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Re: Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon Rebel t2i


I am looking to purchase a telephoto lens for an upcoming safari trip. I'm a beginner photography and don't really what to spend tons of money. I'm looking for guidance as to which lens would be best, 300MM or 400MM and does anyone have any recommendations.



thank you,  



There are quite a few telephoto zooms to choose among... depending upon how big and heavy a lens you're willing to carry, how much telephoto "reach" you require, and how much you want to spend.


Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS STM is a very good lens for around $300 new (about $230 refurbished at the Canon USA website). 250mm might be a little short for more distant or smaller wildlife. But this the least expensive lens I'd recommend. You might find cheaper, such as the Canon EF 75-300mm III, non-USM, non-IS. But the EF-S 55-250mm is a better lens with faster, quieter autofocus, closer focusing/higher magnification, and with image stabilization which will be important shooting handheld and/or from vehicles.


Canon EF 70-300mm IS USM "II" is a relatively new model that's a bit higher performance, especially it's autofocus. Costs around $500 new right now, but I saw it sellng refurbished at the Canon USA website recently for a little under $400.


The older EF 70-300mm IS USM is also still widely available and is a pretty nice lens too... Oddly, it's still selling for more than the new "II" version, at about $650 (refurbished $520). 


Both the above are reasonably compact for travel and use in tight spaces.. but Canon also offers the EF 70-300mm "DO" (diffractive optics) that's even more compact. However, it's not really any ligher weight and is rather expensive at $1400. Someone I know shoots with one and I've been impressed with the images she gets with it... though I can't say if it's all that much better than the above.


The most durable and best sealed for resistance to dust and moisture is the EF 70-300mm "L" IS USM. It's probably got the best image quality and highest performance autofocus and image stabilization of any of them. Unlike any of the above, this lens can optionally be fitted with a tripod mounting ring (sold separately). That might be helpful because it's a bit larger, heavier lens... a little under 2.5 lb. It sells for around $1350 new.


The Canon EF 100-400mm L  IS USM "II" is an excellent lens with very high image quality, durable build, additional sealing for dust/weather resistance and very high performance image stabilization. It's extra reach to 400m would probalby be very welcome, but compared to the above it's also fairly large and heavy (about 3.5 lb.) and not cheap at around $2050 (refurbished currently offered for under $1600, but out of stock).


The earlier version of the EF 100-400mm L IS USM is still rather widely available too. This lens is a littel differne,t being a "push/pull" type zoom. Some people really like that for fast action shooting, such as birds in flight and air shows. It's not quite as heavy as the new version (aobut 3 lb.) and is selling for around $1300. Both the Canon 100-400mm include a tripod mounting ring. 


I'm hesitant to suggest other brands on Canon's website and haven't used any of thei third party telephoto zooms so can't really say much about how they perform. There are several 150-600mm offered by Sigma and Tamron, but those are all relatively large and heavy. One lens I noticed introduced recently is a pretty compact Sigma 100-400mm that might be good for travel, has image stabilization and their faster HSM autofocus drive. It has no provision for a tripod mounting ring though, but is selling for about $800.


There also are some third party "extreme range" zooms that try to "do it all" with a single lens... covering 18-270mm, 16-300mm and similar. Sounds ideal for travel, but in my opinion this type of lens tends to compromise in a lot of ways. Any of the above telephoto zooms will likely give better autofocus performance and image quality.


Hope this helps! Have a great trip.



Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7DII (x2), 7D(x2) some other cameras, various lenses & accessories




Thank you so much for all the information you shared. It gives me a starting point and I think I'm going to take your advice and stick with the 70-300mm lenses both for cost and weight. 





It really depends on what you expect and requirements are. You are talking the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens?   It has no weather sealing to speak of.  IQ is only average. It is not especially durable either. My experience with family members and a few clients shows several failures.  It is light and does an average job so if that works for you go for it.  What I would want out of my lenses may be far different than you.


But my choice would be one of the 150-600mm lenses from either Tamron or Sigma.  The Tamron has some weather sealing where the Sigma has none.  They are going to be bigger and heavier but to me well worth a once in a lifetime trip.  IQ is outstanding on either one.


Keep in mind any time you get to 300+mm or so it will be a challenge to hold the gear steady.  You may want to get the lens of your choice and do some practicing before the trip.

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

One thing to keep in mind is the T2i is a cropped sensor. That 70-300 lens will give you an effective range of 110 to 460, or so. 


Also remember that  both the lens and T2i have very little environment sealing. Stay out of dust storms and monsoons and you should be ok. If you want to change lens to something smaller, for whatever reason, be very careful of ambient dust. I recommend doing it either inside a building, tent, or even a car.


Have a good trip.