It's always about the lenses... (another what lens, but with well thought out question)

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by dlakelan, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. I used to shoot a Pentax film SLR. When it broke in 2001 or so I sold the associated lenses and waited for digital SLRs to come down in price. I filled the gap with a Fuji S 5100 for a few years, but now I'm ready to get the Canon XSi and several lenses. I believe full frame bodies will be down in my price range within 5 more years or so, so I prefer EF lenses.
    I've done several genres of photography, but my favorite things are Natural landscapes both wide and telephoto, environmental portraits in evening light, museum displays (artifacts, paintings, sculpture), people at events (concerts/weddings/parties), plants and animals, and macro or near macro photos of lichens/rocks/tree bark/insects/flowers/etc (I had a sigma 90mm macro that I used as combo portrait lens, and macro).
    My plan is to buy the 28 f/2.8, 50 f/1.8, and 70-300 IS in addition to the 18-55 kit lens. I know I want a wide angle (something about equiv to a 24mm that I enjoyed using on 35mm film), but I want to rent a few of the wide zooms to try them out before buying.
    I figure based on my interests, the main thing this setup doesn't get me (besides the wide that I want to rent to try) is the ability to take low light (evening and indoor) portraits from a moderate far distance so as not to get too much subject reaction, and the ability to take close-up shots.
    So I've been considering the 85 f/1.8 as a fast portrait/event lens that will let me take shots of people from moderately far back with narrow depth of field. (see example shot from a recent outdoor Jazz concert with my S5100 below)
    I've considered the 60mm macro, but it doesn't get me much more reach than the nifty 50, and it's an EF-S only lens, slower, and more expensive. Similarly for the similar sigma macro (70mm?)
    I could get the 100mm canon macro which would be great on a full frame body, but I think too long on the APS-C for frequent use, and no brighter or cheaper.
    To get partial macro capability, I'm considering a combination of 250D close-up lens, and some extension tubes for use on both the 50 and 85. I rarely need the full-on macro capability of a macro lens, so this might be sufficient for the moment.
    I'm looking to spend about $300 to $600. What other options in general should I consider given my interests? (could be to fill this role, or to fill other combinations of roles from my expressed interests).
  2. are you planing to spend $300-600 for the camera and lenses or just lenses?<br>KN
  3. Ah good question. The $300-600 is for one additional lens to the 28, 50, 70-300 combo.
  4. Another point I should mention: I definitely like wide angle, in the range of 24mm on a full frame. I used my 24mm prime lens frequently on my film body for nature/landscape stuff.

    The money for the 28mm f/2.8 could conceivably be used for a fast EF mount f/2.8 zoom that would cover 24-70 equivalent if there is one that could fit in the budget, especially if the low light long portraiture role could be played by the 70-300 IS... I don't know whether to trust IS in low light, and I really wish I had shallower depth of field in that photo above... hence the thought for the 85 f/1.8

    I think ideally, I would get the 85 f/1.8 and the 17-55 IS but the budget doesn't go near that level :)
  5. 18-55 is close to (roughly) 24-70, but the IS is no substitute for decent aperture and it doesnt help in the bokeh department. My suggestion is, get the camera with the kit lens and 70-300 IS like your thinking, maybe the 50 1.8 as well since its inexpensive, and then wait a little to get used to your camera. Take a ton of shots and review what focal length you used most. That will tell you alot as to what you want. Some people find they shoot roughly the same focal length a majority of the time, so getting a prime in that focal length is ideal. Others find they are all over the board. It would be a shame to buy the 28 if you found that you never used it. It may be too wide or not wide enough. The 18-55 might not be wide enough and you may look into a 10-22 Canon or 11-18 Tamron or whatever.

    Take your time, dont rush it. You'll be more prone to mistakes if you do.

  6. The 70-300 is f/4 at 70-80mm (112-128mm equivalent) and it's sharp. Whether it has a narrow enough DOF for your purposes is a question only you can answer.

    I didn't think the 85mm f/1.8 was enough difference from the 50mm f/1.8, so I bought the 100mm f/2. I've owned the 85mm in the past and they are both very good.

    I tried the 250D on the 100m f/2 and don't like the results. Everything is washed out and very soft until you stop it down quite a bit, and even then the viewfinder looks washed out. I suspect it would be similar on the 85mm f/1.8. It's quite good on the 50mm f/1.8 and the shorter half of the 70-300 though.

    24mm equivalent on a crop camera requires a 15mm lens. The Canon or Sigma 14mm are the closest options in prime lenses. Otherwise there are several zooms to consider, but the only ones that also work on a full frame camera are the Sigma 15-30 and 12-24. Personally, I would buy lenses that work best a crop body unless I was planning on upgrading to full frame in the next year, or perhaps two years at most. If you buy good glass it will retain most of its value, unlike any camera body you purchase now. And EF-S lenses will still have an active used market.
  7. I'd hesitate about the 28/2.8 because I'm not sure it adds a lot to the kitlens.

    Because no one said this: make sure you get the IS version of the kitlens.

    If you're wondering about macro I'd consider the 100/2.8 which doubles as a nice moderately fast short tele.

    If you're fanatic about build and image quality maybe your extra money should be spent on a better long lens. One of the superb 70-200's or even the relatively small 200/2.8 L.

    If you're less fanatic you might want to consider the 55-250/IS which has a very reasonable image quality, even compared to the 70-300 but is way cheaper and lighter.

    Regards, Matthijs.
  8. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Pentax Film SLR, yes . . . but apart from the 24mm, you did not let us know what lenses suited you . . . (nuances)

    The outputs you listed are great as a guide, but they are asking for advice not based upon YOUR shooting habits and tastes.

    With your Pentax did you like most of your environmental portraits in evening light up close (like me), using a pancake 45mm? or did you (mainly) prefer the (subtle) distance of a short telephoto 85mm, or the mild aloofness a fast 135mm can give, or the privacy and distance a 200mm can attain? (Nuances)


    When I moved to DSLR (20D) I had absolutely no reservation in getting a fast 50mm and a fast 85mm, even though they are close in FL.

    I knew I would use both, extensively, because I had a fast 85mm and fast 135mm on my 135 film gear and I used both of those lenses extensively.

    Really, I think this approach is the basis of the answer for you: If you did not have those two, fast prime lenses with your Pentax Film camera, it is best to wait, and decide after you use the zoom range and establish what FL prime really best for your needs.

    You might find, as Jim did the 100F2 is better for you, or you might want a even bit longer (135mm) or, like me a bit shorter, and decide on the 85mm.

    Also, IMO, if you did NOT have a fast 85mm with your Pentax gear, I suggest not even buying the 50F1.8 to use with your DSLR, until you settle down to exactly what choices you need / want within the range fast, short-telephoto primes.

    Along this logic, I see more merit in getting the 28mmF1.8 (not F2.4), or a Sigma 30mm as the first, fast prime for a generalist`s kit, which also will suit many of the low light outputs you listed.

    After all we most all started with a fast 50mm with our film gear, didn`t we?

  9. Daniel, my "standard" portrait lens is the FD 85/1.2 L. It's very fast and sharp, and has beautifully smooth bokeh.
    So I would suggest saving your pennies and getting an EF 85/1.2 L. For a little more reach and a little less speed,
    the EF 100/2 or the EF 135/2 L would do very well, too.
  10. Daniel,

    With Digital you need to look at things in a slightly differentway. You may not want to be changing lenses as often as you did in film days because; you can change ISO from one shot to the next, you want to avoid dust on the sensor by frequent lens changes, zooms have improved greatly in the past few years. I have the XSi and highly recommend, given your stated propensities, dont bother with the kit lens and instead get the 17-50mm Tamron 2.8 zoom and the Canon 10-22mm zoom. The 50mm 1.8 is inconsequential. Do get the 70-300mm IS lens. That will get you 10 to 300mm (16 to 480mm equivalent with a minor gap from 50 to 70). A lot of event photographers shoot whole events with a 17-50mm (or 55) and an 85mm prime. Maybe just get your XSi with the 18-55mm kit lens and use it for a while to better understand the digital way of doing things and then you'll have a better idea of what lenses you want/need. Good luck.
  11. Thanks for the answers. Based on your suggestions I think I'm discounting the value of the kit lens more than necessary. (probably based on my bad experience with the Tamron/pentax 28-200 junk that came with the pentax slr back in the late 90's)

    I think I will hold off on the 28 f/2.8 since it's not so much faster than the kit lens

    I reviewed some of the portraits that I have taken recently with the S5100 and looking at the EXIF data it suggests that I work at (35mm equivalent) 80 to 200 mm with quite a few around 140 to 160. I used the 90mm macro frequently for portraits on the film camera, so this makes some sense. Since I want macro and longish portrait capacity, I think I will go with the 100mm f/2.8 canon macro and I am sure I will not be disappointed. If I decide I need something between 50 and 100 the 85 1.8 is not that expensive. (85 f/1.2L is too expensive and heavy for my purposes I think).

    In the mean time, I will investigate the wide angle EF-S zooms. My inclination there is to go with the 12-24 tokina for a little more zoom versatility. I think the brightness of the new Tokina 11-16 is not as important when wide, and the larger zoom range is more useful. I'll rent the lens on my next photo landscape outing and see what I think.

    Thanks for the help!
  12. Gil. thanks for the tamron 17-50 suggestion. I hadn't seen it in the lineup of possibilities, and it looks like a lens I should consider strongly. Certainly a lot more money than the kit lens, but at f/2.8 with good image quality, it sounds fantastic for all around use instead of the canon kit lens.
  13. Macro lens AF for portrait or event shots will be agonizingly slow.
  14. Bob. Does the canon macro have focus range limit? If it's approximately pre-focused, does it hunt a lot?

    Is your comment based on experience with this lens, or with macro lenses in general?
  15. the canon EF 85 1.8 is an awesome lens. also, for the wide. how about the Tokina 11-16 2.8? i have both and love them both. fast, sharp, and beautiful boken on the 85.
  16. One downside of the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 is that unlike the latest kit lens, it isn't stabilized on Canon. That
    being said, you could pretty much pay for it by passing on the 28mm and 50mm primes. Of course this is somewhat
    offset by being two stops faster from 35-55mm.

    I shoot the Pentax 12-24 f/4 cousin to the Tokina and think it's a pretty useful range--your preferred 24mm field
    of view is right in the meat of its range. I don't think I miss 10-11mm much--but if I was a Canon shooter would
    want to also seriously look at the Canon 10-22 which is supposedly pretty good too, if a little ($150-200)
    pricier. Something to be said for constant f/4 zoom on the Tokina. Sigma 10-20 is also fairly popular in
    K-mount though it wasn't my choice.
  17. Daniel:

    I did try both the Canon and Sigma Macro lenses and bought the Sigma. Both were slower focusing than a "regular" lens. But I just don't recall if the Canon had the focus limit switch or not, which I'm sure would help. Check specs on B&H photo's site or Canon's for that. Still, a regular lens would be faster.

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