9 out of 10 points and recommendedlight and compact, image quality, IS, focal range, priceAF, small aperture, cheap build
I've owned this lens for just a week, and I have to say it is really a great deal! Before buying this lens, I also considered buying either 70-200mm F/4 IS or F/2.8 IS. However, in my opinion, the C/P value of this lens is better than the other two. Also, it's much lighter -- good for travel/walk-around.reviewed June 6th, 2008 (purchased for $250)
First of all, the image quality. Compared with my 17-55, this lens produces less sharper images for sure. But, it's not as bad as a kit lens. For this price range, you can't ask more about the image quality. I feel it's about 85% as sharp as 17-55 which is acceptable for me. Contrast and saturation are good though.
Second, it is true the AF speed is slow (but accurate), especially in low light (indoor). It's nornal since it does not have a USM. My 17-55 is faster in low light, but I can't feel any difference on my 20D when using them outdoor (of course, under good light condition).
One thing you need to notice is the max. aperature data is not that accurate in the SLRgear.com review. Here is the correct version:
Smaller aperture also means that depth of field is not as shallow as those larger aperture lenses can produce. However, at 200-250mm, the boken is actually very impressive even not wide open. Of course, it's not in the same category with 70-200 f/2.8. So, if you don't need really shallow DOF and do not shoot fast moving objects in low light condition very often, this lens is probabily enough for general/everyday use.
One of the most valuable stuffs on this lens is Image Stabilizer. The IS works perfectly and I can handhold this baby at 1/5~1/8 sec with no blur (at 250mm). One more advantage is that focal length is very practical (55-250 instead of 70-200) on APS-C body. This is equivalent to 88mm-400mm in full frame.
Yes, the build quality is not that good, but it also helps to keep it light. The front element does rotate while focusing. The zoom ring is very smooth though. What else? Oh, the minimum focus distance is 1.1m which makes macro photography possible.
Overall, it's a great lens if you need a telephoto lens but have rather limited budget. Actually, I think every APS-C user should get one -- just like the 50mm f/1.8. It's a perfect combination with your kit lens or 17-55. Highly recommanded!