After such a long time i finally got the time to sit down and write about another under rated Canon lens. This lens can also be considered a kit lens since there are certain packages where they include this together with the Canon 18-55mm IS and the camera body.
So… this is my take on the Canon 55-250mm IS zoom lens.
First up let me just emphasize that this lens is definitely for beginners and… photographers who are in a very… and i mean very tight budget!
I have been using this lens for over 2 years now for 2 reasons. One, i haven’t gotten the money to upgrade (LOL!) and Two, it is a very good lens that going”third-party” is not worth it and the only upgrade i have in mind would be a Canon L lens. There are a lot of third party lenses that could have replaced this lens in my line up but the question is… “What for?” This lens delivers the goods! That is what is important. For the span of over two years that it’s been with me i believe this has been used more than any of my other lenses. The focal range is pretty much perfect for me. At 55 mm it’s quite wide enough for a small group shot and at 250 mm the reach is decent enough to get a distant shot or a tight shot with a decent blurry background.
This is still my walk around lens in “street events” even though I already have a Canon 24-105mm f4 IS USM L walk-around-lens that i bought early last year. During street events there are so many interesting things that can happen and having a semi wide to a very long reach is an advantage. And at close range blurring the background becomes an easy option as well. Some would ask… “Why didn’t you get the Canon 18-200mm IS lens then?” Well I have to be honest, this lens was just a measly 8,900 Thb when I bought it. (It’s even cheaper now) The 18-200mm on the other hand was over 20,000 Thb. So during that time i had no choice. But luckily, a blessing in disguise, this lens turned out to have better IQ than that of the much more expensive lens. (I have tried the 18-200 as well and will do a review of it also soon.)
Did I mention that this lens has IS? The Image Stabilization on this lens works. Having a long focal range, this lens is good to have an IS. The longer sibling of this lens, the Canon 70-300mm USM non IS is a bit more expensive than this one (12,000Thb) and i have tried it myself…but without the IS it did not give me the confidence shooting it. Another sibling would be the Canon 70-300mm IS USM but is waaaay too expensive at 18,000 Thb. I was thinking, “if i’m gonna spend that kind of money i’ll just have to save a bit more for a 70-200 L USM lens f4 which costs 22,00 Thb.
I know… I know.. you have the image quality in mind now. When I said it delivers the goods I really meant it delivers the goods. This lens is sharp! At 55mm f3.5 this lens delivers a sharp image and will get sharper at f8. It holds the colors nicely in place so don’t worry about color fringing. At 250mm at f5.6 it’s still fairly sharp and gets even better at f8. It has very minimal barrel distortion or pincushion. Now I will not go into technical details since I am no expert and I do not have the proper scientific way of projecting those claims here. But all these that I have mentioned are the things that I have experienced personally.
So now you might be asking “If this lens is that good then why is it that it gets shunned by a lot of photographers?” Well that question brings me on the this len’s negative side. Of Course this lens being a very cheap lens will have some manifestations of its cheapness. Let us start with its build quality. 1. Plastic mount: The barrel itself is also made of plastic which may turn off a lot of photographers. 2. No weather sealing.
Other reasons why many photographers don’t like this lens is….. 3. its rotating barrel tip, quite annoying if you like filters, 4.focusing is not fully manual so you would have to turn off the AF when you want to manually focus. 5. There is no distance scale window. 6.Focusing is slow especially at 200mm up. 7.The tiny motor is fairly quiet err.. noisy.. 8. The IQ though sharp it has this shade of darkness to it but nothing that lightroom or photoshop could not fix… 9.The bokeh it produces is oval-ish in shape. Unlike the L lenses that produces rounded bokeh. 10. Can only be mounted on crop frame sensor Canon DSLRs. 11.No free lens hood when bought. ^_^
These are all the down sides of this lens i know. I have managed to gather all these negative comments of this lens from different reviews I found on you tube or some blogs by photographers who “HAVE NOT USED THIS LENS IN THE REAL WORLD!!!!”
Once again i will be restating what i said earlier. This lens is for beginners. A first zoom lens so to speak. So let us try to take on the downsides they said that “really matters” one by one.
1. Cheap build quality. True… because this is a very cheap lens. But, trust me… this lens is tough enough to survive me for more than 2 years. The rubber grips on the focus and zoom rings did not even warp or deform despite the use and abuse. And i have not had any mechanical problems with it ever since I bought it. (but i never dropped it though ^_^)
2. Rotating barrel tip. I have never used an ND filter or any kinds of filter on my zoom lens so it was not really a bother. For beginners i do believe that you would be more focused on framing and having fun with the background blurring or what not rather than pissing yourself with the rotating barrel tip.
3. No full manual focus ring, no distance window scale: Once again… as beginners it is most comfortable to use auto focusing. Speaking for myself i seldom used manual focusing. So i leave it on AF and i am very happy about it. ^_^.. And i never have ever needed a distance window scale.
4. The plastic mount: This lens is so light that putting a metal mount on it would be like using nails instead of pins for your Justin Bieber poster. ^_^
5. For some photographers size matters so they get turned off when they realize how small and light this lens is. LOL! Meh… I don’t need to confirm my manhood by the size of my lens! Do you?
one last thing… I read one review by this blogger who said that… “It’s a shame that this lens can only be mounted on a crop frame Canon DSLR. that is indeed true because this is a very good lens….. but, if you can afford a full frame DSLR… you can afford to buy a much better lens. ^_^
That’s about it.
I hope this review helps.
Leave your comments and your own opinion about this lens. If i may have made an error in this review kindly point it out and i will work on it ASAP! Cheers!
Ryan D. Photography ^_^