Which F2.8 wide angle lens for my Rebel XT?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by ginagrate, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. I have owned a Canon Rebel XT since 2006, as well as a Canon 70-300 IS lens. My Sigma wide-angle F3.5, 18-55mm lens recently broke and I need another wide-angle lens. I would like to go down to an F2.8 because we may be moving to Germany and I want to be able to shoot in lower light such as inside castles and cathedrals or in dusk to capture lighted buildings. I would need as wide as possible to capture large rooms and buildings. My budget is roughly $400. What do you suggest?
  2. Tamron 17-50 F/2.8
    This is my current main lens, it works great.
  3. You could buy a good used EF-S 17-85mm IS for your price range on eBay. As I just said on another post, it's a lens that those of us who use it love as an all-purpose lens. Despite its not being an f/2.8, it is very good for interiors because of the image stabilization. Sports, maybe not so much, but castles, churches, for sure. If you don't have the 50mm f/1.8 lens, it's great for low light and will be a short telephoto on your camera.
  4. The Tamron mentioned is a great lens, but it sounds like you may be looking for something wider. Although its $150 more than what you're looking to spend, the Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 is outstanding. Possibly a used copy would be more in your range. I find it excellent for indoor shots of buildings, churches, etc.
  5. I'm also looking for a wide angle lens, 2.8 or bigger aperture. I'm considering the Canon 28mm 1.8 (which I can't find anywhere right now), Canon 35mm 2.0, and the Sigma 30mm 1.4. The latter two can be found for around $300 - $400 or so. I have a Canon 50mm 1.8 and want a wider counter part.
  6. Mike 28 is not really that wide on a crop camera but I am very fond of the 28 1.8. I use it on a full frame body and I love the results I get with it. I really wish Canon would produce a 24 1.8. Non L prime. I also suggest the Tamron 17-50 2.8. Very good fit for a Rebel or 40/50 D and its small and light too.
  7. Yes, you're right Tommy, 28mm isn't real wide on a crop body. I use a 30D and a 28-135mm lens so I know what it looks like. I do have a 18-55mm for my outdoors wide angle. 28mm is "acceptable" most of the time, but I'm just looking for something faster for handheld indoor shots with no flash. Wider is prefered, but if it doesn't let in enough light it wouldn't do me any good. I'd like to have a lens faster than 2.8, but I know that's tough in this range without spending a lot. Since I'm not a pro, I'm looking to stay under $500, so something like a 24mm 1.4 isn't feasible. Eventually, I see myself going full frame and don't want to spend a lot of money on a lens that won't work with the bigger sensors. The Tamron isn't terribly expensive, but it's crop body only.
  8. I hear you mike I took the same route to full frame but keep in mind lenses hold pretty good value. I owned only 1 ef-s lens, the 10-22 and I sold it for more then I paid.
    As to the 28, I did like the 28 1.8 on a 40D. It gets some flack here for some reason but I have pretty good luck with it ( on a 40D and 5D2 ) and in real world having 1.8 at 28mm is a good thing. I too would like an L prime but I cannot justify spending that much on a prime since I photography mostly for fun. I was very tempted to get a 35 1.4 for my 5D2 but I ended up getting the 28 1.8 a used 85 and 17-40 all for about the same price. all of them are excellent lenses.
  9. Yeah, I'd like to have the 1.8 speed. The 28mm 1.8 isn't available anywhere I've seen right now though. I am considering the Sigma 30mm 1.4, even though it's crop body only, because of the speed. It's easier to justify it as a prime in my mind I guess. I've already got a wide zoom, albeit too slow for indoors without flash or tripod. I'm afraid the Tamron you mentioned wouldn't be fast enough at 2.8.
    Sorry, Gina, didn't mean to hijack your thread! :)
  10. I hear a lot of good things about the Sigma ( i never used it ) but if you plan to go to full frame in the near future I would get the Canon even if you have to wait or maybe look for one used. I see them on craigslist from time to time and places like KEH or adorama sell used gear. The 35 2.0 is supposed to be good too but I tend to get frustrated with non USM lenses. I have the 50 1.4 and while its a sharp lens and all I most always go with the 28 or 85.
  11. HA ha! Thanks guys. It is helpful to read about everyone's personal experience. I am going to ask a really ignorant question I don't always keep up with all the technical aspects of photography -- what is a crop body?
  12. Also, do you really feel comfortable with buying off eBay and the like? Could you still get a MACK warranty from B&H to go with it? I've already gotten use out of my MACK warranty on my camera body, so if I spend more than $400, I think it is probably worth it.
  13. Crop refers to the APS-C sensor used in the Rebels, 30/40/50ds and 7d cameras. Basically its a smaller sensor then a full frame 5D making the lenses give a longer effective focal length ( about 1.6 ) so a 50mm lens on a 5D would look like 80mm on your XT ( 50 x 1.6 = 80 )
    Read this, Bob explains this very well
    I personally never buy off Ebay, I have purchased used gear but only when I can inspect it in person.
  14. I'd recommend the Tokina 11-16 2.8
  15. Another vote for the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8.
    Don't know about the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, I've never tried that brand due to negative opinions and comments I've received from fellow photographers.
    Erwin Marlin
  16. I have the Tokina 11-16 2.8. Its the first non Nikon lens I ever owned and its brilliant. I really don't know where people get these negative views.
  17. "18-55mm lens recently broke and I need another wide-angle lens"
    From this comment I was assuming Gina meant 'another' lens within the same range. Of course, I could be wrong. Thus my recommendation for the Tamrom 17-50.
    "I would need as wide as possible to capture large rooms and buildings."
    There are wider lenses than the 17mm. (the Tokina 11-16). However, it doesn't really replace a standard range zoom (17-50 or 18-55).
    Gina, you are going to have to choose what is more important, a wider angle or a standard range, to replace the broken lens. Or ideally, if you have the money, both.
  18. I vote against the EFS 17-85mm lens for most folks - especially those wanting f/2.8, obviously! - but for the Canon EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS.
    About the former:
    The 17-85 could be OK for a shooter who really, really wants to not change lenses, who won't make prints larger than about letter size and/or will only share small online jpgs, who isn't concerned about some significant barrel/pincushion distortion, who is OK with only two truly useful apertures (f/5.6 and f/8) at the long end, who really think that the 55mm-85mm range from their one lens is critical, and so forth. There are such semi-casual users for whom in could be a decent choice.
    However, this lens has "issues." (Yes, I used one for about a year on an early DSLR - on the "XT," actually.) For a lens of this price, the resolution is truly sub-standard - especially in the typically very soft corners. It suffers from more than usual amounts of chromatic aberration. One review noted that it had worse pincushion/barrel distortion than they had ever seen before in such a lens. The rather small maximum aperture and variable aperture design means that at the long end you have little room to maneuver between "wide open" (at f/5.6) and the smallest aperture at which diffraction might not be a concern (f/8). All of this at a cost that is far higher than that of the optically-better EFS 18-55mm IS kit lens.
    If you aspire to create prints larger than letter size or if you shoot subjects in which the bowing lines at the edges of the frame might be an issue, you would do well to heed the reviews of this lens.
    Regarding the latter:
    The Canon EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 lens is not cheap - a new one will cost close to $1000 before you are done. However, this lens is in a completely different league than the 17-85 lens. If you compare its optical performance in cropped sensor bodies (www.slrgear.com is one good source) you'll see that it equals or even exceeds the performance of the 17-40 and 16-35 L lenses. It provides a larger focal length range that is more or less optimized for general use on cropped sensor bodies. It gives you the f/2.8 aperture you specified and it includes image-stabilization, making this one of the best zooms available for low light work.
    Going wider that this at f/2.8 is going to be tough, if not impossible. Yes, you would get 1mm wider with the 16-35, but that is hardly a compelling reason to get it instead of the 17-55.
  19. G. Dan, some of the issues you raise are valid, if less than serious in real use.
    I don't understand the "softness" problem. My 17-85mm is very nearly as sharp as my 24-105mm and serves the same niche on the APS-C bodies as the latter on 35mm. Photozone.de in a new test finds some softness at the corners but still gives it a decent rating with acknowledgment of its compromises (link )
    I have had no problems at all going to 13x19" glossy prints with this lens. I can only speculate that you must have got a "lemon" or at least one of lower than normal performance.
    Can anyone tell me where I am going to find a 17-55 f/2.8 for the $400 budget the OP had in mind? I think that it is way overpriced at its actual cost, but I would buy one for $400.
    We always go through this.
    A poster says they want a $400 lens, so immediately people who have actually spent a cool grand on a EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 post and say that the OP should get that lens.
    The 17-85 ain't perfect, but it is less than $400 used. It isn't f/2.8, I know, but the issue was the ability to cover interiors, which the 17-85 can do. Otherwise, f/2.8 or better is only possible for under $400 if you go to primes. Tripods are also usable for low light with any lens.
  20. The Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 is $450 New from Amazon.com
  21. Another thread I started has me wondering now. How much advantage is there really between the Tamron 17-50mm (no IS) at 2.8 and the Canon 18-55mm IS at 3.5? If you liked the 18-55mm focal length, you could stay with it by getting the very inexpensive Canon lens. 3.5 isn't very fast, but there is IS.
  22. There's also the Sigma 17-70mm, f/2.8 at the wide end. I use mine as my main lens and for closeups as it has macro capability.
  23. Hi, found a Tokina AF 11-16mm f/2.8 review at:
    I've already owned a Tamron 17-50mm: great zoom!
    Whatever your choice, if possible, buy it new!
  24. Forgive me if this sounds like a stupid question, but I've never shot the interior of a large building and I really don't know. I understand about the low-light aspect of a wide aperture, but doesn't the shallow depth of field play hell with composition in this circumstance? I would have thought f/8 and a steady platform would give greater sharpness front to back.
  25. Fred, yes a smaller aperture and tripod would be the ideal setup. However, I've shot a couple church interiors with f/2.8 at 17mm (using at Tamron 17-50).
    Basically, the wider angle-of-view, means less DOF issues. (I'm sure someone with the lens-lingo will be able to explain the science/optics of it). I have rarely been disappointed, you also have to kinda know where to pre-focus. I'm guessing that owners of the Tokina 11-16 that shoot at f/2.8 have very few complaints about DOF. Just have to know a little about focusing, and hyperfocal distance of the lens:
    Ex: 17mm @ f2.8 focus at say 30 feet, something like 18ft to infinite will be in focus... in theory... I'm guessing. This is not the case at 35mm or 50mm @f2.8.
  26. To those who like the 17-85, I'm glad you are happy with your lens. My views are based on using one for a year and they correspond to what most reviews say about the lens, so I think it is fair to say that I'm confirmed those reports for the most part.
    The issue of "bad copies" certainly brings up another issue that is not insignificant. In the past I've occasionally had others reply to my summary of the lens by pointing out that they got good results, so perhaps you'll be fine if you get a "good copy." If nothing else, the idea that a lens might or might not work well depending on the luck of the draw raises some real concerns about the lens.
    I could sometimes get what I'd call decently sharp centers in some photos with the lens - though certainly never anything close to what I get from my 24-105! But I never got good corners from the lens despite trying to optimize aperture selection and despite using a tripod. In particular detail in subjects like leaves or grass or similar was never very good.
    I'd also point out that the OP specifically asked about shooting architecture. I'm afraid that this is a significant weakness with this lens. While virtually any zoom will have at least some minor (and often insignificant or correctable) issues with barrel distortion at the wide end and perhaps pincushion distortion at the long end, the distortion from the 17-85 is quite serious. This may well not matter much for certain types of shooting, but the straight lines in architectural shots will reveal it quite quickly.
    While I did and do point out there there are users for whom this lens is a decent choice, anyone who has more "serious" goals for their photography should be cautious...
  27. G. Dan, we've been through this before, and I don't want to drag it out. BUT
    Given the $400 limit, there are going to have to be some compromises made. I know I'd go for the new 15-85mm if it is what I suspect it will be, but it costs 2X as much. I'd also go for a 16-35mm L lens, but again, it does cost a little more (and still has barrel distortion by the way). A TS-E 17mm would also be nice, but it's not $400, even though it apparently solves the distortion problem.
    And I have to say (I rise to the bait every time, just as you do).*
    Any lens from any manufacturer can be "good" or "bad" so the idea that this would disqualify a lens generally is unsound. The OP mentioned architecture and I showed (above) an interior shot taken at 17mm with the 17-85 that was uncorrected. I think the OP can judge for herself if it is "unacceptable", and certainly it could be easily corrected in software in any case. It's not an ideal lens for architecture, but it works when used with care. You had one year with the lens, I've had 4, so clearly my opinion is four times better than yours on this issue (;).
    Finally, your suggestion that the lens is not for "serious" photographers is , well, you know. You read the reviews very differently than I do, and I would suggest that anyone who takes the trouble to actually read Bob Atkins' and the Photozone reviews of the 17-85 lens for themselves will get a much better appreciation of both the weaknesses and strengths of this puppy than from this disagreement.
    *Perhaps you and I and a few others can start a 17-85mm forum of our own and then in the future we can just put in a link? Well, probably unnecessary now that the lens is discontinued. :p
  28. Some reviews of the 17-85:
    • http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/showproduct.php?product=222&sort=7&cat=27&page=3
    • http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/136/cat/11
    • http://www.photozone.de/active/survey/querylens.jsp
    • http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-S-17-85mm-f-4-5.6-IS-USM-Lens-Review.aspx (reviewer is in the minority in stating that it is better than the IS version of the 18-55 kit lens)
    • http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/reviews/ef-s_17-85_review.html (He summarizes much as I do: "Overall I can certainly recommend the EF-S 17-85/4-5.6 IS USM to anyone looking for a good "all round" lens, especially if they intend to shoot mostly "hand held" and don't like frequent lens swapping.")
    Your point about the budget limitation is well taken. But that takes us back to the OP's original post - wants a lens that goes to f/2.8 for architecture and captures "as wide as possible" and costs less than $400. I think we both recognize that this just isn't possible with a zoom, but I suppose we come down in different places when it comes to choosing which priorities to emphasize when finding a compromise.
    If the OP really needs f/2.8, there are some prime lens options that could get her there - though there are problems. While f/2.8 lenses are available and some are within the cost limitation, the "wide as possible" goal is much more expensive when shooting a cropped sensor body - since I doubt that even 20mm is what she is thinking of. (Just on the basis of price, some primes to look at otherwise might include the 24mm f/2.8, the 35mm f/2, and the 50mm f/1.8, etc.)
    So we come back to zooms. And f/2.8. And very wide. And under $400. Given all the reports I've read (and the photos I've viewed from my son who moved to this lens from the earlier non-IS version) I think that the less-expensive image-stabilized version of the EFS 18-55 could do the trick as well as the 17-85, and with purportedly equal IQ, a slightly lower cost (actually under the $400 limit for a new one with warranty). The only downside here - as with the 17-85 - is that neither gets here f/2.8. However, for architecture - generally a pretty static subject - the IS may compensate.
    I should apologize for my careless use of the term "serious." I know that there are all sorts of "serious" ways to photograph. Parents who pick up a T1i with the kit lens are undoubtedly "serious" about the photographs they make of their children. "Serious" photographs can be made with a Holga! So let me be more specific about who I think the 17-85 generally will and will not serve:
    Will work well for... a person who wants a one-lens solution (e.g. - doesn't want to mess around with swapping lenses) and will generally share electronic versions of photographs and/or print to letter size and who feels that they want a bit more "reach" from the one lens they leave on the camera. This certainly describes a lot of photographers who purchase the "rebel" series bodies and a number of those who purchase the X0D bodies.
    Will work less well for... a person who is looking for an inexpensive lens that can produce results that will consistently stand up to significant enlargement, or who shoot subjects in which the barrel/pincushion distortion is likely to be more easily seen, or a person who has a real need for larger apertures especially at the 85mm focal length.
    We'll probably continue to disagree about this lens, and that's the way the world goes I guess. In any case, anyone thinking about this lens now has two alternative views to ponder.
    Speaking of alternate forums and links and such, here is a link to my discussion of this lens at my web site: http://www.gdanmitchell.com/2005/11/21/canon-ef-s-17-85mm-is-f4-56
  29. Hi Gina,
    I would suggest buying the following 2 lenses:
    - Samyang 8mm f3.5
    - Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS
    I bought the first one recently from eBay and the Canon came with my 450D. The Canon is a confirmed better performer than the non IS version and you can buy it very cheap. The Samyang was a very nice surprise, even after reading a lot of good reviews before buying it. Something like $300 for the pair...
    I haven't yet used this lens for buildings, inside and out, but you can search Flickr for "Samyang 8mm". Then, choose most "Interesting": lots of great architectural shots.
    Some examples:
  30. Thank you everyone for all the comments and discussion, the links and photo examples. You have all been incredibly helpful in pointing me to lenses I wasn't even aware of! I am trying to sort through all the suggestions and commentary to make the best decision for my particular situation.
    One of you mentioned the narrow focal length with an F2.8. I do want to be able to capture a lot of detail at various depths of field, when necessary. Here are some examples of photos I shot with my Sigma that I want to be able to repeat with whatever new lens I purchase:
    Will F2.8 be able to capture this wide depth of field, or do I need to stick with an F3 or 4 to get this, and then just get a brighter flash?
    GDan also talked about the person who doesn't enlarge photos past the standard 4 by 6. I generally keep my photos at 4 by 6 for photo albums, but if I really get a good one, I have gone up to 10 by 15 for local art shows and displays. So I'd like to keep that option open.
    I still have my 70-300 telephoto and switch my lenses often, so that is not a problem for me. I hike with the whole kit and caboodle, as well as wander around Europe with all the gear in a waist-wrapping camera bag. So while I don't mind carrying gear, I do need it to be somewhat lightweight for high-altitude hiking and days of traveling on foot with it.
  31. Paulo, Thanks for sharing your photos! Those were awesome, and a good example of the depth of field I'd like the option to capture, as well as the largeness of a subject. I'll take a look at the Samyang.
  32. Gina, the issue in your photos is the need to achieve DEEP depth of field. That is not affected one bit by having a large aperture such as f/2.8. Primarily is is the result of shooting at a SMALL aperture such as f/8 (on crop) or possibly f/11. Neither of those photographs would ideally be shot at f/2.8 or even f/4 or f/5.6.
    For work of that type the best results will come from:
    • stopping down to a smaller aperture - f/8 or f/11 on a cropped sensor body.
    • using a tripod so that you can maintain camera stability at the lower shutter speeds.
    • perhaps raising ISO a bit.
    It also seems to me that shots like those are not taken using extremely wide angle lenses. Both seem well within the range of what the 18-55 would do.

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