In some photography circles, Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS* lens is just a toy. According to them, build quality is so-so and it doesn’t have the features of lenses costing hundreds and thousands of dollar more, etc.
The build quality is the same as the 18-55mm IS kit lens, often packaged with the XSi. Like the kit, the 55-250mm IS is a treasure for many Canon digital single lens reflex camera owners.
At the time of this writing, the lens sells for under $300.00 U.S., certainly not expensive as far as the cost of most interchangeable lenses.
On my Canon XSi/450D with a focal length multiplier of 1.6, the 55-250mm lens has an effective focal range of 88-400mm. This is a very useful zoom range for many types of scenes.
While it’s not made as well as lenses costing hundreds or thousands dollars more, it is not junk either. The lens is lightweight and compact compared to more expensive lenses with similar focal lengths. More importantly, it offers surprisingly good image quality, particularly for those who don’t fret over every pixel when viewing a digital image at 100 percent.
Most images are reduced in size when processed. With minor edits such as adjusting brightness and contrast and sharpening, a well-exposed image taken with the 55-250mm IS lens can hold up well against photos taken with more expensive lenses.
I have no hesitation recommending the Canon 55-250mm Image Stabilized lens to anyone who wants a very good lens for a very good price.
* Important Note: this lens is much improved over the Canon lens with the same focal length that does not have image stabilization.
Using the 55-250mm IS
AV mode and image sharpness
The Canon 55-250mm lens gives me sharp images with good contrast and beautiful color. But sharpness with any interchangeable lens is not a given…sometimes you just have to work at it.
Image sharpness improved since switching to aperture priority mode. I use smaller apertures when needed that give deeper depth of field, resulting in sharper images. For sharpest images, the “sweet spot” for this lens seems to be between F8 and F11, though it varies with focal length and distance the lens is from a subject.
My only complaint about this lens is that the focal length is not suitable for some wildlife photography. I wish Canon made a less expensive lens with a focal length of 400mm.
The Canon 55-250mm is not considered a fast lens. Not surprisingly, it does best in good light. However, with image stabilization enabled and raising the ISO, you can get some very good hand held low light shots. With my Canon XSi, I have no hesitation bumping the ISO up to 800, even 1600 if I must.
I’ve tried the RAW + JPEG setting when using Continuous Mode and the 55-250mm lens. Forget it with the XSi. The camera only takes about six shots then takes a breather, negating the effectiveness of burst mode.
The lens exhibited flare in some photos I took of a sunset. I didn’t use a lens hood, though it probably wouldn’t have helped since the lens was pointed very close to the setting sun. Moving the lens slightly eliminated the flare.
I don’t consider this a major problem since lens costing hundreds of dollars more can also be susceptible to flare. A lens hood helps!