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Old Feb 16, 2006, 8:38 AM   #1
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Learning from previous posts that vague "What should I do?" questions don't get far without some detail. New to photography other than family events, travels, etc. Buying Rebel XT this weekend. Curious which lenses would be best for my needs.

Use will be:

33% walkaround shooting to capture moments at family events. Would like to also evolve into portraits and live, playful portraits (toddler on grass, reaching for bubbles, etc) with many neices, nephews, children in general.

33% drive around and take photos of barns, farms, cars, weird roadside pics as I travel in car daily. Roadside and landscape shots.

33% amateur sporting events. Basketball in gyms, little league football and baseball.

If I had to have 2 lenses, what would best combinations be? Not scared to buy more later but wanting best combination for budget for now. If you could touch onpros and cons of manufacturers as well. Not in this game long enough to have much opinion. Still not sure how one decides ANY manufacturer (Canon vs. Nikon, for example) and sometimes scared it's just a "what you like" or"what you're used to" debate.

I was just going to get Rebel XT with kit lens and a Canon telephoto (zoom?) to get started but see more grumblings about Canon lenses (at least low end) and more praise about Sigma, Tamron(?), etc. Thanks for any feedback.


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Old Feb 16, 2006, 9:51 AM   #2
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You left out one important factor - your budget.

If you can swing it the 17-85 is great for #1 and #2 on your list. Perhaps add the 50mm f1.8 for #1 & #2 also.

For #3 budget starts to play a much bigger role.
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 10:56 AM   #3
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Thanks P,
Regarding budget, I quess I'm a "get what you pay for" kind of guy. If the extra expense is justifed, I'll spring for the extra cash. (Just budget a little longer.)

Starting some very basic classes tonight so much if this may get answered, but...

--So the 17-85 will work even for the roadside and basic landscape shots?
--Assume you agree with majority: the Rebel kit lens is not adequate except for beginners?
--What models? What features should one look for? Canon? Sigma?

As far as the sports aspect, I understand your answer and I realize I could probably get more answers in the sports section. Just hoping for a basic Rebel answer here as to a good combination to cover all activities. (Certainly not submitting to Sports Illustrated. Just a good hobbyist lens.)

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Old Feb 16, 2006, 11:24 AM   #4
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leeraff wrote:
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--What models? What features should one look for? Canon? Sigma?
IMO you should give the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 EX a try: http://www.pbase.com/fstopjojo/zoomvprimes
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 11:31 AM   #5
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I agree the 17-85 will be a great walk around choice.
For your other two stated purposes: portrait (even informal) and sports you will want additional lenses:

For portrait work you will want a lens with a wider aperture to create background blur. A long focal length lens with a 2.8 aperture can start to fit the bill but many people prefer a prime lens with a 2.0, 1.8 or 1.4 aperture. In general the 85mm 1.8 lens is a great and fairly inexpensive portrait lens. The even less expensive 50mm 1.8 can be used but you're a bit more limited.

Sports shooting - the answer here depends on what sports you really want to shoot. A 70-200 2.8 lens isa staple for most sports shooters - it's a great and versatile lens that works in a lot of conditions. It's not perfect but for most ameteurs it's the place to start. Where it really will fall short is indoor sports in High School or lower gyms. Sports shooting is about shutter speeds - and with indoor sports in bad light 2.8 still can't get you the speeds you need. The next step is prime lenses. For basketball, volleyball the 50mm 1.8 is the first option - but it's distance is limited and it's not the fastest focusing lens. The better option is the 85mm 1.8 (which coincidentally is also a very good portrait lens). Other primes are useful depending on specific situations but they are more expensive and not 'general use' lenses. But, the 85mm 1.8 is way too short for outdoor sports.

So to sumarize, I agree with Peripatetic - get the 17-85 as an all purpose lens. Use it for a while. After a few months, decide what is more important in your next lens:

If portrait/indoor sports - get the 85mm 1.8 (about $350)

If outdoor sports / some portrait - get a 70-2002.8 (Sigma at $850 if price is a concern, Canon at $1150 if it isn't - Canon with IS $1400 for the best possible lens).

In any case I would recommend spending a few months with just one lens first. That way you can get a feeling for where that specific lens falls short in your shooting needs. You may find you are happy with the 'portraits' you take with that lens and therefore you don't need a 1.8 lens. The last thing you want to do is plunk down $350 or $1100 on a lens and it sits in your bag 95% of the time. Just my two cents.
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 11:41 AM   #6
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OK, so my recommendation for a very nice, well-balanced set of lenses is as follows:

1. EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM
2. EF 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 IS USM (The new one not the old 75-300)

This gives an effective focal length range from 27-480mm, which covers most subjects well, even some wildlife work.

IMO to significantly improve on the optical quality of those two lenses you have to start spending some serious cash.

Both have excellent Image Stabilisation and fast USM focus.

That's the kit I'd suggest you start with. Then leave it for a few months and learn the ins and outs of the equipment you have.

Then consider....

They are both weak however when it comes to low-light action shots, the IS works well for static, but can't stop motion blur from fast moving subjects. So...

For indoor portraits you can pick up the 50mm f1.8 for around $70. You should also consider getting a decent flashgun. My preference would be the Canon Speedlight EX430.

If you are really serious about indoor sports for example then you will probably want to replace #2 with a 70-200 f2.8 zoom and add a teleconverter for extra reach if you need it. So then you have the choice of the Sigma or Canon 70-200's and they will cost from $800-$1600 depending on which one you choose, plus a couple of hundred extra for the teleconverters. Getting good results on indoor sports costs big bucks, and paradoxically demands far more from the equipment when you're talking about amateur sports. A high-school gym is generally far dimmer than an NHL rink, so needs better equipment.


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Old Feb 16, 2006, 12:35 PM   #7
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peripatetic wrote:
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If you are really serious about indoor sports for example then you will probably want to replace #2 with a 70-200 f2.8 zoom and add a teleconverter for extra reach if you need it.
Afraid I'm going to have to disagree again on this one. If you are 'serious about indoor sports' as peripatetic says, a 2.8 lens is just not fast enough for MOST high school and lower level venues. I have the 70-200 2.8 and I've shot indoor sports with it. I can tell you from personal experience 2.8 just isn't fast enough without a flash. If you use it, you are stuck with only shots of stopage in action - you can't freeze the action even at ISO 3200. Yes you can get one or two shots the come out OK. But typically you don't want 5% keeper rates from your kit. Choose the right tool for the job - unless you have lighting better than almost every shooter who does indoor school sports shooting you will need a faster prime to get decent shots without flash. There's just too much motion blur with a 2.8 lens. I also don't agree with the notion of buying a lens now, 70-300 and replacing it down the road. Why spend the money when you know it won't meet your stated needs? The 70-300 will do a good job of the little league games in good light. Evening games it just won't do well. And, an aperture of 5.6 just doesn't give the subject isolation you want in sports. I would be more in favor of this recommendation if wildlife shooting was a stated goal of the OP. But, it doesn't help much with the kid shots, the landscape shots or indoor sports shots of any kind. The only thing it will help with is the little league shots in good light.

I guess I look at things a little differently - not what focal lengths are covered but what lens makes sense for the intended uses. Bottom line - until they make a 70-200 1.8 lens there is no single lens that will suit for H.S. or lower indoor and outdoor sports shooting.

I do however agree with the recommendation to get an external flash. It will greatly help your portrait work - whether indoors or out.
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 3:40 PM   #8
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The 70-300 will serve nicely for portraits, landscape, some wildlife, some sports in good light. It's a handy all-rounder.

I didn't mean to buy it and replace it later, I expressed myself poorly, rather that later you might find you need extra lenses.

As for shooting sports in low light, well I shall have to bow to your wisdom. I've never done it, and frankly can't imagine anything I'm less interested in photographing. :blah: If you need a bag of primes and ISO 3200 then good luck to you, the XT is probably not the right camera either in that case.
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 3:56 PM   #9
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peripatetic wrote:
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and frankly can't imagine anything I'm less interested in photographing. :blah: If you need a bag of primes and ISO 3200 then good luck to you, the XT is probably not the right camera either in that case.
Yep - we all have different things that interest us. I have no interest in photographing flowers or bugs - but others love to do it. Whatever floats your boat.

As for the 'bag of primes' - that's what you're stuck with when you want to do indoor available light photography. I've run into people who absolutely abhor using flash and would rather use a 50mm 1.4 lens. I would also agree the 20D is much better suited to sports than the XT - the 20d has a better burst rate, better noise performance and ISO 3200. In fact sports shooting is the one area where I would definitely recommend the 20d over the XT. If the ergonomics of the XT are not a problem for a person and they're not into sports shooting there's not a lot of gain in going with the 20d over the xt.
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 7:15 PM   #10
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A great walk around lesn IMHO is the 24-70mm F2.8 from any maker
A good protrat lens is the 50mm or 85mm F1.8 from Canon
Indoor sprots the 85mm F1.8 lens and a 70-200mm F2.8 is nice in good lighting in poor if you can use ISO 800-1600 you will be okay.
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