December 11, 2006 at 4:50 am #829
Ok you photographer gurus, I need advice. I’m picking up a Canon Rebel XT body; what would a good, basic lens run me? And any specific ones I should be looking for? I’ve been looking around and my head is spinning.
At some point I’d like to get a good zoom lens too (so any suggestions there would also be appreciated), but first things first.
AlliDecember 11, 2006 at 8:15 am #7791staplermofoParticipant
Canon’s 50mm f/1.8 is probably the best lens under $100. It’s light, incredibly sharp, usable at f/1.8 and just all around loveable.
Beyond that, I’d like to know what you mean by “good”. There are a lot of people out there (and possibly in here) that’ll say “if it’s not L, it’s crap!” Regardless, you’d probably be best off looking at a whole bunch of lens reviews in your price range and then asking around about any problems people might’ve had. For example, some Sigma lenses offer great optical and decent build quality at low prices (at least compared to Canon counterparts), but don’t focus properly on Rebel-based bodies.December 11, 2006 at 12:04 pm #7792mikemikebParticipant
I have one of those 50mm lenses. Overall it’s not bad: It’s really sharp corner-to-corner once you stop it down to f/2.8, it’s light, and it’s cheap to replace. The bad news: Manual focus is really pokey, auto focus isn’t very accurate on my Rebel XT, even in good light, out-of-focus objects can appear pentagon-shaped, and color is poorly calibrated; specifically, it weakens blue and green and overdoes red. There’s a more expensive ($350) f/1.4 version that’s said to fix all these issues and provide faster performance (though again, from what I’ve seen, it needs to be stopped down to f/2.8 to provide sharp corner-to-corner results). In addition, any 50mm lens has a 50mm field of view only for film cameras (and maybe that $3000 5D). On your Rebel, with its 1.6x crop, it’ll be approximate to about 85mm on a film camera. That last fact makes it a good portrait lens for a Rebel, but not a general-purpose one.
Among other primes, the 24mm f/2.8 ($320) and 28mm ($200 for the f/2.8 version, about $450 for the f/1.8 ) are recommended. It’s generally regarded that the 24mm is sharper, and the 28mm is the closest thing to a 50mm equivalent lens on a Rebel-series camera, but suffers from rather inferior optical quality. I’d suggest the 24mm, as you can crop out stuff in post-processing and have room to spare resolution-wise.
Among zooms, the 24-85mm won’t set you back too much (about $350) and deliver you decent quality, not L quality, mind you, but it’s OK. I also suggest the 28-135mm IS model ($450-ish), which has more telephoto range and adds image stabilization to the mix. However, with the Rebel’s 1.6x crop, that 28mm at the wide end turns into 45mm on the XT, which is unacceptably telephoto, at least to me. (Even the 24mm’s 38mm equivalence is pushing it, but there aren’t any cheap and good prime lenses that go further out.)
Now those prices are for Canon lenses. You could get zooms (and, to a lesser extent, primes) from outside manufacturers, but they may not work properly with all Canon cameras. That said, the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 model is the best of the third-party bunch and should work properly with the Rebel XT. Even though auto-focus is a bit loud, the lens makes up for it with sharp performance, accurate autofocus, and a 35mm equivalence of 27mm ❗ at full wide angle. Best off, it costs about the same as the Canon 28-135, maybe a little more. I would much rather have the Tamron over the Canon 28-135.
And if you really hit a financial windfall, first get financial help, and then you can look at the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L, 16-35 f/2.8 L, 24-70mm f/2.8 L, and the EF-S (digital-only) 17-55 f/2.8 IS lenses, which will blow inferior lenses out of the water with their improved color and corner-to-corner sharpness. Careful, though: L-Disease can get very expensive to treat. (Note: The EF-S 17-55 technically isn’t an L, but it has the optical quality of one…)
P.S. Don’t forget the appropriate lens hood and UV filter for whatever lens you buy. When it comes to UV filters, Hoya provides a good multicoated (kind of required, as inferior filters degrade picture quality) experience at a good price, but it’s somewhat easy to smear and often hard to get the smear off. Get a good non-scratch cleansing cloth to clean it when needed. I say this from experience.December 11, 2006 at 12:27 pm #7793
Thanx SM – that’s exactly what I’m looking for!
I started looking at zoom lenses as well, and frankly there are so many out there I haven’t a clue what would be best for me. I’d like something I can use for animal and nature type photos, not necessarily sports pics. And obviously one compatible with the Rebel XT body.
Btw, what’s “L”?
AlliDecember 11, 2006 at 2:42 pm #7794ElsinoreKeymaster
“L” is Canon’s designation for their higher end lenses (read: very expensive, but excellent optics).
As for your lens choices, it really depends on what you want to do with it. I do second Staplermofo’s suggestion of the 50mm f/1.8, though for animal/nature shots, it might not be terribly useful to you. But it’s so cheap and image quality so good, that it’d be a shame not to have it at some point 😉 Since its aperture goes all the way to 1.8, it’s an excellent lens for flash-free indoor photography unless your space is really tight.
I have a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 which is an excellent lens, and often referred to as the poor man’s L–build is excellent, optics are excellent, it can close-focus to 12 inches, it comes with a lens hood (as opposed to that being a separate purchase for Canon non-L lenses), and it also has a 6 year warranty (Canon only provides one year warranties). As mikemikeb mentioned, though, on a 1.6x crop body, it becomes more telephoto, and in this case, the range is useful for portraiture, but may or may not be useful for your animal/nature type photos (though I’ve used mine for that, but then I’m not a terribly serious nature photographer). The lens is available for $350-$380, and often has a rebate available.
If you need wider, the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 that mikemikeb mentioned might fit the bill. You won’t have a huge zoom range, but the lens is fast, has constant aperture across the zoom range, is said to have excellent optics (I haven’t tried one myself), and of course it’s cheaper than Canon.
I’ve heard the Canon 28-135 is a nice lens if you need telephoto, though one thing to consider is that the more focal lengths you cram into one lens, the more compromises you are likely to need to make on image quality. I have a Canon 75-300 f/4-5.6 IS, and its reach is nice, but images are pretty soft until stopped down a lot, and even then they can be on the soft side. Of course, my first lens was that 50mm f/1.8, which is tack sharp (at least my copy is), and then I have that Tamron 28-75 which is also very sharp, so that probably spoiled me 😉
One final prime lens to add to the bunch is the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. I don’t have personal experience with it, but it’s another one that’s typically raved about for having excellent image quality and construction. I think it runs $300 or less.December 11, 2006 at 3:17 pm #7795schneeParticipant
My body is the EOS 7e (film).
I have the 24-85 f3.5-f4.5 that mikemikeb mentioned and the 70-200mm F4 L lens and I’m quite happy with both (although the 24-85 just showed some vignetting that I’d never noticed before (b/c it didn’t seem to be there)).
The L lens is my magic lens – those optics really are nice, but I find that the 24-85 is on the body more. The range is more usable for the type of photography I find myself doing these days. 200mm is probably a little short for animal photography but with the 1.6 factor, it becomes a 320 which is better.
The thing about both of these lenses is that they have the same filter diameter (67mm). That means I can use the same filters on both of them if I want.December 11, 2006 at 4:08 pm #7796staplermofoParticipant
Man, we’ve really gotta have a farktography party so I can mug you mofos.December 11, 2006 at 4:21 pm #7797ElsinoreKeymaster
roflmao!December 11, 2006 at 6:19 pm #7798monkeybortParticipant
I use my Canon EF 17-35 2.8L about 95% of the time. i also have the 70-200 Tamron 4-5.6 and whatever the canon lens that came with the 20D is (18-55?). i use the kit lens on occasion only because it has a closer focusing ability than the 17-35; but i adore the 17-35. love it. use it all the time. i only bust out the 70-200 if i’m looking to compress the elements in the image.
then again, i don’t do any wildlife photography, so this probably isn’t very helpful.December 13, 2006 at 2:51 pm #7799
Omg; my head is spinning! Now I have to make decisions and I HATE that; I’m the person you have to send to the store with a list of options in case what you want is out.
You folks are awesome; I cannot believe the amount of info I have to work with now.
And actually, any other suggestions/ideas are appreciated 🙂
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