Photographers & photo enthusiasts: What is the best used wide angle lens I can get for a Canon 40D for under $100?
November 28, 2012 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Photographers & photo enthusiasts: What is the best used wide angle lens I can get for a Canon 40D for under $100?

Dear photographers & photo enthusiasts,

You were so helpful in answering my last question that I'm again turning to your expertise.

Over the last year or so I got into the habit of taking artistic photos with my phone camera. I particularly enjoyed shooting wide scenes-- landscapes, architecture, dilapidated facades, and so on.

Now that I know a bit more about photography technically, I realize that the lens on the phone is very wide, maybe the equivalent of something like 8-16mm on a 35mm full frame camera (although I don't understand how this works)-- and, incidentally, it has an utterly even, large depth of field.

Based on earlier recommendations, for my relatively meager price range I got a used Canon 40D with a 50mm 1.8 lens, which actually translates to 80mm given the camera's crop factor. I like this lens, but now would love to shoot wider, the way I'm able to with my phone.

So-- I have $100 to spend. Is there any halfway decent used wide angle prime or zoom lens I could get that would fit on a Canon 40D? (I'm guessing 21mm maximum at the fixed or low end, as any more would translate to over 35mm given the crop factor.) And, if so, what are the best websites/resources/etc to purchase it?

If necessary I'd additionally buy a lens adapter, although wouldn't want to spend more than $50 on it.

By the way, I've seen a number of Canon EF-S 18-55 mm F/3.5-5.6 lenses on EBay for about $50. Is this lens subpar? Also might be able to get my hands on a Vivitar Series 1 19-35mm 1:3.5-4.5. Any knowledge of this lens?

posted by cotesdurhone to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The 18-55 is subpar, but honestly at your price range everything is sub par. I'd grab either one of those two lenses and shoot the heck out of it knowing that it cost a small fraction of what a "pro level" equivalent would have.
posted by davey_darling at 8:08 PM on November 28, 2012

Honestly, I don't think there's a wide lens that's any good at that price point. Save your money.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:10 PM on November 28, 2012

You could rent a canon 10-22 ef-s lens for a week for under $100, but the danger is if you like it, you'll want to spend $850 on it.

The 18-55 is pretty good for the $50-100 that it costs, but its not very good in general. The 50 beats it of course, but only at 50mm ;) I'd get the 18-55 so you can see if that range works for you, and its inexpensive.

Googling doesn't seem to show a vivitar 19-35 in EF or EF-S mount. If its not one of those its not compatible with your camera. (note: canon FD is NOT compatible, thats why its inexpensive used).

Tamron & Tokina also make wide angle lenses for canon (and nikon, etc, need to check the mount for each lens), but they're at least 500$ new as well. Unfortunately used canon compatible lenses hold their value pretty well.
posted by TheAdamist at 8:35 PM on November 28, 2012

Just so you know, phone cameras are nowhere near 8-16 mm equivalents for a 35 mm sensor. Here are the equivalent focal lengths for top phone cameras:

iPhone 5 -- 33 mm (prior iPhones 30-37 mm)
Galaxy S3 -- 25 mm
Lumia 920 -- 26 mm
HTC One X -- 35 mm
HTX 8X -- 28 mm

On a 40D, the full frame equivalent to a range of 26-35 mm focal lengths is about 16-22 mm. A dedicated wide angle (something like a 10-22 EF-S, Sigma 10-20 or Tokina 12-24) simply can't be found new or used for that price. The 18-55 Canon kit lens is probably the only thing that you can afford in this range. I've never tried the Vivitar, and their reputation is kind of all over the place. I will say that it is designed for use on a full frame, which makes me suspect that you will get better edge sharpness with a decent copy of the Vivitar on your cropped sensor.
posted by drpynchon at 8:40 PM on November 28, 2012

Thanks TheAdamist. If the Vivitar 19-35mm is made for another brand, is it generally possible to find an adapter? I know little about lens adapters, but from what I understand, at this point adapters are available to attach most lenses to Canon EF and EF-S mounts. (And I think I recall reading somewhere that adapters are available to attach FD lenses as well. Maybe I'm mistaken?)
posted by cotesdurhone at 8:41 PM on November 28, 2012

Thanks DrPynchon. Wow, how did you find out about this? I have a Motorola Atrix 4G and haven't been able to find any info on its actual focal length.

Last week found a Sigma 14 mm F2.8 Lens on a random auction site. Bid $100 for it, but it went for $180. At that point knew even less about lens value than I do now, and from what now I understand that price seems to be a steal for it.

Wonder if there are any obscure auction or other sites where I might get really lucky and find a decent lens in my price range?
posted by cotesdurhone at 8:47 PM on November 28, 2012

I believe the 19-35 you refer to is produced under multiple brand names and comes in multiple different lens mounts. It is available for Canon EF mounts, which would work on a 40D.
posted by drpynchon at 8:47 PM on November 28, 2012

Just googled "[phone name] focal length equivalent 35mm." Unfortunately, this data appears to be hard to find for the Atrix.
posted by drpynchon at 8:56 PM on November 28, 2012

Wonder if there are any obscure auction or other sites where I might get really lucky and find a decent lens in my price range?

Fred Miranda's forum is the go-to place for used photo equipment, but you'd be lucky to find something this dirt cheap there. Then again, you never know...
posted by phaedon at 9:03 PM on November 28, 2012

Keep an eye on's non-manufacturer (read: non-Canon) fixed focal length lenses. Right now there's a Sigma 24mm f/2.8 macro for $120 and change. Other stuff will pop up from time to time.

You can of course check the Canon brand sections but they're usually more expensive.
posted by komara at 9:37 PM on November 28, 2012

The Zenitar 16mm f/2.8 fully manual lens can be had for $70.
posted by jedrek at 4:27 AM on November 29, 2012

Any lens you adapt from another mount is going to lose autofocus and possible other niceties. You might be able to manually focus on a crop body with a 1.8 lens, but at 3.5 its impossible (for me). You could simulate it on yours by setting your lens to 3.5 or 4.5 and using the DOF preview button (should be near the lens on the front), you'll see the viewfinder darken when its active. It will be a little easier for wide angle lenses as they have more DOF than a longer lens, but im biased against manual focus.

FD-EF converters don't work well, or have major limitations. Unless they have optics in them you lose infinity (distance) focusing, so you may only be able to focus on things that are very close, not useful for landscapes. There are a couple converters with optics, but i havent heard good things. The optics make the converters add as mild teleconverters at 1.1x-1.2x,making your lenses less wideangle to start with. Additionally the converters are all targeted for the high end telephoto lenses, i dont know their behavior for wide angle(other than making the lenses not as wide angle).

Due to the mount-sensor distance canon ef has, you have a lot of the same problems with other mounts as with FD, theres no way to do a simple adapter without losing infinity focus. You'll see a lot of adaptors to fit canon lenses on other mounts, but not the other way around. I would stick to something with a canon eos ef or ef-s mount. sigma, tokina, tamron all make canon ef mount lenses (and lenses for other mounts, you have to be sure).

old sigma lenses used with film are sometimes incompatible with canon DSLR's for electronics reasons. Im not sure on the implications, but i'd be wary. (they had to reverse engineer the lens mount/electronics protocol and didnt get it quite right).
posted by TheAdamist at 4:41 AM on November 29, 2012

The 18-55mm for $50 is a great deal. No, it's not professional level, but in the right hands you can still make fantastic images with it. Great light and a great subject and no one will care if it's a cheap lens.

The 18mm will feel nice and wide on a 40D.
posted by starman at 5:44 AM on November 29, 2012

Just get the Canon 18-55.

I've owned the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS (which costs about ten times the 18-55) for about six years, but it's not like I look at photos I took before then with the kit lens and think "that would have been a great photo if only…"

When I was looking to upgrade I did some back-to-back tests (handheld) of a brick wall outside my local dealer of the 17-40 and my kit lens, and judged purely on the image quality there was very little in it.

The more expensive lenses are nicer to use because the build quality is much better, and they're typically faster (bigger apertures) so there's more scope for selective focus and low light usage, but at f/8 there's really not that much in it.

Get the 18-55. Use it for a few months. If you don't like it sell it for what you bought it for.
posted by puffmoike at 6:33 AM on November 29, 2012

Wide? Or REALLY wide?

I think your best bet would be some kind of fisheye and whatever adapter you need to make it work. I can't offer a specific suggestion, but I get absolutely stunning results out of a relatively cheap Rokkinon 7.5mm on an Olympus OM-D (different sensor size). It can be easily de-fished with one click using a lens correction profile, which gives a pretty good rectilinear image in Lightroom. The image quality rivals any lens I've ever owned, and I've had some nice glass. Shaper than the nice Sigma 10-20mm I had on my 40D, for sure. Even de-fished, it's VERY wide, but that works to your advantage because it means the depth of field is almost infinite...the lack of autofocus is no biggie.

They make an 8mm version that's about $200 for APS cameras, so you might snag a used one cheaper.
posted by pjaust at 1:36 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the great suggestions.

If anyone happens to check back to this question. . .

As per advice, I got the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens-- was able to get it on EBay for $73 (including S&H).

Today saw a Vivitar Series 1 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Series 1 lens (along with an EOS Elan/EOS 100 Body, but I was bidding just for the lens) on an auction site which I was able to obtain for $65 (including S&H).

Does anyone know whether the Vivitar is an OK lens for this price? (It will be mounted to a 40D, ie, cropped sensor.) And how it compares to the Canon IS Lens?

Was also offered a Sigma 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Aspherical UC lens at a local photo store for $180, but could hardly find any info on it online & decided to pass for the time being. Anyone know anything about this lens and how it might compare to the others?


posted by cotesdurhone at 8:06 PM on December 5, 2012

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