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Old Oct 28, 2011, 9:16 AM   #1
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Default Full Frame Lens or APS-C?

I currently own a Rebel XT with 18-55 and 75-300 kit lenses. I'm looking to upgrade the telezoom, and can't decide between going APS-C (cheap now, would need to be replaced when I go full frame later) versus full frame lens now.

What are your thoughts? I know I will upgrade to a full frame camera later, but am following the conventional wisdom of upgrading the glass first...
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Old Oct 28, 2011, 9:24 AM   #2
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Some of the APS-C lenses are very good, but there are few long APS-C only lenses. Almost all suitable replacements for your 75-300 lens will be 'FF' lenses. But remember that, on an APS-C body, you'll be using the sweet spot of a 'FF' lens, so you might actually see a reduction in image quality when you switch your 'FF' lenses from an APS-C body to a 'FF' body. There are some very good lenses that would be suitable replacements for your Canon 75-300. Among them are the Tamron 70-300 SP VC USD, and the Canon 70-300 IS USM, the 70-300 DO IS USM, and 70-300 'L' IS USM, all 'FF' lenses.
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Old Oct 28, 2011, 10:49 AM   #3
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you also want to be careful. Don't upgrade a lens just because that's the thing you're supposed to do. As you move higher up the lens food chain, the lenses get better because they are more specific in their purpose. For example, buying any of the other 70-300 lenses may or may not be a good choice. They'll be optically better but that may not be enough. For example, is 300mm long enough? Is f5.6 a wide enough aperture? Depending on how you will use the lens, an upgrade path might be a 70-300, or it might be 70-200 f4 or 70-200 f4 IS or 70-200 2.8 or 400mm 5.6 or 100-400 f5.6. You can waste a lot of money by upgrading without factoring in the specifics of your shooting needs. It's not that big of a deal when the 75-300 you have costs $180. But when you're talking $600 or $1000 or $2000 lenses - then you don't want to be making a mistake.
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Old Oct 28, 2011, 11:09 AM   #4
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Yeah. That.
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Old Oct 28, 2011, 1:28 PM   #5
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question why do you want to go full frame what do you take pictures of
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Old Oct 31, 2011, 1:18 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback, very helpful.

My shots fall into two general categories - environmental (often HDR) for which I need no new equipment, and sports photography. For the sports, the current lenses aren't adequate in the low-light arenas in which my kids have typically being competing (ringette & figure skating). I'd also like to start shooting some Ultimate, where, while played outdoors and light is less of an issue, would benefit from the tighter depth of field more aperture would allow.

The thought behind preparing for full-frame is that when I upgrade the body, light levels and speed of shooting are going to be the driving factors - that, plus I assume sensors will move bigger over the years anyway, rather than allowing the prices to fall further than they already have...
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Old Oct 31, 2011, 1:36 PM   #7
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I think I would look at a 7d for sports work
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Old Oct 31, 2011, 2:56 PM   #8
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Things have gotten easier - for indoor sports you want f2.8 or better lenses and You'll want telephoto reach - that means EF lenses (not EF-S). So that's a no brainer. The 70-200 2.8 would be a very good option IF you have a camera with good ISO 3200-6400 performance. Unfortunately, that's not your XT. You would need a body upgrade as well as lens to be able to effectively use a 70-200 2.8 for figure skating.

With just the XT, you would want to use an f2.0 lens - those lenses in canon are primes, not zooms. So, you would have to buy an 85mm 1.8, 100mm 2.0 or 135mm 2.0 lens. The problem with those lenses is: they're not flexible with regard to composition. So, from a given shooting position you'd only have a small portion of the rink where you could effectively get a shot in since you generally want the whole subject in the frame. The 70-200 provides the flexibility to cover most of the rink - but you need ISO 3200-6400.

For ultimate frisbee, it's a bit different. In general, you'll get the best results with a 200mm lens if you are within 25 yards of the action. Beyond that you start to get into more focus failures. So, a 200mm lens can be quite short for ultimate. You can add a 1.4x TC to the 70-200 2.8 which will get you about 35 yards of reach. But so little of the action is going to be close enough to your shooting position where the f2.8 will benefit you with regard to shallow DOF. If that sport were more important, then the new 70-300L might be a better choice (or the venerable 100-400L) vs. 70-200 2.8 plus TC.

In any case, all these lenses are designed for full frame, so there's no debate whether to get a lens designed for APS-C or not.
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Old Oct 31, 2011, 4:44 PM   #9
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If you're shooting sports/action/events indoors in low light, the narrower angle of view of an APS-C body will give you more reach, while the maximum aperture remains constant. That is, except as far as DoF is concerned, a 70-200/2.8 lens ($729-$2,374) on an APS-C body is roughly equivalent to a 100-300/2.8 lens ($3,199) on a 'Full Frame' body. So you can get, in effect, a longer lens with the same maximum aperture by using an APS-C body instead of a 'Full Frame' body.

In low light, a large aperture is worth every penny, and if you can get it at roughly half the price, why wouldn't you?
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Old Oct 31, 2011, 6:19 PM   #10
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With lots of practice, fast glass and enough light, you can get decent shots using the Canon Rebel XT (350D). Definitely make sure you use the centre point auto-focus (AF) point only though!

I have both the XT/350D and the 7D. Sports shotting isn't a big interest in my photographic forte, I've dabbled in it from time to time and have some decent photos with both cameras. However note that the XT/350D's AF is not very good (not as fast or accurate or predictive as other later bodies).

The 7D definitely gives more keepers, and as others have pointed above, having a camera with higher ISO capability (eg 40D - 60D or 7D) and probably getting a 70-200mm f2.8 lens is your best long term bet. There are 3 different versions of Canon's 70-200 f2.8 lenses, and also other 3rd party lenses (eg Sigma, etc).

While most Full Frame DSLRs will have some advantage over a 7D for landscape shots, this doesn't mean that a great landscape photo can't be taken with the 7D. (In fact I have many landscape shots from both my XT/350D and 7D that have received lots of positive feedback and been published).

I have the 70-300mm L - and it's a great lens, and use it as my walkaround telezoom (complementing my 15-85mm general lens very well). I don't mind that the 70-300mm L is not f2.8 (in fact I wouldn't want such a heavy lens - as I'm not shooting sports, but I'm more into wildlife!)

Do remember that you will get more 'reach' with a lens on a APS-C sensored camera body... and as has been said, usually such cameras use the 'centre sweet spot' of the lens, so it exhibits higher corner to corner quality. (See www.photozone.de for a review of the 70-300mm L lens on both full frame and APS-C - and it's rated higher in the APS-C test because of that).

All the best with your decision. Good advice given by the others above!

Paul

Last edited by pj1974; Oct 31, 2011 at 6:26 PM.
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