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Old Sep 18, 2010, 1:52 PM   #1
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Default Budget lens for family portraits w/ 50D?

I need something for family portraits but would like to spend 300-500$. Already have a 50mm 1.4 which is a great lens (and probably a favorite). Also have the Canon 28-135 which I am not impressed with (and will sell, and keep my Sigma 18-125 which seems to take better images, for whatever reason?).

Any recommendations for this application? (I have a lot of recommendations from a friend, but they are all in the $1,000 and up range, which doesn't fit my budget at this point).

I know every once and a while there is a "magic" lens for certain applications that is cheap and does a great job. Is there anything like this that might work for my needs? I am open to non canon recommendations as well as canon.

Thank you!!
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Old Sep 18, 2010, 2:31 PM   #2
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The Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 is a very good lens in your price range, but it's not stabilized, and the stabilized equivalent isn't as good. The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 might also work for you, but again, it's not stabilized.
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Old Sep 18, 2010, 11:30 PM   #3
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The Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 is a very good lens in your price range, but it's not stabilized, and the stabilized equivalent isn't as good. The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 might also work for you, but again, it's not stabilized.
Thanks for the reply!!

Sigma over the 17-50 Tamron and Canon 15-85?
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Old Sep 19, 2010, 12:26 AM   #4
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How about a Canon 85 f/1.8?
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Old Sep 19, 2010, 2:13 AM   #5
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Sigma [17-70mm f/2.8-4.5] over the 17-50 Tamron and Canon 15-85?
The Canon 15-85 is very good, and it's stabilized, but, last I checked, it's $720, which is more than you said you'd like to spend. The Sigma is almost as good, and it costs a lot less, but it's not stabilized, and the stabilized equivalent isn't as good. The Tamron 17-50/2.8 you mentioned and the 28-75/2.8 I mentioned are both also very good, but again, they're not stabilized, and the stabilized equivalent for the 17-50/2.8 isn't as good. Plus, their zoom ranges are more limited than the Sigma's, and from what you said, I didn't think the constant f/2.8 aperture was important.
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Old Sep 19, 2010, 12:42 PM   #6
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The Canon 15-85 is very good, and it's stabilized, but, last I checked, it's $720, which is more than you said you'd like to spend. The Sigma is almost as good, and it costs a lot less, but it's not stabilized, and the stabilized equivalent isn't as good. The Tamron 17-50/2.8 you mentioned and the 28-75/2.8 I mentioned are both also very good, but again, they're not stabilized, and the stabilized equivalent for the 17-50/2.8 isn't as good. Plus, their zoom ranges are more limited than the Sigma's, and from what you said, I didn't think the constant f/2.8 aperture was important.

Great, ever since you recommended the Sigma I have been reading reviews from users and professionals on this site and other sites. Seems like it is a no brainer for the money and IQ.
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Old Sep 19, 2010, 12:53 PM   #7
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How about a Canon 85 f/1.8?
I am thinking the Sigma 17-70 might give me more flexibility. From some of the reviews of the Canon 85 sounds like a good lens as well, would that be a good next progression?

So for individual and group portraits have a Canon 50mm 1.4, Sigma 17-70 and the Canon 85 1.8 and probably use my Sigma 18-125 as a carry around lens (or the Sigma 17-70 as carry around). And sell my Canon 28-135 since I like the Sigma 18-125 more?

Thanks for the advice guys!
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 8:12 PM   #8
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85/1.8 is very good for portraits, but if you don't have one already - get a flash (430ex will do nicely), a light stand and a 38" reversible white/silver brolly and something to trigger your flash off camera (a PC sync lead + PC to hotshoe adapter, a long(-ish) TTL off-camera cord, or a radio transimitter + receiver). You will gain much more this way, than simply adding another lens to your collection.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 10:07 PM   #9
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Oddly enough I've owned the Sigma 17-70, Tamron 28-75, the 50mm 1.4 and the Canon 85mm prime.

The Tamron is a "good" lens but the 28 wide angle is somewhat restrictive.

The Sigma 17-70 blows away the Tamron.

I didn't find the 50mm 1.4 all that useful (The 50mm 1.8 is much cheaper and probably could be justified).

The Canon 85mm prime is "primo" for portraits, but it lacks flexibility because you can't zoom it (but the quality is unsurpassed in my opinion).

The Canon 17-85 is a "good" lens and certainly a great walk around lens, but it's build quality is nothing to write home about.

Basically I've learned that the Sigma lenses are the best value for the $'s.

Sigma's are built like a tank and have great image quality. Sometimes the Tamron's can suprise you , but all told I'd probably buy Sigma over Tamron every time these days.

If you can get the Canon 17-85 for a couple hundred used it would be a good deal, else I'd say stick with a Sigma zoom with 17mm on the wide end.

So basically stick with your Sigma 18-125 if you like it. You have a 50mm prime which is fine. Probably the only other lens you might need is a 70-200 or a 70-300 or something like that and you've got 18-300 covered off.

Unless your into photographing birds or something like that, then you need a really good hunk of glass going out to 400mm or 500mm.

I have a Sigma 10mm-20mm which is great for indoors and in close shots. I can have a conversation with a group of 2-3 people at a normal distance, then raise my camera and get the group of 2-3 into the frame without even having to step back. The 10-20 is an awesome lens. Other than that, I use my Sigma 17-70 a lot and for distance stuff I use my Canon 70-200 F4 lens.

I don't have anything out to 300mm (could have used it earlier when the kid was doing sports), but now I really don't have much call for using 300mm.

I've since sold off my 50mm prime, my 85mm prime (ouch, wish I hadn't done that!) and my Tamron 28-85 (ouch!). Only buy lenses, never sell! (Well, I don't regret selling the 50mm prime).

Last edited by TerryR; Oct 9, 2010 at 10:13 PM. Reason: added more junk
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 10:49 PM   #10
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for group picturs the 85mm will be too long, especially on a crop body, you would have to be very far away to get a group shot.

i would pick something in the normal zoom category, you dont want to go too wide or you will get funky perspective distortion.

the 17-70 would be a good choice, as would the 17-50 2.8 from tamron (the non-stabilized version).

they both give you a nice normal zoom flexibility.
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