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Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

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87% of reviewers $1,021.05
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To meet user demands for a fast EF-S zoom lens, Canon has specially designed a new lens with a large aperture of f/2.8 for select Canon Digital SLR cameras.* The large circular aperture produces a shallow depth-of-field, creating background blur that draws attention to the photographic subject. The lens construction includes UD and aspherical elements, which deliver impressive image quality throughout the entire zoom range. Image Stabilizer lens groups shift to compensate for camera movement so that the image appears steady on the image plane, ensuring clear, crisp images, even in dim light. With a Ring-type USM, inner focusing and new AF algorithms, this lens achieves autofocus quickly and quietly, and with full-time mechanical manual focusing, manually adjusting the focus is possible even in AF mode.

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 17-55mm 1:2.8
Lens Construction: 19 elements in 12 groups
Diagonal Angle of View: 78°30' - 27°50'
Focus Adjustment: AF with full-time manual
Closest Focusing Distance: 1.15 ft. / 0.35m
Zoom System: 5-group helical zoom (front group moves: 27mm)
Filter Size: 77mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: 3.3 in. x 4.4 in., 22.8 oz. / 83.5mm x 110.6mm, 645g (lens only)


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Registered: Sep 4, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Sep 4, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, fast, good zoom range on a 30D
Picks up more dust than a Dyson. Looks cheap

I had to get mine replaced within 2 weeks due to internal dust and other artifacts up to 1mm square, despite the lens being kept in a dry/clean metal cabinate drawer when not in use.

In the first few days of ownership, images taken in the same location within 60 seconds of each other displayed a small hair out of focus, then, more in focus, and lastly not at all. Shots a few days later also randomly displayed the same fault in the same place in images with this lens. I think these internal artifacts must already have been in the lens when purchased. Within 2 weeks, the level of dust was intollerable. The supplier was great and shipped out a replacement which arrived within 12 hours! and collected the original (Thank you Shopping4cameras).

On the plus side, pictures taken with the lens are crisp and clean (when new and no dust!). I also like the wide f2.8 apperture throughout the range

Canon should reduce the plastic and provide better build and seals - then the lens is a stunner at this price.

Sep 4, 2006
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Registered: Oct 10, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 589
Review Date: Sep 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very sharp lens, f/2.8
Big dust vacuum

This is a lens is a bit of a dichotomy. On one hand it is probably the sharpest non-L lens you will find in the Canon line. If you have a 20D, 30D or Rebel you cannot find better than this lens. This lens easily ranks right in line with the 24-105 f/4L IS and even has less vignetting. This lens is truly a joy to use. It's a totally luggable lens as far as weight, and you get low-light capabilities. This is really a 27-88mm lens on all cameras it will actually fit onto and that's a pretty good and useful range. It has color and contrast nearly equal to that of L lenses, so close in some cases you'd never be able to tell the difference.

I returned this lens though. As much as I loved it, I refused to continue owning a lens that sucked up so much dust. I used this lens on less than ten occasions and never in very dusty circumstances. Yet it managed to get a noticeable amount of dust inside the lens where I could not get to it to clean. Keeping this lens would have meant monthly trips to Canon for cleaning - obviously unacceptable no matter what else one likes about a lens.

Therefore my summary is that Canon (I love Canon, so for me to give a negative review, it means there's definitely something to worry about) needs to re-engineer this lens. My feedback to Canon is as follows:

Re-engineer this and fix this leakage problem. It lets in dust worse than any of the cheapy Canon lenses I owned in the past *ever* did. Unacceptable.

I still want a 24-70, or 24-90ish lens at f/2.8 and IS. Right now the best I can hope for is the 24-70 or 28-70 L lenses, but no IS! Sometimes a tripod just cannot be used and at 50-70mm, IS definitely makes a difference.

Ah well, every other lens I have is peachy. Even the 100-400 L lens that some people refer to as a vacuum doesn't even come close to sucking up as much dust as the 17-55mm lens does. Maybe my copy was bad, but I'm not so sure because I've heard others complain about this problem too. I've used the 100-400 on dusty baseball fields and I still don't have a single speck of dust in that particular lens.

Sep 1, 2006
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Registered: Aug 19, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 414
Review Date: Aug 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent optically. Great focal range. Relatively lightweight.
Price is too high for non "L" glass. Hood sold separately.

I'll start with the negatives first - this lens is expensive, the hood is sold separately (and is expensive too), and its build quality is not L. And for that price you get a lens that is not even FF compatible (in case you can afford/justify the switch to FF in the next 10 years or so Smile.
Now the good part - this is Canon’s best standard zoom for crop cameras. It’s consistently sharp across its entire focal range and at all apertures. This is a lens which I’m confident using wide open. Due to its high resolution it produces very clear and sharp photos. Its focal range very useful and it’s also relatively lightweight. For what it is, this lens is close to perfect.

Aug 28, 2006
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Registered: May 13, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 35
Review Date: Aug 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,149.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: f2.8, IS, 77mm
Telescoping Zoom, Limited Focal Lenght (55mm)

I have owned every wide-angle zoom that Canon has to offer, and this is the closest I've come to being happy. My only major complaint is that I don't like telescoping zooms. To me they always are prone to dirt and moisture, but we'll see; I'd like to see Canon put this baby in the same type of housing as the 16-35mm.

The price?
Anyone who complains about the price should compare its features with all the other canon lenses. How can any one expect to pay less than $1000 for a wide-angle, f2.8, IS lens? Heck, I would like to have only paid $20, but let's get real people.

Aug 27, 2006
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Registered: Apr 14, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Aug 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,059.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing lens, fast USM, perfect indoor or crowed space range
expensive hood

this is my first 1k lens. All I can say is WOW. I was blown away. I know if a picture comes out bad the issue is me not the lens or my 350xt. Painfully sharp, I cut my retina viewing the pictures. Post processing not needed unless your doing 100% prints. If you have the need for a 17-55mm lens save you money skip other zooms this is THE LENS for the 350xt/30D.

100% crop no post processing
resize no post processing

Aug 20, 2006
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Registered: Jul 14, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 2082
Review Date: Aug 19, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: IS, f/2.8, nice and sharp on the long end.
Not the greatest below 35mm unless stopped down.

I bought this lens as my ultra-wide solution on a 30D. Also it would have possibly replaced (the irreplaceable) 35L I own. NOT! It's a good lens, just not great like the raving going on about it in some of these reviews. From 35mm - 55mm it kicks butt. Very sharp wide open, nice color/contrast yada-yada. But from 30 down to 17 it sucks wide open.

Obviously softer at those focal lengths. Stopped down it gets better but what the heck, I paid for f/2.8 throughout the range and it would've been nice if it was useable. For really wide people shots the sharpness isn't such a great factor, I suppose the same goes for landscapes when you'll be stopping down too.

I found the IS to be nowhere near as effective as the IS on 70-200 2.8 and at such a longer focal length I imagine it's really gotta do more stabilizing than a puny 17mm length right?

Overpriced and no hood make this lens even worse of a purchase. A better option would be 10-22mm and 24-70mm. Me, I got the 10-22 and kept my 35L for lowlight wide open- as it should be for that price.

Aug 19, 2006
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Registered: Jun 30, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 35
Review Date: Aug 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,129.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Useful F2.8, High quality images at all apertures, Image Stabilizer, Super quick focusing, Decently Built
Large (Heavier and Longer than my Sigma 70-300mm when not extended), 77mm Filters, Price

Very useful in all situations! Worth every penny, if you've got them to spare. The image quality is stellar, and the handling is much better than any other lens i've used. The "keeper" rate with this lens is easily double what it was with the 18-55 kit lens.

The image stabilizer is incredible. With sure footing, i'm able to hand-hold a shot at 55mm for 1/8 second! Combined with the F/2.8, I never need to use ISO 1600! Good bye noise.

Aug 18, 2006
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Registered: Sep 1, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 187
Review Date: Aug 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,180.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent optical quality, Outstanding resolution on center and borders, Quite helpful IS
Minor vignetting @f/2.8, Questionable price for non "L" glass

The best walkabout lens for 1.6x FOVCF.

Aug 10, 2006
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Registered: May 25, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 31, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,149.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast AF, large f/2.8 aperture, IS
Hood is way big, price is debateable

This is first lens upgrade ever. I jumped from at 18-55 kit lens to this. I have a Rebel XT and was looking to get a new lens as I have definitely grown beyond the kit lens.

Was it worth it? Well, after taking this lens out for an entire day yesterday, I can say it is worth every penny. The image quality on my copy is very high. Without any post processing, it is SHARP wide open and even sharper when stopped down slightly. Who said quality only comes on L glass? Well technically, the glass inside is L glass, but the build on the outside does not live up to L lenses that I have seen. The focus ring and zoom ring are nice and smooth.

The IS is a very nice feature. I did some tests and it really does save you in low light situations. combined with f/2.8, i can take some 0.5 second pictures without any noticeable blur. for pixel peepers, you will be amazed. I think this features pays for itself in the end. it's the difference between a ruined shot and a saved one. I just leave it on all the time and have not noticed an increase in battery usage. I took over 400 shots yesterday (with the extra battery and grip) and still had enough juice to download the images to my camera.

The bokeh aka background blur wide open is so smooth. very high quality saturation and colors as well. during post processing, i had to adjust very little (if any) in curves, sharpness and levels. For the non-believers, this really is a high image quality lens. Although I only have a Rebel XT, i'm sure 20D and 30D users will experience similar results.

The price is totally debateable. If you are looking for something in that focal range, definitely check it out. I thought IS would only be good for long range, but it definitely helps out here too. it's a pricey lens, but if you know how to use it, you will come up with some spectacular results.

Jul 31, 2006
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Registered: Aug 25, 2005
Location: Philippines
Posts: 7
Review Date: Jul 31, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,080.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great range, sharp sharp sharp, L-like saturation
EF-S (not a con for me, but for most everyone else), price (c'mon, where's that lens hood???), not an L (not in name at least)

Great lens! I used to have the EF-S 17-85 IS, and while this was a great walkaround lens I always ended up switching to a nifty fifty (50/1.8) whenever the sun went down. f4-5.6 is tough, even with IS. I also had to stop down a bit to get that sharpness I wanted.

However, this new lens blew away my expectations with it's wide open performance. Pictures are sharp straight from the camera, and when I view them I remember the first time I shot using a 24-70L -- the shots are comparable wide open! Smile I miss some of the range of my old lens, but all in all this is quite a keeper!

For the price, however, I was hoping for a lens hood...I ended up paying an additional $80+ for that little piece of plastic. A hood similar to the 24-70 would have been nice (extending barrel with non-extending hood).

Jul 31, 2006
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Registered: Jul 10, 2005
Location: Israel
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated


Hey all!
I saw in these reviews that there is serious problems getting the designated hood - you might want to check the EW-83DII, which is originally made for the 24 L and by chance fits the 17-40 like it was born for it (superb hood on a x1.6 crop body). I am not sure the thread is the same, but you might want to check if it is possible...

Jul 27, 2006
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Registered: Aug 15, 2005
Location: Sweden
Posts: 11
Review Date: Jul 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 2.8, IS, USM, Sharp!
Some Flare problems, Not perhaps as hard built as a L series are..

I have had this lence for about a month now. I bought it because I wanted something else to use than my crappy KIT lence (18-55).. For a long time I were thinking about the 17-40L and it were so cloose to buying it if I havent read the pressrelease on Canon..

And now I am werry glad that I waited for it, the 2.8 combined with IS is realy helpfull when the sun starts go fade away.. (at least here in sweden :P)

I read that many people are having problems with the flare effect, and I must say I don´t have had mutch problems with it at all, have been out in bright daylight whit the sun up and have not got any problems, and I´m not using the Hood but will get that soon. So the flare issue have been no problem for me so far.

Also the build quality of the lence are realy good, mutch better than I were expekting it to be. Not as good compared to an real L lence, but it´s not far away!
Also I could live with a little plastic instead of spending another 1,200 dollar to get it to feel more solid.

I would realy reccomend this lence to any one thining about throwing out their old 18-55 lence and get a better, its sharp, fast as hell, and best of it all IS!

And a sample picture, a Volvo C70 just after my brother bought it:

Jul 22, 2006
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John Maitland
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Registered: Jul 25, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 12
Review Date: Jul 14, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Razor sharp, excellent color, clarity and superb definition, image stabilization
Pricey lens shade (boo!) casts shadows of on-camera flash at shorter focal lengths, barrel and pincushion distortion. Bulky.

Kudos for Kanon!

What do you say when you don’t think it could be better? I think the 17-55 is superb, as close to perfect as it can get. This optical system, with its quick, accurate focusing, image stabilization and zoom range makes it an ideal, general-purpose lens. I am sure I will be happy with it for a very long time. As they say, it is a “keeper.”

Barrel, pincushion and other distortions can be eliminated using DXO Optics Pro (automatically) or PhotoShop CS2. If the software did not exist, I might be annoyed.

My old camera was a black Leica M6. While I am very happy with my Canon, its bulk makes me feel like I am wearing a view camera around my neck. For "everyday" use, a black Panasonic LX1 is discrete and fits nicely in a pocket. Unfortunately, my age and excess "avoir du poids" combined with the 20d and this lens with its hood makes (perish the thought) me look like a typical (American) tourist! It is very interesting how the camera itself can influence the feeling of the photograph. The results tend to be more formal using the 20d and more “Leica-like” (spontaneous) when I use the LX1.

Jul 14, 2006
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Registered: Sep 19, 2005
Location: France
Posts: 405
Review Date: Jul 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: color rendition, saturation, sharpness at 4 and up, perfect IS and USM focusing, beautiful pictures, helpful in low light
no hood, a little softer at 2.8, vignetting

Some impressions about new Canon 17-55 2.8 IS and some links to samples for illustration.
(All pictures are at original size, be careful to choose « original » option under the picture, the oher sizes are downsampled by Pbase - shoot hand-holded, IS, body settings neutral, no post-processing)

I don’t agree with comments that give a 10, for a perfect lens. A 9 seems to be maximum for it. Perhaps better, but only after post-processing by a good software.

Two little problems in my opinion, the vignetting, very present wide open, disappear at 4 or 5.6, but…
The lens seems very sharp at 4 and up, but for sure a little softer at 2.8.

About the vignetting, I have made some test shots at different apertures, and ther compared with Canon 10-22 and Canon 50 1.4.
It is better on this point than the 10-22 (hard vignetting wide open…) but the not APS-C 50 1.4 is clearly better than the 17-55, for a use at 50mm at 2.8.
Tests visible here :

Some sharpness test pictures here, you may see the difference between 2.8 and other apertures stopping down.
EXIF are under the pictures.

This said, sharpness is one of the qualities of this zoom, well sustained by the IS, imperative for me, who shoot often in low light, where no flash or monopod allowed (museums…)
You gan get sharp shots at 1/8 sec, if you don’t drink too much beer before…

Other quality of this zoom is the color rendering, well in Canon tradition, quite perfect in terms of natural, neutral, or saturation, clearly better (I mean different…) of Tamron or Sigma on this crucial point.
On my EIZO screen, it is quite impossible to see a difference between the model and the picture on the screen, not reach the prime L lenses, but not so far.
Perhaps the 24-70L give better saturation and contrast, but not sure…

We reach the perfection with the AF – USM focusing system, superb of precision, fast and silencious. Works perfectly.
The zoom ring is very sweet to move, confortable. Here again, Canon is the best.

I have read some complaints about flare, so I tested it in the worse possible conditions, ok, if we want to make flare, we make flare…. But nothing terrible at all…
Chromatic Aberrations are very well controlled, only in extreme edges, as you may see it (with the flare) on some shots of Effeil tower in back-light :

You may see also similar shots to compare taked with Canon 10-22 and Canon 50 1.4 on these galleries :

I could say about this comparaison that at 50mm I have a little preference for the 50 1.4 against the 17-55 but only in high lights, cause in low light, the IS is an enormous advantage.
At 17mm and at 22mm the 17-55 is noticeably better than the 10-22, less vignetting, better sharpness, no contestation.
So my 10-22 became only a 10-16… Thats clear…

I have no Tamron or Sigma at this time (all resell or returned) so I can’t compare same shots, in this range, but it would be interesting to do that.

Canon is really ridiculous in persisting not give the hood with a lens at this price, and this hood is impossible to buy at this moment in europe. No stocks at Canon.
This hood is essential for the quality of the pictures but also to protect the front lens, very exposed.
I use the EW-83E from my 10-22, not sure is the best way, but better than nothing…

Price is high, sure, 1200 USD for me, but there is no real competitors with this quality and features, so no real choice possible.

I think the lens worth 600 USD and we have to pay again 600 USD for the IS.
If Sigma and Tamron same range for APS-C would have IS, for sure their prices would not be so far from Canon (see Sigma 80-400 OS…)

So much more qualities than defects, and for sure a good buy if you need all the features.
Now we have to see with use if pictures produced worth the price, and if the build quality is solid…
So come again for a completed review in some months.

Jul 10, 2006
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Registered: Jan 17, 2006
Location: South Africa
Posts: 567
Review Date: Jul 6, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Sharp, IS
Build, flare, EF-S, price

Just an addendum to my review below, because people have asked me to compare this lens with the 24-70L.

The comparison is kinda hard to make because I only had the 17-55 for a day and a half. Nevertheless, I think I can say the following with reasonable confidence:

1) The 17-55 is sharper towards the wide end (but the 17-55 doesn't [effectively] go as wide as the 27-70, so perhaps the comparison is a little unfair);
2) The 17-55 produces somewhat less saturated colour, but also has excellent contrast;
3) The all-plastic 17-55 has inferior build quality;
4) But the 17-55 weighs less;
5) The 17-55 has IS and the 24-70L doesn't;
6) The 17-55 has worse flare;
7) The 17-55 seems wholly untroubled by CA, whereas the 24-70L shows some towards the wide end (though it's never severe);
7) Considering the so-so build quality, the 17-55 is expensive.

Of course, as far as focal length range goes, the 17-55 is a much better choice as a standard zoom on a crop camera. A no-brainer, in fact, unless you decide to eschew the whole APS-C world, as I did.


Jul 6, 2006
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Registered: Dec 26, 2004
Location: N/A
Posts: 3111
Review Date: Jul 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: I have never handled a sharper lens. The fact that it's super sharp wide open renders many L lenses to shame. Colors and contrast are amazing as well.
A little heavy (still much lighter than 24-70 f/2.8). Flaring not as good as 10-22 lens.

I consider this lens as part of the new holy trinity for EFS owners:
Canon 10-22, 17-55 f/2.8 IS and 70-300 IS. Performance to price ratio are superb on all three lenses.

Jul 5, 2006
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Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
217 563156 Nov 6, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
87% of reviewers $1,021.05
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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