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Old Aug 15, 2005, 4:59 PM   #1
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Hi everyone! Well I've decided to purchase the Rebel XT and am now trying to figure out which lenses I should get to go with it. I'm not interested in the kit lens because of the not-so-great reviews I've seen. Ideally I'd like to buy only 2 lenses... 1 that can cover wide angle (at least as low as 28mm after the 1.6 multiplier) up to a mid range, and a mid range that will zoom to a decent telephoto for nature photography. I also love taking macro shots (close ups of flowers and bugs and other interesting but small things) - and this is where I'm getting stuck. The lenses I'm finding don't seem to focus any closer than 1 1/2 feet or so. Is there any solution, or would I need a 3rd lens? I'm willing to pay up to $400-$700 per lens IF the quality/specs are worth it.

I haven't shot with an SLR in a long time... the last 4 years have been spent with my trusty Nikon 995 - but the slow speed, slow focus time, slow-shot to shot time, and lack of manual focus and zoom have finally pushed me over the edge and back to the the world of SLRs. I do love the 995's macro capabilities though (minus the lack of manual focus), and want to carry that ability over to my new setup.

Finally... most of my photography is done on vacation, so I prefer a relatively portable/lightweight setup.

I appreciate any advice - thanks!!
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Old Aug 15, 2005, 5:30 PM   #2
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You could go with the combo I have with my 20D - for more or less the same reasons you cited.

1. EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM
2. EF 70-300 f4.5-5.7 DO IS USM

2 lenses, both very small and lightweight considering their optical quality, both have fast focus and both have IS. They cover an EFL of 27-480mm, about a 16x zoom range between them.

These are good mid-range lenses, much better than standard consumer fare; but not quite up to the quality found in the L range. This means that they are compromise lenses and you need to learn how to get the best out of them - they won't do all the work for you :-)

They are however an truly excellent travel kit - I don't see how one could do better on that front. Between them you have a combo that with some decent effort can give good pictures of just about anything, though for any specific type of photography you could probably find a better and possibly cheaper lens to do the job. What I don't think you will find is a combo that is as versatile.

For Macro work I suggest adding a Canon Macro tube - the Kenko won't work with the EF-S mount.

For some samples:

http://vanderwooks.blogspot.com
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Old Aug 15, 2005, 5:43 PM   #3
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That's exactly the combination I would suggest (but Parapatetic beat me to the post). The only thing that those two lenses don't cover for you is the macro (1:1). For that you would need to add a third lens, either a 60mm ef-s, which is superb,or a 100mm, which many prefer because it gives more working distance. The 60mm makes a good protrait lens, too, BTW.
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Old Aug 15, 2005, 7:04 PM   #4
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i would agree with peripatetic for a small lightweight kit..

you can find some very inexpensive macros that work surprisingly well.. the viviatar/phoenix 100mm 3.5 macro is surprisingly sharp.. now don't expect good build quality or fast autfocusing.. but its macro, so manual focus it and don't drop it too many times.. you can pick one up for around 120USD..
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Old Aug 15, 2005, 10:52 PM   #5
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The 70-200f4L might be worth a look too. It's not as small as the DO lens or have quite the range, but it's still fairly light, is absolutely excellent and is a lot cheaper.
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Old Aug 16, 2005, 6:11 AM   #6
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aschlabach wrote:
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I'm willing to pay up to $400-$700 per lens IF the quality/specs are worth it.
I guess it all depends on how much one values IS - IMO for the 95% of the time that IS is not needed (or place the camera down) one can get an excellent combo which is equally lightweight (in fact it's lighter) for much less:

o Sigma 18-125 (13.5 oz) @ $235
o Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro (18.7 oz) @ $190
... So for around $400 only for both one also get 1:2 macro

FYI in low light and macro
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Old Aug 17, 2005, 8:10 AM   #7
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Thanks for your feedback, all - I'll I'll probably go with the first recommendations and will keep you posted on my results. :-)
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Old Aug 17, 2005, 2:33 PM   #8
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I have the Canon EOS 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM... it's gota good range and is about 1/3 the price of the 17-85. You can pick one up for $200.

It can also serve as a general purpose Macro lense... so it will cover you there too. Also, the 50mm 1.8prime is essential at $70. It weighs and costs nothing and is a very good lense. You can get both of these lenses for 1/2 the cost of the 17-85... and at $1150 have the rest of your budget leftover for that 70-300.
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Old Aug 18, 2005, 3:24 AM   #9
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I'd have to disagree with that advice.

28mm is not a wide-angle lens on the 1.6 crop.

Now if you don't want or need a wide angle lens then of course any 28-xx zoom might be useful. However I would suggest as a matter of empirical fact that most people do want at least a 35mm Effective Focal Length - so at least an actual focal length of 22mm for a 1.6 crop camera on the wide end. I base this assertion on the fact that practically every fixed-lens zoom (i.e. not DSLR) on every compact sold today goes to 28 or 35mm EFL at the wide end. If people really would be happy with a 45mm EFL then the camera manufacturers would save themselves a load of money by not having to put such wide-angle lenses on their cameras.

So any 28-xx lens is NOT a replacement for the 17-85 unless you are going to add another wide angle lens to the kit, which then makes it a 3-lens outfit. The 28-xx zooms were designed for 35mm film cameras, which is not to say they are poor lenses, but their focal length range is not convenient for the majority of photographers using a 1.6 crop body.

And of course the 17-85 has the IS which the 28-105 does not.

The 28-105 (0.19x magnification) is no better as a Macro than the 17-85 (0.2x magnification). I would suggest an extension tube for both lenses for proper macro work.

I also think the 50mm f1.8 is very over-hyped. I have owned one for 6 months; it had great novelty value for about a week and it's not been on my camera since. The 80mm EFL makes it essentially useless indoors except for tight portraits and outdoors I always use the 17-85 in preference to it. I think the 17-85 is actually sharper at the tele end and usually a better portrait option in good light. I believe the MTF charts don't obviously contradict this assertion.


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Old Aug 18, 2005, 8:25 AM   #10
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NHL makes a good point. Especially if you've been shooting that 995 for a while, the cost of the IS lenses may be wasted--in the event they don't get used. You might even go a step beyond NHL's suggestion and try a Sigma or Tamron 18-200. Those give you a field of view comparable to 29-320mm on a FF 35, and that may be all you need for those vacations. Take a tripod or at least a beanbag along, though, for support when you need it. You could buy a set of Kenko extension tubes for the macro coverage or get a true macro as your second lens.

The Sigma 70-300 APO Macro Super II (avoid the cheaper version) is a pretty good lens too...almost legendary as Sigma lenses go. If it were me, though, I would get the 18-200 over the 18-125 even if I also bought the 70-300. Sigma's 18-200 is as sharp as the 18-125 (some say sharper), and that incredible zoom range makes it really useful when you can take only one lens.

All that said, I am a believer in image stabilization BIG TIME. My travel pair is the 17-85 IS and 100-400 IS, but then I'm usually after wildlife in addition to landscapes and cityscapes, and the picture taking is a major part of the trip, if not the reason for it in the first place, so I don't mind the extra weight and bulk.

Be sure to get the battery grip with your RXT. Two battery capacity, better balance especially with longer lenses, and it is much easier to hold onto the camera with the BG.
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