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 uniformity comparison

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 telephoto geometry test
Canon 18-55mm telephoto geometry test
Canon 17-40mm telephoto geometry test
17-85mm EF-S at 85mm f8
Distortion: 0.967% pincushion
18-55mm EF-S at 55mm f8
Distortion: 0.389% pincushion
17-40mm EF L at 40mm f8
Distortion: 0.187% pincushion
Canon 17-55mm wide angle uniformity test
17-55mm EF-S at 17mm f2.8
Mean corner fall-off: 46.8%

The lenses were tested at their widest focal lengths with the aperture wide open in Aperture Priority mode.To measure and compare the Canon 17-55mm’s vignetting and light fall-off we photographed a white target with a highly diffused custom filter using it and a number of rival lenses.

The images were analysed with Imatest and the full areas presented here at a reduced resolution. Bigger percentages are better.

The image above was taken with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm lens at 17mm f2.8. Here the light falls off in the corners to an average of 46.8% of the center measurement, which while worse than the other three lenses on test, is not unexpected for a lens with a much brighter focal ratio. Note the EF 17-40mm lens performs best here, but it is an f4 L model, and crucially, is designed for use with a full frame sensor.

 

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 uniformity test
Canon 18-55mm wide angle uniformity test
Canon 17-40mm wide angle uniformity test
17-85mm EF-S at 17mm f4
Mean corner fall-off: 57.8%
18-55mm EF-S at 18mm f3.5
Mean corner fall-off: 68.8%
17-40mm EF L at 17mm f4
Mean corner fall-off: 79.4%

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

Canon 17-55mm telephoto uniformity test
17-55mm EF-S at 55mm f2.8
Mean corner fall-off: 60.8%

The lenses were tested at their longest focal lengths with the aperture wide open in Aperture Priority mode.To measure and compare the Canon 17-55mm’s vignetting and light fall-off we photographed a white target with a highly diffused custom filter using it and a number of rival lenses.

The images were analysed with Imatest and the full areas presented here at a reduced resolution. Bigger percentages are better.

The image above was taken with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm lens at 55mm f2.8. Here the light falls off in the corners to an average of 60.8% of the center measurement, which again is noticeably worse than the other three lenses on test. As explained above though, this is not unexpected for a lens with a much brighter focal ratio.

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