Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2,8 USM IS - Retest @ 15mp / Review
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published March 2009

Special thanks to Philipp Schürmann for providing this lens!


The EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 USM IS is Canon's APS-C standard zoom lens solution for the broad "prosumer" market. The lens has a price tag similar to Canon L zoom lenses but obviously Canon decided to keep this designation limited to high-end full format lenses. The EF-S naming refers to the Short-back focus design which is only compatible to APS-C EOS SLRs. EF-S lenses feature a protruding rear element which requires a special mirror design to avoid a collision of the mirror and the rear part of the lens.

As mentioned the lens is not a designated L grade lens and while this may not be really obvious based on the naked specifications it does show up with respect to its build quality. This doesn't mean that it isn't decent but the outer construction is only made of good quality polycarbonate (except for the metal mount) whereas the recent L grade zooms are magnesium-alloy constructions. Nonetheless the lens feels quite solid (similar to the EF-S 10-22mm USM) and the zoom and focus control rings operate reasonably smooth although not damped. As you can see in the product shot below the lens extends when zooming towards the long end of the zoom range. Thanks to an internal focusing system the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer remains easily possible. The EF-S 17-55mm IS has no sealing against dust or humidity - and there were already user complaints about dust sucking tendency of the lens over time. Unfortunately Canon decided NOT to include a lens hood which is a little bizarre regarding the pricing of the lens.

The image stabilizer provides an equivalent effect of a 3 f-stops gain in shutter speed for hand-held photography (at cost of slower shutter speeds). The IS works for static scenes only so there's no 2nd mode for panning - a fate shared with the EF 24-105mm f/4 USM L IS. However, regarding the nature of the lens this isn't a big drawback because action photography isn't really a primary application. The IS mechanism can detect the lack of motion so it can remain activated on a tripod.

The lens has an extremely fast and near silent USM (ultrasonic) AF drive including full-time manual focusing (FTM) in one-shot AF mode.

Equiv. focal length27-88 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/4.5 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction19 elements in 12 groups inc. 3x aspherical and 2x UD elements
Number of aperture blades7 (circular)
min. focus distance0.35 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:6 @ 55 mm)
Dimensions84 x 111 mm
Weight645 g
Filter size77 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodoptional, petal-shaped
Other featuresImage Stabilizer

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