Buy a Canon 70D or 70-200 f/2.8 lens?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by michelle_osche, May 17, 2015.

  1. Hello all,
    I'm new to the site but have followed for a few years. Here's a little information about me to help me make a decision. I would consider myself an intermediate hobbyist. I like to photograph a range of things, not really specializing in one area. (Portrait, landscape, macro, event) I have been asked to do a wedding for a friend's sister that I know cannot afford to have a professional photographer. I am not charging her as this will only be the 2nd wedding I've ever done (Before anyone gets upset, I understand this should be left to the professionals and I usually do say no, but she has a ton of hospital bills that need paid first and 2 small children. She cannot afford to hire a professional)
    Equipment I have:
    Camera: Canon XSi (450D) crop sensor
    Lenses: Canon Kit Lens 18-55 IS (which I never use)
    Canon 55-250 f/4-5.6IS
    Canon 50mm f/1.8 II
    Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4 DC (Which is on my camera majority of the time)
    Accessories: Canon Speedlite 580EX II
    Omni Bounce Flash Diffuser
    wireless shutter release
    Off-Camera Flash Cord
    With that all being said, here is my dilemma. I can't decide what to purchase next. I have a budget of ~$1000
    1. Do I upgrade my camera?
    I've been looking at the Canon 70D. I like the flip out screen (for low angle shots), the higher ISO than what my camera has, in-camera HDR (for landscapes), Video (which my camera does not have, though I rarely would take video anyway)
    2. Do I upgrade to a 70-200 f2.8 lens?
    I was planning on renting one for the wedding, but I think it would be great to have for my everyday use too. Questioning putting the money into it though. Canon is out of my budget range. Might be able to afford a Sigma or Tamron (are they comparable to the canon?)
    3. Do I sell my Sigma 17-70 and buy a Canon 17-55 f/2.8?
    I like my Sigma but the the 17-55 I believe would have better low-light quality though. The 17-55 doesn't have the longer focal length but I don't feel that would be a big issue.
    4. Or do I buy the Canon T5i and Sigma 17-50 f/2.8?
    Cheaper than the 70D with the same features that I'm looking for and buy the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8
    Decisions, decisions. I keep going back and forth with my options so I decided to turn to you all for help
    Thank you for your thoughts on the matter,
  2. After many years of doing weddings, since 1988, I don't think you need a pile of lenses, or actually change any of the
    lenses that you already have.

    I really like the Canon 70-200 L IS lens, but I hardly ever use it for weddings.

    Here's my thoughts since you don't sound like wedding photography will become a full-time profession right now. See if
    you can you can obtain a spare camera and a spare flash, just in case the camera or the flash decides to malfunction.
    Borrowing would be ideal.

    I also like to keep things simple, meaning not to change lenses a lot. You could do a complete wedding with just one
    zoom lens, like the 17-70 Sigma, or the 50mm lens. Your photo's will be very sharp. Often important parts of the
    weddings fly by and you don't have enough time to be messing around with changing lenses. You may miss some shots.

    If you really want to buy something new and fun, pick up the Canon T5I, because of the clean higher ISO's.
  3. I would go ahead and rent a 70-200/2.8 for the wedding. All of them are heavy lenses, and you might find the weight more than you want to deal with on a regular basis. So, use one for a few days and see what you think. Personally I think it's an excellent wedding lens. I have one (a Canon mk I version) and use it a lot for shooting portraits and theater.
  4. Thank you Bob. I do have access
    to an extra flash, but not a
    camera. That's one of the reasons
    I was looking into buying a new
    camera so I could use my xsi as a

    Alan- I have read that the 70-200
    is a heavy lens. I think I agree
    that maybe I should just rent it
    for the wedding. See if I like it
    before I buy it.

    Thank you both for your input. So
    far it seems like I should get a
    new camera.
  5. If you decide to rent a larger lens get a good heavy duty tripod to control the weight. Not that the lens is too heavy, but
    with a pod you can control movement, actually control no movement! With longer lenses they can cause a lot of camera
    shake; blurry images.

    There's kind of a general rule about lenses and the shutter speeds when you handhold a camera. Lets say you are using
    a 600mm lens. To be safe you should set your shutter speed at 600th of a second or high. For a 200mm lens well the
    magic shutter speed is 200th of a second. With shorter lenses like a 28mm lens you can safely use a shutter speed of
    1/30th of a second.

    You wrote - "Canon is out of my budget range. Might be able to afford a Sigma or Tamron (are they comparable to the

    The "IS" functions on larger and longer lenses really helps a lot. You could probably safely shoot a Canon 200mm lens
    at 1/60th of a second. However, I have no idea if the Sigma and Tamron lenses have some sort of decent quality image
    stabilizing device built in. This is something to check out before buying an off brand lens. If I were you, and you really
    want to rent the Canon lens, I do this before buying an off brand lens. I'm not saying that the Sigma and Tamron lenses
    aren't good. I'm sure they are, because both companies have been in business for many, many, years. I have no
    experience with these lenses.

    So this is why you really kind of need a good tripod with the larger lenses. Using tripods at a wedding are often a pain,
    even a handicap! At the same time they are nice to have. To help you with using a tripods or even a mono-pod buy
    some decent quality "Quick Release," devices. This will allow you to take off the lens from the tripod in 5 seconds,
    instead of having to unscrew the lens from the tripod, which can take several minutes, plus the added risk of dropping a

    As I said above in my last post, I'd try to keep things as simple as possible for this one wedding. If you decide to enter
    the wedding profession, or do a lot of nature type of work, even portraits, with long lenses, the Canon 70-200 2.8 L IS
    lens is a fantastic lens to own. It's optics are sharp and lots of fun to use. I'd rather see you miss a few shots by leaving
    the long lenses alone, than missing several shots because of not being at the right place at the right time during the

    By the way, where do you live? Often there are wedding pros that will help you out at a wedding often for free. I've done
    this before, because I want the wedding couples to love their photo memories.

    You could post something in the wedding site and see what happens.
  6. You could certainly shoot the wedding with what you have. The two essential things you would need are a second body and a second flash because you have to have backup at a wedding, even if you are shooting for free. If you're not going to be shooting weddings regularly, both could be rented.

    If you do want to invest in lenses, I highly recommend the 70-200 2.8, even if it's Sigma or Tamron rather than Canon. I consider my 70-200 2.8 Tamron one of my bread and butter lenses and I use it every day along with my 24-70 2.8 Sigma for everything from weddings to news events. Is it bigger and heavier than some other lenses? Yes, but that's part of the price of using the best tools for the job.

    For now, I would keep your Sigma 17-70. If you need to free up some cash, I might sell the 18-55 kit lens and the slow 55-250. But then again you probably wouldn't get much for them and they can serve as backups.

    If you want to rent rather than buy at this point, that's perfectly fine. You can probably rent the genuine Canon 70-200 2.8 for about $50 for a weekend. Also rent whichever body and flash you like, but make sure you are familiar with them before you go out to shoot.
  7. I forgot to say something about longer lenses. Often your flash unit isn't powerful enough to cover the distance of these
    longer lenses. This is often one of the reasons why I tend to avoid using anything too long. As a wedding photographer I've
    found that the Canon 580 flash is very good up to about 8 to10 feet on ETTL or Auto. After that you have to be very careful and
    check every image that you take, making sure that you aren't underexposed. If you are underexposed be sure to know how
    to set your flash to Manual in just a few seconds, again so that you don't miss any shots. Weddings are fun, but they surely
    can frustrate and even scare the heck out of you when things aren't working right! I'm NOT trying to scare you. I want you
    to be very comfortable and for you to enjoy every bit of this wedding. Weddings are usually a blast for me, but I've had a
    few problems pop up through the years. So being prepared by keeping things simple is the best way to approach this
    wedding. You can experiment later on and without the stress factors.
  8. The 70-200 is excessively long on a crop sensor camera. I am not a wedding photographer but I find that the use cases for my 70-200 are few and far between (to my immense disgust). It is a much more useful focal length on a full-frame body.
    I submit - again, no weddings here, just general use - that a fast "normal" zoom is much more useful, i.e. the 17-55. However, that lens is a reduced-frame only lens. I'd say the 16-35/2.8L would be more useful than a 70-200.
    There are also a variety of third-party 50-150/2.8 lenses (which are equivalent to 70-200 on a full-frame body) but again these are reduced-frame-only.
    But most useful would be a powerful flash with an external power pack. Even an old-ish camera with poor high ISO performance would shine if you're pumping enough light. My inexpert opinion is, good high ISO performance allows you to use less flash, which means your recycling time is shorter. But even with low ISO on an old camera (and/or a large aperture number because you're not using an L zoom), with enough flash power, you can recycle fast enough.
  9. "The 70-200 is excessively long on a crop sensor camera."

    I use a 70-200 every day on a crop sensor camera and do not find that to be the case. At weddings, it can still come up a touch short trying to shoot the ceremony from a balcony or back of the church. Shooting a speaker at and event, it can be just right, depending on how far back you are. All depends on the subject.

    "Often your flash unit isn't powerful enough to cover the distance of these longer lenses."

    I would agree, but usually I'm shooting available light when I use the 70-200. That can typically be the ceremony during a wedding, when flash often isn't allowed anyhow, or a speaker at a podium that's already lit.
  10. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Your gear is OK to cover the Wedding for your friend. You have access to a second Flash as a back up but you do need to be safe with a second body.
    Keep the $1000 in your pocket until you can choose what you need to spend it on for yourself without clouding the issue with this upcoming Wedding.
    It would be a very small cost to rent a second Canon Body - and I suggest that you suggest that your friend pay that cost.
    Regarding the 70 to 200/2.8 for specifically Wedding Coverages: it (or the equivalent Focal Length /or Zoom in Minolta, Nikon and Mamiya gear, which I used previously to my Canon DSLR Kit) was the least used (or not used) of my lenses for Weddings.
    In Canon (which I have used since 2004) I'd opt for a fast 85 and sometimes a fast 135 if I really needed to get farther away from the Subject. Very rarely would I've used a lens longer than 135mm at any Wedding. I'd use for most of the day the equivalent of a 24 to 70 zoom lens (about 17 to 55 on your camera) as the main working lens and supplementing the main working zoom lens with a fast 35, 50 or 85 from time to time, and as mentioned occasionally a fast 135 if I really needed to get a big distance back from the Subject. For the odd one or three shots from the rear of the Church a 135 will cover that in most Churches/Venues - even an 85 is usually OK for those shots especially on an APS-C Body. I also note that the EF135/2 is excellent with the Canon Ef Extenders. I have used a long telephoto when shooting a Wedding in a Cathedral, but most Curches / Venues where I work are covered by a 135 lens (max) from the rear - other Photographers might have bigger venues as routine, but then a 70 to 200 must be considered as a value for money purchase and I have never felt that using a zoom only ever racked out to its extension was good value for money - I reiterate I am discussing this zoom lens being used solely in a Wedding Kit and not as a purchase for generalist photography at other times.
    A shorter, rather than a longer Camera to Subject Distance, has always been a very important consideration for me when it comes to Wedding Coverages and there are many technical and artistic reasons for that opinion. Bob has mentioned one about the Maximum Flash Working Distance.
    Note that on an APS-C Body, the 70 to 200 will create an ever larger Subject to Camera Distance than if it were on a 5D body (which are the cameras I mainly use and to which I am referring).
    All the three EF 70 to 200 F/2.8 lenses are excellent - (I have used all three and own the non IS) - the EF 70 to 200 F/2.8 L IS MkII USM being the best - but as a value for money purchase for use solely in a Wedding Kit a 70 to 200 doesn't cut it for me and there are many other lenses that I would purchase, before buying one of those.
    Pertaining to the question as written, I return to my advice for the OP to not spend any money at all on any new gear, but wait until she has a clear slate devoid of the upcoming service she will perform for her friend and then she can choose what she wants to spend her money on so that purchase will benefit her own Photographic endeavours.

  11. Wow Bob, thank you for all the
    information. You got me thinking
    about flash and long distance
    shooting which I have learned a
    little bit about. I have some
    knowledge on using the flash but
    I am not well versed with manual
    settings yet. I definitely need
    to work on it. (luckily I have
    almost a year to practice and
    learn) I was hoping to only use
    the flash when absolutely needed.
    I like natural lighting better.
    I'm thinking I should rent the
    telephoto lens or something a
    little smaller/lighter with a
    small aperture to help with low
    light situations. I feel the
    telephoto I have won't do well at
    a reception without flash. I do
    have a tripod with a quick
    release but it's not very sturdy.
    Might not hold the weight of 70-
    200 (I did not think of that.
    Thanks for pointing it out)
    I was thinking of carrying two
    cameras on my shoulders, one with
    the 17-70 and the other with the
    telephoto. Or would this get too
    heavy to carry around all day?
    Less lens switching, trying to
    keep as simple as possible.

    Orlando- I like your idea of
    maybe using the 50-150 f/2.8
    instead of the 70-200. Lighter
    and probably long enough to shoot
    a wedding with a crop sensor.
  12. Wow, thank you all for you
    thoughts/opinions. Alot to think
    about and consider. Alot of
    information on the 70-200 that I
    didn't consider (tripod, which I
    have but may not be sturdy
    enough. Flash, which I still need
    to work on learning manual
    settings better) It sounds like I
    should just rent a telephoto lens
    instead of buying at this time.
    Which I think I agree, see if I
    like it before I buy it. I may
    just rent a shorter telephoto
    lens though. I may not need the
    200 focal length, since it is a
    fairly small church. I just want
    to be able to get close intimate
    shots from a distance unnoticed.
    I may still be able to get using a shorter focal distance.

    I feel the camera may be the way
    for me to go. I've been wanting a
    new camera since before I knew of
    the wedding. Plus if I buy the
    camera then I can use my xsi as a
  13. Something to practice is your flash, bouncing your flash. I love natural lighting as well. However if you are shooting a
    portrait of a bride in the shade or in the church without a flash you can get something which I call raccoon eyes. The
    brides eye sockets are so dark that you can't see her eyes! With a slight kick of flash you will see the eyes and that
    raccoon look is long gone. In fact her eyes will sparkle with life and love of that special day and that special moment. If the flash is set correctly, it's
    not hard to do with some practice, people won't be able to tell if you used a flash or if you didn't. You are kind of matching
    the flash with the natural surroundings.

    Since you have a year, do some practicing using a hint of flash, a huge amount of flash, for portraits and no flash at all.
    Then compare the differences. With just a little bit of practice you will find that perfect marriage between the flash and
    your natural surroundings. It's actually fun and exciting to learn. Having this knowledge you have just been promoted from a
    beginner to and advanced photographer. I'm not really joking here. Understanding lighting, the flash correctly is the start of being a gifted photographer.

    Post some of your practice images. Don't be shy! I've said this in past posts and I strongly believe that lighting is pretty
    much what makes images magical. If the natural lighting kind of sucks the use of a fill flash, bounced flash, a diffused flash,
    can make the bridal portrait look stunning.

    Added to what William said and what you said about the church being small in size. Lenses are so sharp these days that
    you can always crop if you can't get close enough. So in this case save your money.

    Yes the weight of 2 camera bodies, with the large 70-200mm attached will hurt a lot after a wedding. You won't be happy for about 4 or 5 days. You can always test yourself first by carrying a full set of golf clubs and the golf bag for 18 holes, about 5 hours. If you aren't sore well you will surely be able to handle the cameras on your shoulders.
  14. I'm glad to see that others have expounded more on the 70-200. The 200mm range is equivalent to 320mm on a crop sensor body. Even across the church, 320mm is a tight upper body shot. I also find that the telecompression is very impersonal. But I'm not a wedding photographer and everybody has an opinion (and we all know what those are worth).
    The 70-200 is also quite heavy.
    One could argue that the 24-105 on an FF body would probably do it all, but lacks in the blow-out-the-backgrounds. Unfortunately there isn't such an equivalent on reduced frame (the 17-55 comes close, at 28-85 equivalent).
    So if pressed, I'd get rid of all the OP's current lenses (the 50/1.8 is redundant but so cheap it's not worth selling off) and replace them with the 17-55.
  15. You might consider the Canon 7D as an alternative camera choice because of the auto focus. Canon sells refurbished ones and used examples are selling for $650-$750 right now. You would probably have fewer missed shots with it. It will produce decent photos up to ISO 1600 and of course what wedding photographer doesn't need 8 frames per second. It also has better controls than your other choices, especially if you are shooting in manual.
  16. I have only shot one wedding so far (I am no professional). Most shots were done using a 60D + 24-105L IS. A 70-200 would have been too long. Also consider that you have only one body. Changing lenses takes time and has the risk of losing some shots. Therefore, reducing lens changing by selecting a lens with the most versatile range is a good idea.

    I prefer shooting without flash since using flash changes the atmosphere of the scene. For this high ISO and IS is required.

    The 70D would give you not only higher ISO but also a better viewfinder.
  17. I use a 70d sometimes with the new Sigma 24-105 F4 Art lens. It works well with the 70d for portraits as it has better bokeh than the Canon so would work well with yiur existing camera and is a lot lighter than a 70-200.You might consider a Sigma 18-35 F1.8 that is great for low light.

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