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Thread: Thinking about some new lenses

  1. #1

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    Thinking about some new lenses

    Hi,
    I have a T3i/600D and I'm planning on getting a new lens or two. I have an EF-S 10-22 and the kit 18-15. The main thing I'm looking for is to upgrade the kit lens. One idea I had was to get a 50mm 1.4 (canon or sigma) and a mid-range quality standard zoom. Or I could go for the EF-S 17-55mm that everyone seems to like so much even though its a little bit bigger than I would like for my default lens. I don't really know where to go because there are so many choices and in the general category I'm looking at. I'm hoping with the collective experience here that I can get some practical suggestions to help me narrow down my choices. Also recommendations for specific lenses would be appreciated as well.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    Interestingly, I also have the T3i and my primary lens is the Canon 17-55 2.8. I love it. I find that f/2.8 is plenty wide to blur backgrounds for portraits, and it works very well in low light. I rarely use flash.

    I have ordered the 50 1.8 just to play around with because it is so cheap. I'll get that in about a week I guess-I went with the slowest shipping.

    Have you considered getting a longer lens? You have wide covered, and your kit covers the mid range. I read that the 70-300 (not the 75-300!) is a fairly decent inexpensive lens. I just got a 70-200 2.8 IS II in the mail tonight, actually. I only had a little time after work before the sun set, but I went into the yard & shot the dog and some sparrows to try it out.

  3. #3
    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    Can't go wrong with the 50mm 1.4. I think you'd have a lot of fun with that lens. I use it for tons of shooting. I upgraded from the 1.8 about 3 months ago, after finding I use it quite frequently - and boy, what a difference. Sharp as a tack.

    Depending on what you're shooting, you might take Scott's advice, and invest in something a little 'longer' too. I have an 18-200 for my walk-around lens. It's got a great range - quality is not as good as some of my other lenses, but not hugely noticeable, and I don't like walking around downtown in the rain with my 70-200!! I took the 18-200 to Montreal last year, and had a great time!

    Hope that helps!

  4. #4
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    Questions I would ask yourself to narrow the field would be:

    1. What's your budget?

    2. What frustrates you the MOST about the 18-55 kit? Reach, speed (max. aperture), or sharpness?

    Going for a fast prime is never a bad idea in my book , but I would also say that you should be very very sure that 50mm is the length you want if you're not going to go with the cheapie 50/1.8 II. Some folks find a 50 too long (narrower FoV) on a crop for, say, across-the-table or full-length portraits. But it can be a matter of personal taste on framing and working distances. But the Canon 28/1.8, 35/2, 50/1.4 and 85/1.8 all cost about the same. So, I'd say look at the types of images you want to take with your fast prime that you took with the 18-55, and see if there was a focal length you specifically favored more than the others. And if you were jammed up against 55mm end of the kit the whole time, consider going with a longer lens like the 85/1.8 or 100/2.

    In the meantime, stopping the 18-55 kit down to f/8 can make it look a wee bit more expensive than it is.

  5. #5

    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    I have the 17-55mm lens and love it. I also have the 50mm f/1.4 and it is tack sharp love it. Both great lenses in low light and as stated above I also do not use flash with these two. I shoot some sports with the 17-55mm but for those longer shots the photos have to be cropped lots. Most of my shots are fairly close and indoors though. One day I hope to be able to pick up the 70-200mm as that would round out my lenses quiet well I think. Good luck on your final decision.

  6. #6

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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    We can't really make any serious recommendations without knowing your budget, as Kathy mentioned. For instance, I would say, why consider medium quality lenses if you can afford L lens quality.

    And the next question, exactly what subjects do you intend to photograph? Including expected light levels, weather conditions and any other information which may be relevant.

    For example, would you specifically need a F2.8 lens or would a F4 equivalent suffice? There may be a considerable price difference.

  7. #7
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    You need to specify what you want to use the lens for and what limits you with the current kit lens. The kit lens does quite well in optical tests, but it has limitations. Which of those are a problem for you? Upgrading without a specific purpose is asking for frustration and wasted money.

    I agree with Kathy that a 50mm prime would not be one of my first choices on a crop. It was ubiquitous in the old days because it is a 'normal' FOV on a 35mm film camera. The old FD 50mm f/1.4 was my walk-around on my old FTb. However, the equivalent on your camera would be about 31mm.

    If you want faster/fixed aperture but a similar focal length range, you might want to consider something like the Tamron 17-50 non-VC--optically excellent and inexpensive. However, assumes that this is what frustrates you with the kit lens.

  8. #8

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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    Thanks everyone for your advise. To answer some of your questions...I'm looking not to spend more than 1200 US. I normally like to do landscape/long exposure/night photography. The problems I have have with kits lens are 1) At the longer end of its range where I'm more likely to use this lens, its not as sharp as I would like. 2) I would like a bigger max aperture for those times when I do end up taking indoor portraits. 3) Build quality. It just doesn't feel nice when I use it. 4) The focal range doesn't really bother me, but I little bit longer wouldn't hurt.

    For my purposes, I don't think I need a single lens that fixes all these problems and I probably don't want to pay for one that will. I suppose my main interest is image quality and I know I'll have to give up some things to get it for a reasonable price.

    At this point I think I'm looking at the EF-S 15-85. The extra focal range and price make sense for me. Eventually, I will want to get something longer, but right now I think I care more about image quality. Maybe its because I'm young and naive, but I feel like if I'm too far from my subject, well, thats what my legs are for

    As for the prime, I have to thank you Kathy for your advise. I was pretty much convinced that the 50mm was the one I wanted, but after thinking a little more about it I realized that I probably want something shorter to give me more of a true 50mm feel. Does anyone have the 35/2? What about the Sigma 30/1.4?

    Thanks Dan for suggesting the Tamron 17-50. It sounds like a solid possibility for what I'm looking for.

  9. #9
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    I don't own the 35/2. It is showing its age, and most of the reviews you'll find say it's not terrible, but it's not great either. I really wish that Canon would do what Nikon did, and come out with a $200 EF-S 35mm f/1.8 USM (or at least add USM to the 35/2), but right now the EF 35mm f/2 and EF 28/1.8 USM are the closest we've got to normal on a crop. The Sigma 30 f/1.4 EX DC HSM has good reviews, but is substantially larger, and on Canon EOS mount, can have autofocus issues.

    I ended up going insane at the point where I wanted a normal-on-a-crop lens, and adapted two manual focus lenses: a C/Y Zeiss Distagon 28mm f/2.8 and a Leica-R Summicron 35mm f/2. I fell in love with both of them, but they're not at all convenient lenses to use. And having since moved to a 5Dii, the Distagon whacks my mirror when focused at infinity, and the 'cron 35 shows way more corner weakness than it did on crop.

    No lens is ever perfect.

    But I'm also someone who decided that a 50 wasn't long enough, moved to an 85, and then happily settled on the 135L as her fave fast prime. Eccentric doesn't begin to describe my taste in lenses.

  10. #10
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    The only thing I don't like about my 17-55 is that it won't fit on my 5D2.

    Glenn

  11. #11
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by CNU View Post
    I'm looking not to spend more than 1200 US.
    I normally like to do landscape/long exposure/night photography.
    The problems I have with kits lens are
    1) At the longer end of its range where I'm more likely to use this lens, its not as sharp as I would like. 2) I would like a bigger max aperture for those times when I do end up taking indoor portraits.
    3) Build quality. It just doesn't feel nice when I use it.
    4) The focal range doesn't really bother me, but I little bit longer wouldn't hurt.

    . . .

    At this point I think I'm looking at the EF-S 15-85. The extra focal range and price make sense for me. Eventually, I will want to get something longer, but right now I think I care more about image quality. Maybe its because I'm young and naive, but I feel like if I'm too far from my subject

    Re point 1) I will interpret that as “not as sharp as I would like it at F/5.6~F/6.3” – because all the lenses in that category are very sharp at F/8.
    If my assumption is incorrect and you do not think the lens is sharp enough for you (at F/8) then you might look at your PP techniques, especially sharpening.

    Re point 2) the EF-S15 to 85 does not make that criterion.

    Re point 3) that doesn’t matter to me, it is an emotional criterion, I understand that but a lens is not Grange it is a tool, just my opinion: I have nothing necessarily against just buying “nice stuff”.

    Re Image Quality – although I have not used the 15 to 85, I have trusted friends who do and it will have better IQ than the 18 to 55 kit – especially apropos CA and acutance when used wide open.

    Re Subject Distance – it is the distance which creates the Perspective: do not confuse Perspective (Subject Distance) with Framing (Zooming).

    So if we only regard your criteria: a 17 to 50 ish F/2.8 zoom is more the ONE ONLY lens you are seeking, no?

    As well as the Canon there are Sigma and Tamron equivalents. I have only used the Canon and it is sublime.


    ***


    Quote Originally Posted by CNU View Post
    For my purposes, I don't think I need a single lens that fixes all these problems and I probably don't want to pay for one that will. I suppose my main interest is image quality and I know I'll have to give up some things to get it for a reasonable price.

    As for the prime, I have to thank you Kathy for your advise. I was pretty much convinced that the 50mm was the one I wanted, but after thinking a little more about it I realized that I probably want something shorter to give me more of a true 50mm feel. Does anyone have the 35/2? What about the Sigma 30/1.4?
    You can easily employ your existing kit lens to more accurately ascertain the FL of a prime for indoor use – set the kit lens at 35mm and also at 50mm and tape it there for a week, and use it seriously.

    I have both the EF35F/2 and the EF35F/1.4L (and a couple of 50mm primes also), on an APS-C camera, I find a fast 35mm lens much more useful for indoor use than a 50mm lens.
    The 35/2 does have a reputation in some circles as a poor performer, and that might be serious comment on the fall off at the edges when wide open and the little bit of barrel it exhibits: however I do think it is a good lens.
    The 28/1.8 is about the same in my opinion, I have used this 28mm lens but I do not own one.

    One point of significance is that the 35/2 and the 28/1.8 (and either of 50/1.8 or 50/1.4) will be for you purposes used on an APS-C camera – so any criticism you read of these lenses must be read in relation to what cameras the critique used – for example the fall off of the 35/2 at F/2 I mentioned is insignificant when the lens is on an APS-C camera.

    Specifically re the EF35F/2 on an APS-C camera – it is a very handy light weight snub lens, inconspicuous and F/2 is quite fast enough for most indoor A/L work on a camera which can hold ISO3200.


    This is an example of the EF 35/2 used wide open on an APS-C camera (20D), in a typical indoor, soft backlight: it has good flare resistance as you might note, and a little CA is apparent: the lens has NO lens hood on it:

    Thinking about some new lenses
    F/2 @ 1/40s @ ISO100


    This is an example of the 35/2 used as “a travel lens” on a 400D –

    Thinking about some new lenses
    (from memory exposure around) F/3.2 @ 1/50s @ ISO1600

    This is the enlargement:
    Thinking about some new lenses


    For reference only - this is the 35/2 on a 135 format camera at F/2 – this is the JPEG SOOC:
    Thinking about some new lenses


    ***

    My opinion based on your input:

    It seems to me that a 28/1.8, 35/2 or 50/1.8 (or 1.4) would be a tad superfluous as a primary purchase at this point in time IF you buy any of the 17 to 50ish F/2.8 zooms – the extra stop or stop and a bit of lens speed would really have to be a NEED to warrant both the zoom AND a fast prime, from that list: considering that the 600D can be quite effectively used at ISO3200 and pushed to ISO6400, with care.

    However the 15 to 85 and one fast prime – somewhere around 28 or 35 would make a lot of sense taking into account all that you have thus far disclosed.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 26th April 2012 at 04:43 AM.

  12. #12

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    Re: Thinking about some new lenses

    Thanks everyone for your input, and special thanks to Bill. Next step is to try to find a way to try out some of these lenses before I buy them.

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