I'm thinking of getting either the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS or EF-S 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. What are the main similarities and differences between these two lenses, and what are their relative advantages and disadvantages when used for social and wedding photography?

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    Hi there Nicky - welcome to photo.stackexchange.com. :) It will help you get more useful answers if you can add more detail to your question (e.g. what camera body do you have?) and make sure the details are correct (there is no EF-S 24-70mm lens - do you mean the EF 24-70 f/2.8L?). – Mark Whitaker Sep 17 '12 at 7:49
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    What is "social photography"? Instagram? :) – dpollitt Sep 17 '12 at 14:25
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    You downvoters need to be kinder to first time posters, what happened to the 'summer of love'? – user9817 Sep 17 '12 at 15:50
  • @ClaraOnager - I think this is why downvotes exist. This shows no research, isn't clear, and really isn't even a good question. The lenses are for different formats, different focal lengths - and the poster provided no clear reasoning behind "please compare for me". – dpollitt Sep 17 '12 at 17:17
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    @dpollitt First time users need better support, they don't understand the rules, all they see is a place to ask a question, and a then when they come back a week later it looks like a bunch of jerks have spent the intervening time calling them names. Thus we lose many people who, with a bit of practice, might be useful contributors. This is a problem that everyone needs to account for, blindly following the rules without considering the people makes stack users into jerks – user9817 Sep 18 '12 at 6:31

My guess is you're talking about the famous Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8, as others have mentioned, there is no EF-S 24-70mm. This lens is bread and butter for a lot of wedding photographers and they will vouch for its quality. As a matter of fact, this lens is so popular that canon has released an improved EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II. Whether this lens is a good buy or not for you, depends on a lot of factors such as, your camera body, your budget etc.

The APS-C alternative to this lens is Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8. Theres also a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 which is a cheaper alternative to this. You always get what you pay for.

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Having owned the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM, I can vouch for how good it is. Really an L series lens but in a plastic body and without the L moniker. The IQ is stunning. I have heard some 'horror stories' of the image stabiliser on it being flaky and failing, though personally I never experienced any problems in all the time I had it.

The main issue with that though is that it will of course - being EF-S - only work on APS-C sensor bodies like 1100D, 500D, 550D, 600D, 650D, 60D, 7D, etc. It will not work on any Full Frame camera bodies such as the 5D series, 1D series, or the newly announced 6D.

So if you are shooting with a crop-sensor body then I do recommend the EF-S 17-55. If you search this site you will also find references to how an EF-S lens on a crop body can actually be sharper than an EF lens on a crop body.

Re: the EF 24-70 f/2.8 L USM - I don't own this, but do currently have my name down with a 2nd hand shop for one if they come by one. The reviews of this lens are outstanding, and for Full Frame photographers, it is a fantastic general purpose lens as well as being ideally suited for wedding photographers.

Canon have just released an updated version II of this lens though, so you should see a few "bargain" mark I versions coming onto the second hand market at reasonable prices.

Either lens will serve you well, and you shouldn't notice the lack of IS on the 24-70. The main decision here will be as to whether you need to use it on Full Frame or not.


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As Mark said, there is no EF-S 'L' lens. perhaps you mean EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM which is a none-IS lens, it's not much useful for low light conditions where you can't use a tripod.

It would be helpful if you add more details to your question, are you going to buy these lenses? or do you already own them? do you really need such a fast lens?

The 24-70 is about $2K, with this price I think you could have better choices, such as Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS EF USM AF.

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    Just because a lens is non-IS, doesn't mean its not useful for low light conditions. In my experience, big aperture non-IS lenses (f/2.8 and bigger) have better performance in low light compared to small aperture (f/3.5+) IS lenses. – fahad.hasan Sep 17 '12 at 11:40
  • Hmm... but in a wedding, where there are lot of people moving around and you can't use a tripod too... idk... – Omne Sep 18 '12 at 16:04
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    When there are a lot of people "moving around", IS wont help a bit. You'll have to rely on faster shutter speed. In order to get faster shutter speed you need either higher ISO or bigger aperture or a combination of both. – fahad.hasan Sep 19 '12 at 15:22
  • Perhaps you're right, in fact, I don't have much experience with such fast lenses. – Omne Sep 19 '12 at 19:01

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