Lens Shootout: Canon EF 70-300 vs EFS 55-250
June 1, 2020 - Redmond, Washington
So I broke down and subscribed to Lightroom a few weeks ago. Had to be done, I suppose. It's got a cool thing where you can filter by metadata. I only keep keepers in my catalog. That filter lets me see how each piece of equipment contributes to the catalog.
I got 2 telephoto zooms. An EFS 55-250 STM and an EF 70-300 USM. According to Lightroom, I hardly ever use either of them. There's no reason to have both. Went to Marymoore park for a shootout.
55-250 was mounted on a Canon 80D. 70-300 on a Canon 70D.
I've never taken a picture of a bird with any purpose. Seemed hard. But why not? I'm testing long lenses. Went to a local birding website. Marymoore park is on the list. I know where that is.

Marymoore is an urban park in Redmond, Washington. Just down the hill from the Microsoft campus. The couple times I'd been there it was jam packed. People are starting to go out a little more around here, but we're still keeping our distance. Plenty of room today.
EF 70-300 @300mm f/8
Birds are hard. 
I used to shoot a lot of sports. There's some skills overlap. But with sports, I could reasonably predict, this guy's going to run from there to here. So I'll stand here to get the angle and put the sun over my left shoulder... 
EFS 55-250 @250mm f/8
The part of the park by the river is the off-leash dog area. The rest of the park was empty, but over here, a lot of people and pooches, even on a Monday at 9 AM with a hint of pandemic in the air.
EF 70-300 @300mm f/8
BIFF. Birds in friggin' flight. I have neither the gear nor the skill to do this right. I shot a bunch. Holy moly, that genre burns of a lot of drive space. Still, even my best ones are awful. But those eagles are cool.
Need some practice.
Eagles, 250mm. Herons, 300mm
EFS 55-250 @250mm f/8
So what's the verdict? They're both nice enough lenses and I can make good arguments for either.

The most significant difference is that one of them goes to 300. But even on a crop body, that lens wasn't long enough or sharp enough for what I tried to do today. If I was going to do this seriously, I'd have to invest in some first-rate big glass.

I had a blast today. This was seriously fun. I could see getting into this. Got my eye on a 400 5.6L. Maybe throw an extender behind it. Got to see what other gear is scoring poorly on the catalog chart. Turn it into cash.

But for today's shootout, it pretty much came down to the individual copies of each lens. I'm going with the EFS 55-250. It's just newer and crisper and has enough reach for when you don't need a ton of reach. It feels like a toy - a long lens should have a little heft -- but it's at least as sharp, and probably sharper than the EF lens.
Canon 400mm f/5.6L Review - Unboxing
June 8, 2020 - Redmond, Washington
Bought a used Canon 400 5.6L yesterday. Took it out this morning. Posted them tonight. I been smiling the whole time. It's a pleasure to use and the results are, well ...
This is me snatching up this lens on Craigslist yesterday.
Everybody on both ends of this picture were feeling like this.
100% crop. 1/400 f/8 ISO 400
I'm not a bird guy, at all. However, in the span of a week:
-- I went to this park for the first time with a Canon 70-300 4-5.6 and shot birds for the first time
-- I bought a 400 5.6. (I should point out that I got a really good deal.)
-- I went back to that park and shot those birds again.
And I had a blast both times. So maybe I am an aspiring bird photographer. But I swear, this is really about equipment.
I'm just getting back into photography. Budget is always a consideration. I went crop sensor; got an 80D and a 70D. Up until now, I've been using consumer glass, mostly EF-S lenses. I've got the latest 18-135mm and use that 80% of the time. It's plenty sharp enough for what I do and we've become friends. I'm comfortable with that lens.
But it's not a bird lens. Even if it had the reach, I don't think it's sharp enough for this genre.
The 400mm 5.6 is a bird lens in every sense. It's easily the sharpest lens I own. And sharp glass is just fun.