Skip to main content

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM review

The Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM represents a marked improvement over its predecessor

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
(Image: © Canon)

Digital Camera World Verdict

With a new and improved optical design and a faster, near-silent autofocus system, the ‘IS STM’ edition of this lens is much improved compared with the original version. Designed for Canon’s APS-C format DSLRs, it’s quite compact and lightweight, yet offers a useful ‘effective’ zoom range of 88-400mm in full-frame terms. All in all, it’s a good telephoto zoom if you like to travel light.

Pros

  • +

    Compact and lightweight

  • +

    Good ‘effective’ telephoto reach

  • +

    3.5-stop image stabilizer

Cons

  • -

    Plastic mounting plate

  • -

    No weather-seals

  • -

    Hood sold separately

Designed for APS-C format DSLRs, the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM can also be used on both APS-C format and full-frame mirrorless EOS M and EOS R system bodies, via their respective EOS mount adapters. Larger and heavier than the Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM (opens in new tab), this one has more traditional DSLR-type styling, with physical switches for AF/M focusing modes and stabilization on/off, as well as chunkier rubberized grips for the zoom and focus rings.

Specifications

Mount: Canon EF-S
Full-frame: No
Autofocus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Lens construction: 15 elements in 12 groups
Angle of view: 27.8-6.25 degrees
Diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum aperture: f/22-32
Minimum focusing distance: 0.85m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.29x
Filter size: 58mm
Dimensions: 70x111mm
Weight: 375g

Key features

(Image credit: Future)

Although nearly 50 per cent heavier than the Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM (opens in new tab), the EF-S model adds an extra 50mm in telephoto length, with an overall zoom range that’s equivalent to 88-400mm in full-frame terms. It also has a slightly faster aperture rating, shrinking to f/5.6 rather than f/6.3 at the long end. Similarities between the two lenses include fast and virtually silent stepping motor-driven autofocus and 3.5-stop image stabilization. Both also have weight-saving plastic mounting plates, which should prove sufficiently robust but aren’t as durable as metal mounts.

Compared with the previous edition of the EF-S 55-250mm, the new version has a more complex optical path with three extra elements, including the addition of a UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) element. This aims to reduce chromatic aberrations while boosting sharpness and contrast. The basic electric autofocus motor of the previous edition was much inferior.

Performance

Levels of center-sharpness are pretty good throughout most of the zoom range and sharpness generally holds up quite well towards the edges and corners of the frame. There’s very little in the way of color fringing and distortions are pretty low as well. Overall, this lens is a solid performer that’s well matched to Canon’s APC-S format DSLRs.

Lab results

We run a range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master testing suite. Photos of test charts are taken across the range of apertures and zooms (where available), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberrations.

We use Imatest SFR (spatial frequency response) charts and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners and mid-point distances, across the range of aperture settings and, with zoom lenses, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).

Sharpness:

(Image credit: Future)
(opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Future)
(opens in new tab)

Center-sharpness is pretty respectable, only dropping off a bit in the shorter section of the zoom range when using the widest available apertures. Mid/edge-sharpness is less impressive at the shortest focal length.

Fringing:

(Image credit: Future)
(opens in new tab)

There’s fairly little in the way of color fringing at almost every combination of focal length and aperture setting, with the exception that it can be quite noticeable when shooting wide-open at 250mm.

Distortion:

(Image credit: Future)
(opens in new tab)

When uncorrected in-camera, barrel distortion can be slightly apparent at 55mm for there’s comparatively little pincushion from 100mm onwards, as you extend through the zoom range.

Verdict

(Image credit: Future)

With a new and improved optical design and a faster, near-silent autofocus system, the ‘IS STM’ edition of this lens is much improved compared with the original version. Designed for Canon’s APS-C format DSLRs, it’s quite compact and lightweight, yet offers a useful ‘effective’ zoom range of 88-400mm in full-frame terms. All in all, it’s a good telephoto zoom if you like to travel light.

Read more:

• Best camera lenses (opens in new tab) to get
• Best Canon lenses (opens in new tab)
• Best Nikon lenses (opens in new tab)
• Best Sony lenses (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Matthew Richards
Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.