Advice on what to buy next....

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by kathlyn_gadd, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. I have a Canon 550D with the twin kit lenses. I would like to gradually upgrade and I have been looking at the Canon 70-200 4.0 L USM (with and without image stabilisation). Is the best way to go to get decent lenses and then upgrade the body? Will I notice the difference on a 550D body? What would be a good choice of lens combination? The IS lens seems the better choice but is heavier - so not so easy to carry around on travels. I don't have any particular interests - mainly travel / candid photos.
  2. If you have the 18-55mm and 55-250mm IS lenses, what is wrong with them that you feel the need to buy something new? What problem with your photography are you trying to solve?
  3. About the two specified lenses. I used to own both at the same time. The weight difference is almost negligible. So, don't worry about the weight. I would get the IS version for better IQ and, of course, the IS which you would more than likely need.
  4. Is the best way to go to get decent lenses and then upgrade the body?​
    Yes, in my opinion that's the best way, Kathlyn. The 550D has a great sensor, and better lenses will get more out of it.
    I'd definitely go for the 70-200/4 L IS. I use the lens a lot on my full frame and APS-C bodies, and wouldn't want to be without IS on it (or on any longer lens, for that matter). I find that I can carry it around all day with no problem (which couldn't be said for any of the 70-200/2.8's, which are twice as heavy as the f/4).
    Another lens that I'm really enjoying using on my 7D is the EF-S 15-85/3.5-5.6 IS. I bought both of these zooms used but in pristine condition, and saved a bundle of money.
    Although I have more primes than zooms, that latter can't be beat for versatility. And the 70-200/4 L IS is as sharp as virtually any of the primes in its range, anyway.
    Good luck, and let us know what you decide to do.
  5. On the minus side the 70-200/4 is less wide at the short end and less tele at the long end than your 55-250.

    On the plus side it's the lens I have (f4 IS) that always gives me good looking pictures. I also have a wide L zoom, a
    100mm L macro and several non-L primes and non have the succes rate of this lens. All in my experience using my style
    of course. (Have a look at my portfolio to give you an idea.)

    It's bigger than what you're used to but very managable.
    The best thing of course is to try it out by borrowing or renting.
  6. Many thanks for the replies. The kit lenses that came with the camera are 18-55mm DC lens and the 70-300mm DC lens.
  7. Before spending any money ask what it is that you wish to achieve with the new equipment. Just saying that you want to upgrade could lead to disappointment. There are many upgrades, a 70-200L F4 will give sharper images, a 70-300L will extend the telephoto end, a separate flash will improve portraits and so on. Decide what you want from your equipment and then plan a pathway to achieve it.
  8. The EF 70-200mm f/4L IS will blow away any of your current lenses and the 55-250mm. When you see the results of a high quality lens like the 70-200mm you'll be disappointed in your other lenses and start the upgrade process. You're right, lenses, then bodies, unless you have a specific need that your body can't accomplish.
    I really suggest that you get IS, at least on your longer lenses. Shooting a dark street scene or a deer in a dark wood are just a couple of situations where the IS will pay off. When you put a 1.4x TC on your 70-200mm, you're out at 280mm, which is a focal length where the IS will pay off, even on simply overcast days.
  9. If I may input my $0.02 worth on this topic - I would reiterate the question "what is it (outcome or goal) that you wish to achieve with the new equipment. There are many paths to take in terms of your upgrades, a 70-200L F4 will give sharper images, a 70-300L will extend the telephoto end, a separate flash will improve portraits, a full frame sensor Body may improve your overall IQ and so on. Decide what you want from the equipment and then plan a pathway to achieve it - (but don't forget to see if it is the equipment or your vision that is holding you back - the old saw about making great images with a Brownie Hawkeye comes to mind)
    For example - my AoE (area of Enjoyment) is Macro [Butterflies, Flowers, Bees and Hummingbirds] so my lens choices include the EF-S 60, Tamron 90mm and 180mm Macro lenses, the EF 135 Soft focus, etc. I have and use other lenses, but the aforementioned list are my 'go to set' when out in the Gardens.
    I would also suggest that you get IS lenses whenever you can afford them - at least on the longer lens sets.
    Good luck!
  10. [[The EF 70-200mm f/4L IS will blow away any of your current lenses and the 55-250mm.]]
    This statement is only valid if the images are meeting the maximum possible image quality seen from the current lenses. Buying a Ferrari will not make you a better driver if you're a terrible driver in a Corolla. Buying a L lens will not make your photographs better if your errors in image making are large.
  11. Duh.
    I submit that even a noob, shooting on the green "Automatic" setting will see an improvement in sharpness and contrast, going to a 70-200L, vs. Kathlyn's current lenses. The fact that she's here asking, tells me that she must be somewhat pleased with her results so far. If so, then she likely saw improvements over her smartphone and is ready to take another stop forward.
  12. Oversimplification of problems lead to oversimplified, and often incorrect, conclusions.
    [[If so, then she likely saw improvements over her smartphone and is ready to take another stop forward.]]
    Or, there is a problem, being a new photographer, with technique or understanding that would simply be duplicated with newer, more expensive equipment.
    I an not a very good cook. I can get by. If I had the most expensive cookware in the world, I would be making the same quality of food as with the basic cookware I have. But that is functionally different than having almost no cookware at all. This is true of your cellphone citation. There is a functional difference between a cellphone and a DSLR that reflects a fundamental change in image capture. There is not a fundamental change between zoom lenses, but a far more subtle one. For some photographers, this change can result in better output in certain situations (when print sizes would reflect such differences). For others, the error bars are a greater than the differences between the two and better choices in either equipment or education could do far more to produce better images.
    Based on my experiences with other new photographers, I do not agree with your overly broad premise that simply buying a more expensive lens will solve the problem, especially when the problem is not actually defined by the OP.
  13. Rob, if you'd look at Kathlyn's profile, maybe you wouldn't be so pessimistic about her photographic skills.
    She asked about upgrading to a specific lens. I think she'll appreciate the quality difference from what she has now. I made my recommendation and you've made your out of context point, so now she can decide.
  14. Kaitlyn, I really have to agree with everything Rob has said -- and asked. I think his opening question is a very import one. Depending on what you're trying to achieve, you might need a different lens or a different body, OR you might just be fine with what you have.
    FAIW, the 18-55 IS is a sharp little lens. Its build is pretty cheap, but it can turn out some pretty nice images. I have less knowledge about the 55-250, but I've heard good things.
    Expanding on Rob's point about Ferraris and inexperienced drivers, we frequently see threads on this forum in which an inexperienced photog buys the most exotic gear that money can buy, shoots a few pictures of a plastic milk jug, and complains that they're not sharp. Almost always, the fault is with the photographer. An experienced photographer can almost always get far more out of your camera and lenses than a neophyte can get out of a state-of-the-art, flagship rig.
    As a general rule of thumb, if you can't yet verbalize specifically how your needs will be better satisfied with a new acquisition*, the best thing you can do is to hang on to your money until you can. But nobody likes that answer.
    *excluding camera collecting, of course, which is a recognized pathology in the DSM-IV TR.
  15. Sarah, have you looked at Kathlyn's profile?
  16. David, I would offer the same advice to anyone, irrespective of experience. If you can't identify a specific need to be filled by a new purchase, hang on to your money. I see nothing particularly deficient in her outfit for general photographic needs. However, she may have specific needs that we do not know or understand. I don't accept that her lenses aren't any good. A few photos in my portfolio were shot with the very humble 18-55 IS, and IMO they look great. I don't always pull out the L glass. It depends on what I'm shooting. But again, I have less knowledge of the 55-250. Maybe it's not as good a lens as I've heard.
    Reasons maybe to seek a different lens:
    • need a faster lens -- larger aperture, shallower DoF
    • need a sharper lens for extreme enlargements
    • need a weather sealed lens
    • need a lens without rotating front element (don't know about the 55-250 -- rotating?)
    • need a lens with better background bokeh
    • need a lens with better foreground bokeh
    • need a lens with less chromatic aberration
    • need a lens with less distortion
    I don't hear any of this. All I hear is "need a better lens." There are multitudes of lens choices, and I don't think any single lens satisfies all of the above criteria. So to recommend one lens over all others is perhaps a mistake, not knowing further details of what the person actually wants/needs.
  17. Sarah, so you didn't read her profile?
    She asked about a 70-200mm lens and she has nothing comparable in her arsenal and all you and Rob can do is question her competence and her reasons for upgrading.
    Canon's 70-200mm L-series lenses, all of them, are some of the best zoom lenses available, bar none. Almost every serious photographer that I know has one or an equivalent for their camera. I only use 3 lenses, a 24-105mm L, the 70-200mm f/4L IS and the 500/f4L. Combined with a 1.4x and a 2.0x TC-III, these lenses provide an incredible range of possibilities, all with great IQ.
    She's been shooting for many years (her description), so we know that she's reasonably serious and likely to keep it up. The money decision is one that only she can make. No financial disclosures are required to post on this forum, so we're forced to presume that financial considerations have been evaluated by the OP.
    If the doubt is that she'll be able to perform well enough to enjoy the benefits of an L-series lens, then I think the best advice is for her to rent one for a few days. I think she'll readily see an improvement in the IQ of her images. If not, then she shouldn't buy the lens. Still, given her profile information, I think she's got the photography skills needed to appreciate an L-series lens of the quality of Canon's 70-200mm lenses.
  18. [[Rob, if you'd look at Kathlyn's profile, maybe you wouldn't be so pessimistic about her photographic skills.]]
    Your response here is way off base. There is zero criticism or comment about her, personal, photographic skills in my response. None.
    [[you've made your out of context point]]
    Sure thing, David. Denigrate anyone who disagrees with you. I get it.
  19. Who said this?
    Buying a L lens will not make your photographs better if your errors in image making are large.​
  20. I did not say "...will not make Kathryn Gadd's photographs better..." The statement was obviously a way to show the relationship, in photographic terms, to the Ferrari/Corolla sentence just before it.
  21. So, you were talking to someone else, not our OP. Kathlyn, BTW.
    It's easy to get confused in a thread and start addressing people other than the OP when responding. I too have to think about it occasionally. Threads can develop a life of their own, often diverting from the OP's original question, so I can understand the need to talk about Ferrari and Corolla drivers.
    I don't always do this, but I try to do it for added help on how to respond to the specific OP's question, I look at the OP's Profile. It's often, not always, very helpful in guaging the OP's experience and puts the question in some context.
  22. [[It's easy to get confused in a thread and start addressing people other than the OP when responding]]
    People who take the time to read the responses are not easily confused.
  23. David, I'm not questioning her competence as a photographer, and yes, I did read her profile. That still doesn't change my advice.
    I'm reminded of another photographer who wanted to buy a wonderful lens to do macro work for illustrations in a book. The printed photographs were to be 2" x 3". The poor guy thought his lenses weren't up to the task and was prepared to shell out some $$$ to get what he needed, but what he heard were recommendations for lenses probably far beyond his budget. I think a few people said nothing but a Zeiss lens would do. For WHAT? 2" x 3" printed images?! I was finally able to talk some sense into the guy, convincing him that his lenses were good enough for that task. And they were.
    People on this forum love to spend money, especially if it's somebody else's. And there's also a lens status mentality afloat here -- that nothing without a red ring and a Mk II stamped on it is worthy of being mounted to one's camera. I think that's unfortunate, and I seem to be one of the few voices telling people they don't necessarily NEED these status lenses -- that it depends on what they do.
    Maybe all this is best explained by analogy. I love analogies (too much): So I come to the forum and say, "I want to move beyond my little Saturn SL2. What sort of car should I buy?" Then very few people ask me what I want to use the car for. Instead, I get recommendations for this Mercedes and that Ferrari, and maybe a Bugatti or Bentley thrown in for good measure. But everyone seems to like the Ferrari. So I buy a nice Ferrari and report back a few weeks later, "Something seems to be wrong with my Ferrari. When I tried using it to pull a stump out of the ground with a chain, the engine kept stalling. This thing has no torque! Why doesn't this car come with a diesel engine? Also there's no room for the infant car seat."
    You see, when one asks what is the "best car," that begs the question, "for what?" That's essentially the same sort of question Rob was asking: "If you have the 18-55mm and 55-250mm IS lenses, what is wrong with them that you feel the need to buy something new? What problem with your photography are you trying to solve?" And it's a good question.
  24. So, what's wrong with Kathlyn buying an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS or non-IS? Belittling her prospective lens choice as something she's only doing for "status" belittles her. If you want to steer her to another lens that you thinks has as good IQ and might cost less, then name it and suggest it. Is her 55-250mm as good at the 70-200L, I think not, unless she's incompetent, as Rob fears.
    All of your talk so far seems to have nothing to do with her question, particularly your last response. You're answering a question that wasn't asked.
  25. [[I think not, unless she's incompetent, as Rob fears.]]
    The only one you are hurting by pulling immature stunts like this is yourself, David.
  26. Is her 55-250mm as good at the 70-200L​
    Is she using it for taking 4x6 vacation snaps for the family photo album? If so, then yes, it's as good. In fact it's better, because it goes wider and longer, and it's also smaller and lighter. Don't get me wrong: I love my 70-200 f/4 L IS. However, it is definitely not my lens of choice if all I need is low resolution snaps.
    As much as you want to believe/infer that I'm trying to belittle the OP, I am not. And my comment about "status lenses" is not directed in any way at the OP, but rather to PNetters in general. It's the culture of status lenses on this forum that bothers me.
    Anyway, to answer your question, absolutely nothing is wrong with Kathlyn buying an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS lens just like the one you and I have. If she can afford it and wants to buy it, then by all means, she may buy it. She has my permission. Whether it is a useful thing for her to do is yet another matter. I don't have enough information to hazard a guess whether that would be useful to her.
    And Kathlyn, to address you directly, my only motive in writing what I have is to caution you about spending four figures on a lens that you won't necessarily feel improves your capabilities. (Maybe it will be a big improvement. Maybe not. We can't know from the information provided.) Many people throw money at equipment upgrades that they later feel were not worth the money (to them). Perhaps you wouldn't miss the price of this lens, in which case I say "go for it!" On the other hand, perhaps it's a pretty big chunk of change to you that you would like to spend as wisely as possible -- maximizing bang for the buck, as it were. I apologize if any of what I wrote came off as insulting to you. It was not intended as such, but apparently that's how it's been twisted.
  27. Thanks for the treaty on buying decisions.
  28. And BTW, it would appear we both missed where the OP stated her two kit lenses are the 18-55 DC and the 70-300 DC, so the 55-250 wasn't ever on the table. I'm unfamiliar with the "DC" designation. If the 70-300 is the non-L IS, that's already a pretty good lens (albeit inexpensive) that yields very respectable images up to 200mm -- almost as sharp as the 70-200/4L IS. I also own that one and will carry it instead of the 70-200 when I want smaller, lighter, or longer. Heck, even the old 75-300 IS could turn out some very nice images within certain constraints of aperture and focal length, despite the abuse the poor old lens gets on this forum. (I used to own that one, but I traded up to the 70-300, which I consider only somewhat better at the apertures I tend to shoot.)
  29. If the people on here who are questioning why Kathlyn would want a better lens than one of the kit lenses have read her profile and seen the images she posted, why do they keep referring to a 55-250mm lens when her profile says it is a 75-300mm lens that she is unhappy with? Her profile says she's happy with the 18-55mm kit lens, so she doesn't have a thing against kit lenses. It's not hard for me to believe that somebody might want something better than a medium telephoto zoom lens that retails for $169 and gets mediocre to bad reviews for both image quality and build quality. That's not hard to believe when it retails for less than 1/3 of the price of the 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS which is also a consumer grade lens.
    Kathlyn, if your budget is sufficient I would also highly recommend the 70-200 f/4 L IS. Perhaps you can find one used. I bought a used one in good condition (though several years old) for $795. I had the 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS lens, which would be much better than your 75-300, but it is not cheap (well over $500 new at retail) and in my opinion it is not comparable to the 70-200 in image quality, build quality or autofocus capability. The 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS also is not good with a polarizing filter if you ever use one because the lens telescopes out and rotates to focus as you increase its focal length. But it is a good zoom lens and if the 70-200 lenses are out of your price range, you might find a 70-300 used at a good price because they depreciate quite a bit more than most of Canon's L zooms and good quality prime lenses.
    The 70-200 is one of the best quality zoom lenses you can buy and one you will almost certainly keep and use often whether you stay with the camera body you have or upgrade in the future. Given that you are shooting with a camera that will produce degraded image quality if you push it to high ISO levels to get adequate shutter speeds in low light, I'd go along with the other recommendations to get the 70-200 f/4 with IS if you can. Canon says the IS on that lens is equivalent to 4 stops and if it's not it's pretty close. I don't have any difficulty getting good handheld shots with it at 200mm and a shutter speed of 1/50 or so.
  30. If the people on here who are questioning why Kathlyn would want a better lens than one of the kit lenses have read her profile and seen the images she posted, why do they keep referring to a 55-250mm lens when her profile says it is a 75-300mm lens that she is unhappy with?​
    Don, to be clear, the OP says in this thread it's a 70-300 DC (DO?) she has, not a 75-300 lens. But you are correct that her profile specifies a 75-300. Of course there are numerous variants of both focal length ranges, some very fine, and some not so much.
  31. I owned a 550D and liked it very much. I upgraded the kit lens to the EF-s 15-85 and the difference was almost beyond my imagination. If you can go the $700 it is in my opinion one of the best choices you could make. (I have a T4i now as I handed down the 550D to a nephew.)
  32. The OP said she has the 550 with the twin kit lens. She then says she has the 70-300 DC. However there is no 70-300 DC lens only the 75-300 III DC.
    However, I do agree with what Sarah and Rob are essentially saying. I upgraded my Canon 30D to a 5D II. Sold all my L-series lenses and have happily downgraded to Tamron 70-300 VC and Tamron 24-70 F2.8 VC. The Tamron 70-300 VC was only $399 and to me sdoes the job every bit as good as a L-series lens.

    So just spending more money is not always the answer. However, If the 75-300 DC is really what you have there are definitely better lenses. But, that does not always have to be a L-series lens to get substantially better IQ. The rest is up to your skills.
    This is one of the best lenses I have ever used for the money. I sold my Canon 85 1.2L after getting this lens as it is actually lighter and at F4 just as good as the L was at F4. I prefer Image Stabilaztion for video project and more zoom than the beautiful blur at 1.2 because too hard to focus that wide open in low light. So as you can see my needs were different than what others may be.
    I got mine with $100 rebate like this one ended up only being $399. I absolutely love it.
  33. Get the Canon 85mm f1.8, its my favorite lens (and besides my 50mm/f1.4, the least expensive lens I own), it is lightweight and very sharp. It is great for portraits and candids on the cropped sensor Rebels.
    The 70-200mm f4L IS is a great lens (I should have kept mine), but I bet you would be using it at the short end most of the time, in which case the 85/1.8 is much better.

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