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Old Feb 18, 2005, 7:57 AM   #1
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I'm not a professional photographer but a hobbyist. I take a lot of pictures with standard consumer digital cameras and want to get into SLRs. My brother let me borrow his Olympus E-1 for a while and I was amazed at the quality of the pictures and the ease of working with SLR. I admit that I will be exploring the manual modes slowly and will probably start with shooting in mostly automatic mode. My shooting involves the usual: family vacations, indoor, outdoor parties, outdoor architecture when going to Europe, outdoor landscape when going somewhere exotic. I will do only minimum number of enlargement prints.

I was about to purchase the 20D with EF-S 17-85 F4-5.6 IS USM camera kit, but started thinking about the new Rebel XT with EF 24-70 F2.8L USM. Both combinations would cost about $2000. I don't want to spend anything beyond that, except about $500 for accessories like UV filter, memory card, bag, lens hood, etc. Later on I may add ultra wide lens and large telephoto.

I'm decided to get one of these combinations, and wanted to hear your opinion. I went to couple of local stores and played around with both lenses on 20D. The 17-85 combo felt terrific. Very light and compact. The 24-70 was more intimidating, but was smaller and lighter than I expected, but not as convenient as 17-85. I think I could live with the 24-70 if the difference in quality was substantial. Both lenses seemed to focus very fast, but there's not much serious testing you can do in the store.

My main thoughts are, is the picture quality taken with 24-70 significantly better than 17-85. If yes, does it make sense to combine 24-70 with Rebel XT? This would allow me to purchase extremely good lens, with decent SLR camera that can be upgraded few years down the road.

I know, you guys may think why is this amateur even looking into SLR and L lenses. I'm simply tired of the slow consumer cameras and want something that is more responsive, with better output quality especially in difficult lighting situations. I want to buy one of these combos, just can't decide which one.

What are your thoughts?

Thank you.
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Old Feb 18, 2005, 8:36 AM   #2
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My thoughts (I'm an amateur, too):

1) No one's tested the XT yet, but my guess is that it will be a pretty dang good performer. So it's hard for anyone to give specific advice. But with that said, unless you need the larger burst rate of the 20D (for sports or high action), the metal body (to treat the camera like crap), or really like the controlls on the 20d a lot better, I think the Reb would be fine (I like my reb just fine, especially with the battery grip, except for the fairly slow read/write CF card times... it sounds like Canon fixed that in the XT).

2) with the crop factor, the 24-70 lens will have the 35mm equivalent of 38-112mm. 38 mm is not very wide; if you're doing to be doing much architectural/panorama/landscape photography, you'll probably feel that you need something wider (even if it is the 18-55mm "kit" currently available)

3) The fixed 2.8aperture on the 24-70 is much nicer to use indoors-- you would be able to use it without a flash indoors; the 17-85 won't work well at all indoors with its relatively poor min aperture. (But you can overcome this by purchasing the Canon 50mm f/1.8 for $80 to use indoors without a flash if you want the 17-85)

4) The 17-85 is an EF-S lens, meaning that it won't work on full-frame sensors (like the 1D or whatever "future camera" you might be interested in that's not a compact sensor). It's also pretty pricey for an EF-S lens. Many people, though seem to have really good luck with it.

In sum, it's largely what you'll spend the most time doing (indoor, portrait, outdoor, landscape, architecture) and how the lenses feel.
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Old Feb 18, 2005, 9:11 AM   #3
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Don't forget that the 17-85 also has IS built in. Canon claims it gives at least 2 shutter speeds of additional stability when hand-holding the camera. Using the 1/focal-length for handheld shots formula, at 85mm (which is really like 136mm with the 1.6 conversion factor), you can't go below 1/125 shutter speed for a handheld shot. However, with IS turned on, you should be able to go --> 1/100 --> 1/80 shutter speed and still get an acceptable picture.
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Old Feb 18, 2005, 9:31 AM   #4
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My 2c...

Best standard zoom lens by camera:

1D & 1Ds & 1DMkII & 1Ds MkII => EF 24-70 f2.8 L USM.

20D & Rebel => EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM
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Old Feb 18, 2005, 9:38 AM   #5
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perdendosi wrote:
3) The fixed 2.8 aperture on the 24-70 is much nicer to use indoors-- you would be able to use it without a flash indoors; the 17-85 won't work well at all indoors with its relatively poor min aperture.
Have you ever used IS?

I get 3 stops extra over what I can handhold. Combined with the high ISO performance of the 20D I have no trouble at all with daytime indoor shots with the 17-85mm.

I do find that at night with no flash it's just a touch too slow for general use, on the other hand the built-in flash is fine for occasional use.

With the 20D there's no need to be afraid of ISO1600 or even ISO3200.
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