Upgrading from kit lens

edited February 2015 Posted in » Canon Lens Talk
Hello! I recently came across this forum and I find it to be extra useful to me along with its easy navigation.

I've had a Canon 550D (T2i) for about 2 years now, and have been using the kit lens 18-55mm. I'm thinking of upgrading to another lens now, mainly for traveling and hanging out with my family and friends.

I'm actually leaning more towards the 55-250mm rather than the 75-300mm after reading most reviews about it. But there are 3 types for 55-250mm that I'm stuck in choosing between and would like your recommendation.

1) 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS
2) 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
3) 55-250mm f/4-F5.6 IS STM

Also, someone recommended that I get the Sigma 70-300mm instead of the Canon 55-250mm. What would you suggest?


  • edited February 2015
    Hey @Lng - Welcome to the forum! So let me tackle the 55-250mm and the various versions...

    1) 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS - This is the original version (oldest).
    2) 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS II - This is the second version with some small updates to the focus and size.
    3) 55-250mm F4-F5.6 IS STM - This is the latest version with a major upgrade in focusing speed using STM technology. This is especially useful when recording videos.

    I like Sigma's higher end lenses, but not a fan of their budget line. I would stay away from the 70-300mm.

    With regards to recommended lenses, you mentioned wanting a lens that would be great for hanging out with family and friends, as well as travel. I would highly recommend the 40mm f/2.8 (see here) or the 50mm f/1.8 (see here). These lenses are fantastic in low light and give you the ability to capture an extremely shallow depth of field, which produces sharp subjects against a silky smooth background.

    The 40mm is a bit wider than the 50mm, which can be helpful when shooting in close quarters and small spaces. However, the 50mm is a bit brighter than the 40mm, which means it will perform a bit better in low light.
  • LngLng
    edited February 2015
    Hi Moose!

    I have decided to get the 50mm f/1.8 lens but would like a telephoto zoom lens as well. Which 55-250mm lens (from the 3 choices) would you recommend?

    Thanks for your suggestion!
  • edited February 2015
    Hi @LNG,
    There is little to choose between all three as they share the same optics which are surprisingly good for a budget Canon lens. As Moose pointed out, the STM is good for video because the focus is smoother, but it does not focus any quicker than the other two. The second version was really only a visual makeover.
    If you want a good telephoto which is pretty comparable to the 55-250mm then you might take a look at the Tamron 18-270mm pzd. For holidays, it is the only lens I use on my 550D/T2i.
  • edited February 2015
    Hi again, just a P.S.
    The Canon 55-250mm has a front element which rotates as you focus so is not suitable for using polarising or graduated ND filters. The front element of the Tamron does not rotate. Also, unless you like reading charts or looking at pictures of brick walls, you can ignore most 'professional' reviews of lenses. Instead search the web for real world examples of each lens fitted to a 550D (there are plenty on flickr) and make your mind up from them.
    Again Regards,
  • edited February 2015
    I have an older EOS Rebel T2i that I would like to get another lens for. I currently use a 55-250mm for shooting soccer, football and basketball. It works fine but I would like more zoom. Would a Canon EF100-400 f/4.5-5.6l IS work on my camera? What would you recommend?
  • edited February 2015
    Yes it will fit your camera fine. Due to the 1.6 crop factor, its effective focal range would be 160-640mm. Many sports enthusiasts prefer something in the 70-300mm range, but you would not be gaining much over your 250mm.
  • edited April 2015
    I was wondering if you were going to come out with the cheat sheets for Canon 85mm f/1.8?
  • edited April 2015
    Do you have a cheat sheet for the Canon efs 17-55mm f/f2.8? What do you think are the pros and cons of this lens?
  • Hey @williams1162 - The cheat cards for the Canon 50mm f/1.8 (see here) are also compatible with the 85mm f/1.8. All the best!
  • Hey @JohnQ - I don't currently have one for the 17-55mm f/2.8, but I am working on a set for it and should have it available this Summer. The lens has a similar zoom range to that of the 18-55mm kit lens, however, it's sharper and performs much better in low light thanks to the constant f/2.8 aperture. That bright f/2.8 aperture will also produce more separation between your subject and background, which is fantastic for portraits.
  • edited July 2015
    Hey @moose, while you're at it, how about the new 16-80mm f/2.8-4 DX lens? It's only a thousand dollars and change. If you're too busy, you could get one and send it over to me, and I promise I'll test it exhaustively!
  • edited July 2015
    @bruto - Did you pick up this lens recently? I was actually thinking of renting it in the next couple weeks. What are your thoughts on it? Once I get the new site design up and live, I'll put this lens into the queue and do some testing with it.
  • edited August 2015
    @moose, no, I wish. I find it rather tempting, but I kind of blew my optional lens budget for quite some time with a used, but still shockingly expensive, 85mm f/2.8 PC D Micro. It was about half the price of a new one, but still pretty hefty (like twice what the camera cost), but then again, a macro lens that tilts and shifts and meters on a D3200! Hard to say no to. Heavy and hard to use, but nothing quite like it.

    At this point, I'm not a hundred percent sure whether my next upgrade will be lens or camera. I do a lot of macro and manual focus stuff, and I'm finding the D3200 a challenge even with a magnifying eyepiece. When I borrowed my wife's D7100, I was quite impressed at how much better the viewfinder is.
  • edited August 2015
    @bruto - You know you're progressing as a photographer when your lenses start costing more than your camera. :)

    Yeah, those bigger and brighter viewfinders are really helpful for fine tuning focus. Live View is getting better on Nikon cameras, I'm hopeful that the technology will advance to a point where we are able to zoom in and see a high level of detail without a pixelated mess. It would really help for shooting macro subjects.
  • edited January 2016
    The front element on the newest 55-250mm (STM version) does not turn.
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