Im looking into buying my first lens

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by LisaMarie, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. LisaMarie

    LisaMarie TPF Noob!

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    So i have decided to move on up from my canon 18-55mm kit lens, but have no idea where to start for my first official lens. I know i really love the sigma fisheye lens but will Force myself to start out with something a little more practical like a telephoto lens/zoom lens for now! Could somebody please give me some advice for a good EF series lens to start out with, also could you advise one that is preferrably good for distance shots. Also what is the difference between canon's L series Lenses and there regular lenses?

    Also when viewing lenses what does the EF 50MM F/2.5 stand for, does that have to do with aperture, could some one please explain i am new to this, thanks.
     
  2. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    I'll break down a more complicated lens so that you can see what all the parts you might encounter mean. The example lens will be the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM

    EF: electro-focus, or what Canon calls their autofocus lenses. All EF lenses will work on all Canon digital SLRs. Some other names you might run across include FD or FL, which are the branding for some of Canon's older, manual focus lenses. These will not work on any Canon digital SLR.

    70-200: the focal length, which tells you what sort of image the lens will produce-- whether it be wide or telephoto. If you think of your 18-55 as 'normal' then smaller numbers will be wider, larger numbers bigger.

    f/2.8: this is the maximum aperture, that is, the amount of light that the camera can let in. The smaller the number, the larger the opening and the more light that the camera can let in, hence, the darker the situation it can be used in. For example, a lens with a max aperture of f/2.8 can let twice as much light as a lens with a max aperture of f/4. The amount of light doubles or halves in 'stops' that go something like so: 1.0, 1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22 (I think I've got the upper numbers right here, but you get the idea). The listing on the lens is only the maximum aperture, most lenses can be used at anything up to f/22, and some can stop down further than that. Some zoom lenses have what is called a variable aperture, meaning that they have a different maximum aperture at different focal lengths. This is true of your 18-55 lens, for example.

    L: This is Canon's moniker for their professional series lenses that are generally of a higher quality than their consumer grade lenses (though this is not a hard and fast rule). They are set apart by better build quality, bigger max apertures, generally better AF, weather sealing on occasion, a trendy red ring, and higher price. They also tend to weigh a lot more (b/c of the build quality). You don't need an L lens to get good optical quality or an overall good lens, but a nicer lens will generally prove more useful. For some things, an L is your only choice (super telephotos, for example).

    IS: Image Stabilized, what Canon calls their lenses that have gyros built in to compensate for camera movement on longer exposures. It does not have any effect on subject movement.

    USM: Ultra sonic motor, Canon's term for lenses that have faster, silent AF motors that also provide full-time manual focus. USM is also more accurate and reliable.

    The way to pick a lens is to figure out what it is that you want to shoot, and what you feel like you're missing in your kit lens. Do you find that you want to be able to get shots from farther away, or closer up? Do you feel like you need a lens that can work better in low light? What is your budget? Answer this question and you'll probably be able to figure out what lenses to look at.
     
  3. Chris of Arabia

    Chris of Arabia Herding cats since 1988... Supporting Member

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    1st question, "what body is it going on?"

    The fisheye is of rather limited use to be honest, but worth considering once you have a better range of more general purpose lenses to call on.

    The big difference between 'L' series and other Canon lenses is $$$/£££! The real answer is that the 'L' series will have better glass, wider maximum apertures, weather sealing and will be heavier - oh and they have that nice red ring too.

    The 50mm is the focal length of the lens. On a 35mm film or full frame sensor, 50mm is considered to be a 'standard' view lens i.e. its field of view if roughly equivalent to that of the human eye.

    Anything longer than 50mm (e.g. 85mm, 100mm, 200mm and longer) is a telephoto lens. These have a narrower view than the 50mm and have the effect of bringing you closer to your subject. It sounds like this may be what you are looking for.

    Going the other way, less than 50mm (35mm, 28mm, 24mm and shorter) is a wide angle lens and will show you a much wider view than the 50mm. This has the effect of making your image seem like it was taken from further away from your subject.

    The f/2.5 is the aperture. The maximum aperture on a lens can be anything from f/1.2 to f/8 or greater. The smaller the number, the wider the aperture and the greater its light gathering abilities. Generally, photographers gravitate towards wider aperture lenses f/2.8 or better, partly due to their ability to be used in lower light situation, partly because they give a very shallow depth of field at maximum aperture, and partly because bigger maximum apertures are usually found on better quality lenses. At the other end of the range, you should also be interested in what the minimum aperture is - most lenses tend to be f/22. This is where you'll get your maximum depth of field, but also where you'll need the brightest conditions or a longer shutter speed. Some specialist lenses can be found with a minimum aperture of f/32 or greater, mostly these will be macro (close-up) lenses where the extra depth of field is most valuable.

    Anything else?
     
  4. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Q1 - What camera are you using? Depending on the size of the sensor, this can affect your lens choices.

    Q2 - What type of photography have you enjoyed doing so far? Do you like your 18-55 range, do you want longer, shorter, do you want to shoot more in low light..?

    Q3 - What is your budget?
    A lens can range from a cheap $200 to thousands of dollars for the high end lens. And yes, you will notice a big difference.

    A lens is more important (to me) than the actual camera body. They are investments that you are making. You can change your camera body every other year, but once you get good glass, there is no need to "upgrade".


    Keep in mind the 3rd party vendors like Sigma and Tamron. They can offer a cheaper alternative (although at a lesser quality) than the Canon and Nikons, which can be enough for a hobbyist like me.

    Ex: Instead of spending $1500 on the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens, I went with the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens for $550. Quality is great, it has slower focusing, weighs less, doesn't have a red ring around it, but it totally fits my needs and budget for now
     
  5. itznfb

    itznfb TPF Noob!

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    i would say for a beginner... which i still consider myself to be, a perfect compliment to a 18-55 is a 55-200. i'm only really familiar with nikon gear but i'm pretty sure canon has a similar 18-55/55-200 pairing aimed at the entry/mid level. unless of course you really have no need for the longer range but i've loved my 18-55/55-200. i really haven't found the need to buy anything else in almost 3 years.
     
  6. LisaMarie

    LisaMarie TPF Noob!

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    Thank you everybody now i have a much better understanding of all the terminology, and a much better understanding of which lenses i would be intrested in getting next, thanks!
     
  7. LisaMarie

    LisaMarie TPF Noob!

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    Actually i just thought of one more question, if i was to buy say a 70-200 mm lens (just for example), and a 70-300mm lens, would the lens that is 70-200mm have greater quality pictures than that of the 70-300mm because of the lesser focal range, or does that matter? Or can that change depending on the brand name(higher quality lenses) ect? I hope im making sense here.
     
  8. Samanax

    Samanax TPF Noob!

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    Which camera are you using?
     
  9. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have often read here that the wider range in focal lenght you have on a lens, the less sharp the image. So an 18-200 will not be as sharp as a 70-200 which will not be as sharp as a 200 prime.

    However, there are varying degrees in glass quality that will greatly affect the quality of the image.

    The Canon 70-200 f/2.8 or f/4 are great lenses with high image quality, which will surpass the 70-300 from Canon.
     
  10. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    With a telephoto lens, there are several options: fast, long, or inexpensive. You can pick two-- a long, slow lens will be inexpensive, a fast short lens will be inexpensive, but a long fast lens is gonna cost you. The 70-200 has a lot of advantages over the 70-300 lenses-- notably higher image quality, constant aperture, better build, and larger aperture (this depends in part on which 70-200 you're looking at).
     
  11. gravity0

    gravity0 TPF Noob!

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    :drool:

    My next lens.
     
  12. EhJsNe

    EhJsNe TPF Noob!

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    I would recomend the 70-300mm lens, its a great lens. Im not sure of the cost, but Im sure you are informed enough to get something close to what you want....
     

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