$5K to spend on 5D MkII: Which lens?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by funcrunch, May 3, 2009.

  1. So I had to send my 40D in for repair and the long and short of it is, even if the fix is easy and affordable, I want to get a second body now. I'd been meaning to upgrade to the 5D MkII eventually anyway and to keep the 40D as a backup; just wasn't planning on doing it this soon. Fortunately Mom has offered $5K to bolster my fledgling photography career, so now I have to figure out what else I can afford to get with it. (The MkII is running $2700, and not surprisingly is not covered by Canon's current rebate program.)
    My current prime lenses that will work on a full-frame body are the Canon 50/1.4 (my favorite) and 85/1.8. On my 40D my walkaround lens is the Canon 17-55/2.8 EF-S and I also have a Sigma 30/1.4 and 50-150/2.8, none of which would work with the 5D. I have a Speedlite 580EX II flash as well, but have not yet needed to use it; my specialty is low-light photography without flash.
    I'm an event photographer and shoot mostly concerts, but hope to get into weddings eventually. I was looking at the 70-200/2.8L IS (~$1500 after rebate), but realized that I rarely use my 50-150 now; it's too long for the bar/club settings I normally shoot in. So I'm considering the 24-70/2.8L (~$1100 after rebate) as well. But unlike my 17-55, the 24-70 isn't image stabilized, and is even heavier than the EF-S equivalent. And the longer telephoto would be useful for outdoor concerts and large venues, once I manage to break into those.
    I can't afford both lenses right now, especially as I'll need lens hoods, UV filters, etc., not to mention more hard disk space as I'll be going from 10 to 21 mpx! I *could* use just my two primes with the 5D, as I did quite successfully for a gig Friday night (managed to rent a first-gen 5D that morning from a local shop), but I'd miss the flexibility of a zoom. Any suggestions? Thanks...
  2. Julie,
    Best zoom lens for event photography is 24-70L, you will not need the IS as 5DMKII is a good two stops better than 40D in noise department so you can easily shoot at 1600 or even 3200. Also I personally recommend 70-200 f/4 IS over the 2.8, it is sharper at all apertures, way lighter and the IS is three generations ahead with almost 4 stops of stabilization. 5DII+24-70+70-200 f/4 IS is about $4700 so you can still buy filters and a bunch of CF cards.
    Here is what 70-200 f/4 IS can do on a 5DII
  3. You have $5000-$2700 = $2300 to spend on glass. At the wide end, the 24-70/2.8L is a good choice but what you are really missing is a wide-angle prime. IS would be a great thing to have but if you're doing low-light event photography with no flash, you can't rely on your subjects to stay still long enough to make IS useful. Instead, you'll need to rely on high ISO and wide apertures.
    That said, I do hope you think a bit outside the box on this one and consider your long-term photographic needs, not just what you are doing now. I know people are fond of thinking of lens selection in terms of what will suit their shooting style and needs, but that's a bit of a catch-22, isn't it? If you don't have lenses with certain characteristics, how will you ever know whether the kinds of pictures you like to take would require or benefit from those characteristics? At some point you'll have to think outside the box, as I said. If you're not using your 85/1.8 on your 40D, then don't get that 135/2 for your 5DmkII. But that shouldn't stop you from considering something else in the long run. By all means, get what you need for now. Maybe you could save a bit, wait a while, and see whether the choice of a new body will inspire you to move in a different direction.
    Personally, I got my 5DmkII with the 24-105/4L IS, because it's a great all-around lens with a bit of everything. It pairs remarkably well with the body, feels natural to use, and I like the zoom range. It's not as sharp or fast as a prime, but for the kind of pictures I like to take, the IS works wonders. But I don't see how it would be any better suited for you than the 24-70, given what you've described.
  4. Salutations Julie,
    I want to begin by suggesting in saving your money and don't buy uv protective filters. Check this threat I started as to the reason why I have learned to leave the filter off(specially for low light concert shooting with light going in front of the lens) and just shoot with a lens hood http://www.photo.net/canon-eos-digital-camera-forum/00Sm1z . I do the same as you concerts, wedding in the near future. I am also waiting the arrival of my 5dmkii and I already own L primes so I suggest on getting L primes and keep your 17-55, I have that one also with 40d. I usually find myself using the 50mm f1.2L and the 85mm f1.2L. And sometimes the 24mm f1.4L, although I suspect it will be seeing more action once I pair it with the 5d. Check out my work as youtube slideshow using those lenses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjWAU000Doo check my profile for more slide shows.

    Since you already have primes, I suggest selling those and upgrade to the L equivalents that will help you improve your professional image presentation once you are doing weddings. Something about that red circle that makes photogs look real pro. But if you want to keep those I vote for 24-105mm f4. And yes, I dont think you be using the 70-200(no matter what version, I have the 2.8 L non is and only use it for graduation events and hopefully I will use it alot in my upcoming 1st wedding). As far as the 24-105 goes, I dont see myself using it for concerts low light, just for walk around all purpose. But since I already have the 17-55 I did not order my 5dmkii with it, just the body.

    Salutations, The White Rabbit
  5. For the most part, the only people who care about white lenses or red rings are other photographers. Your client is going to judge your final work product. If you've got a client that looks down on you because you're shooting with the 50/1.4 instead of the 24-105/4L IS, that's someone who thinks they know more than they actually do. Seriously, when's the last time some B&G told you with a sneer that they wouldn't hire you because you didn't use the 50/1.2L? Are they really going to demand to see your lens inventory and decide that you just don't have the absolute best in optical quality?
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: The "L" designation is not some kind of magic wand that instantly makes bad shots into good ones. The laws of physics do not care whether you slap an L or a red ring on your lens barrel. Only when you get to the stage where the optical differences and build quality between L and non-L are critical to your work product, and you are willing to carry the extra weight of L lenses, should you even begin to consider upgrading a non-L prime to the L equivalent. The difference for most shooting situations is minor and not the best value for your money. Differences between L and non-L zooms, however, are another conversation entirely.
  6. In spite of the excellent high ISO results you get with the 5D, 5D Mark II and other newer cameras (regardless of brand), low or at least the lowest ISO is still preferred over high ISO. Dynamic and color ranges decline at and above ISO 1600. The 24-70mm is a perfect for events when used with flash and perhaps some with better lighting. But if you are shooting with low natural light, an f1.4 or f1.8 lens is still your best and preferred choice - you may not need a wide angle if your Sigma 30mm is working for you. There is always a trade-off!
    External hard drives are dirt cheap - around $80 for 500GB.
    Used gear including a used 5D rather than the Mark II will allow you to get everything you need. IQ (and high ISO performance up to about ISO 1600) between the orignal 5D and the 5D Mark II is pretty much identical.
  7. For indoor bar photography, I'd seriously consider the 16-35mm f2.8, or the 24mm or 35mm f1.4 primes.

    Both will make maximum use of your new FF body, and will allow you to do things you couldn't do before.

    Also, the 135mm F2 will be pretty similar to your 85mm on the 40D, so if you used that one a lot, it might warrant a look, as it's a lovely piece of glass.

    Finally, I'd seriously have another look at your flash. High-iso's, fast optics and a good flash like the 580 mkII can make some interesting pictures. Have a look at this guy's work for examples.

    I used to prefer `available light' too, but now that I have a flash `available', I'm learning a lot of new stuff :)
  8. If you want just one lens then I'd strongly recommend you consider the:
    Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM
    It is a wonderful solution when you just want to carry / deal with one lens. I don't see to many people talk about it. I think most folks who can buy this lens opt for two faster lenses. (e.g. 24 - 70, 70-200) - for example. But the reach on this lens makes it really flexible. It takes great pictures too. The pull - push part for zooming is a bit awkward but you get used to it.
    The camera + lens won't be lightweight but that never really bothered me too much (just part of the program).
    I also think the IS is great to have. The lower the ISO the better even with post processing.
  9. For events and weddings the 24-70L and 70-200 f/2.8L IS are a must. After that, you are set for 99% of what you need.
  10. There are multiple answers to this question.
    The 24-105 is a very versatile lens with good IQ that can work in relatively low light with high ISO and IS. You can shoot in lower light with this lens on the 5DII than you could with your old system, and you'll have a larger FL range to boot. It is not a small lens, but it isn't as bulky as the 24-70.
    The 24-70 is also a fine option. It does get you one more stop of aperture which can provide a bit of a boost with moving subjects. As mentioned above this is not a small lens!
    Don't you wish Canon made a direct FF equivalent of the EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS? I do!
    Of course, if you are comfortable shooting primes in the "normal" to short tele range, the 70-200mm f/2.8 could also be a great option. The only downsides to that would seem to be having no zoom coverage in the core range and having no real wide angle coverage.
    One other option would be to get the 5DII with the 70-200 to start, and also bringing along the cropped sensor body with the EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS attached. There is a lot to be said for that approach.
  11. Thanks for all the comments thus far.
    Peter: I haven't used my 85 much on my 40D (though I used it quite a bit with the rental 5D) so I doubt I'd want to look seriously at the 135 at this time. But I agree with your comments on the usefulness (or not) of IS, thinking outside the box, and L vs non-L lenses.
    Elliott: I really want the MkII, not just for the video and other bells and whistles but for features I'm used to from my 40D such as better button placement, sensor cleaning, and LiveView (useful in cramped situations when I need to hold the camera above my head to shoot the stage). And where are you getting an external 500GB HD for $80? (I have one open drive bay left in my Mac Pro so I'll probably stick another TB in there...)
    B.J: Thanks to you now I'm considering the 16-35 as well. Though I personally dislike the look of many very wide-angle photos, that lens might afford the opportunity to get full-stage shots that I could not otherwise. Coupled with my 50 and 85 primes, that could set me for most concerts and I could always rent a 70-200 if I needed it. Then I'd have to live with using my 50 instead of a zoom as a walkaround lens though.
    I'm not really looking at any lenses that aren't constant 2.8 or wider aperture. I can barely manage 2.8 with ISO 1600 in some of the dark venues I shoot in as it is. Though the 5D should be better than the 40D in that regard (at least I noticed less grain in my shots).
  12. Julie -

    I just bought a 1.5TB external disk at our local Fry's. It is a very sleek and fast Seagate SATA that hums along with barely a sound. I would imagine an internal version for your Pro would be far less.

    I don't think you'll need to save much for a drive for the 25MB files and at least you have a Pro so you won't sit there for 10 seconds like me when LR tries to load one on an old iMac (pre Intel)...
  13. Since available light is your thing I would opt for an 85L "King of available light" lens with my second choice being the 135L/70-200 f/2.8L IS. FYI- you mention having to buy hoods well, all the L's lenses come with hoods so money saved there. If you want the best of both worlds go for a second hand 85L ver. I (approx. $1200-$1300 MINT) and you can still get the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS and still be within budget.
  14. "I'm an event photographer and shoot mostly concerts."
    Consider the 24-105, with it you can get sharp hand-held shots down to 1/4 and slower... with good technique. Combine that w/ the Mark II's low-noise high ISO and you've got a low light set-up.
    Be aware there is significant distortion with the widest angle settings on the 24-105. It's often a problem when you have an ocean/sky horizon in the image.
    You'l love the background blur if you opt for the 85MM 1.2. It's a heavy, battery draining lens but the portraits made with it can't be beat.
  15. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I went through each of the responders here looking for some evidence that they shoot bands in bars, which it sounds like you want to do.
    As someone who actually does this (see my article here on photo.net ), I can tell you that you should be shooting with primes unless you are always going to be shooting with flash. And given the size of most bars and the access to the stage, you should be shooting with fairly short primes. I usually carry 35/50/85 with me but never use the 85. There's no reason to be shooting a band in a bar from so far away that you need the 85.
    The problem is that for "events" and weddings, with events meaning non-bar shooting, you probably want the 24-70 and 70-200. I use a 24-70 for shooting events that are not concerts.
  16. Hey Jeff, I remember reading your article. Thanks for the advice, though I actually found I used my 85 in quite a few shots at my last gig with the rental 5D. With the 40D the 30 and 50 were my most-used lenses for concert shoots, but I definitely preferred the 50 (better bokeh than the Sigma). Maybe it's just a difference in style; I tend to prefer more close-in shots that capture the performer's facial expression.
  17. When I bought my 5D in July, 2006, I bought the 24-70 f/2.8L and the 70-200 f/2.8L IS. I still have both, and the long IS zoom has been by far the most commonly used. Between the two of them, I have rarely found a shot that I couldn't handle. Later I added some wide angle lenses, as well as a Sigma 300 f/2.8 (not optically stabilized). I have slowly increased the collection, but I cannot say that I often need more than I got way back there in July, 2006. Those were my first two EOS lenses, and they are still awesome lenses, especially considering that they are zooms.
    One lens that I added later has been used a lot: the 24mm f/1.4. I never thought that it would be that useful, but it is.
    Sometimes I wish that I had stopped with those original two lenses--and that camera, although the Mark II version would be nice.
  18. The 5DII is amazing in low light - I went from film to the 5DII mainly for this reason. I no longer shoot for a profit (indeed it was the FD days when I did so!) but the 5D II is very impressive up to 1600 ISO and quite usable up to 3200 ISO. In terms of primes the two you have are great and you should think carefully on your style of shots before automatically choosing a zoom. I shoot with the 16-35 F2.8 II, the 24-70 F2.8 and the 70-200 F2.8 (non-IS). In addition I use the 35 F2, 85 F1.8 and 300 f2.8. You may want to consider adding a 35 F2 with the idea of later adding a wider prime (20, 24 or 28). I have owned the 24-105 F4 and 17-40 F4. In both cases the F2.8 lenses are better - especially with a full frame sensor. For a standard or wide lens I would suggest that you go with the faster zoom if you can. My logic is that with a high ISO and wide aperture on a standard to wide zoom you are already probably reaching a point where subject movement may be more of an issue than camera movement.
    Think about the following calculation:
    Most artificially and dimly lit interiors range from EV 4 to EV6 at ISO 100. Thus at ISO 1600 and F2.8 you have shutter speeds between 1/60 and 1/250th of a second. If we move to an F4 lens these become 1/30 to 1/120. While IS will probably let you go to 1/15 or 1/8 it is likely to result in blurring due to subject movement. With longer lenses the case for IS becomes stronger but I still consider it to be a nice to have rather than a must have and would always pay the weight and price penalty for a faster lens than settle for IS. The faster lens can stop movement and give shallow depth of field effects. For the 70-200 F2.8 I considered the IS version and rejected it for two reasons - of the two I tested, the non-IS version was sharper and approx $500 cheaper. In my use the main times when I am struggling for shutter speed the IS version would not help as these occasions are indoor ice-hockey and ski racing. In both of these cases you need shutter speeds above 1/200 to freeze motion.
    My suggestion would be to think about your style of shooting, look at some typical images and their think about the shutter speed and aperture combinations you would need if you were shooting at ISO 1600 and the lens angle (35mm equivalent) that you were using. This analysis of your own shots will allow you to decide what lenses suits you best. If you are looking for a quality upgrade to your existing equipment then the 24-70 F2.8 is possibly the best way to go. By the way the lenses you are considering all come with hoods but the filters are quite expensive - for the 77mm lenses budget perhaps $60 each and the 16-35mm f2.8 mark II is about $115 as you need a slim filter. It sounds like the 70-200 is less of a need and more of a want - if this is the case look at the 70-200 F4 (non-IS) as it is a very good lens and much smaller and cheaper than any of the other three 70-200s Canon offers.
    My other advice is to buy one lens and work with it for a while before buying another
  19. 24-70 2.8L and 70-200 2.8L IS
  20. For event and wedding photography, 35mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.2 must be your top two lenses.
  21. If you don't think you truly need the 70-200, but want it, as Philip Wilson says. I would also consider the 80-200 2.8 L. You can pick one up used for about $600. I have no experience with it, but I have heard it is an excellent lens.
  22. Julie, lens hoods came with all of the L lenses I purchased (Most of my lenses are F4 since I do Landscape and use a tripod frequently). I don't have the 24-70F2.8 or the 70-200F2.8 IS but I believe they do come with lens hoods. For your type of photography I would agree that fast lenses F2.8 or faster would be prefered over slower lenses. It is also true that some non L lenses can be just as good as L lenses in terms of optical performance but I prefer the L lenses due to there better build quality.
    One suggestion I have would be to sell your 50-150 Sigma and maybe the 30mm Sigma. Hopefully the sale will give you enough to get the 24-70F2.8 and 70-200F2.8 IS. If you don't want to loose the 30mm you could replace it with a 35mm F2 (about $240) or F1.4L (about $1180) Canon. This would leave you with only 1 lens that would only work with your 40D (the 17-55).
  23. Julie, the lenses are the most important purchase, as the 5d won't really do anything that the 40d can't, it may just do it more effeiciently. buy your lenses and then see how much you have left to buy a body. i also am curious as to why you are looking at zoom lenses over prime lenses. if there is an advantage with the 5d in regards to high iso, then this would be more than negated by getting some fast glass, with the extra benefit of better iq.
  24. Thanks very much to everyone again for the advice. I've decided to go with the 24-70L for now. Just placed my order through Adorama (normally use B&H but they can't keep the 5D MkII in stock - both suppliers have the battery backordered so I'll have to get my spare later).
  25. Good choice - you will be amazed by the high ISO performance of the 5DII - I know I was!
  26. I went through each of the responders here looking for some evidence that they shoot bands in bars, which it sounds like you want to do.
    I do not shoot bands in bars. I do shoot other subjects other situations that are similar in photographic terms: concerts, theater productions, street photography in low light and sometimes indoors.
    Your advice to use primes is well worth considering. I sometimes use primes in the situations I have described above, especially if I either have the luxury of very free movement within the shooting environment and/or can predict the distance to the subject and/or feel that I'll have time to switch. Using primes can also be a stylistic choice
    I disagree with the idea that only primes can work. In almost all of my photography I like to have both available. And it is, indeed, possible to shoot subjects in low light using zooms, especially with newer cameras featuring quite decent high ISO performance (like the OP's prospective 5DII, with which she could easily use at ISO 1600 for this type of shooting), and work with IS lenses (which can extend low light performance a few stops in many cases - especially if subject motion is not a concern or if you want subject motion blur as part of your images.) With the occasional use of a monopod on cameras set up this way, shooting with a zoom is quite possible and may provide some real advantages.
    Again, I do not disagree with the idea that shooting with primes in these situations can be very effective. I do disagree with the absolutism of thinking that zooms cannot be effective as well.
    Take care,
  27. Dan - I agree with you, I like to have both fast primes and zooms available. Even though I use primarily my primes for concert shoots, I did not want to be without a zoom at all on my new 5D. Hence I ordered the 24-70 as it seemed like it would cover a good range of situations. If I need the 70-200 or another lens before I can afford to add it to my kit, I'll pay a visit to my local rental shop...
  28. I haven't read this entire thread so I maybe repeating advice. But based on your post I would see if you can purchase the 5D MkII with a lens such as the 24-70 f/2.8 or as a second choice the 24-105 f/4 to help reduce the purchase price of the individual items. If you are shooting in low light the f/2.8 24-70 is a no brainer.
    Check online prices through, Amazon.com's everyday prices usually beat the rebated prices through Canon dealers. In short don't be mislead by the rebate offer - shop around.
    I would also sell the Sigma glass or at least the 30mm. Since you are drifting to FF why hang on to it if you have the 17-55 f/2.8. I own the 17 to 55 and it is IMO incredibly sharp, at least the one I own is.
    I also own the 70-200 f/2.8L IS zoom and it is an awesome lens but it is heavy and if you can get more milage out of your Sigma zoom for a couple of years hold off on 70-200 until you can afford to upgrade.
    As for UV filters you don't need them for digital sensors but I still purchase a top grade UV filter for front element protection. Bite the bullet and purchase a good one that has high optical transmission of visible light. You never know someday you may need to shoot with an EOS film body.
    My 2 cents,
    Don Bryant
  29. Donald, why would you say that a medium speed lens is a 'no brainer' for low light photography?
  30. The 24-70 and 70-200LIS will cost $2700 after rebate (from Adorama). This puts you a couple hundred over your budget but is money well spent. The Canon f4 lenses are great lenses but wouldn't really suit your stated applications. The IS will compensate for shaky hands but won't correct for slow shutter speed blur. Be smart and spend wisely once. Buying something you may regret and then trading in is costly.
  31. BEcause of the quality of the lens, available zoom range vs 30mm for event photography, and the quality of higher ISOs with the new 5DmkII.
    The old school thinking of 3 FF film bodies with a 24, 50, and 105 no longer apply IMO, though I've done that in the past. IOW, primes are fine if you can afford them along with the bulk and weight but not necessarily the best shooting strategy.
    I'm basing my thinking on the OP info not making absolute comparisons for lens quality.
    Don Bryant
  32. Don makes a lot of sense - I have the full F2.8 zoom series and they get most of the use on my EOS 5D II. On film bodies (I have quite a few) or for specific shots (e.g. portraits, sport etc...) then I will probably go with a prime. This is the complete opposite situation when compared to the FD set up I use - while I have almost every top quality lens and body I find that I use primes most of the time and the 35 - 105 F3.5 and 80 - 200 F4L zooms much less often. I think it is a combination of factors - the ISo advantage of the digital body, the reduced quality gap between zooms and primes with modern lenses and the weight of modern DSLRs. Even the 5DII and 24-70 zoom weighs almost 2kg (inc batteries and UV filter etc...) - this is the weight of my Mamiya 645 with prism, winder and lens. It is probably partly for this reason that I tend to keep one zoom on the body and take one of the other two - leaving the primes at home (you never carry the 300 F2.8 on spec!)

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