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Old Dec 28, 2006, 11:39 PM   #1
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Hi,

Yesterday I purchased my first dSLR (a Canon 30D) based on input from the kind experts in the "What Should I Buy" forum. I plan to use it as a versatile camera for indoor/outdoor high school/middle school sports (basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball), family pictures, travel, astrophotography, etc., so lots of bases to cover.

I need your advice to help me draft a personal lens roadmap specifically for indoor sports and general-purpose walk-around and home use, so I can start to buy additional lenses with confidence.

So far, I've only bought the 80 f1.8 lens for portrait & indoor sports usage, and I plan to add a 70-200/300 zoom later for outdoor action. I'd rather buy very good to excellent lenses up front, but I'm ok with placeholder solutions if needed while I figure things out. I can imagine scenarios where I use anywhere from 1-4 lenses for my needs in this 10-135 mm. (before 1.6x crop adjustment) zoom range.


From much reading, conventional wisdom seems to be to build a quality lens collection around a solid performer in the 17-50 range. My leading candidates are:
Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (better than Sigma 18-50 I think, slow AF)
Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS (best overall in this range, at 2.5x cost, very fast AF)
Then, if I want to go longer for a good walk-around lens, current possibilities are:
Canon 24-70 f/2.8L (built like tank, great optics, costly, no IS, FF)
Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2 (excellent optics, good value, does not go wide)
Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 (very good - not great optics, good value, no IS)
Or maybe even going longer:
Canon 24-105 f/4L
Canon 28-105 f/3.5-4.5
Canon 24-105 f/4L IS
Canon 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS
Then may add a wide angle zoom, possibly (in order of current preference) one of:
Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5
Canon 17-40 f/4L
Tokina AF 12-24mm f/4
Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L ($1200)
So here are my main questions:
1) Are any of the f2.8 zooms going to be useful for indoor sports? I understand I may need fast primes (f/1.2, f/1.4. f/1.8 for low light indoor sports.
2) How useful is IS for indoor sports? Does it matter if I am panning vs. not panning? If useful for indoor sports, the Canon 17-55 f2.8 IS may move to the top of my list, due to its very fast AF.
3) As an outdoor walk-around do any of the 24/105L, 28/105, 24-105L IS, or 28-135 IS stand out? I like the idea of the 28-105 f3.5-5.6 as a short-term low-cost learning lens. (and I like having some reach on a walk around).
4) Does it make sense to start with the 17-50 lens and then go wide and/or long depending on most pressing needs?
5) What additional prime(s) would be good to fill specific niche(s)? Once I get some initial feedback and suggestions on these questions here and in another forum, I'll try to put together some specific scenarios for final review and input.
Dave

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Old Dec 29, 2006, 7:48 AM   #2
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Don't you need some longer lens for outdoor sports?
Also for indoor, IS and sport do not mix, faster lens is what you reaaly need to freeze the actions :idea:
(i.e. the faster shutter speed require for the action also stop camera shake)
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Old Dec 29, 2006, 7:57 AM   #3
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Dave, here are some attempts at answers to your questions. I'll let others help you with the walk-around lens - since mine (28-135) is not the latest and greatest out there (although I'm still very happy with it):

Quote:
1) Are any of the f2.8 zooms going to be useful for indoor sports? I understand I may need fast primes (f/1.2, f/1.4. f/1.8 for low light indoor sports.
The answer is simply: it depends. It depends completely on the lighting in the gyms you shoot in. In two of the gyms I shoot in, I find myself shooting at around ISO 1600, f2.0 and 1/400. So, I could bump the ISO up to 3200 and shoot 2.8. But with that increase, comes increased noise. So, at least in my gyms, it's a matter of choice to shoot primes and stick with 1600 as much as possible. ISO3200 on the canon's is usable (still the best in the industry) but I try to keep it at 1600 if possible. Your gym(s) may be completely different - they may be brighter or they may be darker. One thing I will tell you - in my experience it's bad advice to underexpose high ISO shots and fix the exposure in post processing. You need to get the exposure correct, in camera, to get the cleanest images. Canon cameras meter to protect highlights - so if you let the camera meter indoors and there are white jerseys you might be amazed how underexposed things come out. For example in a gym last night, I set the camera to AV mode - when pointing at a player in dark jersey, the camera came up with a shutter speed of 1/400. When pointing at a player in a white jersey the camera came up with a shutter speed of 1/1000. I was taking photos of the team in white all night - at 1/400 and the exposure was perfect. Had I listened to the camera the exposure would have been under by a stop or more. So, make sure the exposure is CORRECT - which in my experience is not the exposure the Canon will tell you.

Quote:
2) How useful is IS for indoor sports? Does it matter if I am panning vs. not panning? If useful for indoor sports, the Canon 17-55 f2.8 IS may move to the top of my list, due to its very fast AF.
For non-telephoto lenses and sports with high shutter speeds, IS is useless. For racing or such where you are panning with slower shutter speeds I could see a use. Or when you're hand-holding a 300mm 2.8 or 400mm 2.8 lens - yes. The IS in something like a 17-55 isn't going to buy you a single thing for the sports you're shooting (remember you're shooting for shutter speeds of 1/400 or 1/500 - if you can't hold a 55mm lens steady at those shutter speeds then sports shooting isn't your bag). But IS can be very useful for other types of photography - available light shots of non moving targets. So I'm not saying IS isn't a good thing - just that for a lens this size it won't help you with sports shots.

One word of caution though - you mention "very fast AF" - I would get recommendations from people that have used that lens for low light sports before making that call. It may very well be fast AF. But 'Fast' is relative. People that don't shoot sports/wildlife have a very different definition of fast AF. And some lenses that are fast in good light (and yes some 2.8 lenses fall into this category) aren't necessarily fast in low light. The lens sounds excellent - great focal length with 2.8, but I would look for sports shooters who use it - preferably ones who have also used the Canon 24-70 2.8 (still the standard wide zoom for pro Canon sports shooters). That way they are speaking apples to apples when they say whether the lens is fast or not.

Quote:
4) Does it make sense to start with the 17-50 lens and then go wide and/or long depending on most pressing needs?
I definitely recommend getting a SINGLE mid-range zoom lens and using it for a couple of months or more before deciding on another lens. Don't be swayed by people who tell you what focal lengths you MUST have. What works for them might not work for you. Let your own needs and style dictate what focal lengths (and apertures) you need. And, to be honest, you won't completely know that until you start using your new camera. Get that single lens first - after a couple months or more you'll find if there's a photographic goal you can't accomplish with your current setup. Don't get baited by people that give you a laundry list of 5 or 6 lenses that are the ultimate collection. I think if you took a survey of people here with 5 or more lenses the collections would be completely different. Why? Because each of our needs are different. So use one lens for a while and then when you can't do something you want to do come back and ask - I need a lens to do macro or wildlife or baseball or whatever.

Quote:
5) What additional prime(s) would be good to fill specific niche(s)? Once I get some initial feedback and suggestions on these questions here and in another forum, I'll try to put together some specific scenarios for final review and input.
Same advice as above - there are a vast array of prime lenses out there. Don't worry about niche lenses until you have identified what 'niches' you like to shoot. Again, someone like Peripatetic would tell you the 28mm 1.8 is a great prime to get. While BobbyZ might tell you the 400mm 5.6 is a great prime to get. They're both right - as long as your style of photography requires those focal lengths and apertures. So, develop your own style and when you do you'll be able to find someone here with a similar style and they can recommend what lenses work for that style.

For a more specific example - take one of your indoor sports - basketball. The 85mm lens you have is basically a 'corner lens' - you shoot from the corners of the baseline with it. Some folks like to shoot from the stands - which means a 135mm 2.0 is a good prime to have. Some like to shoot from under the basket - which means a 50mm or even 28mm is in order (depending on the style of shot you like). So which lens you buy next for basketball (if you ever do) depends on your own style. In today's world, you can buy a lens and have it within a week - so don't be rushed on these other lenses. Pick your walkaround lens and if you find down the road you 'gotta have' a specific lens you can have it within a week.


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Old Dec 29, 2006, 10:17 AM   #4
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JohnG wrote:
Quote:
For non-telephoto lenses and sports with high shutter speeds, IS is useless. For racing or such where you are panning with slower shutter speeds I could see a use. Or when you're hand-holding a 300mm 2.8 or 400mm 2.8 lens - yes. The IS in something like a 17-55 isn't going to buy you a single thing for the sports you're shooting (remember you're shooting for shutter speeds of 1/400 or 1/500 - if you can't hold a 55mm lens steady at those shutter speeds then sports shooting isn't your bag). But IS can be very useful for other types of photography - available light shots of non moving targets. So I'm not saying IS isn't a good thing - just that for a lens this size it won't help you with sports shots.
Just to add to Johns fantastic post (I'm sure he is getting ready to write a book soon as I know he has a lot of free time when he is not working, looking after the new child and photographing lol) I would say that IS is not really something to worry about when panning, I don't use it for any pannig shots (now maninly as I don't have IS on my lenses) and when I was using a Konica Minolta 5D which had IS in the body it didn't make a difference with IS on or off.

Here is a shot taken yeseterday at 400mm with a shutter speed of 1/60th and no IS. This equates to 640mm in 35mm terms and the general rule is 1/x th for x mm in 35mm terms so 1/640 would be suggested for this lens so I got this at 10 times slower speed. This comes down to practise but with panning it is not often a problem. The only movement that can be seen is the tip of the board where it was lifting against the water but that's acceptable and not something you would get with cars etc.

Mark


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Old Dec 29, 2006, 1:48 PM   #5
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Good advice again.

Quote:
I definitely recommend getting a SINGLE mid-range zoom lens and using it for a couple of months or more before deciding on another lens. Don't be swayed by people who tell you what focal lengths you MUST have.
Quite right. Individuals have different needs and styles.

John manages fine with his 28-135 (*1.6=>45-216) or (*1.3=>36-175) as a walkaround lens.

However I would say that one can make empirical assertions about the most useful focal lengths in general. They would start at a moderate wide angle of around 28-35mm and end at around 70-130mm effective focal lengths. I would assert that the majority of all photographs; probably 70-80% fall in that range. That is the 3-4x zoom range that smaller P&S cameras usually cover and the traditional range that 35mm kit zoom lenses used to cover. Now one might argue that because that is the range that the standard zooms cover we end up with the majority of photos being taken in that range. But nevertheless, if the public really wanted a different zoom range then the manufacturers would have seen some competetive advantage in providing a different range on at least some of their cameras.

So that brings us to the crop factor on the DSLR and the use of the older 28-85/100/135 lenses.

Are they still useful? Of course! Do they suit some peoples' style? Certainly! But I do believe that for the majority they would be better off with a 18-55 focal length zoom on the 1.6 crop. So do Canon, Sigma, etc.

This is not to say that your ideal range might not be something else. How about that new 50-150 f2.8 Sigma? (*1.6=>80-240 EFL). A perfect walkaround for those who naturally find a telephoto zoom to be their preference.

Others of course would prefer the 10-22 (*1.6=>16-35 EFL) on their camera most of the time.

But the expression "walkaround lens" in my book means a camera that is useful in the widest range of circumstances, and that means moderate wide angle to short telephoto; allowing landscape shots, group portraits and a little tighter for individual portraits and detail on buildings, etc.

So IMO it IS reasonable to say that the "correct" focal length for a "walkaround lens" on the crop cameras is 18-50/70/85. For the majority of people, most of the time. And as a corollary of that; the 28-135 is not a good walkaround lens, because it's not wide enough for many of the traditional uses that the notion of walkaround lens encompasses.

The fact that a good minority of photographers may prefer it or other focal lengths does not invalidate the claim. The claim is one of averages and general suitability rather than suitability for an individual photographer. So you need to find out what YOUR individual requirements are.

This is one reason why the 18-55 kit lens is so useful. It's extremely cheap, and stopped down to f8 or f11 is perfectly decent. It gives you a chance to experiment and decide whats right for you, at a low cost.

For example I'm not sure when I get my 5D whether I will prefer a 35mm prime or a 50mm prime; I would really like a 40mm, but there isn't one, so should I go a little wider or not? I don't have the money in my fund to afford the 35mm f1.4L and the 50mm f1.2 L both for a while. So what I'm going to do is use the cheap equivalents for a few months. The 35mm f2 and the 50mm f1.8. When I'm sure what my preferred focal length is, I shall buy the L I want and sell the lens I'm upgrading.


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Old Dec 29, 2006, 5:05 PM   #6
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I also tend to agree with Mark - Just because there's a panning mode on the lens (where IS is turned off on one axis so it won't interfere with the movements) folks automatically assume you need this feature to do panning...

IS can help somewhat, but the fact of the matter is panning does not require IS - more practice may be (Sigma 100-300 f/4 EX with 1.4xTC):
http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=82

(i.e. "the tip of the board where it was lifting against the water" is coming from the subjects an no IS in any lens/camera can detect or compensate for that!)
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Old Dec 29, 2006, 11:49 PM   #7
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Thank you very much NHL, John, Mark, Peripatetic -- you have given me some great information to digest and consider.:?

I am currently leaning back to one of the Tamron's or Sigma's, but I will also study slrgear, photozone, and fredmiranda user reports some more to see if something jumps out at me. The low cost Canon 24-105 is also still in play, as are the 18-55 IS and the 24-70L.

I will ponder this some more, and let you know how I decide to proceed (or what additional questions I have)...

Dave


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Old Dec 31, 2006, 2:10 PM   #8
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After agonizing over this for quite a while, I think I finally have a plan to cover my walk-around and general purpose/family/vacation needs the best:
Tamron 17-50 f2.8 ($425)
Canon 28-135 f3.5-5.6 IS ($380)

This package gives me excellent low-light shooting performance (especially the Tamron, although the IS on the Canon will also help), very reasonable cost, great range coverage, and both lenses have excellent professional and consumer reviews.

I had settled on the 28-105 f3.5-4 for just $229, but decided to upgrade to get the IS and longer reach for only $100...28-135 IS has slightly better reviews too.

One lingering question in my mind is to go with a Canon 17-40L instead of the Tamron...benefits would be build quality, usable on FF camera, and faster focusing. But I would sacrifice some reach, low light shooting, and pay an extra $20.

As always, I'd appreciate any input or suggestions...

PS. This thread is for shorter distance general purpose only -- I have a Canon 85mm f/1.8 and may get other primes (50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4) to cover indoor sports. I will get longer zoom(s) for outdoor sports.

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Old Jan 1, 2007, 10:19 AM   #9
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davepw wrote:
Quote:
One lingering question in my mind is to go with a Canon 17-40L instead of the Tamron...benefits would be build quality, usable on FF camera, and faster focusing. But I would sacrifice some reach, low light shooting, and pay an extra $20.

As always, I'd appreciate any input or suggestions...

PS. This thread is for shorter distance general purpose only -- I have a Canon 85mm f/1.8 and may get other primes (50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4) to cover indoor sports. I will get longer zoom(s) for outdoor sports.
It sounds like you need more coverage than f/2.8...

With your pick there's too much of an overlap between the 28~50mm range. Another option is an EX series, the only one really full-frame Super Wide zoom with HSM (faster focusing and full-time manual overide) which'll work quite well when you upgrade (at least for me):



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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:39 PM   #10
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Thanks much, NHL!

A reason for the overlap in my proposal, is that I'd like to have one workhorse lens for indoor family type pictures (the 17-50 f2.80). and one for outdoors and vacation walk-around and the like(the 28-135) . Of course, I'd often have and use these two together, plus some others (85 f1.8 prime, etc for other uses).

Although I see clear advantages with your approach, am I correct that if I'd like to be able to carry one lens for indoor family pictures, it seems that the 10-22 and 28-135 lenses do not have a good range for those uses?

My thinking is to go with three lenses for family, vacation, etc -- a wide, regular, and extended walk-around zoom lens -- and then add special primes and longer fast zooms for sports, portraits, etc. Not the most economical or convenient, but seems to give me the right tool for the right job, and in some cases, give me a single lens to carry.

If I go that way, I think it would make sense for me to add this very nice Sigma lens that you recommend, or similar Tokina, Sigma, or Canon lenses in this range. In fact, I'd expect to do that. Does this sound ok? What would be your ordering of the following: the competing Sigma(12-24), Canon (10-22), Sigma (10-20), and Tokina (12-24) lenses?
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