I picked up a Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS this week with a plan of it replacing my 17-40 L after once again finding myself struggling for shutter speed in a dark hangar.
The build quality is nowhere near as good as the L series of lenses, even the cheapest of which has a metal barrel. At the price the 17-55 f/2.8 IS is sold at you would expect better.
Any disappointment in build quality is soon forgotten when you get on with the task of shooting. Having both f/2.8 and IS means you can shoot in very low light without having to use very high ISO settings but the best bit of this lens is the optics. Canon may have decided not to make this an L lens or give it the metal construction and weather / dust sealings but they did use the same low dispersion glass as the L series lenses.
The level of sharpness is very impressive. My 17-40 L had to be stopped down an extra stop for the sharpness to match the results from the 17-55 f/2.8 IS. Whilst shooting a number of test shots at f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and f/8 I ran back into the build quality problems again. 1 in every 10 shots ended in ERR 01 “Communication with lens is faulty”. Swapping to my second 7D body and the problem appeared again. After some troubleshooting I narrowed it down to the IS.
Checking the usual problems and upgrading one of my bodies to the latest firmware made no difference, if anything the problem occurred more with the new firmware. Checking the Internet returns people with problems that ranged from people only getting ever so often, people giving up using IS, sending the lens for repair and sending the body for repair.
The lens has now been returned. I could have been unlucky and got a bad example but it does put me off a little from owning one of these lenses.
The only other option is the 24-105 f/5 L IS that would help me out in very low light situations but the 24mm wide end would cause be problems in confined spaces.
I’ll have to give this one some more though.