Glass advice.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by maestro55, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. maestro55 macrumors 68030


    Nov 13, 2005
    Goat Farm in Meridian, TX
    So there have been tons of threads here from n00bies like myself coming and asking dumb questions seeks advice on glass when they still have a lot to learn. With that said, I would like to get opinions from those of you who were once in my shoes or perhaps those of you who do photography professionally.

    Basically, I purchased a Canon Rebel XS the other day, so it came with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Canon lens. Not a terrible lens for everyday point and shoot stuff; however, I desire to begin learning with something a bit better. So my first choice for my next lens is going to be the 50mm f/1.8 Canon lens which I think would be not only a good fast lens but also a good lens to start getting the fundamentals down.

    With that said, I still desire to have a telephoto lens of sorts. I am looking at the Sigma Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 for $300 from B&H, sure I would get a better lens if I spent $1000 or more but for now I just want a telephoto lens to get me started. I am open for suggestions in the $300-$400 price range.

    Thanks for any advice and further thoughts.
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    What's wrong with this lens? Since you're "learning", how do you know that it's the lens that's letting you down, rather than your inexperience? It's easy to blame the tools...

    I use the 'kit' lens on my camera (18-70mm, Nikon, not Canon) for most of my pix. It's often derided as a lens by people who think they know a lot about such things... but I've grown to like it over the two years I've had it. It's been a big part of my introduction to digital (rather than film) photography.

    My advice, for what it's worth, would be to get the most out of this simple camera/lens combination before deciding what to buy next.
  3. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    I have been very astounded by the quality of the EF-S 55-250. It is simply amazing, especially for the price. If you look around, you can pick them up for about $200. I have an XSI kit with 55-250 and the sigma 10-20mm. I have been very happy with all of the lenses thus far.
  4. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Nov 19, 2007
    Portland, OR
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    300mm on a "crop body" is very, very long. Un-usable really without a tripod. Also f/6.3 is very slow. This is not a very practical lens.

    If cost is driving the choice buy a used lens. You will get a lot more for your money that way
    It is very rare that you would ever get a goot shot with a 300mm f/6.3 lens. For one thing you need nearly perfectly clear air. Just the smallest bit of haze and all distant objects turn grey and blurry. And the f/6.3 speed will force you to use high ISO setting.

    I more generally usful lens might be a telephoto that goes up to about 80 to 135mm and of course as fast as you can afford. I have an 85mm f/1.8 lens that I like. I almost never need anything larger.

    If you are shooting sports or wildlife then you would want a big lens but also a fast and expensive lens.
  6. clams macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2009
    IMHO, the best lens to learn the fundamentals with would be a standard fast prime. This is because it allows the shooter to concentrate on framing and the basics of exposure without having to worry about focal length. This is especially helpful for beginners in low light photography.

    A standard prime would be around 50mm in focal length including the crop factor. A 50mm on the XS's crop body would be around 80mms including the crop factor. Therefore, a good focal length would be a 30 or 35mm lens. Personally, I think the Sigma 30 is worth the price premium. It's like L glass on the cheap. Check out some reviews. Links are below:
    Sigma 30mm f/1.4
    Canon 35mm f/2

    Also, it would be better to experiment and learn the basics before you start to go telephoto.

    If you insist on a zoom though, I guess a good choice would be the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, or Canon 17-85mm. All are nice sharp glass.
  7. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
  8. gnd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2008
    At my cat's house
    When I first started with DSLR cameras I got a Pentax K100D, just the body and this Sigma super zoom lens. Coming from a P&S cameras I thought I wanted a super zoom. It's amazing how a few thousand photos on a DSLR changes your ideas about photography :)
    One camera body and several lenses later I don't have that lens any more. I gave it away with the K100D when I sold it. It just wasn't sharp enough, had problems focusing, was too slow. For general use I also found it to not be wide enough. As for the long end, even with in-body stabilization it was hard to have enough light to get a good shot at 300mm.
  9. clams macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2009
    Also, the best telephoto for cheap would be the Canon 70-200 f/4 L. I don't know much about the 28-300 f/3.5-6.3 but watch out for lenses that cover such a wide all encompassing focal length. Those usually aren't sharp across the range (except for the Canon 28-300mm f/2.8-5.6, which is awesome but also 2.5K).
  10. maestro55 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Nov 13, 2005
    Goat Farm in Meridian, TX
    You are most certainly right, I have tons to learn and I am not blaming my lens entirely. I mean I just got the thing. However, I knew when I bought the camera that I would be spending some money on glass and I want to get what works the best for me.

    Thanks for the information, I will consider the EF-S 55-250 among other options that I have been looking at.

    Thank you for the links, definitely will consider holding off getting a telephoto lens till I can get the Tamron or something similar.

    Thank you so very much for the advice. That is another thing I need to shop around for is a good rugged tripod that is portable enough to take to events with me an such. I guess I really need to make sure I don't spend $300 on a lens I won't be happy with in the end. As far as the suggestion of the 85mm f/1.8 I will keep that in mind.

    Also, I am uncertain of what all I will be shooting. Mostly probably just buildings and landscape around Texas, the occasional amateur radio event or political rally.

    What you have said I have been told before when I was thinking about getting into photography. So I certainly take your words very seriously. As suggested it might be better for me to look at used glass. I really do like that Sigma lens and I may focus on just buying one lens at a time so I end up getting things that are bit better than if I bought the cheapest glass.

    I will be checking ebay and deals on Amazon, B&H and Adorama. I will also be looking for more phtography books (I have a couple of older books written about photography with SLR cameras that my dad gave me years ago when he used to carry around a Canon TX, Canon AE-1 and Canon AE-1P. He has given me some great advice, and echoed much of what you said about getting the prime lens first.
  11. clams macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2009
    I got my Siggy 30 off of Canon forums. Great community and I'd have to say almost all of their stuff is in pro condition. And also, I've heard some good things about 55-250mms. But then again, 70-200mm is L glass. I also know a friend who bought the Sigma off of ebay for 300.

    And as for tripods, try to consider a monopod. I got a 15 dollar one from Amazon and it works like a dream. And it's much more portable. And as for books, look at Understanding Exposure written by Bryan Peterson.
  12. TheSVD macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2008
    The Jolly Ol' Midlands, England
    that 28-300 looks awesome, im gutted about getting my 70-300 after that!
    though mine does 1:2, and that 28-300 does 1:3, so i guess i do use it as my macro :D seriously though, your in the exact same situation as me. Before i even got my camera for my birthday, the day before i got it i bought my 70-300, and due to being able to take a wider range of shots, it definetley got me started on a better foot. I dont really do alot with my 18-55 anymore :D
  13. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    Get a prime lens. When you want to travel fast, light, simply, and work on your framing, these are quite nice. Also, you can get the "Thrifty Fifty" pretty cheaply used.

    Side note: Don't be afraid to buy lenses used on eBay. Often as not, they come from other photographers who needed them in excellent condition. You'll save a ton of cash on great glass.
  14. 147798 Suspended

    Dec 29, 2007
    Keep the kit lens. There are lots of limitations, but it's a wide angle (18mm) reasonably fast (3.5 at the wide end) and pretty sharp.

    Add to that a fast prime. I would recommend the 35mm/f2 over the 50/1.8, just because the 35/2 is wider, so it's better indoors in tight spaces, and focuses more surely -- the 50/1.8 misses focus a lot in lower light.

    For a zoom, the 55-250 is really nice -- price, weight and IS.

    The 55-200 + the 35/2 will cost you less than $500 combined, and they have a reasonable resell value, especially if you buy them used from like Adorama or B&H. You're not likely to lose much money on them at all.
  15. maestro55 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Nov 13, 2005
    Goat Farm in Meridian, TX
    I am definitely thinking of getting a 30mm fast prime lens for the learning experience and for some great shots. However, I still would love a zoom lens for every day use to go along with it. So I will continue hitting up various sites including eBay to see what is out there.

    Good starter zoom lenses or not?

    I will get the 30mm later this month, either new or used. Looking at that Sigma f/1.4.
  16. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    i WOULD stay away from those! You get what you pay for (well sometimes you get a stellar deal)..

    For one, they are not going to be sharp, colours will be washed, and focus will be a nightmare. I remember when i first got my 20D. I bought a sigma 28-70 (something like that). it was 3.5-5.6. What a horrid lens. It was like $80 new.

    Secondly, I buy and sell lenses. I mean who doesn't. I will buy a lens that i can afford, and then use that until i can get something better. Then i will sell the lens i was using, since i won't be using it. My point is, you need to consider resale value of lenses. Those lenses are not worth anything, so pretty much you will be wasting money.

    Seriously, The kit lens and the 55-250 ARE LEAPS and BOUNDs better than these two lenses. the 17-55 IS or 24-70 are awesome walkaround lenses, as is the 24-105L. I have noticed that the 24-70 is now more expensive then it was 2-3 years ago. You could pick one up all the time used on fred miranda for $900ish. Now they are $1000-1100 range.

    here is a list of lenses that would be good and are not priced too high and have good resale value..

    Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF
    Sigma 24-60mm f2.8 EX DG Lens
    Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]
    Tamron AF 28-75MM F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF)
    Tokina AT-X 535 PRO DX AF 50-135mm f/2.8 ($600ish)
    Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS
    Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS (kinda expensive)
  17. clams macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2009
    I would also agree with the above response. The kit lens is not a bad choice for a zoom to keep around if you're low on the cash. The Siggy 30mm is pretty expensive already. The lenses in the above post are good choices as well.
  18. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008
    I would take my time and save around $200.00 more (for the zoom lens), and buy a Canon EF 70-200L f/4 USM.
  19. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601


    Feb 27, 2005
    You just got this camera a few weeks ago, no??

    I'd hold off on anything new right away. I find that if people are "spoiled" with a plethora of glass off the bat, it takes away from the learning curve of actually making good photos.

    The kit lens, while limiting in many regards, has merit, and is a "kit lens" for very distinct, fundamental reasons. I'd practice with that a bit more; focus on taking interesting, visually pleasing images, with an emphasis on composition, exposure, and overall quality. There's no such thing as too much practice with these topics, and it will help, down the road, in making you a much better photographer.
  20. clams macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2009
    I would have to disagree with this statement. The 18-55mm was designated as the kit lens because it of its consumer friendly zoom feature. Primes simply aren't included as the kit lens today because many consumers would be aghast at moving their feet to frame their shots. Yet, primes are an excellent way to learn the basics of photography. Looking back in the 70s and 80s, you'll notice that all of the cameras came with 50mm prime lenses and an entire generation of photographers was learned off of these fast standard primes. They are an excellent way for beginners to experiment with DOF and composition.

    I would have to agree with holding off on getting any telephoto lenses though and just wait until you get the basics of exposure and composition down first.
  21. localghost macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2002
    +1 for 85 f1.8:
    good wide open, very good from 2.2
    (the 100 f2 might be a better a addition to your 50 f1.8 – never tried it, should be very similar to the 85 1.8)
    beautiful bokeh, full time manual, fast focus
    no zoom, no IS

    70-200 f4
    one of canons sharpest, zoom, more reach, fast focus, ftm, ok bokeh
    slow (but reasonably), no IS

    every other new lens will mean a steep increase in price, or a visible downgrade in image quality.

    if you consider used lenses: the 200 f2.8 is very good if a bit long for a x1.6, might still be a way to get yourself infected with the L-virus.

    the ancient 80-200 2.8 is optically better than the 70-200 2.8 (used without IS from about 900) and can be found for 400, but will be beyond repair if anything breaks (not serviced by canon anymore).
  22. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    There are two schools of thoughts here. (1) You can buy cheap lenses to learn photography, ideally those with high bang for the buck ratio so that they don't have to be replaced. (2) Buy stronger (and pricier) set of lenses to build a system.

    High back for the buck prime lens:
    EF 50mm f/1.8II: I have seen and used f/1.8II and while it performs awesome (other than bokeh), but the build quality is subpar. Although $100 may be super cheap for a lens, it is still a significant sum of money and I didn't want to buy a throwaway lens.

    System building prime lens:
    EF 50mm f/1.4 USM: It costs about 3 times as much as f/1.8II but I am glad I bought it as it is my most frequently used lens. That said, I have one major issue with f/1.4 USM as well, auto focus is frequently inaccurate. At 80mm for crop body, they are both very good at taking portrait photos.

    EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro: although not everyone needs a macro lens, I had lots of fun using this lens. It takes awesome portraits and 100mm (160mm for crop) may be enough telephoto for some photographers. Really don't need macro? EF 100mm f/2 USM is another great lens that performs even better.

    High back for the buck telephoto lens:
    EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS: 5.6 may be a tad high for 250mm, but it has very good 4-stop IS and performs very well at f/8-11. At f/4-5.6, however, I find the images to be on the soft side. If you get one of the 50mm lenses, you will be spoiled by sharpness for life and 55-250mm's f/4-5.6 performance may not won't cut the mustard.

    System building telephoto lens:
    EF 70-200mm f/4L USM: This lens is a good introduction to the L world. Excellent performance from f/4 and up. Hand holding at 200mm can be very difficult, so you may want to delve deeper into your wallet for one of the 5 finest Canon lenses IMO, EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM (other 4 being EF 85mm f/1.2L USM, EF 135mm f/2L USM, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM, and TS-E 90mm f/2.8).
  23. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    there's nothing wrong with this lens (other than the build). keep it until you know what you're doing.

    unless you know you like the 50mm focal length, bad choice. Canon 35/2, 28/1.8, and Sigma 30/1.4 are better.

    start with the 55-250.
  24. arogge macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2002
    What is your most important subject now? Buy a telephoto lens that meets this requirement minimally. If that is a $1,000 lens, then that is what you should buy. If you buy the wrong lens for the job, you will get lots of frustration and probably learn nothing except how to avoid the camera.
  25. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601


    Feb 27, 2005
    Exactly. If this is a good reason or not, is up for debate.

    That said, the 18-55mm has become the "new" standard. Lots of people don't like 50mm focal, especially on a DSLR. While the 18-55 isn't a fast lens, it will allow for creative play at minimal expense and weight.

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