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

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216 542235 Jun 1, 2014
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87% of reviewers $1,019.18
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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: 7830' - 2750'
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: Mar 9, 2008
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 10
Review Date: Oct 27, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, great color, fast
Heavy, L-Lens in the wrong coat

It's a stellar lens that has all the elements of L-glass but unfortunately Canon gave it the wrong coat. It's a bit heavy on my 7d but the results are very satisfying. The 17-55mm has the reputation to behave like a Dyson dustcollector but so far I'm still out of the woods

Oct 27, 2010
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Registered: Jul 10, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 430
Review Date: Sep 14, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: sharp, 2.8+IS= low light performance
dust and weak construction = 2 times to Canon repair

I was happy with this lens mostly due to how sharp it is and the ability to perform in low light conditions. But Canon has soured my feelings with lackluster service.

I took the lens to Utah this spring and the 17-55 and my 7D were exposed to blowing sand. It was a brutal environment, but my 70-200 f4 IS and 60mm EF-S lenses did ok, even a borrowed 10-20mm Sigma survived. The 17-55 sucked so much dust that dark spots were visible in the lens and on my images. Also the zoom became quite stiff in one section with a feeling of grit. Uggh.

I sent it in to Irvine and they charged me $90 to clean it and it came back clean but still a sticky zoom. A bit of silicon spray helped the zoom work more smoothly. Then the front trim ring fell off the lens, but I remounted it with some 3M adhesive for mounting prints. Maybe bubble gum and bailing wire next time?

Last week while on a photo road trip the lens stopped working completely and I could hear a loose object rattling around inside. I lost the use of the lens for two more days of travel. Bummer.

I contacted Canon. They agreed to service the lens since it has been less than six months since the factory service. I explained that I have an important event to shoot on 9/19. I paid extra to get it to Irvine by 9/9. As of today (9/14) Canon has only just acknowledged that they even received the lens. Four business days to say you received the shipment???? No business worth it's salt can say that's timely.

The rep I spoke with knew I wanted the lens for the 9/19 event and thought it might happen. Instead they will only begin to think about working on it and won't ship for at least another week.

What could be a rave story about excellent Canon service is instead sour grapes of lousy business practices. No matter how good the gear can be, if the service dept. doesn't do their job, we photographers will find ourselves disappointed.


Sep 14, 2010
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Registered: Nov 19, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 635
Review Date: Jul 27, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Stellar Optical Performance! Ultra fast focus, an absolute must for low-light photography and a must for wedding shooters using a cropped frame camera
Help! I'm an L lens trapped in a cheap EFS body!

Hear me out on this one, I just gave up the very well built and excellent Tokina 16-50 2.8, the ONLY reason why I gave it up was because I needed IS in low light situations. Apart from that, I had no desire whatsover to sell it, but I had to given the direction my photography is taken. On to the 17-55 - I can't believe Canon has the gaul to charge this much (Just north of $1,000) for this lens with;

a.) No lens hood - virtually all 3rd party lenses come with the hood, are built better and cost hundreds less.

b.) A mostly plastic body...

Its high time Canon considered making an L series lens with the EF-S designation, especially when the cropped frame cameras outsell the full framers by a wide margin - I'm beside myself when I consider the 70-200mm L f/4 (non-IS) is made of magnesium, has a lens hood, a lens pouch - yet it costs $300 - $400 less than this lens!!

All of that said, and even with all my negative feelings about the build, hood and no pouch - all is forgiven once I see the results of the images.

At the end of the day, optically, this is a stellar lens, killer in low light, the IS is absolute must if you do any sort of event photography, if you're an APS-C user (XXD, 7D, and Rebel series) there really isn't a suitable alternative that gives you the range, the f-stop and the IS in the ef-s (or third party) lineup to suit pros - the new Sigma 17-50 2.8 is a recent possibility - essentially what we have here is an L professional series lens trapped in a consumer body... Optically (and a lack of competition for cropped sensor lenses) the price is justified, but that's about it... Tokina are you listening?

Jul 27, 2010
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Registered: May 18, 2010
Location: Russia
Posts: 2536
Review Date: Jun 26, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: + Pin sharp, f/2.8, IS - all contribute to the great image quality; + Convenient range on APS-C cameras; + fast and responsive AF.
- It's plastic; nothing wrong per se but for the price it should have been better; - QC issues? My lens had IS quit on it after only two months; - No hood supplied!

This was my first Canon lens ever, and I loved it. It helped me to get started in this business and the only reason I moved on was that I don't use APS-C cameras anymore. It was sharp, it was fast, it was unbelievably cool to shoot with.

The downsides are annoying but not lethal. First of all, my specimen quickly gathered a small amount of dust behind front element. Second, Canon's QC guys have apparently taken a hike when it was made. After only two months the IS in my lens got broken and then it started to cause Err99 to the camera whenever I zoomed past about 30mm. I got it fixed by Canon eventually but the amount of irritation was unbelievable. And finally, this $1100 toy comes with no hood! Well, Canon's policy on this is ridiculous, and I never got around to finding a hood for it. Well, didn't make matters any worse for me; f**k you Canon! Smile

Well, aside from being a little overpriced (more so considering the fact that it comes with no hood), this lens is a gem and a default choice for any APS-C shooter.

Jun 26, 2010
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Reg Van Cleave
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Registered: Jul 3, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 44
Review Date: Jun 16, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,060.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast, Sharp
Hood, well maybe you can't make it a con since they don't supply any.

I was looking for a wide lens for in-door sports. Could have chosen a prime wanted a zoom for basketball.
I'm not against 3rd party lenses when they will do what I want of them. So, looked at the Sigma and the Tamron. The Tamron is a nice lens but compared to the Canon 17-55mm IS. But the Canon, I feel, did a better job in quality and there wasn't even a contest with focus speed.
If focus speed is a concern then the Canon 17-55 IS is the only choice even if it cost $400 more.
Of course you always have the Canon 16-35 but budget played a part in looking at this lens.

Jun 16, 2010
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Registered: Jul 8, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 21, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fast, sharp, great colour and contrast.
Heavy and expensive. No hood.

I agonized for weeks over which lens I should buy to replace my tired 17-85 and finally settled on this. I just wasn't sure if I could be happy with 30mm gone off the long end. I also kept hearing about how it's a dust sucker and that concerned me so much that I looked up ways to take it apart and clean it before I ordered it. Finally I took the plunge and I have to say that I made the best choice. The difference in my shots is amazing. Having said all that though, this lens is a heavy sucker. My Tamrac Velocity 8 holds my 40D with this lens attached, my 70-200 F4L and my 580EX2 and after a few hours of lugging it all around I feel it. I haven't measured the weight difference but it seems to me that the 17-55 is about twice the heft of the 17-85. It really makes me think twice about those "what if" items I usually carry around.

If you have a Canon crop body I think this is the best all purpose lens in the lineup.

Apr 21, 2010
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Registered: Mar 17, 2010
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 17, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: image quality is superb; other features (FTM focussing, f/2.8, IS, USM) all good too
build quality could be slightly better

I bought this lens, rather than it's rivals, primarily because I didn't want to scrimp on image quality and I have been immensely satisfied with it. I don't have a lot of experience of other lenses to compare it to, but after having owned it for over a year, I'm still blown away by it. It's quite satisfying to know that the only thing holding you back from taking great photos is your own ability (something that you can improve) and not your kit.

It's other features are great as well. Bokeh appears nice to me (with my lack of much experience) and shallow depth of field effects are nice and easy to produce at f/2.8 (although it's slightly sharper at f/5.6). Overall, it is fairly solid lens. When carrying my camera with this lens attached, I tend to hold it by the lens, and it feels sturdy.

Regarding it's price, it is a little more expensive that other everyday lenses. I'll keep getting my lenses off eBay; so far my experience has been good. The way I see it, if you might as well invest your money in the lens you're going to use most often.

Mar 17, 2010
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Registered: Mar 3, 2010
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 8, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Wide aperture of 2.8, IS, Image Quality, sharp
Build quality (not dust/weather proof), no lenshood, high price for EF-S non L lens

I bought this lens a year ago and I love it, it's very fast, has a great wide aperture of 2.8 and is very sharp even wide open. I used this lens 90% of the time and never had any problems with it.
After owning it for a few weeks I dropped my camera on the concrete and except from a few scratches on the lenshood and a broken batterydoor of my camera no damage to the lens.
But when I bought the 7D which is weather and dust proof I also wanted a lens that was this, and that's the 17-55 certainly not. And because I wanted a little more reach I got the 24-105 f/4, but I do miss the f/2.8 at times.

So when you want a great, fast lens with a wide aperture and very good image quality on a crop sensor camera this is a great lens.

Here are some examples of shots I took with the EOS 50D and the EOS 7D and the 17-55mm:


Mar 8, 2010
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Registered: Nov 5, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Mar 5, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: It's sharp. It has IS.
was front-focusing at the wide end and needed a calibration. This problem may have been corrected in later production but according to internet forums was common for lenses produced in 2007 like mine.

Great for family and portrait photography. If you have a crop camera this is the one to to get. I put my primes away and haven't touched them since getting this two years ago.

Mar 5, 2010
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surf monkey
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Registered: May 23, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2804
Review Date: Feb 12, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fast aperture. Fast & accurate focus. Sharp, even wide open. Very versatile. Good IS. Good color and contrast.
Pricey. Heavy. Hood not included. Some CA wide open.

The only thing that holds this lens back from L status is the EFS aspect. Otherwise, the equal to most of the Canon L zooms. Sharper in the corners than the 17-40 L.

It lives on my 40D and I rarely wish for more from it on the crop cameras. Weight and price are a fair sacrafice for such great IQ, performance and versatility.

Image stabilization is really worthwhile for indoor shooting and when a tripod isn't possible.

Feb 12, 2010
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Luke Ty
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Registered: Sep 28, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 11, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Insanely good IQ and keeper ratio, fast accurate focus, great color. Silent. IS USM Canon quality.
Does not come with a hood. Expensive.


I purchased Tamron's 17-50mm f/2.8 along with my Canon 30D several years ago. Frustrated with it's slow focus motor I purchased a used Canon 17-85mm IS. Focus was much faster, but Tamron's IQ and fixed aperture won me over. I've taken tens of thousands of pictures with the Tamron. It is a very nice lens, with a few irratating issues (slow/noisy focus, not as accurate as Canon USM, yellow cast to indoor images). After just missing focus for one time too many, I decided to plunk down the $$ for Canon's 17-55mm IS f/2.8. Now THIS is a GREAT lens.

Color and IQ are top notch, on par with my 70-200 f4 IS. Focus speed seems instant, and it's dead accurate. My keeper ratio is through the roof compared to my Tamron 17-50mm, mostly due to the MUCH better/faster USM focus system.

The lens hood is a rip off. No name Chinese hoods can be found for under $10 delivered. Quality is almost as good as Canon, good enough for me anyway. This lens is larger and heavier than similar models, but with the battery grip installed it's no big deal. Ease of use, IS, IQ and f/2.8 make up for the additional size and weight.

I love this lens.

Feb 11, 2010
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Registered: Jan 20, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Feb 6, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: sharp, good color, amazing low light performance,
halation & C.A. wide open, pricey

I have been impressed with this lens, after having it for almost 3 years, but I can see why Canon did not make it an L lens. It doesn't stand up to the test of bright vs dark subject matter (ie - groups under a pavilion at noon). I see way to much halation/ghosting and chromatic aberration. I can justify the cost due to the amazing low light capabilities this lens has. When I get the money though, I'll pop for the 24-105 f4L and keep this lens around for the low light situations.

As for the internal dust issues with this lens, I think this lens is no more or less susceptible to dust than any other air breathing zoom, which most are. I don't notice a single spec of dust in mine. I do use a high quality protective filter at all times and that seals the air intake holes at the front of the lens, so that helps.

The build quality is the same as any other non Canon L lens. It's not bad, but you would expect a $1,000 lens to be better.

Overall, this lens has opened up new photo possibilities for me having a virtual f/1.0 light collecting ability. I can pull off many, many more types of handheld shots at sunset, candlelight and night in general.

Feb 6, 2010
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Registered: May 17, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5670
Review Date: Dec 21, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $860.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, Color rendition, background blur ability for portraits, IS
Dust gets in easily

This is now one of my favorite lenses. The colors are great, the sharpness is great, resale value is great. Great for landscapes as well as portraits (advantage over the 17-40 is the extra 15mm on the tele end which matter for portraits). Here are some photos taken with this lens ...
Chandler Park, Tulsa, OK
Little Pigeon River, Smoky Mountain National Park, TN
Trivandrum, Kerala, India
Portrait sample 1

Dec 21, 2009
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[ X ]

Registered: Nov 18, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 324
Review Date: Nov 6, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $940.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent sharpness and color rendition; contrasty; constant f/2.8 coupled with IS; very usable range
Heavy and bulky; potential for dust; not weather-sealed; expensive for EF-S

I use this with my 50D. It delivers an excellent IQ with sharpness that only L grade lenses can match. My copy is so sharp that I can only see a very marginal improvement in the IQ when stopped down. It is simply an amazing lens to be used with APS-C Canons. If you have one of the rebels, be sure to test it out in person before committing. Because this lens is so huge and heavy, it will look/feel/function unbalanced with the smaller rebel series bodies. Almost perfect with any of the xxD bodies or with the new 7D. All in all, highly recommended.

Nov 6, 2009
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Alek Komarnits
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Registered: May 3, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 725
Review Date: Oct 20, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,030.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Constant 2.8 rocks, fast/accurate focus, razor sharp image quality on 7D
Slightly heavy and pricey ... but what 'ya expect for both?!?

Not much to add beyond what other people have written. I have wanted this lens for a long time, but finally broke down and got it - wish I had done sooner. Nice on my 50D, but deadly on my recently acquired 7D

As others have said, get a lens hood, but one of the el-cheapo 3rd party knockoffs seem to work fine for me.

Oct 20, 2009
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Registered: Jan 18, 2009
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 1
Review Date: Oct 11, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Constant f2.8 aperture, Image Stabilization, USM focus motor, High Quality Glass.
Weight is due to f2.8

Like many happy reviewers before, I'm very pleased with this lens. The focal range covers most general usage. The constant f2.8 aperture was one of the criteria I wanted in a lens.

Before this lens I owned a Sigma 15-30 and 24-70 f2.8. These were a lot of fun, but I got tired of having to carry around two lenses. Also, the image quality of the Sigma's wasn't always up to standard which made things very frustrating after coming home and reviewing the pictures and finding them not up to spec.

Anyhow, I sold the Sigma's and added a little extra cash to afford the 17-55. Overall I'm very pleased with the lens. The sharpness is superb over the entire focal range. Also, the added Image Stabilization (IS) allows sharp pictures with shutter speeds of 1/6 of a second taken from hand. That's something that no other lens does!

I would also recommend getting the hood for this lens and a quality UV or CP filter. The only downside to this lens is the overall weight. To me its acceptable because it is compensated by the IS, USM and f2.8.

The debated issue with the hood and other accessories not being included might be a little up tight considering the price of the lens. However Canon only includes these with their "L" series. Personally, it might be a little tight from Canon, but if you can afford this lens then the hood shouldn't be that much of a problem financially.

In short, if you're looking for a general purpose lens with high quality optics and fast performance this is the one to get! Sigma and Tamron offer similar optics (I've tested both), but these don't compare to the Canon.


Oct 11, 2009
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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
216 542235 Jun 1, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
87% of reviewers $1,019.18
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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