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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss Unclear over lens options...Hello all, I realize this subject will have been covered before and it skirts close to Flipsterís thread which is ...
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Old 21-12-2006, 02:18   #1 (permalink)
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Unclear over lens options

Hello all,

I realize this subject will have been covered before and it skirts close to Flipsterís thread which is currently active but I didnít want to hijack his thread. I want to upgrade my lenses over 2007 and would appreciate some real-world advice from those who have used lenses in the price-brackets Iíll be shopping in. I donít want to spend too much!

I have a 350D with two kit lenses, the ubiquitous 18-55 and a 70-300. Iím never a believer in replacing things for the sake of it, but in the case of the 70-300, I really feel enough is enough and it has got to goÖit extends quite independently when pointing down, even at shallow angles. Donít get me wrong, for my current ability level it is better than a point and shoot, but if my photography is to improve over the next year or so I want a more reactive, faster and sharper lens in this range. So that would be question number one: Without breaking into Canon L territory, which Sigma or Tamron lens will improve greatly on the performance of my problematic 70-300? This lens will be mainly for wildlife, and static isolated subjects.

My second question is basically what recommendations do you have for replacing the 18-55, again from Canon, Sigma or Tamron? For me, at my current level, it is only quality at stake here, because as odd as it will seem to some, Iím quite taken with the 18-55. Do any of you rate IS highly as a lens feature to aim for, particularly for a walk-around? Iíve read some pretty uncomplimentary reviews of Canon lenses at the lower end of the budget scale for lenses in this range, including those with IS, so any pointers in the direction of Sigma or Tamron would be great.

Finally, for landscapes and scenic photography Iíve almost definitely decided on buying a Canon 17-40 L, but would appreciate advice on which set of filters, Lee or Cokin, would work better with this lens?

Thanks very much guys. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!
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Old 21-12-2006, 09:04   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Unclear over lens options

May I suggest that a very cheap upgrade would be a tripod? You may be surprised by how sharp your lenses actually are, once you hold them steady! Image stabilisation is a good idea of course. If your interests are more towards action shots, pushing up the ISO will also be a good move. Of course you'll get more noise but the underlying image will be sharper, provided you bias your metering towards faster shutter speeds. Finally, I wouldn't worry about the self extending zoom, even very expensive ones seem to do this. I hope this helps.

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Old 21-12-2006, 10:38   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Unclear over lens options

Ok, you want to upgrade your lenses but I get the feeling it's because you don't like the ones you've got rather than having a strategy of which lenses do you need. However, I used to own the 70-300 and rate it a cracking lens. Mine used to self extend until I contacted Canon and they replaced the whole optical unit, gratis. The only reason I sold that lens was because I needed an extra 100mm. If you don't want to spend too much I don't think you'll find a Sigma or Tamron that will beat the 70-300 for IQ in that range - and the IS is superb.

I can understand wanting to replace the 18-55, although I feel it is rather unfairly slated, and the 17-40 is an excellent lens. You mention a walkabout lens? I reckon Tamron and Sigma have it here and I use the Tamron 18-200 although their new 18-250 might be worth a look.

Whichever way, you are not going to get prime or L image quality withour paying those sort of prices.

But......it's all about what you need and want for the type of photography you do. My suggestion would be to sit down and think about the range that you need and then which lenses might meet your needs within that range at your price. If I might suggest - have a look at the range of lenses and reviews in our Equipment Reviews section. Oh and....about filters, Lee and Cokin are both very good but which filters do you need?
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Old 22-12-2006, 05:07   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Unclear over lens options

Thanks for replying guys.

Hi sejanus

Sejanus, thanks for the pointers but I'm a bit surprised to see you write that expensive lenses self-extend also. Surely that would be a faulty lens, as opposed to being acceptable? Just for the record, I've got a tripod, a cotton bag full of rice and a bean-bag, lol! Your metering advice is taken on board though, thank you.

Hi Stepheno,

Sorry mate but I made a typo, it is the 75-300 I'm after replacing, which is being bundled as a kit lens, with no IS. As far as strategy goes, generally speaking, all I need at the moment is up to 300mm. The 17-40L is a dead cert, which I'll use for landscapes. I'll definitely look at the two Tamrons you have recommended for walk-arounds.

With the filters, Lee seem to be lot more expensive than Cokin, are they perceptably better filters, or over-priced? The type of photo I like the most, is the Adam Burton / Les McLean type of moody landscape shot. Both photographers make use of ND Grads of varying strengths, and some warming too by the look of it. Could I replicate that look and feel using the cheaper Cokin system?
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Old 22-12-2006, 07:06   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Unclear over lens options

You don't say how much you want to spend, there's a lot of range between kit lenses and L lenses.

The 70-300 IS that Stephen mentioned is a great lens for the money and of the lenses I've tried with a similar range (and that's a few) it's certainly the best. I'm quite a fan of Tamron and Sigma I have or have had several of their lenses but Canon really have a winner here.


For Cav and anyone else agonising over which lenses to buy, I agree with Stephen's comments about a strategy, I've bought and sold more lenses than I care to think about for two reasons

1. I originally bought a number of cheap lenses thinking I wouldn't be able to make the most of better ones and it wasn't worth spending the extra, couldn't wait to save up etc. That was a mistake, look lenses you think you'll be happy with for some time to come.

2. I hadn't put enough thought into how I want to use the lenses and what I'd put up with to do it. I have a Sigma 50-500mm, great lens I really like it but I only ever took it out if I was absolutely sure I'd need it. It was heavy and really required a tripod which meant even more to carry. If I was out and about with the kids and spotted a Red Kite, no chance I'd have the lens with me.

I still have too many lenses, some will be appearing on EBay quite soon but there are some I use regularly ...

For a general walkabout, not sure what I'll be shooting session I take a Canon 24-105L and now (since I bought it from Stephen) the 70-300, for a walk where there might be some interesting plants, flowers, bugs I add a Sigma 100mm macro. I have the full frame 5d so that gives me a reasonable wide angle up to a decent zoom without carrying lots of lenses or lots of weight. With the camera round my neck everything else including spare batteries and flash fits easily into a waist bag I have.

If I think I'll need more wide-angle I'll swap in a Tamron 17-35 and if I know I need the long end I'll leave the 70-300 and take the 100-400L, but then it won't all fit that bag and it's a lot heavier.

Other than that when I'm after macro shots I'll generally leave everything else behind and take a Tamron 180mm Macro.
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Old 23-12-2006, 10:18   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Unclear over lens options

I've seen some very impressive shots taken with the Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 lens . If you can afford to lose a little at the wide angle lens, then members including Steve, have only praise for the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens
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Old 23-12-2006, 19:16   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Unclear over lens options

"I'm a bit surprised to see you write that expensive lenses self-extend also"

You and me too!

This problem seems to have been with us since the year dot. I had a friend who bought the Vivitar Series 1 70~210 back when it was new, some time around 1975, it must have been. He got fed up with it self extending, so he went to trade it up for the Nikon equivalent, which was well over twice the price. I would have loved to have seen the look on his face when the salesman (a mutual aquaintance) held it nose down and the head slowly descended floorwards...

Needless to say, he didn't buy the Nikkor.
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