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Thread: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

  1. #1
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    karin rummell

    Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    I am a new member and this is my first post. I have a Canon Eos Rebel camera with a broken kit lens so it is time to spend some bucks on a lens or two. I take mostly landscape shots so a wide angle lens is perhaps the way to go?? I'm not sure I understand the difference between a zoom and a telephoto lens, which is embarassing since I am an optometrist and actually had a fair bit of training in optics once upon a time. Anyhow, I would like good lenses so they will last a long time (as I improve) and I have a reasonable budget. Suggestions please! And thank you.

  2. #2
    wtlwdwgn's Avatar
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Wow, you're going to get a bunch of advice from all over on this one. It is said that it is better to invest more in lenses than in cameras because bodies come and go but good quality lenses last forever. It must be said though that some lenses are prohibitively expensive unless you're making a living with it or you're independently wealthy. If you are serious about your photography you'll want to buy the best you can afford which may not be the most expensive.

    A zoom lens is merely one that extends from one focal length to another. Zoom lenses come in all shapes and sizes from a very wide 8-16mm to a very long 300-800mm. A telephoto lens is usually a long focal length lens often used for sports and wildlife.

    You can use any focal length lens for landscape photography depending on what you're trying to achieve. Use a wide angle lens for a panorama view or a telephoto lens to isolate a geographical feature. Extreme wide angle lenses have a rather steep learning curve because of the distorting effects on perspective. You can also create a panorama view by stitching together a series of images taken with a standard lens.

    Not much help yet am I? I'll go out on a limb here and suggest the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L lens as a reasonable choice. It's an L series lens which will last a long time and has relatively little distortion characteristics. It will also work on any Canon professional camera body as well as the entry level ones. You might also find a good used one at a reputable dealer like Henry's. Henry's is having a Cyber Week sale this week too. Just in the Ol' St. Nick of time!
    Last edited by wtlwdwgn; 28th November 2012 at 03:54 AM.

  3. #3
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    First of all, welcome Karin. Thanks for joining CiC. I hope you enjoy being part of it.

    Now - lenses. First question has got to be - What's the budget? It makes no sense to start making suggestions without knowing what sort of price bracket it's possible to step into. When you say reasonable budget, does that mean the sort of funds that will allow Canon 'L' quality lenses to be a consideration. For Canon cameras, they are the top of the tree, but the cost can make your eyes water.

    I'm not sure of a site where you can check prices in Canadian dollars. But if you go here, you can see lenses priced in US Dollars

    As a general statement however, and based on the assumption that what we're talking about is replacing your only lens (i.e. it's not to be an addition to another lens), then one line of thinking would be to be looking in the middle ground; i.e. for a lens that 's going to serve as a a 'walkabout lens' and cover the focal range in which a lot of 'general' photographs are taken. It would be no use, in my opinion, going for the wide angle, at one end of the continuum, or the long telephoto zooms at the other end, unless you already have the glass that covers that middle ground area.

    The sort of zoom candidates that come in to that range are the 18-55mm ($199), 24-70mm L ($2299), 24-105mm L ($1149). You can see that prices vary enormously. And that's before you start looking at 3rd party manufacturers such as Sigma, Tokina, Tamron, etc.

  4. #4
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Thanks so much for the quick responses!! I guess my budget will be $1000max. per lens (although I'd be thrilled to spend less). A general walkabout lens is a must- I thought the wide angle might do it but from what you are saying, I guess not. I spend a fair bit of time overseas and love taking photos everywhere (including hiking in the mountains), so weight for this lens is a consideration (until I get in better shape, lol). Having spent so many years hating distortion and minimizing it for folks in their glasses etc, I have an innate distaste for aberrations of all kinds. So, please recommend away- I'm off to Henry's (and Vistech) here in Toronto tomorrow pm. Also shopping for a new lens for my photography crazy son (who always gets the better camera lenses and bodies and I take the lesser- that's going to change!!) I am going to read all those books I have bought for him (Understanding Exposure etc. ) to renew my acquaintance with optics- I cannot believe how much I have forgotten. Thanks again and, one of these months, I'll post some pics (too embarassed just yet).

  5. #5
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Karin,

    I'll throw in my two cents.

    I think the single most useful lens is a walk-around zoom, which for a crop sensor camera like yours is typically in the focal length range of your broken kit lens. There are a lot of them, most bottoming out at 17 or 18mm. You might find that you sometimes want wider than that for landscape, but a wider and shorter zoom will not be as generally useful as something in the 17-50mm range.

    Second, I would recommend against buying top of the line lenses (in the case of Canon, L lenses) for now. They are the creme de la creme, and I do own a couple. However, only 2 of my 5 lenses are Ls, and I have been shooting for decades. The reason I recommend against this is that the marginal gain from improved lens quality decreases as you go up the ladder. The practical difference between a really cheap lens and a mid-level lens is often larger than the practical difference between a mid-level and top lens. For example, I shoot mostly macro, using both Canon's 100mm L lens and a 60mm lens that cost half as much. Printing at 8 x 10, there is no practical difference in image quality, although the L lens does offer several other advantages.

    Given that, I think that if they have a limited budget, newcomers are usually better off buying two less expensive lenses than one expensive one. Later on, when you have more of an idea about what you will specialize in, you may want to trade up.

    So in your case, I personally would probably either replace the kit lens (one of Donald's listed options), or go with a mid-level lens in the same range. One option for the latter is the Tamron 17-50 non-VC. (The one with VC--vibration control--costs more and has been reviewed less well.) It is faster than the kit lens, optically very good, and not very expensive. (I don't own one, but I own the longer cousin, the Tamron 28-75, and have been very pleased with it.) It currently costs about $425 new in the US, while a rebate program is in effect. If you buy something in that price range, you will have half of your budget to put toward something else--perhaps a lens of a different focal length, a good flash, software for editing, or any of the many other cash sinks that comes with the hobby.

    Just my 2 cents. I'm sure others will have very different opinions.

    Dan

  6. #6
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    I also have a Rebel (T3i, known as the 600D over here), and my "normal" lens is the Sigma 17-70mm f2.8/4. I think it has decent image quality (as shown in various reviews) though not of course up there with the L series glass. It's a very useful range of focal lengths on a "crop" camera, and quite fast for its class and price (I think around $400US at the moment). Because its got a decent maximum aperture it is quite heavy, though I think it balances fine on the camera.

    You could go the whole hog for a walkabout lens. I also have a Tamron 18-270mm f3.6/5.3, which I think retails around $650US. Obviously, it gives a great range of focal lengths, and though the IQ is reasonable its not as good as the Sigma, especially barrel distortion at wide angle, but it's probably what you'd expect for a super zoom.. It's about the same weight and size as the Sigma. I do use it when I only want to carry one lens if I'm going out somewhere for the day, not on a photo expedition (Which I am sure will get me a few black marks in this august forum )

    P.S. slrgear.com is a good site for lens reviews.

    Cheers,

    Dave

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Hi Karin and welcome to CiC. I'm not a Canon shooter, so I can't comment on their hardware.

    If you are looking to buy lenses in Toronto, I've found that Aden Camera on Yonge St downtown usually has the best prices, often by a significant margin. This is where I have picked up most of my glass. The "big boys", i.e. Henry's and Vistek are always more expensive.

    http://www.adencamera.com/default.asp

    I tend to be an ultra-wide angle lover, and when I first got a DSLR (coming up on 4 years ago), I picked up the cheapest kit lens I could find (18-55mm) on my crop frame camera. The second lens I bought was an ultra-wide angle zoom (Tokina f/2.8 11-16mm) and it is a lens I continue to think very highly of, but is a difficult lens to shoot with because it is such an extreme wide angle lens and one has to be extreme careful or ones shots end up being mostly sky and foreground (i.e. not very interesting). My wife's favourite lens is the extended range 18-200mm lens (I believe Canon makes one of these too). It is quite versatile for general photography.

  8. #8
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Hi Karin,

    The standard Canon "kit" lens is an amazing value for its price. Shooting tripod mounted at f/11 or f/8 the lens can produce excellent imagery. The drawback with less expensive lenses is when you are trying to push the envelope, such as shooting in low light conditions. The kit lens which is f/5.6 at its 55mm end, just cannot do the job of a lens that has a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout its focal range. The kit lenses are also not at their best when shot wide open but, improve drastically when stopped down...

    I would suggest a mid range zoom with a focal range of 17 or 18mm to 50 or 55mm and a constant f/2.8 f/stop as your go-to walk around lens. The 17mm focal length on a 1.6x camera is wide enough for the vast majority of my shooting. I do, however, like to add a longer lens to my kit...

    I use a 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens and the results thrill me. However, the price of that lens may be a bit more than some photographers are willing or able to spend on a lens. Both Tamron and Sigma produce more moderately priced 17-50mm lenses with constant f/2.8 zooms. Sigma also produces a 17-70mm f/2.8-f/4 variable aperture lens which provides a bit of extra focal length on the long side. However, you pay for that increased focal length by a variable aperture. I don't know what the f/stop becomes when the lens is at 50mm; so I cannot compare the aperture with the 50mm f/2.8...

    At the level of today's technology, there are no zoom lenses with focal ranges much beyond 3x with a constant f/2.8 aperture. I personally do not like the extended range zoom lenses such as the 18-135mm or 18-270mm models. While they are very convenient in that one lens will cover virtually every focal length you may need, the apertures are usually slower, the auto-focus generally not as fast and as accurate and the image quality (especially at the wide and long extremes) are not usually as good as the lenses that have a more moderate focal range. However, I am very fussy about the above parameters. The extended range zooms might very well satisfy your needs...

    I cannot talk first hand about any mid-range zoom lens except the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. All I know about the Tamron and Sigma lenses is what I have read about them...

    I love the Image Stabillization of my 17-55mm lens because with the constant f/2.8 aperture, this makes it a very viable low light lens. Sure, there are faster lenses but, often shooting at f/1.8 or f/1.4, your depth of field is too thin to effectively get your image in focus. I seldom use my 50mm f/1.8 Mark-2 lens anymore because the 17-55mm has replaced it for most low light uses...

    The image quality and the auto-focus of the Canon 17-55mm is great. In fact, IMO, there are only two downsides to the lens... Fist it is expensive and secondly, I would really like an extra bit of reach...

    Expense: I keep my gear for long periods of time and the extra cost of the Canon lens amortized over quite a few years is not that troubling for me...

    Reach: I shoot with a two camera two lens setup and use the Canon 17-55mm lens on a 7D in conjunction with a 40D wearing a 70-200mm f/4L IS lens. This is the best combination I have ever used. I would like a second 7D but, not enough to spend the extra money to get one. The 55-70mm gap between these lenses bothers me not at all...

    I agree that the difference between a moderate and expensive lens is not quite as great as the difference between cheap and moderatly priced lenses. Often a more moderately priced lens will do the job quite nicely...

    Here are the three sets I would recommend for 1.6x cameras:

    Inexpensive bare bones:
    Canon 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS and 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS

    Moderately priced;
    Tamron or Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 and Canon or Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS Note: NOT THE CANON 75-300mm LENS.

    Top line:
    Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS and 70-200mm f/4L IS or 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS

    The 70-200mm f/2.8 series lenses are also a great option. I don't use one because of the extra weight involved. I can carry my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens mounted on a 40D camera at the weight of a 70-200mm f/2.8L (series) lens alone. However, there are instances when a photographer might need the extra stop. You can stop down the f/2.8L lenses to f/4 but, you cannot open an f/4L lens to f/2.8. OTOH, the f/2.8 aperture will not help if you have left the lens home because it is too heavy to carry on a trip.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 28th November 2012 at 03:55 PM.

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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    There's also a Tamron 28-75 mm F2.8 (42-112mm FF eq.), and a 10-24 mm F3.5-4.5. (same price range as the 17-50mm F2.8).
    I have the 28-75 myself, and it all but replaced my kit lens as 'standard' lens, the kit lens gets used if I want/need the 18-28 mm range.
    Given the budget mentioned, would those two be a reasonable alternative to the 17-50mm? (gains towards wide angle, and fills the hole 50-70mm, you get one in the 24-28 range though)

    (note don't mix up the 28-75mm F2.8 with the Tamron 24-70mm F2.8: the latter is 4 times as expensive...)

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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Your walkaround lens will be shooting 90% of all your photos. I would spend the bit extra and get the Canon 17-55 f/2.8 assuming you want to stay with a Rebel for a long time, and not move up into an expensive "full frame" camera that won't fit with it. List price is just over $1,000 but if you look around you can get it for in the 900's, or used in the 700's.

    Read reviews everywhere, and they are very complimentary on this lens.

  11. #11
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Canon EF-S 17-85mm gets my vote.

  12. #12
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Thank you everyone for your advice. I will let you know what I get...

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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Hi Karin . If you can get to the west end, Henry's outlet store often has some good deals on open box stock. Otherwise I find Henry's on the expensive side. You might also want to check out B&H I have ordered from them, the prices are way better than Henry's and their shipping is reasonable and the brokerage fees are also reasonable. With the exchange rate it's still often a better deal.

  14. #14
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    I would list your <$1000 Canon choices, in no particular order, as:

    EF 17-40 f/4L USM. Made to be an ultrawide on a full-frame, but decent focal length walkaround range on a crop. Slow, unstabilized, but one of the very few L lenses under four figures. If you shoot primarily landscapes, and are eventually planning on going full-frame, this could be a decent choice.

    EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM. If you prize speed over focal length range. Arguably the top end of the EF-S lenses. If the price is too high the Tamron 17-50/2.8 is a good alternative.

    EF-S 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM. If you prize focal length range over speed, but don't want to compromise on image quality, this is the closest crop analog to the EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM. Great image quality, good balance between image quality vs. zoom range. If the price is too high, a used EF-S 17-85 IS USM (the lens this one replaced) is a much lower-cost alternative, but has weaker performance on the wide end of the range.

    EF-S 18-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS. If you prize focal length range over speed and don't mind compromising on image quality, and need a lower-priced lens. If you want even more focal length range and are willing to pay for it, the EF-S 18-200 IS is worth looking at, but it will have a few more image quality compromises to achieve that superzoom range.

    Would not recommend the EF 28-135 IS USM. This is a now-discontinued lens that was designed for film, and is not wide enough on a crop body to be convenient as a walkaround/landscape/cityscape lens. It was replaced by the EF-S 18-135 IS.

  15. #15

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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Just a comment about your distaste of distortions .... depending on what they are the better editing programmes we have today have tools to correct these and are not THAT expensive these days, around US$60 for copies of Paint Shop Pro X5 or Adobe Elements 10.
    As for the need for wide lenses for landscapes it does very much depend on what sort of landscapes you shoot and in a recent thread here on CiC several mentioned they tended to use longish lenses for the selection of what appealed to them in the landscape. "Getting it all in" is not the only approach

  16. #16

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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Karin,

    My knowledge on Canon cameras and lenses are almost nil as I am a Nikon user, however you must know that expensive lenses may not produce the desired photo quality in your camera. I will provide you with an example here: digital camera Nikon D300 has been tested with two different lenses; 1) the mid-range kit lens 18-105mm (price in the range of 200 GBP), and 2) the professional range 24-70mm (price in the range of 1200 GBP). The quality difference between the better and the ordinary is only two points as described on the 'DXO Mark' website, which is mainly dependent on the 'frame factor', 'sensor metering' and 'mega pixel' rate. I did not know the exact model of your Rebel camera to check the most suitable lens for you, but I am hereby providing you with the web address to check it yourself.

    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/en....Canon/EOS-500D

    My advise to you would be to stick to your kit lens model since your intention is not to take arty or professional photos. Nikon's 18-105mm kit lens is a good focal zoom range for everyday amateur photography, but I do not know if Canon has an equivalent lens; maybe you should check SIGMA or TAMRON trademarks as well. When you perfect photography with your present gear, you may then decide to upgrade to a better camera and lens combination(s).

    Lastly, you can download and try DXO Optics Pro 8 software (free trial for 30 days or 89 GBP and extremely easy to use) to deal with distortions and CAs along with many other inconsistencies in your photographs. The web address for that is:

    http://www.dxo.com/

    SUMMARY: Don't waste your money on expensive glass if your camera is not capable of utilising the glass characteristics and lens design purposes.

    I hope this message did not come to you too late!

    Chontrell

  17. #17
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Quote Originally Posted by chontrell View Post
    SUMMARY: Don't waste your money on expensive glass if your camera is not capable of utilising the glass characteristics and lens design purposes.
    Chontrell – although I understand your sentiments, let me disagree with your suggesting avoiding pro lenses. I bought several pro lenses for my crop frame camera and image quality, as per DxO measurements, was never a primary consideration.

    My shooting preferences are that I shoot with as low an ISO setting as I can to maximize the camera’s dynamic range and often shoot wide open to give me a very narrow depth of field to give me nicely out of focus backgrounds. Pro lenses are faster than amateur lenses and that is why I went that route.

    Lower end lenses tend to be slower and with lower end zoom lenses, the maximum f-stop number increases as you zoom in. Pro lenses have a constant (fast) maximum f-stop throughout their focal length range.

    The other reason to get pro lenses is that if you ever move up to a full-frame camera, you have lenses that will work in both formats. There are downsides to pro lenses too, and not just the cost. They are large, big and heavy. With zoom lenses, they tend to be limited to a zoom factor that is less than 3X.

  18. #18

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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    2 more cents: Take-on-vacation walk-around lens: 18-200 mm One lens covers a wide angle to a close zoom. When shooting mostly landscapes, you do not really need the fast lenses that cost more. You will probably be most using f/11 to f/22 anyway.

    Examples:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=pd_sl_9u...+18-200mm+lens

  19. #19
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    Re: Lens advice would be greatly appreciated by this rank amateur

    Further to what Manfred said in reply to Chontrell.

    Camera bodies come and go - the technology continually improves.

    Consequently, within a few years, many photographers are upgrading their camera bodies.

    Lenses (if of good quality) last for years. If one stays with one system (Canon, Nikon, etc.), then the "old" lenses will still be of good quality with the newer camera body.

    The commonly oft stated mantra on most photo forums is "invest in glass not bodies".

    A good investment is not wasteful.

    Glenn

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