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

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217 563813 Nov 6, 2015
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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: Oct 7, 2005
Location: Serbia & Montenegro
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 6, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 1 

Pros: ...not applicable for the price ?

In coleration with price to be paid, EF-S concept issue, built quality... this Canon product value versus price is ridiculously low and irrelevant!

Simply said and not for the first time with my Canon experience: price of this product is just a robbery.

Dec 6, 2006
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Registered: Apr 7, 2005
Location: Bulgaria
Posts: 3
Review Date: Nov 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great contrast, color, IQ, good to great AF, IS rocks
-$1k, bit heavy, build quality could be better etc.

First lens for my 30D... I was about to get the 24-70, but I did some thinking and finally got this one. No regrets so far (the regrets are that I my budget doesn't allow for a 5D, but that's another story really). IQ on my copy is top notch -- color, contrast, sharpness all great (and that matters most to me).

As many have already stated -- constant 2.8, IS, USM, does it get any better? Well it does, sure - there is vignetting (which I hate at 17mm), there's flare (but the flare problem isn't that bad, vignetting is worse IMO). Build quality IMHO is ... well, it's decent, as in good. Nothing to brag about, but it isn't poor. I've only had the lens for a week, so can't comment on the dust problem (hope I don't get any!). I do think this is the perfect walk-around lens for a 20D/30D body, and the weight is just right for such bodies. It's a bit heavy, but given that the 24-70 weighs about a kilo, you can't really complain...

Price? Well, it's $1k, but all in all, I think it's worth the money for the IQ (+ IS) you get. Highly recommended.

Nov 28, 2006
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Registered: Nov 16, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 90
Review Date: Nov 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $965.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, 2.8 + USM hard combo to beat
It should come with a hood. We'll see about the dust

Outstanding sharpness and color, as good as my old 80-200L. I think the build quality is fine. This is the perfect lens for a 1.6 crop camera. 2.8 + IS + fast USM is about as good as it gets. There are times when longer reach would be nice (thats why they make 70-200s). I like the EF-S, yes that's what I said, An EF 2.8 would have been much too large and $$. If Canon had just found a way to better seal these zooms everyone would score it a 10. Bone head move by Canon.

Nov 21, 2006
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Registered: Jul 12, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 20
Review Date: Nov 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,021.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very sharp F2.8 + IS great for indoors
Build quality lacking for $1000 lens Dust build-up

I've had this lens for 2 months now, and it's been a joy to use on my 30D. Sharpest zoom I've ever used, even sharper than 24-105mm 4L and 24-70mm 2.8L that I've owned/used. Color and contrast are pretty much identical to the L zooms I've used.
However, I returned my original copy recently after noticing significant dust build-up inside. Every Canon lens I've ever owned (including zooms and primes) eventually had some dust, so I expected to see some dust inside this lens eventually, but to my chagrin, the 17-55mm was collecting dust at an alarming rate that would've required cleaning every year. I've returned my original copy for another 17-55mm hoping that the new copy will not be as dust prone. If the new copy also turns out to be a dust magnet, I'm going to return to 24-104mm 4L.
I also wish it had better build quality and handling for the price. It feels so flimsy for a $1000 lens.

Nov 21, 2006
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Registered: Jul 10, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 47
Review Date: Nov 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,005.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, fast AF, f2.8, IS much more valuable than I anticipated in the 17-55 range. An IQ match for my 24-70L f2.8 that has proven so invaluable on my FF & 1.3 cameras. Lightweight in comparison to the f2.8 "L's".
I wish Canon had incorporated the 24-70L f2.8's fixed hood design into the 17-55f2.8 IS.

I debated as to whether this lens would be a worthwhile acquisition since I have a sharp copy of the venerable 17-35L f2.8. After owning it for a month or so I am very happy with my purchase as the 17-55 has proven very sharp & the IS is surprisingly beneficial. I would not hesitate to recommend this lens to anyone seeking fast, sharp glass for their 1.6 camera.

Nov 9, 2006
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Ron Weasley
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Registered: Nov 2, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 2, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Tremendous sharpness even at f/2.8 No really noticeable difference between f/2.8 and f/8 in terms of sharpness. Great colour and contrast. CA less than I expected. Useful and very effective image stabliser.
Build quality is poor to average and nothing like as good as an "L" in this respect. Zoom movement "lumpy". Tamron 17-50 is better built and less than half the price. Focussing nothing to write home about. Big & Heavy. Far too expensive for what it is. No lens hood nor pouch included. Price of the optional EW-83J hood is UTTERLY RIDICULOUS.

Only got this lens recently, but I can immediately tell that - optically at least - its quite superb. I'd give it a 10 in this respect. Good sharpness across the whole frame at all apertures and center sharpness really top notch even wide open. Center sharpness at f/2.8 is virtually indistiguishable from f/8, which is quite an achievement. No real need to think about stopping down to improve sharpness.

The colours are strong and images are nice and contrasty. Chromatic Aberration is less than I expect and not really noticeable. The same goes for distortion. I expect this lens to be slightly worse than the Tamron 17-50 in these areas, but on the contrary I have found it to be better.

What lets the lens down is the overly high price, and the build quality, given that price. If you buy a lens hood to go with it, it works out at roughly £700 in the UK; vs £300 or less for the Tamron 17-50, which includes a lenshood. Shamefully for Canon, the build quality on the Tamron is actually better and optically there's very little between them. Basically it boils down to going with the Tamron, or paying £400 more for the Canon with IS. This is hard to justify when Canon 17-85 has IS built in at a much lower price point.

At the price Canon are selling the 17-55 for, it should have much better build quality and be "L" specified. Or alternatively they should keep it as it is and drop the price by at least £200. £300 for the Tamron vs £500 for the Canon (with hood) would perhaps be fair.

So I think the 17-55 looks poor value for money. But still, it does take GREAT pics.

Nov 2, 2006
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Registered: Jul 6, 2006
Location: France
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 26, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent lens (!!!) - very sharp - Image Stabilizer - Build
price - heavy - dust - vignetting at 2.8

To start with, I love this lens. Although I'm just eating plain rice for months now (1000€ is the lowest price in Europe), I'm so happy with it that I'm forgetting to use my other lenses (even my 50mm f/1.4).

What I love with it:
- the quality of the optic: it gives very sharp images at all range;
- the quality of the build (almost like a L lens). It's also big enough to fit comfortably in my big hand;
- the image stabilizer: it definitely is a real life saver. It really really makes a use difference. I can even go to 0,5 seconds and the image is still sharp;
- it looks good on the camera body (30D) :-)
- 17-55 mm is an excellent range for a 30D.
- 2.8 opening at all range. The DOF at 2.8 is excellent;
- it's the best walk-around less especially for travelling !

Here are some samples of pictures: (using IS) (using IS) (using IS)

That should be enough to make you wanna buy it !

But on the other hands, there are some bad points:
- It's very heavy. I mean it's ok at the beginning but after one month of travelling, you wish you had a lighter lens;
- It's very expensive. I'm still wondering if I should have bought a L lens for the same price (but no IS in the L Lens !);
- There are definitely dust problems : even if you can't see them on the pictures, it's strange to find dust in the lens after one month of (very intensive) use;
- It's vignetting at 2.8 but that's not a big problem.

So I definitely recommend it. It's the lens on my camera at all time. And I think it's going to stay like this for a while.

Oct 26, 2006
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Registered: Oct 1, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 266
Review Date: Oct 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 2.8, IS, USM, sharpness, zoom range
Price, no hood, build could be better

Best of the the EF-S line-up that I've used. F/2.8 combined with IS, and ISO800 make it the an ideal low light lens. I find this range very useful for most of my work. I don't have the steadiest hands so the IS definitely helps out. I find that the 17-55 is at least as good as the 17-40L, but has a better range, IS and is faster.

My biggest complaint, which isn't really that bad, is that the build doesn't match the price paid. It also would have been nice to have the hood included in this price, but I've yet to buy a non L lens that has a hood anyway. Either way, I bought it and love it. Sure a prime is sharper and faster, but the trade off of having a sharp zoom is great.

Oct 19, 2006
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Joost Assink
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Registered: Apr 15, 2006
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 2
Review Date: Oct 2, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, Fast, 2.8, Ring type USM, better than some primes
Zoom ring needed to loosen up the first few days, expensive (but not too expensive. Nikon offers the same lens for more money without IS)

I am so happy I got this lens. I traded in my ef-s 17-85. That was just not fast enough with the 4-5.6 aperture. I used my ef-s 60 2.8 macro all the time, but that was far from ideal. Then I decided to trade both lenses in for the ef-s 17-55 2.8 IS. I used the macro range of the ef-s 60 only incidentally and now I have a 2.8 zoom lens with almost the same IQ and sharpness as the ef-s 60 with added IS. The zoom ring did need some loosening up and it's a lot of money, but it's so worth it. It's really a joy to work with and I still smile when I upload my pictures and do some pixel peeping (yes, I am sorry, I can't resist.)

Get it and don't look back. There is no replacement for it on an APS-C body.

Oct 2, 2006
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Registered: May 27, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 470
Review Date: Sep 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,080.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Love the 2.8 with IS. Wide end of zoom works well with 1.6 crop
it would be nice to have a bit more reach on the telephoto end

This is my favorite lens. works great in combination with the Canon 10-22 and 70-200/f4 L.

The combination of zoom range, 2.8, IS and USM make for a great walk-around lens on my 30D. The IQ is excellent. Colors and sharpness are great. The lens is a little large, esp. with hood in place.

I have seen posts that go on and on about dust problems, but I have seen none (and I live in the desert of Las Vegas - very dusty).

Does what a great lens should do - lets me capture what I'm seeing!

Sep 20, 2006
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Ryan S
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Registered: Jul 26, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 9
Review Date: Sep 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,180.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fast/Constant max aperture, IS, Weight/Balance, Excellent IQ
Telescoping zoom movement, so-so build relative to price.

I've had this lens for nearly a month now and have immensely enjoyed using it. It has become my "walk-around" lens. This lens produces "L" quality images in my estimation. It's colors and contrast are excellent. It is also very sharp throughout its focal range, although a bit softer at the edges wide-open. The Image Stabilizer works very well, I've often been able to hand hold indoor shots at 1/10 and they turn out quite sharp and crisp. CA is very nicely controlled. Flaring has only been a small issue and I've largely been able to avoid it thusfar using the hood and a little discretion when shooting. I've read several reviews stating that this lens sucks dust pretty quickly, I've yet to find any dust in my copy luckily. I will say the build quality should be nicer for a lens with this price tag. All in all, this is one excellent peice of glass that produces very high quality images.

Sep 13, 2006
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Registered: Dec 2, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 114
Review Date: Sep 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great resolution, color, contrast
Build quality for the price; flare.

Overall this lens is excellent. On the wide end, the extreme edges show minor softness (not perfect). On the long end, this lens is nearly perfect. At f2.8, results are very good in the center at all focal lengths. Corners are a bit soft on the wide end, but very good on the long end. This is one lens you won't hesitate to use wide open.

The focus is USM, and virtually perfect on my XT. Focus even in low light is very, very good.

Minor CA can be seen sometimes, but it never gets to the point where it is a problem. PF can also be seen occasionally in extreme contrast situations.

Flare resistance is not as good as it should be. You will want to be conscious of the suns position. Ditto with bright lights. Flare doesn't always show up in these situations, but it will at times. This is the price for a lens with 19 elements; too many surfaces for reflections to occur.

Stabilisation works very well.

Build quality is not what it should be for a $1100 lens. No wobbles or anything of that sort, but too much plastic. The lens is not internal focus, nor is it sealed. Dust gets inside a bit too easily in my opinion. This does not affect the IQ, but it's maddening for such an expensive lens.

My conclusions:

I've lived with the lens for several months before writing this review, and have taken a couple thousand photos with it.

1. Very sharp in the center at all FL and apertures. Some corner softness on the wide end (more so at wide apertures).

2. Edges sharp at most FL and apertures. This puts it in a league of its own. Not perfect though; soft edges at 17mm.

3. CA is well controlled.

4. Flare and PF are issues. Depending on your style of photography it may or may not be a major issue for you. Of the ten lenses I own for my XT, this lens shows more flare than any of them. Just telling it like it is.

5. Weight is fine. Some people have complained it is too heavy. I do not find it overly heavy.

6. Build quality is only OK. Lens sucks dust noticeably. Too much plastic for the money. Extending design.

7. Focus and IS work extremely well.

8. Price is a bit high in my opinion.

9. Very useable at all focal lengths and apertures (once again a league of its own).

Sep 7, 2006
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Registered: Mar 7, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 215
Review Date: Sep 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness IS in low light 2.8 invaluable in low light Picture Quality
No lens hood included for price Found to be prone to flare in bright light (corrected with -1/3-2/3 exposure) Expensive No "red ring" =P

So I've had this lens for about 1 week and all I can say is WOW!!!

I've been using the XT for about 8 months now with the Sigma 17-70 and I thought that was a good lens, but found it much too slow in low light.

I've found the 17-55IS to be THE ANSWER to everything on a crop camera...Great for all-around walking around, great for low light, great for portraits, great for landscapes. In fact since getting this lens, I have posted both my 50mm 1.8 and 35mm 2.0 for sale as I know they will NOT be getting used at all anymore.

I will say that the lens is on the bigger side on the XT, but I leave my grip on and it all balances out.

I was able to compare the Sigma 17-70, 17-55IS and 17-40L in detail for a short while, and even though I know the limitations of the 17-70 and was using the 17-40L on a 30D, I was still able to get sharper pics right out of the camera with the 17-55IS. The 17-40L did have much truer colours I felt, but it couldn't compete with the 17-55IS in low light.

This lens really should've gotten the L designation, (as should've the 60mm MACRO), but for whatever reason Canon didn't, and didn't give it the weather sealing and rugged body composition. Doesn't matter, this lens should be seriously considered for those with the $$ and using a crop camera.

Given the size and weight of the L competition (24-70, 24-105), the 17-55IS makes for a better allaround lens. The 17-40L is just too short and not fast enough. Don't even try to compare the 17-85IS anymore, the 17-55IS will get you much better looking pics, while staying moderately light and giving you both IS and fast speed.

Canon is on the right track with this lens. I don't know what they were thinking when they brought out the 50mm 1.2L and 70-200 f4IS, what they need is a 17-105 f2.8IS, or 17-85 f2.8IS to compete with the Nikon and Sony kit lenses for reach and inbody IS for Sony.

Sep 6, 2006
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Registered: Sep 19, 2005
Location: France
Posts: 405
Review Date: Sep 5, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: global quality of images, useful and confort with range and IS
dust sucking

I wrote a review very positive some weeks ago, but i have to add a remark, ad you guess what about... About dust inside !

I don't want to rewrite my review, and I agrre in all with the review of "perspective", so just add my experience about this dust vacuum cleaner...

I never experienced that on a Canon lens, even the worses... Dust came inside after about two weeks of use in non-dusty (at all) conditions.
I prefer not imagine what it will happen in dusty conditions.

It is clear now with all the reviews on this problem that it is not because of a bad copy. It is a problem of conception and sealing.
Some people said imprudently there is no difference with the L lenses, sorry, but for sure, here, there is.

Don't send it back to the seller for an exchange, you will get exacly the same problem with the new copy.

There is no only dust, but it seems little withe artifacts too on the internal lens.

I showed the lens at the Canon agreed repair store in Paris (Vilma) and for them, "it is not a problem"... because we can't see the dust on the pictures...
Not covered by the guarantee, and 80 USD for clean that with 2 weeks of immobilisation...
Incredible... an unacceptable for a lens at this price.

It is a real and very serious problem, and my conclusions are for sure as "perspective" says, Canon has to re-engineer and fix this problem, so it will take time, not sure of the results, and no other solution in this range if you need a Canon quality image, and the IS.

Canon must give an answer and some explanations to the customers about that, if they don't want to see the selling curves of this zoom coming down very fast, and managing the bad feedbacks of the customers.

for the moment, I keep it, because I need all the other features, and I am satisfied with the image quality. Real a great confort in walkaround ad reportage use, outside and inside.

pics and samples of my first review (completed) are here on Pbase :

I don't shoot the dust, you know what it is.

I know we are the first buyers of this zoom (I waited for a long time) and like we said in french we must "essuyer les plātres", that's to say, be beta-testers, and discover the problems in daly use.
So we take a risk, and we know that, we have to assume it, but Canon must assume too and give an answer, or at least, offer a free first cleaning for the first buyers.

Sep 5, 2006
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Registered: Jan 12, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 838
Review Date: Sep 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good Sharpness, Color, and low light capeability with the huge flexibility of a zoom. WA a big plus over 24-70L.

High quality and very flexible lens. Never though I would buy an EF-S lens for $1100, but now I am sold.

Sep 5, 2006
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Registered: Jul 16, 2006
Location: China
Posts: 9
Review Date: Sep 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: very good color, very sharp, very helpful IS
dust problem, little dark coner at 17mm f2.8

I am from Hong Kong.

I upgrade from 17-85 to this lens. This is a whole new world!

This lens is 10 times better than the 17-85, much sharper at same zoom and f number. And, color/contast is much better!

I love this lens!

Problem is: DUST! i found dust inside the lens at the 1st week after i took less than 100 pics....

But, anyway, i am using 30D, i need a lens that is start at 17mm, with F2.8 and IS..... there is no other choice.

I would keep using this lens for years until I upgrade to FF.

Sep 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 563813 Nov 6, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
87% of reviewers $1,021.05
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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