Crop body Canon lens dilemma

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Prodo123, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    The 18-55 kit lens that came with my 550D got old in 2 days. Ugh.

    So I've been looking for some better glass to use as a do-it-all everyday lens. I have a budget of $1000. I'll be doing indoor events including sports as well as outdoor nature shots and vacation photos. For that purpose I have a couple candidates.

    EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
    EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM (plus a 85mm f/1.8)
    EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
    EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

    They all have top-notch image quality. The differences between them are so mild that I'm really not concerned about IQ in this dilemma anymore.

    The first two choices are obviously the cheaper ones, with the 15-85mm being ~$200 cheaper than the 17-55mm. I really like the fast aperture of the 17-55mm, but I feel like I will be limited by the comparatively small zoom range which isn't much of an improvement from the 18-55mm. Also, the 15-85mm has a 4-stop IS while the 17-55mm is the older 3-stop version. I'm also worried that the 17-55mm will have seal problems that many people are having. But the huge disadvantage for the 15-85mm is the variable slow aperture which hinders its lowlight performance.

    Then the prime lens combo comes to play. Being faster than any zoom lens, the 85mm prime should add some lowlight capabilities to the setup, but I feel like I might be hindered by the lack of IS and/or zoom with the prime, and switching lenses might be too much of a hassle for fast-paced events like sports.

    Then I considered some better lenses that perhaps are a bit out of my range. The most obvious choice was the venerable 24-70mm. Fast aperture with the perfect focal length! But the problem is that I might miss some of the wide angles, it weighs more than the camera, and it lacks IS. Plus, it's $1200 used (but an excellent investment!).

    Or I could go with the 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. Albeit slower than the 17-55mm and the 24-70mm, it's still faster than the 15-85mm at most focal lengths, has a greater reach on a crop body, etc. but again, I might miss the wide angles and it weighs a lot. It's also on the upper end of the cost spectrum. I also feel like the f/4 might not be enough for indoor sports photography.

    In the event that I someday end up getting a full-frame camera, I guess the EF lenses would be a more worthy investment, but I'm really not concerned about that right now.

    I have really put thought into this dilemma but I still can't decide on which setup to go with! Could someone please give me advice on which lens to go for? Thanks!
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    You really can't go wrong with any of these lenses; they're all great. I'll be surprised if the 15-85 really has a full stop advantage with its IS because the IS on the 17-55 works so beautifully, but regardless, how often do you shoot subjects that don't move? IS won't help you much with moving subjects, of course.

    I personally prefer to avoid lenses with variable apertures, but if you like to shoot in semi-auto modes, then it probably will make very little difference to you. In Av or Tv, the camera will compensate automatically for the aperture change necessitated by the focal length you choose. If you shoot mostly in M mode, then it could get a little annoying. So I suppose that decision all depends on your shooting style.

    As for the focal length differences, I think you will miss the wide end if you go with a lens that starts at 24mm. Sure, those lenses will transfer over to a full-frame camera, but the EF-S lenses that you are considering will hold their value very well--it's a piece of cake to sell those lenses and then move on to whatever you really need when the time comes to move up to full-frame.
  3. Apple Corps macrumors 68030

    Apr 26, 2003
    The 24-70mm f2.8 is, from my experience - way over rated. No IS, heavy, some image issues, external focusing tends to draw dust in, and, most importantly, I found that I could frame my subjects most of the time with a few steps forward or backward.

    I sold it a year ago and now go with a prime and 70 - 200mm f2.8 II.

    Your mileage may vary, your shooting style is probably different - but the 24 - 70mm is no longer in my bag.
  4. Prodo123 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    90% of the time it stays on full manual. I agree that the constant aperture is quite desirable! Shooting in f/4 at 30mm then suddenly shifting to f/4.5 is quite annoying.
    I'm leaning towards the 24-105mm f/4L. How's the lowlight performance on it? Will the f/2.8 of the 24-70 compensate for its lack of IS?
  5. fitshaced macrumors 68000


    Jul 2, 2011
    For me, there's only one of those lenses that's an every day lens, the 24-105mm. It depends on what you mostly shoot though. However, if you want to restrict yourself to 1 lens only, the 24-105 might be the only one for you. Of course, you can always move closer or further away to compensate for a smaller focal range.


    2.8 will obviously go towards compensating for the lack of IS, but as has already been said, the 24-70 is quite heavy. The 24-105 is a good weight and a great build.

    F4 isn't great in low light.
  6. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    It depends on what you're shooting. If you need a greater depth of field and you're not shooting anything that moves, then IS can't be beat. If you want great subject separation (i.e. a more shallow depth of field) and/or want to freeze motion, then a wider aperture can't be beat.
  7. mulo, Mar 15, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012

    mulo macrumors 68020


    Aug 22, 2010
    Behind you
    I had the same debate not long ago, and ended up buying the 24-70mm f/2.8 for my 7D, my reasoning was as follows:

    • Firstly I live pretty far up north, which means that light is always an issue.
    • I intend to buy the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS so I don't need the extra range of the 24-105 f/4.
    • My photography style doesn't involve getting too close, so I don't need wider focal lengths, and even if I decide I do want to go wider, there is always the 10-22mm.
    • I also like that I'll be able to take the 24-70 with me if I decide to go full frame at a later point, rather then the EF-S lenses.
    I was able to get mine used in mint condition for around $1100. Produced in late 2010 and with under 6000 shots on it.
  8. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    Thought of going with a normal (24-28-35mm for a crop body) prime with a longer zoom? Those kinds of length are usually used when you're shooting people possibly indoors with not a lot of light, that's where the large aperture shines (shallow depth of field is a nice options as well), I can usually get by without a flash. I got a 50mm f/1.8 (yes a 100$ lens, build quality fit's the bill too) and it changed everything for me. Indoor shots suddenly went from unflattering mugshots from the on camera flash that look like any cheap point and shoot to sweet natural looking moments. I'm getting a 28mm soon because 50mm isn't too practical for what I usually do. It's nice for portraits but awkwardly tight indoors.

    24-70 seems like an odd range for a crop sensor, it's normal to small telephoto (not sure if it's enough for the sports you're covering). Where as on a full body it's a nice wide angle to slight telephoto.

    I'm not sure the 24-105 will be too enjoyable indoors, f/4 is what your stock lens does at 24mm...
  9. Prodo123 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    Thanks for the replies!
    I have decided on the 17-55mm f/2.8 due to the focal length (although I would like a bigger tele range) and the f/2.8 + IS which the 24-70mm f/2.8L does not deliver (yet).
  10. rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2008
    Good choice. I just finished reading the thread and was going to suggest it. Even though I have no experience with any of these lenses, I do have a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 non-VC and love it. I find that the focal lengths are about perfect and rarely need to switch over to my 55-250 unless I'm planning on shooting something far away. my 550D has plenty of resolution and sharpness with the Tamron lens that if 50mm is a bit short I can always crop it down a little with virtually no degradation to quality. Plus, of the 4 you listed, the 17-55 is the one that is actually designed specifically for the crop body so it can take advantage of its strong points.
  11. d.steve macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    I also think it's probably a good choice. The main question really is about whether the 17-23 range is more important to you than the 56-104 or 56-70 range. For me, I'd gladly take the wide over the long.
  12. Stotka macrumors regular


    Jul 29, 2009
    I would've gone with 2 prime lenses. 24 - 30 - 35 and the 85. Im just curious wouldn't it be better to get a better zoom for sports? Like the 70-200? Ofc depending on the sport. But mostly its from farther away.

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