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

4.0
July 5, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is the fastest EF-S standard zoom lens. Is it just worth upgrading from a standard kit lens to the pricey EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8? We tested the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM on the new EOS 700D / Rebel T5i to find out...

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is the fastest standard focal length zoom lens for for Canon EF–S mount DSLR cameras. Featuring an equivalent focal length of 27-88mm, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm offers a fast constant aperture of f/2.8 throughtout the zoom range, USM motor for smooth and quiet and fast auto-focusing, 3-stop optical image stabilisation, Super Spectra coatings that minimize ghosting and flare, a circular seven-blade aperture, and a non-rotating front element that accepts 77mm filters. The EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is available for £869.99 / €1259.99 / $1179.00.

Ease of Use

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

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMThe Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, 18mm

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

 

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMTop of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, 18mm

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMSide of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, 55mm

Weighing in at a hefty 645g and measuring nearly 14.5cm in length when zoomed out to 55mm, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is one of the bigger standard zoom lenses that Canon offers, although still smaller and lighter than the professional L-series lenses. Being an EF-S lens, you can only use it on a Canon EOS APS-C body like the 700D that we tested it with, for a 27-88mm equivalent angle of view.

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMTop of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

As you would expect from such an expensive lens, build quality is good, although not outstanding. The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM feels solid in your hand. The focusing ring is fairly narrow but has a ridged, rubberised grip band that assists with the operation. There's also a useful distance scale on the lens barrel in feet and meters.

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMSide of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMSide of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM boasts Image Stabilisation which Canon claims offers an advantage of up to 3 f-stops over lenses without a stabilizer. This is activated via the On/Off switch on the side of the lens. If the camera body supports it, Canon's IS technology is also able to detect intentional panning movement and automatically switch from the Normal IS mode to the Panning IS mode.

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMFront of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMFront of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, zoomed to 55mm

The final control on the lens barrel is a focus mode switch with the usual AF/MF settings. Note that this lens offers full-time manual focusing even when AF is selected.

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMFront of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMFront of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMRear of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMSide of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMSide of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMThe Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens in-hand

The lens doesn't ship with either a lens hood or a protective bag. It accepts 77mm filters.

Focal Range

At the 18mm focal length the angle of view is 78º 30'.

 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMField of view at 17mm

At the 55mm focal length the angle of view is 27º 50'.

 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMField of view at 55mm

Focusing

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens has a fairly narrow focusing ring with no hard stops at either ends of the range, making it more difficult to set focus at infinity. Manual override of the autofocusing system is available at any time. Polariser users should be pleased that the 77mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM zoom is a quick performer thanks to the USM (Ultrasonic motor), only taking about 0.2 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 700D that we tested it with. We didn't experience too much "hunting" though, either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a pretty quiet performer too.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are pretty well controlled with this lens. The examples below show the worst-case scenario.

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

Light Fall-off

With the lens wide open at f/2.8 at 17mm, you can see some light fall-off in the corners, although Canon's latest APS-C bodies can automatically correct for it when shooting JPEGs. There's also slight barrel distortion that disappears by 28mm.

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMVignetting at 17mm

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USMVignetting at 55mm

Macro

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is not really a macro lens, but the close-focus point is a useful 35cm from the film/sensor plane, and Canon quotes a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.17x for the lens at the 55mm focal length. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

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

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM has an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded blades for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

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

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

wide-angle, lens, canon, zoom, f2.8, telephoto, standard, image stabilisation, normal, OIS, usm, image stabilised, ef-s, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM, 28-88mm, 17-55mm, ultrasonic motor, 17-55 mm, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM Review

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