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Old Jan 8, 2005, 1:53 AM   #1
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After excellent feedback on COQ Mk I, and more lurking and more research I have decided on the following.

At some point:

I will very likely get the 70-200mm f4 L + 1.4 teleconverter.
I will very likely get the 50mm f1.8 or f1.4.
I will definitely get the 10-22mm EF-S.
I will definitely get the 580EX flashgun.

I still can't decide about my main zoom. Options now have come down to:
1. EF-S 17-85mm IS f4-5.6
2. EF 24-70mm f2.8 L

The 17-85mm is probably the best walk-around lens, it is relatively light, IS helps a lot in low light, and optical quality is very good.

The 24-70 is faster, so less need for IS, and autofocus on the 20D is likely to be noticably better. Optically it may well be the best zoom lens Canon has ever made, and possibly apart from the Contax Zeiss Tessar lenses, optically the best zoom lens ever. But it's pretty heavy - twice the weight of the 17-85mm, and it's effective focal length is only 38mm at the wide end.

The lack of wide-angle bothered me; so I looked through the EXIF data on all our photos since we got the 20D: to my surprise I found that there were relatively few wider than 24mm, and of those almost all of them were in clusters where it wouldn't have been problematic to change lenses, and in fact having the 10-22 zoom on in those situations would have been very interesting. For people snaps and general photography I found that the pictures we've taken tended to fall in the 28mm-55mm range and the problem was that I really wanted more at the long end for people pics. So 24mm will probably be just fine at the wide end for our main lens.

Of course it's also twice the price, but I have always believed that (with everything in life, not just cameras) if you buy quality it costs you less in the long run. The product lasts longer, sometimes a lot more than the price multiplier, and you have a much superior product to use. If you can't afford the good stuff save up until you can. So price isn't really an issue.

It also seems to me that it makes sense that your best lens should be the one you use to take the majority of your photos, which suggests the 24-70.

As an aside, one of the main joys of the new camera is seeing the pics my wife takes! I realised long ago that although I do take fairly good photos, (even good enough that friends have asked me to do their weddings, etc) it's mostly because I've learned the principles and work at improving my technique. It's a very cerebral thing. She on the other hand could have been a professional photographer, and as a student was encouraged to do so. She's ended up as a movie editor, which was her true love. But her pics have the X factor that seperates the stuff in art galleries from the stuff in photo albums. I just have a feeling that with her finger on the trigger and the 24-70mm lens on the camera, I might see some truly amazing photos.

To illustrate the difference here is a photo I took of my nephew with the 18-55mm kit lens - it shows all the elements that the books tell you about. I bracketed and did all sorts, number of shots in series : 10.


And here is one that my wife took of our daughter. She gets a funny look in her eye, grabs the camera and click. Puts it down. Number of shots in series : 1.


Returning to the question of lens choice, it was telling for me that many of the shots on the Canon website "promo" by Stephen Wilkes for the 20D were taken with the 24-70mm .


In the long run perhaps I will get both as they have different strengths and weaknesses, but I think that for now I'll probably go for the 24-70mm and the 10-22mm as my first purchases and wait for a while for the 70-200mm.
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 2:41 AM   #2
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Peri, your comments answer my un-asked question nicely.

I'm about to purchase a 20D as my fisrt DSLR and am struggling with lens choice. My favourite film SLR lens was a Tamron SP70-210 f/3.5 and I loved the speed (not the size or weight).

The 17-85 in the 20D Enthusiast kit is very tempting as a walk around (and many on these forums give it full marks as just that). I think it will be too slow, however, so I was leaning toward a body plus the 24-70L - except for the price, as you know.

I am in the 'asked to do the occasional wedding' class as well. Getting on at 48y.o. I'm interested in simplicity where I can get it. That means less stuff to carry and lenses to change - i.e. no changing if possible - whilst having greatest flexibility and quality possible.

With perfectionist leanings, I anticipate that the 17-85 will have me in too many lower light situtations where flash would disappoint or be in-appropriate and I'd be wanting the faster glass. Hence 24-70L would seem to be the answer, though the compromise is at that wide angle end after the 1.6 multiplier. Not sure when/if I'll (be able to) add a wider angle zoom.

Thanks for your comments and experiences.

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Old Jan 8, 2005, 3:23 AM   #3
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As much as mastering the darkroom is essential for any serious film photographer, I have come to realise that a reasonable knowledge of Photoshop or Elements or equivalent is essential for the digital world, not so much for the P&S, but certainly for the DSLR user.

My 3 top tips:
1. Shoot raw & post process.
2. Underexposure is much better than over with digital.
3. Canon DSLR images are soft (but not out of focus) in camera & RAW, if you want to sharpen them up apply the Unsharp Mask with params (300%, 0.3, 0).

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Old Jan 8, 2005, 4:23 AM   #4
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DFWJ wrote:
Not sure when/if I'll (be able to) add a wider angle zoom.
How about getting the body + 18-55mm kit lens instead of the body-only kit? I don't know what pricing is like in Aus, but I think the 18-55 doesn't add much to the price and is a handy cheap & cheerful wide-angle and light (200g) backup lens.

Or perhaps ebay might have some 18-55mm lenses at $20 from folks like me who got the kit before they got the bug and have moved on to better lenses.
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 8:05 AM   #5
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I have noticed the weight and size of the 24-70 in the specs. Heavier and larger than my Tamron SP70-210. That's big.

Has caused me to think a second time about the 17-85. The 24-70 would be a bit like a milstone in a family outing context.

With digital versus film, it is easier to turn up the ISO to compensate for the lack of aperture.The 20D's low noise capabilities would seem to make this quite a viable option to compenasate for lack of lense speed where low light and/or moving subjects are involved.

The 18-55 'starter' option is definitely one I have considered.

Thanks for the suggestion.

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Old Jan 14, 2005, 5:51 PM   #6
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Most people consider the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 as a decent alternative to the Canon 24-70 L f/2.8. It's said to be very good for the money, and lighter to boot.

Your wife's shooting seems to be a big concern to you. The only complaint that I've heard of the 24-70 L other than the price is the weight. In this light, I'd consider the Tamron as an alternative. If not, then consider that many pro's consider the 24-70 to be their "bread and butter" lens.

If you're willing to spend a bundle on the EF-S 10-22, then I agree that the wide / standard split into two different lenses is a good way to go. It typically was -- when we're going wide, we want to go far wide. Similarly, when going telephoto, it's stuck at 200 most of the time. These are good times to switch.

I find however that the 17-40 fits a great proportion of my shooting.

Now, for the price of the 24-70 alone, could you consider getting the Tamron 28-75 and adding the 17-40 if you find that you have to switch too often later?
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Old Jan 15, 2005, 3:43 AM   #7
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Thanks for the comments. Actually my wife prefers a slightly heavier setup for shooting, she makes the good point that a light camera can shake a lot and that there is a certain optimum point where you have enough weight to reduce camera shake before it starts to increase again. Of course the carry-around weight doesn't concern her, as I get to do the carrying around!

I am mildly prejudiced against the EF-S mount; it's entirely possible that I might want to get a 1D body later on, but that will surely not be for a few years, and I love wideangle lenses; I reckon I will use a wide-angle twice as much as the telephoto. And for the 1.6 crop there really seems to be no alternative to me, the other manufacturers have had very mixed reviews on the 12-24 range and the reviews of the 10-22 have been uniformly excellent. I really do fancy experimenting with this zoom. I must also admit to a mild prejudice against 3rd party lenses for the main reason that if you stick with one manufacturer it's clear who's resposible if something stops working.

I'm in SA at the moment so haven't actually purchased any new lenses yet, as they are ridiculously expensive here: probably about 250% of the US cost. I will be back in the UK (where they are only 50% more) in the next 10 days however, so I still have a few days to mull it over. Despite my rather pompous sounding "price is not an issue" statement in my original post, I didn't mean that I'm immune to value-for-money considerations; after all I have the 20D body, not the 1Ds. Rather I meant that for this choice I have the budget to get what I want so I would like to make this selection on the merits of the equipment and how it matches up with the kind of pictures I want to take, and price is the consideration at the bottom of the list.

For my main lens I want something that I could probably get 70% of my shots with. I have thought about the 17-40, I don't think I've seen a single bad review! But for me on the 1.6 crop the 40mm (X1.6=64) end falls right in the middle of the range I want. I'll be swapping lenses all the time, and at the wide end it's no real competition for the 10-22. Likewise the Tamron 28-75 (x1.6=45-120) wouldn't be wide enough for my main lens, I'd be swapping too much at the low end.

The EF-S 17-85 is still a very real possibility though, and in fact if I wanted a single lens system would be just about perfect. However - I have decided that I want the ultra-wide zoom, so the 10-22 + 24-70 combo seems a little more sensible than the 10-22 + 17-85 combo.

At the telephoto end I have a new candidate: I've been looking at the 70-300 f4.5-5.6 DO IS USM. Wow, what a cool lens! It seems a nicer choice to me than the 70-200f4 + 1.4xTC. It's smaller and less conspicuous and seems to be optically excellent. Complaints of softness seem confined to accutence not resolution and are easily resolved with an unsharp mask in photoshop, and I shoot RAW anyway so everything is post-processed. Also many of these shots will be of people so low accutance isn't necessarily a bad thing. In all other respects it seems like a fantastic choice. I like the IS, I like the zoom range, I like the size & weight. I even like the green stripe :-) I tend to be quite self-conscious about carrying around a big telephoto lens, and the DO addresses that nicely.

So here's where I am at the moment with about 10 days to go before I buy:
1. EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM (est 20% of my shots)
2. EF 24-70mm f2.8 L USM (est 70%)
3. EF 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 DO IS USM (est 10%)

I really appreciate the comments, because I'm really not sure that I've got this right. Even if I end up "rejecting" a suggestion the thought process of doing that is extremely useful in getting closer to the right decision.

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