer David Ziser's blog the other day, and surprised to see his choice for his all-time favorite lens to use on his Canon digital SLR: 17mm-85mm f4 IS.
I was surprised because this lens -- at under $500 -- is one of the cheaper lenses Canon makes.
Companies such as Canon make their big bucks by selling big, expensive add-ons lenses to consumers after they make their initial purchase. They offer low-cost "kit" lenses that often come with camera purchases, such as the 17-85mm, and best of breed "L" lenses for the serious photographer willing to spend the big bucks for sharper and more colorful images.
Most working photographers I know who use Canon's like the 24mm-70mm 2.8 L lens, which sells for three times the cost (around $1,500) but is soooo sharp! The 17-85mm is a fine lens. But Ziser is a working pro photographer -- surely he'd rather have a crisper lens that's more versatile in low light.
"My guess would be that one could not see the difference between the lenses when presented an 8x10 print," Ziser said, after I dashed him a quick e-mail. "The 24-70mm is sharp as a tack -- but only goes down to 24mm. It's the 17mm setting that's the magic number for me."
Most digital cameras crop about 1/3 of the image, making the 17mm setting comparable to the old 24mm on film cameras. I shoot with the Canon 5D, which is a full frame camera, and Ziser uses the Canon 40D, which is cropped. So his 17mm is my 24mm.
What's your favorite all-around lens? Let's discuss it in the comments.By Jefferson GrahamPhoto: A new Canon camera, just waiting for a fancy lens. (Canon)

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