Best Zoom Lens For the Money T3i


TPF Noob!
Jan 27, 2012
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Hey Guys,

Been spending all of my extra time reading up on these cameras and stuff. I need to pick up a zoom lens. My first question is. How do I tell how far a lens can zoom in? This has been very confusing to me LOL.

I am going to NYC next month and will be shooting some athletic events moving forward.
The best zoom lens for your money would be the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II. Because you get what you pay for.

You can tell how far a lens zooms in by reading its focal range. The one I listed is 70-200mm, so it zooms into 200mm at its longest. However, it has a constant f/2.8 aperture which is extremely nice. It also has IS (image stabilization) and USM (ultrasonic motor) for fast focusing. If you're going to be shooting athletic events, this is the lens that you need.

If this lens is outside your price range, it's because you didn't list a price range, therefore I gave you "the best zoom lens for your money."
Thanks for your reply Tyler. There are a few in my area on CList for $1,600, but I want to stay within the 400 or so range. =]

I would be using it more for regular outside use than sporting events.

What does the first number mean? So 200mm = 200 meters?
What does the first number mean? So 200mm = 200 meters?
No, it doesn't work like that at all.

Focal length is a distance between elements off the lens/design.
Focal length - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It changes the magnification and the field of view. The view will be different, depending on the camera you have etc.

The important part is to know that a longer focal length, give you a tighter FOV. You can shoot things that are 10 feet away or 1000 feet away.

There are a few in my area on CList for $1,600, but I want to stay within the 400 or so range. =]
Those are likely the version I of the lens he mentioned. The version II is pretty new and a lot more expensive ($2400), so unlikely to be found used for even $1600.

In the $400 range, you can look at a Canon 75-300mm. They have several versions...going as low as about $200. These lenses don't have a large, consistent maximum aperture like the other one though. So instead of F2.8 though the range, you'd get F4 at 75mm and F5.6 at 300mm. But seeing as 300mm is longer than 200mm, you would get more 'reach'.

A good one, for a little more money, is the Canon 70-300mm with IS. I think it's around $600-$700 new, but you might find it cheaper used. It's better quality than the cheaper options.

Tamron has a 70-300mm with VC (their version of IS) which is supposed to be pretty good, and the price is (I think) around $300.
Thanks mike. I understand the fov. I do not understand aperture. Is would be a must
Sorry for another Wiki link...but here it is Aperture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The aperture is the 'hole', through which the light travels. In a lens, it's an adjustable diaphragm, akin to the pupil in the human eye. It can open to let more light in, and it can close to let less light in. Each lens has a maximum aperture and for the most part, the larger the maximum aperture, the more desirable the lens is.

The aperture is represented by the F number (F stop). It's a fraction/ the lower the F number, the larger the aperture is. For example, F2.8 is larger than F5.6.

When you look at a lens, the maximum aperture is in the name. So the 70-200mm F2.8, has a maximum aperture of F2.8 (at any zoom position). Some lenses (usually the cheaper ones) have a variable maximum aperture. For example, 70-300mm F4-5.6. This means that the maximum at 70mm is F4, and the maximum at 300mm F5.6.

So why do we want a larger aperture? Well, it lets in more light. That means that we can get a faster shutter speed (given the same exposure). A faster shutter speed will mean a sharper photo. It can also mean a lower ISO, which means less digital noise in your image.
Also, a larger aperture will render a shallower Depth of field. So if you want those shots where the subject is in focus, but the background is out of focus, that is usually done with a larger aperture.
Thanks Mike. I love the links as it increases my knowledge on the subject.
What about something like a 70-200 F/4? Not sure if it has IS, but even if it doesn't, it's a full stop faster than any 70-300 on the market so it has the same effect, and it's an extremely sharp lens. They can be had used for $700-800 I think, but I'm not a canon guy so don't quote me on that.
70-200 f/4 was what I thought of as well, and there is an IS version. I'm not really sure how prices run on them however.
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens is about 400 bucks or so.
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You can get a 70-200 f4 non is for about $500 used. IS version around $900.

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Do you guys think the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM would be overkill?
or a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Lens? I'm thinking for the money, this lens would be better. Only $100 bucks
or a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Lens? I'm thinking for the money, this lens would be better. Only $100 bucks

No the EF-S is your standard kit lens, which is a low quality lens. When buying a lens it really is a case of "you get what you pay for".

if its "reach" that your after I would say that the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is the way to go. You would regret not getting better quality lenses.

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