Looking to buy a new lens. So many options!

Abyssgh0st

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 12, 2009
1,885
3
Colorado
Hey everyone,

I've been in photography for a few months now, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I wish I had a bit more time to shoot, but eventually I will find/make time.

Currently I am shooting with a Canon XSi, and the lenses I have is the 18-55mm kit lens, along with the 55-250mm IS telephoto lens. While I enjoy both of these lenses, I want something that will take my photography to the 'next' level in terms of image quality.

Quite frankly I do not even really know where to begin in searching for said lens (as I don't know what I really want, or need). So I figured I'd ask the experts! :)

What do I shoot? I shoot a wide array of things. Typically speaking, I do primarily landscape along with shots of people, with occasionally shooting at a sports game (not a big deal, at all).

My price range Approximately $600-800.

What am I really looking for? A lens that is pretty high quality (not necessarily L, as that is out of my price range), that will give me good image quality for years to come. I don't mind if it's a bigger (in size), but I'd rather not have another telephoto. I am not impartial to any brand (Canon, Sigma, etc).

Also, I don't think it'd be the best idea, but how do you guys feels about buying two $400 lenses as opposed to one $800 one?

Thanks so much guys, a wholly appreciate it!
 

HBOC

macrumors 68020
Oct 14, 2008
2,494
234
SLC
Well, one $800 lens doesn't equal two $400 lenses. :)

For an $800 budget, you can get two or three good lenses. Remember just because you have the best gear, doesn't mean you will get the best photos automagically. If that was true, everyone would be pro photographers!

I personally like the 55-250. It is a special lens and can render some amazing pictures. It is not the fastest lens. I am sure you have found that out, but for what it cost, it is unbeatable.

For landscapes, maybe an UWA lens, such as 10-22 ($600ish used) or the Sigma 10-20mm ($350-$400ish). The Tokina is great as well, but it is expensive ($500+ i think). Remember, the UWA lenses are a specialty breed, and are not the best for a walkaround.

I would be tempted to sell the 18-55IS. You probably can get $90-100 for it on CL. Use that money and get something like a Tamron 24-70 2.8 or a Sigma of the same FL. The Canon version (24-70 2.8) actually went up in price over the last year or so. It goes for about $900-$1000 used.

You already have a decent zoom. Someone said the thrifty fifty. I had one of those. They are cheaply built, but are super tack sharp.

What about a nice Macro? Spring is coming up very soon, and a macro would yield a whole new aspect of photography! I would suggest the 100mm 2.8 ($430-$500 used) or even the EF-S 60mm (just as sharp, maybe sharper). Those i see go for about $300 used.

i check fredmiranda.com for reviews. Lots of great info on that site.

so my four lens recommendations are:
10-20 or 10-22mm
24-70 2.8 (the meat focal length of a walk around lens)
the 50 1.8mm ($80 new..that is what i paid from B&H in 2006 new)
and either the 60mm or 100mm macro. the 85mm 1.8 is great as well.

photosig.com is another great place to check images taken with these lenses, as is pbase.
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
114
Vancouver, BC
I have a T1i and recently purchased the 17-55 f2.8 EF-S from Adorama (Refurbished) for about $980. It definitely took my photography to a whole new level. The versatility of this lens is outstanding and the image quality stunning. I can't think of a better lens for a crop-body. If the price of that is just too much, then the 15-85 is apparently another killer piece of glass for the money but I don't have any personal experience with it.

EDIT: Here's the thread that unravels the process I went through...
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=844072
 

toxic

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2008
1,664
1
do you want a replacement zoom for the 18-55? what do you think of a fixed-focal length (prime) lens? what about a flash?

a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 (standard prime) is a good option for a do-it-all prime. if you want more of a portrait focal length, there's the Sigma 50mm f/1.4, and Canon 50 f/1.8 and f/1.4. do not buy a 50/1.8 just because it's cheap. buy it because you like the focal length and you don't think the f/1.4 version is worth the extra $200.

for a zoom, there's the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC, Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4 OS, and Canon 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS. if you don't mind buying used, there's also the original Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS.

you should consider getting an external flash. the 430ex II is around $250 and has tilt and swivel head. the 270ex is smaller and cheaper, but doesn't have a swivel head, which limits its usefulness since you have limited bouncing options...but it's better than nothing if you don't want to carry a 430ex around because it's too bulky.

there are buy/sell forums on photography-on-the-net and fredmiranda, if you haven't discovered those already.
 

Abyssgh0st

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 12, 2009
1,885
3
Colorado
Thanks for all the advice thus far guys!

Well, one $800 lens doesn't equal two $400 lenses. :)

For an $800 budget, you can get two or three good lenses. Remember just because you have the best gear, doesn't mean you will get the best photos automagically. If that was true, everyone would be pro photographers!
Oh I know, I'm just lusting for the beautiful image quality that some photographers on here have! :D

I forgot to mention that I will soon own a Canon SpeedLite 430EX II, so flash is covered.

I've also compared the Canon 50mm 1.8, along with the 50mm 1.4 USM, and the Sigma 50mm 1.4 HSM.. I'm definitely interested in a portrait lens.

@toxic- Essentially, yes; I do believe I'm looking for more a walk around lens to replace the 18-55 IS, but I'm not opposed to one that adds a bit of weight.
 

toxic

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2008
1,664
1
@toxic- Essentially, yes; I do believe I'm looking for more a walk around lens to replace the 18-55 IS, but I'm not opposed to one that adds a bit of weight.
I edited my post while you were responding. more zooms to consider if you don't mind buying used.
 

jbg232

macrumors 65816
Oct 15, 2007
1,141
2
Three pieces of advice:

1. If you don't have a tripod and remote shutter release those should come first to take you to the next level of photography (lens quality is only 2nd to ability to use the lens in a wide variety of situations). I didn't mention the flash because you stated you already are getting one but learning how to use the combo of the flash, tripod, and camera is key to becoming a photographer.

2. you should sell the 18-55 and get the 17-55 f/2.8. It is L quality glass in a non-L quality housing but has SUPERB optics according to almost every reviewer out there. This will cost your whole budget but will be a very valuable lens that you can use for years.

3. For the meantime you can get the 50mm 1.8 as it is a very good value lens but honestly if you are going to get the 17-55 you really don't need it. However, if not getting the 17-55, definitely get it for its low light capabilities.
 

Abyssgh0st

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 12, 2009
1,885
3
Colorado
Thanks for all the help, guys! Right now I'm almost sure I want the 17-55mm f2.8.. It seems like exactly what I'm looking for.

I'm also debating when I invest in a fixed lens, which one I want. Right now I'm considering the Sigma 70mm (mentioned above), the 50mm Sigma f1.4, and also considering the Canon 50mm 1.8 and 1.4.

Also, regarding the Canon 17-55mm, would have the battery grip for my XSi be a good idea? I know the lens is somewhat cumbersome, but I've heard that the grip can rectify that, to a degree. I'll probably be picking up a lens hood along with a decent UV filter for it aswell.
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
114
Vancouver, BC
Also, regarding the Canon 17-55mm, would have the battery grip for my XSi be a good idea? I know the lens is somewhat cumbersome, but I've heard that the grip can rectify that, to a degree. I'll probably be picking up a lens hood along with a decent UV filter for it aswell.
I have the 17-55 on my T1i body (no extra grip) and while it looks huge on that body, it's still very manageable and easy to hold... I can pull it out of my bag with one hand on the normal part of the camera grip and then simply shoot with the other hand supporting the lens as usual.

Adding the lens hood makes it look even more ominous... I was shooting some architecture on my trip to Boston last week and while I was eyeing a shot with this combo (with the canon lens hood attached) some cabbie waiting for the light to change lowered his window and asked... "What is that camera worth... $10 grand?!" I just smiled! :)
 

HBOC

macrumors 68020
Oct 14, 2008
2,494
234
SLC
if you can only get one lens, I would seriously consider a longer focal length. maybe a 24-70, or the 24-105L is great. If you have a photo place that rents lenses, that would probably benefit you. See what each lens looks like through the view finder.

While the 17-55 is an amazing lens, you may find it a bit short on the long end.
 

jbg232

macrumors 65816
Oct 15, 2007
1,141
2
if you can only get one lens, I would seriously consider a longer focal length. maybe a 24-70, or the 24-105L is great. If you have a photo place that rents lenses, that would probably benefit you. See what each lens looks like through the view finder.

While the 17-55 is an amazing lens, you may find it a bit short on the long end.
The only problem is that if you're using those lenses on a cropped body (which he is), you'll be even more limited at the wide end of the spectrum. 24mm = 33.6mm cropped which is pretty zoomed in to be starting at.
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
114
Vancouver, BC
The only problem is that if you're using those lenses on a cropped body (which he is), you'll be even more limited at the wide end of the spectrum. 24mm = 33.6mm cropped which is pretty zoomed in to be starting at.
Exactly, and since he has the 55-250, he has the telephoto range covered nicely on top of the 17-55.
 

pcypert

macrumors 6502
Jul 19, 2006
396
0
Bangkok
Which of the two lenses that you currently have do you use the most? Replace that one with a used copy of a better lens in that category then save up another 1K and do the same for the other. In the meantime fill in a prime or two...I second whoever suggested a 50 1.8... must have lens if you ask me and so cheap.

If you use more telephoto then save up for the 2.8 IS 70-200 or 4.0 IS. This will give you a remarkably different image that what you currently get. Then you can get a cheaper 17-40 F4 for the wide end down the road and be great. If you use the wide end more look for a good used copy of the first gen 16-35 2.8 or 17-40 F4. These are fantastic lenses that will fit your budget.

I'm a snob, what can I say. Buy better glass than you think you can afford. It won't make all the difference in the world... but in the right hands better glass can make worlds of difference.

Paul
 

Techhie

macrumors 65816
Dec 7, 2008
1,160
0
The hub of stupidity
$800 can get you the 24-105mm f/4 which is probably the best in terms of general lenses one can buy for this budget. There are numerous specialty (70-200mm f/2.8 L) that will transcend the quality of this general zoom, but that's another can of worms.
 

kyzen

macrumors regular
Feb 8, 2010
134
0
Colorado
If you can stretch your budget that high, the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS is a sexy lens, as everybody here has said.

If you can't, or don't want to drop that much, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens is a wonderful lens (I'm using it now on my 7D and loving it), and well price at around $430 - giving you some money left over for a macro lens (the 105mm Sigma is a great option), or any other accessories you're thinking of (tripod, grip, etc).
 

Abyssgh0st

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 12, 2009
1,885
3
Colorado
Right now, I'm thinking about this plan.

I sell my 18-55mm kit lens, and replace it with the 17-55mm f2.8. Also ordering a lens hood and filter for this lens.
I keep my 55-250mm IS for awhile, and down the road pick up a 70-200mm f4.0 (the f2.8 is so expensive..)
I pick up the Canon 50mm f1.8, because I don't think my use of a portrait lens can justify the more expensive f1.4 Canon nor the f1.4 Sigma.
Get a Speedlite 430EX II.
Get a new tripod.
Wait for my wireless shutter release to come via mail.

Approx., I think this is about $1600.. Joy! :D

EDIT: Kyzen, how would you say that Tamron compares to the 17-55mm?
 

toxic

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2008
1,664
1
the 28-75 and 17-55 don't serve the same function. one is a standard zoom, the other is more of a short portrait zoom. the 17-50 is the 17-55's competitor. optically, they are similar, especially the original, non-VC 17-50. the biggest difference is AF speed and low-light AF accuracy.
 

kyzen

macrumors regular
Feb 8, 2010
134
0
Colorado
EDIT: Kyzen, how would you say that Tamron compares to the 17-55mm?
It's not quite as good. Sharpness is fine, but it's a tad slow to focus (nothing extreme, I've used worse, but it's definitely not as fast as the 17-55mm), and obviously lacks IS. Tamron does also make a 17-50mm f/2.8 VC lens for $630ish (VC = IS), which I hear great things about, but I haven't had any hands-on time with that one.

I elected to go for the 28-75mm lens purely for cost reasons; plus I have access to a friends 17-55 when I absolutely need the few perks that lens has over my Tamron.

I Picked up the Tamron, a 430ex II, a UV filter, a spare battery for my 7D, and a dozen Eneloop AA's for the flash for a bit under $800 a couple months ago. haven't regretted it yet.
 

MattSepeta

macrumors 65816
Jul 9, 2009
1,255
0
375th St. Y
Right now, I'm thinking about this plan.

I sell my 18-55mm kit lens, and replace it with the 17-55mm f2.8. Also ordering a lens hood and filter for this lens.
I keep my 55-250mm IS for awhile, and down the road pick up a 70-200mm f4.0 (the f2.8 is so expensive..)
I pick up the Canon 50mm f1.8, because I don't think my use of a portrait lens can justify the more expensive f1.4 Canon nor the f1.4 Sigma.
Get a Speedlite 430EX II.
Get a new tripod.
Wait for my wireless shutter release to come via mail.

Approx., I think this is about $1600.. Joy! :D

EDIT: Kyzen, how would you say that Tamron compares to the 17-55mm?

Thats my setup! I love it, but... I would hold out and save up for the 70-200 f/2.8. I find myself wanting another stop on my f/4 allll too often...

Also, I really am not enjoying my 50 f/1.8. Its slow to focus, has some focusing issues, and I just never really use it, now that I have the 17-55 f/2.8.

Maybe look at saving up for a macro lens? That is my next step!
 

jbg232

macrumors 65816
Oct 15, 2007
1,141
2
sidewinder said:
Make that 38.4mm, not 33.6mm. Even worse....

S-
Thank you for the correction, I had teleconverters in my head (which are a 1.4x conversion) as opposed to the crop (which is a 1.6 conversion). My bad and obviously shows how zoomed in a 24mm is on a crop body.

Right now, I'm thinking about this plan.

I sell my 18-55mm kit lens, and replace it with the 17-55mm f2.8. Also ordering a lens hood and filter for this lens.
I keep my 55-250mm IS for awhile, and down the road pick up a 70-200mm f4.0 (the f2.8 is so expensive..)
I pick up the Canon 50mm f1.8, because I don't think my use of a portrait lens can justify the more expensive f1.4 Canon nor the f1.4 Sigma.
Get a Speedlite 430EX II.
Get a new tripod.
Wait for my wireless shutter release to come via mail.

Approx., I think this is about $1600.. Joy! :D

EDIT: Kyzen, how would you say that Tamron compares to the 17-55mm?
In my opinion this is an excellent plan. I would just do the flash and tripod first as opposed to last.
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
114
Vancouver, BC
I pick up the Canon 50mm f1.8, because I don't think my use of a portrait lens can justify the more expensive f1.4 Canon nor the f1.4 Sigma.
I would hold off on this... the 50mm will probably rarely see duty if you have the 17-55 IS. I actually have a discussion on this topic going right now here in the forums.
 

MattSepeta

macrumors 65816
Jul 9, 2009
1,255
0
375th St. Y
True

Its true.

I almost regret getting the 50 f/1.8. It was an impulse buy when I saw it for like 80 on amazon or something like that.

The 17-55 IS is on my camera 90% of the time, with the 70-200 on for 9%, and the 50 1.8 gets used once every few months.