fast prime or better zoom?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by sovietdoc, Jun 12, 2010.

  1. sovietdoc

    sovietdoc TPF Noob!

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    I currently have t1i w/ the outdated canon 17-85 is usm. while the optical quality is not the best, it performs very well for my needs as a walk around lens. The only 2 things I want to do that I havent been able to do with this lens were taking photos indoors/dark at night, when the high ISO is still just isn't enough and being able to make macro shots. The minimal focusing distance is just too poor for macro, even at 85mm and the fact that it's a zoom kinda kills all the sharpness.

    Initially to solve my problem, I started looking at the 50mm lens but quickly figured out that on 1.6 crop they wont work as a good indoor. Then I scaled back to 28-30mm primes like the sigma 30mm 1.4 and canon 28mm 1.8. I've read a lot of good (and bad) things about either one but even 28mm just wasn't cutting it for smaller indoor rooms.

    So, then I started looking at lens like sigma 20mm 1.8 but couldn't find much information about it to make a decision. And then, looking at the over 500-dollar price of the thing, I seriously started considering other zoom's as even though more expensive, they seemed to get good reviews (especially f/2.8 ones) Though I really like the looks of it...


    So here I am, unable to make up my mind. With a starting budget of about $600 (or more if I decide to trade in my 17-85), what lens should I be looking at?

    Main considerations:
    1. The wider the better(or is it on APS-C), where I shoot indoors there is pretty significant lack of space. Though some people say that using full-frame lens on 1.6 crop might still have significant degree of distortion, especially when photographing people indoors.

    2. f stops is a requirement because that's one of the reasons I am shopping for a fast prime.

    3. Though the lens' ability to take macro shots is not as much of the req as indoor use, I would really like for it to be able to make shots that look sharp when looking at the pic 1:1 or cropping it.

    4. As someone else recommended, maybe I should just forget about all this and trade in my current lens, adding some cash on top to pick up some sort of zoom? f/2.8's like the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is just waaaay out of my price range.


    Any thoughts anyone?
     
  2. ifi

    ifi TPF Noob!

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    Welcome to the forum :)

    Canon 24-70mm 2.8 is a great lens you can't go wrong with it.
    Other good option while remaining within your budget of $600 is a Tamron 17-50 2.8 VC (IS).
     
  3. rallysman

    rallysman TPF Noob!

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    the tamron 17-50 is a great lens even without VC. I love mine.
     
  4. sovietdoc

    sovietdoc TPF Noob!

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    so, instead of getting a fast prime you recommend trading my "all rounder 17-85" and starting to build the "3 lens garage" using 1) wide-to-normal zoom, then 2) normal to medium tele and 3) tele if I ever need it?

    I just dont wanna get something that will share a lot of my current focal distance from this 17-85mm lens, unless I try to get rid of it completely....

    f/2.8 still seems kinda too dark for my needs, maybe unless it was an L with very good stats right off at 2.8 but thats too much...

    the whole point of getting a prime for me was better sharpness than the zoom, and better f-stops..and even 2.8 zooms aren't exactly perfect for that unless I buy very expensive glass.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2010
  5. ifi

    ifi TPF Noob!

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    Sigma 50mm 1.4 is a great lens.

    Tamron 17-50 2.8 uses what Tamron calls a special glass, AKA poor man's L lens :)
     
  6. sovietdoc

    sovietdoc TPF Noob!

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    after doing a bit more research I've stopped on Sigma's 24mm f/1.8 lens. 1 stop higher than 50mil 1.4's, while being a lot wider, so still suitable for indoors. And it has the best magnification factor for macro out of all others 1:2.7 which means its better for macro than other lens at 1:4, right? It also has lower minimal focusing distance.

    20mm f/1.8 is more expensive and while being slightly better for indoors, its not as good at macro. Canon's 28mm and sigma's 30mm while both being very good, are not as useful indoors.

    So as a compromise lens for both indoors and macro, does this sigma 24mm make sense to any of you or am I just crazy?
     
  7. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Is flash a option?
     
  8. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My solution (albeit not the cheapest) was BOTH!

    My 24-70L didn't make the best walk around lens which I later purchased the 24-105L for that purpose. I later felt like the 24-70L (as good as it is) was still a compromise.... not the fastest apertures available (I also have a history of shooting with primes). The 24-70L went on the auction block (with other stuff) and a "kit" of primes: 24 f/1.4L, 50 f/1.4, 85 f/1.8, 135 f/2L, 300 f/4L emerged. I was happy for quite a while... picking a choosing among those.

    I guess my point is rather than trying to find a lens that can do "many" things (which often ends up as a compromise of all the above), I would rather buy according to a specific purpose. You don't have to go overboard (like me and others here).

    I would keep your 17-85mm. You already admitted that it keeps you satisfied. For macro, plan on something like the known 100mm f/2.8 Macro. Using a wide angle lens for macro work isn't going to cut it. Now what is left is a low light prime. Only you can decide on a focal length. Given the crop camera and you wish for the wider angles, this one might be a bit pricey and difficult. The sigma (sorry don't have details on this particular lens) 20mm f/1.8 DG seems right up your alley. The final thing is to prioritize which purchases are most important to you and start saving.

    btw... the difference between f/1.4 and f/1.8 isn't a stop.... its less than a stop. So the differences might not be as big as you have initially thought.
     
  9. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Also... forgot to mention...

    For macro, you need to consider lighting as important of a tool as the macro lens itself. For this type of work, you are often shooting at f/11 or f/13 to counter the really shallow DOF that results. This requires a lot of light. There are expensive options all the way to inexpensive DIY options. Do your research.
     
  10. ifi

    ifi TPF Noob!

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    I understand 1.4 is built better, why did you pick 1.4 over 1.8?
     
  11. sovietdoc

    sovietdoc TPF Noob!

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    I went out and borrowed a canon 50mm f/1.4 lens from a friend and went out shooting today, while the f/1.4 was amazing, I almost always found myself shooting at 2.8+. 1.4 just gives too little DOF so to keep anything sharp(er) 2.8+ is pretty much a must.

    Focal length wasn't really impressive, being 80mm (50mmx1.6)for indoors it was too much to use inside the house. Sharpness was better than my zoom though.


    Playing around with that lens I've made up my mind to pick up sigma's 24mm f/1.8 and just try it out. I can always send it back in first few weeks if I don't like it. It's wide enough for indoor shots, has good f/1.8 and I've looked at some macro shots people made with it and if I'll be able to do the same with it, I'm not gonna need anything else. It has lowest multiplier I can find from these types of lens (1:2.7) which I know isnt real 1:1 macro but that resolution is still the best of everything I can find. And it has low minimal focusing distance which might just save me for macro shots.

    So I guess I'll just try it and see how it goes. Based on what I come up with when I get it, I'll be able to figure out for sure if I need a zoom or a few primes to suit my needs.

    Thanks for everyone who helped here, I'll post up my results in a week or two, once I've had the time to play around with it, in case anyone is interested.
     
  12. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You misunderstood... I'm saying an aperture of f/1.4 and f/1.8 isn't a full stop. That was a general statement not a comparison between the actual lenses; 50mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.8.
     

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