Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews -
Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Lens kindly provided for testing purposes by Rob (NL)!
It took Canon quite a while to release its first ever APS-C tele zoom lens - the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS.
In fact they were the last of the Mohicans in this respect. The lens is usually sold as part of double lens
camera kits combined with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. However, it is also available separately at
around 250-300€ providing some comfortable headroom to the next desirable lens - the EF
70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS (full format). The field-of-view of the lens is equivalent to 88-400mm on full format
cameras - this is certainly sufficient to cover the focal length needs of the average Joes out there. Ambitious
users may not like the slow max. aperture but you can't have it all in this price and weight class.
Regarding the recently reviewed EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS I was prepared to receive another el-cheapo
plastic lens but, honestly, the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS did surprise me here a bit. Sure, it is not build
like a tank but the plastic quality is fairly decent and the tolerances are pretty tight. The beauty of
the plastic mount may be a bit debatable but it's not a heavy lens anyway. The focus and zoom control
rings operate reasonably smooth. So yes, unlike the 18-55mm IS it has a dedicated focus ring and it's
perfectly usable - if you can handle the dim viewfinder produced by such a slow-speed lens. Typical
for such lenses it extends when zooming towards the long end of the zoom range (see the product images below).
Both the front element as well as the focus ring rotate during focus operations. Size- and
weight-wise the (APS-C) lens is about 30% smaller/lighter compared to the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS (full format)
which may be an argument for some.
The AF speed is pretty good and the noise level during operations remains on a very low level. Unfortunately
the test camera (EOS 350D) didn't really like the lens. At 55mm it had
big troubles to lock on reliably and in the field things weren't all that convincing beyond either.
This aspect is much better on an 40D or 400D though. According to Canon the newly developed Image Stabilization system is good enough for a "gain"
equivalent to up to 4 f-stops. Personally I was not able to recreate this potential in the field
but according to reader feedback the IS seems to work fine.
|Equiv. focal length||88-400 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. aperture||f/6.4-f/9 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)|
|Optical construction||12 elements in 10 groups inc. 1x UD element|
|Number of aperture blades||7 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||1.1 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:3)|
|Dimensions||70 x 108 mm|
|Filter size||58 mm (rotating)|
|Hood||optional, barrel-shaped, snap-on type|
|Other features||IS (Optical Stabilizer)|