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Spgovert May 26, 2010 11:47 PM

Telephoto Zoom Lens $300 budget
So I got my camera the other day and I was outside in my yard taking photos figuring everything out and realized I really need a zoom lens. But because I am really new to photography I don't really know where to go and what to look for in the lens. All I have now is the kit Lens that comes with the Cannon T1i which is 18mm-55mm.

I am looking to shoot wildlife to an extent such as birds and other animals like ducks and an occasional deer if its around in my yard (which is quite often). Also my brother plays in a high school marching band which when they do there shows we are in a High school stadium which isn't to large but I would like to zoom in on just him. The problem is I don't know how to judge how far a lens will zoom. I understand some basics and such but I am still confused.

I have looked at the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens but I read on another website that it isn't that great with wildlife and they suggest getting a lens with a longer zoom.

Any suggestions would help as I would like to purchase this lens sometime this week.


Davi May 27, 2010 4:47 AM

The Canon 75-300mm III USM at $195 is a fair bit cheaper than the 55-250mm, and there are also similar offerings from Sigma and Tamron which are considerably cheaper still (Sigma 70-300mm $160, Tamron 75-300mm $120), all very popular telephoto lenses. These prices are all from; perhaps you can get cheaper elsewhere.

JohnG May 27, 2010 7:05 AM

I will warn however that 300mm is short for wildlife work - especially small birds. For certain 250 is too short. So keep your expectations in check. If you're serious about wanting to shoot wildlife you need to save your pennies for a 100-400L or Sigma 50-500 type of lens.

As for marching band - it depends on the time of day. If it's at night under the lights then none of these lenses will work as there isn't enough light for them to work. If it's during the day they should all do fine.

TCav May 27, 2010 8:10 AM

A budget of $300 severely limits your options. For what you want to do, the longer the better, but you won't find anything longer than 300mm that's worth buying, for less that $300.

The Canon 55-250 is the only telephoto zoom lens in your price range that's stabilized, but for what you say you want to shoot, you'll be using faster shutter speeds anyway, so stabilization won't be a benefit.

Among the telephoto zoom lenses in your price range that will go out to 300mm, the Tamron 70-300 Di LD is the best choice, with the Sigma 70-300 APO a close second, and the Tamron is less expensive. BTW, neither of them will be any good at night or indoors, nor will anything else for less than $300.

johnandscooter Jul 9, 2010 10:15 AM


Originally Posted by TCav (Post 1100236)

Among the telephoto zoom lenses in your price range that will go out to 300mm, the Tamron 70-300 Di LD is the best choice, with the Sigma 70-300 APO a close second, and the Tamron is less expensive. BTW, neither of them will be any good at night or indoors, nor will anything else for less than $300.

Would the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5 IS USM lens be the best bet if the budget was bumped up to $600? I think it would still be an outdoors with good light lens, correct?

JohnG Jul 9, 2010 10:18 AM

The canon lens is sharper and will focus much faster than the other two lenses. But yes, with a 5.6 aperture value it's only good for outdoor, good light situations.

TCav Jul 9, 2010 11:32 AM

Yeah. What he said.

deterpawson Jul 13, 2010 9:30 PM

I too like youhad like a $300-400 budget and bought the sigma 70-300mm apo lens
its a good lens but no stabilization, good 1:2 macro fully extended in macro mode in mf
on a tripod its quite good, not as sharp as my canon 28-135 lens
i plan to sell this lens ans save for better quality glass
best thing to do is put the 300 bucks aside somewhere and save some more cash and buy a better lens that you wont regret later
instead use the lens you have and practice using all the features of your camera to get the best exposure/sharpness/dof/lighting etc
this knowledge will far outwiegh a half decent lens
i know sometimes you want to zoom..... instead tread forward more carefully
birds are really tough even with a 400mm good lens
better to obtain a skill set and a good shooting routine than a zoom lens
just my 2 cents worth
the 28-135mm lens is quite a good steal and ebay and some camera stores have some good deals, though its not that wide so the field of view is limited, but its my stay on lens right now, gees man i dropped the thing from like 3ft onto a tar surface in a parking lot right oon the corner of my lens, the cap and uv filter ( which smashed to dust and pieces ) saved the front element, but by golly, the frikkin thing works like a charm still....
go for a lens with good glass and good build quality, the lens is the key.

jmp2204 Jul 28, 2010 10:52 AM

look for a good used canon 70-300mm is lens .You won't regret it

jacks Jul 30, 2010 10:23 PM

I also have the Sigma 70-300 APO, and there are others as good for similar prices. The lens really is optically very good. You get a fair whack of the optical quality of top lenses for not much money.

The whole package on the other hand isn't so good. It's very slow to focus, the zoom ring isn't stiff enough to stop the lens creeping out when you carry it, it's noisy, it's slow, the front element rotates and the manual focus is very difficult to get right.

You can get superb pictures out of it, but you need to work. The lens is slow and unstabilised so you will often need a tripod. Focus is slow so you have to get lucky to take a pic of anything moving. It's ok wide open but much better from f8 up which makes it slower again and so on.

It's often overlooked, but IMO the most important thing that top lenses buy you is convenience - lift the camera and shoot, and a fast lens with a good focus system will give you a high proportion of keepers. With this lens you have to take a lot more shots. When you take your time to get THAT shot though - stopped down, tripod, CPO the right bloody way up, focus spot-on etc - the cheap lens can be really good.

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