Summary

Canon's EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 is the general-purpose zoom for anyone who loves to shoot portraits or work in low light; note as an EF-S model, it's not compatible with full-frame cameras. The constant f2.8 aperture doesn't come cheap, but it allows the lens to gather plenty of light and deliver nice blurred backgrounds. There's also quick and quiet USM focusing, along with Image Stabilisation. An ideal wedding and portrait lens for cropped bodies. It's also interesting to note the equivalent lens for full-framers, the 24-70mm f2.8, remains an unstabilised model, so this is one range where cropped-frame owners enjoy an advantage.

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

Outdoor scene: Canon EF-S 18-55mm vs 17-85mm vs 17-55mm vs EF 17-40mm with Canon 400D / XTi

 

 To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm, EF-S 17-85mm, EF-S 17-55mm and EF 17-40mm lenses, all set to a focal length of 25mm and an aperture of f8. Each lens was mounted on a Canon EOS 400D / XTi set to 100 ISO and using its best quality JPEG settings. All images were taken within moments of each other.

The image left was taken with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm at 25mm f8, with a sensitivity of 100 ISO; the original Large Fine JPEG measured 4.17MB. The crops are taken from the upper left, centre and lower right portions of the originals and presented here for evaluation at 100%.

Moving onto the middle row of crops from the center of the image and all four lenses perform similarly, although the EF-S 17-55mm appears to have slightly higher contrast than the other two EF-S models.The high contrast areas in the upper row of crops have resulted in coloured fringing on all four lenses, although the EF-S 17-55mm also suffers from a higher degree of softness in the extreme corners. This situation greatly improves when you move in even just a little though.

In the final row of crops taken from the bottom right corner of the image, the EF-S 17-55mm once again exhibits some softness, although not as much as the EF-S 17-85mm. Unsurprisingly the EF 17-40mm performs well here, although despite being corrected for full-frame bodies it’s certainly not leaps ahead of the others – and the EF-S 18-55mm kit lens also turns out a good result. For a complete picture of how the lenses compare under other conditions and in other respects though, be sure to check our other results pages, linked below.

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Using Canon 400D / XTi
Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6
Using Canon 400D / XTi
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8
Using Canon 400D / XTi
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4
Using Canon 400D / XTi
Canon EF-S 18-55mm - crop 1 Canon EF-S 17-85mm - crop 1 Canon EF-S 17-55mm - crop 1 Canon EF 17-40mm - crop 1
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
Canon EF-S 18-55mm - crop 2 Canon EF-S 17-85mm - crop 2 Canon EF-S 17-55mm - crop 2 Canon EF 17-40mm - crop 2
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
Canon EF-S 18-55mm - crop 3 Canon EF-S 17-85mm - crop 3 Canon EF-S 17-55mm - crop 3 Canon EF 17-40mm - crop 3
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
1/250, f8, 100 ISO
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Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS

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