Question about what lenses to buy

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by laura_brugger, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. I am just entering the field of DSLR's. I am looking to buy a Canon 50D and would like some suggests on lenses for this camera. I would like lenses for a WIDE range of things...I love to photograph many different things. However, my main interests are wildlife and landscape. I want to travel with my camera will be needed, above all, a versatile or general purpose lens (for buildings, landscapes, etc...). Money is a bit of an issue...I only have so much to spend. I figure that I will probably have to settle on only 2 or 3 of these lenses at this time due to their prices. Could you help me to decide which combos are the best to have? Also, what is your best recommendation for a travel lens (something with general purpose and such)?
    Below is a list of the lenses I have been considering: (all are Canon at this time...and they are in order-from top down- highest to lowest priced)
    100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM
    EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
    70-200mm f/4.0L USM
    EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
    50mm f/1.4 USM
    Please let me know what you all think. (Also...I think I was considering the 66mm f/2.8 Macro USM for close-ups)
    Thanks =)
  2. Your camera and lenses are going to be expensive, I suggest you slow down a little and think about what kind of photography is most important to you. Then just get the camara and a lens for that purpose, later when you have a bit more knowledge and experience you can get some more of those tempting goodies. Wild life and landscape require lenses that are at different ends of the spectrum. The 100-400 is a good wildlife lens, but it has limited use as an everyday zoom, your70-200 f4 is better for this, and landscape is more siuted to your selected 17-55 2.8. Yes, you have selected a good set of equipment for what you want to do, all good stuff, but gee, all in one go it's going to cost.
  3. Thank you for responding. What do you suggest? I will be traveling so that is my number 1 priority....landscapes and architecture most likely. In my spare time, I spend a lot of time trying to get go shots of wildlife. So, are you suggested the 70-200 and the 17-55 would be best for me at this point? Are there any kit lenses that would do me justice? I have heard a lot of bad things about the kit lenses so I have been researching into better lenses. Any other tips you have for me....flashes, bag suggestions (I was thinking of the backpack type - are they good carrying cases for SLR cameras?)....please let me know....thanks so much again...=)
  4. I'd go for the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM and EF 50mm f/1.4 USM first. Wait with the (more expensive) longer lenses. Or check out an EF 200mm f/2.8 L USM instead of the EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM. It is faster and offers high image quality (it's an unfair comparison, there are only very few lenses that surpass the EF 200mm prime optically). An EX Speedlite too important to forget. If you have never used push-pull zooms before (and are not so sure about weight-lifting), rent the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM before making a final decision. Buy used from reputable sellers if money is an issue.
    Or, if you have no specific needs that only Canon covers, check out alternatives from Pentax and other manufacturers.
  5. Well, I think the previous poster was right that you may need to analyze more exactly what you need. However, I made the jump from an XTi kit with an 18-55 kit and the 70-300mm to a 70-200mm f2.8L IS, 17-55mm f2.8 IS, 50mm f1.4, and the 100mm macro, and now I wonder how I lived so long without all f2.8 glass :) Anyways, here's my take on the lenses you have suggested:

    100-400mm f4.5-5.6 -- This will be a great lens for distant wildlife shots, primarily in the day time (or if they're still, in lower light). You won't really find any other use for this lens other than that, but it's a great entry lens into animal and/or birding. Someday, for serious wildlife photo, you'll probably look into the 500/600mm primes, but that's definitely far away.

    17-55mm f2.8 -- This is a great all-purpose lens. It's kind of do-anything, walkaround lens. I love using this lens, and a lot of people here at PN will say that it is L quality. I think this would be suitable for landscapes, but not necessarily your best bet. The advantage of it is that it has 2.8 glass and covers a common, general focal length.

    70-200mm f4L -- First, I'd recommend checking out the IS version of this lens. I'm a big believer in IS, and I believe it is definitely worth the money. I have the f2.8L IS and it's probably my most used lens. You may find this a bit short for distant wildlife photography, but it is a fantastic zoom. I think that unless you really, really want to shoot far away animals or birds, you should definitely check this out. Also, check out the f2.8L IS version. It's more expensive, but you may find it worth it (of course, this is another topic full of debate). You could always pair the f2.8L IS with a 1.4x extender that gives good results and an effective focal length to about 280mm.

    10-22mm -- This lens is definitely next on my to buy list. I think this will be a perfect landscape lens. It's a great UWA, but it's uses won't really go much beyond landscape or artsy, perspective distortion shots.

    50mm -- This is a good prime to have in the bag. For your wildlife purposes, I don't know if you'll see much use of it though. It's a great portrait lens on a APS-C sensor cameras, and it's very good for low light. I just don't think the focal length will be exactly what you want. Also, it's not really sharp until f2.

    I'm not sure what the 66mm macro is... I'm assuming you're either taling about the 50 mm f2.5 macro or the 60mm f2.8 macro. I honestly don't know the difference, but I think if you want something in this range, pick up the 50mm f2.5 macro over the 50mm f1.4. It'll make a great portrait lens, okay for low light, and you'll have macro capabilities as well. If you want a great macro lens, check out the 100mm f2.8. It's loved by many, including me. If you really want to do some serious macro, I'd recommend you get the 100mm over these other two.

    Hope this helps!

  6. What kind of wildlife are you thinking about? What sort of macros? How strong are you?
    Considering you're starting out, you may want to get a general-purpose lens like the 17-55/2.8 (or the much beloved and heavier 24-70/2.8L) to start with, which will enable you to travel & do some landscape. Then you could rent some of your prospective lenses and try them out in your intended usage to see how they work out for you. There's nothing generic about lens choices.
  7. Wow, I hope you're really rich, because you'll have to be to afford the stuff they're throwing at you, perhaps encouraged by your list of "possibles."
    Of course even Chairman Deng said that "Poverty is not socialism, to be rich is glorious " so by all means get all f/2.8 L glass if you can afford it, although while you're at it, ditch the 50D and get the EOS 1Ds mark III.
    The key thing, really, as many will advise you, is that you don't need the whole kit all at once. See what kind of shooting you prefer before you decide what limitations in reach and other variables you need to overcome.
    Now if your means are a little more modest. I'd suggest going incrementally. The 18-55mm IS or the 17-85mm IS are cheap and fairly cheap, respectively. Choose one of them for your everyday lens. You may not need much more than this to start with. If you feel you need a telephoto, consider the "kit" 55-250mm IS, another bargain or the 70-300mm IS which is a very nice lens for the money.
    At some point you may want an ultra wide angle. If you are sticking with a 15x22mm sensor like the 50D, then one of the 10-20mm or so lenses will be great to have. The Canon EF-S 10-22mm is great, but the Sigma 10-20mm is very nice and rather cheaper.
  8. I live in an area where there are a lot of opportunities to photography eagles and deer so that would be the ranges I would be looking at. Maybe a bigger lens would be best for the wildlife...
    As for macro...I LOVE DETAIL! I think it it so beautiful...dew drops, flowers, bugs...I just like to capture the small details. What is the best macro lens? I actually think this will become my biggest hobby with my camera.
    So...what are the best 3 lenses to get to give me the best range? Travel purposes are most important, landscapes second (I was really considering the 10-22mm for this- Would that be the best or one of the best lenses for me to get for landscapes?)...and I understand that I probably won't be able to get good shots of wildlife yet...I might just have to save up for a good wildlife lens...what would be best for my situation (eagles, deer, turkeys, other occassional wildlife)?
    You guys are all very helpful...thank you so much.
  9. Well, with your specific interests, I'd recommend these 3 lenses:
    10-22mm for landscapes,
    100mm macro as it's the best macro lens (unless you want to fork out some serious money for the 185 L),
    100-400mm for your wildlife. The only negative to this approach is that you will not have anything in between for using your camera for anything other than your specified interests.
  10. What's your initial budget?
  11. I am looking to keep it around $2000 at this time, but there is a little room there. Is there any lens that would work ok for wildlife for a while at least...and give me more use. Maybe something like the 70-200mm? Is the 70-200mm more a travel, everyday zoom? I thought it seemed a bit heavy for something like that...
  12. I would just buy the kit lens (they are well priced and Ok to start with) and perhaps the 50 F1.4. These two will get you off to a good start. The 50 F1.4 is the sharpest lens on your list and should allow you to see the benefits of good (and fast glass). I would stick with these two lenses and then see what you want from there. The 28-135 that comes with the 50D is a bargain if you don't have any equivalent lenses as it only adds about $160 to the price of the body.
  13. If that is $2000 including the body, then definitely go with one or more of the kit lenses with IS. The basic 18-55mm IS is very cheap even unbundled. The 55-250 IS is also inexpensive.
    Those, with perhaps a 50mm f/18 lens for available light, are the biggest bargains in terms of good quality optics and price.
    You can also get a good deal on the 17-85 IS with the 50D as a kit. It is quite simply the best "walk-around" lens for a 50D. Plus, I'd seriously consider the 70-300mm IS. The latter is sometimes described as having L quality optics, although its build is not up to L standards; but it is plenty good none the less.
  14. Laura,
    i would recommend the Tamron 17-50 f2.8. I think it has a better value than the Kit Lenses. I bought one with my 40D and been not disapointed. This Lens is good for travelling, and cost less then the half of the EFS 17-55 f2.8 IS with nearly the same optical quality. Look at the review. With your budget you can add another Lens like the Macro or 70-200 f4 to it.
    Sorry for my English
    have fun Bertram.
  15. Back again Laura. I note your desire to travel, and your budget. The 50D is a good camera, but you probably should also consider the XSi, it's smaller and lighter and less costly and its images will be pretty close to those of the 50D.
    For general purpose photography, landscapes and city scapes the Tamron 17-50 2.8 will do the job.
    For your wildlife and general purpose telephoto the Canon 70-300 IS will suffice.
    There is a small gap between the 50 and 70mm. You could fill this with the canon EF-S 60 Macro.
    All this (incl XSi) will get you close to your $2000 budget with an image quality not that different than your original selections (with the possible exception of the 70-300 vs 100-400LIS on wildlife). Alternatively you could stage the purchases and get the better quality equipment for a higher cost, maybe around $3500. Over to you to make the decision. Whatever you do you will have some serious money invested? in your gear, you should investigate insurance for it.
    If you intend to be a casual photographer I'd go for the less costly outfit. If you are a keen photographer, and are sure you will be pursuing the hobby for the foreseeable future I would go for the better quality equipment.
  16. You know Neill, maybe the XSi isn't a bad thought. I am a beginner--in the future I could always upgrade too. My biggest concern getting a camera that is versitile. Can you guys throw some pros and cons in going with the XSi over the 50D? All the lenses are compatible with each, right (that would be the EF and EF-S lenses)? I won't be making prints over the 8x10 range either...and I have heard that the XSi can still produce quality images at this range, true? Anyone with experience with these two cameras could give me some very good insight as to what they would suggest for me. Thanks.
  17. Greetings Laura. I have very similar photographic interests: landscape, travel, and also some wildlife. My basic setup is 400D plus Sigma 10-20 plus Tamron 17-50/2.8. Light (important for travelling), versatile, reatively inexpensive, good bang for the buck. This setup produces very sharp 13"x19" prints.
    A more spendier option would be 50D plus 10-22 plus 17-55/2.8 IS. Note that the 50D and 17-55 are heavier than the above options. Weight is an important consideration when travelling and hiking (landscape). The 10-22 is slighly lighter than the Sigma. If I were to do it all over again I'd probably get the Canon rather than the Sigma. Ultrawide is fun - I'm addicted to 10 mm.
    Now, long lenses for wildlife. Good quality lenses like 100-400 IS cost a lot of money and can easily eat up the lions share of your $2000 budget. One option is to start with a 55-250/4-5.6 IS. This very light lens is also a very good travel lens. It is very inexpensive. You may also want to consider 70-300/4-5.6 IS. I shoot a 200/2.8L with 1.4x and 2x teleconverters - it works but it's not exactly user friendly. Nice results but I don't shoot this rig very often. My suggestion would be to hold off on the long lenses for now, save up. You might have to think long and hard how important wildlife is to you and how much of your budget you're willing to dedicate.
    A macro lens is also a very valuable asset for nature photography. I shoot Tamron 90/2.8. Canon 100/2.8 is also a very good choice. Another option is to get 70-200/4 with an extension tube set. I've also seen very nice results with 70-300 IS with a diopter. Lots of choices - zooms are convenient, but having a true macro lens so you don't have to putz with diopters and tubes has its convenience too.
  18. of may other major concerns is low light performance. Is this all in the lens, or does the camera affect this too? Will the Rebel camera perform well in low light conditions with a good prime lens or something, or do I need the body styles that are a step up from this camera to get good low light performance?
  19. If I went with a Rebel XSi...would these lenses still make for good performers on the camera:
  20. How about this set:
    10-22 (or 17-40 if getting an FF)
    24-105 IS (probably will use it for 90% of time)
    100-400 IS
    50 f1.x
  21. Stop, wait and think.
    Do you have to buy all at once?
    Have you looked at sites like to compare how the results of camera's and lenses look.
    Are you able to borrow or rent the cameras and lenses you're interested in?
    Or even just hold them for a few moments?
    Have you read review sites like this one ?
    That said, my take on it all:
    I'd seriously consider an XSi, 18-55 IS kitlens and a 70-200/4 IS. And for the moment nothing more.
    A 10-22mm is an acquired taste.
    Landscapes can be shot with any lens from 10mm to 600mm, it just depends on what you want to show in your picture and of course what you want to leave away.
    The 18-55 IS kitlens is a nice lens which you'll get for practically nothing with your XSi.
    The 70-200/4 IS is relatively small, very hand holdable and has a "perfect" image quality.
    The XSi has a great number of features and unless you really need higher ISO performance or the tougher build quality you won't notice the differences with the 50D.
    A possible third lens would be the 100mm 2.8 Macro but the question is what details you are looking for. Big butterflies are easily captured with a non-Macro long zoom.
    If you really want to shoot birds and wildlife you'll be better of with the 100-400.
    If you don't want to upgrade in later life you might want to skip the walk-around kitlens and go for either Tamron 17-50, Canon 17-40 or Canon 17-55/2.8.
    If you don't want to spend too much on the longer lens you might even go for the complete kit: XSi, 18-55 IS and 55-250 IS. That's a very nice starter kit with which you can develop your own style and then you'll know what you really want to spend your money on.
    To me the addition of a fast prime would be a thing to consider. (Whether Sigma 30/1.4, Sigma 50/1.4 or Canon 35/2, Canon 50/1.8, Canon 50/1.4 or Canon 85/1.8 is decided by budget, size and preference.)
    Anyway, good luck and have fun!
  22. XSi is a fine camera. Personally, I'd go for the 50D--it's a "hardier" camera, has better control systems than the "Rebel" series. I'll repeat what I caught criticism for saying on another thread, that the XSi is more aimed at the people who want a point and shoot with some additional contral. Of course it can be used on a "higher" level, but not, I think, so conveniently as the 50D. David's suggestions for lenses are pretty good, but the two L lenses alone would more than exhaust your budget (24-105 -$1060, 100-400mm- $1460).
    The 17-85mm is not perfect, but its flaws are easily fixed in Photoshop and will never be noticeable at all unless you are shooting the equivalent of brick walls ($500+). I presume that your 10mm is a typo for 50mm? If so, I think your list is pretty sensible, most especially if you get the 50mm f/1.8 ($80). The most expensive lens on your list is the EF-S 10-22mm at a little over $700. Do look at the Sigma 10-20mm ($500) if this is a focal length that you decide you really need, otherwise, this would be the one to put off until you've proved to yourself that you really need it. The 70-300 IS should also cost a little over $500. XSi body over $600, so not too much over your budget for the total.
    I will note that the big internet stores also offer "refurbished" cameras and lenses as well as used ones. Buying from them does give you more assurance than you can get on eBay, tho' eBay can be cheaper if you know what you are doing (however always look up the store prices before you bid, I've seen many instances of cameras going for more on eBay than you would have paid at Adorama or B&H).
  23. I fully agree with JDM's assessment of the advantages of the 20/30/40/50D cameras over the Rebels. The later are toys with poor user interfaces -- a good photographer can overcome their drawbacks because he knows what he wants to do, but for a beginner things look much more complicated than they are. Changing some important settings "on-the-fly" is much less intuitive with the Rebels than with better camera bodies.
    On the other hand, I am not a big friend of the EF-S 17-85mm. For me I found it too heavy/unbalance to use hour after hour, the distortion sucked and the slow maximum aperture was a major turn-off. If you are used to primes in this focal length range, f/5.6 is simply unacceptable. No wonder the lens' IS is so good, it is desperately needed.
    Else I can only repeat what others and I said before: Don't buy everything at once, check the used market for savings, consider other manufacturers. And whatever you buy, get a dedicated system flash right from the start!
  24. Canon XSi body ($575) I use one - a very sophisticated little camera that makes good images, Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 ($395) I use the Canon 17-55mm but the Tamron offers excellent image quality and good bang for the money, Canon 70-300mm IS ($550), Canon 10-22mm ($710) excellent wide angle zoom, Canon 50mm 2.5 macro lens ($240). Total $2470 plus add a couple or more 4-8g SDHC cards, maybe some photo software and upgraded computer and memory, maybe a good flash unit. Nice, relatively lightweight travel kit. Getting into longer and or faster lenses ups the cost pretty big time in a hurry. Possibly begin with the XSi/17-50mm and see what you are reaching for and wanting/needing as you go along. Tailor your spending to your budget and your desires as you learn about photography. Good luck.
  25. Hi Laura,
    I have a Rebel XT with the 18-55 kit lens. I like shooting in low light without flash and shooting portraits with out of focus backgrounds. I also like to have an all-around lens for travelling. For these reasons, I was keen to get the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 but I wasn't keen about the price (here in Canada, it is about $1100 to $1400). I was able to rent it for a weekend for $30.00.
    What I realized in trying it out was that I really liked the lens and the results from it but I also found it to be too big and too heavy. For me, it would definitely not be fun to carry around. (I chose the Rebel because of its smaller size.) So I will probably get a 50 mm 1.8 or 1.4 instead to complement my kit lens.
    This is just my own experience and I hope this information will be of some use to you.
    PS. Another consideration is that the Canon EF-S 17-55 F/2.8 is not designed to be used on a full-frame Canon should you upgrade from a Rebel in the future.
  26. And finally, pretty well any DSLR sold today will produce 10x8s of stunning clarity and sharpnes. The lens is as important as the camera. That size is not demanding, but you will see the difference between a good lens and a poor one. I don't think anyone here has suggested one of those! For a bag I use a Lowepro Minitrekka back pack, but search around, there are lots of different types available.
    Best of luck.
  27. I really don't have to buy all at once; however, I do want a good range of lens so I can have as much versatility as possible, until I can upgrade. I am still VERY keen on the 50d...I know it is heavier than the XSi, but I really like the controls. What do you guys think? Will I be really kicking myself (especially in travel situations) if I go with the 50d over the XSi? I am a small female, but I am pretty strong so I not sure the weight would exceedingly bother me.
  28. Hi Laura:
    I see a lot of articles where folks seem to think a 40D to 50D upgrade does not buy you much for the money, but I use a 30D so I can not corroborate this statement.
    Adorama has the 40D body for 900 bucks versus 1200 for the 50D. This leaves you an extra $1100 vs $800 respectivley for lenses to stay in budget.
  29. I have been doing landscapes for years and recently discovered a nice place for bird photography close to home. I have a 5D and what I bring with me depends on what I shoot.
    • For Landscapes I want to keep the weight down because I frequently hike more than 5 miles. In this case I bring my 17-40mm and 70-200mm F4 IS. I have found that I seldom use anything between 35 to 80mm for landscapes (you might get more use than I do in the 35 to 80 range). The 70-200 F4 IS is, in my opinion, my best lens. it is light and the image quality is very good. The 17-40mm gets the greatest use and the image quality is better then I epected for such a wide angle view. The equivelent for it on a 50D would be about a 10-20mm lens.
    • For birds its the 100-400mm IS. Sometimes that is the only lens I bring but lately I have also been carrying the 24-105 just in case. The 100-400 is heavy and I don't like it for long hikes. For the telephoto I would not get one without IS.
    I am looking to keep it around $2000 at this time, but there is a little room there. Is there any lens that would work ok for wildlife for a while at least...and give me more use. Maybe something like the 70-200mm? Is the 70-200mm more a travel, everyday zoom? I thought it seemed a bit heavy for something like that...​
    If $2000 includes the camera you will have to limit your lens purchase to about $700. That's not enough to get the 70-200 or 100-400. The Canon 10-20mm costs about $600 and with the 50D would put you vert close to $2000. My suggestions for you first lenses are:
    • I would suggest you look at the 55-250mm IS lens. It is a Kit type lens that according to the comments I have seen is a good lens. Later, after you have saved up some money, you could get the 100-400mm. Then the 55-250mm would then become your light weight telephoto for those times when the 100-400 is too heavy. Alternatively you could get the 70-300mm IS which has a little longer reach and better build quality over the 55-250 and cost significantly less than the 100-400mm. The 55-250 costs about $300 while the 70-300 will cost about $600.
    • For the normal to wide lens range you might want to seriously consider the 18-55mm IS. It is also a kit lens but does a reasonably good job. Later I would get the 10-20mm. The 18-55 is light and small and it would make a great addition to the 10-20mm and 55-250mm for a light weight landscape kit. It would also be a good lens to carry with the 100-400mm in case you find something that doesn't need the telephotos capabilities. The 18-55 cost $160.
    • If you want a fast lens either of the canon 50mm lenses (F1.8 or F1.4) would be a great choice. Alternatively you could get the 50mm F2.5 Macro lens. while not as fast as the other 50's it would still be faster than any of the zooms and would give you macro capability that none of the other have. The F1.8 is very popular since it costs about $90.
    A 50D with the 18-55 and the 55-250 would be within your budget and later would be nice additions to the other lenses you are thinking about. Eventually you could replace the 18-55 and 55-250 lenses with better quality lenses.
  30. I have found a good package that includes the 17-85IS and the 70-300IS for starters. I was thinking about either the 100mm Macro or the 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro too. Which is a better lens? I was thinking that the 50mm could be a good portrait and low light performer along with having the Macro capabilities. Do you think that this would be a good choice for a lens? Please let me know what you think. Thanks.
  31. Actually, I just found another package that I am considering. It contains the 24-105 IS and the 100-400 IS. What package would be better? This one or the 17-85 and 70-300. My other question still stands about the Macro lenses.
  32. Another package I am considering contains a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm. Of these 3 packages, which would be best for me and my interests? Would the 24-70mm make for a good walk around lens? I haven't heard much about this lens.
  33. Hi Laura,
    You can make yourself crazy trying to choose!
    First of all, be very careful about packages assembled by sellers, as opposed to what Canon offers in kits. Often those seller packages include cheap stuff that makes them sound good, but are pretty much a rip off when you get into them and consider the individual pieces more carefully.
    On the other hand, Canon's kits are usually good values. I have used and like the 28-135 IS that's often available in kit with the 50D. I used that lens before I got the 24-70/2.8 and find the image quality really isn't all that different. The biggest difference, besides it's the much higher price, is the build quality and dust sealing of the L-series lens, and its f2.8 aperture of course. The 28-135 is Canon's mid-grade... Decent, but not as durable or well sealed as an L.
    Buy a couple lenses that appeal to you and be aware that you will add more gradually in the future. Don't get too many lenses too fast. I started out with four specific (two zooms and two super teles) and it's taken me seven years to build up my lens kit to where it is today. I just sold a lens and purchased a different one in January, in fact. Your lens kit will likely always be evolving, so don't fret it too much.
    All I can tell you is what I chose, and why.
    I use the 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8 IS as my main lenses for work. I just added a Tokina 12-24/4 to have a wide zoom available too. That's usually in my camera bag while the other two lenses are on my cameras. I also have a 1.4X and extension tubes in the camera bag, which gives me a very versatile kit in a relatively small package.
    The other ten lenses in my Canon kit are all primes (not zooms) and some are pretty specialized. They include two macros, two tilt-shift, two super teles, and a four-lens portrait/walk around kit.
    Just speaking for myself, I don't mind an f4 lens for a super wide where I'm seldom concerned about rendering shallow depth of field and can hand hold pretty low shutter speeds, but I really can't live with anything slower than f2.8 in the middle to moderate tele focal lengths. Plus, for portraiture, street shooting, general walk around I like to use a modest set of prime lenses rather than the zooms, which I use for sports/events where they are necessary. That's just me... I like to shoot with primes whenever possible, but there are other times when a zoom is simply essential.
    I also really like IS on tele lenses and, after using several of them with it for a number of years now, really wouldn't want to be without it on my 70-200, 300 and 500mm. But, I don't find it all that important or necessary on lenses under 100mm. Granted, it's always nice on any lens so long as it doesn't add cost or weight, but I just don't find it all that essential on shorter focal lengths that I can manage to hand hold steady without it. Other people, perhaps including you, might and sometimes do feel differently.
    I haven't had experience with the 17-85 or any of the 70/75-300 you mention. There are plenty of reviews of those here and elsewhere on the Internet, though.
    If you want to make some lens to lens comparisons, I recommend Popular Photography's lens tests, which are archived on their website. They have a very consistent testing procedure which is helpful when trying to make comparisons. Their URL is Also, is a good place to look for comparisons, although they are a bit less careful about consistent testing methods.
    All four of the 70-200 Canon lenses are top quality, both in terms of build and image. All work well with the 1.4X teleconverter, too. I won't use a 2X with mine, though, because the IQ suffers too much in my opinion.
    A lot of people rave about the 17-55/2.8 IS, too. I haven't used it, though. It's pretty easy to add other lenses around it, to make up a nice kit, same as with the 24-70, 24-105 or 28-135.
    My favorite macro lens on crop sensor cameras is Canon's 100/2.8. It's also usable on full frame/film, and gives me good working distance from shy/nasty subjects, but not so far it's difficult to hand hold. 50mm macro lenses have never been my favorites, they just put me too close to the subject. And, my 180mm doesn't get used much except with my film cameras (full frame). But I should also point out that the 24-70 is quite close focusing and it's quite usable with macro extension tubes (as are the 28-135, 70-200, and my 50mm and 85mm primes, if needed).
    Now, when selecting lenses I've had to keep in mind ones that are compatible with the film cameras I use. I also plan to add full frame digital cameras, soon. So, for me, that's largely ruled out Canon's EF-S or third party "crop only" lenses. The one and only exception in my kit tight now is the Tokina 12-24 I just bought.
    When I do add full frame DSLRs to my kit, I'll likely be looking at some additional lenses or replacements. I know I'll need another tilt-shift lens for certain types of work. I'll also probably get a 24mm, a fast 35mm, and a 135mm, as those are all key lenses I've used a lot on film cameras in the past (and have equivalents for on crop sensor cameras now). I might even get a 200mm prime and, if I win the lottery, maybe an 800mm! But, I'll add or substitute lenses a bit at a time, as needed.
    So, in the end, I'd say just pick two or three lenses to get started and go for it. You can be sure you'll add more later, as needs arise. If you find you aren't happy with a particular lens, most are easily sold off. Canon's lenses hold their resale value better than third party, as a rule.

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