The Canon 75-300mm and 55-250mm lenses are two relatively inexpensive telephoto lenses in the Canon line-up, making them popular with hobbyist photographers. While both lenses are capable of delivering quality images, there are several differences between the two that you should consider before purchasing each one, regardless of which focal length you actually need.
The 75-300mm lens is available in two different models: one has an ultrasonic focusing motor, one does not. The one with the focusing motor, labelled a USM lens, will focus on objects that are far away much quicker than one without. The 55-250mm lens does not have an ultrasonic motor.
The 55-250mm lens is an optically-image-stabilised lens. As such, it is designated an IS lens. The image stabiliser enables handheld shooting at four stops more than a lens that does not have an image stabiliser. These extra stops make shooting in low light without a tripod or monopod much better. Neither version of the 75-300mm lens has an image stabiliser, so you would need to carry a tripod for low light shooting with the 75-300mm.
Aside from the focal length difference between a 55-250mm lens and a 75-300mm lens (the former has better wide angle, while the latter has more telephoto), the closeup focusing distance is different between the two lenses. The 55-250mm can focus on an object as close as 3.6 feet/1.1 meter away, while the 75-300mm lens has a close focusing distance of 4.9 feet/1.5 meters.
The 75-300mm lens has 13 lens elements in nine groups. The 55-250mm lens has 12 lens elements in 10 groups. One of the lens elements in the 55-250mm lens is a UD-lens element, a higher-quality glass that reduces chromatic aberrations throughout the lens range.
The 55-250mm lens is an EF-S lens mount, meaning it will not work on Canon's full frame D-SLRs like the 5D. Check for the compatibility with your camera model before purchasing a 55-250mm. The 75-300mm lens is an EF lens mount, so it will fit on all Canon SLRs.
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