Canon 17-55 review


Canon 17-55 f/2.8 is review

canon 17-55

Canon 17-55 f/2.8 is review
Introduction – Canon 17-55 review

The Canon 17-55 is a general purpose lens for Canon Aps-C cameras (Canon 10d-70d and Canon 300d-700d). The lens cannot be used on Full frame cameras like Canon 5d 6d or several Canon 1Ds cameras. You cannot attach this lens to the Full frame cameras unless if you cut the back part of the lens.

Specifications – Canon 17-55 review

Focal length range: 17-55mm
Optical formula: 19 lens elements in 12 groups included 2x UD (ED) element
Brightness: f/2.8
Aperture blades: f/2.8-22
Minimum focusing distance: 0.35m (1.2′)
Weight: 652g (23 oz)
Dimensions: App. 68.4 x 51.5cm (27 x 20″)
Aperture diaphragm blades: 7
Magnification: 1: 5.9
Filter thread: 77mm (non-rotating)


The range is a very common range in Dslr photograpy. This range is often referred as general purpose range. For most photographic opportunities like landscape, portrait, street photography this range is useful. On the other hand if you used a compact ultrazoom camera before this range is not very fascinating. It is like a 3x range compact camera. The wide is reasonably wide but the tele setting is short, very short compare to newest ultrazoom cameras. If you want detailed headshots you have 1-3m distance from the people you want to make a portrait. For landscapes I would prefer a slightly wider range. For portraits a longer range would be better, like the 85,100,135mm prime lenses or 50-135mm, 50-150mm or 70-200mm zoom lenses.

Optical qualities – Canon 17-55 review

The Canon 17-55 produce pictures with very good contrast, beautiful saturated colors and high level of sharpness. Light falloff is around 1 EV wide open at f/2.8 at all focal lengths which quickly reducing at f/4. The chromatic aberration is very low under 1 pixel everywhere.
canon 17-55
Canon 17-55mm at 55mm f/2.8 Canon 30D camera no post processing
canon 17-55 2
ISO 100 f/5.6 1/800s Canon 30D no post processing

Sharpness – Canon 17-55 review

To compare it it is easily sharper than the Canon 24-105 f4 is or the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 Mk I lens. It is about as sharp as the Tamron 17-50 non Vc lens.

Autofocus – Canon 17-55 review

The Autofocus is quick and silent ring-type ultrasonic focus. This autofocus has a premium feel in usage, and very practical in wedding ceremonies for example where silent operation is preferred.

Price/performance – Canon 17-55 review

If you are on a budget the Tamron optically is essentially the same for much less price, the Canon is better wide open, and has little better contrast, the Tamron is sharper in the corners. If you see the pictures side by side the difference is small.


There are many alternatives, hard to list all of that. See in detail below, but can be grouped like this:


(16-300, 18-270, 18-200, 18-300)
Here the range is wider, especially at the long end, but usually the lowest optical quality in terms of corner sharpness, distortion, CA, etc. More convenient not need to change lenses all the time. Obviously this long range is comes with many compromises. Serious photographers omit this category completely. The long end is usually the weakest. The brightness is much less, especially at the long end.

Mid range zooms

15-135 mm range (15-85, 17-70, 18-135, 24-105, 24-70)
Some of this lenses are decent, and a little longer end makes a huge difference in portraits for example, optical quality can be decent, brightness is usually less

Similar 17-55

like zooms with f/2.8 brightness. The not so wide range helps to let more light in. Tamron and Sigma has this lenses.

-Sigma 18-35 f/1.8

is a unique lens with unique brightness but with less range.

Ultrawide lenses

like Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 or Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 if you prefer landscapes

Prime lenses

I wouldn’t advise a prime lens over this lens, unless you want more brightness. The Sigma 35 f/1.4 which is very nice, but you don’t have wide angle, long end, so the zoom is much more practical. I am not even sure the Canon primes are better at this range. I recently reviewed the Canon 28 f/2.8 is lens and not really better in practical terms than this lens.

The Tamron 17-50 Vc and non-Vc lenses, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 OS, the newest Sigma 17-70 C (Contemporary), Canon 15-85 is lens, many superzooms from Canon, Sigma, and Tamron (18-200, 16-300, 18-270 lenses), the Canon 18-135 lens. With all kinds of focusing systems (STM, Ultrasonic, micromotor). Prime lenses in this range (20,24,28,35,50mm lenses). If you lean more towards landscapes the Canon 10-22m, The newest 10-18mm, and the Tokina 11-16mm and the Sigma 8-16mm lens can be interesting

Is it worth the extra over the Tamron? – Canon 17-55 review

If you earn money with photography yes, for most people perhaps not. The Tamron (17-50 non Vc) is smaller, lighter and much cheaper. Optically the two lens is quite similar.


Very good picture quality, nice contrast, colours, sharpness, silent and quick USM drive, stabilizer


High price, not Full frame compatible, not stellar build quality, bigger and heavier, high light fallow wide open

Verdict – Canon 17-55 review

The Canon 17-55 is USM is an excellent lens for Canon Aps-C cameras. The sharpness is very high from wide open aperture. If portraits, low light, wedding, silent focus is high on your priority list, and don’t want many lenses the Canon 17-55 can makes sense. It is a high quality lens. If the build quality would be better, would be even better. It is not bad, but there are much better build Canon lenses, especially for this price. Obviously Canon wants people buy Full Frame cameras. If your budget is tight or don’t want to spend so much the Tamron 17-50 Non Vc is smaller, lighter and for half price, optically very similar, but with noisy micromotor, and without stabilizer.

 Posted by at 2:19 pm