I am getting a deal on a Canon T3 cam with 18-55mm kit lens and I have choice of one extra lens: 75-300mm f4-5.6 and 55-250mm f4-5.6. I generally like to shoot street, abstract and nature photos and I'm not sure which lens is going to be more suitable to my needs. Are their pros and cons to either lenses given my preferred subjects?
I've owned the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6. In my opinion it would be better for your stated uses. There are several reasons why this is so:
- The difference between EF and EF-S lenses. AN EF lens must project an image circle large enough to cover a "full frame" sensor or film negative (roughly 36X24MM). An EF-S lens must only project an image circle large enough to cover the Canon APS-C sized sensors that are approximately 22.5X15mm. Since the APS-C image circle is only about 40% the area of an EF image circle, this allows the lens design to be smaller and lighter. Another benefit is that some of the lens elements themselves can be smaller, and thus use smaller amounts of the expensive materials used in modern lens design. In the case of these two lenses, the 55-250 can use smaller amounts of higher quality materials and still be manufactured for a very reasonable cost. The 55-250, while not outstanding, performs much better optically than the 75-300. It is much more comparable to the more expensive EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM in terms of optics.
- The difference between "full frame" and APS-C sensors. Although the focal length of a lens is the same regardless of the sensor size, the Field of View (FoV) obtained will be different. A 75-300mm lens on an APS-C body like your T3 will give the equivalent FoV of a 120-480mm lens mounted on FF body. If you need the extra reach this works to your advantage. If you need wider FoV, this works against you. The 55-250 lens on your T3 has the FoV of an 88-400mm lens mounted on a FF body. Unless you are trying to do street photos from a block and a half away, the 55-250 will give you more of the FoV you are looking for. With abstract photography, having a long lens with Macro capability is nice, but neither of these two lenses really offer much more than the other in that department. For nature photos it depends on the subject matter and shooting distances. Close-ups of flowers need an entirely different lens than moving animals at a distance. Unless you're gong to be shooting from larger distances, the 55-250 is a better general purpose nature photography lens for your T3.
- Image Stabilization (IS). The EF 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS has it, the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 doesn't. IS lets you shoot at a slower shutter speed before camera shake becomes an issue. IS will not help you if your subject is blurry because the subject is moving too fast. This may be the most significant difference between the two lenses for you. The IS on the 55-250 is good for about 3 stops of shutter speed (Tv). This means at 250mm instead of needing to use a Tv of 1/400 sec or faster, you can use 1/50 sec and expect to avoid blurring due to camera shake if you are practicing good camera stability techniques when shooting.
- Your possible future upgrade path. In many cases it is wise to invest in lenses that you would still be able to use if you decide to go with a Full Frame body in the future. In the case of the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6, I doubt you would want to continue using that lens with a high resolution FF body, even though you could. It just isn't a very good lens optically. If you eventually plan to buy a Full Frame camera, you should probably consider the EF 70-200mm f/4L (either IS or non-IS) or maybe the EF 70-300mm f/4-.56 IS USM instead.