Lens vs. Body Discussion

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by esaleris, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. esaleris macrumors 6502

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    Oct 18, 2005
    #1
    I'm just now getting into photography as a hobby and have a dilemma - a generic question that I will ask using a relevant example to illustrate the argument of body vs. lens. So - what would yield better pictures across 18-55mm focal points, with similar f/ values?

    A) Canon T2i (18mp) + EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Kit lens ($250) = ~$900

    vs.

    B) Canon XSi (12mp) + a better lens for $440 = ~$900

    [Updated here: I had the 17-85mm for comparison in this post, but I guess that's a bad lens to illustrate with in this case.]

    These two "bundles" cost about the same, yet the second option allocates 50% to the lens, vs. the body. I'd like to know what your experiences are when you weigh spending on the body, vs. lenses.

    I do not care about video.
     
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #2
    Option A. That 17-85mm lens is not one of Canon's better offerings, and the T2i should have a much better sensor than the XSi for low light. I think the first option will yield better results.

    In general, you will get better quality by investing more in the lens than in the body, but that particular lens (i.e. the 17-85mm) is nothing special.
     
  3. esaleris thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Phrasikleia - Thanks for your comments! If I had $450 for the lens, maybe the 17-85mm isn't best - I don't know the lineup that well - would there be other lenses you would recommend for that price? And using that lens instead, would Option B be better?
     
  4. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 17, 2008
    #4
    ^^+1

    I have the 17-85, it is overpriced for the image quality. I would recommend primes, L glass or lenses like the 10-22 or 17-55 as the next step up from the 18-55.
     
  5. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Buy a used 18-55 IS for $100 from someone that is upgrading, you can sell it for $100 later. Save your money. If you want a nice zoom, save up close to $1000, if you want primes, for $400 you can get any one of a number of nice primes.
     
  6. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #6
    Well, if you can stretch your budget about $225 more, the new Canon 15-85mm lens is supposed to be excellent. Better still is the 17-55mm f/2.8, but it's even more expensive. Pair either one of those with an XSi, and you'll be in very good shape. Another lens to consider would be the 17-40 f/4L, but then you'll have no image stabilization (however, you gain superior build quality with that one).
     
  7. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #7
    Buy used.

    After a quick google search for "canon 40d craigslist" I came up with an LA listing for "CANON 40D, 18-55 LENS, FLASH - $950". The gear was in decent condition, although it was an older make of the flash.

    I would advise to watch craigslist for a month or so, as long as it takes to find a good deal on a 40D.

    I have bought every piece of my gear used (Canon 50D, Canon 17-55 2.8IS, Canon 70-200 f/4L, 430 EXII flash) and have yet to be disappointed.

    For example, I got my 17-55 for $750, almost brand new. 50D for $700 almost brand new. Like 2 months, old, the guy was upgrading to 7D when it came out.

    WHY?
    -I had an XTi for a few years, and then when I switched to a 50D, it was almost like starting over with SLRs all over again. The great ISO, heavy feel, and lightning quick FPS is so great.

    Now I don't know if you would need the improvements, but for the price, I would recommend looking for a used 40D kit.

    Another recommendation is to look for a used 40D body only, then try to pick up a a 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 IS. I had one for a while, and it wasn't half bad for a low price, high range zoom. You can get new ones for around $600, or I would imagine find a used one for around $400.

    Just some thoughts :)
     
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #8
    I agree with all that you've said about buying used, but I wouldn't recommend a superzoom lens like the 18-200mm. That will be no better than the kit lens as far as image quality goes; in fact, it will be considerably worse. All he would get is some more range, and no great amount of sharpness anywhere except when stopped way down at about 80mm. It's just not a sharp lens, and it suffers from other problems as well--such is the problem with these so-called "convenience" zooms.
     
  9. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #9
    You can save money by going with Tamron, they make some great glass.

    -Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 (I have one, it's excellent)
    -Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
     
  10. polotska macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I'd always go for the better lens and inferior body (within reason), if I had to choose. I'd also go for primes over zooms to save money (or to get better quality for the same price).
     
  11. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

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    #11
    I think the XSi + Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 (you can get it on Amazon for 460$) would give you a far better image quality than the X2i with the kit lens for approximately the same amount.
     
  12. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #12
    For sure, though you lose image stabilization. That Tamron lens is superb, and the constant f/2.8 makes the lens very versatile. Unfortunately, the new stabilized version is apparently much less sharp.
     
  13. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Sendai, Japan
    #13
    The larger initial aperture more than makes up for the IS included in the kit lenses. Ideally, one would want both, but if I had to decide, I'd always go for a lens with a larger aperture.

    I second the suggestion to have a look at the Tamron.

    IMO you should go for the cheaper body and invest in lenses instead. If you have money left over, get an external flash gun or a 50 mm f/1.8 for your camera. That'll do you a lot, lot, lot more good than an additional 6 megapixel (that you probably can't make use of anyway with inferior glass).
     
  14. Abyssgh0st macrumors 68000

    Abyssgh0st

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    #14
    I say Option B.

    I have an XSi and am very pleased with it. Why do I recommend 'B'? Simply because if you like this hobby, you WILL want to spend more money. So if you get the T2i, you will want to spend more than just the amount needed to get the body and kit lens.

    Items to consider (after you get a good lens, see Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8):

    -Flash (Used Speedlite 430EX would be great)
    -A GOOD tripod. Don't settle for anything 'cheap,' because it will feel and preform exactly that way. Get a decent one in the sub ~$100 range (see Manfrotto 7301B), and be happy for a long time.
    -BG-E5 (There are off-brands that feel very good, cost $50 and add a LOT of feel to the camera).
    -A good bag, that will compensate everything you currently own, along with your next few lens purchases.
    -RC-5 (Remote shutter release, can prove to be very useful).
     
  15. esaleris thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Thanks for all the input guys. I think I've decided on:

    XSI + EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM. Total would be roughly $480 + $720 = $1200.

    I'm tempted with the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, due to it's speed, but it's a pretty penny more ($1060) and I could use the money on a high-end, but non-L primes.
     
  16. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 17, 2008
    #16
    If you are worried about total cost of ownership, buy the 17-55, it will be much cheaper to own. It's price in the used market is following the L path, not the cheap lens path.

    I bought the 17-85 for ~800 in 2005, at the time a used 24-70 was ~1100 and I didn't think I could come up with the extra money. Currently the 17-85 is selling used for ~300 and the 24-70 is ~1200. So if I bought the 24-70, I could make money on it after using it for 5 years, the 17-85 costs me about 100/yr to keep. The majority of my pictures during this time would also have been better with the 24-70.

    In my experience, the most expensive lenses to own (in terms of depreciation, lost opportunity costs not considered), are the step up lenses (like the 17-85 and 15-85), the more expensive lenses basically don't depreciate.

    Just something to keep in mind, obviously it's your money and you will decide if you want to allocate even more to this expensive hobby.
     
  17. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #17
    - there is no relationship between professional vs midrange vs consumer lenses in terms of depreciation. the ones that depreciate the most are 3rd-party, unpopular (e.g. 17-85, 100/2 until recently), or kit lenses. all others are sold used in the 80-85% range. also, quoting the price you paid for the 17-85 in 2005 doesn't tell a complete story on L vs non-L pricing - all prices went up in the past couple years. I sold a Canon 35/2 used for a profit.

    - the 17-85 was only intended as an upgrade to the 18-55...and it was a major disappointment, driving prices down. the 15-85 is not in the same category - it was intended from the beginning to be a high-end EF-S lens. it has professional-grade construction and optics, the only thing it lacks is a constant or near-constant f-ratio.
     
  18. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #18
    I think you're making a good choice. This will be a super kit to start out with. You'll have a great camera and a great lens. If you can spare another $100, pick up a "nifty fifty" too (50mm f/1.8). That will enable you to experiment with very shallow depth of field. It's a very cheaply built lens, but the optics are worth every penny you'll spend on it. It's a really fun little lens.
     
  19. esaleris thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 18, 2005
    #19
    Update: I ended up getting the Canon XSi body + the EF 50mm f/1.4 lens + B+W UV Filter. I think starting out with primes was probably better for me learning the focal distances and getting better about composition - rather than just getting a zoom.

    And let me say - it's a fantastic kit. It's my first SLR. I'm still not taking the sharpest pictures yet, after a day, but the DOF is astonishing at f/1.4. My main concern was low light, but even in pretty damn dim scenarios, it produces quite well.

    I am, however a little surprised at what a 50mm is on a crop body. At an effective 80mm, it's really kinda telephoto already. Makes me think the next by is a 10-22mm for the landscape shots I've always wanted to take.

    Overall, I am glad that I picked up the entry-level, versus the T2i. I figure that in 2 years, the capabilities in the T2i will be entry-level and I can pick that up for $300-400 then - but the lenses I'll just keep on truckin' with.
     
  20. blockburner28 macrumors 6502

    blockburner28

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    #20
    Good Choice man. I went with the T1i because I seen how crisp the lcd on the back look :( I couldn't bring myself to getting the xsi even after i had a chance to get it for 425.00 + tax. For low light go out and get the canon 430ex II flash. You can price match (sams club 249.91) @ bestbuy. Thats what I did. Goodluck and enjoy! Where did you pick up the 50mm from? I been looking for one
     

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