New Lenses on a UK Student Budget

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by v_p|2, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. I'm having an issue with advice about lenses - as well as the usual confusion and conflicting opinions, every
    topic on 'budget' lenses all over the internet seems to take 'budget' to mean anything between £200-£1000. Not
    the same as my definition, unfortunately.
    I'm a student, and amateur photographer, and spending a lot on lenses at the moment, for me, means I won't have
    enough money to eat or pay rent. I bought my EOS 400d with 2 cheap lenses nearly a year ago and it about cleaned
    me out until now. I know, boo hoo, poor student woes, I know.

    I have decided though, that the time has come for a better lens or two. I currently have the 18-55mm kit lens
    (without IS) and the tamron 55-200mm f/4-5.6 that I bought with the camera when it was on offer for £99.

    I'm looking at getting the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. I can get it for £60 and at that kind of value for money I'm
    pretty much decided on it, but would like to hear opinions. I'm also looking at buying a lens hood and UV filter
    to fit on it.

    Other than that, my budget can stretch to one other lens. Best bet, I think, would be a telephoto to replace my
    tamron, which I would then sell (though obviously not for much). I've had my heart set on the Canon 70-300mm
    f/4.0-5.6 IS USM lens for a long time, but for me, that's coveting something that, at £340, really would be
    stretching my budget.
    I've also recently looked at the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS non-USM. The price, £189, is something I'm happy
    with, but hearing poor reviews, the fact it wouldn't fit on a better camera body when/if I get it and it's
    slow/loud focusing have put me off a bit.

    I'd consider a shorter zoom lens, but I do find myself using the 200mm setting of my Tamron a LOT. My main
    subjects are horses, both portrait and action/sports shots, indoor and outdoor, and I also dabble in wildlife/zoo

    Any thoughts on where I should go? Help would be really brilliant! The 50mm I'm getting ASAP unless I am
    convinced otherwise, while I'm hoping to update to a new zoom/telephoto before the end of the year.
  2. "I've also recently looked at the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS non-USM. The price, £189, is something I'm happy with, but hearing poor reviews, the fact it wouldn't fit on a better camera body when/if I get it and it's slow/loud focusing have put me off a bit. "

    Where did you find these poor reviews? I have not been able to find any. And since this lens fits fine on the 50D, 40D, 30D, 20D, XSi, Xti , XS, XT etc., I don't understand the other comment. I'm not sure I have heard about the slow/loud focusing either. From what I've heard it's a pretty nice lens for a pretty nice price. Try it.
  3. JeffHigdon, maybe it's because I've only looked at reviews today, and that's not enough time to spend, but I found it was unfavourably compared to the 70-300mm, even considering the price difference.

    Am I right in thinking EF-S lenses are not compatible with full frame cameras? I'm probably getting ahead of myself in considering updating to such a camera in the future, and I know a point can be made that if I did, I'd be buying much better quality lenses ANYWAY. Perhaps I can forget this point, assuming EF-S lenses have no other disadvantages.

    Considering this is going to be a significant amount of money for me to lay out on my budget, I really wnat to be sure before making a purchase.
  4. Yes, you are right, EF-S lenses will not fit on the 5D and other full frame Canon cameras.

    Yes, the 70-300 IS, which I have, will fit on both the bodies noted above and on the full frame Canons.

    My guess here is that if, one day you are going to spend a bunch (about $2000 or more USD) on a full frame camera, you are probably going to want to invest in a better zoom anyway. So if you are planning for a full frame, look at the 70-300 IS, the 70-200 f/4 (nonIS and IS). There's a thread on this board that's been going for a few days comparing the 55-250 with the 70-200 f/4 (nonIS) - so you might want to check that out.
  5. I used the 55-250IS for a while and I didn't think it was too bad. It's not quite as good as the 70-300IS, but then at half the price you probably shouldn't expect it to be. It's a decent lens. It shows some vignetting when used wide open, but the sharpness isn't bad.

    I wouldn't let negative reviews put you off too much. If you can't afford the 70-300IS, the 55-250IS is good value. It dosn't fit full frame bodies, but then if you can't afford the 70-300IS, I suspect that you won't be buying a full frame body anytime soon. The 55-250IS might keep 70% of it's value anyway, even after a few years if you sell it on eBay.
  6. vp

    would not spend extra money on hood for 50 1.8. that lens has a recessed front element and a hood is less needed for it than it would be for a fast zoom with huge front element that is flush with front of lens. if every penny counts, hood for 50 1.8 may not be worth it.

    as for uv filter, i'm assuming you mean for protection of front element. i don't use filters to protect the glass and have never scratched a lens. in general, filter effects can be added by processing software. filters (even the best, most expensive ones) degrade the image at least a little. if you're watching the budget you could probably skip the filter. if you buy a cheap filter you will degrade the image to a noticeable degree.

    as for telephoto, don't know what to tell you. the consumer teles are less expensive but you get what you pay for. recommend either the canon 70-200 (any version) or a fixed 200. i know this is not what you were considering but i can't recommend cheap tele zooms. the canon 70-300 you want so badly has great IS but produces a murky image (when compared to better glass). there's no way around it -- better glass costs more. you might look at the canon 18-200 when it comes out -- canon is under pressure from nikon to produce an ultra-zoom with better than average performance. i believe the 18-200 will have at least one special element (aspherical and/or ud glass) to improve sharpness
  7. Let me add a comment or two to the excellent advice you've already received, VP. You and I are in comparable
    situations. I'm relatively new to EOS and also on a very tight budget, having shot FD lenses on F-1N and T90 bodies
    over the past few years (and planning on continuing to do so for many years to come). I picked up an EOS-3 body
    and an EF 50/1.4 with an eye to the future, to that dismal day when film is no longer available, or is prohibitively
    expensive. My strategy is to eventually pick up a full-frame EOS dslr (perhaps the successor to the 5D), and in the
    meantime to obtain only those EF lenses that I can use now and that also will serve me well into the future. So for
    me, cheap zooms are out of the question. I would rather acquire really good primes (and zooms) gradually, knowing
    that I will initially have to make do with fewer lenses, than settle for inferior image quality just to save money. The
    used market has served me extremely well for FD lenses, and I'm sure it can do so for EF lenses as well.
    Professional photographers tend to upgrade their gear almost constantly, and this benefits amateurs like us who are
    more cash-strapped and but equally particular about our glass. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
  8. Actually the Canon hood for the EF 50mm f/1.8 is a kind of jury-rigged mess anyhow (the ES 62a). It requires an adapter to work. I had one for one of my 50mm f/1.8 lenses, and it wasn't all that convenient.

    This is a normal lens with a 52mm (old standard) filter mount. Just find a nice collapsing rubber hood that will fit a 52mm filter, but has threads for other filters to be screwed into it, if you go that route. Unfortunately, I can't remember for sure where I got the one for my second, but it was probably the US$5 one here ( The lens cap will fit inside too.
  9. VP,

    I'm also a student in the UK and I know what you mean about trying to balance a hobby like photography with annoying
    'essentials' like food and rent. I think the advice you have already had concerning the hood and UV filter for the 50mm
    1.8 is pretty sound. Don't bother with the hood (it'll probably cost about 20 pounds if you want the genuine Canon one)
    and don't buy a cheap and nasty uncoated filter just for the sake of it - it WILL degrade your image quality. And if you
    want to buy a really good filter that stands less chance of impairing quality then you're going to be spending almost as
    much as the lens costs anyway! Much better of just to be careful with the lens in the first place and use the forty or so
    pounds you save for the other lens. Incidentally, are you just getting the 50mm 1.8 because it's such a bargain?
    Remember it'll be an 80mm on your camera - do you need this focal length? If you don't then maybe you should just buy
    one lens for the time being. And going by what you said about your subjects - animals indoor and outdoor - I suggest
    that one lens should be the best telephoto you can afford. I can't speak about the 70-300 as I've never seen or used one
    but if you were to not buy the 50mm 1.8 would you be able to afford this?

    Have you looked at buying equipment second hand? Which part of the UK do you study in? If you are in or near london
    there are several good second hand camera shops around the area of the British Museum. Aperture Photographic
    especially has a good reputation.
  10. oh, yeah. the screw-on collapsing rubber hood. forgot about those. used to use one when i was the photog for my high school newspaper to keep the glare from the lights from blasting the front element when i shot night football games. that is a good, cheap option (for any lens i suppose)
  11. VP,

    Have you tried looking out for 2nd hand lenses? A whole lot of stuff can be found on eBay for cheap. If you're particular, you might want to hunt for them in some shops. It takes some time and patience, but if you find a great lens at a great price in the 2nd hand shops, it'll be worth it. Be sure to bring your camera along so you can take some sample pics first.
  12. There are a few things I don't see in your post:

    1. What specific negative effects are you experiencing as a result of using the current lenses? Are there some specific problems
    that you have encountered in doing your current photography: "horses, both portrait and action/sports shots, indoor and outdoor,
    and I also dabble in wildlife/zoo photography"?

    2. What specific features/capabilities are you looking for in a lens?

    On a student budget - especially if the choice is between lenses and food - it can make a lot of sense to work with what you
    have and concentrate of developing your technique and your eye with that gear.

    The 50mm f/1.8 could be a good, inexpensive acquisition if you are looking for a short telephoto portrait lens - but its usefulness
    for other purposes is somewhat limited.

  13. If you're willing to live with manual focus, you can pick up pretty good old lenses on eBay or wherever used stuff is sold. Some of the old Tamron Adaptall 2 lenses are really good for the money. You can buy an adapter and run them manual focus in aperture priority mode with stop-down metering. Clumsy, but remember in the old days that's how *everyone* did it.

    I've read marginal reviews of the 55-250, for instance at . But if it's all you can afford and you want autofocus, it's better than nothing. Marginal glass in capable hands can still make great images. And besides, spending some time with bad lenses will make you forever appreciate good lenses. I know that worked for me!
  14. I would consider good used lens' from a reputable dealer like KEH or maybe something local for you. You should be able to pick up a used Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro (great lens) for $350 (sorry i don't know the price in pounds) or even a 135mm f2.8 for $300. I would suggest primes, they are faster and are just more fun (to me at least)
  15. The EF 50/1.8 is tempting if (and only if) the 50mm are a useful focal length for you. (Browse through the images
    you took so far and check if there is a larger then average percentage around 50mm)

    For the tele-lens ... if you can afford the EFS 50-250, get it.
    Another option when on a budget is to add M42 screw mount lenses. You get a used 300mm f/4 in M42 on e*ay around
    90Euros. (A 300/5.6 below 20Euros). You need an adaptor, and you should be aware of the disadvantages of those
    lenses (manual focus, stop down metering).
  16. Hi VP.once upon a time I too was a student in the UK. Good luck with your studies and keep up the work.

    If you want a good cheap portrait lens then the Canon 50/1.8 is the obvious choice. The 18-55 is not a bad lens at all in my view and makes a good general starter lens though they might vary a bit from one sample to another.

    For telephoto lenses I would go for the 55-250 IS. If you look at the Fred Miranda reviews -

    where the law of averages comes into play you will see the 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 IS and the 55-250 get a fairly similar score. I have the 70-300 and it is a fine lens and all the reviews I have read indicate the 55-250 is too.

    Best of luck.
  17. I agree with Alan Green, word for word. Beyond that I recommend the used marketplace as others have. If you are serious about your hobby and have patience towards it then consider using Nikon manual focus lenses on your camera using cheap adapters from China. You get full metering in Manual and Tv using stopped-down methods. You manually set the aperture and focus. You can find the adapters by searching for "jinfinance" on eBay, about 20 pounds each with shipping.

    Search for lenses at Even with shipping, duty and taxes to the UK still probably cheaper than what you can find there. Alternatively use eBay.

    I suggest keeping your tele zoom and adding a manual focus lens. The best manual focus Nikon zoom lenses are beyond your budget but I would add a couple of their primes to your system. Consider the Nikon 50mm f1.8 AIS, Nikon 180mm f2.8 ED AIS, and/or Nikon 300mm f4.5 ED AIS. You could add one of the Nikon 20mm lenses for a reasonable wideangle on your crop body. When looking at I highly recommend their "ugly" and "bargain" lenses, especially for a student just learning photography, heck that is what I am using after 25 years of the hobby! Have fun!
  18. I think with the lenses you already have, you are decently set up and should concentrate on learning and
    shooting. You really don't NEED another lens, but a nice prime will give you superior image quality and low light.

    As a person who uses a LOT of old Nikkors and Zeiss etc. manual lenses on my Canons, I can say that this is
    indeed a way to find inexpensive specialty lenses. However, the "plastic fantastic", the EF 50mm f/1.8 is
    available used too, and it will give you a good, autofocus lens for your camera in low light situations. For an
    bargain in a "normal" focal length on the 40D, the next biggest bargain is the 28mm f/2.8. At about US$200 or so,
    there is a fine 35mm f/2.0. Used is definitely good here.

    The old 18-55 non-IS lens is not the best Canon lens by a long shot, but it's definitely better than its
    reputation. Keep that for its modest wide angle. The Tamron should also serve.

    The manual lenses require a number of extra steps -- and you should get one of the focus assist viewfinder plates
    for the 40D if you are going to use them. The MF lenses will work better with the larger and brighter 40D than
    with the earlier X0D cameras, but you still will find it more accurate to focus wide open and then stop down
    manually -- all of which is slightly faster than doing wet plates on an 1860s view camera, but definitely not for
    "grab shots". If you ever buy any Nikkors, look for "non-AI" lenses, they are generally just as good and cost
    less than the
    AI or AIs Nikkors.
  19. You should look at ALL lenses, not just Canon...My Sigma 75-300 F4-5.6 DL Zoom, would allow you some extra reach, and macro too, please, checkout my portfolio....

    If you're anywhere near Sussex, PM me....we couldmeet up, and you can try can get one of these for £150 new!

  20. I own and use the EF-S 55-250 IS and am very happy with it. I own some expensive lenses like the 24-105 f4L, EF-S 10-22 and EF 100 f2.8 macro, so I have something decent to compare it to.

    Basically image quality is suprisingly good, and difference between it and much more expensive lenses are only apparent at pixel peeping enlargements. Focus is fast and hardly noisey. Not as fast as ring USM, but faster than the old EF 75-300 and EF 75-300 IS that I used to own. The build quality is pretty reasonable and better IMO than the EF-S 18-55 non-IS version.

    And the IS works as well as any IS lens I have used.
  21. I like the Canon 50/1.8 on a 1.6x crop factor body. I use this lens a lot as a short portrait lens. I never used it on my film bodies.

    In general in the UK the third party lenses have a price advantage but in this case I think your best best is with the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS. It seems to be the best lens you can afford. It is not that much additional reach but it does give you IS and is optically better than your Tamron.

    The IS is actually better than that on the 70-300 though obviously the 70-300 has an optical edge.

    I for one don't agree with Alan Green. I have a Canon 70-200/4L (non-IS) and I compared it to the Canon 70-300 IS (non-DO) when that lens came out. The 70-200 handles better but optically the two are a match. Honestly unless you need the fast AF then for most people the 70-300 IS is probably the better bet. Especially on a crop factor camera the IS is invaluable.

    I have no played with either the 55-250 or the 70-300 in the field enough to know how the AF will handle action shots.

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