EF-S 18-55 IS

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by shuo_zhao, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. Hi everyone, I got a fairly unscientific question to ask.

    After reading quite a few reviews, the 18-55 IS seems to be a "fairly good" lens. I'm
    wondering how much difference in terms of image quality/sharpness there is between
    the EF-S 18-55 IS and the EF 17-40 f/4L, when used on a 40D at "landscape
    apartures" (f/8 to f/11).

    I know that there are many factors that could affect the image quality, but I just want to
    get a general idea.

    Thanks
     
  2. It probably depends on how you plan to use the camera/lens. Do you plan to do
    professional quality large prints? Or do you plan to take general photographs, share
    most of them electronically, and occasionally make a letter size or smaller print?

    If the latter, you would likely be completely happy with the kit lens.

    If you are new to the DSLR thing and do not have a strongly developed opinion
    about what lenses you need, this is also a very good reason to get the kit lens. It is
    quite decent and very inexpensive - and you can use it to make a lot of photos and
    begin to identify what features you might want in later lens acquisitions.
     
  3. A bit. Not night and day, but if you look closely you'll see a difference. If you're printing at 8x10 or smaller you may not really see much difference, at least not enough to justify the cost of the new lens.

    If you think a lens that's 4x the price will give you images that are 4x better, you will be disappointed.
     
  4. There is a comparison with images posted on here somewhere that you can search for. I think they took pictures of labels on wine bottles. There was very little difference visually. Mostly contrast differences between the 18-55 2.8 IS and two of the L lenses used in the comparison.

    For landscape work, you probably will want something wider than 18 on a small sensor, and you can get an old manual focus prime lens and mount it with an adapter ring. You don't need auto everything for landscapes, and you can sometimes get an older lens for a fifth of its original price since its not cool anymore.
     
  5. There's quite a difference between the EF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens and the EF-S 17-55/2.8 IS. Don't mix them up.
     
  6. I rarely print larger than 8 by 10, but I would like my 8 by 10 prints to "look relatively good".

    I think for general/candid shots the 18-55 IS actually has some advantages over the 17-40; the IS could be helpful for shooting landscapes with a stepped down aparture in relatively poor lighting, while the extra 15mm reach makes it usable for portraits.

    >> "If you think a lens that's 4x the price will give you images that are 4x better, you will be disappointed."

    This is a good point.
     
  7. The quality of prints, no matter what size, greatly depends on the printer, which you
    use. I use 18-55 mm lens in good light for portraits of my kids. I once printed my
    daughter's portrait 16x20 at 75 dpi at Ritz Camera store without any adjustments. They
    used Epson inkjet printer. It took them 20 minutes and I paid $20. It is great print and
    cheap too. Your 8x10 will look good. Depending on how much money you want to
    spend, 18-55 mm lens in good light is great. It has good resolution and color rendition.
    And as more experienced colleagues mention, 4x price will probably not give you 4x
    higher quality.
     
  8. Printer and image quality...now that's a rarely discussed topic.

    I think I will use the 18-55 IS for landscape and candid shot. I'm probably better off using the 50 1.8 for portraits.
     
  9. Purchasing EF S lenses is not a good advise manufacturers will eventually move to FF those lenses become useless. For the record this is my opinion and I use a 40D at this moment.
     
  10. I have both and let me tell you the 17-40 gives better results regardless of print size.
    Color and contrast (and bokeh) are just better, how unscientific is that.
     
  11. "Purchasing EF S lenses is not a good advise manufacturers will eventually move to FF those lenses become useless."

    I don't know about that. Just because the FF sensor may become cheaper in time, won't the 1.6 crop sensor be even cheaper still? And won't people still want to buy the cheaper one?

    I have several EF-S lenses starting back about 2 years ago. Now I finally bought a 5D and have not sold any of my EF-S lenses. I sitll use them on my 30 (backup and sports shooting) and XTi (backup and travel camera).

    My most used lens is the 17-55 2.8 IS Bob mentioned. It's fantastic. But it may be more than you need for landscapes at the moment. Another good options with better Image Quality would be the Tamron 17-35 2.8-4 @ $300 it's quite a bargain, and it's FF. I have that as well and find it surpases the Canon 17-40 in every regard.
     
  12. Here are sample crops from the EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM and the old EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II kit zoom on a EOS 30D. Unfortunately, the sample crops with the new IS lens are made with a different camera and will look different due to the different pixel count.
    This comparison mirrors my experiences. The EF 17-40L is a rather soft lens (which can be corrected in post-processing). In regards to sharpness the L zoom seems to be a little bit sharper, but this is hardly noticeable in real life conditions. Keep in mind the new IS zoom is optically superior to the old Mk. II version. so while the 17-40L is a great lens, it is not one of the best wide L zooms -- there is a reason why it is Canon's least expensive L lens.
     
  13. At f8 and f11, I would think the 18-55mm IS competes well with "L" glass. The differences would show up at lower apertures.
     
  14. I think the economics of producing a defect-free 24x36mm piece of silicon will always make them fairly expensive.
     
  15. Kent wrote:

    "For landscape work, you probably will want something wider than 18 on a small sensor, and you can get an old manual focus prime lens and mount it with an adapter ring. You don't need auto everything for landscapes, and you can sometimes get an older lens for a fifth of its original price since its not cool anymore."

    I would suggest a lens other than a Canon FD lens. The Canon FD lens needs a scarce and expensive optical adapter in order to focus at infinity. These are scarce, expensive and degrade the image considerably. If you use a plain mechanical adapter, like those usually available on eBay, the lens will fit but will not focus at infinity making landscape shooting impossible.

    There are other manual focus lenses such as Minolta and some Nikon's which work on EOS cameras. There are some photographers that use manual focus macro lenses of other brands on their cameras. Many of us use manual focus for macro work anyway.
     
  16. Bob Atkins says:
    "There's quite a difference between the EF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens and the EF-S 17-
    55/2.8 IS. Don't mix them up."

    But Photozone.de says:
    "Its resolution characteristic is similar to the (much higher priced) EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8
    USM IS at comparable aperture settings, quite a bit better than the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-
    5.6 USM IS and naturally vastly improved over its non-IS predecessor!"

    http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/Canon%20EOS%20Lens%20Tests/181-canon-ef-s-
    18-55mm-f35-56-is-test-report--review?start=2

    I use it and get tremendous results, even wide open. Maybe it's just the way I use it.
     
  17. While I still tend to believe that the 18-55mm IS kit lens is the "best" choice for most people buying their first entry level DSLR and for many even beyond that, I certainly would not characterize the 17-40 f/4 L as "rather soft." Here are a couple of examples done with my own 17-40 on a cropped sensor body:
    http://www.gdanmitchell.com/2006/01/28/canon-17-40mm-f4-l- sharpness
    Although I shoot FF now and find that the 17-40 is a really fine lens in the larger format for certain uses - in particular landscapes shot at smaller apertures - the 17- 40 can produce excellent results on a crop sensor body as well.
    That said, like many (all?) lenses, the 17-40 has a distinct "personality" that may or may not make it a good choice for a particular photographer. For example, a photographer looking for uniform sharpness, etc across the frame at f/4 may be happier with other choices.
    Dan
     
  18. I think there is some confusion with the lens Shuo is thinking of buying. Sorry if I contributed to the mess. I thought we were referring to the 2.8 IS lens which has had great reviews. The kit lens is not good for landscapes except impressionistic work where sharpness is not necessary, nor is the new IS kit lens. In a landscape, most of your subject matter is far away and tiny, and from my experience, when you can't get the subject large in the frame, resolution really gets to be a problem fast. Little blades of grass 30 yards away turn to fuzz in no time.

    Everyone seems to be happy with the 2.8 IS lens, so if that's the one you're asking about, you will likely be happy, too. Its the one that runs about $900 and up new and retail.

    Regarding the old manual focus lenses, there are lots of folks out there using adapters for Leica, Zeiss, Mamiya, Pentax, Nikor, and many other brands and loving them. I don't think you need IS for a landscape lens, either, since to get a mediocre or better landscape, like the kind they make into posters, you will need a good tripod. (even at higher shutter speeds)

    If you were referring to the new low end IS lens, it would be best suited for snapshots, where your subject can be large enough in the frame to lessen the need for high resolution. Then software sharpening and noise reduction can get you the rest of the way.

    Again, I think that on a crop frame body, you will want something with a low end around 10-14mm. 18mm and up will usually eliminate all the drama of the typical landscape shot. However, you can always pan and stitch using a good tripod to get a little more coverage. The angles are just different.
     
  19. First: there's a big difference between the new 18-55 IS kit lens and its predecessor kit lens. Avoid the older one like the plague.

    The new kit lens is unquestionably the best optical *value* of any lens I've come across. However as you might expect its build quality is about on a par with the 50mm f1.8. Not even close to an L.

    The 18-55 IS beats my venerable pro Canon L 20-35mm f2.8 lens, often hands down, at every common focal length and aperture - more so at wider apertures as they're fairly close at f11, more so in the corners than in the middle. At 20mm on the Rebel XTi frame edges at f4 the difference was marked. L lenses are not universally outstanding, especially older designs.

    I'm sure the 17-40/4L, 16-35/2.8L (both versions) beat it, but probably less margin than you might expect, and as has been noted with the 17-40/4 it's mostly in terms of color/contrast and not in sharpness. If optical absolutes are what matter, or build, get the L. However you can get very close to L optical performance at a fraction of the price with this 18-55.
     
  20. It is interesting to note that the OP told us little about WHAT he shoots. For example, while he
    mentioned "landscape apertures" that was really just more of a reference to small apertures
    than to any particular subject as far as I can tell.

    So I think the core question is "how well does this lens perform at small apertures." Period.
     
  21. >> "Purchasing EF S lenses is not a good advise manufacturers will eventually move to FF those lenses become useless."

    I'm ok with cheap EF-S lenses like the 18-55 IS. I obviously have to think twice when it comes to the expenzsive ones.

    >> "I don't know about that. Just because the FF sensor may become cheaper in time, won't the 1.6 crop sensor be even cheaper still? And won't people still want to buy the cheaper one?"

    I think this is a good point. I guess we will probably get $300 entry level DSLR kits when the cheapest FF cost around a grand. I think the 1.6 or 1.5 crop does have its own advantages, especially for wildlife/sports photography.
     
  22. "I think there is some confusion with the lens Shuo is thinking of buying. Sorry if I
    contributed to the mess. I thought we were referring to the 2.8 IS lens which has had
    great reviews. The kit lens is not good for landscapes except impressionistic work
    where sharpness is not necessary, nor is the new IS kit lens."


    Confusion? Who's confused?
     
  23. here's a link to a review.

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-S-18-55mm-f-3.5-5.6-IS-Lens-
    Review.aspx


    (I hope it works)
     
  24. Bueh, thanks for the samples/crops. I think the difference between the old 18-55 and
    the new IS version is too significant to ignore.

    The whole idea of using an old FD prime may end up making things more
    complicated than necessary.

    Phil, I know that from as far as I heard, the old 18-55 is essentially the worst thing in
    the history of photography. bytheway, you made the 18-55 IS sound like a really
    good deal.

    G Dan, i want to use the lens for casual landscape and architectural shots. I will use
    it for snap shots and candid stuff too. As far as aparture is concerned, I will, for the
    most part shoot at f/8. Occassionally I will shoot wide open (if the lighting is poor for
    a hand-held candid shot) or step down to f/11 (i wouldn't use a smaller aparture
    setting to avoid diffraction).

    Thomas, don't get confused about the different versions of the 18-55. The new IS
    version really seems to be a nice lens. Thanks for the link, i checked it out already.
    Obviously the differences between the photozone.de review and the the-digital-
    picture.com review made me want to learn more about this lens. (photozone.de
    seems apparently gave it a more favorable review)
     
  25. I know there is a BIG difference between my NEW 18-55 IS which I bought as part of the 450D kit and my older 24-70L - but, I would expect that much otherwise...I'd be upset! :)

    Other than resolution think also of contrast, color, CA and flare resistance. Those are pieces of the puzzle which make a good image.

    All is relative but, I can say that my 18-55 IS is a great lens for the money (especially when bought as part of the kit). I use my new combo (450D/18-55 IS) all the time now as a walk around kit.
     
  26. Can someone recommend the next level in terms of zoom? I currently have the EF-S 18-55 and am looking for something with more zoom without spending a ton of money.
     
  27. The Sigma 17-70 OS.
     

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