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Old Dec 14, 2009, 4:50 PM   #1
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I have a Canon 40D and have just been using the 18-55 IS lens that came with it. I want to get a zoom lens that I can use for portraits, mainly kids and families. What would be my best bet without being super expensive? I was looking at the Canon 70-300 IS USM, but someone told me to look at the Canon 55-250 IS. What do you think? Thanks!

Newbie Al
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 6:01 PM   #2
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Both are good lenses, I have them both.

The 70-300mm has a longer reach and it distorts less at 300 the the 55-250mm at 250. The Ef 70-300mm is a bit faster with the usm motor, if it was ring mount it would be alot faster. It is also alot quitter while focusing. The ef 70-300m like all ef lenses will fit on full frame canon dslr's. You can do macro with it but not 1:1. It is also twice the price of the ef-s.

The ef-s 55-250mm is lighter, up to about 240 it is very sharp. It will give you a continuous range form 18-250, while the ef lines you will have a gap from 55-70. The ef-s would do a pretty good job for your purpose. It is light so it is easier to travel with and walk around with. You are limited to putting them on aps-c format canon's only. It is also half the price of the ef 70-300m. It is a good telephoto for about 250 dollars.

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Old Dec 14, 2009, 6:04 PM   #3
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The 70-300 IS is a superb lens, for the price, it offers good focus speed and really nice optics (quite a step up from their old 75-300). The faster focus could be useful if you are doing some family stuff playing in the yard etc.

The 55-250IS is really the value king, you get a surprisingly sharp and useful lens for the price.

The 70-300IS is a better lens in all respects, but, is it 250$ better. Well that depends on your wallet and your uses.
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 6:41 PM   #4
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Hi Al and welcome to Steve's.

Under what conditions and for what uses are you looking at shooting portraits. I use a 5D mkII for my portrait work and use both the 24-105mm f4 IS and 70-200mm f2.8 IS. So you are not going to want super long as this flattens the subject too much, generally around 100mm is a good place to be for a natural looking portrait however you can obviously go longer or shorter depending on the effect you desire.

I don't have either lens which doesn't help but have played with the 70-300 IS USM on a friends 450D and the results were pretty impressive for a non L lens. Also from the reviews I've seen it does very well. The 55-250 does pretty nicely for a more sensible price and with APS-C sensor you are in a better range for portraits as the 70mm of the other option relates to a field of view of 112mm in 35mm terms so you are already getting a bit long.

Without knowing more it's hard to advise but something else to consider for wonderful portraits is the 'plastic fantastic' which is the 50mm f1.8. This is an 80mm equivalent focal length which isn't a bad place to be for natural results and has the huge benefit of giving pretty sharp results at f1.8 and by f2.2 or f2.8 it is lovely.

Another option would be a 24/28-70mm f2.8 lens as you get a bit more reach than you have but also the wider aperture.

Here is a quick example of what you are gaining with the plastic fantastic. I've cropped a 5D shot to about the same field of view as you would get with the 40D and as you can see it is easy to throw the background out of focus (giving nice separation) while still being wide enough to not need a lot of space to work. You could get a similar result with one of the zoom lenses however you would need to be working at the longest end of the zoom meaning you are shooting from much further away.

I'm sorry it isn't the cleanest shot it was horrible lighting, no flash at ISO 1250. I've done no processing to this shot. The 2nd is a 100% crop so you can see the quality, this was at f2 to gain a little more sharpness out of the lens.

Like I say, they are worth considering for portraits, but if you want a longer lens as well then the 70-300 is the winner as already mentioned but then you could get the 55-250 and a plastic fantastic for less

I hope that hasn't made life more difficult but it is best to make the right decision. If you give a little more background then we can help even more.

Mark
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 7:29 PM   #5
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Thanks! That is the second recommendation for the 50mm f1.8 that I received. I mainly take photos outside, but take some indoors with natural light and/or a bounced flash.
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 7:40 PM   #6
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I use the 50mm f1.8 MK II for portraits also. It does a really nice job. It is a great lens at a incredible price point.
On this thread, I took a quick portrait of my pet in bad lighting, and it turn out very pleasing still to the eye. Photo was reduce for the board, no editing.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/ca...ies-t1i-2.html
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 7:50 PM   #7
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Also, how does the 50mm f1.8 compare to the 18-55 IS kit lens? Thanks.
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 7:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groundhog View Post
Also, how does the 50mm f1.8 compare to the 18-55 IS kit lens? Thanks.
Its much sharper, has basically no distortion and has the ability to shoot at wide apertures so you can work in lower light and/or get shallower depth of field which is impossible with the 18-55.
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Old Jan 6, 2010, 10:33 PM   #9
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I'm looking to pick up a 50mm EF 1.8 MKII for a T1i and was wondering, how possible it is to take a hand held photo about 10-12ft away with minimal blurring using one. Children sitting or inanimate objects mostly.
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Old Jan 6, 2010, 10:35 PM   #10
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as long as you keep your shutter speeds over 1/50 or so, you should not have any problems with blurring.
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