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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Understanding lenses...Okay real SLR newbie question...please help! My new Canon 450 SLR came with a EF-S 18-55mm IS f/3.5-5.6 non USM ...
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Old 03-08-2008, 22:09   #1 (permalink)
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Question Understanding lenses

Okay real SLR newbie question...please help!
My new Canon 450 SLR came with a EF-S 18-55mm IS f/3.5-5.6 non USM Lens...
which means not a lot to me. Apart from I know it doesn't zoom in as close as my non-SLR did...that had 6x optical zoom. Can anyone help explain in nice simple language what the different numbers mean - i.e. the mm and the f stop etc.

I'd quite like to buy a new lens that zooms a bit closer but not sure what to get! I can't afford too much at the moment, but it seems there are a few like these at about a price I can afford...
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens
Canon 55-200mm F4.5-5.6 EF II USM lens

Help!
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Old 03-08-2008, 22:52   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Understanding lenses

Not a Canon user, but I get the impression that the 75-300 is not generally thought to be a good lens with most people rating the 70-300 better. If you are going to keep the 18-55 I think the 70-300 would be your best bet.

The focal length of lenses is measured in millimeters. The lower the number, the wider the angle of view. 18mm is around the standard wide end. Really wide angle lenses will have a focal length of 10mm. At the telephoto end, the higher the number, the narrower the angle of view is, and the more magnification you will have. This is a far better measure of a lens than X time magnification.

Your 18-55 is a 3x zoom (18x3=54). The 70-300 would be just over 4x. The new Sigma 150-500 is a tad over 3x. This is called the zoom ratio. Many people think that 3x is about the most you can have without compromising quality. All of the lenses above have a zoom ration of between 3x and 4x, but will give vastly different results in terms of getting close to the subject. Zoom ratios are not a good way of seeing how close the subject will be as it depends on the starting point - the widest, lowest number.

To make things more complicated, you can't compare the numbers on your compact with those on your Canon (or any other) lenses. Sensor sizes on compact cameras are much smaller than those in dSLR's, so the focal lengths are different to get the same view.

Because the majority of consumer digital cameras have sensors that are smaller than 'full frame', they will produce a magnification of about 1.6x, so your 18-55 is actually giving you about 28mm - 88mm, often called 35mm equivalent as a full frame sensor is the same size as a 35mm negative. This is a way of equalising out the different cameras, compare everything as if it were 35mm.

The f stop is a measure of how much light the lens will allow through. The lower this number, the better (generally) the lens - and the more expensive. F2.8 is fast, where f6.3 would be considered slow.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:26   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Understanding lenses

Also -

EF - can be used on cropped sensor cameras, like your 450, and full-fame sensors such as the 5D
EF-S - can only be used on crop sensor cameras
USM - Ultrasonic Motor, means very quiet focusing and good for shooting aninals and insects.
IS - Image Stabilisation, various cogs, gears and gyros in the lens will compensate for hand shake. Good for two or three stops meaning sharper pics.
L - Canon's Luxury range of lenses. Uses very high quality optics (glass) and therefore the most expensive.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:34   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Understanding lenses

Without knowing what your non DSLR was I would guess that the zoom started from about 35 mm in full frame equivalent terms so a 6 times zoom would go up to an equivalent of 210 mm.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:41   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Understanding lenses

Aha thank you all...much clearer now! My previous camera was a bridge camera - a Fuji S7000.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:56   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Understanding lenses

Two lenses come to mind:
Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM Lens (0345B006AA) - Warehouse Express
and
Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 APO Macro Super DG Lens - Canon Fit (508927) - Warehouse Express

The Canon has IS so is good for an extra 2 or 3 stops whilst the Sigma has a claimed macro capability, so will focus closer. I use both lenses (tho the Sigma I have is the much cheaper non-APO version) and have got some great shots from each

Canon 70-300mm:


Sigma 70-300mm:
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:53   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Understanding lenses

Ah ok I didn't realise you could use other brands too.
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Old 04-08-2008, 09:22   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Understanding lenses

Yes.....if you buy a Sigma, Tamron etc, just make sure it's says "Canon Mount".
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Old 05-08-2008, 13:18   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Understanding lenses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
Not a Canon user, but I get the impression that the 75-300 is not generally thought to be a good lens with most people rating the 70-300 better. If you are going to keep the 18-55 I think the 70-300 would be your best bet.


but considering one cost 100 quid and the other at over 400 - then I would hope the 70-300mm is better...

I'm happy with my 100 quid one thank you...
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Old 05-08-2008, 14:48   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Understanding lenses

Thanks everyone. I've decided to go with a Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 APO Macro DG which seems to be around the £125 mark.

Much as I'd love some of the others I'm still a beginner at this and for the sort of hobby photography I do I can't justify the cost of anything more at the moment... especially as I've already bought the camera this month and a few bits to go with it (bag, spare battery, memory card etc.)!

It finally came to a balance between that and the Canon 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens which was slightly cheaper. All the reviews for that were 'fair' for the price it cost. However, I decided on the Sigma for the slightly extra focal length (assuming that is the right term!), and because of the macro capabilities which seemed quite good from the reviews I read.
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