Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Lens

Everyone loves zooming in.  Put aside the questions of whether it’s in important aspect of every day photography, or whether using long zoom lenses like the Canon 55-250 can make it harder to get a crisp image.   It’s useless to try to convince someone who just bought or is about to buy an entry- or mid-level DSLR like Canon’s T3i that they don’t need a 250mm lens.


Because, CHECK OUT THAT ZOOM!  You can see the freakin’ feathers on that bird.

The one that’s flying.  Away.

So what does Max mean when he says it’s not “fast” enough for sports photography?  Two things, really. The first has to do with the aperture (lenses that open up to wider aperture stops are often called “fast” lenses).  Since the 55-250 doesn’t open up to anything wider than a f/4 (and closes down even further as it zooms in), it requires slower shutter speeds for proper exposure.  This is a problem in sports photography, where fast shutter speeds are necessary for crisp images.  The lens is also not quite “fast” enough in terms of its auto focus motor.  The 55-250 uses a micro motor to auto focus, which is significantly slower than the ring motors found in USM lenses.  This means the lens would have a difficult time focusing on a fast-moving object, even when mounted on a camera with a powerful auto-focus processor (like the 7D).

The 55-250 may be a basic lens (no focus lock, no distance window, plastic build) but it’s an economical one, and a great add-on to the 18-55 kit lens since it picks up exactly where the kit lens leaves off. As long as photographers understand and accept the limitations of this lens (like its minimum 5.6 f/stop when zoomed all the way in)  it can offer a nifty way to shoot details that would be impossible to capture to without a telephoto lens.

*Note this lens is an EF-S lens, which means it is made specifically for 1.6X cropped sensor cameras (e.g. the T3, T2i, T3i, 60D and 7D) and cannot be mounted on cameras with larger sensors (like the 5D and 1D series).*

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From Canon USA:

This telephoto zoom lens is designed with Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer technology while retaining compactness and lightness, in response to demands of photographers. This high zoom ratio lens is equivalent to a focal length of 88-400mm in the 35mm format (when used on Canon EOS cameras compatible with EF-S lenses), and the image stabilizer effect equivalent to a shutter speed about 4 stops faster than the same size lens without Image Stabilizer. In other words, if the slowest shutter speed you could formerly hold a 250mm lens steadily was 1/250th of a second, with Canon’s 4-stop stabilization correction, you could hand-hold at shutter speeds as slow as 1/15th of a second. It also uses a UD-glass lens element to correct chromatic aberration for excellent image quality throughout the zoom range. This new EF-S telephoto lens with great features delivers excellent performance at an affordable price for all photographers.

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture 55-250mm f/4-5.6
Lens Construction 12 elements in 10 groups, including one UD-glass element
Diagonal Angle of View 27° 50′- 6° 15′ (with APS-C image sensors)
Focus Adjustment DC motor, gear-driven (front focusing design)
Closest Focusing Distance 3.6 ft./1.1m (maximum close-up magnification 0.31x)
Filter Size 58mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight 2.8 in. x 4.3 in./70 x 108mm (maximum lens length); 13.8 oz./390g