Budget (night photography) lens for Canon Rebel T3i (EOS 600D)

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Valeriy, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. Valeriy
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    Valeriy New Member

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    Hi Folks!

    I want to finally get a new camera and upgrade from my old (but still awesome because of the night vision) Sony DSC-F717 to a real DSLR.
    The first question which I already answered was if I should get a used Canon 40D or Canon T3i, I decided in favor of the T3i since I won't mind having a video option on certain times, which the 40D won't offer.

    Now I also know that the kit lenses are usually not the most exciting ones and I need a budget friendly upgrade since I shoot as a amateur just for fun and myself.
    But I do really like taking pictures at night of the city which sparkles in all their glory in all the city lights, so I did some research and understood that I will need a f/2.8 lens for good results.
    Since they are (especially the canon ones) are currently very pricey considering that I'm not a hardcore photographer, but I also don't want to get stuck with the kit lens, I need a "cheaper" f/2.8 lens for my purposes.

    I came across the Tamron 17-50mm VC and non-VC, and also the Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 USM.
    I read long discussions about rather the Tamron VC or non-VC is better, and ended up with non-VC is better in terms of sharper but VC is better in terms of night photography and video.
    Now I have an additional question, I read that the Canon T3i has already a build-in image stabilizer, so will I really need an IS/VC in the lens aswel? or did I misunderstood something?

    Or will I need a completely different lens after all?

    Thank you very much and sorry for the long post! :)
    -Valeriy
  2. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    This was shot on a Canon 20D with a 18-55mm kit lens:

    [​IMG]

    And so was this:

    [​IMG]

    Yes, kit lenses are obviously horrible, just like every noob who's ever upgraded to a more costly lens will tell you (and their wives). You should do all you can to stay far, far away from them at all costs! Remember, you MUST have the best gear possible, or your photos will be absolute crap! :er:
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  3. Valeriy
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    Valeriy New Member

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    Thank you Sir! Very impressive and beautiful pictures! I guess I listened to the wrong people.
    Since the Canon + Kit lens only costs about $30 more than the body by itself, you saved me a lot of money! ;)
  4. BastiaanImages
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    BastiaanImages New Member

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    I think that a good tripod is more important if you want to shoot in the dark
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  5. tinman84
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    tinman84 New Member

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    only if i might ask :)

    can you share the settings please .... also the color mode is set to vivid ?


    Thanks much
    Vk

  6. TheBiles
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    TheBiles New Member

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    I'd get the nifty fifty if you want to go tripod-less. You NEED a super fast lens for shooting in poor lighting while hand-holding the camera.
  7. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    The Bay Bridge shot was done in October of 2004 at ISO100, 5 seconds on the shutter @ f/11. I shoot RAW, so no on the vivid setting, though I certainly processed it in a vivid way later in Photoshop.

    Pretty much the same thing with the shot of Pittsburgh, but it was shot in 2006.
  8. KreGg
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    KreGg New Member

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    Those are great pictures Buckster!!
    Beautiful scenery

    PS: Is PNC Park on the left?
  9. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    Thank you kindly. It is indeed. I've had to take some guff over the years from the fans who like the photo but complain that it's not in the shot! LOL
  10. pgriz
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    pgriz Well-Known Member

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    Was Jerry Falwell anywhere around preaching up a storm when you took the shot in Pittsburgh? It seems pretty otherworldly...:thumbup:
  11. EIngerson
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    EIngerson Well-Known Member

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    Buckster. Those are incredible shots.
  12. Valeriy
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    Valeriy New Member

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    With nifty fifty you mean the Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II, right? And how fast is super fast? You mean the FPS of the camera or actually the lens?
    Thank you! :)
  13. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    He means the lens. "Super fast" is relative though. 1.8 is faster than the 3.5 of the 18-55mm, but for a 50mm, I wouldn't say it's "super fast". The 1.4 is faster, and the 1.2 is faster still. Want a 50mm that's "super fast"? Go for a 50mm f/1.0. It'll only cost you about $4200.00 or so.

    And none of them would have worked or even helped at all for getting the shots I posted above, which were shot at about 5 seconds long each so that I could get the streaks of light that I chose for my compositions, so they didn't need a faster lens, and they wouldn't have worked at all for composition because they're not wide enough, since they were shot at 31mm and 22mm respectively.

    The 50 1.8 is a good lens for some things, and not very expensive. I have one myself and use it on occasion. It does decent close-up portrait type stuff to give a nice out of focus background, for example, and if the landscape you've decided to shoot just happens to fit well as a composition at 50mm, it'd be a good lens for that as well. It's also got very nice corner to corner sharpness and clarity at all apertures. Again, a nice lens and very affordable. You'd do well to have one in your kit.

    But I wouldn't have been able to use it on the shots above because I would have had to get further back to frame the composition, and there was no way to get further back from where I was. Bay Bridge was shot at 31mm, for example, and there was absolutely no other place to set up to get it than exactly in that spot. 3 feet behind me was a busy road with crazy drivers. On the other side of that, a mountain cliff face. To my right and left, even just a few steps either way, and trees completely obscure the shot. I needed the versatility of the zoom to frame the composition, and the nifty fifty would not have allowed it, so it would have been the wrong choice.

    By the way, I had to hike my gear up a hill from a parking lot maybe a quarter mile to a half mile away, with no sidewalk and no footpath, which became an almost suicidal adventure with the drivers on that road the way they were. Someone wrote to me a few years ago and said that the trees had now grown to the point of obscuring even that spot, so they didn't think the shot was even obtainable at all anymore, unless you get a permit to close down a lane and set up a lift platform to shoot it from.

    For cityscapes and landscapes and subjects that aren't moving and subject that don't need a whole lot of creamy foreground or background via narrow DOF, you don't need a fast lens. A lens with a wider range, a tripod and a shutter trigger are more important for that sort of work. Also, with the ISO capabilities on modern DSLRs, you can still shoot a lot faster and get away with it than I could on my old 20D at ISO 100 if that's what you want, though I was looking for the streaks of lights, so I would have used a longer shutter in any case, and DOF at those distances is not a factor - it's close to infinity. I chose f/11 for those shots because it's a good aperture for marginally best sharpness and clarity on the 18-55 I have, based on testing of the lens I'd done previously.

    It's all about using the right tools for the job to give you the control you need for the photo you want to create.
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  14. Valeriy
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    Valeriy New Member

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    Thank you very much for that very informative post!

    I decided that I'll stick with the 18-55mm kit lens, but will also get a 50mm 1.8 in addition since it's a inexpensive lens to take portraits sometimes.

    My list currently includes:
    - Canon Rebel T3i with 18-55mm Kit lens (for everyday use)
    - Canon 50mm EF F/1.8 (for occasional portraits for friends and family)
    - Transcend SDHC Ultimate Card 32GB Class 10

    I have an old heavy tripod which I will probably only use for portraits.
    Will I need anything else? Maybe a lighter tripod for on the go?
  15. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    I recommend a shutter release trigger. Get a third party trigger, rather than a Canon brand to save a ton of money. I've used both cables and radio triggers, and strongly favor the radio triggers for this, but I keep my cable trigger with me as a backup. You can find them for under $30 from the Chinese distributors like Yongnuo (on Amazon too! I love Amazon!). They also sell a cable version for about $5, which is just a crazy good value.

    The tripod will be fine right up until you decide you don't want to lug it with you somewhere (depending on how heavy it is). I really didn't mind taking my heavy Manfrotto tripod/head with me everywhere. Most of the time, I'm not that far from my vehicle anyway, so it's just not a big deal. On hikes, I strap it to a good backpack that distributes the load and, even with all that gear, haven't had any trouble with it.

    These are far from the vehicle, and the first included a pretty steep hike up a hill that I made almost every weekend for months because I just loved it up there:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Several months ago, I broke down and got a carbon fiber tripod that's much lighter, but to be perfectly honest, it's not made the world of difference I thought it would.

    I would say work with what you have until it limits you, if ever.

    YMMV
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