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Telephoto Lens Recommendation for EOS Rebel XSi


My grandson has a Rebel EOS XSi that belonged to his aunt. He is a beginner and loves aviation photography, ie, air shows, etc. I want to get a telephoto lens for him for Xmas, but am at a loss at what to buy that is appropriate for the camera and his interest. Also, I would prefer not to break the bank, so I have been looking at refurbished lenses.  Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.



Telephoto and super telephoto lenses are what is best for aviation photography.  These can be a bit bulky and heavy, even for many adults.  The combo of camera and lens can weigh up to five pounds, or more.  That is a lot of weight to hold perfectly still.  It is even harder to do for any extended length of time like an entire air show.

"The right mouse button is your friend."

Thanks. Do you have any suggestions? This young man is 6' 2" and is 18 years old, so I'm not unduly worried about the weight, but I do want to purchase something that is useful, will work with the model of his camera and that I can afford.

Congratulations on having big, strong grandson.   What is your budget?  I think you should also factor a camera bag into the equation, too, if he does not have one.  

The Rebel XSi is an older camera model.  It is no longer in production or being serviced by Canon.  It uses memory cards and batteries that are becoming scarce on the market, but many third party imports are available on Amazon.

Telephoto lenses, up to 300mm in focal length, can be purchased in the $300 - $600 USD range for that camera.  Super telephoto lenses, over 300mm, cost upwards of $600 USD.  

The size of these lenses tend to run from about the size and weight of a beer can to something approaching the size and weight of a liter bottle of water, and even larger.  So, a camera bag might need to be included on your shopping list.


"The right mouse button is your friend."

Thank you. He has a bag already. I'll give your suggestions serious thought. 


The kind of camera your son has uses what is called and EF or EF-S mount lens.  For the type of lens you want, as Waddizzle pointed out, he will need a long telephoto lens: i.e. something with a focal length in excess of 200mm and preferably a zoom lens.  Personally, I would suggest consulting with him to make sure that you get something he would truly prefer - and as most photographers will confirm, half the fun is the process of choosing!

There are a couple of options here...

If you go with Canon native lenses, the Canon EF 70-300 IS USM MkII is a great quality lens and offers a wide range of focal lengths.  It is fast focusing, robust with good optics.

At a higher price point and longer reach (noting you don't want to break the bank - but not sure what that means precisely) the EF 100-400L MkII lens is a professional-grade lens that is fast focusing, brilliant optics but it's not cheap: you could try a refurbished lens for that.  Tamron also make a 100-400 lens that is also excellent, but will be cheaper and lighter as it is not made of all-metal casing - which is not necessary.

Outside of Canon, either a Sigma or Tamron 150-600 lens is a good match, and they are commonly available second-hand at a reasonable cost.  I have the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary model and it is an excellent unit.

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

Thank you. I believe I will shop a bit, the give him a choice of a few options. 


I have had good luck with my Tamron 150-600 at air shows.


Thanks for the recommendation. Great photos, too. Just the kind he likes to shoot. 

I am sure the Sigma would be just as good.