Choosing a telephoto lens, a not so simple exercise.

One of the over-riding reasons for buying bridgecameras, for me at least is the all in one nature of the lenses they come with. If you are familiar with the Fuji bridgecameras or for that matter any of the models offered by other manufacturers you will know what I mean.

This gave us a camera with huge zoom range coupled with reasonably fast glass. Some models support constant apertures in the F2.8 to F4 range which makes for nice bright images.

In the DSLR and Mirrorless  world this style of lens wasn’t readily available until the last 10 or so years. There was very little to choose from as well, with most telephoto lenses being in the 70-200 mm range or in the 50 – 200 or 55 – 250 mm range. While being pretty versatile they dont quite match what you get with a bridge or superzoom camera.

Today we can get an 18-135 and 18-200 mm from Canon, 18-200 mm from Sigma, 18-270 mm From Tamron as well as 18-300 mm and 18-400 from Tamron, to list just a few.

Now as I’m in the market to match up a telephoto lens with my Canon 700D which I just purchased, and like many of you, I’ve been watching and reading various reviews on different telephoto lenses.

The all in one option is very very attractive having used an all in one lens Fuji bridge camera. But of course in keeping with the Frugal photography ethos I really dont want to exceed $1000.00 NZD for camera and lenses. I’ve already bought a new camera bag to house the camera and I still need to get a second battery, ball-head for the tripod as well as a new hand-strap, therefore I can only allocate approx $400.00 NZD for a lens. This does limit my choices quite markedly.  Most of the likely lens choices are going to be from the used market. Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 event people are selling off gear to recoup funds and this seems to be inflating the used market prices considerably above what prices were like pre Covid-19.

That too is limiting the range of choices available.

Eventually it came down to the following lenses all of which were around the $400.00 NZD mark. Some a little more costly some a little to a lot less.

  • Canon 55-250 MM IS II … $150 to $ 300 … Used
  • Canon 55-250 mm IS STM … $250 to $450 … Used
  • Canon 18-135 mm IS II … $250 to $500 … Used
  • Canon 18-200 mm IS II … $325 to $450 … Used
  • Tamron 18-200 MM IS … $170 to $300 … Used
  • Tamron 18-270 MM IS … $300 to $500 … Used
  • Sigma 18-300 DC Macro … $450 to $550 … Used
  • Canon 55-250 IS STM … $394 … New
  • Tamron 18-200 mm Di II VC … $498 … New

And the winner is – The Canon 55-250 mm STM and heres why.

All of the all in one lens offerings were either too short at the long end of the zoom or too expensive with the exception of the Canon 135 mm tele which for my purposes was too short, although they are an excellent mid range telephoto lens.

Both the Tamron and Sigma lenses have multi tube lens barrel construction, something I dont like as it allows lens droop and wobble to effect the lens, especially as the lens wears. This is true of my Tamron 28-300 lens that I have on one of my film cameras. It exhibits a small amount of barrel wobble, fortunately it hasn’t yet succumbed to lens droop/creep. Add to that that there is no warranty on used lenses just to further sway my choice.

The Canon 55-250 IS II lens is one I am familiar with and have had good results from when using it with my 650D. However it wasn’t that fast to auto focus compared to the STM lenses. My 18-55 STM lens AF is close to 50 percent faster the the earlier mark 3 version of the lens and is silent to boot. The front lens element doesn’t rotate on the STM version either which means I can use circular polarisers again without having to think about the filter orientation.

There were one or two “bargains” to be had. However closer inspection showed these bargains were for older versions of the current crop of lenses and had some pretty major flaws, even when compared against later generations of the same lens not including the very latest models.

The new Tamron 18-200 mm Di II VC got some very serious attention from me and I was seriously considering buying it. What stayed my hand was the price. Being above the cutoff point for the budget ruled this lens out leaving just the Canon 55-250 IS STM as the obvious choice.

Right from the start this lens was a major contender and coupled with its outstanding optical performance, reach and lack of weight made this an easy purchase at the end of my deliberations. With that in mind I hit the buy now button on the website and in a couple of days I should see it arrive in the mailbox.

I’m looking forward to using the new lens, weather permitting and will post some of the results here as I get to use it.

Happy Snappin’



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