Commentary Lenses

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

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

You would’ve noticed that I’ve been writing a lot about the better lenses in the 17-50 range, which translates to 28-105, probably the most used range in the 35mm format. After Nikon’s 17-55 f/2.8 AF-S, Sigma was the first to produce a similar lens, at a remarkable value. The Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC has basically captured that market, considering none of the other camera makers rushed to produce an excellent f/2.8 lens in the given range.

This year, the battle in this range will be getting fiercier as Tamron has announced the SP AF17-50MM F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF based on their best–selling SP AF28-75MM F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) which has managed to capture those who have long been dreaming of Canon and Nikon’s 24/28-70 f/2.8 lenses.

Canon’s EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM is a welcome addition in this battle of walkaround zooms, a lens expected to take a significant chunk of the market. Unfortunately, the addition of IS has pushed this lens in the 1,100 USD range, more than twice the Sigma and the Tamron. Everyone is expecting top–notch quality and performance, but at this price, the cost may be unreachable to many first–time DSLR shooters.

My verdict: a very good lens though at a steep price. There are cheaper alternatives that may provide better value and just as capable of delivering excellent photos. Before you buy, make sure you also consider the Tamron SP AF17-50MM F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF, the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC, and even the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro which I’m still eagerly waiting for.

9 replies on “Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM”

[…] In the battle of the normal zooms, it looks like the expected leader is already here, as the first few samples from the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM are already here. This lens is expected to set the standards for this range and lead against the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro, the upcoming Tamron SP AF17-50MM F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF, and the still in the works Tokina 16-50 f2.8. […]

Uhhhh suggesting an AF lense (Tamron SP AF17-50MM F/2.8) as a replacement for this EF lense???

Scott, the Tamron holds its own well against the more expensive Canon, at least in terms of quality. From a price/performance standpoint, the Tamron as well as the Sigma offerings are worthy alternatives.

Got the tamron and was VERY disapointed. Auto focus is too loud, and slow. Returned it and got the the 17-55 instead! Worth every penny. Price is ok considering it has USM, IS and 5mm more to it’s range. As for the suggested alternative 28-75 2.8, I’ve had this lens for over a year, soft at 2.8, VERY SHARP at 5.6, however AF is noisy and it mis-focuses regurarly (aprox 1 shot every 5), whereas the 17-55 never misfocused yet, IS is VERY effective and the AF is VERY fast and silent. Got rid of all my 3rd party lenses and I’m sticking with Canon!

James, the Canon 17-55 is expectedly better than the Tamron 17-50 in many ways, considering the price difference involved. Expecting the quiet Canon USM AF sound from a lens a third of the price is just wrong. Well, it really depends on your needs and the budget available. If money were no object, the 17-55 is surely the way to go. :)

I cannot help but wonder about the EF-S format. Is Canon going to retain the smaller tham 35mm sensors, or will the near future put them to rest in favor of 35mm sized sensor in 5D, and other higher end cameras.

Sam, I think the EF-S format will be the sensor size of entry–level digitals in the future, while the pro lineup including the 30D will likely move up to full–frame. 1.3x on the 1D will soon disappear, and we will be left with EF-S and FF. Just a wild guess though. :)

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