Note: this lens has a predecessor - the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS
The EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II is a very popular lens. Both as a separate buy and in the twin kit edition together with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II that Canon ship with some of their cameras. It does make a lot of sense to combine the two because together they give you an effective focal range of 29 mm to 400 mm which covers just about everything except for the ultra wide angle.
Wildlife & Sports
At 400 mm effective focal length the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II is ideal for even smaller wildlife (like birds). And if you'd like to add a little context to the image just zoom out to a minimum of 88 mm. But wildlife and sports photography also require low f-stops to achieve fast shutter speeds. The EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II offers f/4 at the wide end but only f/5.6 at the tele end which is a little slow. At least the excellent image stabilizer helps with slower shutter speeds but of course that can't prevent blur from subject movement.
At the wide end the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II has just the right focal length for nice portrait shots. Again the aperture rating is not excellent but certainly sufficient for this purpose and the large zoom range will even allow closeups from far away.
Weight and Dimensionstop
Though the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II is almost double as "heavy" as the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II (that it often teams up with) it still is a very lightweight lens if you consider the focal range. It adds a mere 14 oz to your bag.
|Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II||14|
Compare with the weight of other lenses:
Handling and Build Qualitytop
As can be expected from an inexpensive lens less metal and more plastics is used to manufacture it. That's bad for the lens mount because it will wear out faster but good for the weight of the lens. In case of the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II the plastics at least look pretty high-end and the lens has a solid feel to it. Some people say that the lens is a downgrade from its predecessor (the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS) in regard to build quality. But I think this opinion is mainly based on the fact that this lens uses a printed marker instead of the white plastic knob the predecessor has to align the lens mount with the camera. The zoom ring is huge (1.5 ") and firm (unlike the predecessor) but at times also a little stiff to turn - this lens certainly wouldn't need a zoom lock (and doesn't have one). The lens is not sealed against dust and moisture and other than the usual dust and lens caps Canon do not supply any accessories with the lens. However a lens hood is available for purchase.
The lens sports a modern image stabilizer with 4 f-stops gain. If you use the lens at its longest focal length of 400 mm (effective) you will be able to use shutter speeds as slow as 1/25 s handheld! But keep in mind that the image stabilizer cannot reduce motion blur that's induced by your subject's movement.
The EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II uses an old style micro-motor for autofocus operation rather than the better ultra sound motors (USM). This is a pitty and probably the lens's weakest spot. Why should that bother you? Well as mentioned the lens is great for wildlife and sports but in this type of photography the subjects are usually moving a lot. The EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II's autofocus is very accurate but also very slow - especially in the tele range. I tried following a low-flying bird to no avail because whenever the autofocus locked on something in the background it just took forever to get the subject back in focus again. USM motors are usually much faster but they are also more expensive to build and therefore the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II's autofocus operation has to be put in context with the lens's inexpensive price tag.
If you'd like to use a circular polarizing filter with this lens be prepared for some annoyance: since the front element rotates while focussing you will have to configure your filter anew after every focus operation. So while there are a couple of downsides to the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II it is still a very usefull lens with a broad focal range at a very compact form factor. Now let's take a look at its image quality.