First what Canon writes about this lens:
To meet user demands for a fast EF-S zoom lens, Canon has specially designed a new lens with a large aperture of f/2.8 for select Canon Digital SLR cameras.* The large circular aperture produces a shallow depth-of-field, creating background blur that draws attention to the photographic subject. The lens construction includes UD and aspherical elements, which deliver impressive image quality throughout the entire zoom range. Image Stabilizer lens groups shift to compensate for camera movement so that the image appears steady on the image plane, ensuring clear, crisp images, even in dim light. With a Ring-type USM, inner focusing and new AF algorithms, this lens achieves autofocus quickly and quietly, and with full-time mechanical manual focusing, manually adjusting the focus is possible even in AF mode.
And here from a really well written review over at http://www.the-digital-picture.com/ :
As it turns out, my 17-55 matches or exceeds the optical performance of my L-Series zooms in this similar focal length range. This lens is sharp! Wide open and from edge to edge. Weddings, events, parties, family activities, portraits, landscapes, stage shows, car shows, night sky … there are far more uses for this lens than I am going to think of. Unless there is an upgrade to a 1.3x or full frame body in your future, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens is an ideal lens to include in your kit. Even if a larger format sensor body is in your future, the resale value of this lens remains strong.
Well we couldn’t agree more. It is by far the sharpest lens we have owned so far. The lens is more or less always mounted (only for some ultra wide angles we still need the EF-S 10-22mm, and of course, the Tele sometimes).
Build and handling
Despite lacking the L branding this lens is a good quality item of kit, as indicated by its price. The build quality feels right with all the switches and rings having that positive smoothness of operation to them. It is a large optic that has an extending front element that protrudes an extra 28mm as it zooms out to the longer focal length. The broad zoom ring does enable this movement with relative ease though. The extension is about the only thing we could criticise the lens for though and the inclusion of the 3-stop image Stabilisation system excuses the bulk.
The IS system, now much more usable than early versions, is capable of allowing hand holding down to much lower shutter speeds than would previously have been recommended and we managed shots at well beyond the ‘focal length=shutter speed’ and claimed 3-stop settings without any hint of shake. This, combined with the f/2.8 maximum aperture, does make the lens ideal for low light work although it should be remembered that the IS system will not stop subject movement. You need shutter speed for that! Focus speed with the USM motor is quick and near silent with the amount of light getting in ensuring a good lock-on.
Again, this lens can be regarded as quite high quality and is a massive step up from the ‘kit’ lens that it is designed to replace. Contrast, as with most of Canon’s optics, is good and the colour rendition is pleasantly warm without being too saturated. Resolution is good enough wide open and improves well to the f/5.6 mark, where it can be classed as excellent.
The lens is a high quality optic that seems to almost match the L standard. Priced at the upper end of the spectrum for lenses that cannot be used on Canon’s professional camera models.
In summary, the positive points of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM are:
- Good build quality with smooth operations
- Excellent Image Stabilisation
- Good image quality
- Popular Filter size
- The negative points are:
- Expensive with no-upgrade path
- Distortion at the longer focal length.
- Slightly bulky for focal range.
Following some sample shots from the past few weekends: