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Old Dec 27, 2008, 4:55 PM   #1
PB3
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I just recently purchased my first DSLR camera and loving every bit of it.

I have the standard lens kit - 18/55mm IS. The 55/250mm IS was included in the package.

I want to add one more lens right now to mailnyuse for portrait/indoor shots. I have a my firstbaby boyon the way in April so I have been catching up with this camera and exploring its functions.

I have noticed with the 18/55mm it is quite difficult to get a good blurred background with close up shots. Until recently I was unaware thata camera automatically adjusts the f-stop as you zoom in/out. I always thought that you had sole control over this. I switched over from a high zoom P&S .

In AV mode I have also noticed when i have the 18/55mm I get alot of blurred action shots when I am trying totake aindoor photoand my wife and others are moving.

First I would like to add a nice portrait lens and going on with others have posted here the Cannon 85mm f/1.8 seems to be a heavy favorite.

Are there other Cannon lens that compare to this one? Maybe a different series?

Any other suggestions or sample shots you have taken with your loved ones and care to share?

Will this lens keep a low f-stop? I couldnt find anyone mentioning zooming with the 85mm. I am guessing it doesnt.

thanks in advance for all the help!
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Old Dec 27, 2008, 5:28 PM   #2
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PB3 wrote:
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I have noticed with the 18/55mm it is quite difficult to get a good blurred background with close up shots. Until recently I was unaware thata camera automatically adjusts the f-stop as you zoom in/out. I always thought that you had sole control over this. I switched over from a high zoom P&S .
It depends on the lens. Some lens' can maintain a constant wide aperture others cannot. You'll see it in the official designation of the lens. The kit lens is 3.5/5.6 meaning it can have a max 3.5 aperture at it's widest zoom but when zoomed out, 5.6 is the widest aperture. Other lenses like the Canon 24-105, 70-200 f4, 70-200 2.8 can maintain their best aperture value throughout the zoom. Typically such lenses are more expensive though.

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In AV mode I have also noticed when i have the 18/55mm I get alot of blurred action shots when I am trying totake aindoor photoand my wife and others are moving.
With or without flash? Without flash, it can be difficult to get a shutter speed fast enough to freeze motion indoors with a lens aperture of 5.6. At a minimum you need to raise your ISO to probably 1600 to do this. Even then, depending on the lighting, you may not be able to achieve the result you want without using a flash.

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First I would like to add a nice portrait lens and going on with others have posted here the Cannon 85mm f/1.8 seems to be a heavy favorite.
Given you will be taking photos of a newborn primarily I think the 85 is an excellent choice. As your child grows you may find 85mm is "too tight" but it's perfect for infants.

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Will this lens keep a low f-stop? I couldnt find anyone mentioning zooming with the 85mm. I am guessing it doesnt.
This is one of those good news bad news types of things. The good news is the 85mm 1.8 can maintain a constant 1.8 aperture. The bad news is it only has a single focal length - 85mm. The lens does not zoom. It is what is called a 'prime' lens - it has a single focal length of 85mm so you have to zoom with your feet.


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Old Dec 28, 2008, 11:49 AM   #3
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Hi John,

Thanks for the great feedback!

When you say "too tight", what exactly is meant by that? You'll have to excuse me not knowing the terminology. I am still a dummie when it comes to cameras.

Would their be a different lens that would benifit in the long run and still keep a low apature? I looked on Wolfcamera.com and notices under the Cannon lens section there are "Sigma" series and others. Are these just older models of Cannon Lenses?

Visited the Cannon website and browsed the site for other lens but most other are quite pricey. Im looking to stay between $400-MAYBE $600.



Thanks again for all the help!
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Old Dec 28, 2008, 1:43 PM   #4
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When you say "too tight", what exactly is meant by that? You'll have to excuse me not knowing the terminology. I am still a dummie when it comes to cameras.
It means that the subject may be too large at 85mm. An extreme example is to put your 55-250mm lens and zoom all the way out to 250mm. Now try to take a photo of a person standing 5 feet away. The subject fills way too much of the frame. When you are working with a prime lens (one that doesn't zoom) you control how much of the picture frame your subject takes up by moving closer or farther away from your subject with your feet (thus the term zoom with your feet). Indoors however you're often limited in how far away you can get from your subject. So, while an 85mm is a great length for infants and a great length for head/shoulder shots of adults. Once your kids get to toddler stage it can be tough to get the full body in the photo frame indoors.

To answer your other question, Sigma is the name of another lens manufacturer. Sigma, Tamron, Tokina all make lenses with various camera mounts (nikon, pentax, sony, canon etc.) So you can buy a sigma lens that has a canon mount on it - that lens will work on a canon camera.

Wider than 85mm, the next step down is typically a 50mm lens. There are several options - the Sigma 50mm 1.4 is probably the best on the market in your price range but I think at your stage (infant) the 85mm is a MUCH better lens.

Some shots with the 85mm 1.8:













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Old Jan 12, 2009, 4:18 AM   #5
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JohnG,

Would the Canon EF-S 17-55 f2.8 be a good lens for this need? This lens has excellent reviews and classifies the lens almost in the same league as an L lens.
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Old Jan 12, 2009, 10:27 AM   #6
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a-beginner wrote:
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Would the Canon EF-S 17-55 f2.8 be a good lens for this need? This lens has excellent reviews and classifies the lens almost in the same league as an L lens.
It's a great lens, but in my experience f2.8 often isn't wide enough for a lot of work indoors without a flash. Also, if you prefer shallow dof portraits, 55mm f2.8 isn't really all that shallow.

Now, as to low light no flash it really depends on your individual shooting situation. What are you shooting? What is the lighting like? You can do some testing with your current gear to determine what exposures you're getting. Then it's simple math to find out what the exposure would be with an f2.8 lens. If you shoot mostly during the day when you can rely on sunlight coming in and you have relatively stationary subjects then it might be very good (although still not extremely shallow DOF). But if you don't have that good lighting or like to shoot in the evenings as well you may find the solution doesn't work. It's still a fabulously sharp lens. But it's your individual needs and environment that will determine if f2.8 and no flash is good enough.
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Old Jan 13, 2009, 1:42 AM   #7
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JohnG wrote:
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It's a great lens, but in my experience f2.8 often isn't wide enough for a lot of work indoors without a flash. Also, if you prefer shallow dof portraits, 55mm f2.8 isn't really all that shallow.
JohnG,

Does this mean that to get some of those nice background blur (I believe the term for this is bokeh), you should shoot at the longest range of the lens - like 55 for this 17-55 or 200 for a 70-200 lens, assuming the distance will allow it?

Is this the way to maximize background blur?

Thanks for the tips.
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Old Jan 13, 2009, 5:33 AM   #8
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longest focal length and widest aperture will produce the shallowest DOF (most blur).
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Old Jan 13, 2009, 11:24 PM   #9
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Thanks a lot. This is certainly a very simple formula to remember.
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