Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S DX

Choosing a zoom lens can be more difficult than choosing a prime lens because of the different numbers that needs to be processed. Each lens varies in minimum focal length and maximum focal length and the ones with tighter focal length ranges are the ones that are sharper. When both image quality and zoom capabilities is an absolute must, the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor lens fits the bill. Although it has a limited range, the aperture remains constant across the zoom range which explains why this lens is a bit more expensive than the rest of the standard zoom lenses. However, this is still a recommended by because of all the nice technologies and advanced optics.


Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S DX | [book id='37' /] Opens in new window

Design & Construction

The Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED is designed for professional photographers that can deal with the slight increase of weight when mounted. But lenses that are heavy benefit from being durable enough to last longer than the other lenses in the different Nikon categories. The handling is fine for most photographers to deal with the zoom ring situated pretty close to the camera. It is also thin, but adjusting shouldn’t be any problem. The focus ring is a bit wider to better distinguish the two rings and can be easily accessible just by sliding the hand forward. Since it adopts the Nikon DX design, the lens still remains compact producing a smaller image circle which leads to better image quality due to the fact that the lens diameter being smaller.

Actual user review:
“This is a great lens for photojournalism, weddings and general photography. I’ve not had the opportunity to shoot landscapes with mine yet but I expect it to excel in that aspect as well. Wide open, the lens is very sharp – When opening images in Adobe photoshop, there is often no need for sharpening. The lens balances well on my Nikon D70, and is very comfortable to use – the zoom and focus rings are adquately sized and have a nice consistent resistance throughout their respective ranges. Additionally, the lens focuses very close (about a foot from the subject), allowing a lot of creative flexibility. I purchased this lens as an upgrade to the D70 kit lens (18-70 f/3.5-4.5) and can honestly say it was worth it. I shot a low light wedding (my first) with this lens and an 85 1.8 and found the 17-55 indispensible. The fast 2.8 aperture is great for low light while the 17mm end (appears similar to a 27mm on film) allows for a much wider angle than comparable 28-7x lenses. I’ve heard of sample variation, but have had no problems with mine. Highly recommended.” – Ben (US)


Features & Specifications

Sharpness is superior when comparing the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G with other medium zoom lenses because its “sweet spot” is wider and sharper from wide open to f/8 and the focal length doesn’t cause any negative impact to the sharpness effects. Little softness can be noticed at f/11 and more softness is noticeable at f/22 when using the minimum aperture settings combined with the wide-angle settings.

In addition to the sharpness quality, it remains as a unique camera lens because it can maintain constant aperture no matter what zoom range is set on the lens. This feature alone contributes to the cost, weight, and overall quality of the lens. Combine these two qualities together results to an outstanding performer across the board keeping the sharpness comfortable even when the photographers use it to shoot wide open. Stop down a little bit and the sharpness quality improves even further.

Chromatic aberration is a bit high for a lens in this price range when medium focal lengths are used. However, the average level of chromatic aberration stays comfortably low which means that other focal lengths can handle color and contrast a little bit better. Another thing that makes the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G is the use of three instead of the usual two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements to prevent chromatic aberration from reaching alarming levels. Superior contrast and higher resolution is also achieved as a result. For best performance, it is best to pair it with a flagship camera that can eliminate the CA after each shot although it should pair with other DX-format cameras as well.

Auto focus performance is decent due to a number of technologies including the Silent Wave Motor that is exclusively implemented in all the AF-S models. This allows auto focusing at ultra-high speeds with pinpoint accuracy without making any noise throughout the operation. The Internal Focusing design smoothens the focus even more and the rounded diaphragm naturalizes the out-of-focus elements for a more defined picture. Switching between modes is also easy thanks to the M/A and M modes.

Bottom Line

The Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S DX lens isn’t the newest lens in Nikon’s collection of standard zoom lenses and remains as the first 3.2x zoom lenses that can stay at a constant 4/2 aperture which is the strong point in the overall quality of the lens. It is best used with any of the Nikon DX-format cameras as long as the weight isn’t an issue. The 3.2x zoom also makes it great for taking group shots, landscape, and portraits without being disappointed with the sharpness quality.

Average User Rating:

  • “I have been using Nikon cameras for 30 years, and their digital SLR’s for the past 5 or so…this is far and away one of the best Nikon lenses I have ever used – amazingly well built, excellent image quality, fast focusing, wonderful glass. The downside is primarily the price — it’s as expensive as a full camera, and the weight — this is a two pound lens. If your budget can accomodate this lens, get it, you will be thrilled. If your budget can not, get the Tamron 17-50 which has similar image quality, weighs less than a pound, and sells for 1/3 the price of this lens. But wow…once you try this lens, you will kick yourself for getting anything lesser….Warning: filter size is 77, so most of your existing filters probably won’t work, and do your self a favor and get yourself an UV filter/lens protector out of the box before you put your fingers on your 1300.00 lens.” – Ron (MI,USA)
  • “I bought my 17-55 last month with my D200. At first I was shocked by the weight and considered trading it straight back in but my wife pointed out that the photos it took were simply stunning and compared to my 18-70 on my old D70 the results are wonderful, with superb definition amazing colours and contrast. It’s fast too which means that the viewfinder is bright – this really helps composition in low light – and it’s sharp all the way to 2.8. It helps me take better photos more than any camera body could. I love the lens now and would trade it for nothing else. The 17-55 a piece of beautiful engineering and is a joy to handle and on reflection not so heavy . But the real beauty is inside where Nikon have done something almost magical.” – T.W.Symonds


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