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Some reviews say yes. But since it costs as much as an EF equivalent, why not name it as 'L'? Is there any better lenses in this range (EF or EF-S)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The "L" lenses are designed to take a lot of abuse, whether it's physical punishment, dealing with weather or heat and cold. Mine have been in rain, many days of 115F+ heat, lots of dust, been bounced off fences and posts and work really well still. The consumer grade lenses I've had, even after being babied, were in worse shape. They felt loose and sloppy after a couple years. I'm not faulting the consumer lenses, they're not designed to handle the same use and are good value for the money unless you need something that can be abused and continue to work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Greg
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 5:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not only that, all L lenses are EF full frame and also usually made of metal, not plastic. That being said, my 17-55mm F/2.8 is a fantastic workhorse lens for me on my 60D. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 3:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickBedford: Have you looked at the EF 24-40mm f/2.8L II? That is some very plastic like "metal"! Modern engineering grade plastic is superior to metal in several areas. Thermal expansion/contraction and strength-to-weight ratio are probably the two most significant. But you don't get the same tactile feel when you pick one of the newer ones up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 17:18

4 Answers 4

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I used this lens as my main walkaround lens and as a workhorse for event shooting for about 2 years. The image quality was excellent and definitely on par with the most of the L lenses I've used.

Where this lens isn't "L" is in the build quality. Whereas most L lenses are primarily metal and weather-resistant, the EF-S 17-55/2.8 has a lot of plastic and feels like it's not quite as sturdy as L lenses such as the 24-70.

A couple other minor pieces of note: the lens does not include the hood in the package; it's a separate purchase (and a spendy one at that). Also, it's an EF-S lens, and thus far only the EF lenses have been designated as L.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not an L unless it comes with a hood and little bag! \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 9:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I came here to post this same thing. Fits my experience exactly. \$\endgroup\$
    – kubi
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 10:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not only that, an EF-S lens can't be mounted on an EF body (full frame or close). It's unlikely that they would call an EF-S lens an 'L' because it can't be used with the professional Canon bodies. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 3:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MattGrum: I've got a full collection of those little bags I'll sell you for your non-L lenses! I've never used them. ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 17:14
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Canon has never designated an EF-S lens 'L', perhaps for marketing reasons. But a more practical difference is that the 17-55mm lens is not weather-sealed (a must for L lenses). I believe in general the build quality of the 17-55mm is not up to par with the L lenses.

The 17-55mm lens is very well known for its image quality, which surpasses many L lenses, according to reviews. This is probably what people mean when they say it is an L grade lens.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Weather sealing is certainly not a must for an L lens. Some are sealed, yes, but a lot are not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Staale S
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 8:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Staale - My fault, it seems some of the older L lenses were not weather sealed and many weren't as well built as they are now (Canon probably wishes they weren't L anymore!). Are all new L lenses weather sealed? \$\endgroup\$
    – rm999
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Rather the opposite actually. Older lenses were a lot more impressively built than the plastic-fantastic L's they release these days. Not that the plastic is actually inferior, quite the opposite I suspect, bu there is something about the heft and feel of an all-metal lens that is a thing of joy. I had an old 20-35 f/2.8L once, about 1990 vintage, it made the 17-40 and 16-35s I have had since seem rather pathetic. And the 80-200 f/2.8L of about the same age is something you could kill a charging bull with, and then photograph the corpse afterwards. \$\endgroup\$
    – Staale S
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 20:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ As for weather sealing... some L's have it, some not. The very oldest ones like the ones I mention do not. But even the newest ones do not universally have it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Staale S
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 20:22
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An L-series lens also has one (or several) UD elements - see http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/tech/room/hotaru.html. This 17-55 2.8IS does infact have a UD element which many reviewers and the like are using to claim this as an L-grade lens, except it's the wrong mount, being EF-S and not possible to use on Full-format models.

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NO its not is the simple answer.

Just because it performs better than many other lenses optically doesn't make it better, following that logic you could ask 'Is the 50mm f1.4 really an L lens?', there is a bit more to it than that. There is another post here that asks the question of 'what makes an L lens an L lens' and links to this article by canon.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Despite of the build quality, 50mm f1.4 isn't an L lens for sure :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – mixdev
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 4:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Optically, you may call it an L (and for all intents and purposes has been proved to perform just as well, as well it should considering it uses the same glass), but it's plastic construction and target design (APS-C bodies only) make it a non-L. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 3:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure but thats like saying a 1 michelin star restaurant may as well be called a 3 michelin star restaurant because its food is as good as a 3 star restaurant but the rating system also takes into account service and decore (yea I'm a foodie). The whole point of a comprehensive grading system is to look at an item as a whole and grade it across multiple verticals. I think @ahockley sums it up nicely. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shizam
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 18:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hah, funny that I link to this article today and this response gets a -1. I still stand by this answer though :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Shizam
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 4:42

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