thinking of picking up my first 'proper' canon lens, any suggestions?,

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by student_trap, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. student_trap macrumors 68000

    student_trap

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Location:
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #1
    Hello all.

    essentially I have been using my canon 400D for 2 years now with the kit lens and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8II Standard Lens (for about £90), and think that it is about time (and have a bit of spare cash) to look for something a little better.

    However, I am really quite uncertain of what to be looking for, as although i know my camera inside out, i have never really ventured into lenses and other add-ons.

    My photography is a bit of a mixed bag. I am an amateur but want to eventually look towards getting some of my stuff in galleries, and also use it to photograph my sister when she is on stage (she is an actress and needs a record of her work for her portfolio etc etc).

    Most of my photography though is on the street, so i'd like a lens that is quite versatile, but also good enough so that its not the usual jack of all trades, master of none scenario!

    Furthermore, I particularly like the EF 50mm f/1.8II lens i have already as it allows me to use an aperture as low as 1.8, which helps as a) for the theatre work it is usually quite dark and b) my hands can be pretty shaky sometimes. But the kit lense, while of lesser quality does allow me more flexibility as its an 18-55, whereas the fixed focus one is fixed at 50mm.

    General Questions:

    1. Would IS be a good idea?
    2. what is USM?

    Options:

    1. I could go for a zoom lense, and if so how far?
    2. I could go with a better quality lense that combines the functionality of my current two lenses
    3. I could go with something to ad to the lenses i already have, but im not sure what the options are here?

    In general, I am a little lost as to what might be the best first 'good lens' to buy, and furthermore, once i buy it i probably wont be able to get another for quite a while.

    My budget is around £250, but i am flexible


    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. craigsharp macrumors regular

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    Aug 2, 2008
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    #2
    I know you want to be able to zoom in and out, but that isn't always ideal, the main reason is you aperture. The closer you zoom the smaller your aperture gets, meaning less light to get to your camera. Since you already have a great 50mm prime, i'd suggest to go with the 85mm f/1.8. You can pick one up for about 100 more than your "budget". Since it seems you will be doing a lot of indoors and outdoors, I think that would be you best bet, just use 3 lenses. You won't be able to pick up a zoom lens with a large aperture until you get into the really expensive lenses.

    just my 2 cents.
     
  3. Gold89 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #3
    These two:
    Go very well with this:

    ;)

    But if you are doing mainly street photography what end of the zoom do you prefer/tend to work at? Zoom or wide-angle?
     
  4. ixi macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    #4
    The Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS is the most versatile lens you can buy.


    I'll be the guy that tells you to spend more than you can.

    This is a great, very versatile lens. If you want to get even semi-serious about your photography you must have nice lenses. Primes are nice but once you step up to the L series lenses you can get very sharp images with a zoom lens. It has the image stabilization as well which actually works pretty good. The f/4 might scare you away but you can't have everything (well if you spend 10 grand you can).

    I know this is a lot of money but this lens will be great for 10+ years. Sell both your lenses and snag this. You'll be able to upgrade your camera body in a year or two and have a very nice setup.

    Bottom line is, a crappy camera with nice lens will almost always take a better picture than an incredible camera with a crappy lens.

    I spent two years taking pictures with my kit lens and when I compare them with pictures from my L lenses I just shake my head. Night and day difference.

    Save up for another few months if you need to.


    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/397662-USA/Canon_0344B002AA_24_105mm_f_4L_IS_USM.html

    Don't buy one off eBay either, it just isn't worth the potential troubles down the road.
     
  5. PCMacUser macrumors 68000

    PCMacUser

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    #5
    On a 35mm body, yes. On a crop sensor body, definitely not. 24mm on the 400D or any other 1.6x Canon body is the equivalent of 38mm, which is nowhere near wide enough for an 'all in one'.

    I'd suggest going with the Canon EF 17-40mm f4.0L if the budget can stretch to it. Jessops have it for about 490 quid. Another lens worth considering, for about the same price, is the EF-S 10-22mm lens, which offers the equivalent of 16-35mm in focal length. This is great for landscape and street shots.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    For your use, I'd think you'd want a fast, wide zoom. I don't know Canon lenses but they must have something like an 18-60mm f/2.8 lens. then would be perfect.

    One thing you might do is look at your current work. Is your zoom lens all the way out or in very much. If you find yourself shooting an 18-55mm lens at 18mm a lot that tells you you need a wider lens. Same if the lens is at 55mm a lot, you could use a longer one. But if the setting is mostly in the middle that you have about the right range for the way you shoot. So look through your library
     
  7. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #7
    Hmm, well IS would be good cause it allows you to go I think about 2-3 F-stop lower then without IS so if theory serve me correct, a f/4 IS should mean that you can get the shutter speed slower then 1/100 (around 1/60 should be okay) without having blur images cause of hand shaking.

    USM stands for Ultra Sonic Motor, it uses a different autofocus motor then non-USM. Usually weights more but the advantage of USM is it almost noise free focusing and it focus quite fast actually.

    Well its a bit of problem though cause zoom lens usually will not be as fast as a prime lens, so you need to decide which you want.
     
  8. Angelus macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #8
    What about the EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS

    If you want a good fast zoom, then the best you can get for an APC 1.6 crop camera is probably the 17-5mm EF-S.

    If you like the f1.8 of your 50mm then you'll need at least f.2.8. All the other general zooms previously mentioned wont really do because they are all f4.

    The 17-40 wont have enough reach on your 400D and on the other hand the 24-105mm will be too long on the short end as mentioned previously.

    I just recently purchased the 17-55mm and it really is the best short range zoom for a crop camera.
    Its f2.8 throughout the zoom range, has a 35mm equivalent of 27.2-88mm, USM and also has 3-4 stops of IS.
    The only real caveat is that its expensive however if you think that you will be sticking with crop cameras for the foreseeable future then its the best lens you can get.
     
  9. PCMacUser macrumors 68000

    PCMacUser

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    Jan 13, 2005
    #9
    The 17-55mm EF-S is a good suggestion, it's just a shame it costs over GBP600. Its performance is considered to be on the same level as L series glass, but without the build quality and weatherproofing.
     
  10. glennp macrumors member

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    Aug 7, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #10
    Sounds like a fast lens is the most important factor for you. I'd suggest two options.

    First, you can stay with primes and look into the EF 35mm f/2 and the EF 85mm f1.8 to complement your 50mm lens.

    Second, if you want to go zoom, the best option is probably the EF-S 17-55 f2.8 IS lens but it'll cost more than the two primes listed above. The EF 24-105 f/4L IS is nice but is probably too slow for the indoor and low-light use you intend to be shooting. Also, Tamron makes a 17-50 f2.8 lens that is a nice potential alternative to Canon's 17-55 IS according to reviews I've seen.
     
  11. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #11
    Yeah, for indoor, f/2.8 is the minimum and if you are getting zoom, get a constant aperture zoom. Its worth it!
     
  12. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #12
    option 1: sell the 18-55 and 50 for a 17-55/2.8. Shoot at iso 3200 if you need to to make up for the loss in aperture, and grab noise ninja if you need it. Alternatively, you could get a tamron 17-50/2.8 or sigma 18-50/2.8 and a good tripod in place of IS. If you're already shooting at 3200 with the 50, scratch this. Note that neither IS or a tripod will stop movement.

    option 2: Canon 28/1.8 or 35/2 or sigma 30/1.4, and maybe an 85 1.8. Scratch the 85 if you rarely shoot at 55 on your zoom. If 28 isn't wide enough, you also have the option of Canon 24 and 20mm primes.

    When taking photos of your sister, you might get away with smaller apertures if you spot meter on her, since she'll be well-lit. Just in case you haven't tried that already.
     
  13. student_trap thread starter macrumors 68000

    student_trap

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
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    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #13
    thank you all so much for your input, it has been truly insightful.

    After reading the posts I have a few extra comments to make.

    1. Essentially when i go out with my camera (which takes up a good 80% of its use) I liken to only carry my camera with me, rather than a camera and lots of lenses, as quite a lot of my photography is about quickly capturing something as im on my travels, rather than extensively setting up and then shooting.

    2. atm my most used lens is the prime, but that is only because a) i love the huge apertures when taking portraits (and also because it is so much quicker) and b) because to me the optics seem better. I do however often yearn for less zoom when using it, and sometimes, but very rarely (i think at least!) i'd like a little more. I must say though that over the 1.5 years i have had it i've learnt to accommodate much more, but sometimes it just isn't possible to stand far enough back!

    3. as far as the theatre photography goes, it can actually be quite dark sometimes, as in general the fringe theatres' lighting is often unable to light the entire cast while other times the light may just be extremely soft. I am usually right at the front too, and forced to use the prime because of its aperture, however this way i miss a lot of shots of a scene in general, as it forces me to look at the individual which is not always what i'd like.

    4. (the big one) Cost!!! After looking at many of the lenses mentioned it is clear that my funds are pretty meagre! I should add that i am talking 250 pounds rather than dollars, however this really is the upper limit of my budget, and therefore lenses above say £350 are really way out of what i could afford at this time ( i have managed to get £250 together for the cause but as a university student, i just can't justify too much more:()Perhaps it would be better to wait?

    I suppose with all this in mind the 17-55/2.8 would be pretty much spot on, but the canon version is way too expensive at this time (crosses fingers for the future). Is it worth looking into the tamron version? does this lense have IS or USM?
     
  14. PCMacUser macrumors 68000

    PCMacUser

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    Jan 13, 2005
    #14
    The Tamron version is £342.54 from Jessops. It doesn't feature IS either.

    You can find a comparison between the Tamron, and Canon and Sigma equivalents here.

    Here's what the reviewer says about the Tamron's weaknesses:

    My advice is to wait until you can afford a Canon 17-55mm f2.8. £250 is simply not enough money to buy a good quality camera lens that fits your requirements. I did a search on Jessops' website for Canon zoom lenses under the £300 price point and there were only four. And I wouldn't recommend any of them.
     
  15. student_trap thread starter macrumors 68000

    student_trap

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    Mar 14, 2005
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    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #15

    thanks for the up-front reply, it is kind of the way i have been thinking anyhow, quite disappointing though.

    One thing that i was thinking though was that perhaps then i should look into picking up another prime as craigsharp mentioned. From my use i reckon that less than 50mm would be better than more, and if so, where would you guys put the 'sweet-spot' for a multi purpose prime?
     
  16. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #16
    28-35mm. I use my 17-55 mostly at the extremes, but if I'm in the middle, usually 28mm, and a little less often at 35. More than 35 is too close to 50 to be very useful, and much less than 28 introduces a bit too much perspective distortion.
     
  17. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #17
    Canon does make a 28mm 1.8 USM, it will focus much better in the theater than the 50 and is equally as fast. Also, being a little wider you can afford to slow the shutter down a little more to 1/40 or even 1/30 and get sharp enough if you hold steady. I do not own this lens but it should fall right around your price range?
     
  18. Angelus macrumors 6502

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    Apr 19, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #18
    Canon 28mm f1.8 USM

    I actually own a copy of this lens. I bought it before I got it a few months before my 17-55mm.
    Its a nice lens, well built and has very fast silent focusing because of the USM.

    The reason I bought it was because on a crop camera it converts to a "normal" view prime and I thought primes would help me refine my photgraphic technique.

    I've taken some very nice photos with this lens though it does suffer from chromatic abberation on occasion.

    I would strongly advise you to consider maybe waiting and saving for the 17-55mm though.
    When I used the 28mm I always wished I had a fast lens with a versatile zoom and I did miss some shots as a result.
    The 17-55mm stays on my 450D all the time now.

    That being said the 28mm f1.8 is still part of my lens collection for when I want to challenge myself with a normal prime so I dont think you could go wrong with that either.
     
  19. PCMacUser macrumors 68000

    PCMacUser

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    #19
    That's a good suggestion. On Jessops' website, it comes in at over £300, but there's an alternative, very similar lens. The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM. Jessops have this on sale at the moment for £234.88, which would fit nicely under budget. Review is here.
     
  20. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #20
    That's not a bad lens at all! And just a wee bit faster at 1.4, plus with all of Sigma's goodies attached for less money. That's a terrific recommendation.
     
  21. bubbagates macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    #21
    IS and USM/AF are really good to have but IS is not needed if you are good at holding the camera completely still. Having IS is a good thing with long zoom lenses as it helps eliminate camera shake.

    Now the 50mm (called the nifty fifty) is probably one of the best prime lenses Canon has so stay with it. I own the 1.8 II version and shoot star fields with it. It's also great for portrait shots as well as a great all around general lens.

    Now for shooting in low light, such as a theatre, then you want at least an F-stop at 2.8. You can then open up the aperture to 2.8, turn off the flash, crank up the ISO to around 600 (much above that and noise becomes an issue) and snap away.

    I also own the the kit 18-55 which includes IS and AF (not USM) which can be had pretty cheaply off of Amazon. While it's the kit lens it does do good. Fully zoomed out you F-stop is 3.5 so it's still decent indoors without the flash but you will need to slow the shutter a bit more and this is where the IS comes in handy.

    To give you an idea of what the kit lens will do, here is a shot of my kitten, indoors and only room light. Focal length is 55mm, ISO at 400 and shutter at 1/200 and F4.5. Not post processing and no flash

    Forgot to mention, this is taken with the Rebel XSi/450D which is one step below your 40D
     

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  22. fxstb2002 macrumors member

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    Apr 22, 2008
    #22
    For the budget, I will second the Sigma 30/1.4. I have both the Sigma and the Canon 17-55/2.8, and I find myself using the Sigma a lot.

    The 17-55 is a fantastic lens though.
     
  23. PCMacUser macrumors 68000

    PCMacUser

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    #23
    In your kitten photograph, there is obviously a light source being used, such as a flash or a bright window. That's not really 'only room light'. (Notice the light reflection in the kitten's eye coming from the direction of the camera, and the strong shadows behind its legs).
     

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