Amateur Upgrading Equipment. Advice Needed, Please.

Nataris

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Hello everyone! Ive been lurking here for quite some time and just recently set up an account so that I could become part of the community. I am an amateur/hobbyist photographer that is trying to worm my way into the industry within the next couple of years, as a career.

As such, I have decided it is time to take the next step in my photography equipment and would like some advice if possible. Currently I shoot a wide variety of things. Everything from macro to wildlife to sports to the occasional landscape. With aspirations of becoming a pro photographer of sports and wildlife. Since I enjoy shooting such a wide variety of things, it has made my upgrading decision that much harder.

As of now, i am using a Canon Rebel Xsi along with the 18-55 and 55-250mm kit lenses. It is a great little set up that was great for when I was a beginner but am now ready to take the next step.

Here is a list of the equipment I would like to EVENTUALLY get and would like to know if anyone has any suggestions or thoughts on what I should get first. I am pretty detailed orriented and so have constructed a bit of a "buying plan" to help plan my future of purchasing decisions.

If there is no brand name listed, it means that it is a canon product.

- 100mm macro f2.8 - For macro, portraits and landscape.
- 60d camera upgrade - Would like to upgrade to the 60d for 3 main reasons. Better FPS for action/sports, better low light ISO and ability to shoot HD video
- Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 - Hear its a great lens (when you get a 'good' copy) and would use it as a short range walk around lense and family parties.
- Speedlite 430ex - I need a flash, but have soo many other needs like better quality glass.
- 200mm f2.8 - Great glass for shooting sports and wildlife. I really cant wait to own my first L series lense and all the quality that comes with it.
- 135mm f2 - For indoor/outdoor sports and wildlife at a slightly smaller focal length then the 200mm. I hear this lens is absolutely phenominal and one of the best.

Other considerations for the late future:

- 300mm f4 - Sports/wildlife and long range pictures.
or 100-400mm f4-5.6 - I like the idea of a longer zoom lense although I dont know if it would be worth it over the quality of primes.
- 85mm f1.8 - Great for portriats and landscapes.
- 50mm f1.8 or 1.4 - I hear these are great lenses.


Keep in mind, these are NOT going to be bought in a short period of time but over the next few years as finances allow. My plan is to buy 1 or 2 new lenses and a 60d within the next few months.

Questions:

- Is this build plan a good one for someone in my situation? (Looking to advance into semi-pro and shoots a wide range of subjects)
- Would like 100mm Macro and Tamron 28-75mm (along with camera 60d upgrade) be good choices for the first 2 lenses to purchase? Or should I save up for the 200mm or 135 right off the bat? Any other recommendations instead?
- Is the 60d a worth while upgrade over my XSI?
- Any other thoughts or comments overall?

I am basically looking to be well rounded enough in my equipment to shoot the things I really enjoy (macro, wildlife and sports) while also having the proper tools to contribute my hobby into an eventual career which may lead me to things like wedding or party photography etc.

Thanks for all the help and sorry for the lengthy post.

I understand this subject has been talked about greatly but couldnt find any threads specific enough to my situation.

Thanks again!
 

Derrel

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I would get the 60d, then add the 50/1.4 (NOT the 1.8!!!), the 85/1.8, the 135/2, and the Tamron 28-75. I own or have owned all of the lenses listed, in either Canon or Nikon, or close equivalents. ALL of the things you list are good, solid, dependable "workhorse" types of lenses. Nothing frivolous, nothing that is high-priced and exotic and of extremely narrow utility. A basic kit of 28-75, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8 and 135mm f/2 will go a long,long ways. Add the 100mm f/2.8 (the non-L model) macro, and you're really well-set. The 300mm f/4 is a good lens alone, OR with a 1.4x telephoto converter.
 

ronlane

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Someone else may be better to answer your question but I am wondering is the 60D going to give you enough improvement in low light situations? Honestly, I wonder if the 7d would give you enough either.

I am stuck debating the 7d vs 5d mk II because of the low light performance. I was wanting the 7d for sports but the low light is better in the 5d II.
 
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Nataris

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Sounds like some solid advice. Thanks Derrel.

The only thing that concerns me is that 135mm might be a little too short when doing sports (mainly american football). Thats why I had thought the 200mm might be a better lens to get before the 135mm.

Although, the 135mm seems to be a solid range that MIGHT have more general use/purpose then a 200mm.

I do agree with your comment about these lenses all being solid, no BS, "workhorse" lenses. In fact, over the last 2 months I did a lot of research and filtered out choices based on both lens quality and quality vs price. All of these lenses seem to have great reviews saying that these are all great lenses for the money.

Thanks for the comments. More advice is welcomed from anyone else :)
 

Big Mike

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Welcome to the forum.

The important thing is that you have a good plan...and you seem to be doing well on that front.

And while I certain know (and preach) that your specific gear isn't all that important...I might suggest that you set your sight's higher than the 60D, since you have professional aspirations. The 60D (and it's ilk) are certainly a good upgrade from the Rebel series camera that you have now...but for relatively little more...you could get a more 'professional' camera. Just as an example, the 7D offers and even faster frame rate and better auto focus. I'm also thinking that a newer version of the 7D might be coming this year or next...and that might be worth the wait.
Or you could consider the 5D/6D series, which have 'full frame' sensors...which can help to give you better (maybe more professional) image quality.

Of course, improving your lenses (even used on your current camera) will make a world of difference.

But in the end, the best way to improve your photography, is to improve the photographer. So with all your planning, work in some education. Whether it's books, videos, classes, seminars, workshops etc...the more you learn (and practice), the better you'll get.
 
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Nataris

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Someone else may be better to answer your question but I am wondering is the 60D going to give you enough improvement in low light situations? Honestly, I wonder if the 7d would give you enough either.

I am stuck debating the 7d vs 5d mk II because of the low light performance. I was wanting the 7d for sports but the low light is better in the 5d II.

I have been thinking about the 60d vs the 7d and for now think the 60d would be a better "next step" camera. Mainly because of the price difference and atm, i dont think I can afford a new lens if I also bought the 7d.

Another factor, I can get a 60d from my job at around $650 and could get a dirt cheap deal on a 3 year accidental damage policy. Which I can then use in a few years to help upgrade from the 60d to the next camera (5d perhaps?).

So that is also a benefit I wouldnt get with the 7d.


Welcome to the forum.

The important thing is that you have a good plan...and you seem to be doing well on that front.

And while I certain know (and preach) that your specific gear isn't all that important...I might suggest that you set your sight's higher than the 60D, since you have professional aspirations. The 60D (and it's ilk) are certainly a good upgrade from the Rebel series camera that you have now...but for relatively little more...you could get a more 'professional' camera. Just as an example, the 7D offers and even faster frame rate and better auto focus. I'm also thinking that a newer version of the 7D might be coming this year or next...and that might be worth the wait.
Or you could consider the 5D/6D series, which have 'full frame' sensors...which can help to give you better (maybe more professional) image quality.

Of course, improving your lenses (even used on your current camera) will make a world of difference.

But in the end, the best way to improve your photography, is to improve the photographer. So with all your planning, work in some education. Whether it's books, videos, classes, seminars, workshops etc...the more you learn (and practice), the better you'll get.

Thanks Big Mike :)

Yes, I kept hearing how important a "plan" is in terms of photography equipment. That way you never have a wasted lens or focal length as you buy more options. And yes, education is definetly a part I plan to improve on as well. I am always watching tutorial videos from Lynda or Kelby.com. Both have taught me a lot thus far.

The comment about the 60d seems valid. However, I thought the 60d would be a good route because its a solid step up from my camera now but also cheaper which would allow me more money to spend on better glass. And once again, because of the deal through work, I should be able to trade in my 60d in a few years and upgrade to a better camera when the time comes.

Great thoughts though. Thanks for the welcome too.
 
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Big Mike

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The only thing that concerns me is that 135mm might be a little too short when doing sports (mainly american football). Thats why I had thought the 200mm might be a better lens to get before the 135mm.
If you look at what most professional sports shooters are using...it's probably something in the 300mm-600mm range. 135mm is more of a 'portrait' length IMO. My favorite lens for shooting portraits is my 70-200mm.
Of course, it depends on where & how you shoot. From the sidelines of a football field...yes, you'll likely want 300-600mm....but when the action comes close (or when concentrated in the end zone) you might want 50mm or wider.

I do agree with Derrel and yourself, the lenses that you're looking at...are some of the good ones, in terms of good value for cost.
 

ronlane

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I see what you are saying but I think (could be wrong) that there isn't any issues with the 7d and the lenses. I believe the 7d will take both EF and EF-S lenses.
 
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Nataris

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@BigMike

Great points. Sadly, a 300-600mm lens doesnt seem to be in my budget anytime soon :)

I was hoping the 200mm would be a good starting point. Maybe along with a 1.4 teleconverter.
 

Big Mike

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I was hoping the 200mm would be a good starting point. Maybe along with a 1.4 teleconverter.
I hear you...a typical sports shooter's kit is going to cost more than a new Hyundai.

But yes, a 70-200mm with a 1.4TC (or 2x) is certainly a viable option. Especially for wildlife where the animals will stand still.

My advice, is to have a good plan...but don't rush it (doesn't sound like you are). Save up and when the time comes that you need a specific lens...then you can get it then. Also, don't be afraid of looking for lenses on the used market. Lenses (especially high end lenses) tend to hold up over time. They do hold their value, so don't think that you'll find many that are 50% of retail....but you can certainly save hundreds of dollars buying used. And if you have a plan in place...you can watch for your specific lenses to pop up on the various places for used gear.
 
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Nataris

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Thanks for all the help Mike. You have given me some great advice thus far. Your last comments brought up a few questions though.

Do you think my plan is a good one and viable at this point? Aside from maybe the order of what to purchase first etc.

Also, your comment about used lens market is a question i have had for awhile now. Refurbished has always made me nervous when it comes to electronics. Is refurbished a safe way to go when it comes to lenses? Perhaps direct from canon?

I think one thing worries me about that. Since I dont have a professional eye just yet, I am worried I would get a bad lense and not even know it until its far too late. All in all, is refurbished a good route to go for lens purchases? Even to someone like me who isnt overflowing with money. I would love to same money, but quality comes first.

Thanks again for all the help thus far.
 

ronlane

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Buying used is a good way to save money. buying them from a reputable dealer is important to me. You are realitivley close to two big stores that sell used gear. B&H and Adorama. You may even be in a position to visit and try out some before buying.
 

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