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I recently purchased a used Canon 55-250mm IS lens and it works nicely at 55mm(even with lower shutter speed, and f/4 aperture), but turns out quite blurry at longer focal lengths, even with a shutter speed of 1/800, f/11 and while mounted on a tripod. I'm not sure if this is a user error, or something wrong with the lens. Any ideas?

  • Can you use manual focus or Live View to get sharper results at focal lengths past 100mm? – Michael C Jan 8 '15 at 13:32
  • I've tried to use manual focus which produces a slightly clearer image in the center of the frame, but still seems poor and worse in the edges – Tristan Jan 8 '15 at 13:34
  • Picture at 55mm, handheld, 1/200, f/7.1, IS on (flickr.com/photos/130524019@N08/16044443647) Picture at 250mm, tripod, 1/800, f/11, IS off (flickr.com/photos/130524019@N08/16228422741) – Tristan Jan 8 '15 at 13:38
  • Have you stop the IS when mounted on tripod? – Romeo Ninov Jan 8 '15 at 14:27
  • @Tristan, switch focus to One shot – Romeo Ninov Jan 8 '15 at 14:36
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Your lens is damaged.

  • One of your images (shown below) exhibits an abnormal amount of spherical aberration. It is not the kind of softness you would get when out of focus. Also, notice that the bricks on the left side are significantly softer than the right side, which indicates decentering. Both of these indicate that one or more lens elements have been thrown off their correct position, most likely due to impact or shock (e.g. being dropped). (Note that dust spots are visible in your image which indicate that your camera's sensor needs to be cleaned.)

Linked image showing abnormal spherical aberration
View full size

  • Your lens needs to be repaired or replaced. Considering the low cost of the lens, the latter is probably the more economical option. I have personally dealt with this issue with a similar lens for the Pentax K system. See: Pentax DA L 55-300mm lens very soft--is it broken?
  • I have the same problem but worse, half of my right side of the images is blurred out the same way and a bit on the left too. I suspected it was broken but now I have something to tell the repair shop about what I think is wrong. Thank you bwDraco – Kristian Apr 9 '17 at 22:11
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That 250mm photo shows a distinct difference between the center and the edges. That looks definitely like a problem with thelens to me, i'd try to get it repaired.

  • I've done some more research about the lens and I've stumbled upon the MTF chart(usa.canon.com/cusa/support/consumer/eos_slr_camera_systems/…) for this lens and the performance seems somewhat poor. Is the picture above what these specs should look like, or is this lens in particular preforming poorly? – Tristan Jan 8 '15 at 21:52
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    These aren't great lenses but you should be seeing better results. I'd suggest there are possibly misaligned optics, requiring a proper stripdown, service and rebuild. If there's a chance of a free repair from Canon then it's worth pursuing, otherwise you could be looking at spending more than the lens is realistically worth on repairs. Instead, I'd live with it for the moment and save up for a better lens such as the recent Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM, or even a second-hand 70-200 F4L (worth thinking about given its compatibility with full-framers like the 5D series)... – Darkhausen Mar 4 '15 at 13:18
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I think @ths is right, and you probably need to try to repair the lens. However, before you do that, the following might solve your problem, or at the very least will mean you've tried everything before you try a repair/replacement.

  1. On the tripod, is image stabilization turned off? I doubt this will make significant difference, but may be asked when taking for repair.
  2. Is autofocus turned on, on both the lens and body (if applicable)? If set to manual focus, the camera will obviously take the photograph regardless.
  3. Is focus mode set to continuous tracking? That is, if you keep the shutter release half pressed does the camera continue to focus even as it is moved?
  4. Are the front and lens elements clean?

These might be a bit basic, but just mean you have everything covered if you try to take your lens back.

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Based on personal experience, I'd say the 55-250 is best from 55-135mm and then the performance does drop off from there to 250mm. But having said that, the samples you posted indicated you are not getting close to the potential of this lens when performing properly. If there are no other issues present that could cause your photos to be blurry, then it appears there is a problem with your lens.

The following photos were taken with an EOS Rebel XTi (400D) and an EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II lens. They were resized to 1152x768.

ISO 800, 1/100 sec, f/5.6, 250mm f/5.6

ISO 200, 1/800 sec, f/10, 250mm f/10

When the full resolution version of the second photo is viewed at 100% there is some softness on the right edge of objects and people that are the same distance from the camera as the subjects that are clear. The AF was aimed at about the fifth row down from the top (the folks just in front of the guy in the white shirt). There is much less of the edge softness on the left edge of the frame.

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