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Old Oct 11, 2011, 8:11 PM   #1
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Default Upgrading my Kit Lens on Canon T1i, help!

Hey everyone..

I've had my Canon T1i for a year now, and have taken quite a few photos with it. Lately have been thinking its time to think about another lens. I've got the efs55-250 f4.5-5.6 lens, but want something to replace my kit lens (18-55).

Id like it to be somewhat of an all around lense. Im looking for better quality in my photos, a lower aperture 'rating' (or however you might call it ) and something I can take with me on trips or walks. I havent found my 'niche' yet in photography, so I wont be using it for one specific purpose over the other.

I know its sort of a generic set of terms, but Im lost on where to start. Obviously Canon lens's are there, but what about Tamron or some of the other brands?

Interested in anything and everything you guys can tell me. Thanks in advance

Steve
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Old Oct 11, 2011, 10:51 PM   #2
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Hello Steve

The 2 lenses you have are very good lenses to begin with. They cover useful ranges (from wide to telezoom), are quite sharp, light (in weight), and both have useful IS.

The problem many people have (and this includes many 'beginners' to DSLR photography) - is that they think that they have outgrown their lens (or its capabilities) before that's actually the case.

I have the 'old' Canon 18-55mm (non IS) - which I bought with my first DSLR Canon 350D. I bought the Canon 7D as my Canon 350D had taken about 70,000 photos and I was doing some photography for an organisation, where I couldn't afford to have my camera 'call it a day'.

A week ago I used it on a day trip / walk using my Canon 350D and 18-55mm kit lens (both of which are still functioning fine, by the way). I managed to capture some decent photos with it, here is a link if you're interested
https://picasaweb.google.com/1974.paulj/20111003AnsteyHill?authkey=Gv1sRgCLOyob3to-epOg#

There are other photos that I've taken with this lens which are more spectacular. And your combination of camera and kit lens is definitely superior (more megapixels for cropping, sharper, better contrast and has IS).

So I'm not trying to totally disuade you from buying a new lens or ever upgrading your kit lens. I have upgraded my 'kit lens' to the Canon 15-85mm USM IS (more on the actual lens later) - after many years of using the Canon 18-55mm and a few other lenses.

However as you wrote "I haven't found my 'niche' yet in photography" ... I would consider you first find your nice, and then choose a lens that specifically meets that niche / need.

Eg your niche could be:
- landscape / architecture (ultra-wide?)
- low light (eg prime or at least f2.8 lens)
- portrait (eg something around the 60mm - 100mm with good bokeh)
- sports (often quite long, fast, USM, expensive lenses - depends much on the sport)
- birds / wildlife ("as many mm as you can afford" and good focusing)
- macro (which lens you will be photographing: flowers, insects, objects, etc - will determine what lens is best)

So my main advice would be to keep experimenting with both your lenses (the 55-250mm can be used as a basic outdoor 'sports/wildlife' lens, and as a decent portrait lens too, btw!) And the kit lens does well as an 'all purpose' - particularly useful for landscape, and not too bad in the macro area either (just manual focus can be a bit 'tricky').

Speaking of macros, what about buying a good (sturdy, yet reasonably lightweight) tripod instead? This will help with macro photography (even if you use your 18-55mm kit lens), long exposure landscapes (eg night photography) AND sometimes telephoto shots (eg shooting an object at a distance and you want to use low ISO).

Maybe you could buy a circular polariser filter and ND filter instead of a lens, and see what you can achieve with this (eg useful for landscapes and some 'slow shutter speed' effects).

If you really have to buy a lens - for whatever reason... eg too much money in your bank account?? .. I would probably suggest you get a good quality prime, either to experiment with shallow depth of field or for low light capabilities.

My current view is that I won't get any lens that isn't USM / HSM (ultra/hyper-sonic focusing motor). The Canon USM lenses are so reliable and accurate with focus. Not that all others are bad, but the speed, accuracy and noise of other lenses (eg non USM lenses) can sometimes be a compromise.

I have several lenses now, but all of them were as a result of discovering a 'need' to fill which my existing lenses couldn't do. I've got the Canon 50mm f1.8 is a decent 'starter' prime, sharp and versatile (but focus and build quality is terrible). I have Canon 100mm f2.8 macro (non IS / non L) - which is great for macro (highly recommend - WITH a tripod - for most best macros a tripod is a must).

Ok, to finalise - if you want a 'travel lens' to take on trips or walks, either the Canon 17-55mm f2.8 gives you IS, USM and the constant f2.8. Or (my personal recommendation for a 'step up' in quality to a kit lens, and a great all round lens) is to get the Canon 15-85mm f3.5-5.6 which also gives IS and USM. Both these lenses are sharp, decent build quality and very useful.

I am sure the Canon 17-55mm is great, but I find it too limiting in zoom range as a 'travel lens' compared to the Canon 15-85mm. Plus, if I like 'bright' (low aperture number) lenses, I prefer primes, eg f1.8 or below. Just realise that for a 'light walkable DSLR package' - the Canon T1i and kit lens makes an awesome combination. You might even feel the larger (better quality) Canon 15-85mm or 17-55 lenses noticably heavier and less comfortable (depends on you).

Some people will be able to recommend Tamron or Sigma lenses are travel options (eg I have a friend who has the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 on his Nikon D90 - but he's disappointed at the corner sharpness). It might be copy to copy issues also. I've found Canon to be the most reliable in lens choices for quality control.

Hope my post is somewhat helpful. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Paul
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Old Oct 12, 2011, 5:46 AM   #3
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Either the Canon 15-85 or the Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.0 might be good choices.

The info you've provided is pretty vague as to what you want it for, so perhaps you can use something like ExposurePlot to identify the focal lengths and apertures you've actually used. That way, we can see what types of situations you find yourself in, and where you operate and would like to operate.
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Old Oct 12, 2011, 5:47 AM   #4
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good advice above, I have recently bought a new lens for my 500d/t2i and i settled on a sigma 17-70os. I have taken this lens and camera to Spain twice now and as I only had hand luggage i found it a great lens for nearly everything.
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Old Oct 12, 2011, 12:35 PM   #5
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I also vote for the 15-85 lens if you want to upgrade. The advice above is terrific and certainly worth the read. Knowing what you want to shoot is key before spending money. However as a general walk around lens, the 15-85 is great as it isn't overly heavy and has a longer zoom and wider range. It and the 17-55 have been equated to the IQ of an 'L' lens.
For me, when I took the 18-55 to Disney it wasn't wide enough. When I went back later, the 15-85's focal lengths was just the ticket. I'm not familiar with the 3rd party lenses too much so I'll defer that to people with experience.

Before you buy a lens, why don't you rent a few and test them out. That way, it takes the guessing out of your decision as to what you'd like best.
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Old Oct 12, 2011, 6:18 PM   #6
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I like this chap- simply because it would give me a bit more scope in lower light- maybe even for indoor gigs- if you're in the first few rows..!!
http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...ns-Review.aspx
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Old Oct 15, 2011, 9:29 AM   #7
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Wow, thanks for the awesome responses guys!

Paul - much appreciated on the wealth of info / response you gave me, gave me a lot to think about and some nice options to consider too.

Some more flexibility in lower light would suit me quite well I think, there have been a number of situations now where I wish I had a little better low light capability.

The tip about renting lenses is a good one as well, I forgot some camera stores do that!

You guys are the best, thanks for the tips
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Old Oct 20, 2011, 3:23 PM   #8
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Shutterbugs....where they overlap how do the 24-70, and the 15-85 compare? I use the 24-70 as a walk around lens....but it's a bit on the heavy side when traveling, and the 15 mm on full frame would be nice.....would save carrying an extra lens.
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Old Oct 21, 2011, 3:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krusteh View Post
....the 15 mm on full frame would be nice....
The Canon 15-85mm is an EF-S lens. It won't work on a full frame camera.
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Old Oct 24, 2011, 1:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krusteh View Post
Shutterbugs....where they overlap how do the 24-70, and the 15-85 compare? I use the 24-70 as a walk around lens....but it's a bit on the heavy side when traveling, and the 15 mm on full frame would be nice.....would save carrying an extra lens.
Hi Krusteh, sorry but I've been off line for a few days. You're right that the 24-70 is heavy and certainly not the lens for a walk around for me. On the full frame its quite excellent but not something to take when traveling unless I'm childless.

The 15-85 is on my 60D most of the time. I recently took it on a trip and was very thankful for the extra focal lengths over the former 18-55 kit lens. Plus, the quality on the 15-85 is quite good with pleasing colours. I tend to use it most of the time as my general purpose lens on the crop body which I think is a perfect fit for my shooting.

When I go to shoot a family, I take both the 15-85 and the 24-70. However I tend to use the latter more often when the camera is mounted on a tripod or when I'm shooting in lower lighting settings. I don't regret purchasing it in the least. It's a great lens and I can see why many wedding photographers use it. Since the 15-85 is an EF-S lens and its an F3.5 I wanted something with F2.8 and FF capability for down the road. I'll always have the crop body regardless of a FF camera like the 5DII as I'm quite happy with the 60D. I'd highly recommend both lenses as long as you intend to use them
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http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alainn...39490172728282
http://alainnbellephotography.smugmug.com/

Last edited by Shutterbug74; Oct 24, 2011 at 1:25 PM.
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