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Old May 5, 2005, 8:07 AM   #1
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I plan on purchasing a 20D, but am hesitating on which lens kit to purchase (EF-S 18 – 55 or the EF-S 17 – 85). I currently do not have any lenses that would work with digital SLR cameras, so I am purchasing the lenses for the long run. I am not one to waste money but will invest the extra few hundred up front if it is worth it.
Any opinions on which lens kit to go with? Thanks.
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Old May 5, 2005, 9:48 AM   #2
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I bought the EF-S 17-85IS with my 20D and have been very happy with it. It's fairly expensive but has great range. There are faster lenses avilable, but few as good as a "walk-around" lens. The lens has sparked a lot of controversy, often by people who haven't used it.

My second lens (just received it) is the EF-70-200 f/4L. This makes a great combination. Also consider an EF-50 1.8 for low light situations. I rarely use mine, but it's a bargain at about $70. Great for pictures of newborns when a flash isn't the best choice.

So many lenses, so little money :sad:
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Old May 5, 2005, 10:22 AM   #3
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kevin wrote:
I plan on purchasing a 20D, but am hesitating on which lens kit to purchase (EF-S 18 – 55 or the EF-S 17 – 85).
If purchasing for the long run remember that the EF-S lenses will not work on full-frame cameras later on if you ever upgrade from the 20D. That would mean reinvesting in lenses again, and a low resale value on these expensive lenses which will (possibly) be obsolete becasue of their format-size eventually.. maybe.

It is a trade-off. These lenses have a stability system that makes the lenses work better n low light, but they are relatively slow becasue of their slow minimum f settings so you need the stabilization. The limits of aperture also mean less control over DOF, possibly one of the most creative settings on a camera.

When buying lenses-
- What range do you need? Would an 18-55 and a 70-200 fill the needs? Or...?
- What speed do you need? Is a 2.8 OK, or is a 1.8 needed.
- Do you need to cover the entire range with one lens or will an outfit better serve your needs?
-Do you HAVE to get Canon lenses, or will spending less to get the same or more be OK?
- Would one or two fast prime lenses fill the need with one, less-expensive, longer walk-around zoom?

These are just a few of the questions I recently had to deal with when purchasing my second lens (I started with the kit 18-55).

My final decision was based on the fact that there is no one lens to cover everything I wanted that would create quality images.

I am going to keep the 18-55 as it is a nice, small carry-around. I got the Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 EX macro to fill the "middle" and will eventually get a long zoom for the far end, and probably a 50 1.8 for studio use.

Why didn't I get the Canon L 24-70 f/2.8? It is longer, heavier, and three times the cost of the Sigma, the Sig has a 4 times longer warranty, and the Canon does not come with a case nor a hood which come with the Sigma. The sig's images are also on par with the Canon... All the sample imnages I have seen from the Sig were excellent.

My new lens is not here yet, but I will be posting a full report when it arrives.

There are plenty of sources on the net to find sample images from various lenses as well. use them, view them, print them. Be critical. Sure, you can spend over $1100 on the 24-70 L lens, but if the Images from a lens with the same physical specs that leaves over $700 in your pocket works for you, then go for it!
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Old May 5, 2005, 10:56 AM   #4
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There's also an excellent affordable 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 that will work on any camera and not just the 'digital': http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...301453#p301453
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Old May 5, 2005, 2:11 PM   #5
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Thank you for your responses. Maybe my best option is to purchase the 20D body only and then purchase an everyday lens separately that would be compatible with other Canon cameras in the future.
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Old May 5, 2005, 3:15 PM   #6
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I have to add my 2c worth.

The 17-85 is a great lens to go with the 20D. If you ever upgrade sure it won't fit a 1-series camera, but if you're going to splash out $5000-$8000 on a new camera I'm sure you'll be happy to buy some extra lenses to go with it.

If I were you I would buy the 17-85 to go with the 20D and stick with that combo for 3-6 months. Learn to use the camera well and find out the limitations of the camera + lens combo.

After that you may find you have a whole bagful of lenses you want to get, or in fact you may find that you only want 1 or 2 more, or even none at all.

You will most likely want a wide-angle lens for the camera, something around the 17/18mm mark (*1.6=28mm). So the 3 obvious contenders are the 2 kit lenses and the Sigma 18-125. If I were buying again I'd go for the 17-85 first, second the 18-125 and third the 18-55.

Most of the people on this forum who have the 17-85 think it's a fine walkaround lens and matched to the 20D is more than capable of giving some very good results with prints up to pretty much any size you fancy.

The whole "you can't use it on a full-frame camera" is a complete red herring in my book. If you do upgrade to a full-frame later then either you'll keep the 20D in which case you'll have a nice walkaround lens for it, or you'll flog it in which case you can flog the 17-85 lens with it as part of a kit.

You can check out my "keepers" site to see examples of both the 18-55 (which I got as a kit lens) and the 17-85 which I got later.


Actually if I were starting out again with nothing, given where I am now I would most likely just get the 20D body and a single prime - the EF 28mm f1.8 USM (*1.6=45mm).
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Old May 5, 2005, 3:25 PM   #7
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NHL wrote:
There's also an excellent affordable 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 that will work on any camera and not just the 'digital':
It will FIT any camera but it wont work on a full frame. Not unless you think extreme vignetting is attractive that is.

From the Sigma website about their DC range:

Use is not possible for digital single-lens reflex cameras with image elements larger than the APS-C equivalent size, 35 mm single-lens reflex cameras, and APS film single-lens reflex cameras. In case of such use, vignetting occurs on the screen and in the resulting images.

EOS-1Ds Mark II -
EOS-1D -
EOS-1D Mark II -

So Sigma do not regard it as being compatible with the 1-series cameras.
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Old May 5, 2005, 3:52 PM   #8
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If you do not have a lens for the 20D, then you really should get a lens with it. You get a little price break buying the lens with the camera. The much maligned 18-55mm kit lens may be your best bet getting started. At about $100 as a kit, it will give you a decent starter lens and one with a range that makes it good for family gatherings, parties, etc. A recent test report in Popular Photography confirmed what I have thought for a long time: the 18-55mm lens is a pretty good lens in absolute terms and an excellent value.

The 50mm F1.8 is fine, too, but I have found that for me, the conditions that most often call for a faster lens also call for a wider angle. 50mm has an angle of view comparable to 80mm on a full frame 35--in other words, it is a short telephoto lens. In my house, a short telephoto has little use other than as a head/shoulder portrait lens. Too long for group shots. Too short for birds. I'm looking forward to some test reports on Sigma's new 30mm F1.4. If it is sharp and reasonably priced, that is my new low light lens. Like back when I first started witha Nikon F (manual focus, manual TTL exposure) and 50mm F1.4 as my only lens.

If you have the budget for it, the 17-85mm IS is a very sharp, overpriced lens. It is a $400 lens for $600 (although about $100 cheaper as a kit with the 20D), and that is my biggest complaint. It is, in angle of view, comparable to 27-136mm on a full frame 35, and that makes it pretty versatile. On a recent vacation trip, I took the 17-85, the Canon 100-400 LIS, and a Sigma 12-24mm. 80% of my pictures, and 85% or more of the keepers, were with the 17-85. That lens produced some stunning flower/river/glacier/forest landscapes that look very sharp printed at 13x19.It suffers from purple fringing, barrel and pincushion distortion, and it doesn't even come with a lens shade. However, the 3rd generation IS is excellent. The fringing is fixed with a $10 color fringe reducer Photoshop Action. The barrel/pincushion distortion is notdetectable in landscapes. It is my favorite general purpose or vacation lens. I would say it is my "walkaround lens", except that I don't "walkaround". Yes there is a measurable difference in width at 17mm vs 18mm.

Other digital-only lenses. Besides the Sigma 18-125, both Sigma and Tamron either have or will shortly have 18-200mm. How good? Don't know. What I do know, though, is that once you have worked with IS lenses, it is hard to go back, and none of the super wide-range zooms have IS.

Will EF-S lenses become obsolete? Who knows? Nikon's new D2X is a 12.4 megapixel on a 1.5 crop factor sensor. Some say that the full frame DSLR is the future medium format and the APS-C sensor will become the standard. All I know is that the future is in the hands of the Canon marketing department, and that is scary because those people don't know or care about photography--only about selling you some more stuff!
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Old May 5, 2005, 10:27 PM   #9
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I purchased a 20D with the 18-55 kit lens. I later sold it and bought the Sigma 18-125 and eventually sold that for the 17-85 IS. The 18-125 was a little better than the 18-55 and also obviously has better range. It would be a perfect walk-around lens but my copy was quite soft. I found the 17-85 to be much sharper and the IS is worth the money. When purchasing with the kit, it's $100 less expensive than buying is alone. I also tried a 17-40L but also sold that when (at least my copy on my camera) was no better than the 17-85 IS. (sharpness or bokeh). I think the 17-85 may be a little underrated perhaps due to its cost. I think it's the best all-around lens for the 20D.
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Old May 5, 2005, 10:41 PM   #10
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i agree with NHL... if i were to buy one lens and be money concious doing it with a new 20d... the 18-125 would be the one..


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