Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Lens Reviews

Compact and lightweight, the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS offers the longest zoom range in the EF-S series to date. The 88-400mm equivalent focal length opens up new framing possibilities for owners of EF-S mount cameras shooting wildlife, sports and travel photography. Optical quality is assured through a UD element, which minimizes chromatic aberrations that could otherwise cause reduced contrast and color fringing.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm Reviews

PopPhoto

A natural for globe-trotting vacationers and soccer parents, this is the obvious second lens for Canon EOS 40D and Rebel XSi owners. Clearly it and the 18-55mm IS make an attractive team that promises sharp pictures in dicey light across an amply wide 13.9X zoom range. And you can’t beat that price.

The Digital Picture

The one great feature the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Lens has beyond just the basics is a 4-stop Image Stabilizer with vertical and horizontal auto-panning detection. With IS switched on, A half-press of the camera shutter release results in a much less jittery view through the viewfinder.

Photozone

Technically the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS is a tiny lens with a great performance potential. The resolution is very good across the range. Chromatic aberrations are basically a non-issue. The level of distortions remain moderate. The most obvious flaw is, unsurprisingly, vignetting at large apertures. The build quality is fine for a lens in this class and it is one step up from the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS that we’ve seen here recently.

Where to Buy

If you’re buying online, I recommend sticking with Amazon, B&H Photo and Adorama. These three vendors are reliable, trustworthy and generally have the best (legitimate) prices.

[tags]canon, ef-s, 55-250mm, lens, is, usm, review[/tags]

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Comments

  1. says

    That’s the only place that I’ve seen it too. $400 seems a little steep though, especially considering what Nikon’s similar 55-200 VR zoom costs.

  2. Tito Lee Bop says

    $400 on ebay is not that bad considering it retails at Henry’s ( a Canadian retailer) for $350 + tax and shipping. Compared to Canon’s 70-300mm IS it it about $300 dollars cheaper for almost the same focal range. this one is plastic thou

  3. Eric says

    vilimio,

    I think he was saying the 55-250mm lens is $300 cheaper (that’s not quite accurate, but what I think he was saying nonetheless). I think the 70-300mm is hard to find for less than $500.

    Good news is that the new 55-250mm lens is $299 in the US now.

  4. Kanga says

    The Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS is available at Digital Rev (link edit – ed.) for $288 AU and also for UK, US, Canada and the rest of the world.

    Cheers

  5. MARY says

    Can anyone tell me whether or not this lens would be good for sports photography in low light. I photograph the high sxhool football team and sometime they have night games. I am new to the dslr game and every dealer i talk to just confuses me more. Help..

  6. Eric says

    Mary – While this lens has a nice zoom range, it wouldn’t work very well for sports at night. In fact, I wouldn’t choose it for sports photography at all.

    First, low light photography needs a large aperture – that’s the “f” number that you see after the length measurement. You would need something like Canon’s 70-200mm f/2.8, which runs about $1000. There is also an “IS” version that’s about $1500. Sigma has a good 70-200mm f/2.8 that runs about $800, which I have and love. Canon also has a prime lens that is fixed 200mm f/2.8 for about $650.

    Second, this lens does not have an internal USM autofocus motor like the more expensive models that I referenced above. This will hurt your AF tracking on moving subjects, resulting in less keepers. This is the reason that I would not choose it for sports.

    Since you’re new to the DSLR game, let me recommend some books on this page. Particularly, take a closer look at Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. This book is one of those that will make you a better photographer.

    Good luck and feel free to ask more questions along the way.

  7. MARY says

    Eric:

    thank you so much for your input. its nice to get advice from someone who isnt trying to sell me something. Unfortunately, I am on a lmited budget and can’t afford a lens in the $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 range. I saw the feedback above and just had to ask. I have a Fiji S9100 (9mp) that takes great sports pictures, but of course when I campared the pictures to the slr a friend of mine has, it clearly doesnt compare. He uses the Nikon D40 (6.1mp) and it blew my pictures out of the water. So I bought the canon Rebel XT. (8mp) it came with the 55mm is lens so now i need a telephoto lens as well. Since I take pictures for the high school football team, I am on the sidelines(not in the stands). but I really hate running up and down the field. (just lazy I guess) so now that I told you my life story. How about the EF 75-300 f/4-5.6 III USM. all the ads I see say its great for sports photography. i realize it doesnt have the image stabilizer. I will deal with the night games as I go. 8 out 10 games are during the day anyway. and I am going to buy that book and was thinging of taking a few classess at the community college as well. I really enjoy the sport photography and want to make my pictures better. what do you think about this lens? I could robably go up to $550.00 for a lens.

  8. Eric says

    Mary,

    At $550, you could probably find the 200mm f/2.8 L lens used. Additionally, you could grab the 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS lens or the 70-200mm f/4 L. Neither of these lenses will perform as well in low light due to the minimum aperture of f/4. You will have trouble getting a shutter speed that is fast enough to stop the action, which will result in motion blur.

    However, we cannot pick and choose our budgets. If you’ve got $550 to spend, I would choose the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS (image stabilization). Paired with the Rebel XT, this is an effective lens. It will be great for daytime games. Hopefully, you can boost your ISO to 1600 and get reasonable results under the lights. The USM will help with autofocus and the IS will steady your image at those long telephoto lengths.

  9. Mary says

    thank you once again. but you brought up another question. I know I’m being a pain. Please bear with me. You brought up the canon fixed 200mm f/2.8. what does it mean fixed. does that mean you are stuck at 200mm, as opposed to 70-300. Like I said with my Fuji I didnt have all these options. I used the shutter priority and took pictures..

  10. Mary says

    whether or not you realize, you have explained many things to me that dealers did not. At least you put it in lamant’s terms so I understand. I really do want to thank you for all your help and I will try not to bother you so much.

  11. Eric says

    Mary, it’s no bother at all. That’s why Photography Bay is here.

    When you see focal lengths like 200mm or 70-300mm, those relate to field of view of the lens. Obviously, something at 300mm is going to appear a lot closer/bigger than something at 70mm.

    You will hear several folks talk about “primes” and “zooms”. Primes are fixed focal length lenses, like the 200mm f/2.8 that I referenced above. Zooms will, as the name implies, zoom throughout a range of focal lengths. While there are many excellent zooms out there, some of which we’ve discussed, primes are often heralded has providing superior image quality.

    Again, Bryan Peterson’s book will help explain some of these concepts. You may even consider reading it prior to making your lens purchase.

    You are always welcome to comment as often as you like.

  12. Marvyl says

    I am buying the Canon Rebel xsi kit. Since the lens goes to only 55 mm I need another lens. I shoot travel, landscapes, and outdoor scenery and animals when I can see them. I’m looking at the new lens that Canon is coming out with this spring: the 55-250 IS. It’s an f4/-5.6…will that lens work? I don’t do much shooting at night. If anyone can recommend a better lens by Canon, Tamron or Sigma with the optical stabilization I would appreciate the help. I have the Peterson Understanding Exposure book and the two Kelby books on digital photography which are very helpful.
    Thanks.

  13. Patrick says

    Same story. Currently looking to buy the Canon EOS-450D Kit wiith the EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens.
    I would like to find a good zoom lens to complete my kit. As I am rather new to DSLR, I looking for wise piece of advice !! is the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS a good deal ?

    Many thanks
    P.

  14. Peter Keddie says

    Based on your review, I recently bought the Canon EFS 55-250mm IS lens. My pictures show excellent clarity through the zoom range. However, I have a question. After zooming and then returning to 55mm, the lens barrel is still protruding and I have to turn the focus ring to fully retract the lens. Is this normal or have I bought a dud ? Please note I am a complete novice to photography and would br grateful if someone could put me right.

  15. says

    Peter,

    I’m glad you like your new lens. What you describe is perfectly normal. The movement of the lens is necessary when focusing. If you will watch the end of the lens barrel while it is autofocusing, you will notice that is moves slightly in/out. This is a shift in the glass elements inside the lens, which is necessary to achieve proper focus at various distances.

    I hope this explanation calms your concerns. Enjoy your new lens. Eric

  16. Peter Keddie says

    Hi Eric
    Thanks for the explanation. You have certainly addressed my concerns. Now I know this is normal I can get to grips with the photography side and see if I can turn my mediochre pictures into good ones. Thanks again

    Peter

  17. Jim Noel says

    Can you tell me if the Canon EF-S 55-250mm lens will work on a Canon EOS Rebel 2000?

    Thanks very much.

  18. Ieva says

    I understand that Canon EOS Rebel 2000 is the same as Canon EOS 300. I have Canon ESO 350D. Will the lens work on my camera?

  19. Richard says

    Can someone offer me some advice on the above mentioned lens? Canon EFS 55-250mm F4.5-5.6 IS

    I have just bought the Canon 400D and I’m finding the kit lens not quite to my liking. Im going to be using it for taking pictures of animals in game reserves, etc. lions, rhino, elephants

    The problem Im reading about is that it doesnt have USM. Is this really going to be a hige problem? The other lens I can get here in South Africa is Canon EF 70-300mm f4.0-5.6 IS USM, but its R6800.00, which is 88% more expensive than the one mentioned at the top.

    Please could someone help me?

    Much appreciated,
    Richard

  20. says

    @Richard – This is a judgment call that you’re going to have to make. The EF-S 55-250mm lens is not going to have as fast of an AF as the EF 70-300 USM. Additionally, you’re losing 50mm on the long end on the EF-S lens. AF is probably going to do fine in daylight, which seems to be your desired shooting situations; however, moving animals may be more of a challenge with the non-USM lens.

    The size of these problems are going to be your personal preferences. Personally, I would nab the 70-300mm if given the choice but, as you point out, the price plays a role in your decision as well. Only you and your wallet can make that call.

  21. Shahar says

    Hey!

    Just one question regarding the 55-250 and the 70-300 Lenses. What would you say is more impotant, the Image Stablizer ? or the USM ?

    Thanks!

  22. says

    @Shahar – IS and USM serve two completely different purposes. I suppose that depending on your shooting style and subjects, either could be more or less important to you. For me, I would take USM over IS most days of the week.

  23. Kathy says

    Hi folks. Could someone tell me if the ef-s 25-250 IS will work with a EOS 300D. I have read all the other questions and answers and have found them very helpful as I am new to digital cameras. Thanks

  24. Jeff says

    I just bought a used Canon 70-300mm lens IS USM lens. When the camera is in auto focus at full zoom, i can hear a low humming noise after the image is in focus until I shoot the shot with my XSi. Also, if the lens is in full zoom and i point it vertically the lens retracts by itself as if there is nothing to stop it from doing so. Are both of these issues normal?

  25. EricE says

    Jeff – the humming is the image stabalization doing it’s thing.

    It’s normal. Enjoy that lens – it’s a good one!

  26. says

    Can’t Decide –

    I had the Canon 75-300mm until my lovely puppy knocked it off a table. I have since learned of the 55-250mm with IS. I want to stay under $300 (so not considering the 75-300 IS). Which would you choose between the 75-300 and 55-250? To those who have used both:

    1. Is the IS on the 250 worth giving up the extra length?
    2. Do you miss the extra focal length offered by the 300?
    3. Which would you choose?

    Thanks a bunch!
    Clay
    http://www.clayphotography.smugmug.com

  27. Mike says

    Hi,

    I am contemplating purchasing the new Canon 50D but I don’t want the standard “kit” lens which are generally just ok. I will have a budget of about $2,000 and would like to get the best all around lens or lenses I can. I am primarily a nature/landscape photographer. I currently have a Sony Alpha100 with a Minolta 50mm Macro, a Sony 75-300 4.5-5.6 zoom, and their 18-70 kit lens. After using the system for almost a year now, I’m just not happy with their lenses. Any suggestions on the Canon would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    Mike

  28. Peter Bruun says

    I think you should wait for the new canon ef 24mm f/1.4L II USM, then I think you will get the best lens for landscape.If the 24mm are too expensive, I will think about Canon ef 35mm f/1.4 L , not so wide,but it can also be a nice walk-around lens.

  29. Mike says

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks very much for the reply. After reading my own post again I understand why you suggested those 2 lenses, unfortunately my TOTAL budget, including the body is about $2000! That being said, do you have any other suggestions? I’m probably going to have around $700 +/- to spend on a lens or lenses. Thanks.

    Mike

  30. Michele says

    Somewhere in the review, it says the Canon EF-S 55-250mm 55-250 IS Lens is good with a fast camera such as the 40d……what about the 30d. Not as fast, not fast enough?

  31. Desmond Law says

    Notice my canon efs 55-250mm IS lense quite often experiencing center focusing ring shifting during focusing (visible via viewfinder). Is that normal? Also can hear a slight knocking sound during focusing too.
    I’ve seen a few users asking about the same finding…not sure if this is normal for long zoom lense. Certainly didn’t have that problem with my 18-55mm kit lense.

  32. Dave says

    Hi,
    I’ve just purchased a Canon D1000 as my ‘entry’ into photography and am heading off on safari soon to test it out but need a suitable zoom lens.
    Could someone spare a few moments to suggest the best option for a budget of 300euro?
    Much obliged,
    Dave

    • says

      I think the 55-250mm lens will suit your needs and price just fine. If you can swing it, the 70-300mm IS lens is much better though. After that, prices go way up.

      If you are really starting out in photography, might I suggest that you pick up a good book like Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure. It will be much more valuable than any lens for you photography on safari.

  33. Dave says

    Would you advise against buying a converter like the Sigma AF 2.0 EX DG APO for around 230 euro alongside a cheap lens like the Sigma AF 55-200 4.0-5.6 DC (100 euro)?

    I could get up to 400mm zoom that way, but I worry about the quality.

    Thanks for your help

    • says

      @Dave – I would advise against that combo. Aside from the quality issues, I think you may encounter some serious autofocus challenges due to the small aperture.

  34. Dave says

    Thanks for your help, I’ll try and stretch to the 70-300mm IS lens and have a couple of Scott Kelby books to guide me through

  35. Shekhar Das says

    After going thru the reviews I am really confused. Please advise me as to what would be most suitable for me. Canon EFS 55-250 or 70-300 (not the IS). My budget is within $300.00

  36. michael says

    hi, ive just purchased the canon 500d. its mainly intended for home use but in june i will be visiting my local grand prix curcuit for the motogp (motorbike races) i will be sum distance away from the bikes but i want some good shots. canon ef 55-250 is? or canon 75-300 usm mk3? cheers.

  37. Carolyn says

    Hello! I am about to purchase a Canon Rebel within the next couple of days, most likely the T1i. It comes with the 18-55mm IS lens but I am thinking that I will go ahead and purchase an additional lens with it as well. Any suggestions as to which lens I would be better choosing?

    Canon EF-S 55-250 f/4-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens
    OR
    Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Lens??

    I am confused!!! By the way, I am new to SLR so to be quite honest most of this makes no sense to me!!
    Thank you very much in advance for any suggestions!

  38. Sarah says

    I have a Rebel XSi. mm, we bought the kit so it came with a 18-55mm. I’m not sure what everything means, “xsi”, “18-55mm”. But I’d like a lens with more zoom, for sports. Any recommendations?

    Also, I know someone selling the Canon EF-S 55-250mm lens. Is that compatible with my camera? & if it is, is it good for sports?

  39. Aileen says

    Pls help me decide whether to buy the Canon EF 75-300mm III USM (w/o IS) or the EF-S 55-250m IS..

  40. Amanda says

    @Carolyn
    If you’re new to using SLR’s I would suggest you get the Canon Rebel XS to start off with. That, and it will save you much more. Not to mention, honestly the lens matters more than the body, so use what you save towards a good lens.
    The XS is also a great camera and with your experience it will give you the same quality pictures and an easier time to learn how to use it. The T1i is a more advanced camera and isn’t really worth getting for some time.

    as for the lens..
    @Shekhar
    @Aileen

    It depends on what you’re using it for. The 55-250mm is more useful if you’re taking pictures with not the best lighting, and gives a general better picture, but the 75-300mm lets you zoom in more.
    Personally I would suggest the 55-250 simply because it is rated a better lens overall and in my opinion the IS is well worth it.

    @Sarah
    Yes. it’s compatible. I would definitely suggest that lens for a first telephoto lens. It takes practice though, so don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t immediately give you the pictures you want. Experiment with settings, look up how to control your shutter speed and aperture, and whatever you do do not depend on the Auto setting on your camera. It’s a fantastic camera, but it’s not made to be a point and shoot.

  41. Carolyn says

    @Amanda
    Thank you very much for your advice! I was actually wondering if just buying the XS would be sufficient and yes it would save me some money up front!
    Thanks again!