Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS or EF75-300 mm: IS or the the extra 50mm?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by hdsalinas, May 27, 2009.

  1. hdsalinas macrumors 6502

    hdsalinas

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    #1
    Hi I just recently got a Canon XS (my first DSLR) and have been playing a little with the kit lens and I really like it.

    I want to get a sencond lens that gives me more range. My budget for a new one is around $250 but I would like to keep it under $200.

    I am considering the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM for $192 (or $160 for the non USM version).

    Now the Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS cost a little more ($255) but I am trading 50mm for IS.

    Are these similar lenses? Am I better off with IS over the extra 50mm?

    Before anyone suggest to get an L lens,keep in mind that my wife and I have other financial priorities (want to build our house soon). Eventualy one day I might get one but now I just want something to learn and take better photographs.
     
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #2
    Are you sure you need a 300mm lens? What subjects will you use it on? When will you use it and where? Can't say which is best without knowing how the lens would be used.

    In general, with such a slow f/5.6 lens you would need IS for some subjects. That "extra" 50mm is not very usful. Even 200mm is a very long lens, more than most people need.

    If I were buyig a second lens I'd go for one that was "faster" not longer than the kit lens. My second most used lens is either the 85 or 50mm. It all depends on the subjects you shoot

    One thing, if you are just starting out your skills will improve, so plan on that. Beginners almost always have the same problem: They forget that that can walk and stay in one spot and use the zoom from framing. It is always best to get closer. camera to subject distance controls perspective (The ratio of subject to background size) Once you learn this you find you don't need a long lens, except for subjects that have a physical barrier like a fence or river or for small subjects like birds. Every beginner goes for a long, low priced f/5.6 zoom and then later buys something like am f/2 35mm lens and the long lens ends up in the bag. So if money is tight you can skip this phase.

    OK if you do buy the 300mm lens, buy a tripod too. You will need it even if you get the IS version
     
  3. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #3
    None of the 75-300 lenses are much good, so skip those. The 55-250 is quite a bit better optically and has IS, which is very helpful on a telephoto lens. So I'd say go for that one. The 70-300mm is optically a much better lens, but it's quite a bit more expensive. It's known as one of the "hidden L" lenses: great optics, but minus the "L" build quality.

    [EDIT: ChrisA was replying as I was typing. I just read his reply and second wholeheartedly everything he had to say.]
     
  4. GT41 macrumors regular

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    #4
    A lot of people ask why people want longer lenses. That's always the first question when such a post appears. I have to say that the 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS was my third lens and is on my camera at least as much as my other lenses so it can be useful if your photography is geared that way.

    While I love the 70-300 I have, and find it to be a very capable lens I can't say the same for the 75-300. In fact I have never seen a good copy of the 75-300 and would generally consider it a piece of junk.

    I do not know anything about the 50-250mm, but at the price range I expect it will be marginal at best. The IS is quite helpful at these speeds and length. I'm not totally sure you'd really need the extra 50mm, but sadly these lenses are never sharp fully extended and you'd probably be losing another 25mm or so from the 250 to get more useable photos so that might be the deal breaker.

    Maybe go down to your local camera shop and try them out, for range and take a few shots and see how they work out. Otherwise I can only suggest the dreaded "save your money up and get better glass later" :(
     
  5. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #5
    It had to be said; I just didn't want to be the one to say it. ;)
     
  6. hdsalinas thread starter macrumors 6502

    hdsalinas

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    #6
    thanks

    I wont get my new lense until July. So that gives me time to make a better desicion.

    I might get the 55-250mm. I have been looking all morning for a comparison of shots taken with 300mmm and 250mm just to compare the difference.

    One more question. I have read a lot of people praising the 50mm prime lens. What is the advantage of having a 50mm prime when a lens like the one in my camera goes from 18 to 55? My newbie instinct tells me that if I set the lense on 50mm I would get the same result. Obviously my kit lens is cheap, but if it was a really good lens, would that be the same as a 50mm?.
     
  7. pprior macrumors 65816

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    #7
    I would advise you to never (NEVER) buy a lens with a 5.6 aperture. Save your money, buy better glass. Glass will last through multiple generations of cameras that you will own and ultimately it's what give you the best images you'll get.
     
  8. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

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    #8
    I second Phrasikleia.

    The 70-300 IS is the best option as its the best value for money as well. It may be expensive but it sure is worth the extra penny!

    If its expensive I suggest you do some browsing around and find a good second-hand dealer. Check the lens and click some shots and then decide!

    If neither new or old is in your budget and you have to have a tele lens now, get the 55-250 IS. Forget something like 75-300 even exists!

    But, reading your post makes me think that the 55-250 IS is the best choice for you for now! I'm certain you'll be able to find takers when, and if, you decide to upgrade! :)
     
  9. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

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    #9
    That's what I'd do. I've got a Nikon, but I'm currently selling my kit 55-200 (without IS), and one of the things I'm thinking about is just getting the IS version of that lens. The ability to take usable photos at slower shutter speeds is a big plus with long lenses.

    With a 50mm prime you'll have a wider aperture (say, f/1.8, or f/1.4). This lets you:

    1. Use the lens in lower light without a flash. Because the lens can gather more light, you can keep the shutter speed high to avoid camera shake, and keep the ISO lower to avoid noise, and still get decent photos in lower light. You'd end up having to increase the ISO or lower the shutter speed with the kit lens, which might not work with the shot you're aiming for.

    2. Selectively focus and blur the background considerably. (Think sports shots or shots of Obama giving a speech.) This lets you draw attention to your subject, and looks nice. :)
     
  10. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #10
    using a prime lens is very different from a zoom, and primes can be faster than zooms, allowing photographs in very low light. everyone suggests the 50/1.8 because it's cheap and it's good.

    however, i suggest you get a 35/2 instead, or any prime lens in the 28-35mm range - 50mm is too awkward a focal length on your camera for an only prime.

    worthless advice. first, you really think everyone should skip on the 28-135, 100-400, 400/5.6, or 800/5.6? not everyone needs or wants fast glass. second, always saving money to "buy better glass" doesn't work if you need something now.
     
  11. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #11
    Agreed on all counts, except for the idea that it's an "L" lens. It's pretty good, esp. if you can stop it down to f/8 or so, but it doesn't hold a candle to the 70-200/2.8 IMO.

    ETA: If you decide to save for a "better" piece of glass, skip the 55-250, 70-300, and 75-300 ... Just get the 70-200/4.
     
  12. bking1000 macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 29, 2007
    #12
    Get the 55-250. It is not the "best" lens out there, but the next logical step from the 55-250 -- that is a lens with almost as much zoom and with IS, but significantly better IQ -- is the 70-200 f4 IS which is $1000! There is a 70-300 IS USM in the middle as a nice option, but is about twice as much (around $550+) and isn't TREMENDOUSLY better, though it is sharper. Also, 70mm on the short end can be a problem. 55mm is long as it is. Stay away from the 75-300 lenses. They are junk.

    The 55-250 is a great lens, when you factor in cost and weight. Yes, it's slow (f/4.-5.6), so it's not an indoor lens, but outside it's fine. No, it's not the sharpest, but in lenses covering that much zoom, there are none sharper under $400. Primes are sharper, but not as versatile.

    The 55-250 benefits from some post processing, as it lacks a little contrast, especially at the long end. It also has some vignetting, but I rather like that look.

    Things you can do with the 55-250 that you might not think about:

    1) Outdoor portraits: formal or candid. When you push the zoom out to 250, you can get fantastic people shots. And, if the background behind the person is far enough away, it will REALLY blur out nicely. The bokeh on the 55-250 is actually quite nice, and it has great aperture blades , so bright sources of light in the blurred background round out nicely. (This lens has 7 rounded blades -- some of the cheap primes people brag on actually have sub-standard bokeh because the apertures are old design and only have 5 blades, so blurred points of light look like hexagons. Also, you can get more background blur with the 55-250 at full zoom at f/5.6 with a headshot than with the 50/1.8 on f/1.8 -- I've had both, and I know it to be fact). The other incidental nicety here is because the lens is a little soft, the pictures of people look great. You don't see every pore in their skin as clear as day. You will get MUCH better portrait shots with this lens at the long end than you can with the kit lens. Much better. Did I mention much better? The vignetting on this lens also adds nicely to the portrait effect. Using this lens for portraits has got me hooked on portrait shots. I think it's now my favorite type of picture. Here's an indoor sample (not mine): http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3035/2957847083_fcfbd8604d.jpg?v=0 And another http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3614/3282801238_b2140c6ebe_o.jpg

    2) Flower shots (or other "macro-like" work). The 55-250 is NOT a macro lens, and has a minimum focus distance of 3.3 feet (so, your subject has to be at least 3.3 feet away to get focus), but as with the portrait, the background can be blurred out quite nicely, and the subject isolated. The 70-300 has a longer MFD (5 feet!) and doesn't magnify as much. Using this lens in this way has got me into macros, and now I'm shopping for a Macro lens. Here's an example (not mine): http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b390/pointerDixie214/IMG_0571.jpg

    3) Sports. No pro sports, but fun snaps. The auto focus (AF) is fast enough for mild sports. I shot great pics at a marathon, my young kids soccer game, etc. With some intelligence, you can get other and faster sports, too. When I said the 70-300 is a little too long on the short end, I was thinking specifically this. When I'm on the side lines of my kids' sports, I can get good up-close pictures with 55mm. 70mm is just that much harder to work. (OK, you probably considered sports already, but I wanted to put in my two cents worth). Here's a sample (not mine): http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2357/2890919815_db363bbf5b_b.jpg

    Will you be happy for ever and ever with the 55-250? Probably not, at least not if you tends towards perfectionism. But it takes good shots, and on a budget is a great lens. You can see samples on POTN here: http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=459569. This lens is so well known, it's got a nickname "nifty two-fifty." Look through these threads and see the sample images. Very versatile lens.

    Also, you can see a review of the 55-250 here: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-S-55-250mm-f-4-5.6-IS-Lens-Review.aspx

    Last comment -- don't waste your money on the 75-300 options. Also, you do NOT want to be at these focal lengths without IS unless you are in full daylight. And even then, IS is nice to have just to steady the image for framing.

    Hey -- do you want to buy mine? I've got to scrape up enough to get the 70-200 f4IS! No, just kidding. I WOULD move to the 70-200 f4IS if I had the cash. That lens is incredibly sharp (sharper than many, though not all, prime lenses), and is a stop brighter at full tele, but it's out of the price range at the moment. In case it makes a difference: I currently have the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8, the Canon 35/2 (had the Canon 18-55IS and the Canon 50/1.8, but sold them both) and also the 55-250. The 55-250 is by far my most fun lens. I'd like the same thing, only sharper and bit more contrasty, but it just doesn't exist at this price point.
     
  13. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #13
    Thanks for the heads-up. Looks like the 70-300 is my next rental.

    Those huge white L zooms seem a chore to carry around... :eek:

    Any other "hidden L" lenses we Canon owners need to know about?

    Thanks!
     
  14. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #14
    Canon's 10-22 is often regarded as a "hidden L".
     
  15. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #15
    The ones I've heard of are:

    10-22mm f/3.5-4.5
    17-55mm f/2.8
    60mm f/2.8
    70-300 f/4.5-5.6
    100mm f/2

    Those all have really good sharpness, contrast, and color. I've gone about collecting them after seeing a list of them on this forum a long time ago, so I can vouch for all but two of them. The 10-22mm is still on my wish list, but instead of the 70-300, I'm saving up for the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS as my telephoto zoom.
     
  16. pprior macrumors 65816

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    #16
    Well I wasn't considering the canon super teles since the guy owns a freaking entry level rebel :rolleyes:

    As to the 28-135, and the 100-400 yes I would absolutely skip those.

    With most zoom lenses you end up using the long end a LOT and a 5.6 aperture is DOG SLOW. It causes your camera to focus like crap (most canon bodies won't even activate some of the focus sensors at that speed) and hugely limits shooting ability in less than pristine light.

    Buy once, cry once. Save and spend wisely.
     
  17. zuma022 macrumors regular

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    May 18, 2008
    #17
    I have the 55-250 and I like it. It's cheap, light and gives you good results. It's true that you probably will need a bit of post-processing to increase contrast/saturation.
    I also own the 70-200 and yes it's miles better, but it's also a lot heavier and it's white. I take the 55-250 a lot for travelling/hiking and I'm happy with the results.
    I think an important point a lot of people don't consider is what you intend to do with your pictures. If you want to blow them up to poster size it probably won't be good enough unless the light is perfect. But for smaller prints or if they stay on the computer or online it's plenty good. I think if you don't pixel peep at 100% and don't intend to print posters, you'll be perfectly fine.

    As others have said skip the 75-300 and also the 55-200, they're both pieces of junk as far as I'm concerned. I don't own the 70-300, but for that money I'd get a 70-200 f4.

    A lot of people advice to save up for the best of the best, but in my opinion, buy what you need at any given point. If you miss the tele range, get one, practice and see if you need a better quality. Canon lenses retain the value for the most part, even the cheap ones, you'll be able to sell it without much loss if you decide to upgrade in the future.

    This is one I took a few months ago with the 55-250 at 250 (which is the weakest focal length IMO). Unfortunately it was overcast, but you can see the sharpness/contrast pretty well.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

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    #18
    Basically all high performing EF-S lenses are regarded as hidden L lenses. Disregarding the supreme tank type build quality, these lenses mentioned by Phrasikleia are well worth being adorned with a red band except for the fact that they can only be mounted on a Fovcf EFS body!
    And they do have excellent build quality as well, it's just a notch below L.

    But I have my reservations on the 70-300 being called a hidden L. It's excellent alright but it doesn't really come too close to it's L contemporary ie 70-200 series imho.
     
  19. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Some time ago I spent around $600.00 on a couple of cheaper lenses, including a Sigma 70-300mm. After using these lenses for awhile, I realized that I could have saved the money and bought at least a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L instead.

    My advise is to buy perhaps a 50mm f/1.8 for the time being, and keep on using this one plus the kit lens until you can afford buying some L glass around $600.00 to $700.00. You won't regret it.
     
  20. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #20
    The 55-200mm and 75-300mm are trash. Don't waste your money. The 70-300mm is okay but if you are going to get a lens to last a long time, save up for a 70-200mm. All four varieties are incredibly sharp and worth every penny.
     
  21. romanaz macrumors regular

    romanaz

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    #21
    I got the 55-250 with my XSi. I've mounted it maybe 10 times, if that. Its okay, but the only time I really use it, is for long long distance shots @ 250 that I feel like getting, and even then, its sub-par. f/5.6 is fricken SLOW. Even in broad daylight, its no fun. For the money, can you do better? Probably not.

    I'm honestly thinking of selling the XSi and that 55-250 to fund a T1i, love the extra high ISO and video.
     
  22. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #22
    The XSi is a wonderful little camera, and like any other, would benefit from the use of the best glass one can afford. A set of good lenses makes a big difference regardless of camera model. Yes, it's nice to have the next step-up model, but better glass is a lot more important to image quality, and it holds its value well.
     
  23. neutrino23 macrumors 65816

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    #23
    Try looking at slrgear.com and some other sites to get technical reviews of these lenses. According to this site the Canon 50-250 looks quite good.
     
  24. bking1000 macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    So many people on this thread are saying "wait and save your money for L glass." Just curious -- is that what you all did? You didn't buy ANY lenses until you stepped into L glass? So, no one took any pictures until they had $1500 to start for the body and the lens? Are these the same folks who say only buy the XXD series, as well. So, the only way to get started with with a 50D, 70-200 f4 IS and 17-55IS. What will that set you back? $3500?

    We aren't all made of money, and the Canon consumer lenses can be "good enough." Additionally, the OP is a newbie -- they don't even know what FL they will use. I guarantee if the OP posted a new thread that said "what L lens should I buy" the responses would be "what FL do you need" and the OP won't know, because they are saving all their money for L glass!

    OP -- don't be afraid to buy cheaper lenses. You can always resell them later. I've bought a sold about 3 lenses so far, and haven't lost more than $50 on any of them, and have been even on at least one of them. In fact, the lenses I bought last fall, I could resell for AS MUCH OR MORE today, because lens prices have gone up. In fact, my lens portfolio has held it's value better than my retirement fund, lol (or is it cry out loud?)

    Do your research, find the best of the consumer-grade lenses (of which the 55-250 IS is the best in that focal length range at that price point), work on understanding what you shoot, and then move up to better lenses later, once you realize how you like to work. How I use my DSLR turned out to be ENTIRELY different from how I used my point and shoots. You'll need to figure that out yourself.

    One other comment on lenses -- us newbies also have to learn to take care of our equipment. I'd rather make a mistake on lens cleaning, or being out in bad weather on a cheap lens than on L glass.

    I posted other folks' shots earlier. Here are some of my own with the 55-250. I've learned by using the 55-250 that I really, really like the long end of the lens. Three months ago, I was thinking about wide angle, fast primes in short FL, etc. After reviewing everything I've shot over the last 6 months, I've found my favorites are at the long end, portraits, and macro. This has changed my decision on what lenses to save up for.

    Don't be afraid of starter lenses. Surprisingly, they are perfect for getting started!
     

    Attached Files:

  25. pprior macrumors 65816

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    #25
    Actually that's exactly what I did. I bought a 10D (a long time ago) as my first digiital SLR. Bought the 50/1.4 as my first lens. Saved until I got the 70-200/2.8L as my second. Was so blown away by the quality that I haven't bought anything but L glass since.

    Now there is no sense in pining away for L glass if you are not ever going to financially be able to afford it - live within your means for certain! However my point is that these "bargain" lenses that cover such a wide focal distance are almost universally very flawed. Again, as another poster notes 5.6 aperture is HORRID.

    Another thing to consider - I bought my original 70-200/2.8L used. I used it for about 3 years then sold it to upgrade to the IS version when it came out. I only lost about $300 vs. what I paid for it, so it cost me about $100/year to have that lens. Most people spend more than that on coffee.
     

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