Upgrading lenses

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by erin_brown|2, May 20, 2015.

  1. I recently purchased a 7d ii. It was an upgrade from my first model rebel that I purchased when they first came out. I have the kit lens that came with that, a 55-250, and that's it. I am going to buy a new lens in the very near future but have yet to decide. I mostly shoot wildlife and my kids (rodeo, wrestling, track, etc), with some portrait photography thrown in. I can NOT make up my mind. I often wish I had both a wider angle lens (for landscape) and I wish I had more zoom (always missing a good wildlife shot because the kids are with me and I'm not free to just ditch them to get closer, and noisy kids often screw up any attempt I might have at getting closer anyway). The biggest thing I don't like about the current lens is the terrible image quality--it seems blurry almost all the time. I guess that could be my own fault but with action shots, it almost has to be the slow to focus of the lens, right? I don't want to be changing lenses all that often. Anyway, I am considering the Tamron 16-300 but it seems like I would have the same problem with IQ on it, right? Or would it be enough better because its a newer lens? I am also thinking maybe the Canon 70-300 EF lens, or the old Canon 100-400 EF lens with another lens for the wide angle/portrait shots. Any thoughts on the combo that would give me the biggest bang for my buck and the best quality image? I'm sorry for my ramblings. So much running through my head.
  2. Consider a few things when you purchase a lens-
    1. Bodies will come and go- wear out, become out-dated, etc. Lenses are a lifetime investment. Don't go cheap.
    2. One lens won't do everything well. If anyone made an 11-300mm f2.8 lens, the image quality would likely suffer.
    As I was accumulating my kit, I made a lot of mistakes- buying lenses because they were cheaper, all purpose, etc. Now that I have a closet full of gear, there are 2 lenses that I reach for all the time- 24-105 f4.0L, and the 70-200 f2.8ii. Both with IS. There are instances when I shoot field sports where I'd like something longer, there are times I will reach for the 85mm or 135mm primes for portraits, but If I could have only 2- those are the ones.
    Good luck!
  3. I appreciate your response but I just can't afford $3000 in lenses right now. I want one upgrade that will suffice for now...in a $1500 price range. Of course I would prefer an unlimited pocketbook, but that, unfortunately, is not my situation at the present time. lol
  4. If you want a good telephoto zoom that will cover everything from portraits to sports, consider a 70-200 2.8. If you don't want to spend $3,000, make it a Sigma or Tamron. They both have 70-200's in your price range. For $1500, you might be able to get a Canon 70-200 2.8 used from a reputable place like KEH or B&H. The 70-200 is one of the time-tested bread-and-butter professional lenses along with a 24-70 2.8. I have both, plus a 12-24, and they cover 90 percent of my needs for everything from news to weddings.

    Granted, a 55-250 kit lens is not going to be the highest quality. But that doesn't mean you can't get sharp pictures with it. If it truly "seems blurry almost all the time" you need to work on your technique. Buying another lens won't necessarily make any difference, and before you spend money I would work on getting to the point where you can get good results from the lens you have.

    Steve is correct that a do-everything lens does nothing well. Changing lenses is why you bought a DSLR instead of a point and shoot. You need a minimum of two lenses, but two -- like the 24-70 and 70-200 -- can be enough to cover most things.
  5. Well then maybe its technique help I need...although I still suspect its the lens and not OE. Not all pictures are blurry but any of the action shots are. My stills are crystal clear. I'm not sure what to change to make the action shots more crisp? Is the 70-300 just not a great lens? That's the one I've really been leaning towards...
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Usually the cause of blurry action shots is too low a shutter speed.
  7. Is the 70-300 just not a great lens?​
    There are two Canon 70-300 IS lenses, the L and the non-L. I've rented the L and it is a great lens. The non-L has a reputation as a good lens.

    There are also assorted Canon 75-300 lenses, non-IS, which are generally not as good as the 55-250 you already have.

    Personally, with your budget and needs, I'd look at a 70-200 f/4 L IS (if you don't need long telephoto) or a used 100-400 L (the mark I version) or used 70-300 L.
  8. it seems blurry almost all the time​
    Before throwing wads of money at a new lens, you should try to figure out the issue you're having. I would suggest four possibilities:
    1. front/back focus (auto focusing errors). You should be able to do micro-adjustments to rectify this. (I know this can be done, but I have no experience with it on my older cameras.)
    2. shutter speed too low
    3. bad holding technique
    4. defective lens
    So the first question you need to answer is whether your lens can take a satisfactorily sharp picture. For that, I would take the camera and lens outside in the full daylight sun. Perch them atop a tripod. Aim squarely at a brick wall. Set your aperture to f/8, and turn off the IS. Focus manually using 10x magnification in liveview. Snap a frame using either a cable release or the self-timer (i.e. not touching the camera). Load into your computer, and scrutinize the photo. If you're satisfied with the sharpness, the problem is something else. In that case, a new lens would not help you.
    The next test is auto-focus. Repeat the above, except use auto-focus and the largest aperture. Shoot several frames, pre-setting the focus at various random starting positions. If the focus is not good, then you probably have a front/back focus problem. Note: The lens will not be as sharp wide open as at f/8, but neither should the focus be "blurry"
    Assuming your AF passes muster, consider your choice of shutter speed and holding technique. The worse your technique, the higher the shutter speed you will need. And to catch action, you probably need considerable speed anyway -- 1/500 or faster. IS will help considerably with camera shake if you're photographing a still subject, but it is a useless feature if your subject is moving quickly.
  9. "I mostly shoot wildlife and my kids
    (rodeo, wrestling, track, etc), with some
    portrait photography thrown in."

    I've been very satisfied with my 100-
    400 L for several years now and, it was
    originally purchased with the "biggest
    bang for the buck" thought.

    However today, if faced with the same
    decision, I'd be giving the Tamron 150-
    600 serious consideration. I seem to
    recall it's MSRP somewhere around
    $1100.00 (US).
    That might even leave enough of your
    budget to look for something like a
    used Tamron 17-50 f2.8 or the Canon
    85 f1.8, either of which would perform
    well for most of the non-wildlife,
    children & portrait type desires.

    You might also consider renting the
    telephoto's before laying the purchase
    money down. As previously indicated,
    technique is very important with larger
    lens as well as the overall slight
    learning curve involved for sharp, crisp
    wildlife photo's

    Best Wishes,
    Jim j.
  10. My reason for not considering the tamron 150-600 at this point is that the canon 100-400 cropped to 600 had the same image quality and crispness as tamron...based on internet reviews I have done. And because I do want the wider angle on the low end, I am hesitant to give up that 50 mm. I don't think it was shutter speed, but I am just learning this camera. However, I think I had the shutter speed as fast as it would go for the few shots I took two days ago that really irritated me and set me on my renewed mission to buy a new lens (I've been lusting for quite some time). It could be my holding technique but I don't want to have to set a tripod up...that also doesn't seem feasible with kids but maybe I'm just being hesitant because I've never really gotten used to that idea.
    Maybe renting is a good option. I am also considering buying a used 70-200 f/1.8. That looks like a great option--I am just SO hesitant to buy used, having been burned in the past by that.
  11. It's not the lens, it's your technique. The lens is slow at the long end (f5.6), which forces the camera to slow the shutter speed to obtain enough light for the picture to expose correctly. The complaint that action shots are always blurry further supports this conclusion. I would advise setting the camera to Tv (time priority), and control your shutter speed specifically. allow the camera to auto select the ISO, and I think you'll see a correlation between your shutter speed, and the blurriness.
    Every lens discussed so far will do the same (except for the 70-200/2.8, which is considerably shorter FL than your current lens (ie. wider)). given the same technique.
  12. Erin,
    IMHO I doubt you'd miss that 50mm
    FOV on the lower end of the zoom range
    and, to me, that 200mm gain on the
    upper end would certainly justify the

    When shooting Birds & Wildlife I usually
    find myself zoomed all the way out to
    400mm and desiring more! And, my
    "hunting" skills are very good allowing
    me to get closer to the wild subjects
    than many.

    I do also in some instances use the
    1.4X TC which works fairly well with
    the100-400 on subjects that don't
    move around fast or often.

    If you should decide to view any of my
    posted photo's here you may find some
    useful info under the details tab. I'm
    pretty consistent in providing
    equipment used and details.

    Even in wildlife, I'd be at the top of the
    list admitting that a good Tripod &
    Monopod is one of the absolute best
    investments and biggest bang for the
    buck that you'll find in your desire for
    sharp, crisp photo's. Yes, they can
    seem to be a pain but for me, well worth
    the added effort.

    Best Wishes,
    Jim j.
  13. I am leaning toward the 100-400 at this point. There is a used old model on B&H...is the old model going to give me the results I want? Its SO old, lol, and that's why I was shying away from the older one. I obviously can't afford the new version. Thanks so much for all your input! Very very helpful!
  14. I have the 100-400L and it's a great lens, but first I would suggest you check out what Jeff Spirer and Sarah Fox said above. When you're photographing any kind of action, a high shutter speed is a must--sometimes higher than you think. And this is easy to test with the lens that you already have. Try photographing running kids, a running dog, a fast moving car and bump that shutter speed up along with the ISO. Also, if you select a high shutter speed in Tv mode, the camera is likely to select a very large aperture and that means a very narrow depth of field depending on how close the subject is. If it's moving towards or away from you, it can move out of your depth of field quickly. I don't want to talk you out of a new lens purchase, but you would be disappointed to spend a lot of money on a new lens just to see that your problem remains.
  15. Erin,
    Have you used the 100-400? It is a beast of a lens. Many people have it and love it. It is a very good lens, but it is heavy. Consider renting it first to see if you will want it. It would be prudent to work out your technique with moving subjects first.
  16. I used the 70-200/4 on a crop body, and it doesn't knock backgrounds out that well. The 24-105/4 would suffer from the same concern.
    I ended up with the 70-200/2.8 non-IS. IS is great, but high ISO makes up for a lot of sins.
  17. Thank you all for your responses. I think I will play with the setup I have currently and see what I can do for improvement. However, I still want a new lens. lol
    I added a photo to my workspace (I think!)...would love feedback on how to improve it. I think the subject is too dark but I wanted to expose for the background as well, so I think it ended up a good middle ground. There is blur in the helmet but the splash looks okay. Its my son--real boys wear purple when they get muddy! haha
  18. Erin, you've gotten a lot of good advice but I'll go ahead and pile on a little bit more. You mentioned that your action shots suffered whereas your stills didn't. You can go back and analyze your shots looking at the EXIF data and get some idea where the problems lay. I'll take a guess here and say that they were due to slower shutter speeds while you were trying to follow the movement of the action. There's a technique to this. For years I was a motorsports photographer and I learned by doing. And one of the things I learned was I couldn't use high shutter speeds on race cars zooming past me at 150 to 200 mph because it froze the action. It made the cars look like they were parked on the track. So I learned to pan my shots. Panning is not all that difficult but it does take some practice to get it right. You want to pan smoothly during the photo and have a follow-through to your pan, just like a golf swing. The resulting shot blurs the background and the wheels of the car. Motion is obvious. And a lot of blur means they're really moving fast. Now, the smoothness of the pan and a good follow through wll insure that your subject remains in sharp focus, but, with panning, the cars are moving tangentially with respect to my position. When I had to catch a car coming towards me, I had to adjust the shutter speed upward, because in those cases the blur wouldn't work. The entire car would blur, so a high shutter speed was required. Now, if you're shooting outdoor sports like football or soccer, these same rules will apply. If a player is moving tangentially with respect to your position, try a slower shutter speed, say 1/60 -- no faster than 1/125. You will blur their legs (and possibly their arms) and you'll blur the background, but the subject should remain sharp as long as your smoothly panning with a good follow through. If the action is moving toward you or away from you, then you need to use a faster shutter speed.
    Now remember, one great thing about today's DSLRs is their ability to handle high ISOs very well. So don't be afraid to bump up the ISO to get your shutter speeds back up when you're shooting with a slow lens or where the lens is stopped down a ways. Get comfortable with your camera's abilities so you can alter things quickly, as needed.
    Now, as for lenses, well with a $1500 budget I would say you have quite a bit of flexibility. I don't know which lens to suggest off hand, but I certainly would not reject the 3rd party makers out of hand. These days Tamron and Sigma are producing optics of almost legendary quality, for a fraction of what the big name camera makers are. Since you're shooting with a crop body camera, you have basically two choices: lenses designed for crop bodies, or going with something like a Lens Turbo or Metabones Speed Booster and lenses intended for Full Frame cameras. If you have any design for getting an FF camera in your future, you might want to seriously consider the Lens Turbo or Speed Booster. They actually produce rather good images, even on the corners.
    But anyway, let's say your staying with EF-S lenses (or the Sigma or Tamron equivalent). I recommend a lens with at least 16mm on the wide end. This corresponds to 24mm with an ff camera. And 24mm is so much more useful of a wide angle than 28mm. 20mm is even better and 17mm is even better than that. But in APS-C, we'd be talking about, what? 14mm and 10mm or 11mm or so? Probably. Ultra wides are a blast, so you might want to seriously consider one if your budget permits. And I think you'll be better off quality wise if you split your choice up into at least two lenses. So get a 16-80mm or whatever, and then a 70-300 or so. Or if you want to include ultra wides, see if you can fit a 10-35 or so into your budget as well. But since you have a $1500 budget, don't buy cheap lenses. And don't rule out used, either. You can often save a lot of money if you buy clean used optics -- I know, I've been doing it for over 25 years.
    I just recently bought a Sony NEX 7, which is APS-C, a 1.5x crop. If I had $1500 to spend on a couple or three zooms, I'd be in a much different situation from you because there still isn't much of a selection for lenses for mirrorless cameras. Sony makes a 10-18mm zoom and Tamron makes an 18-200mm zoom, and that would be the route I'd take -- and it would also blow that $1500 wad to smithereens.
    So anyway, do your homework and if you have a camera shop nearby that stocks lenses you might be interested in, take your camera along and try some of the lenses out. Afterwards, you can take a look at the sample shots you took with your camera, and this may help you narrow your choices. Good luck, and let us know how things went for you.
  19. Something not talked about are your camera settings. Your camera should be set to follow the action. So when
    you are shooting action scenes your camera will follow the action that you are aiming at, such as the leading
    horse in the horse race. If you do NOT set this camera function the camera gets fooled and it doesn't know what
    to follow, usually your images will be out of focus, not blurry. There's a difference between blurry and out of
    focus and you can often see this in the actual image.

    So can you post an image or 2 to help us guide you for the very best proper camera settings?

    There's also panning, which is following the action. Lets say you are photographing a horse race and you are
    following the lead horses. This is called panning. The camera is moving at the same speed as the horses. Most likely the horses will be razor sharp, but the foreground
    and the background will be blurry.

    Now lets say that you set the camera up to just the finish line of the horse race. You've pre-focused this. You
    take the shot as the horses cross the finish line. You haven't moved the camera. Chances are the horses will be out of focus unless you are
    shooting around 4000th of a second. Even 8000th of a second will result in very sharp picture captures. Thats exciting to view. At 100th of a
    second your images will be soft. Too much movement.

    As others suggested, getting a used 70-200L-IS, 2.8 lens will be a good buy. Spend a few extra bucks and go
    with a store that will offer a 3 to 6 month warranty just in case. Avoid places like Craigslist and ebay.

    I don't like the 100-400 Canon lens, the first version. For sports the focusing is simply way too slow. I haven't
    tested the new 100-400 mark 2 version yet.

    For action shots, regardless of how you are shooting, try to use the fastest camera speed setting you can.
    2000th to 4000th of a second is often ideal, if the lighting is favorable. Some sports professional photographers
    prefer prime lenses because they generally focus much faster compared to zoom lenses. Also the glass with
    longer lenses is really wicked sharp. For example a 100-400 lens when shooting a horse race can be very sharp. But if
    you compare this lens to a 300mm prime lens you will be able to count the eyelashes on the horse! Hope this
    helps and post an image if you can.
  20. I can't upload a photo to my response, I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I did upload it to my profile. I also thought I had already responded to this, LOL.
  21. I used to own a 70-300. I sold it. I bought a Canon 100-400 L used from a local camera shop, it is a much better lens for wild life than the 70-300 in my opinion. I use it with my 40D, 7D and 6D. Not a fast lens, but very good for out door use in the day time in my opinion. It is heavy, built like a tank. Just enough reach to be a entry level birding lens. I have no regrets. In lower light you may want to go into live view mode for focusing using a tripod. I recommend a strong tripod and good ball head mount that can handle the weight. The small consumer tripods tend to not be steady with this lens. The lens does have two modes of IS though and can take great shots hand held at a reasonable shutter speed. But if you are going for some longer exposure stuff a good strong tripod and mount will be appreciated. Just my thoughts.
  22. Sample shot LINK Canon 7D with Canon 100-400L. I imagine a 7D MK II would do very well with this lens. If you look at my portfolio you can see a lot of shot with this lens.
  23. So what is a good tripod for use with that set up? I have no idea what would be too cheap. I ended up ordering a used 70-200 f/4. I found a used 2.8 IS mki but didn't move quickly enough and it sold. But I think this is better anyway because it gives me the flexibility to buy another lens in the nearer future. I really take a lot of close ups of flowers and insects. Do I need an actual macro lens or can I get by with something like the 100-400?
  24. I am using an Induro tripod, LINK, I have an older version of the AT alloy one, heavy, very strong, but I am looking at the new carbon CT online here and wondering if it is lighter weight. There are other good brands. I am also using an older heavy Manfrotto 488RC4 ball head and quick release that was rated for around 17+ lbs. I think the 498RC4 is the newer version that replaces it. Maybe a bit over kill but it will probably handle anything I might own in the future. I wanted something solid that would not shake in the wind. There are other good brands on the market. I got mine a few years back. The rig is heavy and gives me a work out if I take it out for a day in nature. If there is a good sturdy carbon fiber rig that is really strong and sturdy, I would recommend going that route to save weight. I also use a heavy Manfroto mono pod which is very nice for walking through the woods. Stop at a good camera store that has a good selection, talk to the guys at the shop, tell them you want something that will not shake or vibrate with a big lens. Make sure what you get is rated for the weight or more. There is so much good gear out there to choose from. I am sure others can tell you what they use, there may be better set ups. This just happens to be my set up.
  25. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    As a general comment, there might be several reasons why the action images that you make are dissatisfying to you. I agree with the opinion that most often IMAGE BLUR in action shots is caused by using too slow a Shutter Speed.
    I think I will play with the setup I have currently and see what I can do for improvement. However, I still want a new lens. lol
    I added a photo to my workspace (I think!)...would love feedback on how to improve it. I think the subject is too dark but I wanted to expose for the background as well, so I think it ended up a good middle ground. There is blur in the helmet but the splash looks okay.​
    However, I am now ONLY referring to the one image in your portfolio and comment only on that sample image.
    On my monitor there appears NO image blur in the helmet, or in any other part of the frame. EXIF reveals Tv = 1/2000s and that probably should have been fast enough to arrest any SUBJECT MOTION BLUR of that image and the expected speed of travel.
    What is problematic is the position of the sun relative to the Subject and the Direction of Motion of the Subject. The sun is high and slightly behind the RH Shoulder of the Subject, which renders all the front of the Subject in SHADOW and the top of the helmet with some hard specular reflections.
    My guess is you were using the 55 to 250 zoom without lens hood on it and possibly a filter on the end of the lens. I think that the image presents with a small to moderate amount of VEILING FLARE. This happens when some extraneous light gets into the lens and bounces around off the surfaces of the elements or off the filter on the end of the lens. The main result is a lack of contrast, especially mid-tone contrast and or a milky cloud over the image. This type of Flare can be exacerbated by using a ZOOM LENS and using a LARGE APERTURE. (I note that if you were using the 55 to 250 it would be wide open at FL = 84mm.)
    What you are defining as “blur” in this image, I think is simply a lack of acutance and apparent lack of sharpness caused by the Flare.
    Also, I think that there is an error in the EXPOSURE that you chose; noted that you were balancing the (lighter) Background and the (darker) Subject. Ideally we would like to use FILL LIGHT in this type of lighting scenario. Using FLASH would be both cumbersome and expensive to arrange and also difficult to execute, but you could try using a BIG REFLECTOR – if you are handy you could make one.
    Easier would be to make these images when the sun was more directly on the Subject’s FRONT. Note also that quite dramatic action images can be made with very hard side sunlight – so that means early mornings or near sunset can be a good time to ride Quad Bikes and splash mud.
    However, back the shot in question, and the exposure of it – in most situations like this, (Back-lit Subject) it is better to expose for a better rendition of the SUBJECT at the expense of the background. With practice and review it is not difficult to learn how much you can overexpose the background highlights and still recover them in Post Production. In post production, it is usually always easier to get the recoverable highlights looking good than drudging up lost details in the shadows.
    Also the image requires some sharpening.
    Also cropping the image tighter can give the illusion of the Subject being sharper, simply because the Subject is more dominant in the frame
    You pulled the shot at: F/5 @ 1/2000s @ ISO250
    With that lens I would have probably pulled something like: F/8 @ 1/1000s @ ISO 800
    Rational: F/8 because that lens works better there and there would be less chance of the Flare I mentioned. 1/1000s should still stop that speed, that direction and that distance to camera.
    Below is an A/B comparison, the edit has sharpening; an attempt to dig some detail out of the shadows an dis cropped for emphasis – but as I mentioned, for that shot I would have exposed it more biased toward a better rendition of the Subject: probably even 1½Stops more and then used post production to balance the background and foreground.
  26. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Sorry that's a bit small - this shows it better:
    But hopefully this also shows that there is not really a lot of detail in those dark shadows and that my point is to bias the original exposure to nail the Subject in the best light, would have been better.
  27. I did take some shots with different exposures as I was specifically playing with exposure! LOL I will have to go through those and see what the effect was. I do not use a hood or a filter. I am sure the lens was wide open. I tried to get closer to get a better shot without having to zoom in so far but he was way too interested in the camera when I as closer and I couldn't get him to focus on the splash, which is the part he was enjoying so much. I really appreciate your input here and your help. This has been one of the nicest forums I've been on--where people are genuinely trying to help! Thank you for that! Also, because of where we live mornings and evening are still way too cold for much play outside. My new (used) lens will have a hood, so it will be really fun to play with that!

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