Customer Reviews: Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II Telephoto Zoom Lens (discontinued by manufacturer)
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on March 18, 2008
I was determined to love this lens based on the specs and price point alone. Canon really needed to come out with this lens at this price because Nikon offers a very decent Vibration Reduction lens at roughly the same range for the same price, leaving me to make apologies for Canon and their neglect to all my Nikon friends.

The IS can be switched off to save battery life but I haven't noticed a difference in battery performance with it. The IS is only activiated when you press the shutter halfway for auto focus. Although it FEELS like there is a small lag for the IS to start, I don't think I've had any photos messed up because of it.

You can HEAR the IS. A little bizarre after using point and shoots that have IS that is silent, but it doesn't seem to affect performance

Pro: Great price for an image stabilized zoom lens. I paid 299 and am very pleased even though Amazon is selling it for 280 a week later. ALso arrive 2 months sooner than Amazon initially promised. This lens has NEVER been 400 dollars. Its MSRP from Canon prior to release was 299.00. Shame Amazon!

Pro: Images are very sharp.

Pro: Image stabilization does a VERY nice job. Four stops as advertised by Canon? I'm not so sure. GREATLY enhancing the composition experience at 250mm? Absolutely.

Pro: Much smaller and lighter than the 70-300 of any manufacturer and much sharper than my Sigma 70-300.

Con: Cheapish feel. But just use it, quit feeling it already. Plastic mount. But if you NEED a metal mount, may I suggest you are being a little rough with your camera. *UPDATE* The plastic flanges on back were able to hold the camera securely to the lens, but NOT hold the rear cap securely to the lens. I've tried many different rear lens caps that fit snugly on other lenses. So I think this is beyond cheap feel and has to be called CHEAP BUILD.

Con: This lens is a little (ok, maybe not so little) slow to focus in dim light, sometimes it misses altogether when I think other lenses of mine would have had no difficulty.

Con: I never gave Inner Focusing much thought on my other lenses until I used this. The front of this lens rotates AND moves in and out a LOT while focusing, so much so that you MAY even want to recompose your shot. The length of this lens changes almost an inch across the focus range. I just checked my Sigma 70-300 and found that it does also, but I've never seen it make as much difference in the viewfinder as I have with this Canon. Your perception may vary.

This lens and the soon to be arriving 18-55 IS as the XSi kit lens will allow me to carry one less lens to achieve an 18-250 IS range. For a little more money than the cost of both lenses you can get the Tamrom 18-250 but not have Image Stabilization. And now Sigma has an 18-200 WITH Optical Stablization for about what these 2 lenses cost retail, but in testing the 2 Canons produced better images.

Conclusion: A great EF-S lens for Canon users. (even if Nikon had to force Canon to make it for us.)
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on June 15, 2009
I have a 18mm-55mm lens, and was in search for a telephoto, I read so many reviews that were so complex I didn't know what I was reading. I bought the 55mm-250mm lens and now understand some of the reviews.

To break it down in simply terms:

55mm (the lowest setting on the 55mm-250mm) you can not stand right on top of a subject, the lens makes you too close everything won't fit in the frame. That is Not what the lens is for & might be were some of the bad reviews come from. (Buy the 18-55mm for those close up shots)

It takes time for the auto focus, it still Fast but not as fast as my 18mm-55mm. Still your not going to miss taking a picture of a bird sitting in a tree far away. But at baseball game of a kid catching a 50mph ball I missed some shots (why I gave 4 stars). Not the lens fault more mine I should have used manual focus!!

On auto focus, after all it has a LOT of setting to go through 55 to 250mm settings. No duh the 18-55mm auto focus faster. Think of it as a deck of cards, you (and auto focus) can flip through 18-55 cards faster then a deck of 55-250 cards. Some of the reviews complain about the auto focus, it does work of course just not as fast as smaller lens.

No matter what if you are in the back row and your son on the stage at a school play, your picture will be Prefect and it will look like you were in the front row.

That is what this lens is for, where you can take time to set it up, adjust and take time to snap a picture. At a baseball game you need to use Manual focus, (you can turn the ring faster then auto) and you can get great pics, auto might let you down during fast action but not with still pictures!!

I suggest getting 18mm-55mm for everyday use, for those great up close, fast action, birthday shots; I Love that lens. Then get the 55mm-250mm for those far away school plays, scenery vacation, and birds sitting in a far away tree the lens is prefect for those kinds of pictures.
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on February 5, 2009
This is the first lens that I've purchased and kept outside my kit lens (18-55). I mentioned kept because believe it or not, I bought the 70-200 F4L non-IS. I won't be giving any technical review about this lens as that is pretty much covered by the other reviewers here. I'll just share my story to help out other beginners who are having a hard time as well contemplating on what lens to get to complement their kit lens.

At first, I definitely wanted to buy a telephoto lens so I can shoot objects from a distance and I really like to try the lens out in a zoo. I then narrowed my choices between EF 70-300 IS USM and 70-200 F4L non-IS (didn't want 55-250 then because I didn't like the plastic mount). Since the latter would end up costing almost the same or even less (comes with hood and pouch plus the free filter amazon offers), I went for it without even thinking. Before the package arrived, I already had second thoughts and tried to cancel the item. Since I tried out the amazon prime 2 day shipping, the package came really fast so I wasn't able to cancel but returned it as soon as I got it.

So why did I return the 70-200 F4L and settled for an EF-S 55-250?

- I don't get paid taking pictures, it's just a hobby.

- No one will really sit down and scrutinize the pictures I take. All Canon lenses take great shots compared to other brands. It's not like I'm posting the pictures I take in the net for public view.

- The beige color of the L lens is somewhat too loud for me. I don't want people to think I have that much cash or evern comment that I only have an XS body.

- No IS, I realized that I really need IS because I don't have any plans of getting a tripod soon and my hands are really shaky.

- Cost!

- Weight.

- Performance of 55-250 that I was able to research over the net. Of course it's nothing comapred to the L lens, no doubt about that. But if the pictures are viewed alone, without comparing to L lens, they are great.

- Max range is only at 200, I get an extra 50mm with 55-250.

- Missing the 56-69 mm.

Ok, the last 2 are just for my piece of mind because I opted with 55-250 but they don't really matter if you have the L lens. If you do become a pro in the future, you'd definitely get something better than the 70-200 F4L.

Bottom line, this lens is no where in the league of L lenses. As one of the reviewers mentioned, it does the job. For value of money, I really love this lens. About the plastic mount, I realized that I wouldn't be using my camera that hard anyway. Plus, it'll be lighter.

I'm going to steal one of the reviews I read, it basically says that if you like the performance of your kit lens (18-55), you'll defintely like this as well. I totally agree, fast AF, sharp pictures, longer range version of 18-55.

Note that this is NOT a comparison between L lens and 55-250, or even 70-300. Just a decision experience that I wanted to share with a number of beginners out there.
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on July 15, 2010
In May of 2009 I purchased a Canon T1i, and quickly discovered that the wide angle kit lens didn't cover the focal range I would find most useful. I seldom take pictures of buildings or scenery, or in close quarters. When I read the reviews on this item, and saw how affordable it was, I purchased it.

For the last year this has been my best friend in the field, my walk-around lens. I do a lot of hiking in the woods and prairies of Suburban Chicagoland, and I have taken about 17,000 images with this lens in the last 12 months. I enjoy photographing wildflowers, frogs, insects, birds, and horse competitions. I have posted several images to the customer images area for this product.

I am a petite 55 year old woman with small hands, and the T1i/55-250 combo fits me perfectly. This lens is lightweight enough for me to lug around for hours at a time.

Zooming and focusing are smooth. The lens does not extend out when the camera is hanging from my neckstrap. Autofocus is usually fairly quick and accurate. In low light situations it can do quite a bit of hunting and sometimes refuses to lock into focus at all. In those instances I flip the switch to manual focus. In fact, when I'm photographing birds, I keep one finger on the manual focus switch because the birds are often behind branches or vegetation, making it impossible for the camera to know where I want the focus point.

Photographing wildflowers in dense woods, I will often use the camera's focus assist light, followed by some fill flash, and this has worked out quite well for me. I am considering the purchase of an LCD ringlight for next season, to throw some light on the flowers from a different angle and make it possible for me to selectively focus and avoid using the on board flash unit.

The Image Stabilization does make some noise, and jerk the camera little when it kicks in. I hardly notice that anymore. The IS seems to do its job well. Most of my images are clear and well focused.

I do a lot of insect and frog photography, with subjects that are easily startled into flight. I frequently shoot from just outside the lens' minimum focus distance, at 250mm, and the images are crisp enough to crop way down for more detail. People think I have a macro lens. I recently purchased a set of Kenko Extension Tubes, and they allow me to reduce the minimum distance between my lens and the subject. The autofocus does not function quite as well with the tubes on, but I use this setup mainly for things that do not flee, so I just switch to manual focus for shots like this.

I am not physically strong, and so I prefer not to lug around a tripod. All of my images are hand held. I'm sure that if I used a tripod or monopod, there would be some improvement in sharpness, but I am happy with my handheld shots.

This is also my go-to lens for photographing horse sports, cross country, hunter jumper and dressage events. I can carry it all day without tiring, and the lens keeps up with the moving focus on horses galloping straight at me using the camera's AI Servo mode.

When you nail the focus dead on, you can do quite a bit of cropping to make up for the possible lack in focal length for distant subjects like birds and other flighty wildlife.

Things that I find displeasing about this lens: the front element rotates during focus, which makes it hard to use circular polarizing filters. Also, I have a soft collapsible rubber lens hood on it which I place up against the glass in zoos, airplane windows, etc to avoid reflection,and the rotation and extension during zooming and focusing cause problems. I don't believe this lens is compatible with the Canon 1.4 Teleconverter. My least favorite thing about this lens is that I have to flip the switch to manual focus before I can tweak the focus, and then remember to flip it back. I have lost some shots that way.

Yes, I'm saving up for the Canon 70-200 IS f4, and a 1.4x teleconverter. That lens solves the issues I have mentioned above with the 55-250. Plus it is less likely to suck in dust from horse shows into the body, because it does not extend, and has better weather sealing. And the image quality is supposed to be amazing.

If you are new to DSLR photography, and want to experiment with different lenses to determine which are your favorite focal lengths, don't hesitate to purchase the Canon 55-250 f/4-5.6. The price is right, the quality is very good, it is lightweight, well built, and holds its value for resale. I will probably keep mine as a backup when I upgrade. Look at my customer images for this product and I think you'll agree about the quality.
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on May 6, 2008
Since I mostly use wide-angle lenses, I was not willing to blow a ton on expensive/heavy telephoto lenses for occasional shots. Prior to owning this lens, I had a Sigma 70-300 APO zoom telephoto that produced good colors, but was essentially useless due to frequent camera shake. I sold the lens and got this Canon zoom.

a) Surprisingly, it CAN produce pretty sharp pictures if the subjects don't move fast. The sharpness is very comparable with two other lenses I own, the famed and breathtakingly sharp Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and Sigma 30mm f/1.4. While the Tamron and Sigma get sharp shots without too much work, this Canon needs a bit of careful handling to get equally sharp shots even at the wide end. I use the word "can", because to achieve it you would either need a tripod or high ISO (my rebel XT's 1600 is pretty much what I use all the time with this lens).

b) The colors in bright light are almost always faded (sharp, but faded). It can be patially corrected in Lightroom, but a bit unfortunate since this lens really needs the bright light for a good shutter speed. Indoors, it produces good color balance/saturation, but struggles to have a decent shutter speed. Kind of catch-22 situation.

c) The construction is pretty cheap, but generally nothing to worry about if handled gently. However, the filter threads are thin plastic and I almost damaged the threads when putting on filters for the first time. I got a dedicated Sigma DG 58mm UV filter permanently affixed on it so that any other filters/screw hood will only go on the metal thread of the UV filter and not the lens thread directly. A metal UV filter is a must if you don't want to permanently damage the lens filter threads.

d) The opteration of the IS is quiet unless you are particularly listening to it. My Tamron's AF makes more noise.

e) After playing with this lens for sometime, I have come to the conclusion that IS is an absolute must on a zoom telephoto when hand held. Being the cheapest IS telephoto on the market today, there is really no equivalent for this in this price range.

f) IS has been of no use in freezing subject motion. While this is to be expected, it highlights how slow a lens this really is.

g) No hood comes with the lens, but I got a third party 77mm screw telephoto metal hood and step up adapter rings.

h) 1 year canon warranty sucks big time compared to the 6-year Tamron and 4-year Sigma (for DG lens).

i) this is a very light lens, much lighter than my sigma or tamron. Very easily carried around (hood might add a bit more bulk, but not too much).

In short, this lens performs great with regards to sharpness and IS. It leaves a lot to be desired in color saturation and flare control, almost always requiring some kind of post processing to achieve desired result.

Update 10/22/08
I bought a 58mm Canon 250D close up filter for this lens and now I have a fantastic macro lens, that is capable of doing 1:1 macro with a working distance of 25cm (~10")! The 250D is roughly 1/7 th the price of the closest 1:1 macro lens with the same working distance - the tamron 180mm 1:1 macro if you were planning on getting a seperate macro lens. The 250D is optically optimized for lens up to 135mm focal length, but the results are fantastic handheld up to 200mm on this lens. Using 250mm (when you get a bit higher than 1:1) is a little bit of work, but gets decent results (with mirror lockup + tripod + f/25). No horrible color fringing that happens with cheap closeup filters on the market (like the Opteka +1,+2,+4, and +10 close up filters). I haven't used a true 1:1 macro lens, which I suspect will definitely be better quality-wise, but the combination of a canon 55-250mm IS + canon 250d for a telephoto + 1:1 macro + IS under 400$ is a true bargain along the lines of the 50mm f/1.8.
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on March 26, 2008
I have had this lens for a couple months on my XTI. I purchased it from Canada and it has North American warranty (both Canada and the U.S.) so I'm safely assuming it will be the same lens released here in May.
After hundreds of shots so far here are my thoughts:

The bad:
-On my copy the color is off. Skin colors have a slight gray hue and colors are not very saturated. In order to get vibrant hues post-processing is necessary.
-Front element rotates and extends while zooming
-It is an EF-S lens. Are you planning on upgrading to full frame soon? I am not so this is not necessarily "bad" but can be to those who are uninformed about the compatibility issues with this lens.
-People often complain about the quality of the plastic build. I am okay with it since this lens is a place holder until I have the money for an L class lens. I would rather have this lens now so I can capture the photos in this range than wait 6 months to a year until I can drop a couple grand on the lens I really want.
-Although it overlaps some with my Tamron 28-75 (which I absolutely adore)I like having the versatility to get a bit wider with this lens. It keeps me from carrying an extra lens when I know I will be shooting at the longer end but I still have the freedom to zoom out a bit to get more landscape if the moment strikes me.

The good:
-Sharp photos
-Decent bokeh
-IS is amazing on this lens. Shot a performance on a dimly lit stage at the long end of the zoom (5.6) without the flash and 85% of my images came out sharp. However, please realize IS controls the PHOTOGRAPHER'S shake/movement NOT NOT NOT the movement of the subject. So with the 15% of the images that weren't sharp (or flat out blurry) the subject moved at a decent rate. If you want to stop movement in less than bright environments a faster lens (2.8, 1.8, or 1.2) is necessary. Also, on my copy the IS is dead silent and I do not have the noise problem the other reviewer was describing.
-For the PRICE you will not find another lens in the 50-250-ish range with this level of performance, IS, and image quality. OF COURSE the 70-200's are better.. several hundred to thousands of dollars better. Cannot compare with Canon's L class lenses although people will (and have)...

Lost one star because of the less than vibrant colors and other reasons noted above... I almost want to give this lens 3.5 stars because I am not enamored with as many of the photos I have gotten out of this lens as I thought I would. I had the Sigma 70-300 APO (before they made the DG version) prior to this lens and I loved the color rendition. However, the lens lacked IS which cut out its ability to capture numerous shots. The Sigma is now broken and sitting on a shelf in case anyone was wondering why it was replaced.
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on May 9, 2008
This lens can be summed up by the simple statement of "Good, but not great." It gets the job done without really excelling at it, and it is definitely not without its issues. That being said, you can't beat the price - depending on what you're looking for.

The price doesn't lie, and though the lens takes good pictures and offers a decent feature-set (IS under $300), it's not a top performer. Bokeh is a bit harsh, AF is somewhat slow and low-light is pretty much out. If you want to make a hobby out of shooting long focal lengths, do yourself a favor and give this a pass.

However, if you're more of a landscape photographer (like me) looking for nothing more than an adequate long-tele lens while you're spending your money on the awesome 10-22mm or a good 17-50mm f/2.8, this lens fits a VERY needed place in your bag.. A 70-200L f/4, it ain't - but it's also not $1,000.

All in all, you get what you pay for and it's good (bordering on sufficient) without being great at anything. It's a terrific buy for someone like me who looks at the tele- end of focal lengths as "that occasional odd shot I don't want to miss." It'd be bloody horrible if I actually used it as a regular lens - but then, I didn't pay the same amount for it that I have for my wider lenses.
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on June 13, 2008
This is a very good lens given its price. Like with any lens selection there
are compromises, and a more expensive lens is not necessarily better in all
respects. These are the main considerations for me:

* The lens comes with an excellent IS. One could probably save a hundred bucks
buying a non-IS lens in this focal range which may even be a bit better optically.
However, long range shots without IS are difficult, especially in low light. The
IS on this lens works very well, better compared to my Canon 28-135 IS and even
compared to the 100-400L. The IS really makes a lot of hand held shots possible
that one could not do with a non-IS lens.

* The lens is fairly cheaply built and has a plastic mount. However, the
trade-off is that it is also fairly small and light (the small size is also due
to the fact that it is a EF-S lens). My other tele-zoom is a 100-400L lens
which is built like tank, but it is also huge and weighs 3 pounds. In many cases
one does not want to carry that much weight around, and that is where this lens
comes in really handy.

* Image quality: No, it cannot quite match the 100-400L, but it comes surprisingly
close. Of course, the 100-400L costs 5 times as much. Lack of good color
saturation is the most notable deficiency. On the other hand images are very sharp.
For outdoors one should get a hood, there is quite a bit of glare in shots with
frontal sunlight.

* Zoom range: the 55-250mm range makes the lens quite versatile. 250mm is long
enough for most outdoor sports, many nature shots, people from afar, etc. At the
other end 55mm is still good for close action, for example at a soccer field.
That is almost a factor 2 shorter compared to 100-(300/400) lenses.
It also provides a nice overlap with walk-around lenses, like the Canon 28-135 IS.

* Aperture: F4-5.6 is nothing to brag about, however, a faster lens would also
have to be much bigger, heavier, and costlier. And as long as you objects don't
move too much the IS makes the lens effectively faster. If Canon's 4 stop
improvement holds it would be equivalent to a non-ISF1-1.4, although F1.4-2 is
probably more realistic. A F1.4-2 with that focal range would have to be big,
heavy, and expensive, if it even existed.

In summary, this is an excellent second lens to complement a short zoom or a
walk-around lens. Very versatile and a lot of bang for the buck. In my case,
even though I own a 100-400L I still keep this lens because it is often more
practical because of the shorter focal length and the smaller size.
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VINE VOICEon May 29, 2009
I didn't expect it to be a bad lens, but given the price I certainly didn't expect the quality that I found with this lens. I have shot extensively with the $1800 70-200MM f/2.8 IS and I have to say this lens comes much closer than I thought to its performance. You will be hard pressed to find any difference in sharpness, and I believe the IS on this lens even works better since it is a newer generation of the technology. This lens does have barrel distortion where the 70-200mm has none. It also can't hold a candle to it in terms of low-light performance. The thing is, though, the distortion was correctable easily in PS and as far as the low-light performance goes I wouldn't bring this to shoot a wedding anyway. I bought it for a specific purpose--I needed a lens quick and I needed a small/light one for shooting only in the the daytime on a long vacation--and it did everything I needed and more. I have already sold a few photos that were taken with this lens! The 400mm reach (this is a 400mm lens on all supported bodies which are 1.6x crop factored) is amazing and I found no loss in sharpness at any focal length. I have been similarly pleasantly surprised in the past by low-cost Canon zoom lenses so maybe I should have seen this coming, but I would recommend this lens to anyone other than someone doing a low-light/professional gig. Given the performance for the cost this lens should be more than suitable for amateurs and semi-pros alike.

Pros: Sharpness, IS technology, cost/value, size/weight
Cons: Mild (but correctable) distortion, zero low-light capability except at unusably high-ISOs

Just get yourself a Rebel, a wide-angle or wide-angle zoom lens, this lens, a big memory card--and you're done. Worry about the rest later.
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on January 11, 2009
The Canon Xsi package we bought came with an 18-55 fairly fast lens. I wanted a telephoto lens that went to 300 or more for mostly outdoor and sports shots, but the economy tanked... I couldnt bring myself to spend $$$ for my hobby. I started looking at Tamron and Vivitar as a solution, and while I own both for my old analog slr. I wanted to take full advantage of the Image Stabilazation and AutoFocus features on the Xsi. I have mixed and matched camera, flash, and lens brands in the past and knew there might be some issues.

I have used this lens a number of times in High school basketball games. I am very pleased with it. You can buy faster lenses, but for the money... this little lightweight lense is great! I get a few blurred shots when setting courtside at girls games. A few more blurred shots in boys games. But all in all... not many. And usually the blur is the ball or the feet or hands, which add an element of motion to the shot.

This has been a great lens for the action shots I want to take, it is great for the outdoor shots I take while motorcycle touring, is great for low light with a tripod. Shooting in RAW lets me clean up about any mistakes I make with software. (Except for blurred or out of focus shots), no software can fix those. The price was right. I read some reviewers talking about how light weight and cheezy it felt. Hey, I like the lightness of it. I have this sucker strapped to my neck and light is good.

I got a lot of lens for my dollar, coupled with a very capable camera, it is a good combination for recreational photography.

I ordered through Amazon, It was at my door in SC OKlahoma within 3 days.

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