Question About Your Lens-Buying Philosophy: Money vs. Brand/Features

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by astrostu, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    As part 0.3 (third question before my official question) of my lens-buying plan: What are your philosophies on buying lenses in terms of, (a) do you save up and buy the best possible lens, or (b) do you upgrade to a better lens than you have but that's not top-of-the-line?

    For example, I'm aiming to get four lenses to be my standard lenses: An ultra-wide-angle zoom, a wide-standard-telephoto zoom, a telephoto zoom, and a standard portrait. But this thread is not about the first and last, rather mainly the middle two.

    For the wide-standard-telephoto, I'm looking for something in the range of 24-70 mm. As I see it, I've narrowed my choices down to about three: A Canon 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, a Sigma 28-70 mm f/2.8, or a Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8L USM. The first and second are in the range of $300, the last is more like $1100.

    For the telephoto, I'm looking at the Canon 70-200 mm f/4.0L USM, the 70-200 mm f/4.0L IS USM, or the 70-200 mm f/2.8 USM, or the 70-200 mm f/2.8 IS USM. The first is around $500, middle two around $1100, and the last $1700.

    Looking at the current lenses I have (see signature line), any/all of these would be an upgrade. But, I'm trying to cap my photography budget at ~$1k/year. So what are folks' philosophies? Do you buy an upgrade lens and have fun with your new toy and learn how to use all its fun features and what it allows you to do, or do you wait 3x as long and buy "the best" out there?

    Note that I'm not looking for specific advice on the lenses I've identified above, that's for a later thread. :wink:
     
  2. jwkwd

    jwkwd TPF Noob!

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    I don't have a real philosophy for buying a lens, only that I stick with the brand that the camera is. I do have zooms, but find that if there is something that has to be right with what I shoot, I will use a prime. IMHO with all the new digital stuff that is out, I would not want to risk compromising system compatibility with an off brand name to save some money.
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I judge each lens individually. It's my experience that some expensive lenses suck, some cheap lenses shine, and almost every brand makes some really good lenses, and some extra craptacular lenses. I have been very disappointed with some Canon, Nikon, and Sigma lenses, and thrilled with others. Tamron has yet to let me down, but I probably haven't tried as many Tamron lenses as the other brands I mentioned.
     
  4. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    if you don't NEED the best lens out there, it might be hard to justify it...I often times will get one of the 'best' lenses unless there is another lens or third party lens that will also perform well that I can get in its place...but i'm in business so I have to focus a little more on quality anyway.

    IMO you should get the tamron 28-75mm f2.8 and the canon 70-200f4. If you need the extra aperture for low light work you could use your 'portrait lens' which I'm guessing is going to be something like the 85mm 1.8. That would be a nice well rounded setup with an ultrawide like the sigma 10-20mm or canon 10-22 to finish it off. You would build this slowly, but it would end up filling out nicely IMO.
     
  5. avcabob

    avcabob TPF Noob!

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    My general order of doing things when I want a new lens is I'll decide what kind I want and what general specs I would like to to have. Like if it's a zoom or not, and what it's focal length. Then I start looking around for one made my any brand for my camera. Since I only have one AF lens right now, I'm used to focusing enough enough I don't really care about that on a new lens which helps save money. So then once I finally settle on and exact model or tow, I start looking around for reviews and especially sample pics taken with it. I might go to some local camera shops to see if they have one I can try out to see if I really like the feel and operation and take some sample pics in the store and see what they look like at home. And when It's finally time to buy, I usually just look around for the best price.
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    I look at the functionality of the lens and weigh that with the cost & performance reviews. For example, a faster lens (F2.8 zooms or F1.4, 1.8, 2.0 primes) are more functional than slower lenses...sometimes, this is practically a requirement...wedding photography, for example. The build quality is also part of the functionality. If you need a tough lens for photojournalism, then you need to pay for a high quality lens.

    I like to think about the price/performance ratio. For example, Canon L lenses are usually the top performing lenses avaliable for Canon cameras...but they almost always are the most expensive. Some of the other brand lenses (Sigma, Tamron etc.) can offer 80-90% of the quality and performance for about half the price...which gives them a better price/performance ratio than the Canon L lenses. Some people might need/want that extra 10% of quality...in which case the more expensive lenses are the better choice.
     
  7. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    yep. although you might want to change that 80-90% to like 60-70%...that might be applicable for sharpness in some cases, but when you take CA, distortion, build quality, and autofocus especially into the field then it goes down a bit.
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    That number could be anywhere on the scale. Sometimes other lenses have a rated image quality that is very close to the top of the line...but the build quality or focus may be lacking. Usually, the top of the line lenses have the whole package...superbe image quality, great built quality (sometimes including weather sealing), fast accurate focus etc.
     
  9. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I go for image quality and reliability.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    :lol:

    subtle.
     
  11. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Well I guess that depends... if you can wait while you save for the "best possible lens", then by all means do that. If you need the glass now then go for what you can afford. Lenses will tend to retain their value quite well anyway (assuming both the lens mount and format continue) so you could trade up later. As others have said, there may not be any reason to get the top-of-the-line (unless of course you have unlimited funds). You just have to decide how much you want certain things (for example speed, or better build quality) and how much you're willing to pay for them. For example when I wanted a 50mm prime I went for an f/1.4 because I considered the advantages over an f/1.7, considering the kind of shots I often take, made it worth it. I could have bought an f/1.2 for nearly three times the cost of that f/1.4, and that would have been the "top of the line" for 50mm primes, but I simply don't need that enough to justify the cost. In your case, if you need a faster lens then you need a faster lens and that will have to be more important than the brand name on that lens. In other words it's better to be practical than philosophical. I
    instead of buying a new lens as an 'upgrade' and learning what it can do (as you mention in the last question), it might be better to know what you want to do and look for a lens that fits that requirement.
     
  12. *Mike*

    *Mike* TPF Noob!

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    This man is giving you brilliant advice! :thumbup:
     

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