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

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217 584347 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: Nov 6, 2015
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 6, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $890.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, IS, 2.8 fixed aperture, wide angle
very expensive for ef-s lens

The image quality is par excellence! I am using this on my Canon T2i and it produces stupendous results. This lens is perfect for indoor low-light, portraits and even outdoor photography. I do notice that the IS makes a low humming sound while it is 'working'. The sound isnt very audible and can only be heard if there is utter silence surrounding you. Other people complain about 'zoom creep'. After 4 months of daily usage, I have no 'zoom creep' occuring with my lens.
The build quality is pretty good, but it doesnt feel as solid in the hand as an 'L' lens does. however, the build is definitely better than all other ef-s lenses i have used.
The zoom ring is smooth; the manual focus ring is also smooth. The auto focus is super fast and super silent thanks to USM. People also mentioned that there is some chromatic abberation wide open at 2.8, however, it is very minute and not noticeable at regular size print photos (i.e. 4x3, 5x7, 8x10).

The negatives for me: the price is a wee bit high for a non-L lens. I'd expect the body to be weather-sealed and/or feel more solid for the price.

The positives for me: Image quality immediately compensated for the high price. The Constant 2.8 aperture, and the IS and the wide angle of 17mm are all great features.

If you take care of your lens, dont let the price scare you. This lens is a 'must have' for every Canon APS-C (cropped sensor) owner. | |

Nov 6, 2015
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Registered: Feb 6, 2015
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 7, 2015 Recommend? no | Price paid: $950.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: F/2.8, very usable focal range, IS, light
plastic, jerky focus, LENS CREEP

I don't want to sound overly critical or that this lens is not good enough for me, cause it has served me well. I have actually banged this thing around during some serious travel outings and has not failed me at all. It just is not something to write home about.

It is a great focal length if you are walking around wanting photos of the day and dinner. I include dinner as the F2.8 with IS, you can get some clear shots handheld late in the evening. So it can help keep you packing light, meaning the lens is not a tank and you don't need a tripod to get a shot at a night market, etc., although you will not be stopping any motion.

If you are shooting with APS-C this thing should be in your bag IF you know you are not going to move up to FF. If you have any interest in FF, don't make the same mistake and buy it. It is pricey if you move to FF. Then again, nothing in the FF focal length like this has IS (if you are looking at Canon lenses). The EF-S 10-22 should also be in there, as your ultra wide option... and if that is the case, forget the 17-55 and go for the 24-70L ii or the 24-105.

Is it sharp... mostly. Colors are good. I really like my 'bokeh' that I get with this lens. I really use it more than I like because it is functional, not because I love it.

In conclusion, I would not be using it on an important shoot, or something that I really want good results with.

Apr 7, 2015
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Registered: Nov 30, 2011
Location: United States
Posts: 14
Review Date: May 10, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good focal range,2.8 IS,sharp even wide open
Build quality not great...dust gets into the front section of elements,lens barrel gets loose,but flair is a major problem with indirect light source

I purchased this lens when it was initially introduced. Great IQ/speed/IS is one of the main reasons why I've kept my crop body. Great for indoor/outdoor available low light shooting. Wish it had more range on the wide end but can't have everything.Thought something was wrong with my copy[picks up a lot of flair through indirect light source] but others have stated the same problem.Still a great lens even with it's flaws.The price has come down dramatically lately.

May 10, 2014
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Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 28, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: f/2.8, wide angle for crop sensors, sharp, rich colours, good contrast, USM, IS.
Expensive for non L glass, Ok build, not L glass build, not for full frame.

Was really impressed with this lens, the image quality is near L glass quality, fast, sharp and colourful images. Probably the best non L glass out there, other than primes. It's great for crop sensors 17-55 is like 27-88.

Nov 28, 2013
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Registered: Jan 25, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1435
Review Date: Feb 19, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp. Good Filter Size. Good Range With IS.
Lousy Build Quality. No Lens Hood.

I just got this lens to replace my 17-40 on my 7D.

The lens is just as sharp as my 17-40 was, perhaps even a bit sharper. IS seems to work fine.

However I am pretty disappointed in the build quality. I didn't think it would bother me as much as it does, but after using Tokina lenses, and my only Canon lens being the 17-40, I had forgotten what plastic lenses felt like. The focus ring seems okay, but the zoom ring has quite a bit of 'give' to it, and does not zoom smoothly, it's quite chunky actually.

This is acceptable in a cheaper lens, but in a lens that run over a thousand dollars and costs more than several L lenses, I think it's unacceptable. On top of that Canon does not even include a lens hood with your 1,000 lens.

Frankly this just confirms to me why I usually opt for 3rd party lenses these days, but the Canon lens was the only one that fit the bill for my needs.

Feb 19, 2013
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Registered: Jan 30, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 2692
Review Date: Feb 2, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Beautifully sharp, great bokeh, nice IS, good zoom range, solidly built
Not quite smooth zoom action. Slightly more prone to flare with bright lights in frame than the 17-40L.

You pay a lot for the high image quality, IS, and aperture of this lens. As often remarked, the build isn't quite up to the standards you'd expect from a lens of this caliber. I have no complaints about it from a functional point of view, and it is a very solid feeling lens, I just wish it was a bit smoother (like the 17-40L).

The image quality is superb, and that's really the bottom line. It's truly top notch. Just be a little careful in situations where flare can be a problem; it's a little more prone than the 17-40L.

Feb 2, 2013
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Registered: Aug 31, 2012
Location: United States
Posts: 197
Review Date: Sep 16, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: IS, versatility, bokeh, fast and sharp at f 2.8
crop only, not weather sealed

This lens has been a work horse for me as I've used it in all sorts of places and events, but as I now upgrade to FF, it saddens me greatly to have to see this lens go. The glass is definitely L quality trapped in an EF-S body and would not hesitate for a second to pick up this lens if you plan on staying with crop.

The colors are good, though maybe it was just my copy, could have used a bit more contrast. AF is lightning fast but accuracy on the T2i could be a bit better. The bokeh is creamy, the lens is fast and the only thing I could possibly wish for is Canon making an equivalent for FF. The IS is key as I shoot a lot of video and that's about the only thing the 24-70 can't offer me on FF. Build quality is not as great as I would like it, but I've put my 17-55 in some harsher than I would have liked conditions and is still dust free and works like a charm.

Sep 16, 2012
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Registered: Aug 18, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 8, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, really sharp. Great colours & contrast, almost no CA, light(er) weight, good bokeh, versatile.
Cheaper build, Crop only.

Uses: Street, landscape, indoor lowlight, candids, children, portraits, group shots.

If you want a fast zoom lens and don't need anything longer or wider, and you don't want to upgrade to FF, this is the last lens you'll ever need to buy. This zoom range covers basically 90%+ of what I take. Take this into consideration when considering how much to spend. If you are planning on going FF, then skip this and go 24-70L or wait for the rumoured V2. Compared to the 24-70L though, I don't think I could live without the extra 7mm or the IS for what I take.

IQ: Why didn't I buy this before? Oh right, the price, and the wife. The IQ on this is really really good. It is super sharp wide open, no more stepping down like a some of the primes or cheaper zooms. Colour and contrast makes all of my photos pop. Forget a better camera, this will make your current one look good. Honey, I can make you look GOOD with this one! Promise!

Bokeh: Bokeh is good and acceptable. But after using my friend's 70-200 f2.8 IS II, I've been corrupted. If you want better bokeh for portrait work and for cheaper, then go for something like 100L macro. Although secretly, we all know the 85L is really what we want for the ultimate bokehliciousness.

Colors & Contrast: Not sure how to describe it, but they just look eye popping. Reminds me why I went Canon in the first place.

AF & IS: Both are what we expect as with other Canon USM and IS lenses. Fast, accurate, quiet and extra few stops of stability. Moving children are no problem, but then again I only have a XTi, I would only imagine what this thing could really do on a 7D.

Weight: Well it's not the lightest thing around, but it's no 24-70L. Feels a little off balance on the lighter Rebel cameras but it's acceptable. The zoom ring has just enough tension to make it feel right.

Build Quality: It's no 24-70L, but hey, it doesn't weigh as much either. It is made out of plastic but it doesn't feel as cheap, it's still quite solid on the hands. Lack of weather sealing isn't a problem: Let's face it, there's only one Canon cropper with weather sealing anyways. If you're always in rough environments, then look elsewhere.

Price: Well, I hope I've convinced you that it's worth its high price.

Oct 8, 2011
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Registered: Feb 6, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 140
Review Date: Sep 23, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, weight, IS, focal range, sharpness, build quality
It is not weather sealed

I doubt anyone will read this far down in the reviews, but just can't help seeing the 24-70 f/2.8L rated higher than this lens. I sold my 24-70 to buy this lens about two years ago and could not be happier. Small, lighter, sharper and with IS, it is such a fantastic lens.

If you are going to invest in crop-sensor cameras, this lens should be in your bag.


Sep 23, 2011
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Registered: May 14, 2011
Location: United States
Posts: 452
Review Date: Aug 20, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $866.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Useful focal-length range for a standard zoom, fast (f/2.8), 3 stop image stabilization, sharp wide open, good bokeh and colors

The 17-55mm f/2.8 is a fantastic piece of glass, very sharp wide open with good bokeh (for a zoom), great image stabilization, good color and contrast. Good for general walk-around, low-light and portrait photography.
The build quality is decent though my copy does collect some dust behind the front element (though I obviously see no effect on the pictures). For the price I do wish it had the build quality of an L lens.
My biggest complain with this lens is flaring under bright conditions and direct sunlight. I sometimes switch to my 10-22mm (which is very flare resistant) to capture images when the lighting gets bright.
Otherwise I love this lens. I previously briefly owned a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 but after acquiring this lens I decided to return the Sigma lens as I found the colors, contrast, sharpness and bokeh to be indistinguishable from f/2.8 onwards. I reckon there are subtle differences when viewing images at 100% but I didn't see any obvious ones from cursory viewing.
I wish this lens were slightly longer at the wide and telephoto ends (15-60mm would have been perfect). Also while the bokeh is good, it is inferior to my 100mm f/2.8L and 200mm f/2.8L II that both produce delicious bokeh.

Aug 20, 2011
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Registered: Jul 15, 2010
Location: India
Posts: 18
Review Date: Aug 7, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $920.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: fast, sharp and good contrast
expensive, not-L, plastic

this is a L lens without the red ring..! seriously its extremely good. I loved the sharpness on my 7D and am happy I made the choice. I dont understand why canon didnt give this a 'L'.
Beautiful lens for wedding photography. It actually is a 'cheaper' substitute (with better focal length) for the 24-70 f2.8 L for a crop sensor body.

The IS works well. But my copy (may be others too have seen this) has a queer problem at 17 and 55mm while IS is on. The IS somehow becomes over sensitive and the image, instead of stabilizing jerks from side to side when shutter button is half-pressed. The workaround I found was just to rotate the zoom ring a couple of times either ways to 'free' the IS and then it works fine. I generally see this when I use the lens after a few days of 'rest'. First it was at 17mm and then I realized it very rarely is seen at the 55mm end too. But that has not affected the image quality of focus accuracy.

Some links to pics with this lens (low rez).

My suggestion is to make sure your copy doesnt have the IS issue that I am seeing, by checking at the 17 and 55mm ends with IS on.

Aug 7, 2011
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Registered: Apr 17, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 2563
Review Date: Aug 3, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality IS Fast AF
Price! Price! Price! Lens hood not included

I've been using the 17-55 for over four years now. It remains one of my favorite pieces of glass. It's fast, light and the IQ is excellent. Contrary to many reports I have not had any issues with dust. I do keep a B+W UV filter on this lens most of the time. The price is obscene but it is vastly better wide open than many of the third party options (IMO). It's hard to over look the value of IS and USM at any focal length. What I really like about this lens is that it allows me to get great indoor shots while traveling in areas that may not allow flash photography with out cranking up the ISO as many variable aperture lenses would require. The USM is silent (unlike the Tammy) and IQ is fantastic wide open. The only down side is the price.

Aug 3, 2011
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Registered: Sep 16, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 2831
Review Date: Jun 10, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: wide open sharpness, colors, contrast, IS
mediocre build quality

The only fault I have found with this lens is the build quality. Feels more robust than the 28-135 I used to have, but is basically the same build quality with less zoom creep.

Other than that, I love everything about this lens. It has an excellent ability to capture detail from corner to corner, especially for a zoom lens. I can always count on this lens for great images. I also really enjoy having the IS system. This puts this lens in a league of it's own and comes in very handy when shooting indoors or when I need to stop down and don't feel like using the tripod.

I think that another weakness of the lens is IS and autofocus failure. I had to have my autofocus system fixed on mine. It was frustrating, but I was willing to deal with it because I enjoy using the lens so much. Only better zoom lens I've used is the 70-200 II and this one comes close.

Jun 10, 2011
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Registered: Feb 3, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 146
Review Date: Apr 4, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp... very sharp! Nice colors and contrast.

Previous to this lens I used the Tamron (non VC) 17-50 2.8 for 2 years. The Tamron was sharp and had great colors. I bought it because I didn't want to spend the $1000+ on the canon version. Over the past year I've found myself booking a lot of family portrait sessions so I started upgrading my gear and one of my lens upgrades was in this focal range. So, I sold the Tamron and bought the Canon 17-55 2.8.

I thought the Tamron was great but after using the Canon I don't know why I waited so long to buy it. My wife told me 2 years ago to just buy the Canon but I hesitated and bought the Tamron. The Canon 17-55 is just so sharp! I may actually have to wear band-aids while handling it... lol Smile

If you're on the fence on which lens to purchase I highly recommend the Canon. It's worth the price!


Apr 4, 2011
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Registered: Jan 31, 2011
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 5
Review Date: Jan 31, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: F/2.8. Image Stabilisation. Image Quality.
No Lenshood Included. Weight (feels too light!)

I bought this lens recently, and the quality of the images is great...

great contrast, bokeh, saturation, sharpness... no real faults!
the focussing is quick and accurate
the IS (image stabilising) is great, and works well

however I have a few gripes!
1. the lens hood comes separately, which is the case with non-L lenses...

2. it feels lightweight... the 24-70L feels mich nicer in weight and build quality (the zoom ring is a little too light)

image quality gets 10/10
build quality gets 8/10
pricing gets 8/10
AF accuracy and speed gets 10/10

Overall 9/10

for APS-C cameras there is no other choice in this price range!

Jan 31, 2011
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Registered: Mar 17, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 831
Review Date: Dec 7, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,025.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Nice focal range, very positive AF, bright 2.8 + IS
Mediocre sealing = dust sucking. I guess building quality could be addressed to fix that with a lens in this price range

Overall the lens is very good. Nearly no other lens in the market had the features offered (2.8 throw-out the focal range + IS) when the lens was bought 2years ago, and it’s still way better than the 3rd party offerings.
I have used the lens with 20D, 50D and 7D bodies and the superiority to the Tamron SP 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD is evident.

The non VC (IS) version of the above lens is arguably one of the best offerings out there for cropped bodies, but the Canon tops it even in sharpness where Tamron is very good (at least both the copies I had experience with).
Color rendition with the EF-S 17-55 IS is good, better than the Tamron’s and close to the EF 17-40L I was using before. Unfortunately the 17-40L wasn’t even mounted on a cropped body after the 17-55 IS was part of my kit.

What really is impressive is how better bodies like the 50D and the 7D focus with the Canon EF-S 17-55 IS. In low light situations, where both the 17-40L and the Tamron 17-50 would hunt a bit, the 17-55 positively locks the subject – and that’s not only with the center AF point. Also the USM motors are a vast improvement over the mechanic noises the Tamron produces, but I think that’s a given already.
Bokeh is also better rendered through the 17-55 IS than the Tamron’s offering.

The build quality of the EF-S 17-55 IS is pretty good, identical to most prosumer grade Canon lenses like the 28-135 IS which is fine, forgetting the fact that this lens retails for more than $1000, where most comparably built EF/EF-Ss retail for less than $600, and examples like the 17-40L or the 70-200 f/4 L boost far more in this department for just $650 or less…I guess canon was being snob at the point of designing this lens, and all of its semi-pro/pro bodies were heading away from the APS-C. Should a 7D model was present at that point, I believe the 17-55 IS would be better made (and probably a bit more expensive).

In practice, the lens is more than rigid enough, but dust is steadily sucked into the body because of the vacuum created by the zooming action, and trapped behind the front glass element(s). This has more of a psychological than visual impact, as though it doesn’t look pretty, has no visible degradation effect to the final image as all those dust particles are too small to obstruct enough light to create a shadow, and too far from the lens’s focal / focusing point to be visible.

The lens uses 77mm filters, which are not cheap, yet not uncommon for the average photo-kit in its target group.

Dec 7, 2010
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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 584347 Nov 6, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
87% of reviewers $1,021.05
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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