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  1. #1
    draskol is offline I'm new here!
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    Default Canon 75-300 vs. 70-300 IS vs. 55-250 IS

    Here's the price breakdown (roughly):

    EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III USM: $160
    EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS: $280
    EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM: $550

    I have a Digital Rebel XT with the kit lens and have been sucked into the Canon money pit. I've never owned a telephoto lens but have used friends' cameras with them and would really love one. I go to school in upstate New York and am a senior, so I decided that I'd like to spend a good amount of time photographing fall colors. That's how I started browsing the different models. I'm a student so I'm very much on a budget.

    The 75-300 has very obvious appeal: it's cheap. I've read reviews and it seems that the consensus is that the lack of IS really is an issue and that you need to use a tripod, it focuses slowly, etc.. I don't necessarily mind using a tripod for the sort of shooting that I have in mind (fall colors), but I don't want to limit myself for when I'm traveling in the future, etc. to having to always have my tripod.

    Reviewers who don't like the 75-300 say the 70-300 IS is the next step up and the IS is worth the price. They say it's a good piece of glass, is a little soft between 280-300, but is otherwise good. It's expensive.

    After reading those reviews I started to think of how I could go about hitting my parents up for $550 (+ the $90 UV filter, I'm guessing I'd be stupid not to get?). I then stumbled upon the 55-250 IS. Nobody mentions it in reviews of either the 75-300 or the 70-300 IS. Why not? It seems like a perfectly good alternative. Am I missing something? Especially with DSLRs, the 55-250 is multiplied by some constant and becomes longer, right? Is 250 x X (whatever it comes out to) not long enough - to the point that people are willing to pay another $300?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS, 50mm f/1.8

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/draskol/

  2. #2
    inkista's Avatar
    inkista is offline Gear Geek Girl
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    The 75-300 is almost 20 years old.
    The 70-300 IS USM is three years old.
    The 55-250 IS came out last year.

    That's why the 55-250 IS has so many fewer reviews. I'd actually say that the 55-250 IS is roughly comparable, image quality-wise to the 70-300. The 75-300 is at the bottom of the heap, image quality wise as it gets decidedly soft at the long end of the telephoto, and doesn't have IS.

    And if you have $500+ to spend on a telephoto zoom, you're likely to want the EF 70-200 f/4L USM instead, unless you're solely using the lens for travel.

    The review you want is probably this one which places the 55-250, 70-300, and 70-200 f/4L side-by-side.

    My advice would be to get the 55-250 IS. It's close enough in image quality to the 70-300 IS USM and you'll be saving a bundle of cash. Don't get too caught up in getting the absolute best lens right now. More limited lenses can actually teach you a great deal. My 75-300 III taught me more about handholding technique and autofocus with telephotos than any IS USM lens could have.

    The 1.6x "crop factor" doesn't actually make your lens longer. The sensor in the camera is smaller than a frame of 35mm film. So, it's as if you cropped the edges off every image if you're used to shooting 35mm film--you get a zooming effect, but you haven't actually changed the focal length. So the lens doesn't "get longer", but the field of view does change. The only gotcha here is that an EF-S lens will not mount on a full-frame body. If you're not planning on upgrading to a 5D or 1 series body with this lens, you're ok.

    One more thing. Go read this article on lens maximum apertures. There's more to a lens than its focal length.
    Last edited by inkista; 10-03-2008 at 08:10 PM.
    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic G3. flickr stream and equipment list

  3. #3
    draskol is offline I'm new here!
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    Thanks for that review link and the info, that's pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

    I was pretty surprised by the difference in quality between the 55-250 and the 70-200 L at 70 mm (the mouse-over links towards the bottom of the page). I guess that surprise is mostly the result of my never having read too many reviews. I imagine I'd be just as surprised if I were to compare the results of my 18-55 kit lens against whatever the L equivalent is.

    On the other hand, in terms of price, the 55-250 vs. 70-200L is not the fair comparison. The fair comparison seems to be 70-300 vs. 70-200L, with the latter being the winner. Either way, I'm not in that price range right now.

    I think I'll get the 55-250. Is the lens hood optional or should I definitely get it (the review linked-to above says get it). Should I get a UV filter? I know that's opening up a can of worms, but I don't use one with my kit lens, in part because I'm very careful and have the glass covered when I'm not actually shooting and in part because it's not the most expensive lens in the world. Is the 55-250 worth covering up?

    edit: One more thing: why doesn't Canon make snap on lens covers with the buttons/tabs/whatever they're called in the middle? I've seen these on Nikon lenses and can't imagine how I'd get the cap on and off of a lens like the 55-250 with a hood on it.
    Last edited by draskol; 10-03-2008 at 08:22 PM.
    Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS, 50mm f/1.8

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/draskol/

  4. #4
    inkista's Avatar
    inkista is offline Gear Geek Girl
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    Quote Originally Posted by draskol View Post
    I was pretty surprised by the difference in quality between the 55-250 and the 70-200 L at 70 mm (the mouse-over links towards the bottom of the page). I guess that surprise is mostly the result of my never having read too many reviews. I imagine I'd be just as surprised if I were to compare the results of my 18-55 kit lens against whatever the L equivalent is.
    Yup. The thing to remember, though, is that pixel-peeping isn't the same as real-world usage. It's a way to show if one lens outperforms another, but you can still get great pictures out of consumer-grade lenses. And having an L doesn't mean you'll instantly learn how to compose something beautifully.

    On the other hand, in terms of price, the 55-250 vs. 70-200L is not the fair comparison. The fair comparison seems to be 70-300 vs. 70-200L, with the latter being the winner.
    Exactly. But given that the 55-250 and the 70-300 are very equivalent in terms of image quality, for me that makes the 55-250 a clear winner in the bang-for-the-buck stakes.

    I think I'll get the 55-250. Is the lens hood optional or should I definitely get it (the review linked-to above says get it). Should I get a UV filter?
    I think a hood to shade for flare is probably more important than a UV filter, but I tend to use both, because I'm simultaneously careless AND paranoid about my glass. [grin]. I'd rather replace a $30 filter than a $300 lens. But, as you know, this is personal taste. Some folks can't abide the idea of having paid for a great sharp lens, only to muddy up the light with a filter.

    But I'd also say if you're not sure about the hood, there is an alternative. You can make a hood from cardboard until you decide if you really need to buy the dedicated plastic one from Canon. I would not, however, recommend getting one of those screw-int-the-filter-thread rubber hoods. Those work best with normal and wide angle lenses, they're not deep enough for telephoto use.

    edit: One more thing: why doesn't Canon make snap on lens covers with the buttons/tabs/whatever they're called in the middle? I've seen these on Nikon lenses and can't imagine how I'd get the cap on and off of a lens like the 55-250 with a hood on it.
    I feel the same way. But you can always take the lens cap off before you put the hood on. Or go buy a Nikon lens cap that fits.
    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic G3. flickr stream and equipment list

  5. #5
    sfisher is offline dPS Forum Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by draskol View Post
    On the other hand, in terms of price, the 55-250 vs. 70-200L is not the fair comparison. The fair comparison seems to be 70-300 vs. 70-200L, with the latter being the winner. Either way, I'm not in that price range right now.
    I had to make that decision this time last year and I went for the 70-300. The extra 100mm and the IS was more important to me than a constant f/4 aperture and slight improvement in image quality.

    I think I'll get the 55-250. Is the lens hood optional or should I definitely get it (the review linked-to above says get it). Should I get a UV filter? I know that's opening up a can of worms, but I don't use one with my kit lens, in part because I'm very careful and have the glass covered when I'm not actually shooting and in part because it's not the most expensive lens in the world. Is the 55-250 worth covering up?
    I use UV filters and lens hoods on all my lenses. The only advice I'd give is that, if you're going to keep a UV filter on your lens at all times, make sure it's a good one. That said, a good UV filter will probably cost about a third the cost of the 55-250, so you might decide that it's not worth it.

    edit: One more thing: why doesn't Canon make snap on lens covers with the buttons/tabs/whatever they're called in the middle? I've seen these on Nikon lenses and can't imagine how I'd get the cap on and off of a lens like the 55-250 with a hood on it.
    eBay is your friend here.

  6. #6
    draskol is offline I'm new here!
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    Default Update

    I bought the 55-250 IS:

    New lens

    I also got a lens hood from Adorama. It's exactly the same as the Canon one and about 50% cheaper - I don't see a point in paying more for a brand name piece of plastic.

    Overall I'm very pleased with the lens. I've taken more shots than the one above; they're on flickr if anyone's interested.

    The biggest surprise for me (and this might sound obvious to many of you) is how different shooting with a long lens is. When I first started photography I had an SLR with a kit 28-80mm lens. When I got my first DSLR a little less than a year ago, it came with the 18-55 kit (not unlike 28-80 when x1.6 crop factor, of course).

    So I've grown very accustomed to seeing something when walking around, imagining what I want the photo to look like, then making it happen. Now I walk around, imagine what I want the photo to look like, then look through the lens and everything looks completely different! I went to take some shots of a sunset off of a bridge and actually couldn't take a shot of a reflection in the water that was interesting because 50mm was too long.

    If nothing else, the lens is interesting to use and will make me a better photographer. I've also already picked out my next piece of glass: the 50mm f/1.8 prime ($85!).

    I should probably get a job.
    Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS, 50mm f/1.8

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/draskol/

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