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

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

To measure and compare the Canon 17-55mm’s corner sharpness we photographed the Enhanced Digital Camera Resolution Chart with it and a number of lenses using a Canon EOS-400D / XTi. The 400D / XTi was set to Large Fine JPEG mode and Parameter 1.Each lens was tested at its widest and longest focal lengths and with various apertures using Aperture Priority mode. The crops are taken from the lower left corner of the chart and presented here at 100%. The wide angle crops show a slightly larger area of the chart because the minimum focusing distances forced us to shoot from a little further away. No crops have been resized.Zoomed-into 55mm, the 17-55mm f/2.8 lens again performs very well, showing only slight softness in the corners with the aperture wide open and sharpening up nicely as the aperture’s closed. The EF-S 17-85mm also performs well once zoomed-in, even with its aperture wide open, although interestingly the EF 17-40mm L is slightly soft in the corners at 40mm with its widest aperture. Note the lower contrast of the budget EF-S 18-55mm lens at 55mm with its wider apertures.Zoomed-out to 17mm, the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 lens performs well in the corners, delivering good results even with the aperture wide open. Once stopped to f4, it comfortably out-performs the EF-S 17-85mm and EF-S 18-55mm in the corners when they’re wide open, and delivers similar results to the EF 17-40mm L lens throughout its aperture range. The EF-S 17-85mm exhibits quite noticeable colour fringing in comparison.

 

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM
Canon 17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f2.8
Canon 17-85mm EF-S - f2.8 not available
Canon 18-55mm EF-S - f2.8 not available
Canon 17-40mm EF L - f2.8 not available
17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f2.8
f2.8 not available
f2.8 not available
f2.8 not available
Canon 17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f4
Canon 17-85mm EF-S at 17mm f4
Canon 18-55mm EF-S at 18mm f3.5
Canon 17-40mm EF L at 17mm f4
17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f4
17-85mm EF-S at 17mm f4
18-55mm EF-S at 18mm f3.5
17-40mm EF L at 17mm f4
Canon 17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f8
Canon 17-85mm EF-S at 17mm f8
Canon 18-55mm EF-S at 18mm f8
Canon 17-40mm EF L at 17mm f8
17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f8
17-85mm EF-S at 17mm f8
18-55mm EF-S at 18mm f8
17-40mm EF L at 17mm f8
Canon 17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f16
Canon 17-85mm EF-S at 17mm f16
Canon 18-55mm EF-S at 18mm f16
Canon 17-40mm EF L at 17mm f16
17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f16
17-85mm EF-S at 17mm f16
18-55mm EF-S at 18mm at f16
17-40mm EF L at 17mm f16
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM
Canon 17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f2.8
Canon 17-85mm EF-S - f2.8 not available
Canon 18-55mm EF-S - f2.8 not available
Canon 17-40mm EF L - f2.8 not available
17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f2.8
f2.8 not available
f2.8 not available
f2.8 not available
Canon 17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f5.6
Canon 17-85mm EF-S at 85mm f5.6
Canon 18-55mm EF-S at 55mm f5.6
Canon 17-40mm EF L at 40mm f4
17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f5.6
17-85mm EF-S at 85mm f5.6
18-55mm EF-S at 55mm f5-6
17-40mm EF L at 40mm f4
Canon 17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f8
Canon 17-85mm EF-S at 85mm f8
Canon 18-55mm EF-S at 55mm f8
Canon 17-40mm EF L at 40mm f8
17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f8
17-85mm EF-S at 85mm f8
18-55mm EF-S at 55mm f8
17-40mm EF L at 40mm f8
Canon 17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f16
Canon 17-85mm EF-S at 85mm f16
Canon 18-55mm EF-S at 55mm f16
Canon 17-40mm EF L at 40mm f16
17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f16
17-85mm EF-S at 85mm f16
18-55mm EF-S at 55mm f16
17-40mm EF L at 40mm f16
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