Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 Review

When I bought my Canon DSLR, nearly a year ago now, I absolutely loved it (and still do!), but, after a week or so, I found myself a little frustrated at the lack of focal range with the supplied kit lens – the Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens f/3.5-5.6. That lens is all well and good, and can take some mighty fine photos, but I felt that I wanted to take some more ‘close up’ shots, to get nearer to my photographic subjects. So, I started to research into affordable telephoto zoom lenses, and went for the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6, which you can see a pic of below:

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 (photo by pete92009 on Flickr)

As my kit lens already went up to 55mm, the 55 – 250 seemed the perfect counterpart – meaning that with both lenses, I could cover a range of 18  – 250, which is a fantastic range! The Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 is also very good value for such a long telephoto zoom, at around $220 / £150 (you can buy it at Amazon US and UK).


 

There are lots of reviews of this lens on the ‘net, many going into extraordinarily specific and detailed technical analysis – my review will instead focus (pun intended!) on my ‘real world’ usage of the lens, and will show you some sample photos I’ve taken with the lens. So, without further ado, let’s start, shall we?

My First Day With The Lens

The photo of the robin, below, was taken on the first day I got my 55 – 250:

ISO 500, 1/250 sec, f/5.6

Needless to say, I was impressed with my new lens right away – see the detail of the bird’s feathers, the sharpness of its feet, and the lovely background blur too. Being able to get such a close-up, detailed shot of the robin, without having to be actually standing right next to it (I was a good few metres away when I took this), is fantastic – if I’d got physically nearer, then I would have frightened it away, so my 18 – 55 kit lens would not have been able to take this shot at all.

By shooting ‘racked out’ (which means using the lens at its longest zoom length – in this case 250mm), not only did I manage to capture a detailed close-up, but it also helped to produce that extensively blurred background that looks so good. Using longer focal lengths like this is one way of achieving such a background blur – if you’re interested, you can find out other ways of how to blur the background of your photos in the seperate tutorial I did.

Carry on to part 2: It’s great for wildlife and candid photography —>

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9 comments

  1. Abhishek /

    I read in some of the other reviews that it is slower since it doesnt have an USM motor? was it an issue with you?
    And also, is it slow with auto-focussing at over 200mm? Or can we just do it with manual focus?

  2. I’ve not found the focusing slow at all, and definitely no problem when focusing at over 200mm. I really recommend it if you’re looking for a good, reliable budget telephoto.

  3. Nazli Shah /

    What do think abt 18 – 200mm kit lens? Which is better, this or the 55 – 250 kit lens? Appreciate your expertise on this. TQ

  4. Hi Nazil. The 18 – 200 is a really good lens too, and has a similiar variable aperture to the 55 – 250 (although the 18 – 200 can open up a bit more at the wide end). I think they’re both good; the 55 – 250 has the advantage of a further reach, but 18 – 200 has the benefit of having such a large focal range – a lot of people get that lens so that they don’t need to change lenses much at all.

  5. Hi again, TQ for quick reply. FYI, I already have the 18-200mm and the 50mm (nice lens, small yet powerful). For wedding ceremony, what lens would you suggest for both indoor and outdoor?

  6. This lens came with my Canon 550D camera kit. Its my first DSLR.

    This zoom lens is fine, but sometimes I would like to be able to zoom in closer if my subject is too far away.
    What is the next (reasonably priced) zoom lens that you recommend I should consider next?

    Thanks, Maria

  7. There are a few budget lenses that go a little bit further, to 300mm, but you won’t see too much magnification over the 55 – 250mm if you go for one of those. Lenses longer than 300mm are generally not too reasonably priced, however, with the Canon EF 100 – 400 zoom lens about $1600 / £1200.

  8. Hi,
    I bought my 1st canon DSLR T2i rebel mainly to take family pictures and also for my two and half year old daughter. It is very complicated. I am having lot of problem specially when I am taking pictures at night indoor. It looks dull and dark. i just picked up the cannon 55mm/F1.8 lenses per your recommendations. Can you tell me few different kind of setting I should try with the new lens to get some good indoor pictures?
    Also to get a good photograph of the Christmas tree lighting (outdoor) with the family, what Aperture, shutter speed and iso should I use? Taking my daughter to a indoor Ice show and I have no idea how I can get some good shoot with lot of colors sowing.
    Also I played with some of the setting and now it is taking a while to take pictures and it kept on giving me the sign “busy”
    Also I need some clirificaton on shutter speed and aperture, are you able to help me with that or any other place where I can get a good tutorial? Thank you.
    Can you please help.

  9. Hi Immy. For lowlight, indoor photos, you’ll want to use the 50mm f/1.8 in Aperture Priority mode (AV) and choose a very wide aperture of around f/2.0 or f/1.8. You’ll probably also have to raise the ISOto ISO 800 or 1600 if it’s a really dark room. That should then mean you’ll be getting enough light through the lens at once to get a sharp shot, as your camera will also be more sensitive due to the high ISO.

    The ‘busy’ sign on your camera can mean it is writing the image to the memory card; if you take lots of photos at a time at the max file size setting (probably RAW), then you can get this sign coming up. Regarding aperture and shutter speed, you may find this article I did on shooting in lowlight useful.

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