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Old Apr 12, 2009, 8:06 AM   #1
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Hi,

I am just upgrading to a dslr from a p&s, I mostly do family photographs and candid stuff. i really enjoy macro subjects also. So i would be looking for a portrait lens (not restricted to head & shoulders, but also full body)that is also a good walk around lens for travel and street photography.

As I have been advised in this forum on my earlier queries, I look forward to buying the best lens i can afford that essentially can give me better quality pics, that are sharp, and preferably fast cos I do a lot of indoors and low light stuff. It should definitely be better than what my p&s gives me, and i dont want to spend time doing postprocessing work (somehow I am not comfortable with idea of reworking the snap on a computer, I believe the photograph should stand on its own, and not be good because I am good at photoshop)

If the lens is slightly wide, then its an added bonus for my beach and sunset shots too.

I need to know

1. which is the best portrait lens/ walk around lens for canon 450D/40D between usd 400-500?

2. For macro, how good is the 50mm 1.8 II + extension in comparison with a dedicated macro?

thanks in advance.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 6:06 AM   #2
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Two good choices:

Tamron 17-50 f2.8.
Sigma 18-50 f2.8.

Or if you are happy for a little less speed but would prefer extra range and IS.

Canon 17-85 f4-5.6 IS.

All come in at under $450.

If you want a good macro lens then buy a dedicated one, extension tubes work, but make life a lot harder than it needs to be.
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Old Apr 14, 2009, 2:24 AM   #3
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hi, isnt it better if i look at something witha lil more range like the 24/28...-70/105/135? will they not give me more zoom distance and will it therefore be more preferable for travel photograpy? what is the difference between say a 17-50 bracket lens and 28-135 lens apart from the zoom? what is more suitable for me?



Any one used a 24-70 sigma macro? want to know about its image sharpness/quality and its macro capabilities- is it cosmetic or can i so some serious macro on it?

can u pls suggest some reliable lens review sites?



thanks again
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Old Apr 14, 2009, 4:47 AM   #4
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Be very careful of the focal length range you want.

The basic trade-off is that the greater the zoom range, the more difficult it is to make an optically good lens.

As a beginner you definitely do not want a lens with the widest part of the zoom in the 24-28mm range. There are a few people who like 24-70 on a crop camera, but they are very much in the minority and unless you are 100% certain that this is the range you want then you should avoid it. Those lenses are universally made for FX/Full Frame cameras.

The equivalent range for a crop camera is something like 17-50.

You will need to choose whether you want convenience or a big zoom range. But really I am not sure why you would buy an SLR camera and then never change lenses. It seems a bit odd.

Having a good 2-lens kit covering 17-300mm is probably the best travel compromise.

A very nice travel kit is the Canon 17-85 IS + Canon 70-300 IS. Two lenses with good image quality, both with IS, both with fairly good build quality, fast focus motors, not too heavy, nicely balanced on 450D/40D.

The best quality "standard zoom" on a crop camera is the 17-55 f2.8 IS, but it's out of your price range. Failing that you need to choose which features you are going to give up.

Start with this site for lens reviews:

http://www.slrgear.com

And also refer to this one:

http://photozone.de

Once again I strongly strongly strongly recommend that you DO NOT CHOOSE 24/28 - 70/80/105 as your first walk-around lens. It is simply not wide enough.

What kind of Macro photography do you want to do? Flowers are very different from ants.
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Old Apr 14, 2009, 6:11 AM   #5
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skmdcam wrote:
Quote:
... and i dont want to spend time doing postprocessing work (somehow I am not comfortable with idea of reworking the snap on a computer, I believe the photograph should stand on its own, and not be good because I am good at photoshop)...
post processing is an important part of the game. You can set a DSLR to produce a punchy result straight out of the camera, but this way you will never get the best image quality possible. It's just like it was with film cameras - there was a shooting stage and a development/printing stage. Exactly the same with digital, PhotoShop of any other image editor of your choice is your darkroom for image processing and development just without all those nasty chemicals :-).
as for the lens, for your subjects 17/18-50 might be a bit short imho, so may be 17-70 Sigma, or 17-85 Canon would be a better choice, both can do decent close-ups (not true macro) and not as fast aperture wise as the 17-50 lenses, but the focal range is a lot more versatile. For indoor shooting neither lens will be fast enough or will give you an acceptable dof, so your best bet is an external flash with a bounce&swivel head.
for me personally the best portrait/walk around lens is either my 60mm macro, or 85mm f/1.8 lens - depends on my mood and subject, but I have other lenses when I need them.
I still think that the best all-around beginners bundle on a restricted budget would be 450D +18-55IS + 55-250IS +50mm f/1.8 + 430ex flash - light, compact, not too expensive and a very capable kit.
cheers,
Alex

PS. here is an example of a close-up shot taken with 17-85 IS lens:



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Old Apr 14, 2009, 6:46 AM   #6
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wow thanks, thats some serious advice.

(ps - i dint mean i just want one lens, i cant afford many for a year or two, until then i dont want to be restricted by the focal length at least for basic photography, right?)

from what i understand- 17-85 is a good focal range to cover for wide angle, portraits, family and some landscapes, and street photography also. i hope i got that right..

there are mixed reviews for the 17-85 (tho nothing severely against it). is the picture sharp? what if i geta 450d with 50mm 1.8 and the 70-200,what kind of photography do i miss then?

algold- u mention the 18-55 kit lens, i dint like the output at all when i tried that out, i wanted to avoid getting that.

thanks again
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Old Apr 14, 2009, 9:14 AM   #7
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I mentioned a newer 18-55IS kit, which is very good optically + had IS, the build quality is so-so, but even my old 18-55 is still alive and didn't break into pieces :-). The old kit zoom can produce very decent and sharp images when you know its limitations.
Don't forget the crop factor of APS-C sensor. If you go for only 50 and 70-200 lenses, you won't get a 'standard' walk-around prime lens, you will get a shot telephoto with a field of view of an 80mm lens on 35mm/FF camera. Nice for portraits, but often too long for indoor shooting. AF hunts in low(-ish) light and not always precise, bokeh isn't great and manual focus is difficult to say the least. On a positive side, it's very sharp from f/2-2.2, light, compact and cheap:


70-200 is too long if this is the only lens you have, and you will be pretty much restricted to outdoor shooting, unless you have a lot of room indoors to back up. Makes a great portrait lens (head, head and shoulders, half length if again you have room).
17-85 is pretty sharp and has a very useful focal range. It's often critisized a lot in the reviews, but it's not better of worse than Nikon and Sony of the same focal range. What people really don't like about this lens is it's pretty high price tag (usually around $500) - I got mine new for about $350, so no complains from me. AF is very fast and precise, full time manual focus override, 3 stops IS, sharp with nice colour rendition and contrast. Not very fast aperture wise, but usually enough for a walk-around. There is quite a bit of distortion at 17-20mm range, but nothing that can't be easily corrected in PP. As you can see by now, I quite like this lens :-), here is another shot taken with it:


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Old Apr 14, 2009, 12:08 PM   #8
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The 18-55 IS is a fantastic lens for the cost.

I would strongly recommend that you get that as your first starter lens.

Use it for a few months and then figure out yourself (by all means take some advice) what you need.

Sharpness is only one factor of many, but it is the one that beginners get all obsessive about.

If you cannot get stunning images from the 450D/40D + 18-55 IS the reason is behind the camera, not in front of it. :-)
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Old Apr 15, 2009, 11:09 AM   #9
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i know, i know all that, just that its such an expensive proposition, i wanna be careful and not burn my fingers.

between sigma 17-70 and canon 17-85, which would u choose as a starter lens? sigmahas a wider aperture, is at least halfway macro, and way cheaper and its got some good reviews also.

and if i get these, would it still help to get a 50mm prime?
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Old Apr 15, 2009, 12:18 PM   #10
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17-70 Sigma is a nice lens with attractive price, 3 of my friends have it and are quite happy with the results. It's not a constant f/2.8 lens. You have f/2.8 at 17mm and this drops down to f/4.5 at 70mm. As all 'macro' zoom lenses, it's not a true macro and gives you 1:2.3 reproduction with 20cm close focus distance. There is quite a bit of distortion, vignetting and CA at wide end, but they are not too bad. Build quality is good. AF speed is good, but not as fast as Canon USM, AF is also a bit noisy. What you lose compared to Canon 17-85 is image stabilization, full time manual focus override and fast and quiet USM AF, it's also shorter than Canon. You can't go far wrong with either lens, both are good.
50mm f/1.8 is a fun and cheap lens, but you don't have to buy it right away. Get your camera with one zoom lens to get you started, learn what you can and can't do with the lens you have and go from there. If I were you, I would buy a flash before buying a second lens.

cheers,
Alex
PS. On a second thought you can also have a good look at Nikon D90 with a 18-105mm VR lens - cheaper than Canon 40D + 17-85 kit.
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