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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    4

    Choosing the right camera/lens setup

    I need some advice from you more experienced people out there...

    A couple of years I "stepped up" from a 35mm snapshot camera to a 35mm SLR (Canon EOS-300) with great expectations on taking even better pictures than before.
    Suffice to say that I never really got the hang of using it fully and ending up with the automatic settings, but was never really happy with the results.
    Having read through a lot of forum messages here and there I understand that the kit lens (Canon EF 28-90mm, 1:4-5.6) is totally crap.
    It might also have to do with comparing my paper prints with glorious, sharp, vivid digital camera images I see on web pages and web-galleries.

    But I'm ready to give photography another go.
    Even though I now have a bad feeling about Canon I'm willing to give it another go, having learnt about how important a good lens is and the great results of EOS-350D tests I've read. It's a toss between the Canon EOS-350D and the Nikon D-50, as they're the ones that fit best into my budget.

    The next question is choice of lens(es). I'm even more confused about that than the camera as it seems you can't really go wrong with either of the two cameras I mentioned whereas with lenses you can really go wrong!
    So what kind of pictures do I take?
    Well, when on vacations and travelling I take lots of pictures, which also means a lot of different situations: landscape, people, architecture, you name it. It also means that I'll be taking pictures in addition to vacationing, not the other way round (a photographer going to places specifically to take pictures), so this in turn means no dedicated heavy and bulky camera bag. I need something handy which just works.
    A compact camera would be ideal for that, but wouldn't give me the quality that I want, and would probably limit things as well.

    So could I do with just one (good quality) lens, or do I really need several interchangeable ones? I've read the sticky about lenses here, but along with the reviews on cameras and everything else it's all getting a bit too much and overwhelming for me. I'm one for spending a little time getting the right gear rather than buying something on impulse, then finding out that I needed something else, but I could really use some pointers here.
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    1,807
    what's your budget for lenses? the best do-it-all lens is probably the nikon 18-200 VR, and you'll probably still want a 50 f1.8 to go with it. this would make a fairly small and light kit.

    i wouldn't recommend a 3rd party lens on a canon body, as there seem to be AF issues. i've experienced this first hand

    the main reason why i have so many seperate lenses is because it allows me to do more (less limitations). for example the 70-200 f2.8 lets me keep my shutter speeds up and shoot moving subjects in not so perfect light (where a 200mm f5.6 stabilized lens wouldn't work). i can put an extender on it like a 1.4x TC, making it 98-280mm f4 and still shoot at double the shutter speed of a f5.6 lens. the larger aperture also give more control over background blur.
    Last edited by ReF; 05-19-2006 at 05:59 PM.
    canon 17-40 L, 70-200 f2.8 L, 400 f5.6 L, 50 f1.4 & f1.8, 1.4x TC, sigma 15 f2.8 fisheye, flash 500 DG Super, kenko extension tubes

    note to self: don't participate in sad, silly threads unless you're looking for sad, silly responses.

    "anti-BS filter" (from andy): http://dcresource.com/forums/showpos...94&postcount=4

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,549

    Thumbs up A nice combo

    For all around shooting... the 28-75mm f/2.8 is a hot commodity on any camera body, be it the Nikon or the Canon.

    If you do not feel it gives you the range you seek, you can always drop back to an 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 (commonly termed a "utility lens"), expanding both ranges (wide and tele) while maintaining only one lens on the camera. You will need a flash for indoor shots... due to the compactness of just such a lens, but that is a minor point if a lot of your anticipated shooting is actually outdoors. You can quickly shoot 'little Johnny" out on the playing field, yet get "Joe-Cheering-Blowhard" on the bleachers next to you.

    The best way to quickly evaluate your lens needs are to use the Tamron demonstrator. It will also match whatever lens can accomodate the range you select. The link below will take you there:

    http://www.tamroneurope.com/flc.htm

    Close the initial warning window and just play around with it to gauge what you may need. Write down the choices, then hop on over to the camera shop for a "hands-on, look-see."

    Good luck
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    4
    Wow! That Tamron website really helped get things in eh.... perspective
    From this I gather some good and bad news.
    On the good side it looks like a digital SLR give me a very good zoom. Comparing with my 28-90mm EOS-300 lens I see that there's a tremendous difference betwen 90mm on a 35mm SLR and 90mm on a digital. I can get much closer!!!
    I guess you can never get enough zoom, but overall I've felt that I could need a little more zoom on my EOS-300, but with 90mm I really have a 144mm lens (90mm x 1.6), right?

    On the downside the wide angle isn't very good. 28mm on a 35mm SLR gives a much wider picture than on a digital SLR.
    Looks like I need something like 11mm for getting "the whole picture".

    Seems to me that the suggestion of a 18-200mm lens as an "allround lens" is a good idea. But would there be a lot of compromise in terms of quality?
    I don't want to repeat my bad experience with the "kit" lens on my EOS-300 (who knows, maybe the EOS-300 itself is crap as well), so this time around I want to choose wisely.

    However, looking through the current Canon catalog I can't find any 18-200mm lens. There's the EF 28-300mm 3.5-5.6L, but that's way out of my budget. The EF 70-100mm 1.8L IS USM is also way beyond my current budget.
    Would a Canon EF 24-105mm 4L IS USM be something good to go for? Or could I get a good and versatile lens for even less?

    So if I choose Canon, which lens would be most useful for me as an allround lens? And how does Nikon compare to Canon quality and pricewise when it comes to lenses?


    Yes, I've heard a lot of people say that a 50mm lens (especially the Canon EF 50mm 1.8 II) is a "must have" for anyone with an SLR camera. Is this because such a lens will be useful for indoor photography?
    Still, with a digital SLR, 50mm becomes 80mm, which is almost the full zoom of my EOS-300 lens. Perhaps the 50mm lens is more applicable for portraits?

    I was thinking that while travelling, an "allround" lens would be great for outdoor photography as mentioned here, but if I go indoor I would need something else because of the allround lense's lighting limitations, but a wider angle would be more useful as with indoor photography for me would be shopping malls and other buildings and architecture.
    So what use would a 50mm lens have for me?

    I've also read that although the Canon 50mm 1.8 II has excellent optics (very sharp and with low distortion), the rest of it is pretty crappy and "cheap" built. They say that the older version (version I) is better build with a metal ring instead of plastic as the version II. I don't know if there are other differences as well, and I assume that it's very sought after and hard to get on the 2nd hand market?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    4
    Thanks for those comments. I seem to be learning new things every day by reading these and other postings, as well as getting more and more confused because of what I don't know

    Anyway, I've decided on getting the Canon EOS-350D. After reading several tests I found that it gives less image "noise" than the Nikon D-50 and with the 2000 extra Mpixels I can make bigger prints or crop more. Also (contrary to most complaints) I actually found the EOS-350D better to hold in my hands. The compact size comes in handy when travelling!

    Now, down to the lenses.
    I've learnt that there's always a compromise, so considering cost/quality and of course weight/size I've decided on two lenses: one lens for "allround" every type of situation use, and another lens which will be a zoom so I can get really close. I'll be bringing along a cheap, small and light tripod for taking city night-landscape photos.
    Specificially I've come to this conclusion (so far), although nothing's decided yet and if some other, better suggestion comes up I'm listening:

    Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
    Canon EFS 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    I've read a lot of good things about the 70-300mm, where one place it was even described as "an L-lens in disguise"!!!!
    I do know that there are some issues with it right now, when using it in portrait mode or something, and Canon is looking into it, so perhaps I should wait a bit until this has been resolved. But All in all this lens seems to get an overall good response in tests.

    Then there's the "allround" lens. This is trickier and I've spent countless days already scouring the web for tests and reviews. The results vary from "can't see any difference between it and the EFS 18-55mm kit lens" and "a very good allround lens", so without having much experience or knowledge in the field, what should I conclude this with?

    As for the kit lens; I'm sure the EFS-18-55mm isn't much better than the 28-90mm that came along with my EOS-300, so I think I'll just be buying the camera body.

    But what would be a good allround lens?
    Is the EFS 17-85mm really that bad? Or is it just professional photographers talking, comparing it to the most expensive "L" lenses, whereas me, as a novice (a quality conscious one at that) wouldn't know or see the difference of the results?

    Alternatively i've been suggested the EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, but it doesn't have IS and I will probably miss out on a lot of subjects because of the lacking zoom (or maybe not). There's the EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, but that one's too expensive for me.
    Other lenses don't have a wide angle.
    So what do you guys suggest?

    As I said I'll be travelling a lot, and I would like to have the ability to take photos in all sorts of situations such as people in the streets, urban architecture (skyscrapers and other buildings), inside shopping malls or other buildings (usually well lit, hoping this will be good enough without a flash), views from a bus, train or ferry etc.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    6,590
    well, the 70-300 IS USM is a good lens for its type, yes. Apart from the apparent problem. But the 17-85 IS USM is not such a great choice. It just "lacks", mostly in contrast and colour, which does not make it a favorite lens with most people who have tried it.

    If you want all in one, you either get Canon or Nikon with a Sigma 18-200, or you get a Nikon with a Nikon 18-200 lens.

    But if you do not mind changing lenses, and you do want wide, you could look at a Tokina 12-24, and then something in the middle. Like an EF 28-105 f3.5-4.5 USM II (very affordable). Or the even more affordable EF 28-70 USM II (if you can find it still somewhere). Of course the Canon EF 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM is a good wide zoom too, but it is a bit more expensive than the Tokina.

    Both on Canon and Sigma the 70-300 APO DG from Sigma is a good and cheap alternative for the better but more expensive Canon 70-300, and the Sigma throws in a 1:2 macro mode in for free.

    Nikon and Canon compare quite well... some Nikon lenses are great, some are not, same with Canon. Equivalent lenses from nikon tend to be a a little bit more expensive over the range, but the prices are pretty comparable too.
    Last edited by coldrain; 05-29-2006 at 02:25 AM.
    Canon EOS 350D, Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 macro, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC EX, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, Tokina AT-X124 Pro 12-24mm F4, Soligor 1.7x C/D4 DG Teleconvertor, Manfrotto 724B tripod, Canon Powershot S30

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    1,807
    tygrr,
    it's really nice to see when people do their research!

    you will notice the 17-85's lack of contrast, color and sharpness right off the bat. it was my starter lens and within a week i was arranging to have it returned and order new lenses.

    the 70-300 IS is supposed to be a very good lens. for about the same price there is also the 70-200 f4 L - really great lens but you'll need a 1.4x TC to get more reach and it lacks IS. tough choice. Tamron SP and Kenko Pro 1.4x TC are said to be of high quality, and coldrain seems pretty happy with his soligor 1.7x TC.

    walk-around lens? since it seems you want to minimize lens switching it's probably best to start in the 17/18mm range and leave out the 28mm choices. many of the members here that have used the 17-40 L seem pretty happy with it (i like it too). but some may find it's a bit short as a walk-around. the only other canon lenses that start in that range are the 17-55 IS, 17-35 f2.8 L, 18-55 kit lens, and the overpriced 17-85 IS. there are quite a few third party alternative but i can't recommend them on a canon body.

    nikon seems to work better with third party lenses and offers a better 50mm f1.8. don't know anything about their selection of 70-300mm lenses though
    Last edited by ReF; 05-29-2006 at 04:19 AM.
    canon 17-40 L, 70-200 f2.8 L, 400 f5.6 L, 50 f1.4 & f1.8, 1.4x TC, sigma 15 f2.8 fisheye, flash 500 DG Super, kenko extension tubes

    note to self: don't participate in sad, silly threads unless you're looking for sad, silly responses.

    "anti-BS filter" (from andy): http://dcresource.com/forums/showpos...94&postcount=4

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    539
    I'm definitely not one of the more experienced ones, but here's my unsolicited $0.02:

    Quote Originally Posted by tygrr
    It's a toss between the Canon EOS-350D and the Nikon D-50, as they're the ones that fit best into my budget.
    What is your budget, btw? (Also, just pointing out the obvious - these 2 use different memory cards in case you already had existing ones. Do you plan on getting a battery grip? There's no OEM grip for the D50.)

    Well, when on vacations and travelling I take lots of pictures, which also means a lot of different situations: landscape, people, architecture, you name it. It also means that I'll be taking pictures in addition to vacationing, not the other way round (a photographer going to places specifically to take pictures), so this in turn means no dedicated heavy and bulky camera bag. I need something handy which just works.
    If you want to stick with Canon lenses, under $300, you can get the Canon 28-105 II. Between $400 and $500, you can get the Canon 28-135 IS or 17-85 IS (to me, the latter is really just the cropper variant of the former). In the $1200 range, you can get the Canon 24-105 L or 17-55 IS, both of which weigh in the 1.5lb category.

    I personally find 28mm too long on a cropper, so, budget aside, my top choices of the lenses listed above for a "jack-of-all trades" would be the 17-85 or 24-105. The 17-55 is a fine (and expensive) lens that has a shorter range than either of those two.

    The Nikon "jack-of-all trades" is the Nikon 18-200 VR for $750 (not sure if there's still a shortage issue on this).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    6,590
    If you want an all in one lens, the Sigma 18-200 is a good choice BOTH on Nikon and on Sigma.

    Don'ty think no 2rd party lens works well on a Canon, that is just inflated nonsense. Some lenses are a bit notorious for unreliable focussing, and that mainly has to do with their slow motors not responding too well to the cameras actions, but there are a lot of 3rd partly lens owners that are fine with their lenses. Including me with a Tamron macro and Tokina 12-24mm, and including JTL with a Sigma 18-200mm.

    So... if you want a walkaround lens for daylight shooting with a big range, the Sigma 18-200 or even the Sigma 18-125mm are good options both on Nikon and Canon.
    Canon EOS 350D, Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 macro, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC EX, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, Tokina AT-X124 Pro 12-24mm F4, Soligor 1.7x C/D4 DG Teleconvertor, Manfrotto 724B tripod, Canon Powershot S30

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