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

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS
Price : £170
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

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

This lens is an update to the older Canon 55-250mm IS lens, adding a new four-stop image stabiliser with automatic panning detection, whilst keeping this budget lens affordable. In this review we'll take a close look at how it performs.

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

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Handling and features

Just like the previous version, this lens is constructed from high quality plastics, including the lens mount, which does help to keep the weight down to only 390g. As it is an EF-S lens, it can only be mounted on EF-S compatible Canon cameras, like the EOS 600D used for testing. The lens balances well with this camera, thanks to its relatively compact size and light weight.

Autofocus is reasonably swift and precise, even though this lens doesn't sport an ultrasonic or STM motor. Full time manual focus override is not possible so autofocus needs to be disengaged to focus manually. The focusing ring isn't particularly well-damped, which can make applying fine focus adjustments manually a chore. A small switch on the side of the lens allows switching between manual and autofocus quickly.

Focusing is not performed internally, and the 58mm filter thread rotates, which can make attempting to use graduated and polarising filters with this lens a bit of a pain.

Sharp hand held images are possible around two thirds of the time at 1/25sec at 250mm, which is an impressive four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp images would allow. The image stabiliser keeps the viewfinder image very steady indeed, which also aids composition and focusing at telephoto focal lengths.

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

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Performance

At 55mm, sharpness in the centre of the frame is excellent at maximum aperture, with good levels of clarity towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down improves sharpness towards the edges of the frame with the overall best compromise for clarity being achieved at f/8 for this focal length.

Zooming to 135mm actually improves sharpness across the frame, with excellent sharpness in the centre and very good clarity towards the edges of the frame being recorded at maximum aperture. Again, f/8 produces the best compromise for clarity across the frame, with outstanding sharpness in the centre and clarity approaching excellent levels towards the edges of the frame.

Finally, at 250mm, the lens still performs well, producing excellent sharpness levels in the centre of the frame and good levels of clarity towards the edges. Stopping down to f/8 improves sharpness towards the edges of the frame to very good levels.

Resolution @ 55mm
Resolution @ 55mm
Resolution @ 135mm
Resolution @ 135mm
Resolution @ 250mm
Resolution @ 250mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are reasonably controlled at all focal lengths but 250mm, where fringing can exceed 0.7 pixel widths towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture. This level of fringing may become apparent along high contrast edges towards the edges of the frame and may require correction in software afterwards in extreme cases.

Chromatic aberration @ 55mm
Chromatic aberration @ 55mm
Chromatic aberration @ 135mm
Chromatic aberration @ 135mm
Chromatic aberration @ 250mm
Chromatic aberration @ 250mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc. to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled throughout the zoom range. At 55mm the corners are only 1.08 stops darker than the image centre at maximum aperture and at 250mm the corners are 1.14 stops darker than the image centre. Visually uniform illumination is achieved at one stop down from maximum aperture throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is reasonably well controlled with Imatest detecting 0.245% barrel at 55mm at 2.48% pincushion distortion at 250mm. This level of distortion should pose few issues for general photography. If absolutely straight lines are required, then corrections should be reasonably straightforward to apply in image editing software afterwards as the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame.

Few issues with flare were encountered during testing, with only a slight contrast reduction being noticeable when shooting directly into the light, especially at the telephoto end of the zoom range. No lens hood is supplied as standard, so if you require one, then an EW-73B hood will cost around £20.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Sample Photos


Value for Money

Currently, this lens is available for around £170, which is the same price as the lens this one replaces. For £10 more, a Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM lens can be had. Although this lens is more bulky, it is also compatible with full frame cameras and adds 50mm of telephoto reach.

The closest equivalent from third party manufacturers is Sigma's 50-200mm f/4-5.6 DC OS HSM lens, which is equipped with optical stabilisation and a silent focusing motor for around £130, although it is 50mm shorter at the telephoto end.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Verdict

For a budget lens, this optic performs pretty well, striking a good balance between build, image quality and price. The light weight of the lens makes this lens no hassle to keep stowed in a camera bag for when it's needed and the four stop image stabiliser will help users to make the most of the telephoto reach on offer. Although this is a basic lens, it will still win over many fans due to its ability to deliver sharp images.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Pros

Decent sharpness throughout the zoom range
Lightweight
Effective stabiliser
Low falloff of illumination towards the corners

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Cons

CA levels high towards edges of the frame at 250mm
Not supplied with a hood
No STM or USM focusing motor

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

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

ManufacturerCanon
General
Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF-S
Lens
Focal Length55mm - 250mm
Angle of View7 - 28
Max Aperturef/4 - f/5.6
Min Aperturef/22 - f/32
Filter Size58mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus110cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades7
Elements12
Groups10
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight390g
Height108mm

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Comments


josa 2 25 Czech Republic
14 Jul 2013 7:27PM
Great performance/value! Is it really a Canon lens?Wink

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ElSid 6 5 United Kingdom
17 Jul 2013 12:18PM

Quote: For 10 more, a Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM lens can be had. Although this lens is more bulky, it is also compatible with full frame cameras and adds 50mm of telephoto reach.


That's as maybe but as a lens it's reputation is poor and is generally pretty soft beyond 200mm. The nearest full frame equivalent of the 55-250 is the 70-300 IS USM where the resolution is considered far superior to any previous 75/90/100-300mm Canon

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