View Full Version : First Lens, Conflicting Advice

04-09-2009, 07:40 PM
Hi guys,

Next month I will purchase my first DSLR (the 500D/T1i), but I am a little confused about what zoom lens to buy with it. I've searched and searched, but it seems there is a lot of conflicting advice out there :(

My plan is to buy a body only camera + a prime lens + a zoom lens. The prime will be the Canon 50mm f1.8 II. I know it's cheap and cheerful, but I can't afford the 1.4 version on my budget.

However, it's the zoom lens that is confusing me. From the advice here and on other forums, I have the following short list:

Canon 28-105mm f3.5/4.5 ($230): DCR says this is a bargain and a step up from a kit lens, but SLR Gear only rates it at around 64%, so I'm a little conf
Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.5 ($350): this again is considered a very good choice, and receives a 83% rating, but is it worth the extra money?
Tamron 28-75mm 28-75mm f2.8 ($410): I like the constant aperture, and it is listed as having macro abilities, but it's even more expensive.

So my question is: which to buy? I would like a convenient zoom lens that I can leave on my camera most of the time. I mostly shoot portraits, night shots, and the occasional landscape (but not enough to justify a wide-angle lens, nor do I need a big telephoto lens).

I have seen some macro shots and they look great, but I don't know whether I could get similar results with the Tamron, or if I need to invest in a proper macro lens (admittedly the photos I saw were with a 100mm 1:1 macro lens, so of course they're good).

I also heard that Canon's optical quality is superior to the third-party lenses, but does this hold true when pitching a cheap Canon (like the 28-105) with a more expensive third-party lens (like the 17-70 or 28-75)?

Sorry for so many questions, but thanks in advance!


04-09-2009, 08:31 PM
With the Rebel the sensor size will require your lenses to have a factor of 1.6x applied. A 28mm lens will have the field of view of a 45mm lens, the Sigma starting at 17mm, will have the FOV of a 27mm lens. These numbers compare to the field of view of a full frame camera. Most will want a wide angle field of view of about 28mm as a decent wide angle start point. The Tamron and Canon start with a field of view a little wider than that. This may work for you, it may not, you have to decide if 45mm is wide enough.

The Tamron and Canon are decent lenses, the Tamron is better optically, in fact it's excellent optically, the Canon is built a little better. If the Canon is the 28-105 II USM, it will focus faster than the Tammy. Both of those lenses start a little on the long side for a crop digital body. The Sigma has the best range for a general lens that will stay on your camera most of the time. The Sigma has a decent build and looks nice, it's generally regarded as a good lens, but there have been a lot of complaints of bad copies, so if you go with the siggy give it a thorough test for focus out of the box.

After a couple of bad experiences with Tamron and one bad experience with Sigma, I have nearly sworn off third party lenses. I have yet to be horribly disappointed with a Canon lens, there are good and bad, but all have been decent enough to keep and use for at least a while.

04-10-2009, 11:24 AM
if you're looking at a crop camera, i think 18-28mm is a MUST HAVE range, so i would immediately rule out the 28-xx lenses. have you looked at the sigma 18-50mm? from what i've seen from the kit lens, it's a pretty badass little lens.

that said, i've been pretty tempted on the 28-75mm tamron since i've got the 5d II. it's so cheap and so many people swear it's as sharp as the 24-70.

04-10-2009, 12:09 PM
None of the above. Get it with the 18-55 IS kit lens and be happy.

04-10-2009, 12:13 PM
that said, i've been pretty tempted on the 28-75mm tamron since i've got the 5d II. it's so cheap and so many people swear it's as sharp as the 24-70.
A lot of people seem to ditch it after they try to use it in low light though...

04-10-2009, 05:51 PM
A lot of people seem to ditch it after they try to use it in low light though...

The tamron 28-75 is my workhorse. If the 18-50 f/2.8 is the same quality, though, I'd recommend it instead... As others have noted, 28 isn't that wide on a crop camera. While I haven't used any L but the 70-200 f/4 non-IS, I like the tamron just fine. It focuses (MUCH) better in low light than my 50 f/1.8, and is plenty sharp. Perhaps if I had a chance to use the 24-70 L I'd think less of the tamron, but unless you are planning on doing pro type work, the tamron should be better than good enough.


04-12-2009, 11:50 PM
Hi guys,

Thanks so much for your advice. I will check out the 17/18mm options.

I also stumbled across the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX Macro lens recently. It seems great, but it's a lot more expensive and obviously starts at 24mm (~38mm).

Kind regards,

04-14-2009, 02:43 PM
I think the 18-200mm is where you need to be for your first lens.. it may not be the best lens at any of those ranges but it will give you good pictures and without too many problems... I owned the orginal sigma 18-125 lens and was really happy with it for about a year until I started upgrading...

I think you will find on a crop camera like the 500d you will want a very wide 18mm ... that said I used the tamron 28-75 for almost everything for 3 1/2 years.

the tamron is really a great lens...

If you are only looking for a lens for a few months before you can spend another $500+ then just get the 28-75 for now and get a 17-40, or 17-55 in a few months. then after that you will want a 70-200 2.8 (sigmas go for $650 range used canons go for $800 range used) If you want to do good macro I use the tamron 28-75 with some closeup filters and they work great.

04-14-2009, 04:26 PM
I should also mention that the canon 24-105 F4L IS seems to be very popular... although used they are in that $750 - $800 range...

It all depends on what you want to do with it. for low light indoor work an f2.8 will give you better looking pictures over an f4 or f5.6

I do not have any of the lenses I bought with my first DSLR in fact I even sold and upgraded the lenses I had with my film bodies (canon). So what ever lens you choose don't think you have to keep it lenses hopld their value very well at worst in a year you may loose 10% (or 2 to 5 years even)

04-14-2009, 08:43 PM
Hi guys,

Thanks for your advice, eagle17! You're right that a 18-200mm lens would be nice because of the flexibility, but the reviews suggest there are a few too many compromises for the extra range (at least with the cheaper 18-200mm choices). I don't mind sacrificing some telephoto opportunities for the sake of better performance, and like you say, I can always upgrade in the future if I feel I need the extra range.

I really like the Tamron you mentioned, but it slightly pushes my budget, and the others made me think more about the wide-angle range.

Anyway, I think I have settled on the following:

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro
Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX Macro

The 17-70mm takes into account the wide-angle advice, and by all accounts it serves as a great walkabout lens with excellent image quality. I'm used to shooting with a 28-105mm P&S, so I'm fairly comfortable with this range.

The 50mm macro is a bit of a splurge, but I have seen a lot of macro photos recently, and some of the shots are astounding. I know some are done with high-grade 100mm+ lens, but this Sigma is supposed to be very good for the money. I'm also thinking it can double as a portrait lens, so I don't need the 50mm prime, right?

The only problem is buying both of these lens pushes my budget to the max :( (since I still have the camera and other accessories to buy). I had considered getting the Canon 18-55mm kit lens and the Sigma 50mm macro, but it seems the kit has mixed reviews. Anyway, here's hoping I can get a discount for buying a lot together :)

If there are any huge holes in my logic, please let me know, as despite all my research, all this is still new to me.

Thanks again!

04-15-2009, 06:57 PM
The sigma macro may be nice but I would look into macro filters or extention tubes an just get the canon 50 1.8...

I use macro filters myself and am very happy with the results... also you can always use the reverse lens method and just crop out the vingetting.

The sigma claims to have 1 to 1 macro so it should work good and the reviews are solid... I don't see a problem with that choice at all..

I have seen some great shots with the 17-70 so you should be very happy with that also and the digic 4 processor give great high iso performance so a constant 2.8 is not as important as it was in the early days of digital...

I would think about a canon flash next, this will make a huge difference in your pictures, and there are some decent prices out there for them.

once you get ready to buy a longer lens look for the canon 70-200 2.8L (not the newer IS version) the non-is version is lighter and smaller and is just as sharp if not sharper... you can find them for $800 range used you will be very happy with it...

04-16-2009, 12:56 AM
Thanks for the advice, eagle17, I really appreciate it :)

If I'm lucky, the 500D might be in stock next week, which means I'll be ready to buy everything. I'll post some sample shots once I'm sorted.

Thanks again.

P.S. Thanks for the tips about the filters and flash, I'll be sure to look into them.

04-16-2009, 02:36 AM
Always try out things for yourself and look for multiple reviews.

I, for example, don't particularly agree with eagle about macro filters and reverse lensing. But thats not to say hes wrong, i have different taste and different expectations and purposes for my equipement.

04-16-2009, 10:19 AM
I used to own the Sigma 17-70 and I thought it was a great lens personally.

I currently own the Sigma 50mm macro and I like it as well; as you say it makes a nice portrait lens in addition to macro.

The main negative of these lenses vs their Canon couterparts is that they are both slower to focus, which can be an issue with moving subjects.

04-16-2009, 10:25 AM



Sigma 50 macro...

04-16-2009, 01:22 PM
You should put a small note :

*Results may differ per person


04-16-2009, 07:16 PM
Wow, beautiful shots, thanks michaelb :) I don't expect to replicate those out of the box, since this is my first DSLR, but at least I have something to work toward :)

Dark Cobra
04-19-2009, 10:59 AM
Hi Superangel!

First congrats on a fine choice of first DSLR. I realize the emphasis so far has been on the zoom and that is indeed important. However, I noticed that you are into night photography. Coming back just a minute to your prime lens the below Sigma 50mm 1.4 EX DG HSM can be had from Amazon for $462 and it reviews incredibly well. I know it's more than you wanted for a prime lens but you might want to explore it.


It's bright, super sharp and would serve you extremely well in night photography. Your other two missions are portraits and some limited landscape and the 50mm focal length (while not ideal) can serve those functions quite well.

I guess where I'm coming from is to start off perhaps with just one really good lens, instead of getting two lenses that are compromises in what you really want from either. A very good prime lens can accomplish all your stated missions quite well. When the budget allows THEN go for the zoom your really want. Just a thought . . . Waving!

Honest Gaza
04-19-2009, 04:32 PM
Hi Superangel.....in that price range I also place a vote for the Sigma 17-70mm.

I use it as my "walk-around" lens. If I was replacing it, it would be with the Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS (and that's some serious $$$).

04-21-2009, 07:06 AM
Hi Honest Gaza,

Thanks for the advice. I think you're right, the Sigma offers the best bang for buck. The Canon you mentioned is very nice, but I can't stretch to that.

Anyway, the 500D/T1i is finally in stock, so hopefully I can shopping now :) I'll post some shots with the Sigma lens once everything is done.

Thanks again!