Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS - Retest @ 15mp / Review
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published January 2009

Lens kindly provided for testing purposes by Andreas Gaida!

The lens has already been tested on an 8mp body so you may forgive that I've copied most of the review.


It took Canon quite a while to release its first ever APS-C tele zoom lens - the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS. In fact they were the last of the Mohicans in this respect. The lens is usually sold as part of double lens camera kits combined with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. However, it is also available separately at around 250-300€ providing some comfortable headroom to the next desirable lens - the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS (full format). The field-of-view of the lens is equivalent to 88-400mm on full format cameras - this is certainly sufficient to cover the focal length needs of the average Joes out there. Ambitious users may not like the slow max. aperture but you can't have it all in this price and weight class.

Regarding the recently reviewed EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS I was prepared to receive another el-cheapo plastic lens but, honestly, the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS did surprise me here a bit. Sure, it is not build like a tank but the plastic quality is fairly decent and the tolerances are pretty tight. The beauty of the plastic mount may be a bit debatable but it's not a heavy lens anyway. The focus and zoom control rings operate reasonably smooth. So yes, unlike the 18-55mm IS it has a dedicated focus ring and it's perfectly usable - if you can handle the dim viewfinder produced by such a slow-speed lens. Typical for such lenses it extends when zooming towards the long end of the zoom range (see the product images below). Both the front element as well as the focus ring rotate during focus operations. Size- and weight-wise the (APS-C) lens is about 30% smaller/lighter compared to the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS (full format) which may be an argument for some.

The AF speed is pretty good and the noise level during operations remains on a very low level. There were no problems whatsoever on the EOS 50D but the AF accuracy may be worse on entry level bodies (it was a problem in our first review based on the EOS 350D). According to Canon the newly developed Image Stabilization system is good enough for a "gain" equivalent to up to 4 f-stops. Personally I was not able to recreate this potential in the field but it should be good enough for a couple of f-stops.

Equiv. focal length88-400 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/6.4-f/9 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction12 elements in 10 groups inc. 1x UD element
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance1.1 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:3)
Dimensions70 x 108 mm
Weight390 g
Filter size58 mm (rotating)
Hoodoptional, barrel-shaped, snap-on type
Other featuresIS (Optical Stabilizer)