Telephoto Zoom Lens, but which one?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mulo, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. mulo macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #1
    So I was given a Canon EOS 60D for my birthday last week, and I've been running around taking pictures like a mad man since then, but I have been wanting to take some closeups, at a distance. I figured a Telephoto zoom lens was the thing to get, and since I have no tripod I'm thinking I will need Image Stabilization.

    I am debating between these three lenses, what are your thoughts and advices?
    Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
    Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
    Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS

    Of course, being a student, money is tight, and I'm looking to save where I can. My dad will be going to the US in two weeks, and will be able to pick up a lens for me. These lenses are already 1/2 - 1/3 of the local price here, but to me, that alone is not enough to justify buying a $500 lens.
     
  2. dcains macrumors regular

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    #2
    I bought one of these ~ 6 months ago for my wife to use on her XSi, and it's been more than satisfactory:

    http://www.amazon.com/Tamron-70-300...9DZ4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1319489585&sr=8-2

    I've previously owned the Canon 70-300 IS, but the Tamron has quieter/quicker AF, non-rotating front element, longer warranty, comes with a hood, and better IS (VC). I've also tested it on my full-frame 1Ds2, and it's sharp corner to corner.
     
  3. wikus macrumors 68000

    wikus

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    #3
    If youre on a budget, get the Canon 70-200 F/4L (non-is).

    You'll know why I recommend it when you see the quality of images.
     
  4. rkmac macrumors 6502

    rkmac

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    #4
    Reading the original post, I dont think they are using a tripod. I would seriously not recommend a non-IS lens in that case.
    I would recommend the 70-200 f/4L IS, but that's just over $1250.
    Personally, when I first got a DSLR, I had the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS attached to the camera and never had to take it off. Its a great "all-in-one" lens. I can highly recommend it if you don't want to be carrying around more than 1 lens at a time.
    Of the ones you posted though, EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is probably the best. IS and USM are handy and the range is nice too.
     
  5. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #5
    +1 for the 70-200 f/4L IS, it is indeed more pricey but you won't regret buying it.

    Super sharp, and IS is a very useful feature.
     
  6. rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    55-250 IS. End of discussion :p But seriously, this is one heck of a lens, especially considering the price. And if price is a concern as the OP states, I think this will be your best bet.

    Oh, and cross that 75-300 off your list completely. It may be cheap, but that is the only thing it has going for it.
     
  7. h1r0ll3r macrumors 68040

    h1r0ll3r

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    #7
    Of that lenses you listed, get the 55-250. the 70/75-300 will give you a little more on the long end however it's not worth it really. The 55-250 will give you excellent image quality at a good price. The other two lenses are cheap for a reason. While not to completely discount those two lenses, they are okay for newbies however, you'll eventually want to trade them in for something a little better.
     
  8. DW58 macrumors regular

    DW58

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    #8
    The EF-S 18-200mmIS is a great lens, I've had mine a couple of years and absolutely love it. I have the EF100-400mmIS for the long stuff, but it's considerably more expensive. I can also highly recommend the EF70-300mmIS.

    The 55-250mmIS is a bit of a mixed bag - if you get a good one all well and good, but it's not one of Canon's better lenses overall but it does offer great value if you're on a tight budget.

    The OP doesn't state which lens e has already, but assuming it's one of the typical kit lenses I'd suggest perhaps the EF70-300mmIS as a good alrounder.

    I've been using IS lenses since they first came out - my first was the EF28-135mmIS which I still use, I wouldn't be without IS, it does exactly what it says on the tin and more.
     
  9. mulo, Oct 24, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2011

    mulo thread starter macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #9
    I was looking for a 70-300mm IS, but i weren't able to find any that didn't also have USM, which I would prefer not to have to pay for. This is the reason I posted the 55-250mm IS lens, but then that lens isn't that much of an upgrade, as I currently have an 18-135mm IS lens. - which you are right, I forgot to state.

    that was my conclusion too, but as you said, it is DIRT cheap, which is indeed why it made onto the list.
     
  10. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A334 Safari/7534.48.3)

    Why would you by a dslr for an all in one lens? Surely the whole point is to be able to change them.

    Whatever you do don't buy any of the 70-300's there slow to focus and hunt around like mad, not to mention horrible CA.

    I hear good things about the 55-250is? But ultimately it would have to be the 70-200 f4L.
     
  11. rkmac macrumors 6502

    rkmac

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    #11
    It wasn't the only lens I owned at the time. It was a great lens to have for days when you wanted to just go out with one lens and take nice photos.
    I mostly used it for when I was on holiday and didn't want to be carrying around heaps of lenses.

    And yeah, I would say save up for a while and get the 70-200mm f/4 IS. You will definitely not regret buying one of those.
     
  12. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #12
    The OP writes, he thinks he needs IS. The non-IS version of the 70-200 mm f/4 is a much, much better value: first-rate optics for a very reasonable price. The IS version is significantly more expensive, almost surely outside of the OP's financial reach.

    In my experience, I don't think you necessarily need image stabilization for such a lens, especially given today's cameras' high-ISO capabilities. With a little practice, you can hand-hold times a lot longer than those suggested by the 1/[focal length] rule of thumb. Plus, IS won't help against motion blur which will increasingly dominate the perceived sharpness of an image.

    Overall, I think the 70-200 mm f/4 non-IS is the telephoto zoom lens in Canon's line-up which is the best value. If you intend to spend more, I'd rather get a third-party f/2.8 zoom.
     
  13. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #13
    Let's see....

    I had the 75-300 (non-IS) for about a week, before I took it back to my camera shop, got a credit for it and got the 75-300 IS lens. Was pretty satisfied with it until 2004... the 75-300 was replaced by the 70-300 you have listed, which is reportedly much better optically. However, because I found that the older 75 was such a slow focusing lens, I'd check out how slow the 70 version is.

    FWIW, that lens has now also been sold (I was very happy to get $300 for it) and I'm using a 70-200L f/2.8 IS. Even with a 1.4x teleconverter, it is vastly better in every way (and at its cost, it had better be).

    I'm not familiar with the 55-250 IS to offer any comment. My initial reaction is that since it is an EF-S lens, it is probably comparable to the 70-300 IS optically and your 18-135 IS ... in both cases, I'm of the opinion that these are predominantly "smaller glass" versions of EF lenses in EF-S mount which allows them to be less expensive. In checking prices, roughly $200 vs $500.


    I'm not sure if that combination was ever made, and in checking B&H's website, they don't offer it (new) at all. The only thing that's close is that the non-IS 75-300 is offered with/without USM ($160 vs $200).


    I think there's potentially an important statement here: why are you saying that it isn't much of an upgrade? Is it because you don't think that 135mm to 250mm is adding all that much more length, or are you thinking of it in terms of lens quality? Answering that question will probably help guide you to the answer you're seeking.



    -hh
     
  14. mulo, Oct 25, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2011

    mulo thread starter macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #14
    From what I was able to find the EF vs EF-S is purely a cosmetic thing, EF-S lenses are made to sit deeper in the body, Image quality is supposed to be the same. In any case I am perfectly happy with my current EF-S lens, so I see no reason to opt for EF over EF-S if similar options are available.

    Edit: it appears EF-S lenses do not go beyond 250mm

    What do you mean by a comparable opticallity?

    When I originally wrote that, the zoom was my main concern, but after having tried it today the latter has also become a concern. It feels a lot less durable then my 18-135mm, which also has a certain resistance to it when zooming whereas the 55-250mm I tried today was just all over the place.

    From reading all of the above posts I'm thinking the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is the lens for me, although the costlier option... - I was able to find them used all the way down to ~$300 but I am not sure that is a great idea.
    I would still like to hear any thoughts though! :)
     
  15. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #15
    IIRC, it is more than 'cosmetic': as you point out, the EF-S lenses sit deeper into the body, and the implications of this are that if one tries to use an EF-S on a Full Frame (d)SLR, that is an obstruction that will be hit by the mirror when it tries to flip up to take a photo. This ruins the shot and probably will also damage/break the mirror, thereby trashing that FF body.

    Granted, this was far more noteworthy in the early days, when all Canon legacy users were shooting FF because they were on 35mm film.

    IMO, the question for photographers today is if they think that they're ever going to buy a Canon FF dSLR ... and ... have a concern for the fact that these EF-S lenses won't be able to be used on that future possible gear. Personally, I own two EF-S lenses myself, and I'm not particularly concerned about them not fitting onto a 5D Mk3 body...nor any of my old 35mm film bodies anymore, either (I already have those focal lengths covered with EF mount lenses).



    Which makes sense. In a crop body, the 1.6x multiplication factor makes a 250mm equivalent to a 400mm, which is more telephoto reach than what the non-professional generally ever thinks of having. And for those more advanced users that do want more reach, there's longer telephotos in the EF lenses ... the 100m-400m is an example (400mm --> 640mm equivalent).


    The manufacturers have a couple of different product groups, and the characteristics of these products are determined by a couple of factors (cost, physics, target consumer group, etc).

    To oversimply, there's cheap stuff, good stuff and high quality stuff.

    To make things a bit more complicated, some cheap stuff can be really good optically, such as the classical 50mm prime lens ... its good because from a physics standpoint, it is very simple (not a zoom lens), which is what allows it to be cheap.

    Stereotypically, the cheap stuff are the "Kit" lenses that come bundled with cameras ... the manufacturer's temptation is to make them cheap, because doing so helps keep the price point for the camera down, which helps to sell more cameras.

    What we need to understand is that the manufacturer isn't trying to make a poor optical quality lens - his motivation is price, and if he has to compromise on optical quality in order to do that, he will. These designs are strongly influenced by the cost to manufacture, so they're (generally) not the best possible optical solution.

    FYI, the good news is that with computer-based optics design tools, the optical quality of these lenses are much better today than what their equivalents were ~20 years ago.

    The other extreme is the high quality stuff. Figuratively, cost is no object: just make its optics as good as possible (at all levels). These are our Canon "White" L telephotos and the like, and they all carry hefty price tags. When you dig into the technical details of what's inside them, you typically find many more lens elements, fancy coatings, exotic materials, tighter dimensional tolerances on the lens elements' grindings, etc. Simplistically, these are all things that costs more money, to eke out the last 5% of performance.

    In the middle is what I've called the "Good stuff" ... this is a middle ground where the manufacturers are seeking to offer products that their consumers who bought the "Kit" lenses would be interested in moving up to, while still not being as expensive as the L glass.

    FWIW, if I had to put a KISS rule of thumb, I'd say:

    $100 - Kit
    $500 - Good
    $1000+ - L Glass

    What makes any lens recommendation hard is that no one knows where the person asking for advice may end up.

    There is a truism in that one can easily "waste money" by buying & selling your way through these different lens quality levels, and it isn't uncommon to hear recommendations to skip buying the lower quality stuff because you'll save money in the long run.

    For example, I learned pretty early to skip the "Kit" stuff, but I was quite content for many years with only having "Good" lenses. What began to change it for me was one telephoto photo that I believe should have come out a lot better than it had, so I'm now buying L glass.

    However, let's put that into perspective, I went for years before I was finally motivated to go spend more money for top quality glass. So while it is technically true that I lost ~$250 on the 'good' lens I had been using, this gets counterbalanced by the fact that I kept that $1000 (for the L glass) in my own pocket for years. If we figuratively say that I kept it in its own savings account at the bank for (back then) 5% interest, after only 5 years it would have earned $250 in interest savings, so I didn't really lose any money afterall by having the less costly 'good' lens. So I'd not worry too much about the "only buy the best" advice: buy just what you think is appropriate for the next couple years...not what you think you might need for the rest of your life.


    But I digress (extensively!).

    I'll defer to others for comment as I'm not all that too familiar with either the 18-135 IS nor the 55-250mm IS, but based simply on price points (both around $500, much like the 70-300 IS), my gut reaction is that both are "Good" class lenses. As such, I'd guess that with these choices under consideration, you're mostly looking at buying a different focal length more so than you're looking at buying a substantially better "Quality" piece of optics.


    Well, 'durability' is another metric, as is also how well does a lens interact with your camera's autofocus system (potential for excessive 'seeking', etc).


    As a former owner of its 75-300 predecessor, I read this Amazon Review quite carefully. I think that this reviewer does bring up a good point: make sure that any telephoto you get includes its hood (here, its +$40). I'm also very wary of how he says that this lens is still a slow-focuser and soft beyond 200mm...my next step would be to go read the 55-250mm reviews to see if it is sharp or soft at 200mm+ or not, and do some additional research.

    FYI, if you're finding examples at $300, I'd be very careful about the listings to make very sure that it is not the 75-300mm predecessor. I'd even go as far as to explicitly request an eBay seller to reconfirm that in writing.


    -hh
     
  16. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

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    #16
    mulo - you are a student, so how much budget/debt can you afford, that is the real question here.
    Or, are your parents going to buy this for you and you want best value for money?

    So easy to say 'get "L" glass now', most will say saves you money in the long run, based on the lens upgrade thing.....possible....
    If your parents are buying that and can afford $1k or so, then sure get the 70-200 f4L IS version and that is a sweet lens.

    If your own budget/money tight, heck I shot with the 55-250 kit IS for 14+ months before I got my 70-200 f2.8 L.
    That 55-250 kit IS lens is a really good value, don't overlook it, I'd say $125 used, that's what I sold mine for.
    Look here for picture examples, there are only 280+ pages in that thread:
    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=459569

    Then, when you graduate, buy with your own $$, and have experience with the kit zoom lens, you can buy the "L" zoom glass that fits your needs and sell the kit lens for what you bought it for.

    again, all a matter of budget, how much disposable $$$ do you have.
    I did not see that simple fact posted.
     
  17. davegoody macrumors 6502

    davegoody

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    #17
    The glass is MORE important that the body. Get the best lens that you can afford, it will (or should) last you a lifetime. I use a Canon 28-300 L and it is simply amazing. Not quite as good as a set of primes, but having such a huge range on one lens means that it is always on one of my bodies. Losing a (tiny) bit of Image Quality is not a big deal if you capture a shot that you would otherwise have missed.
     
  18. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

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    #18
    I'd second that. I use a 70-200 hand held without IS and don't have any camera shake problems as long as I keep an eye on the shutter speed. The L lens is miles ahead of the others in quality (and by quality we mean sharpness, contrast and colour).
     
  19. Rich-212 macrumors member

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    Nov 21, 2010
    #19
    superzoom or 2 lenses?

    I'm in a similar situation to the OP in that I have kit lens (18-55) and now I'm looking to extend my range a bit. I'm torn between getting the 55-250, or the 18-200. They're in a similar price bracket and I'm having trouble in making a decision.

    From what I've read, the 55-250 may achieve better quality images (less distortion, aberration etc), but then I can see the attraction of having only one lens and I'm worried that if I was on a walkabout (which is when I take the majority of my photos) then I may miss a few pictures when changing lenses.

    Does anyone have any experience/opinions which may help me make up my mind?

    PS - I have Canon 450d.
     
  20. DW58 macrumors regular

    DW58

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    #20
    I own/have used the EF-S 18-200mm IS lens since September 2009 - I use it as my standard lens previously on my EOS40D and now my EOS60D. There has been talk of distortion etc. wit this lens but frankly I've seen little evidence of this in day to day use myself.

    Here are a few images taken this week with the EF-S 18-200mm IS - make up your own mind.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The last two are exactly as taken, no manipulation except sizing.
     
  21. mulo thread starter macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #21
    I've gone a totally different way by now. I'm looking at the 50mm f/1.8 II
    Its not so much how much money I have available (apps. 4k right now), its how much I want to spend, how much I will let go of.
    anyway i'm trying to asses my needs and I think ill be shooting more "wide angle" then zoomed, and I need the F/1.8 for shooting indoor which I think ill be doing some.
    I've been trying to get to taking pictures for a friend of mine who DJ's
     
  22. DW58 macrumors regular

    DW58

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    #22
    I've had the EF 50mm/f1.8 for years now, and whilst it's not a lens I use often, I'd hate to be without it. To be honest I'd rather have a fast 35mm prime, but the price differential is serious. It weighs next to nothing, performs really well and is perfect for night shots, portraits etc. - grab one, you won't regret it.

    My standard outfit consists of:

    • EOS 60D/BG-E9 Grip
    • EOS 40D/BG-E2N grip
    • EF-S 18-200mmIS f3.5-5.6
    • EF 50mm f1.8
    • EF 100-400mmL IS f4.5-5.6
    • Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC HSM

    For travelling I leave the EF 100-400L IS behind and sometimes take my Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM instead. I also have an EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM which I use on my second body if I need two cameras.

    I need to get a decent macro lens as my rather ancient Sigma 90mm doesn't function in some modes with either of my current bodies.

    The EF 18-200mm IS is my favourite lens for all round use.
     
  23. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

    TheDrift-

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    #23
    Dnt know if it helps but I've owned the 55 250 and the 70 200 L IS (which is meant to be a step up from the non IS version)

    The 70 200 is better.... but not by that much, under real world conditions......for the price I really rate the 55 250
     

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