Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > Newbie Help

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Mar 19, 2003, 10:48 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 3
Default new to digital slr

I am new to digital slr, and have just found out when you buy the camera it does not include lens or glass as they say.

I am considering a new canon eos 10d and wondered if someone could guide me to a general list of lens required.

I currently have a Minolta dimage 7, and although its great camera, find it slow in focus and taking lots of shots (I am a real newbie) the canon looks like it might be in my price range and do what i want.

I am interested in bird photography so need zoom and fast shutter (i think) I am hoping someone will help me with info...we all have to start out somewhere...

patriciaann is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Mar 19, 2003, 11:15 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 240

I, too, got a Canon SLR recently, but I went the much-cheaper route and got a film one! :lol:

But, Canon SLRs and DSLRs both use the same EF-range lenses, and as long as you factor in the 1.6x magnification factor of the 10D (I think), the same rule applies as far as usability of lenses go.

If you do nothing else, go to the Photonotes website:


... and check out the following articles:

- Canon EOS Beginner FAQ
- Canon EOS Flash Photography
- A Few Inexpensive Canon EF-mount lenses

(the latter is in the Reviews section).

Also check out the Photo.net website (www.photo.net)--this is also chock-full of useful information.

(By the way, all the prices below are quoted in US dollars)

This is my interpretation, but Canon seems to make three distinct levels of EF lenses. The bottommost that you should avoid at all costs are the "kit" lenses that get included with most SLR kits--typically 28-85mm or so and with barely passable optics. True they are the cheapest, but why bother putting cheap lenses on a $1,500 DSLR?

The next up is the mid-level consumer range lenses. Lenses here start to use the very fast USM (ultra-sonic motor) focusing system, and are "reasonably" priced--anywhere from $80 (street price) for a 50mm prime lens to $400 for a 28-135mm image-stabilized telephoto lens.

The top of the line is their "L" series, aimed for people with lots of money or those who make a living taking photos. They are not cheap--$800-$2,500--but they use special crystal elements and are supposed to be fabulous. I say "supposed to be" because there's no way I'm going to be able to find out personally any time soon! :lol:

Here's what I culled, as far as basic recommendation for lenses go, from the web and the newsgroup postings when I was looking for the consumer lenses to go with the SLR body:

- 50mm f/1.8 prime lens--plastic body, but excellent optics. Available for around $70-80, you won't go wrong with this one.

- 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM lens. A good, general, all-around "leave on the body" lens for all occasions. Notice Canon seems to have discontinued this one in favor of 28-105mm f/4-5.5 lens, which is markedly inferior to the f/3.5-4.6. But the latter is still readily available. Street price around $220.

- 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Image Stabilized (IS) USM lens. An excellent consumer lens with IS technology--it reduces the effects of handshake. Basically get this over the above 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 if you can afford it. Street price around $400.

For your bird photography, you'll need zoom lenses in the range of 300-600mm. Canon makes some cheap 75-300mm and 100-300mm zoom lenses, but from what I've read, they are just "OK"--nothing spectacular. But I will nevertheless probably get one of them soon, just because they are affordable ($200-400). The nice telephoto lenses are well over $1,000.

Buy a nice tripod to go with your bird photography! I used to think my Slik U6000 would be fine for the SLR, but the first time I mounted my SLR with a battery pack and the Canon 420EX flash, I thought for sure the thing was going to topple. Now I understand why some tripods cost $200-300 and more...

You'll want to get a decent flash to go with the 10D, too. Get a dedicated Canon Speedlite flash, it'll "talk" to the camera and adjust flash output accordingly. I've got a Speedlite 420EX and am well pleased with it. The Photonotes.org site has excellent articles on EOS flashes.

The Canon EOS site (www.canoneos.com) is useful in that it lists all the EF lenses and their properties.

Good luck and post your questions away!
Hyun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 20, 2003, 3:06 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 2,162

Hyun...I can't justify dslr kit at the moment, but I thought I'd reply and say any Newbie reading your post should be appreciative of the quality of answer you have given. Spot on!
voxmagna is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 20, 2003, 9:51 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 5,803


After writing this, I saw just low long this is. I hope I donít bore you with the details. Iíd rather tell you too much and let you skim then leave off something crucial.

You are looking to make the upgrade that I am planning as well. Taking pictures of birds (for me, while I hike.) I've been hanging around a couple of forums to learn about lenses and camera bodies. For me, its been between the Nikon D100 and the Canon 10D. Both cost about the same (expect the D100 to drop to the 10D prices in the next few months.)

I will echo voxmagna sentiment. Hyun's comments are right on. Here are my additions.

If you really are going to start with birds, then you can skip the lower zoom lenses. They won't help you much. Now, if you are also going to take a picture of that nice tree over there or the squirrel which looks soooo cute on that stone wall.... then get something like the 28-135 Hyun suggested. Here are some things I'm considering. I asked a question here awhile back about how much zoom will cause a subject of a given size to fill 2/3's of a picture. It showed me very quickly that I needed a lot of zoom to get the pictures I wanted.

You are right that you need a zoom with fast focusing. Unless you put glue on the tree branches, those small birds just don't sit still. Nikon has a 100-400mm lens that looks nice but auto-focuses at the speed of frozen molasses. This hurts you in two ways. It makes acquisition difficult, but it also makes focus tracking hard too. Panning to follow a bird in flight is hard with that lens. I comment on the Canon equivalent below.

You'll either want to depend on IS (image stabilization) or get a good tripod. I haven't used IS (or Nikon's VR) but I've heard nothing but good things about them. If you don't want to lug a tripod around, consider IS.... or a monopod. I've read that with good technique a monopod will work for most lenses under 2 1/2 pounds (a 300mm f4). Good technique will let you get up to around 5 lbs (a 300mm F2.8.) But I canít do it. The really nice thing about a monopod is that it can double as a walking stick. I donít know if this is a good idea, but I know people who do it.

Here are some lens comments. At the bottom, I comment on brands a bit as well. All prices are in USD from adorama (only because they have a much nicer web page than B&H for such search.) I have no personal experience with these lenses. This is all from reading reviews and/or ďpersonal experienceĒ from pros.

Well warn you away first:
$??? Canon 100-300mm f/5.6 L Ė average optics, really slow focusing.
$280 Canon 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM Ė faster focusing, even worse optics.
Canít win, can you?

$415 Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 (all models) IS
Photozone rated this really badly. This would be a nice zoom range for that price. Pity.

Here are some good ones:
$889 Sigma 50-500mmF4-6.3 EX APO RF HSM
I've seen some very nice photos taken with his. It doesn't have IS, so you'll need a *very steady* tripod to take something at 500mm.

$1,129 Canon 70-200 F/4L USM AF
Nice lens. If you canít afford the F2.8 version, this is $500 less and will still do a very job. You might need a Teleconverter to really make this your ďalways attachedĒ lens, though. 200mm isnít long enough for many birds, even with the 1.6x of the 10D.

$700 Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX APO HSM
Iíve read good things about this. And that price is quite nice compared so the equivalent Canon lenses.

$1,400 Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 USM AF IS
Good zoom range. Fast autofocus and IS. Picture quality is very good up near its long end, where it starts to loose sharpness. Nothing that canít be fixed in photoshop.

$1,150 Canon EF 300mm F4 IS USM
Isnít a zoom. Less flexible but very good image quality. Better image quality at 300 than the 100-400. Combine this with a 1.4x Teleconverter and you have the same range as the 100-400, the same f-stop and basically as good image quality. Of course, you have the same price tag too.

Since Iíve been saving up for awhile, this is what I am doing:

I am leaning towards the 100-400 zoom. I donít want to have to mess with the TC and the 300mm. I think Iíd rather trade the flexibility of the zoom for a slight drop in image quality. Since this is a rather expensive lens, Iíll hold off on another lens until I see what range Iíll need. Itíll probably be something in the 28-135mm range.

Be warned that quality control on Sigma lenses are not that good. So be prepared to return one if it isnít as sharp as you might like. That is the tradeoff for the cheaper price.

I hope this helps.
eric s is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 20, 2003, 12:33 PM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 240

Voxmagna, thank you for your kind words.

An excellent post, Eric. Very informative--thank you.

If I may add one more note: All third-party lens manufacturers (Tamron, Tokina, Sigma, etc.) make lenses for Canon- and Nikon-range of SLRs. They may also make lenses for Minoltas and Contax and Pentax cameras, I just don't know.

However, whereas all Canon EF lenses work with all Canon EOS SLR (digital or film), no matter when the lens or the SLR camera was made (there may be an exception here with the earliest EOS film SLR cameras, but since they are no longer available, for our purposes they don't really count), there's no guarantee that at some point Canon won't come out with a different body style/mechanism/functionality that may prevent the third-party lenses from working properly with them. Same goes for Nikon (although I understand that Nikons have some compatibility issues even within its own Nikkor-range of lenses, depending on when they were released--don't quote me on this, though).

From what I've read, some third-party manufacturers have been good about making compatible lenses that work with wide range of cameras from a manufacturer, and some let you return the lens to them so that they can upgrade the "firmware" in the lens and make it compatible with the latest Canon/Nikon/whatever brand camera. But, in your case, you may find that going with the Canon EF-brand lenses will be worth it to avoid this potential hassle.
Hyun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 20, 2003, 2:37 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 5,803


Glad to help. I've learned a lot from here, so returning the favor is the least I can do. And this place is so civil and friendly, I just enjoy swinging by!

I can't comment on compatability with 3rd party lenses. I haven't heard anything like that before, but I could easily believe it. It's a good point, and I'll keep my eye open if the topic comes up elsewhere. The most common complains are bad quality variance between same-model lenses, and that they loose their value quicker than Canon/Nikon lenses. They just have a better name and are better made so they last longer.

Since I've been researching Nikon lenses, I can touch on your point (quickly.) Until very recently, Nikon has been very bullish about allowing older lenses to work. Maybe not completely (no matrix metering, for example) but they can be attached and they will take pictures. We're talking 15 year old lenses still working (to some extent.) It's only with the advent of the G lenses (no apeture ring) that has blocked all backwards compatability. Those require a specific lens mount and the ability to control apeture on the body. There has been a small market opening up to retrofit older lenses with chips so that they work better (but not completely) with newer bodies.

I actually find this rather comforting. You can spend thousands on lenses, so knowing they will be around awhile is nice. Personally, I wouldn't worry about this.

(The following is picked up from reading some canon talk in a Nikon forum. I'm sure most is true, but some might be wrong. Please correct me where necessary!)
I've have heard the opposite with Canon. Awhile back (with the advent of the EOS system & the EF mount? I don't know) they basically deprecated all Canon lenses. The older lenses just did not work any more. This really annoyed people. I am assuming they won't do this again for some time, so I'm not worrying too much.

So the bottom line is that if you buy a Nikon AF-I, AF-S, AF-D mount, AF-G mount lens you'll be fine. I would bet that covers almost everything sold new at B&H or Adorama. Here is my "D100 lens supported" chart (for what it's worth.)

AF-D and AF-G lenses (with or without IF)
- All functions available, not limitations

AF-I, AF-S lenses- (with internal focus motor)
- All functions available, no limitations

AF lenses
- All functions available, No 3D matrix, only 2D metering (Spot & Center only ???)

AI, AI'd, AIS, and Series E Manual Focus Lenses
- NO Matrix metering, Spot & Center metering OK, Aperture Priority OK, NO Shutter Priority

Non AI and other Manual Focus lenses (most made earlier than 1977)
- They can be converted to AI see http://aiconversions.com

Nikkor IX (APS)
- These can NOT be converted.
eric s is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 20, 2003, 2:57 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 240


Thanks for the info on Nikon. As I have a Canon setup and have been focusing my research on Canon stuff, I don't know much about the Nikon info so your posting is most welcome.

I got the following info from the Photonotes website (www.photonotes.org), regarding the Canon EOS system and the EF lenses and the break from the previous lenses-compatibility:

"While today Canon and Nikon are considered the big two Japanese 35mm SLR manufacturers, and thus the world, this was by no means always the case. German camera makers dominated the global camera market for the first half of the previous century. Then, in the 1950s, Nikon became the 35mm frontrunner with a host of smaller firms - Pentax, Minolta, Canon, Miranda, Ricoh, etc - following on behind. Canon made some breakthroughs with their F1 and A1 cameras in the 1970s, but by the 1980s they were definitely lagging and Minolta (now struggling) were making considerable inroads.

"Canonís first step to pull itself ahead in the SLR market came with 1986ís innovative T90, a manual-focus camera designed in collaboration with the noted German industrial designer Luigi Colani. The T90ís curved organic shape, heavy reliance upon computer automation and intuitive user interface set the direction for the entire Japanese SLR industry for the next 10-15 years.

"The company realized, however, that the future of photography lay in autofocus. Their early experiments - such as the T80, which shipped with somewhat clumsy autofocus lenses adapted to the FD manual-focus lens mount - werenít particularly successful, so Canon took the risky and unusual step of abandoning their FD mount altogether. In 1987 they released the first cameras and lenses of the EOS system.

"EOS cameras were utterly incompatible with Canonís previous products; a move which obviously alienated legions of Canon FD owners. The risk was calculated, however. EOS cameras with their EF lenses did not rely on any mechanical linkages between body and lens. Unlike all other camera makers Canon chose to house both the autofocus motor and the aperture diaphragm motor in the lens barrel itself.

"This gamble paid off when Canon were the first maker to release lenses containing fast and silent focussing ultrasonic autofocus motors. Canonís comprehensive line of USM lenses, along with the professional-quality EOS 1 and 1N camera bodies, helped Canon firmly establish themselves as a strong favourite of professionals. Massive sales of their low-end EOS cameras also allowed the company to enter markets in which Nikon, with a traditional emphasis on mid to high-end cameras, did not exist.
Hyun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 20, 2003, 3:27 PM   #8
Senior Member
NHL's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: 39.18776, -77.311353333333
Posts: 11,331

... but by the 1980s they were definitely lagging and Minolta (now struggling) were making considerable inroads.
This is when they were the first manufacturer to comeout with AF! :lol: :lol: :lol:

...so Canon took the risky and unusual step of abandoning their FD mount altogether.
... and I have a few of those cameras myself! :lol: :lol: :lol:

... Minolta made a few other mistakes as well:
1. Powered zoom on Xi cameras that can keep the aspect ratio constant while tracking a moving subject. A dud in term professional acceptance and slow response (but almost all digicams are now power zoom except of course the D7's!!!)
2. Removeable programmable custom cards, whereas everyone else have custom function built into the camera!
3. An overpriced dSLR based on cheap APS interchangeable lens! (and they are still pushing it!!!) ops: ops: ops:
NHL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 21, 2003, 11:58 AM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 116

I'm feeling very old-fashioned.

I've always preferred manual focus lenses to the auto-focus...for a number of reasons (lighter weight, faster focusing, more accurate at focusing on exactly the part of the picture I want in tight focus).

It's obvious I'm in the minority, given the popularity of AF even for professional photographers...

And my beloved chemical SLR equipment is the antiquated Canon FD stuff...when it breaks down I'll have to go to a whole new system.

Of course the "more accurate" and "faster focusing" part is going by the wayside as I become more antiquated myself. :lol:
rych26 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 21, 2003, 1:36 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 5,803


Thanks for the history lesson. I knew a bit of that stuff, but that filled in a lot for me.

I was researching the D100, 'cause a friend was offering me his used one for half price. That deal has gone away though (with no hard feelings) and now I'm considering both Canon and Nikon. I really liked the D100 for its feel, interface and weight. I have to get my hands on a 10D and see if it compairs. If I could only use the Canon IS lenses on the D100.. I'd be all set!


What camera do you use now? How do you find manual focus with the digitals? My brothers old Canon AE-1 had the nice split circle (what its called?) that made focusing a snap. Easy to get good focus really fast. The D100 I borrowed didn't have that. I don't think I'd trust focusing by eye... or an LCD (they just aren't sharp enough!)
eric s is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:04 AM.