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Thread: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

  1. #1
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    New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    Hi all,

    I just recently took the plunge into the DSLR world and purchased a Canon 60D. I also received the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens and the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens as a bundled deal.

    I'm planning on selling one of the lenses since it is redundant having two lenses in similar ranges (can anyone recommend which lens i should keep?) but needed advice on some other starter lenses to complete my arsenal. Based off of some initial reading - I think I need a 50mm prime lens and also something in the 15-55mm range. Is this accurate? Do you guys recommend anything else or a specific lens?

    I'll be using the camera for fun and as a hobby (not professionally) - mainly for family pics, landscapes, etc.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    Hi "Mystery Person!",

    Personally, I'd suggest sticking with good-quality zooms initially rather than limiting yourself to any 1 fixed focal length. Often the only significant advantage is the fact that you can use them at wider apertures (eg F1.8 -v- perhaps F4 for a typical zoom), but at wide apertures your depth of field drops off and unless you're doing "creative" type shots it's usually more of a PITA than anything good. Additionally, the high ISO modes on most modern cameras more than compensate for "modest" maximum apertures".

    The big question though is "how much are you willing to spend"? Something like an EF-S 18-200 IS is a good all rounder, but lenses vary wildly in price, so in many cases there's no "right or wrong" answers.

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    I would keep the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS lens. I have neither of these lenses (I cover those focal lengths with a pair of "L" lenses). However, the 70-300mm is a more expensive lens (they list at $650 vs $300 U.S. Dollars on Canon USA site) and should therefore be a better lens. You usually get what you pay for in photo equipment.

    The other side of the coin is that you might get more for a used 70-300mm than a used 55-250mm lens. It depends on your needs... best lens or least expensive combination.

    However, I would definitely test both lenses to ensure that they are functioning properly.

    You are missing a mid-range zoom. The 17-50mm f/2.8 Tamron (VC or non VC) would be a nice combination with the 70-300mm lens. I would not worry about the gap between 50mm and 70mm and keep the 55-250mm because of that gap. I shoot with a 17-55mm f/2.8 IS and a 70-200mm f/4L IS lens and my 55-70mm gap doesn't bother me at all and I highly suspect that the 50-70mm gap would not be terribly more bothersome.

    My philosophy is that a photographer should have the best mid-range zoom with a constant f/2.8 aperture that the photographer can afford. I shoot probably 2/3 of my shots with my mid-range zoom, many of then at wide open or just stopped down a bit so I want the best lens for the most shots. You cannot get hand-held shots like this one of Hong Kong Harbor with a variable aperture mid-range kit lens. I shot it using my 17-55mm at 55mm focal length with an exposure of 1/25 second @ f/2.8 with IS on...

    New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    The 17-55mm focal range is an all around mid-range that is good for many uses like these exterior and interior shots of Rosalie Mansion in Natchez, Mississippi, USA.

    New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    New to photography - recommend some good lenses
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 29th November 2010 at 12:24 AM.

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    Colin and Richard, thank you both for your quick responses and expertise!

    Colin, my budget is rather paltry compared to what you can spend on good glass - I'd prefer to start really really basic and with a starter kit just so I can familiarize myself with the camera and lens - so no more than $500 (american) is probably a good estimate of my budget. of course, i'm new to the DSLR world so my expectations have been set pretty low with typical P&S and any quality lens will hopefully be a step up in the right direction.

    Richard, your pics look great! If I can come close to that quality then I'll be happy .. I will probably look to keeping the 70-300 and continue to build my arsenal. Since this is a hobby and I'm just starting out in it, I probably can't justify investing too much in quality lenses for now but hopefully will be more open to it in the future once I refine my skill and know what I need.

    Thanks again for y'alls feedback!

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    BTW, on another note - the tutorials on this site are AMAZING. they are full of helpful details and are very concise.

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    Since you're shooting with an APS-C camera you're going to want something quite wide so that you have pretty much your full range covered. It's nothing but a pain not having anything wider than 28 on an APS-C since it equals out to be 45 which isn't near wide enough for most landscapes and especially indoor shooting. If you don't mind going with used equipment (I've purchased almost all of my equipment used and haven't had a bad experience yet. One must still be careful though.) then I would suggest looking on ebay for Canon's 20-35 f/3.5-4.5 which usually goes for under $250.00 US. Or if you want to spend a little more I've had friends that have picked up used 17-40 f/4L's for just over $500.00 US.

    As far as the lenses you've already got, I'd say the same as the others. Keep the 70-300mm and sell the EF-S lens. I've not been overly impressed with the quality of some of the ef-s's. (forgive me for making up my own grammar on the fly )

    edit: just as some side info.... the 20-35 would essentially equal out to 32-56.
    Last edited by jeffmoll; 29th November 2010 at 04:47 PM.

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    It does seem strange that a bundle deal contains 2 lenses which cover almost the same length. It makes me wonder if one lens was switched to offer another person a specific deal.

    But, yes, I would agree with keeping the 70-300 which is a more sturdy construction.

    So you now probably need something below 70 mm. But the choice will probably depend on exactly what you want to photograph in that lens range; as well as your budget.

    When I first managed to afford some 'middle priced' lenses I purchased a Canon 28-135 IS to compliment my 70-300 and I would certainly recommend that lens. However, it all depends on what you are going to photograph. 28 mm is fine for me; in fact I rarely go as low as 28 mm, but some people find that they mostly use something smaller.

    So if you expect to be doing a lot of indoor shooting, especially in smallish rooms, then something around 15-18 mm at the small end may be needed. If you are mostly working outside with space to move around, then 28 mm would probably work fine.

    Whether you need a stabilised smaller lens will also depend on your subject matter, but unless you mostly use a tripod or shoot at fairly fast shutter speeds (say 1/200 or higher) I think it is worth paying the extra in the long run.

    And of course, when working on a tight budget, one of the better quality third party lenses are always worth considering.

    Recently, and after a lifetime's hard work, I have upgraded to the Canon 24-105 IS and 70-200 IS, but that will be a little outside your budget.

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    Well, I'm going to break ranks here and suggest that you get the 50mm 1.4 with the money you have to spend. It really depends on what you're going to be shooting, but the 50 is almost never off my camera (and I have several zooms), and for the price, it's an excellent lens. You can get the even less expensive 1.8, but the build on that one is not as good (what do you expect for $100). I highly recommend it.

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffmoll View Post
    Since you're shooting with an APS-C camera you're going to want something quite wide so that you have pretty much your full range covered. It's nothing but a pain not having anything wider than 28 on an APS-C since it equals out to be 45 which isn't near wide enough for most landscapes and especially indoor shooting. If you don't mind going with used equipment (I've purchased almost all of my equipment used and haven't had a bad experience yet. One must still be careful though.) then I would suggest looking on ebay for Canon's 20-35 f/3.5-4.5 which usually goes for under $250.00 US. Or if you want to spend a little more I've had friends that have picked up used 17-40 f/4L's for just over $500.00 US.

    As far as the lenses you've already got, I'd say the same as the others. Keep the 70-300mm and sell the EF-S lens. I've not been overly impressed with the quality of some of the ef-s's. (forgive me for making up my own grammar on the fly )

    edit: just as some side info.... the 20-35 would essentially equal out to 32-56.
    ah yes, the ever important crop factor that I keep reading about as I continue my education of DSLRs ... thanks for reminding me of this important feature! I've already started browsing ebay and Craigslist looking for some used lenses deals. I think you make a good point of finding a lens to accommodate the 18-55 mm focal point due to the cropping on APS-C cameras like my 60D. I bought this camera to take pics of family, parties, etc. so my setting/environment will be equally indoor and outdoor and I'll definitely need something to accommodate this range

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    It does seem strange that a bundle deal contains 2 lenses which cover almost the same length. It makes me wonder if one lens was switched to offer another person a specific deal.

    But, yes, I would agree with keeping the 70-300 which is a more sturdy construction.

    So you now probably need something below 70 mm. But the choice will probably depend on exactly what you want to photograph in that lens range; as well as your budget.

    When I first managed to afford some 'middle priced' lenses I purchased a Canon 28-135 IS to compliment my 70-300 and I would certainly recommend that lens. However, it all depends on what you are going to photograph. 28 mm is fine for me; in fact I rarely go as low as 28 mm, but some people find that they mostly use something smaller.

    So if you expect to be doing a lot of indoor shooting, especially in smallish rooms, then something around 15-18 mm at the small end may be needed. If you are mostly working outside with space to move around, then 28 mm would probably work fine.

    Whether you need a stabilised smaller lens will also depend on your subject matter, but unless you mostly use a tripod or shoot at fairly fast shutter speeds (say 1/200 or higher) I think it is worth paying the extra in the long run.

    And of course, when working on a tight budget, one of the better quality third party lenses are always worth considering.

    Recently, and after a lifetime's hard work, I have upgraded to the Canon 24-105 IS and 70-200 IS, but that will be a little outside your budget.
    yeah it was a special deal on Amazon in lieu of after-Thanksgiving holiday shopping. You had to order both lenses to get about $400 in savings.

    Regarding keeping the 70-300mm vs. the 55-250mm, will a beginner like me even know the difference? It seems that the 70-300mm is double the price of the 55-250mm and whereas I'm aware of the obvious advantages of better optical quality, sturdy construction, etc. I'm just wondering if a beginner like me would even know the difference. And by the time that I do refine my skill and become more acquainted with my equipment I think I would opt for and can justify more mid-high end lens that are better quality. Moreover, I'm no wildlife field photographer or on the front lines shooting pics of some war - so would sturdy construction apply to me? I read so many reviews of people always citing plastic build, or other flimsy construction and makes me wonder if these lens are just going to fall apart or are people using their camera's in more rugged ways. Anyway, I know I'm asking very subjective questions - and I'm sure once I've been able to really play and learn with my DSLR and its lens then I'll be able to see what everyone is talking about

    I'm going to look into the 28-135 and see what prices I can come up with.

    thanks for the info!
    Last edited by pb82; 30th November 2010 at 12:59 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by mythlady View Post
    Well, I'm going to break ranks here and suggest that you get the 50mm 1.4 with the money you have to spend. It really depends on what you're going to be shooting, but the 50 is almost never off my camera (and I have several zooms), and for the price, it's an excellent lens. You can get the even less expensive 1.8, but the build on that one is not as good (what do you expect for $100). I highly recommend it.
    hah, thanks for providing candid feedback and bucking the trend. I think it would be prudent to add a prime to my small collection as I've read really great reviews regarding its quality vs. price. You mentioned that it really depends on what I'm shooting, what do you shoot w/ your 50mm? Would I be able to take portrait shots, landscape shots, everyday street shooting with the 50mm? I guess I still don't have a very solid understanding of the different focal points and how they translate to the type of shooting you would do in the real-world.

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    You will find some useful lens reviews here http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/overview

    I suspect you will notice the difference between the 55-250 and the 70-300 when you drop the lens (it will happen) and the benefits of a stronger construction will be obvious.

    All of the 'cheaper' lenses will become a bit 'sloppy' after a while but the cheapest ones will wear out that little bit faster. Unless you discover a need for some specific uses, or come into an unexpected load of money, I suspect that you will be using the 70-300 for quite a few years.

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    I don't know if this is true, but I've heard that the 50mm is closest to what we actually see with our eyes, so it has a "natural" feel to it. The 50 is terrific for two of the uses you mention -- portraits and street photography, first because the depth of field is beautiful on it and you can get those nice blurry backgrounds in a portrait, and second, that it's smaller and non-zoom and therefore less obtrusive for street photography, and less of a pain to fiddle with to get a quick shot. Also, because it's a f/1.4, you can use it in pretty low light situations. I'm sure there are better lenses for landscapes, and in fact I have the 10-22mm that my son gave me, but I'm embarrassed to say that I've never actually used it, because when we go on vacations and so on, I only take the 50mm. With the 50mm, you have to zoom yourself instead of the lens, and we probably all need the exercise anyway. :P

    When I started out, I admired greatly the bird photographs of two women I met in a local group, and each of them had the 100-400mm L-series telephoto lens. I told them that I was thinking of getting an "intermediate" (i.e., less expensive) lens and getting the 100-400mm "someday," and they both immediately said "don't do it," that I would be frustrated with the lesser lens and disappointed with the cheaper one. They said I should save up my money and get the good one, and that's exactly what I did, and I haven't regretted it at all. And it's taken me three years to figure out that what I really need is the 400mm prime, because I'm always pushing the 100-400mm to the limit. And then in another while (probably shorter) I'll figure out that what I really, really need is the 600mm.

    And so it goes. I wish you luck with your decision.

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    Re: New to photography - recommend some good lenses

    IMO it is easier on the wallet to keep the best lens that you already have (70-300mm) than it would be to sell that lens and repurchase a better lens later on.
    I like the 28-135mm lens but, might recommend that you consider that lens used. Canon was bundling some of their prosumer cameras with this lens at a very low price and many persons purchased the bundle with the aim of reselling the 28-135mm on the used market and recouping a portion of the price they paid for the bundle. A result is that ,many of the 28-135mm lenses on the used market have had little, if any use. A disadvantage of the 28-135mm focal length is that it could be considered not quite wide enough for a 1.6x camera.
    On the other hand, you can very likely get an 18-55mm IS "kit" lens used for well under $100. These lenses were also bundled with some Canon cameras and photographers purchased the bundle with the intention of reselling that lens.
    The advantage of the 18-55mm "kit" lens would be that you would get a zoom with a fairly wide side for probably a lot less than $100 in the USA. This lens provides good image quality, fair auto-focus and would allow you to decide what focal lengths you would like to have in a lens. Many people are very happy with the quality of the kit lens (make sure it is the IS version). If you are not quite happy with this lens, you can resell it and purchase an upgrade without losing a lot of money.

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