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 wide-angle geometry comparison

Canon 17-55mm wide angle geometry test
17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f8
Distortion: 2.87% barrel

The lenses were tested at their widest focal lengths with an aperture of f8 in Aperture Priority mode.To measure and compare the Canon 17-55mm’s geometric distortion we photographed a test chart consisting of a grid pattern, using it and a number of rival lenses.

The images were analysed with Imatest using 5th Order line calculation and the full areas presented here at a reduced resolution.

The image above was taken with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm at 17mm f8. Barrel distortion was measured at 2.87% which is well below the other EF-S lenses on test and roughly the same as the EF 17-40mm L – this is impressive considering the latter is designed for a full-frame body, so should perform impeccably on an EF-S body.

 

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 17-85mm wide angle geometry test
Canon 18-55mm wide angle geometry test
Canon 17-40mm wide angle geometry test
17-85mm EF-S at 17mm f8
Distortion: 5.71% barrel
18-55mm EF-S at 18mm f8
Distortion: 3.35% barrel
17-40mm EF L at 17mm f8
Distortion: 2.9% barrel

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

Canon 17-55mm telephoto geometry test
17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f8
Distortion: 1.09% pincushion

The lenses were tested at their longest focal lengths with an aperture of f8 in Aperture Priority mode.To measure and compare the Canon 17-55mm’s geometric distortion we photographed a test chart consisting of a grid pattern, using it and a number of rival lenses.

The images were analysed with Imatest using 5th Order line calculation and the full areas presented here at a reduced resolution.

The image above was taken with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm at 55mm f8. Pincushion distortion was measured at 1.09% which is roughly similar to the EF-S 17-85mm lens, albeit not as good as the budget EF-S 18-55mm, nor, unsurprisingly, the EF 17-40mm.

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