High End lenses; would I notice the difference?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by maulrat, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. maulrat

    maulrat TPF Noob!

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    Ok, so I'm nowhere near a professional. Photography is so an awesome hobby of mine but it is breaking my bank as well. Boo hoo hoo, right? Like 99% of us don't go through this. Well I've been pondering this decision for a month now. I about to get dumped on me, a small sum of money (Yay to tax returns) and I want to make a sane decision on my next lens purchase. I've already spent sleepless nights wondering which will be my next lens and I've got my heart set on the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L USM. This lens can be had for around $1200. I thought about the 24-105 but I'd find the 2.8L more useful indoors and for its bokeh.

    My question is.
    Since I am still a newbie, should I really invest the high end Canon lens or buy 2-3 high end Sigma lenses for the same price? Am I really going to notice the difference; color, sharpness, and bokeh wise?

    I've been shooting for about 8 months now, not 8 years. It is so easy for me to say, "Hey dumbie, of course go Canon. You can't get any better so why buy less? If you do, then you'll always be wondering if only you'd bought the Canon L your photos might be better quality". Then the devil on my other shoulder says, "Dude. You can get yourself the Sigma 24-70 2.8, the Sigma 70-200 2.8, and the killer Sigma 10-20 for the same price as the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS USM." I'm going nuts here. I can feel the money getting dumped into my account as we speak and it's already burning a hole in my wallet. But again, I'm trying to make a worthy decision here.

    So to you pros out there. When you were a newb like me, did you go for the gold and went straight for high end Canon/Nikon lenses? If so or if not, why? And would you make a different choice if you had the chance back when you were a newb?

    Thanks so much for any advice. I know this was a bit to read and I thank you for getting this far.

    **Last note. I plan on upgrading to full frame by the end of the year. A 5D or a 5D MII if I can afford it. Not sure if this makes a difference in lens choices.
     
  2. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I have had photographic equipment for a very long time ... about 20 years now.
    My first camera was purchased with a standard 50mm f/1.8 lens. I purchased a cheapo telephoto zoom and wide angle zoom lens later on.
    As I got more into photography ... and more importantly ... more critical ... I realized that there were higher quality lenses.

    Luckily, I got a job at a camera store.
    I quickly upgraded my equipment ... now I did not go crazy and buy the best single item I had money for. I did seriously sit down and analyze what focal lengths I needed. Then I priced out what lenses I could afford.

    Over a year ago I had to go through the same thing after selling my MF equipment to go Digital.
    I started with the lenses I could afford at the time to do the job.
    I have slowly replaced those with higher optical quality lenses ... I have paced myself, only replacing one lens at a time starting with the focal length I need/use the most.

    I am currently done ... with the exception of a 50mm f/1.7 lens.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The way I see it, a top end 'third party' lens (Sigma & Tamron etc) can often be said to be about 80-90% as good as a top end Canon (or Nikon) lens...but the price is usually about 50% that of the 'name brand' lenses.

    Another way of thinking about it; you pay 50% of the price for the first 90% of image quality and another 50% for that last 10% of quality.

    You probably new (or suspected) that...so I haven't helped you ;). This really is a personal decision and one that many people struggle with.

    I guess the best way would be to get your hands on each lens and do a head to head comparison yourself...besides reading all the reviews that you can find. Still, it comes down to whether you need or want that last 10% of quality. For some people it's worth it, for others it's not. I'd say that pride plays a part as well. Plenty of people are quite proud of their L lenses.

    If you are a working pro, it's a lot easier to justify the higher costs...but if you don't aspire to become a pro, it would seem to me that the more economical off-brand lenses are the prudent choice...especially if you put the savings into other good quality lenses or accessories.

    Having said that, I know plenty of photographers who thought they would be happy with the cheaper lenses but ended up getting the expensive ones in the end. There is a certain piece of mind that comes with knowing that you have the best piece of gear.

    Myself; I compromised and got the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 (which I might upgrade some day) but I shelled out and got the Canon 70-200 F2.8 L IS, which I'll never need to upgrade.
     
  4. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    ... I forgot to add:

    Since I worked in the Photo industry, I stopped buying new equipment ... even with the advantage of purchasing at Cost price.
    I found a large number of reputable Camera Shops that sell used equipment, and realized that they sold good equipment (note that there are some seedy places that will try to rip you off).
    I have not purchased a new lens in 15 years.

    Take a look at that option.
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well my view is it does not matter if you are pro, beginner or sports mum with the camera - pay for the best that your finances allow you to do. How much that is is something that you will have to work out for yourself.

    Just note that good pro end lenses are going to have the quality to stick with you for a long long time (decades if treated right) which means that its a solid investment.
    If you think that photography is something that you will stick at for a long long time and get a lot of fun out of then invest in it - if your a little unsure try testing the lens out in a store and see if the quality difference is really noticable to you (remember to look at shots on the computer, most shops should have one so you can view shots).
     
  6. javig999

    javig999 TPF Noob!

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    I think there are certainly benefits to having the best that money can buy...if you can afford it!

    For me the decision to go 3rd party was about knowing that this was strictly a hobby for me. As such, I was able to put together a nice array of 3rd party (all except the kit lens and 50 1.8) lenses for far less than the Canon gear and still be ready for nearly any situation I would encounter. In addition, I sold old home and car audio gear (an hold hobby) to get into this new hobby...who is to say that may not happen again? In the end for me it was about the fact that this gear does not make me any money, and I decided it was best to limit my expense based on my budget (vs. investment).

    If it will be your livelihood...most definitely go for the best!!! If you can swing it...why not?

    Best of luck...
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    just as a point, but 3rd party does not always mean second rate quality.
    Sigma make a good range of lenses which can equal the quality in a canon or nikon lens (the sigma 10-20mm and their range of macro prime lenses to name a few) and then there are some offerings from Tamron (their 90mm macro and 180mm macro).

    I am sure there are others that I have not listed as well - but its very much a lens by lens comparison - you can't blanket the whole area with a single description
     
  8. Samanax

    Samanax TPF Noob!

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    Don't have much to add, just have this web page saved as a bookmark and thought you might find it handy...

    Lens Tests By LightRules

    He's a Canon shooter so all the tests involve Canon compatible lenses.
     
  9. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Canon lenses hold their value much better than 3rd party. If you buy a used Canon 24-70 f/2.8, you'll be able to sell it for about the same price you bought it for...that is until the rumored 24-70 f/2.8 IS comes out.

    Plus it's weathersealed. That's the only other advantage I see, but then again it's useless if your camera isn't weather sealed. I bought one for my 5D II
     
  10. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This. Right here. Right the frak here. (although I would replace the 24-70 F/2.8 with the 24-60, and the Sigma 10-20 with the Tokina 11-16 F/2.8 - if you can find it).

    I get the mantra "Hey you got the money - SPEND IT!" I just think its the dumbest mantra ever. Especially if you have no intention of ever making SERIOUS money off this stuff. Why anyone would spend money on a "great" lens, when they can get three good-damn-near-close-to-great lenses (and the 70-200 and 24-60 are rated 9+ on FredMiranda), is beyond me.

    Full frame is of course a consideration as (and I don't have it in front of me) but I don't think the 24-60 F/2.8 has an aperture ring on it.
     
  11. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander TPF Noob!

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    From what I've read through in the past month, manye professional photographers (mainly wedding photographers) say they are ok using the 3rd party Sigma/Tamron lenses. So that, right there, made the decision for me to go with my Sigma 70-200mm. If pros are using it and I'm just a hobbyist, I have no reason to have better gear than them.

    I say go 3rd party!
     
  12. GeneralBenson

    GeneralBenson TPF Noob!

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    BSG fan? :mrgreen:
     

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