Neil Hatt

Hello all

I need to get hold of a 70-300mm lens for my Canon 500d before my Safari in June - has anyone got some recommendations? Ideally sub £250 or so (the wedding is costing me quite enough already! :mad: )

I've been hunting around Canon and Sigma, and a few others, but it's a real minefield - I know I won't get a brilliant lens, but I want something good and stable at 300mm...

Any thoughts / recommendations would be greatly appreciated!



i used to have the Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM Lens

i was more than happy with it for around 3 years, images were of very good quality, nice & sharp this lens never let me down however it is currently £407, if i remember rightly i paid £300 for it. It was my first telephoto lens and it served its purpose very well for my liking

My mate has the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS Lens

which is currently £249 it would suit your budget, but is 50mm less than you mentioned in your inital post.

My personal point of view on this lens is it is total rubbish..........!! very soft images right through the range with to much CA, very poor quality, it also seemed very noisey when focusing and seemed to take an age to lock onto your target lol, i wouldn't touch it with a bargepole, i would personally wait & save a little & purchase my first mentioned lens which is a world apart from this one.

Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 Macro DG Lens - Canon Fit is an option at £126 but i have never used it, i seem to notice other using a lens like this often when out & about but i cannot comment on the quality at all i am afraid

I cannot comment much on any other lens options i am afraid in your price range.

One thing i would recommend it to make sure which ever option you plummet for has Image stabilization built it, as you dont want blurry images due to the infamous shaky hands during your safari.

the other option & one i would think of very seriously is to hire a good quality maybe pro Lens from one of the many on line companies, this way you are "almost" guaranteed to get some amazing photos on your safari. Something like a canon 100-400mm lens would be idea for your trip.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens

RRP £1300

hire it for a week for around £64

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Well that's about as comprehensive as answer as you could get

Sigma also do a 70-300 os (optically stabilised) which is available if you ask me nicely for £278.99

... It's just occured to mento mention that I work for shop were so I can get hold of stuff for members ... But it's not somthing I personally profit out of ... I offer people these products purly out of ease for the members ... Not for any personal gain ...
... Just thought that was worth pointing out as I don't want people to think that I'm luring people into buying things for my own gain

A an aside to this ... The strap buddys are for my profit, but the profit is for the upkeep of the forum ... Ie my time :)
They are currently the only product that this is the case.
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dpreview is pretty good source for info on lenses. You might be able to read up on all of the options posted above. Some reviews IMHO you have to take with a pinch of salt unless you read a few reviews from differing sources and draw a consensus.
Well... That's a lot more help than I thought I'd get!!!! Thank you Darren, Hamish, Paul!

Darren great advice - I didn't know you could hire lenses... That might definitely be worth a look - but also, Hamish, I'll be in Worcester throughout next week - ok to pop in and have a chat re: the Sigma?

Thanks again

If you have other foacl lengths I think I'd opt for a longer fixed focus if you could. As I mentioned before, I used a 600mm Sigma catadioptric lens on some safari trips and really it was just about right as the animals were always a fair way away: I'm worried that 300 may not be enough.
I used a 70-300 (Sony ) on a trip and I think Pete is right, the tigers we saw were at 1st a good distance away and in them shots it's pretty hard to see them. although there was times when a 50mm would have done!

Not my video, a couples in the same vehicle as us.
Yea that's fine Neil ... Although I'm only in Friday ... Barry (the irish chap) will be there every other day ... I'll tell him to expect you ...
Pete, don't forget 300 mm on a 500d is 450mm
I got away with 400mm in Kenya for the most part...
I also have to disagree with Darren's comments on the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS Lens I have this lens as it came with the camera and I have never experienced soft images using this lens, majority of my wildlife images have been taken with this lens and I have been more than happy with the results, I also have larger zoom lens but its always the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS Lens I will put on my camera when going out and about looking for wildlife, its very reliable, not to heavy, can be used really well without the need for a tripod/monopod as the IS function comes into its own with using on full zoom.

Also I have never found it noisy to use, the focusing is quick so never experienced it taking ages to focus in. Have to ask have you actually tried this lens Darren?
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Paul & Laurie - i was comparing the 55-250mm to the 70-300, without any editing to the image i did find it was far worse quality and far worse to focus & use in general the CA was terrible also, This lens also has a plastic mount which i would be warey off if it was mine.

We both used & compared our thoughts with his 55-250mm versus my 70-300 ( especially on focus speed, CA & sharpness ) our brief test were by no mean technical or sophisticated, and both agreed my lens really was worth the extra money even though at the time it was only around £50 more expensive.

After image editing well obviously things can be improved slightly, i did try the 55-250mm lens out as my mate wasn't happy with it at all, even for £250 ish, i most certainly agreed with him.

Saying that Laurie your wild life shots are amazing especially your birds shots so maybe this version of the lens my mate had & i had tried was one of the dodgy ones that you hear about.

quite possible he had a bad one it does happen with all things, the opinions I have given on it are from what I have experienced over two years in using the lens and never had any issues at all with it, I love the lens myself, my old faithful as I call it lol, never experienced any CA with it either,as I mentioned previously the images are full of colour and never had any soft shots with it on either end of the range
Yes I realised that the 300 would multiply up but I stil think I would go for a better fixed longer focal length than mediumish telephoto. Light shouldn't be a problem so a 'fast' lens isn't esential. Maybe a multplier would be a good investment if you go for a more standard zoom though.
That's a cop out - "maybe the one I used was a dodgy one" - I'm not saying it's not true ... I just think it's an easy answer when peoples experiences of kit varies!

I took some photos in Worcester not long ago of the student marches... I used a d3000 nikon, firstly with it's kit lens, then with a nikon 12-24 ... Every photo came out badly ... being used to the level of controls and functionality of a d3 you would think a d3000 would be a walk in the park ... Well it was ... So why did the photos turn out bad?? The easy option would be to blame the relatively speaking cheap camera ... But that in my mind is short sighted ... That fact is, I don't know what went wrong... But I suspect it was inexperience ... Not of mine as a photographer (obviously compositionally speakering they were second to none ;) ) but a lack of experience with the kit I was using. Maybe I'm used to my cameras lightning fast reactions ... Or maybe it's a simple as I wasn't concentrating on what I was doing ... God knows ... It doesn't matter as I know that day was human error because I know many people who own the d3000 and get exceptional results.

My point is really that a £250 lens will give you £250 results ... Compare £250 lens a: to £250 lens b: and one might better the other in some ways, but overall I'd guess they would be basically evenly matched ... Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is always the case and a blanket rule to apply ... I'm really just speculating ... But the reality is te evidence often speaks for it's self ...

Laurie gets good images from lens in question so it must be a capable lens in the right hands ... Now we could blame quality control ... But does it vary that much??? Im not sure ... But I'm also less sure of the capability of two people to compare a £250 lens with a £300 in a "brief test [that] were by no mean technical or sophisticated" ...

Sorry Darren, I hope this doesn't sound like I'm having a dig ... I am in a way, but it's coming from a guy who recently couldn't get a perfectly respectable dslr to take a good photo ... What I'm saying is that these nuggets of info on quality are useful to other members but in my books they should be writen/read/understood with an open mind to the variables that might be at play and we should always be open to the idea that one of biggest variables is the numpty pressin the shutter release.

... I'm not sure how useful that meandering point is ?? :)
I can see were your coming from with regards to new camera & crap images Hamish i had a similar experience

when i upgraded my camera I took my 2 day old canon 7D & 100-400mm lens to the zoo to give it a try out, to say my images were total rubbish were an understatement and it cost me £20 in fuel, £20 entrance, lunch & drinks. Now this gear has just cost me about £2200 a few days earlier and i was very disappointed, upset and even thought of saying forget it to photography. I know i would have got far superior results with my existing Canon 40 D & 70-300mm lens.

I put in down to inexperience of the new gear, although it being canon like i had been used to for the previous 2 -3 years it all acted & behaved so differently. I now like to think i am getting the hang of the new camera lol

anyhow back to the lens .....

Tim take my advice which ever way you feel fit, i am basing my information and experience of what actually happened that afternoon and trying offer helpful advice with the 2 lens in question, same settings 2 identical cameras, 2 different lens & 1 of which was producing far superior images than the other.

The only downside I see with the lens rental option, is that you'll be completely spoiled and then want the lens you rented! ;)

Other than that, it's going to get you a killer safari lens at a good price.

I've had bad experiences of Sigma personally, so avoid 3rd party lenses completely now - but Canon lenses are of course more expensive (generally).
exactly you do get what your pay for well said that
I agree. I drew attention to the review again because it has some actual images to look at when considering Darren's comments.

The review didn't conclude that the 55-250 was "total rubbish" like Darren did, they didn't find it noisy or slow to focus, and said:

"The difference between the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Lens and the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens is not as clear."

"The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens is ... a better lens, but less definitively so. Though I don't think the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Lens is great in terms of image quality and features, we can't lose sight of the fact that it is very inexpensive IS tele-zoom Lens. There is a niche for this model. A casual shooter who is happy with their Canon EF-S 18-55mm II or 18-55 IS Lens and needs a tele-zoom for infrequent use could be happy with this lens. This is a light and small lens built to relatively tight tolerances that delivers decent center-of-the-frame image quality and Image Stabilization for a low price."

On amazon uk currently the prices are £149 and £420. This all comes down to value for money, and budget.