Canon EF-S 55-250mm Telephoto Lens (or Surprisingly Good At Making Far Things Close!)

Duck Landing on Water
Canon EF-S 50-250mm — 200mm 1/250 f/5.6

Of the handful of lenses that I had, none could reach further than 100mm. In the past year, I was kindly loaned a Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L, but simply could not justify dropping close to the $2000+ it would require to add such a beast to my kit.

Frankly, I’m cheap. I don’t make a living — don’t make any money to speak of — doing photography and can’t justify dropping huge wads of cash on my photo kit.

Fortunately, Canon caters to the cheap /frugal /broke /hobbyist prosumer crowd and my recent upgrade to the Canon Digital Rebel T1i also gained a significant boost in low light / high ISO performance vs. the Rebel XT.

Enter the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens. This is a relatively new ~$250 lens that features image stabilization and can only be used on compact sensor bearing Canon cameras. Because it targets smaller than full frame sensors, the lens contains less glass and is of a cheaper build.

With a compact sensor, the lens is subject to the 1.6x multiplier and, thus, performs like a 88-400mm lens on a full frame sensor. Sort of (the full story on performance between EF and EF-S sensors is considerably more complex).

Great Blue Heron Walking on Dam
Canon EF-S 50-250mm — 250mm 1/250 f/5.6 — ISO 250

In the short time I have owned the lens, I have captured photos that would not have been possible with my other lenses or would have required more patience than is compatible with “fun photography”.

At left is of a Great Blue Heron. These are some seriously skittish birds and this was taken from 200 feet away.

When photographing moving wildlife, the key is to dial in a shutter speed that can capture the animal. Having a camera with decent high ISO performance compensates greatly for the relative slowness of this lens, obviously.

Tiger Lily (Lilium columbianum)
Canon EF-S 50-250mm — 250mm 1/250 f/5.6 — ISO 1600(!)

For $250, the lens is not the sharpest, fastest, or highest build quality.

Yet, it has not failed to surprise me. The image at right was taken from about 30 feet away from the plants. I was sitting on my parent’s porch enjoying the day and simply turned and took a shot.

The surprise?

If you look closely, there are three flies in that image. Two are these gorgeous little iridescent green flies that have been caught in mid-flight.

And if you look at this picture taken under identical conditions, there is a thread of spider web visible between two petals of the flower.

Roger Setting a Fish Trap
Canon EF-S 50-250mm — 187mm 1/200 f/5.6

The lens offers a wide enough angle and is light enough that I can feel pretty comfortable walking around with the lens on the camera without worrying about missing too many shots.

Yet, when something is happening off in the distance — like Roger messing with a fish trap and wondering if anyone is watching him — I can easily zoom in and capture the shot without having to disruptively “call for a pose”.


Or being able to sit on the deck, enjoy a beer, and snap a few shots of birds at the bird feeder.

Great Blue Heron in Blue Pickerel

Or grab a frame and then play a game of one of these flowers is not like the other ones.

Ultimately, though, it is about capturing memories with ease and maintaining the “fun” throughout.

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3 Responses to “Canon EF-S 55-250mm Telephoto Lens (or Surprisingly Good At Making Far Things Close!)”

  1. Luc J says:

    Great how you captured the landing duck! Took me a moment to figure out what I was looking at. Wouldn’t have thought that you could get t his effect at 1/250

  2. annbb says:

    My boy is getting so big! Wonderful photos of a very magical place.

  3. Casian says:

    The images you captured are just wonderful. Did you buy your lens from Amazon?


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