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Canon EF 75-300mm or Canon EF-S 18-55mm? Which Is Better?

In this article, we’ll compare two budget lenses, the Canon EF 75-300mm, and the Canon EF-S 18-55mm kit lens. We’ll discuss what they’re good for, and I’ll also talk about the glaring problem that they both have.

Let’s begin.

Canon EF 75-300mm vs Canon EF-S 18-55mm | Canon Lens Comparison

Aperture & Focal Length

First off, let’s discuss aperture and focal length. The EF 75-300mm lens opens up to f/4 when zoomed all the way out, and f/5.6 when zoomed all the way in.

Even if you manually set the aperture to f/4, you’ll notice that as you zoom in, the lens will force the aperture to close a bit, to f/5.6.

In the case of the 18-55mm lens, the aperture can be as wide as f/3.5 when zoomed all the way out, and f/5.6 when zoomed all the way in.

Rather counterintuitively, the lower the number is, the wider the aperture can open, and thus more light is allowed in. The more light you can let in through the lens, the cleaner your images will be in low-light scenarios.

When it comes to aperture, both of these lenses have a similar range.

Canon EF 75-300mm lens
Taken with: Canon EOS R + Canon RF 15-35mm f2.8 L IS USM

Focal Length

Now, what about focal length?

In the case of the 75-300mm, the lens will be at 75mm when zoomed all the way out. When zoomed all the way in, it will, of course, be at 300mm.

So basically, the more mm, the more zoomed in it is, and thus you can capture subjects, such as birds, for example, from a larger distance away.

In the case of the 18-55mm, you’ve guessed it, when zoomed all the way out, you’re at 18mm, and when zoomed all the way in, you’ll find yourself at 55mm.

If you’re looking to capture sports, or wildlife, the EF 75-300mm wins hands down, as it can reach further. In fact, if you use it on a Canon camera with a cropped sensor, like a Canon 77D, or 250D, for example, you’ll be even more zoomed in. 1.6x more zoomed-in, to be precise.

So, when used with a camera like that, your real focal length would be more like 120-480mm, which is a lot.

When I tested this lens out, I was blown away by how far I had to stand away from my model, in order to get some photos.

I ended up being probably around, 10 metres away from her, or about 32 feet. This is when zoomed all the way in.

Female model, photo taken with the Canon 77D, and the Canon EF 75-300mm lens
Taken with: Canon EOS 77D + Canon EF 75-300mm / Model: @katie.t.willy

Size & Build

What about physical size, and build quality? Are they easy to carry, and which one feels more premium?

The Canon EF 75-300mm measures 71 x 122.1mm, or 2.8 x 4.81″, and measures about 480g, or 16.93oz.

The EF 18-55mm kit lens measures around 66.5 x 61.8mm, or 2.6 x 2.4″, and weighs in at around 215g, or 7.6oz.

Clearly, the 75-300mm lens is the beefiest out of the two. How about build quality?

Both are kind of plasticy, and relatively lightweight, and neither has weather sealing. They’re both budget lenses, so that’s to be expected, but I’d say the 75-300mm probably feels a bit nicer in the hand.

It might just be because it’s heavier, and perhaps I associate weight with quality, which isn’t always a logical metric to use.

Varieties

Now, both of these lenses have a few different versions. Generally, you want to buy the latest version you can find, if possible.

For example, if you buy the EF-S 18-55mm lens, you definitely want to find a version with IS in the name. IS stands for image stabilisation, which we’ll cover a bit later in the review.

If you’re looking to get the EF 75-300mm, try to get the version with USM in the name.

Image Quality

Now that we’ve discussed some of the physical aspects of these two lenses, what kind of images can they produce?

Now, just because your equipment is entry-level, that does not mean that it has to produce poor images. I think I’ve demonstrated this a fair few times on this channel.

The quality of your images has a lot more to do with their contents, the composition, lighting, etc. and a lot less to do with equipment cost.

What more expensive lenses can do for you, is they can make your job easier, they can have fewer optical defects, and they can definitely produce cleaner images in low light conditions.

In fact, this is precisely what I was hinting at early in this review. The glaring issue, pun not intended, that these lenses have, is that they do not fare too well in low light.

Low Light

As discussed earlier, their apertures can only open as wide as f3.5, in the case of the kit lens, and f/4, in the case of the 75-300mm tele lens.

That really isn’t a lot. You’ll get clean images throughout the day, but as nighttime approaches, the darker it gets, the more you’ll have to push your settings, in order to get enough light, and the more unwanted noise the images will have in the shadows.

If you actually want a lens that’s in a similar price range, but can open a lot wider, and get far more light in, read my review of the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens.

Ok, so we’ve covered the glaring issue. What else can we learn about these two lenses?

When it comes to minimum focusing distance, the EF 75-300mm lens can focus from as far as 1.5 meters, or 4’11”. The EF-S 18-55mm lens can focus from 25cm, or 0.82ft.

Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens
Taken with: Canon EOS R5 + Canon RF 15-35mm f2.8 L IS USM

Minimum Focusing Distance

What is minimum focusing distance?

In order for a lens to be able to focus on a subject, it can’t be too close. It needs to be a certain distance away from it. Each lens has a different minimum distance, and the 18-55mm kit lens can clearly focus from way closer.

Chromatic Aberration

What about chromatic aberration?

Given that both of these lenses are entry-level, you will definitely get chromatic aberration. What’s that? So, with more affordable lenses, if you have straight lines in your photos, especially around evening, if you zoom in close, you’ll see this strange effect, where the colours almost bleed out a bit.

This isn’t easily noticeable, though; it’s just something that some photographers may pick up on. Not really something to be too concerned about.

Female model, photo taken with the Canon 77D, and the Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens
Taken with: Canon EOS 77D + Canon EF-S 18-55mm / Model: @ho.peony

Vignetting

How about vignetting? Do these lenses produce it?

Yup. Vignetting is when you get a slight darkening in the corners of your photos. This isn’t usually a problem, especially not for portraits, which is what I mostly do. The reason, is that the darkened corners draw more attention to your subject’s face.

They also help add more depth to the photo.

Sharpness

What about sharpness?

Like most budget lenses, the lens will be at its sharpest in the centre, and not so sharp in the corners. Again, this isn’t a huge issue, as in most cases, your subject will be in the centre of the frame. Very few people zoom in to the corners of the image, in order to check for slight imperfections like that.

Image Stabilisation

What about IS, or image stabilisation? Do they have it?

The 18-55mm kit lens can do, if it has IS in the name. Image Stabilisation helps with both photos, where it can eliminate some motion blur, and it really helps with videos, enabling you to achieve far smoother footage.

The EF 75-300mm lens does not have IS, even though it really needs it, especially when zoomed in. A tripod can fix this problem for you of course, and that’s partially why you always see nature photographers using a tripod, or at least a monopod.

A monopod is just a tripod with one leg, and it helps somewhat stabilise the camera. It’s not as effective as a tripod of course, but better than shooting handheld.

Now that we’ve looked at what these lenses can do, let’s have a quick look at some examples. Just so you know, all the footage of the Canon 18-55mm kit lens that you’ve seen in the video above has been filmed on a second 18-55mm kit lens, with IS, on a Canon 77D.

So you know that it can do video. Now, let’s have a look at some photos from both lenses. Comment down below, and let me know which one was your favourite.

Compatibility

Ok, so which cameras are these lenses compatible with? The EF 75-300mm lens is compatible with any EF and EF/EF-S camera. This includes the majority of Canon cameras, apart from the Canon M or RF series.

The Canon EF-S 18-55mm kit lens on the other hand is only compatible with cameras that have an EF/EF-S mount. In other words, it only works with crop sensor cameras, not with full-frame cameras.

It will work with cameras like the Canon 77D, 250D, 600D, and so on, but not on the Canon 6D. If you’re not sure which mount your camera has, look it up first, before making any lens purchase.

Vlogging

What about vlogging? Is either of these lenses useful for that?

Straight off the bat, the 75-300mm lens would not be suitable for vlogging. The reason is that even when zoomed all the way out, it’s far too zoomed in. You wouldn’t be able to vlog with this lens, if you’re holding the camera in your hand.

With the 18-55mm kit lens, it’s a different story. You can definitely vlog with this lens, as you can zoom all the way out to 18mm, and thus most likely get your face, and most of your torso in shot.

You also have the IS, if you do get that version, which adds some image stabilisation.

YouTubers

What if you want to do YouTube, or online content?

Again, the 18-55mm lens would be great for that, but not so much the 75-300mm, due to the fact that it’s far too zoomed in. Even if you have a bit of space in between yourself and the camera, you’ll be a lot better off with something like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8.

I’ve reviewed both on this channel, links down below, or click the card in the top right corner.

Applications

So what are these lenses actually intended for? So, the 18-55m kit lens is designed to be an all-around lens. It can be wide, and it can zoom in as well. It’s good for photos, and it’s good for video too.

The EF 75-300mm lens is more designed for situations where there needs to be a lot of space between you, and the subject. It’s basically intended for sports, or wildlife, though you can obviously also use it for portraits, as I’ve demonstrated earlier.

Control

How easy are these lenses to handle? So, first off, they both have the AF/MF button on the side, which allows you to easily switch between the two focusing modes.

They both also have zoom rings, as they are both zoom lenses, but in the case of the 75-300mm, be aware that you might have to apply a little bit of force when zooming.

Longevity

What about longevity? How durable are these lenses?

So neither of these lenses has weather sealing. As a result, I’d be careful with how you store them, what conditions you use them in, etc.

I also wouldn’t drop them. You can get hoods for both, or you might as well just get UV filters to protect the glass element.

That’s what I do for all of my lenses at least. The UV filter, not the hood. I find hoods to be kind of awkward.

Conclusion

So now, which lens should you buy?

Obviously, both have their pros and cons. If you want a nice all-around lens, which can do a little bit of everything, I’d get the 18-55mm kit lens.

It can zoom from 18mm, which is quite wide, all the way to 55mm, which is relatively long. This will make it easy to photograph most things, except for wildlife and sports.

This lens is also a lot more useful for video, due to its IS.

If, on the other hand, you mostly want to photograph wildlife or sports, the EF 75-300mm is your obvious choice. Now, if you pair it with a cropped sensor camera, you can get even further reach than 300mm.

If you’ve already learnt a bit about photography and videography, and you’d like to graduate to something more mid-range, feel free to have a look at the lens review playlists on my YouTube channel.

I’ve reviewed all sorts of lenses, from the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 and EF 50mm f/1.8, to the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM, and the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM.

If you’d like to purchase any of the items I’ve mentioned in this article, or see how much they cost in your country, I have a link down below where you can view them.

Thank you for reading my comparison review of the Canon EF 18-55mm kit lens vs EF 75-300mm. I invite you to have a look at some of my other articles. We have something for everyone, whether you’re interested in audio, or cameras and lenses. Alternatively, if you prefer video reviews, feel free to have a look at my YouTube channel.

Product Links

Down below you will find all of the items I talked about in this article.

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