I have a Canon 600D and I am looking to get a second lens to expand upon the 18-55mm lens that came with my camera. I very much like what I've got at the moment, but I always find myself wanting to be able to zoom further.
I am really interested in nature and animal photography, like these.
I don't have a huge budget (think of £500 as of August 2012 as the absolute max, but hopefully less). I believe it wouldn't be worth getting a lens without Image Stabilisation as I would be looking for best results at far distances.
I've been looking and in the range accessible to me have found the Canon EF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 IS USM Lens (for around £400) or the Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS Lens (possibly for around £200). The price difference is quite large and I was wondering what the difference in terms of optical performance/build quality/price vs quality ratio is, if much at all.
To be honest I'm pretty open about what to get, my only concern is that I've read that sometimes a lens with a larger ranger (such as 18-200mm for example) can suffer image quality loss due to the technical tradeoffs involved in the design.
What lenses do you recommend for a amateur photographer looking to get into nature/animal photography with my budget and current equipment?