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Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II Telephoto Zoom Lens (discontinued by manufacturer)
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Price:$160.00+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on July 15, 2016
This is my first telephoto lens and I am very happy that I get this one. I mainly use it to take pictures of backyard birds and it serves its purpose well. I'm usually 3-4 yards away from the subjects. While 250mm sometimes seems not enough to get what I want in an image it is still a very nice buy. I already know it's a 250mm, not a the rest of it comes to how the image shows when I take a picture.
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on August 17, 2016
I'm definitely an amateur photographer and really only semi-professional. I work at an event center where we host weddings, concerts, large-scale community events, etc. and I'll sometimes take photos to use on our website or in print. I just got this lens today, and I can already tell I'm going to love it! It has a nice, manageable range for someone planning to use it for somewhat "everyday" use. I'll often take photos of performers up on stage or just strangers from afar while they're attending an event, so I can't always get up close physically to get a nice shot. It also has a great ability to get soft, creamy bokeh (blurred background) to help the subject stand out. It can go as low as f/4, which is plenty small enough for a blurry background as far as what I need. A fixed 50mm that can go to f/1.8 is nice for macro or portraits, but when I'm getting pictures of a choreographed jump rope routine, I don't want that narrow of a focus if they're moving in and out of that range! If you want something that's a step up from your kit lens without feeling overwhelmed by the size or range of a lens, I think this is a great place to start!
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on August 6, 2011
As a former professional photographer I know how important it is for pros to own the best. That's why Canon can ask and get $1500+ for their bestselling L-series zoom. Those who need pro-quality lenses should expect to spend that amount and far more. Those non-pros who have the money and just want the best, should definitely buy Canon L-series--why not? When I decided to sell my dated professional cameras (the "D" was on the other side of the model number) I did a lot of soul searching and researching before I decide where to go next. My lenses were still top quality and fit the newer EF bodies, but lacked modern technological advances like IS. I no longer saw a reason to spend $1000+ on a camera body and $1500+ on a lens. I didn't need video capability. Most of what I take goes up on the Internet, so 10-12 megapixels provides all the cropping room I need. I wanted light weight, good picture quality, and a reasonable price. I found it in the lowly but capable Canon XS (read my review elsewhere). I have no problem with the 18-55 kit lens, but I frequently used my older 28-105 USM lens instead, because it focused faster and was slightly sharper.

In anticipation of an upcoming hiking excursion on Kauai, I decided to pick up a new longer-zoom lens with image stabilization and I again set about doing my due diligence. What I found was that there just wasn't any good reason to go to Canon's middle ground when it comes to lenses. A wide array of testing and reviews showed that Canon's S-series 55-250 was not that far removed from anything short of an L lens -- except in price of course. I was almost embarrassed and feeling a little cheap when I ordered this lens. But now that I've had it for a couple weeks, there is no question in my mind that I made the right choice. I love the size and light weight. The stabilization works like a dream. I've always be a stable base for hand-holding a zoom lens, but I'm now shooting at 250mm 1/200 sec and getting tack sharp results. There is no question that his lens is worth far more than what I paid--thank you Amazon.

What do I wish this lens had that it doesn't? I suppose a metal attachment flange would make me feel more secure. A stop or two more speed, sure. But my only real complaint is the exterior focusing movement that I didn't have to deal with in my older EF USM lenses. The front of this lens moves around a lot, and even if you set your zoom and focus first, using a circular polarizer is a royal pain. For the same reason, I can't use a tulip hood, which is far and away preferable to the ET-60 "Dice Cup" Canon designed for the 55-200. (I did, however, just order one--what choice did I have?)

Is the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens perfection? Absolutely not. Does it perform far above this old ex-pro's expectations? You bet it does, and for a price that is, in my opinion, way below its worth.

Addendum: I forgot to put in my two cents re: the noise mentioned by other reviewers. Noise levels may vary depending on the lens you get--I can't speak to what others are experiencing. However, my lens makes no more noise during focusing than any autofocus lens I've used or been around. The stabilization mechanism makes a mild, almost humorous crackling sound--kinda like paper being wadded up--but on my lens, there has to be dead silence around me in order to hear it. I never notice it under typical shooting conditions--and believe me, no one is more sensitive to noise than I am.
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on February 8, 2017
Yes, it's a kit lens. But, that doesn't mean it makes crappy pictures. I've got 20x30 prints on my wall that impress friends and family that prove otherwise. It's got it's compromises, but if you're on a budget, it's better to have a lens you need than none at all. A lot of people whine about the plastic body, but that's never been a problem for me because I don't drop-kick my gear. For me, the biggest drawback may be the minimum f4-5.6 aperture, which, coupled with my camera, means I have a very limited aperture range contained within the len's sharpness (avoiding diffraction) and my camera sensor's limitations.

If you're a casual amateur photographer, this lens may be all you need. If you're an advanced amateur, consider this lens as a placeholder while you get the funds for something better. If you're making money regularly with your photography, you're not even reading this review. :)
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To start, I would have to guess that most people come across this lens the same way I did; I bought a new camera and this lens came with it. With that in mind, I have used it quite a bit over the years, and have the following things to say about it...

1. Good Zoom Range - 55-250mm gives you a lot of options. I have used this lens to get pictures of landscapes, birds, and various other things. It has a fairly narrow aperture though (F4-5.6), so it requires good light conditions to get good shots (more on that in a minute). In any case, even after stepping up to the 70-200mm F2.8L, I still keep this lens in my bag, as it is a good secondary walk-around lens by comparison. Plus, it's much lighter than my 70-200mm, and less expensive too, should something go awry.
2. Compact - By comparison, it isn't much bigger than the 18-55mm lens that also comes with almost every new Canon Rebel. I often carry it in my hoodie pocket for quick swap outs with my 10-18mm wide lens. It's light too, thanks to being made out of plastic.
3. Good Quality Photos - This is probably the most important thing for a lens to do. It does a good job of taking pictures, so long as you have good lighting to compensate for its aperture of F4-5.6. I'm not typically blown away by these photos, but for anyone that is in the amateur to low-level enthusiast category, this is an acceptable lens for the price. To compare, I mentioned the 70-200mm L-series lens that I also have, and the 55-250mm just can't compete. But that lens is 1200 dollars MORE than this lens, and needs a pretty good understanding to make it work to its full potential. This lens can get a starting, or even mid-level photographer on their way to getting some good shots on a budget. You can learn a lot from this lens, before stepping up to a more serious lens. Or not, if this lens does what you need, which it totally can.
4. IS - Comes with image stabilization. IS is probably as misunderstood as variable aperture by new photographers. Let me be clear, IS is NOT for freezing motion on a subject. To do that, you have to use a fast shutter speed. At 1/500 sec, IS is useless. IS is for helping the camera stay stable from a handheld shot that falls to 1/50 sec, or less (with a steady hand you might be able to do 1/30 sec). I don't use it often, as I typically use a tripod when I get that slow (my hand is not steady at all). But it is nice to have, and is a little more important on a telephoto, as the barrel length makes hand-shake worse. However, the light weight of the lens makes it easy to hold on subject for longer periods of time than the monster that is the 70-200mm f2.8L.
5. Price - At just under 130 USD, you could do a LOT worse, and if it came with your camera, all the better. Take into account the IS, the ease of use, and ability to get good photos; this pushes the price to value ratio pretty high. Keep in mind that this model is discontinued for the newer, STM version, which I talk about later in the review.
1. Made of all plastic - So, remember I said it is light, and that is due to the plastic design? That is both good and bad. Plastic case makes it feel cheap, and weak, and on several occasions I have actually seen the barrel wobble a little at full extension. Putting on the hood is a chore, as it often moves the end of the lens in a way that feels like I am going to break it off, and even pushes it back in if the lens is extended at all (a really bad thing if you are in auto-focus mode). Even the mount at the base is plastic, which isn’t too big a deal since the thing is so light, but I still worry what will happen if I drop it. I worry that it will eventually be useless to me; due to its cheap plastic design will not protect the lens if it gets jarred to hard. 1 star off - not just because of the all plastic design, but because of how shaky it feels at full extension (seriously, it wobbles sometimes).
2. Auto focus is iffy - I have had mixed results with this. When zoomed in, it does an ok job of finding the focus. Zoomed out it seeks a lot, especially if I am using Live View. It isn't a very fast focus either. This is because it using a micro motor for focus and this isn't the fastest, or even smoothest focus (The latest version of this lens has STM, which is fairly fast, and much more smooth). Also, the barrel rotates as it focuses, which makes using certain filters more of a challenge. Specifically, a circular polarizer or graduated ND filter. If you are using either of these, be sure to set the focus first, and then rotate the filter to get the effect you are going for. 1 star off - for the micro motor focus, and barrel rotation during focus.
3. Not the widest aperture - Once you get into lower and lower light situations, this lens starts to drop in performance. It has to be zoomed out at 55-70mm to keep it at F4, and that isn't a lot of zoom. It just keeps getting worse as it zooms in, which is the nature of the variable aperture. As the elements move further from the sensor, less over all light gets on it, and even though the aperture itself is the same size, it has the same effect as getting closed down. Since you know this going in (part of the rating of the lens), it is not worth a star off, but is worth a mention, especially since there are higher level lenses with wider apertures out there (at a premium price).

Other than these points, I would say this isn't the worst lens ever. It is, however, my least favorite of the lenses in my bag. Before I had my 70-200mm, this lens was the necessary evil, as it was the only option for telephoto. That being said, I have gotten some good shots with it over the years, so long as I had good conditions to shoot in. I've used it for some interesting landscape shots, such as on rivers and streams, to focus in on a specific detail that is more interesting that way. I've gotten a bird in flight with it, albeit with some blurry wings flapping (which in some ways looks kind of cool). It doesn't come out of my bag too often anymore, but as long as I have it and I have room for it, it will remain in the bag.

If you have it, use it. If not, and you need a telephoto, here are some recommendations...

1. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens for Canon EOS SLR Cameras A middle ground between the cheapies like the 55-250mm and the (dreadful) 75-300mm, and the more expensive L series lenses, this lens gets good reviews. I personally have not had the pleasure to test it out, so I feel a bit reserved about this recommendation. I really only mention it as something in between the more expensive lens I am going to recommend next, and the lens under review. If you have the chance to trial one then do it, especially if it is side by side with the other lenses I've mentioned. At 450 USD, I personally would look more at my second recommendation, the 70-200mm F4L. UPDATE - There is a new version of this lens, the EF 70-300mm F4-5.6 IS ii USM. It is normally 550 USD, but often is marked down to 500. If you can get it at 500, then I would say it's worth the extra 50 bucks, and would be the one I would recommend over the 70-200mm F4, unless you really have to have the F4 constant aperture.
2. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - OK, I know what you are thinking, "that thing is how much!?" Let me explain. This is probably the best bang-for-the-buck lens on the market for a Canon; L level optics, in a 600 dollar package. Super sharp lens, great focus, and keeps at F4 through the whole zoom range. If you can swing it, or at least save up for it, it will be the best lens in your arsenal.
3. Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras or Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras So it probably seems odd that I am recommending what is basically the same lens as the one I am reviewing, the 55-250mm IS STM. The reason (See note below for updated information)? Same as the reason I am throwing the 75-300mm on here; either of these is likely to be bundled with a new camera, or at least be a cheapie add-on option for about 100 bucks (maybe less). If that is the case, then I say go for it, as whatever it is you get will be the first telephoto you will have, and they are good enough to learn from. Even at their 200-300 USD price tags, they do OK for their price. I haven't used the 75-300mm, but I've seen a mix of reviews, good and bad (again, only get this if it is bundled with your camera or a cheap add-on) with the main complaint being soft focus at 75mm. The way I see it, you have a telephoto to zoom in, use your 18-55mm for the wide shots. The 55-250mm is the latest version, and has a nifty STM motor upgrade. STM is a smooth focus, meant more for videos than for still images, but is a good system for both. Not as snappy fast as USM, but still fast enough for this level of lens, and faster than the micro motor on the original under review here. Otherwise it is basically the same lens, with the same optics, and the same IS. If you have the choice between the 2, get the 55-250mm. From the sounds of it, it performs much better at all ranges then the 75-300mm. EDIT - I actually did have the 75-300mm lens at one point. I gave it away when I sold my old Rebel XT to a friend, mostly because I felt the 55-250mm was a better fit for my crop sensor camera, since it was an EF-S lens. At the time, I didn't know what the difference was, and I thought that the EF mount wouldn't work as well. LOL! In any case, the 75-300mm is not a good lens, even for the 200 USD it normally sells for. So again, only get it if it comes with your camera, or you just can't afford a better lens.

A quick note about STM - not all cameras support STM in video mode, so be sure yours does if that is what you want it for. As far as I know, they all support STM in photo mode, so you're good there. I think the T4i was the first in Canon's lineup to support STM in video mode, for smooth, continuous focus.

Otherwise, as I said before, you can do a lot worse than the 55-250mm IS ii lens. I personally can't recommend it over the 70-200mm, or 70-300mm I've mentioned, but to be fair, those lenses are more expensive. I know not everyone wants to drop a lot of cash on their camera, or even can. If all you can afford is this, then with some practice you will learn how to get some very good shots with it. Just look at the ones below.

Thanks for reading my review!

EDIT 3-12-17

(I posted this in the comment section, because every time I try to edit the review it never post. Maybe this time it will.)

I wanted to point out some things I've learned about the STM version of the 55-250mm.

1. The optics are actually improved. This gives it better overall sharpness than the original. I've seen a side by side comparison of an image photographed by the two lenses, and it is a pretty clear difference.
2. It focuses from the rear. This means that the barrel doesn't rotate when focusing, and therefore is not an issue when using with a polarizer or graduated ND filter. I'm not sure if that means that it doesn't extend as far either, but if so, then that probably solves the wobble when fully extended. These were things I took a star off for on the original.
3. The STM AF is improved. While I would have to get my hands on one to see how it performs, the other star I took off was for the iffy AF, especially when zoomed out. If it is true that it is overall better, then I wouldn't have anything to complain about on the STM version.

The only thing I can see that is "bad", is the STM version is 300 USD, which I think is 100 bucks more than the the original was when it was new, and is more than double its current price. But, this increase in price reflects the improvements to the optics and the STM focus, which are pretty much worth it if they perform at the level people are saying. It is still plastic (mount too), but it is still light, and probably a good lens to have in your bag for a walk-around telephoto. My plan is to try to get one if I can find a good price on one, or if I get a new body see if I can get a good bundle. With this in mind I am going to rescind my recommendation of the 75-300mm lens, even as a cheapie add-on. Put your money into this lens instead, or one of the other 2 I recommended. (Keep in mind that the 55-250mm won't fit on full frame bodies, since it is an EF-S mount). It might well be the best value lens for under a grand, for APS-C cameras.
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on April 3, 2014
5 stars for the image quality considering the price!

If you are looking for an inexpensive zoom lens, this is the one for you! After much research, it seemed that this lens was the best in my price range. No, it is not as good more expensive L lenses, but I think that would be expected. If you want the best, you have to be willing to pay for it. But the 55-250 gives excellent performance for under $300!

We have lots of wildlife where I live, but I have never been able to get decent shots with my 18-55mm kit lens or 50mm because they don't reach the distance needed. Since I will be using my zoom lens less often and as more of a hobby, my budget was low...especially since I am looking to buy a prime lens for portraits where I hope to make money.

I was not expecting too much because I was not paying for an L lens, but after using the 55-250mm for myself, I am extremely happy with it (considering what I paid for it), and very pleasantly surprised! I bought it over the 70-300mm because of the IS, and honestly, the extra 50mm wouldn't be worth it unless you used a tripod. The IS allows for handheld shots, which makes it great for a walk-around lens. It is plastic, but that means it is lighter than most other lenses of this focal length. Images with this lens are very crisp, and the bokeh is beautiful. At 250mm, you can easily capture birds in the trees and amazing close-ups of plants. I know some people have complained about slow auto focus, but that has not bothered me because I manual focus 95% of the time. You will probably need to correct color slightly in Lightroom, Photoshop, or GIMP, but I always edit my photos slightly anyways. I look forward to shooting even more with this lens!

Overall, this lens is the best bang for your buck!
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on September 11, 2016
For this price, you almost definitely will not find a telephoto lens with this kind of zoom, good image quality, and most importantly, image stabilization. Obviously you are not going to get the picture quality from this lens that you would get if you spent $500+ or more, however for the price is is a fantastic lens.

I mostly use this lens only for shots in the 100+ mm range, and closer to 200 usually. For a body I use a Canon Rebel T5, with no extra accessories. The image stabilization on this lens makes a huge difference when zoomed in to the 200+ mm range. As long as you are mostly still, you will get some great, clear shots from this lens. The picture attached shows this lens fulled zoomed to the 250 mm range. With good outdoor lighting, you will get some great shots with this lens.

Overall, you cannot beat the price for something like this. I would definitely recommend this lens for a non-professional photographer looking to get a nice telephoto lens.
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on April 14, 2017
This is a good lens for those wanting to step up from an 18-55mm kit lens. It feels nice in hand and is easy to hold and switch out. The base is plastic, which isn't a big problem unless you're really throwing your camera around. I used this lens with an old Canon Digital Rebel (300D) and had no problems with it. The stabilization is great, but sometimes the focusing is a little slow. I haven't missed any shots because of it, and at last resort, you can put it in manual focus and go from there.
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on November 10, 2015
For the price, you absolutely cannot go wrong. It's a great lens for a great price. This is a really good lens that is going for less because it has been replaced by a newer model. That's it. This lens was recommended to me by a couple of friends that have been using this one for a good couple of years now. This, at one time was an expensive lens. It beats out cold the cheap 75-300mm lens that comes with some of the kits. Now that is a cheap lens. There is no comparison. Again, for this type of lens, you can't beat it. This has the image stabilization and that makes a huge difference.
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VINE VOICEon February 7, 2014
Canon EF-S 55-250mm Zoom Lens  was attempted with Canon EOS 60D  This camera originally came with Kit lens 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS UD Standard Zoom Lens. While this Kit lens was good enough for most needs it would fall short whenever you need better zoom. EF-S 55-250mm Zoom lens is little bit better than the kit lens. The construction is all plastic when compared to the kit lens which has a very good solid metal ring which attaches to the camera body. This Canon EF-S 55-250mm Zoom Lens on the other hand is lightweight and performs well.

The image stabilizer feature in Canon EF-S 55-250mm Zoom Lens does work relatively well to minimize blurred photos but also introduces slight IS noise when recording movie. I do not recommend anyone using 'Movie mode' using this Canon EF-S 55-250mm Zoom Lens. For good movie recording experience I feel that you are better off using a Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens BTW, this pancake lens is also very fast in Auto-focus as per users of the product. This would be my next purchase for sure.

Coming to the review of Canon EF-S 55-250mm Zoom Lens, This is decent lens for the price but not excellent enough to drool about especially if you already have Kit lens 18-135mm that Canon offers for 60D. For the price you get a better zoom capability but Auto-focus is painfully slow. If you use a tripod (Highly recommended) and use manual focus you can get fairly nice photos. Image is not that sharp and there is some 'purple fringing' in the photos that I have taken so far. Having said, Center of the lens performance is best at the wide end and slowly degrades as you go to the long end with some barrel distortion then leading to some pincushion distortions.

Bottom-line: If you already have kit 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Standard Zoom Lens this is not going to give you anything spectacular other than some better zoom. If you have a different EF mount lens that came with your Canon camera that lacks Zoom then this is an good choice without breaking the bank.

Hope this review proves useful to you. Cheers!
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