I bought a 500D twin IS kit with the intentions of having a light weight camera kit and a kit that doesn’t draw much attention. Here are my impressions with these two IS kit lenses.
The EF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS
This lens is much better then the old 18-55 non-IS version which I also owned when I purchased my 300D a few years ago.
The build quality is better then the old version, with a nicer finish and a better feel to the lens. The 18-55 IS has a all plastic construction, including the lens mount. It’s not the best built lens, but it is small and lightweight.
The lens is a little noisy when focusing, and the front element rotates while focusing, so using a polarising filter means focusing first, then adjusting the filter to the desired setting. There is no proper manual focus ring, and to manual focus you need to rotate the front ring of the lens. There is no full time manual focus setting either, so if you want to manual focus, you need to switch the switch from AF to MF first.
The IS is effective, and gives you 2-3 stops of handhold ability which is useful. The IS is very quiet too.
Optically the lens is very good! It’s sharp, and has good colours and contrast. It’s much better then the original 18-55 non-IS kit lens, while not as good as my old 17-40 it is still a very decent lens, and a bargain price (especially as a part of a camera/lens kit) and would be a ideal starter lens or as a light weight travel lens.
Canon doesn’t include a lens hood with this lens, but the hood that is designed for this lens isn’t really any good anyway, you are far better off getting a aftermarket rubber lens hood which does a better job, and also takes up less space in the camera bag. The filter/lens hood thread is 58mm on the 18-55 IS lens and this also is an advantage, because 58mm filters are easy to get, and are not to expensive.
Overall, This lens does perform well optically and if you look past the build quality and the “Kit lens” Perception and actually use the lens it is enjoyable to use and produces good photos. It sure makes a refreshing change from carrying around the big L lenses, and paired up with my 500D does make a nice lightweight and Discreet walkabout setup.
The EF-S 55-250 f/4.5-5.6 IS
This lens has good optical quality and is better then the other kit lenses I’ve owned (55-200 and 75-300 III). Build quality is ok, but not as good as Canon’s “Gold Ring” consumer grade lenses.
The all plastic construction means it is very light weight, and when combined with one of Canon’s plastic d/SLR’s makes a nice light weight setup.
The IS does seem effective and offers about 2-3 f/ stops of hand hold ability.
The lens does seem to hunt allot in low light and the autofocus is noisy and a bit slow, if you plan on shooting anything that moves you should look at one of Canon’s USM lenses.
The front element rotates when autofocusing, so using a polarising filter means you need to adjust the filter after you’ve focused.
There is some chromatic abbreviation, but this is easily corrected in post production.
There is no focus limiter so the lens can become very out of focus and also results in the lens hunting. But this is only a small issue and wouldn’t really be a problem for the shooters that Canon is aiming this lens at.
Colours and sharpness are good for a consumer lens and better then the older non-IS kit lenses. Stopping the lens down a few f/ stops also results in better corner to corner sharpness, f/8.0 – f/11 seem to be the best, but it is usable wide open.
Canon doesn’t include a lens hood, but you can pickup a generic hood off ebay for a few dollars.
This lens performed very well for a kit lens and seemed pretty sharp too! For a lens within this price range and overall it’s a decent lens for those looking for something lightweight, or are on a budget.
Both these lenses have their pros and cons, they both performed well on the 500D in good lighting conditions, but focus speeds did slow down when working in lower lighting conditions, but that is to be expected. The lack of Canon’s Ultrasonic focusing motor in these lenses didn’t help either, but both lenses did focus fast enough under most shooting conditions. The lack of a real manual focusing ring on the 18-55 IS lens, and the lack of full time manual focusing on both lenses (you need to switch the lens over to manual focus to disengage the autofocus motor) didn’t really make for a great manual focus experience (But I’m sure most of the users of these lenses would be using autofocus most of the time anyway). Both these lenses have a front rotating element which means when using a polarising filter on these lenses, you will need to focus first, and then adjust the amount of polarisation, or re-adjust after focusing.
But overall, these two lenses performed surprisingly well, and would make a good kit for someone starting out with their first camera, or someone who wants a light weight travel kit with decent picture quality, or someone on a budget that is looking at upgrading their non IS kit lenses to the newer (and optically better) IS kit lenses.