I have a Canon 1100D kit (18-55mm IS II) and a 50mm f1.8 lens. Now I'm looking for a zoom lens. What do you think about the following:

  • Tamron 18-200mm f3.5-6.3
  • Tamron 70-300mm f4-f5.6 DI LD
  • Tamron 55-200mm f4-f5.6 DI II
  • Canon 55-250mm IS f4-f5.6
  • Canon 75-300mm f4-f5.6 III
  • Canon 75-300mm f4-f5.6 III USM

I really don't know what I should chose. I tried to compare on dpreview.com, but I'm not so sure that I have the right lenses in the comparison, since in the store that I want to buy the name doesn't contain some letters, like this: Tamron AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Macro is the name in the comparison, but in the store is the same name as the list.

Here is the link: http://www.dpreview.com/products/compare/side-by-side?products=tamron_18-200_3p5-6p3_di_ii&products=tamron_70-300_4-5p6_di&products=tamron_55-200_4-5p6_di_ii&products=canon_55-250_4-5p6_is&products=canon_75-300_4-5p6&products=canon_75-300_4p0-5p6

  • What do you want to use the lens for? What kind of photography? – rfusca Aug 4 '11 at 14:01
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    Nobody can answer this question because we have no idea what you need it for. They have different uses and compromises. – Itai Aug 4 '11 at 14:36
  • I tend to agree with Itai, purpose is needed. – John Cavan Aug 4 '11 at 15:33

In most cases, you're going to want a lens that complements the lens(es) already in your bag. In your case, any of the lenses in the 55-250 / 70-300 range would accomplish this.

The 55-250 is a decent entry-level zoom. For the money, it's a good complement to your kit lens. Canon's 75-300 is generally not very well-liked, but for a little more money, their 70-300 IS USM is considered pretty decent -- sort of in-between the 55-250 and their low-end "L" lenses.

Based on the lenses in your list, I'm going to assume that you're trying to keep to a pretty strict budget. If that's the case, I'd recommend the 55-250. Take good care of it, and you'll be able to sell it later if you want to move up to a better lens.

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Any 18-200 lens has a LOT of optical trade-offs built into it in order to achieve the large zoom range. It makes for a handy, useful "tourist lens" for daylight situations where it is impractical to carry more than one lens, but personally I'd not want one.

70-300 lenses have a rather nasty reputation all round. It's a bit of the same problem really, the zoom range is a bit ambitious and optical quality is sacrificed for it. I'd skip this range and get the quite superb, not overly expensive Canon 70-200 f/4L instead, cropped in post-production from 200mm where necessary. The crop would still be sharper and give better colour and contrast than the native output from a 70-300.

However, the Canon 55-250 IS is what I'd look into were I you. It takes over where your 18-55 stops, it has IS, it is actually quite sharp from what I have seen of tests, and it is quite reasonably priced and not very heavy. Its main weakness is so-so build quality and a rather slow maximum aperture, but none of the lenses you list are much better in these respects. And if you want a fast (f/2.8) zoom that reaches 200mm plus, you are looking at a beast that is way, way, way bigger, heavier and more expensive than what you are currently looking at.

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