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Thread: Beginner Lenses Advice

  1. #1
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    Beginner Lenses Advice

    Hi guys,

    I have a Canon 400D with 18-55 kit lenses.
    For now I don't plan on spending a lot of money, as I'm not sure if it's a hobby worth investing a lot of money.
    What I want is to figure out what I like to shoot.

    I have the following on my to-buy list:
    1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II (around 100$)
    I know the f/1.4 is better, but it is triple the price. Unless the f/1.8 is really bad, not worth atm for me.

    2. Canon EF-S 55-250 f/4.0-5.6 IS II (around 220$)
    I was also looking into a cheap 70-300, but I understood that the 55-250 is newer and better than the 70-300.

    As I figured, these lenses (along with the kit 18-55) should cover my needs (again, not sure wheather I want portraits, landscape, indoors, etc)

    Help me out with some suggestions for one prime + one tele in this price range (at most 500$ for both). Sigma or Tamron are also in the books .

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by cireasa View Post
    Hi guys,

    Hi Cristian, I have a Canon 400D with 18-55 kit lenses.
    For now I don't plan on spending a lot of money, as I'm not sure if it's a hobby worth investing a lot of money.
    What I want is to figure out what I like to shoot.

    I have the following on my to-buy list:
    1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II (around 100$)
    I know the f/1.4 is better, but it is triple the price. Unless the f/1.8 is really bad, not worth atm for me.

    2. Canon EF-S 55-250 f/4.0-5.6 IS II (around 220$)
    I was also looking into a cheap 70-300, but I understood that the 55-250 is newer and better than the 70-300.

    As I figured, these lenses (along with the kit 18-55) should cover my needs (again, not sure wheather I want portraits, landscape, indoors, etc)

    Help me out with some suggestions for one prime + one tele in this price range (at most 500$ for both). Sigma or Tamron are also in the books .

    Thanks!
    I started with 550D+18-55 kit lens, followed by 50mm f/1.8 (110$) and 70-300mm f/4-5.6 (730$). For me:
    1. 18-55mm is wide enough for landscaps.
    2. 50mm f/1.8 is sharp/fast enough for close-ups / indoor shots. I even use this lens for some landscap shots as well.
    3. 70-300mm f/4-5.6 is just ok for wildlife / bird shots (provided light is good).

    So, no more lenses in near future. Next purchase will be a 430EX II...........

  3. #3
    William W's Avatar
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by cireasa View Post
    What I want is to figure out what I like to shoot.
    Buying a new lens will not assist you in any manner whatsoever in figuring out what you want to Photograph.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by cireasa View Post
    I have the following on my to-buy list: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II (around 100$). I know the f/1.4 is better, but it is triple the price. Unless the f/1.8 is really bad, not worth atm for me.
    Tell me eight reasons why the F/1.4 is better than the F/1.8 for YOUR needs and it might convince me that you need this lens. Both lenses are very good lenses and good value for money: - IF you need them.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by cireasa View Post
    Canon EF-S 55-250 f/4.0-5.6 IS II (around 220$) I was also looking into a cheap 70-300, but I understood that the 55-250 is newer and better than the 70-300.
    There are three EF70 to 300 lenses and the cheapest is the EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. This is also a good value for money lens, but different to the EF-S 55-250 f/4.0-5.6 IS II (which incidentally appears to be the same optical design as the EF-S 55-250 f/4.0-5.6 IS.)
    I doubt that on an APS-C camera there would be very much ‘real world’ Image Quality difference and if any IQ difference is noted, I expect the 70 to 300 would have the edge at the longer FL end when the aperture is wide open , as this where the 55 to 250 falls a little short.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by cireasa View Post
    Help me out with some suggestions for one prime + one tele in this price range (at most 500$ for both). Sigma or Tamron are also in the books
    Specifically, as the best and most economical kit to allow the most flexibility and good value for money:
    I would suggest adding the EF-S 55 to 250 (the original if you can still buy it) and the EF35/2 (before it disappears also) and if there is any money left over – buy a Flash if you do not already have one – a 430MkII would be a good suggestion.

    However, that is merely answering your question - and I re-iterate that it is my opinion that you should buy NOTHING and save your money until you KNOW and therefore subsequently better articulate what it is you want to achieve but cannot achieve with the gear you presently have.

    WW

  4. #4
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Bill,

    I was pretty much hoping to get some deals on Black Friday. Plus, I work away from any retail stores for 9 months/year, so I'd be difficult to get something when I would really need it.

  5. #5
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    I think that for resolution you would be happier with the 70-300mm. It should allow you to crop shots especially for the web that effectively extend the focal length by a fair amount. For the sort of things this lens is used for that can be a big advantage especially as people sometimes expect far too much magnification the first time they buy a telephoto lens.

    -

  6. #6
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by cireasa View Post
    I was pretty much hoping to get some deals on Black Friday. Plus, I work away from any retail stores for 9 months/year, so I'd be difficult to get something when I would really need it.
    OK – Understood.
    I believe that my answer covered most contingencies and addressed the possible reasons you might have asked the original question in the precise manner it was written - including situations similar to what you have now described.
    In which case my opinion and advice still is:

    "Specifically, as the best and most economical kit to allow the most flexibility and good value for money:
    I would suggest adding the EF-S 55 to 250 (the original if you can still buy it) and the EF35/2 (before it disappears also) and if there is any money left over – buy a Flash if you do not already have one – a 430MkII would be a good suggestion."


    WW

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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Don't forget that there are 3rd party lenses from companies such as Tamron and Sigma that can often offer performance close or equal to Canon lenses at significantly fewer $'s. Worth checking the reviews at somewhere such as slrgear.

  8. #8
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    I would say that a combination of the 18-55mm kit lens along with the 55-250mm telephoto and the nifty-fifty, 50mm f/1.8 ii lens would be a very complete kit for a beginning photographer.

    Two other additions that I would recommend are a decent hotshoe flash (preferably one with high speed sync) and a decent tripod.

    The flash will open possibilities indoors and allow you to shoot at a smaller aperture which will provide better image quality. Outdoors, the flash can be used as a fill light and will improve many images, especially closeup images of people. I would also suggest that you learn how to bounce your indoors flash and either buy or fabricate a diffuser/reflector. Here is a diffuser/reflector that you can fabricate out of cardbard or foamboard at little or no cost:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/18497665

    I when bouncing my flash with a diffuser reflector, I prefer to shoot with the flash head at right angle to to the sensor plane, That way, when I switch from horizontal to vertical position, it is easy to adjust the flash. This illustration shows what I mean. It is done using my favorite Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro (www.dembflashproducts.com) but can also be done using the DIY diffuser/reflector...

    Beginner Lenses Advice

    Here is an inexpensive but, perfectly adequate diffuser/reflector available on eBay from a Chinese seller at quite a low price...

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Flash-Bounce...item256a278ed3

    My second recommendation would be a decent tripod. Get the most expensive one you can afford. Usually, the best tripods are the most expensive. Lots of photographers are astounded at the quality that they can get from their kit type lenses when shooting tripod mounted at f/8 or f/11.

    Good luck with yur new found hobby...

  9. #9
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I would say that a combination of the 18-55mm kit lens along with the 55-250mm telephoto and the nifty-fifty, 50mm f/1.8 ii lens would be a very complete kit for a beginning photographer.

    Two other additions that I would recommend are a decent hotshoe flash (preferably one with high speed sync) and a decent tripod.

    The flash will open possibilities indoors and allow you to shoot at a smaller aperture which will provide better image quality. Outdoors, the flash can be used as a fill light and will improve many images, especially closeup images of people. I would also suggest that you learn how to bounce your indoors flash and either buy or fabricate a diffuser/reflector. Here is a diffuser/reflector that you can fabricate out of cardbard or foamboard at little or no cost:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/18497665

    I when bouncing my flash with a diffuser reflector, I prefer to shoot with the flash head at right angle to to the sensor plane, That way, when I switch from horizontal to vertical position, it is easy to adjust the flash. This illustration shows what I mean. It is done using my favorite Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro (www.dembflashproducts.com) but can also be done using the DIY diffuser/reflector...

    Beginner Lenses Advice

    Here is an inexpensive but, perfectly adequate diffuser/reflector available on eBay from a Chinese seller at quite a low price...

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Flash-Bounce...item256a278ed3

    My second recommendation would be a decent tripod. Get the most expensive one you can afford. Usually, the best tripods are the most expensive. Lots of photographers are astounded at the quality that they can get from their kit type lenses when shooting tripod mounted at f/8 or f/11.

    Good luck with yur new found hobby...

    I'd agree with everything Richard says.

    I might add that the 55 to 250 and the 70-300 are about equal in image quality. (It is the 75-300 that is a piece of junk)

    Your idea to get a prime is spot-on, and if you read reviews that actually test lenses you will see that the 50 1.4 is not all that spectacular a lens, and that the 50 1.8 is about the same IQ or even better on IQ in some regards. Sure, the thing feels flimsy (it actually is flimsy) but I love the pictures mine makes, and if it breaks some day I won't be too upset for that price.

    Yes to getting a speedlite flash. Go with one that does ETTL on the Canon body, probably safest to go with a Canon flash.

    Yes to the tripod. Very useful.

    Also pick up a collapsible reflector. That thing is worth as much as a 2nd flash unit. More, really, since it is so much easier to use.

    And have fun.

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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Started with the same lenses (1.8 50mm and the 55-250)..You can't get better value than the 50 and using it in aperture priority will really get you experimenting with depth of field, It's still my portrait lens as well as a walkaround when I don't fancy lugging gear.

  11. #11
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    The first lens I bought was the kit 18-55mm kit lens. The second lens I bought was the f/2.8 11-16mm Tokina ultra-wide angle. I did not get a "longer" lens until sometime later, which was the kit 55-200mm. For the type of shooting I was doing at the time something wider was far more useful to me than a telephoto.

  12. #12

    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Hope nobody minds me butting in here but my question is of a similar variety. I have the Nikon d3100 and have the kit lens 18-55 and the 70-300 mm. The latter I wanted for sports photography and wildlife. I am a beginner in photography but think it will become a lifelong hobby now, however my dilemma is not sure what lens to buy next.

    My other half has offered to buy me a new lens for Christmas this is where the confusion begins I fancy a macro lens as I love to shoot flowers but not sure which one I would need and what is best for my camera.

    I also love landscape photography and have toyed with the idea of getting a 18-105 mm lens, or would I be best getting a prime lens like the 50mm I want something which will give me a very shallow depth of field, sorry for all the questions but the more I research e more confused I become.

    Karen.

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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Karen I would suggest the Nikon 105mm f/2.8, good marco lens, also works great for landscapes in lower light, with a c-crop senor it equals a approx 157mm.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  14. #14
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Karen - your existing lenses already cover most of the range of lenses you would get with the 18-105; you would only be missing the 55mm - 70mm range, so duplicating that range really does not make a lot of sense if you are looking at investing in another lens.

    With your crop frame camera, the "normal" lens would be the f/1.8 35mm lens, not the 50mm. I find the 50mm to be too long (75mm equivalent) to be too long as a walk-about lens and too short as a fast portrait lens. Again, you already have that focal length covers, so unless you have a very specific reason to get a fast, fixed focal length lens, I would suggest perhaps looking at something else.

    I've borrowed the Nikkor 105mm macro lens from a friend and have played with it a bit. I find it is fine in my full-frame D800, but find it a bit long when I use it on my crop-frame D90. I'm not a macro photographer, but you don't need to be one to get most flower shots. I think you might find your 18-55mm kit lens to be more than adequate for that type of work. The macro will get you a 1:1 ratio, but you should look at investing in a tripod too if you are looking at getting at really closeup work.

    The other type of lens you could look at is getting something that is more of a wide angle than you already have. 18mm is okay, but I tend to prefer something that is even wider.

    Regardless, make sure you get lenses with a built-in focus motor. You will need that with your D3100.

  15. #15

    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Thanks for the advice, but I'm a bit confused about what the rop sensor thing means, with my camera do I not get the range the lens says? Sorry for dumb questions but really am new to all this. So could I get a decent depth of field with my kit lens I was told a lower fnumber would be better.

    Karen.

  16. #16

    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Sorry that shoul read crop sensor.

    Karen.

  17. #17

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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    I think you can edit your post. Luckily, you didn't make it crap sensor. ;-)

    But you can forget all about "crop sensor". Your lenses are the focal lengths engraved on them, and your sensor has a specific size, which just happens to be smaller than another larger size, and that is why there is still some confusion about the issue, as people made comparisons to that larger size.

  18. #18
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by KarenO View Post
    Thanks for the advice, but I'm a bit confused about what the rop sensor thing means, with my camera do I not get the range the lens says? Sorry for dumb questions but really am new to all this. So could I get a decent depth of field with my kit lens I was told a lower fnumber would be better.

    Karen.
    Karen - In DSLR cameras the convention is to compare lenses to how they would perform on a 35mm film camera, or full-frame sensor camera, i.e. 24mm x 36mm. Your D3100 camera has a crop factor of 1.5, which means that any lens appears to perform the same as a lens with 1.5x the focal length. This means that a 50mm lens would give similar magnification on your camera as a 75mm lens would on a full-frame camera.

    On a 35mm / full frame camera, a "normal" lens is a 50mm lens. The closest to this performance on your camera would be a 35mm lens.

  19. #19
    William W's Avatar
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    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by KarenO View Post
    So could I get a decent depth of field with my kit lens I was told a lower f-number would be better.

    I think you mean a SHALLOWER Depth of Field.
    Yes the smaller the f/number, the SHALLOWER the POSSIBLE Depth of Field you can make.

    But understand that Depth of Field is only one component of SUBJECT SEPARATION and don’t be bamboozled by shop assistants who want to sell you a Fast Prime (Fast = ‘Large Maximum Aperture’), because you “need it” for a ‘decent DoF’.

    Sample of Subject Separation using F/5.6 on a ‘Kit Zoom Lens’:
    Beginner Lenses Advice
    'Italian Passion' - 2012
    (24 to 105 on a 5D)

    ***

    Sample of Subject Separation using F/5 on a 'Kit Zoom Lens':
    Beginner Lenses Advice
    Tutorial Test Shot - 2011
    (18 to 55 on a 20D)

    ***

    Sample of Subject Separation using a P&S
    Beginner Lenses Advice
    Candid A/L Portrait - 2009
    Canon P5 IS

    ***

    . . . sure . . .
    and to balance the examples, a Fast Prime Lens can make excruciatingly shallow DoF and that can have impact on the Photograph.

    Sample of a very fast Prime Lens:
    Beginner Lenses Advice
    ‘Portrait at Sunset’ - 2009
    135/2 on a 5D

    WW

  20. #20

    re: Beginner Lenses Advice

    Thank you, yep shallow depth of field was what I was looking for, the examples are great thanks for sharing. I did go in and look at lenses in a shop and some 17 year old kid did bamboozle me, according to him I need about 3 lenses :-( ended up coming out more confused than when I went in.

    He also told me I needed to upgrade my camera if I wanted to get good shots, think I would rather learn to use this one properly first before I upgraded, I have only had this 6months and feel I would rather have a new lens than a new camera.

    Thank you everyone for the advice.

    Karen.

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