The more I use this lens the more I’m coming to understand some of its quirks. Its not really a low light shooter, I found that out quite quickly. In fact the Canon ef-s 55-250 MkII IS lens was better in low light due to it being half a stop faster at f3.5 Vs f4 of the STM version. Half a stop doesn’t seem that much but its surprising how much brighter the older lens appears to be, at least in tests shots I’ve done with both lenses.
The STM version beats the older lens hands down in the AF stakes. Its ability to lock on to a subject with minimal to no focus hunting is so much nicer to use. The images of the bees had it working pretty hard, and while it did miss focus on some shots its hugely more reliable than its predecessor.
I’ve mentioned previously that I thought the 700D seemed to be a little soft in focus, but after the last couple of days in good light it seems to be pretty well spot on. Images appear relatively sharp for what is a kit lens, and at this price point I wont be complaining. I will however say that the Fuji XC 50-230 mm is noticeably sharper, but doesn’t focus as fast or quite as accurately as the Canon lens. Having said that I’m aware the the Fuji XC 50-230 lens performs considerably better when paired with an XT-20 or better Fuji body.
For the time being however, and until I win the lottery I will stay with the Canon 700D for the short term, although the call of the Fuji is strong 🙂
Taking advantage of a crisp frosty morning I opened the lounge window to take a shot of the vista seen below.
Shot at 55 mm focal length.
As you can see in the image the frost had just burnt off but the fog banks were still rolling through the valleys. This view was far more spectacular a few years ago before the oak trees in the foreground started to encroach on the view.
The image above is taken with the 55-250 and the focal length is 135mm. I deliberately did this to give a sense of scale when compared to the previous image shot at 55 mm.
The above image is shot in vertical aspect at 250 mm, and post processed in Photoscape 3.7. The central tree seen in all three of these images is approximately 1.5 kilometres away from our house. I’m pleased with the amount of detail and resolution afforded by this lens at this distance. It shows good colour in the image as well although I have pushed the saturation a little to better the sky colour.
Okay so thats the wide to telephoto range for landscape and distance shots. Colour and detail is good, no complaints thus far.
What about using the lens for closeups?
As it turns out, not too shabby there as well. Long time readers will know that I have a love hate relationship with bees, not because they can sting but because they are not to easy to shoot and get a reasonable/good result. The low level sun we have to work with in winter can make this task just that much harder, creating deep shadows and very bright highlights. Add to that the little critters dont stay still for long makes the task harder. The AF on this lens is so much quicker than the mark II lens in this regard. Anything I pointed it at was locked onto with minimum of fuss.
Today the bees were working on tiny blue flowers, and I mean tiny. They arent any bigger than five or six millimetres in size, just enough room for a bees tongue. These are attached to a myriad of stems and small leaves which makes for a very busy background, making it hard to separate the bee from the plant. To obtain that sort of subject isolation generally means using a very fast short focal length prime, meaning mega bucks for a fast lens.
So how did the big kit zoom fair at subject isolation and resolution? You be the judge, but personally I think it did a pretty good job for a telephoto lens. Bear in mind also that these arent shot as macros but rather getting as close to the subject as I could and using, in some cases, the full focal length to zoom in and get the shot. And before you ask, no you cant do this with manual focus, the bees just move too fast and thats where fast reliable AF wins out.
Actually you can do this with manual focus, but you need to be setup on a tripod and have selected one area and pre-focused for that area. I would also use a remote shutter app or as in my case ( pre WiFi camera) a remote wired shutter release. Tedious but it can be done as macro photography specialists have shown. I’m not that dedicated a macro photographer, well not yet anyways.
Below are three images all shot with the 55-250. For larger images click on any of the images in this post and you can see them full size on my Google Photos listings.
To date I’m well pleased that a $400.00 lens (thats the new price here in NZ) can provide a good deal of sharpness, contrast and colour with a very usable focal length. To better the overall performance of this lens would require spending in the order of two to eight times the price and you still wont get the focal length. If you were thinking of getting this lens to add to your kit, go for it you wont be disappointed. Just take some time to learn how it behaves and when to use it.
Camera settings were as follows:
- Mode: P Mode
- AF: Single shot
- Metering: Spot
- Photo-style: Standard, setup to mimic Fuji Velvia.
- ISO : 800
- Continuous shooting: Multi-shot
- Ev: +1/2 stop
With the camera set in P Mode and the ISO set at 800 I was able to adjust aperture or shutter speed with the command dial depending on the result I wanted. As the camera generally chose f9.5 for most of the images I didnt have to do much other than consider composition or wait for the bee to move into frame for a image worth keeping. The beauty of P Mode as I have said previously is that it allows on the fly changes with the camera picking either correct shutter speed or aperture depending upon what you desire as an outcome. By and large the camera choose pretty well. It selected either aperture or shutter speed pretty much as I would have done.
This is something Canon cameras do very well and is an often overlooked feature, lost in the inane desire for everyone to shoot manually. Theres a reason camera manufacturers include this mode, and its not necessarily for beginners as most beginners really need a good deal of time to grasp how aperture, shutter and ISO works together. P mode is there for those of us who know what those terms mean but want the flexibility to make rapid adjustments without having to clutter up our thought processes with worrying about settings and get on with the more important task of actually composing the image and taking the shot.
While you are busy trying to decide what aperture or shutter speed you need, I have dialled in what I want, taken the shot and moved on to the next subject or image. So dont be afraid to try it, you may just find its a handy mode to use.