Camera setup suggestions...?
April 19, 2010 7:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm planing on replacing one Canon DSLR with another. And I want your thoughts...

Right now I'm using a second hand 350D (Rebel XT) with an EFS 18-55, an EF 75-300, and a 2x convertor for the EF.

It's annoying me for many reasons (the menus, the autofocus hunting, the fact all my photos seem to want 60mm, and the lack of stabilization, to start with) and I'm thinking of spashing a chunk of cash on a new setup.

What's caught my eye is the 550D (Rebel T2i) body with a Sigma OS 18-250 lens.

I'm liking the sound of the changes between the old body and the new one, and I'm loving the sensor changes. I'm also assuming that the increased sensor resolution (8MP to 18MP) will give me about a x1.5 increase in photo dimensions, more than making up for the loss of lens length. The idea of an image stabilized lens which will still fit my convertor helps...

So, I have two questions...

1) What are your thoughts on what I'm considering? Is it a sane setup, or is there something else I should be investigating?

2) A bag with one body and one lense seems very sparse to me. What lense should I be planning on buying (either now or later) to give me a really usable range of kit?

(Circular polarizers & UV lenses are a given...)
posted by twine42 to Technology (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You didn't specify what you like to shoot. You won't get good lens advice without that detail.
posted by Silvertree at 8:10 AM on April 19, 2010

Hah, good point.

I tend to take lots of landscapes and then random stuff that catches my eye when I'm wandering around.

Portraits leave me cold, and I don't tend to take much indoor stuff.

I've got a slow burning interest in long exposure stuff at night, and I'm playing with water and (non-graduated) NDs.

And that was either highly enlightening or completely useless to you.
posted by twine42 at 8:16 AM on April 19, 2010

I was just about to say the same thing as Silvertree - what do you prefer to shoot?

I always enthusiastically recommend the Canon 50mm 1.8f prime lens - you can find it for ~$100 and it is really a wonderful portrait lens.

Are you planning to sell your current lenses? There is no reason you can't keep your current lenses and use them with your new camera.

I currently own an XT and have been thinking about a similar upgrade. It is a sane move (Canon to Canon allows you to keep your current lens set), but hard to make other recommendations without knowing what you shoot.
posted by kellygrape at 8:17 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

The 50mm/1.8 is always a good lens to have in your kit, given just how cheap it is.

The build quality is questionable, and the AF is easily the worst and loudest I've ever encountered, BUT it's sharp as a tack, and has an incredibly wide maximum aperture (great for shooting in low light).

If you want to carry "just one lens," the Sigma seems like a good choice. If you're shooting a lot in the wide range, or in the telephoto range, there are other lenses that you might want to consider -- the 70-200mm f/4L is absolutely incredible, and not-too-expensive.

If you're "serious" about photography, the 7D will offer slightly better quality, and a few "intangibles" that you may find valuable. If nothing else, it's built to take more (ab)use than the cheaper models.
posted by schmod at 8:18 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

On a crop body the Canon 10-22mm would be a pretty sweet lens for landscapes. I can second schmod's recommendation for that L lens. I had one that I traded for the 2.8 and it was fantastic. I don't think you would find anyone that would disagree that it is one of the best lenses in the Canon line. However $1K might be a little steep for you. That guy that asked you about your shooting habits should really have asked you about budget. :-D On a budget, I would say adding the 10-22 would cover you well. If you want to look at lens upgrades, read on.

In general, the primes I hear people raving about are the Canon 50mm (in one of the flavors) the 85mm f1.2L (or 1.8), and the 135mm f2L. The zooms I have seen thrown around are the 70-200 f2.8L IS (or the f4), the 100-400 f4.5-5.6L, the 16-35mm f2.8L, the 24-105 f4L IS, and the 24-70 f2.8L. Granted most of these are high end glass. Keep in mind, lens upgrades don't happen nearly as often as body upgrades.

I spend a little time on this Canon forum. There is a lot of good information to be had. Of course there are quite a few pixel peepers and prima donnas but if you stay away from them I am sure you could find all of the information you could ever want. Plus there are a lot of talented shooters who post there. If you are willing to buy used, they have a pretty active buy/sell forum. You could also try Fred Miranda forums. Their buy/sell forums are always hopping.

Here is the best advice anyone could offer before buying a new lens (it isn't mine really, I am just repeating it because it is good). Rent it first and see how you like it and if it fits into your shooting style. Or just rent it when you need it if you don't shoot that often. There are several reputable online companies that rent lenses. You might want to rent a body first to see how you like it was well.

The other thing to remember is "98% of the lenses out there are better than 99% of the photographers." That isn't mine either, but it is something to consider.
posted by Silvertree at 10:05 AM on April 19, 2010

You've got an EFS 18-55 and an EF 75-300 and all your photos want 60mm? Take a step forward or back and you're there, problem solved. Or shoot it at 55mm, don't move an inch and crop off .25 pixels from the final image and you've got the same thing.

Or you can get the all in one zoom. But you're going to come in last in terms of image quality and low light with a lens like that. And you seem like someone who is concerned with image quality. Keep in mind, it's only as good as the worst component in the system.

Here's that Sigma thing on a 50D (a model line above the Rebels) compared to a 50mm f/1.8 (which I think you can get used for a quarter of the price of that Sigma) on a 1Ds Mark II (which is certainly our of your budget, but keep in mind, it's still a 5 year old body with 16 MP, not 18 MP like your new Rebel). As you can tell, comparing f/5 to f/4, the 50mm walks all over the Sigma which is soft not only in the corners and on the edges but even in the center! You can stop them both down to f/11 and the Sigma is still soft all over.

Besides, why by a body with interchangeable lenses when you're never going to change lenses? Why not buy one of those fixed lens things that look like an interchangable SLR? You're not using an SLR because you want the DoF a full frame sensor would give you. You don't want the option of multiple lenses prefering to carry just one that does everything but nothing well.

Then again, you're talking to someone who traded in his zooms (24-105 and 70-200) for three primes (25mm, 50mm and 85mm) because he found that shooting at 50mm at f/4 on the 24-105 wasn't sharp enough on a 12 MP sensor. (50mm prime vs 24-105@50mm comparison in case you're interested.) That's not to say I take pictures and view them at 100% when I get home, but it's annoying to go away, take some photos, buy some paper and then when you've got a 20x30 in your hands, be unhappy with the IQ.

You mention more megapixels, but don't indicate how large you print. Do you expect top quality prints at 11x17? Or are you just posting these to your facebook/flickr? If so, you don't need the megapixels. And as I mentioned above, more megapixels are wasted if your lens can't resolve that level of detail, even stopped down which you think would help the Sigma more than it does.

Have you considered buying new? I've given up buying new, I just wait a few months and then find some early adopter who got bored and moved on to the latest thing selling it for 30%+ off.

If I were you, i'd find a used 5D (my grilfriend just picked one up for $1100) and a used 50mm or 35mm prime lens and work on composition. You'll learn control of DoF, you'll deal with low light well, you'll have a viewfinder where you can actually see things large enough to focus (I could never focus in a Rebel), you'll have 12 MP which is enough to easily print an 8x10, you can go as big as 13x19 and still have it look decent (way better than any point and shoot). Later on, you can pick up a 135mm and a 24mm if you want to go wider or narrower.
posted by Brian Puccio at 11:44 AM on April 19, 2010

You've got an EFS 18-55 and an EF 75-300 and all your photos want 60mm?

Sorry - that was supposed to be a joke. I meant that I seem to spend all my time switching back and forth between lenses, so I thought I needed something inbetween. The 18-250 seemed to fill the majority of the range of both lenses.
posted by twine42 at 12:08 PM on April 19, 2010

That makes more sense. Some people naturally find themselves on certain ranges, for you it may be 50mm-90mm. If so, a zoom lens in that range (if you don't want to go with primes) might be more to your liking. (Keep in mind a 24-70 f/2.8 would be similar to a 35-110 on your crop bodies.)

18-250 does cover the inbetweens, but again, at the expense of image quality and DoF control. If you had a zoom the stradled the range (e.g., 24-70 or 24-105) then you'd do less switching. You'd only go to the (pretty sweet) 10-22 when you wanted to go super wide and the 100-400 when you wanted to go super tele. (Keep in mind if you get a full frame body, the 10-22 will not work, it is an EFS lens.)

Instead of buying the latest Rebel line DSLR, I still think you should go used. Why spend $800 on something in 2 years will be selling for $400? Especially if that only leaves $300 left for a lens. $300 doesn't buy a whole lot of IQ when you want to buy a lens.

Good luck.
posted by Brian Puccio at 1:24 PM on April 19, 2010

If you're really interested in shooting landscapes, you need a good tripod before you need a better body. Really. You won't need IS if you have a tripod.

There's really no excuse for anyone NOT to have the 50mm 1.8 (unless the excuse is that you have a better lens) because it's so cheap and sharp.
posted by kenliu at 7:00 PM on April 19, 2010

« Older Buying a car through Costco or USAA?   |   12 years experience putting off writing my resume Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.