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Canon EFS 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS II Zoom Lens Review

(If you can't see the video, please click here.)

Way back in the mists of time I bought a Canon EOS 50e from our local car-boot sale. This camera caught my eye because it sported a 28-80mm EF mount lens - just what I needed if I was going to stretch my meagre gear budget to a dSLR body.

What I didn't appreciate at the time was the crop factor that is involved in Digital SLR's. What this means is that the sensor on most Digital SLR's is smaller than a piece of 35mm film, which makes subjects appear closer than they would on a film camera.

The result of this is that the angle of view that you get out of lenses is different depending on if you're using a 35mm film SLR or a digital SLR. With a dSLR you're closer to the action, which is great for telephoto work, like sports or wildlife, but means that for wide-angle architecture or landscape photographs you're too close, so you have to back up or fit a different lens.

View Towards Fawley, Lee On Solent

So that old film SLR lens I got, the 28-80mm, wasn't that great for lots of the photography I do, landscape and architecture. What I needed was a wide-angle, and the regular Canon EFS 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS seemed to fit the bill.

At 18mm this lens is the 35mm equivalent of a 28mm, which is nice and wide, and it includes Canons IS or Image Stabilisation system, which means that you can use your camera hand-held when otherwise you'd need to use a tripod.

House, Lee On Solent

This is the standard kit-lens that comes with most of Canons entry to mid-level SLRs. I purchased this example from a buyer on eBay who was selling it with the 55-250 IS. They had bought a Canon 60d six months ago with the 55-250, but now were upgrading to L glass, so I got the pair of lenses for about £160, which was a bargain.

The 18-55mm isn't the fastest (in terms of light) glass out there, it's f/3.5 to 5.6 is pedestrian at best, but it more than makes up for this with the IS system. I have been very impressed with the sharpness I've achieved with this lens, and that's only after a couple of months. I'm sure that with a little more practice I'll get even better results.


 The 18-55 IS feels a little plasticky, but that does mean it is incredibly light. When I've got it on the front on my 350d, the camera seems like I could carry it around for days. The zoom is quick and smooth, and if you put the focus switch to manual the focus ring is easy to use as well.

It's worth noting that the front element does spin while focussing, so when using a Circular Polariser Filter, you'll have to adjust it after locking onto your subject.

Atomic Clock, Gosport

Since starting to use the 18-55mm it has probably become my favourite lens. Always on my camera, I love the angle of view that this glass gives. The IS means that you can stop the lens down without fear of getting camera shake blur, so you can use a smaller aperture (like f/5.6, f/8, etc)  to improve the overall sharpness of the photographs.

New Building, Lee-On-Solent

If you bought your Canon dSLR with a kit lens, it probably came with this glass, so you'll know how good it is, but for those of you who need a wide angle lens and are on a budget, you can't go wrong with the Canon EF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS II.

Spent Cornfields On Portsdown Hill

Cheers, Rob.

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