LensTip.com

Lens review

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

23 September 2007
Arkadiusz Olech

11. Summary

Pros:

  • great sharpness in the center of the frame for the whole range of stops and focal lengths,
  • good picture quality at the frame edges,
  • well controlled distortion,
  • minimal astigmatism,
  • well controlled coma,
  • great autofocus,
  • good quality manufacture,
  • solid performing stabilization,
Cons:
  • a bit too big chromatic aberration, especially for f/2.8
  • large vignetting in all focal ranges
  • large size
  • very expensive
  • slight vulnerability for flare in wide angle
We have mixed feelings summarizing this product. It's undoubtedly a milestone by comparison to the 17-85 IS USM. Canon's 17-55 mm has better picture quality, smaller chromatic aberration and significantly smaller geometrical picture distortion. All those pros fade a bit when we realize its cost - 1000$ (it's twice as much as a 17-85 IS USM). It has big dimensions and in spite of the high price it has a few flaws including vignetting and a still visible chromatic aberration.

We can ask the question: who is this meant for? It's definitely not for an amateur photographer who is going to be discouraged by the size and the high price. It's also not for an advanced photographer who is going to be discouraged by the lens's flaws and will buy something less expensive, sturdier, better and thoroughly tested, like the Canon 17-40 f/4L. All Canon fans have already been using the full frame Canons, 5D or 1Ds Mark II. The EF-S 17-55 cannot compete with them, but even if it did, customers would choose the less expensive L-grade lens 24-105 f/4L IS USM or the only slightly more expensive 24-70 mm f/2.8L.

In our modest opinion, Canon would have done much better introducing a little bit optically and mechanically better version of its destined for full frame Canon EF 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 mm. A 15-16 mm to 50-70 mm focal length lens with stable light of f/4 or in a slightly changeable range of 3.5 to 4.5, with a solid metal casing and metal bayonet, equipped with a USM, without stabilization and for a price less than 500$ - this would be the lens awaited by many matrix APS-C class DSLR camera owners. The sad thing is that one of the leading photographic industry manufacturers wants its clients to wait for such a model. It's enough to look at the competition to see very good products like the Nikkor AF-S 18-70 mm f/3.5-4.5 DX IF-ED or Sony, which proposed the Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* DT 16-80 mm lens from the start. Too bad...


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Sample shots:

Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Summary Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Summary Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 55 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/400 sec, ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.1 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 33 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/320 sec, ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.8 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 54 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/1000 sec, ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.2 MB
Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Summary Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Summary Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 17 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/320 sec, ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.0 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 33 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/25 sec, ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.1 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 17 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/80 sec, ISO 100
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.2 MB




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