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18-135mm IS USM or 55-250mm IS STM?


Hi! As the title suggests, I'm looking for a new lens but I'm not sure which to get. I already have the 18-55mm and was thinking that pairing it up with the 55-250mm would be good, but it might be a hassle for me to keep switching lenses (or bringing 2 when I'm walking around) for different shots.. so I stumbled upon the 18-135mm which has that super zoom. With it, I could possibly sell my 18-55mm but it still might fall short?

Right now, I'm not really needing to zoom in really closely on my subjects but in the long run, I would like to do sports photography.

Would it be a hassle to keep switching lenses? or would it be worth it to get the 55-250mm?



Besides having a longer zoom range, the 18-135 lens is superior than the 18-55 for image quality.

For general "walking around" use I would recommend getting the 18-135.

Later on you could get the 55-250, which is also a very good lens.

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, M200, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, Pixma TR8620a, Lr Classic


There have been multiple versions of the 18-55mm, 18-135mm, and the 55-250mm lenses.  The versions that have model numbers that end with “STM” are the latest and sharpest version.  The 18-135mm even has a more advanced version that has a model number that ends with “USM”.

The “STM” versions of the three lenses have similar image quality.  The primary difference between them is the zoom range of the focal lengths.

"The right mouse button is your friend."


Hi and welcome to the forum:

First and foremost, the answers we provide here are given not knowing your camera model, or your budget, which are very basic considerations for giving you the best advice, so some of these options may be out of your range

Assuming you are using a Canon Rebel or ##D model, for a general walk-around lens, I would definitely suggest the EF-S 18-135 IS USM or STM (the USM version is the newer, but they are both good lenses).   That will cover most of your day-to-day stuff, is fast, quite silent and has good optics.  Also, unlike many 18-55 lenses it can be focused manually while in AF mode.
Here are a couple of images of the same shot.  The first is a JPG file straight out of camera, but reduced in file size to post here.  The second is cropped severely to concentrate on the bird, which is a good test of the optical quality of the lens to tolerate that kind of reduction.

If you went that way, then the EF-S 55-250 would not be a great solution as there is too much overlap with the EF-S 18-135.  It would be viable if your budget is very limited and you decide to keep the 18-55, through.  That said, your range will still be somewhat limited for distance sports or very dim environments.
80D, EF-S 18-135 USM @135mm Full, f/5.6, 1/200sec, ISO-200080D, EF-S 18-135 USM @135mm Full, f/5.6, 1/200sec, ISO-2000 80D, EF-S 18-135 USM @135mm Crop, f/5.6, 1/200sec, ISO-200080D, EF-S 18-135 USM @135mm Crop, f/5.6, 1/200sec, ISO-2000

For sports, really much depends on what kind of sport, but if you have the 18-135 already by then, (which is not suitable for most distant sports like soccer or baseball), then much depends on the level of light you can expect.  For dimmer environments, such as indoor or night sports (e.g. basketball), you will want a 'fast' lens (a lens that has a small f/stop number) - something like the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS MkII or MkIII, or f/4L IS MkII versions.   For field sports like soccer, football or baseball, then more reach again would be useful so, for example, one of the following:

Canon EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 MkII USM or L versions - however there is a lot of overlap at the short end with the 18-135 and it's not got the reach as the following units. Avoid the Canon EF 75-300 variants, they are not great lenses, they are cheap and you get what you pay for.
Canon EF 100-400 f/4-5.6L IS MkII lens - fabulous optic, but pricey
Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG Contemporary - same range but cheaper and still decent optics , image stabilized
Sigma 150-600 Contemporary - great optic, huge focal range image stabilized
(Sigma makes lenses for many brands, so you need to make sure yours is for Canon EF mount) 

With a combination of the 18-135 and one of the above lenses, you would have a focal range between 18 and up to 600mm in just two lenses.  These all come in at different price points, so a lot depends on your budget, and for the longer lenses, what you are prepared to carry.  Long telephoto zooms tend to weigh a bit.

As to your question about changing lenses.  One of the big things is to avoid getting dust and moisture into the camera body itself - that can end up on the sensor, and really show in every image as dark blobs.   So, the correct order of events is:

  1. Have the new lens to hand, with the rear lens cap loosely on, lying flat on a safe surface like your lap
  2. If you have not done so, put the front lens cap back on the lens currently attached to the camera
  3. If necessary, retract the lens on your camera to its shortest length - if the lens has an extension lock, engage it
  4. Turn off the camera - if the camera is on, the sensor has a charge, and attracts dust
  5. Face the camera body lens downwards (to avoid dust or rain falling into the body) and remove the existing lens to the same safe location, and switch the rear lens cap to the just-removed lens 
  6. With the camera still pointing downwards, attach the new lens to the camera body, ensuring it securely clicks into place - this may require some practice in a controlled environment to get the red dots on the lens to align with the one on the body mount.
  7. Safely store the spare lens
  8. Turn the camera on ready to shoot.

cheers, TREVOR

"The Amount of Misery expands to fill the space available"
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris


" I would like to do sports photography. ... Would it be a hassle to keep switching lenses? or would it be worth it to get the 55-250mm?"

For sports photography (almost any sport really) 250mm is probably the shortest FL you would want to consider. I have never found switching lenses to be a problem and absolutely say trying to get a 'one size fits all' lens is not a good idea. It destroys the number one reason for an interchangeable lens digital camera. If you are truly wanting to do sports lens choice is third down on the list of importance. 1> Location, 2> know the sport, and then 3> lens choice.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!


"Besides having a longer zoom range, the 18-135 lens is superior than the 18-55 for image quality."

Perhaps better than the kit but not the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens which is my recommendation for any seriously minded aspiring photographers.


EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!
click here to view the gallery