Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published December 2007

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 length88-400 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/6.4-f/9 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction12 elements in 10 groups inc. 1x UD element
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance1.1 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:3)
Dimensions70 x 108 mm
Weight390 g
Filter size58 mm (rotating)
Hoodoptional, barrel-shaped, snap-on type
Other featuresIS (Optical Stabilizer)

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