Final decision on lenses


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Feb 20, 2009
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So, here's what I've ultimately come up with:

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - $2000
Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L USM - $2000
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM - $1300
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM - $800
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM - $600

All prices cheapest available in AUD. Prices rounded.

So, in total this is about $6700.

Firstly: I'm about to start taking some weddings and, if I'm lucky, get into some studios to work; I hope I'll be able to pay it off and still be able to live... somewhat. I'll not be buying these instantly, but gradually, over a three year period. In this time, would I sensibly be able to get enough money to pay for these and pay for normal expenditures as well? I haven't got up my pricing yet, but it'd be under $1500 per wedding... maybe even below $1000.

Secondly, I'm not too sure about the 24-105mm f/4... is the IS worth the minus-one stop in aperture, as compared to the f/2.8 on the 24-70mm? The latter is $1000 more here...

Thirdly: is there anything that I don't really need? In all, I'll also be taking landscape and bird shots, but also focusing on weddings, I think I'd need the low aperture (here referring to the above as well).

There's another thing: perhaps I'll save $1000 and get the 17-40mm f/4L instead of the 16-35mm f/2.8L and use the $1000 to get the 24-70mm for the f/2.8? Thoughts? I was thinking of using the wide angle in weddings, but perhaps the 24-70mm would be more practical overall because I don't really need the f/2.8 in landscape. And yet here comes the thing on IS... I doubt Canon is releasing a f/2.8 IS model at this particular level. Anyway, thoughts on this would be appreciated too.

Or, could I just not get the f/2.8 (on either lens) and instead keep the $1000? Would the 50mm, at it's fast f/1.4, suffice for most dark shots? Weddings, particularly? Do these work well enough, in terms of covering the wedding?

I'm confused, as you can see, so help is appreciated. ;)
I use the Tammy 17-50mm f2.8. it's a cheap option, but gives excellent image quality. Something to look at. Don't discount thrid party lenses.
That's true.

It looks appealing. Is there a Sigma alternative?

Also, I was looking at the 120-400mm OS by Sigma instead of 100-400mm. I don't pixel-peep, and it is $1000 cheaper. So... if anyone can say whether it can still be efficient...

Obviously I'd like to keep a full L lens collection, but that's of course a very nice dream, which could be a reality, but a somewhat poorer reality. :D

Well, it seems I can only use the SP AF17-35mm F/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF) because of its compatibility with full frame cameras.

But it still looks good. And it's about $1400 cheaper than the equivalent f/2.8 from Canon.

On the other hand, does it offer what an L series lens offers? Like weather sealing, etc? And a tough build?

So here enters, once again, the aperture question... the thing that bugs me that if I see that f/4 is enough (after all, landscape photography would be the main use of this...) then I consider the $1000-more 24-70mm instead of the 24-105mm. Unless the 50mm is enough, of course.
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I have also found the Canon EF 135mm f/2L lens. This just adds to the confusion, and it is only $1300.

(Only? Well, after seeing so many $2000+ lenses, for an L lens it's reasonable) :D

Additionally, though there is a f/1.2L series version of the 50mm the extra $1400 is not worth it for me.
That's true.

It looks appealing. Is there a Sigma alternative?

Also, I was looking at the 120-400mm OS by Sigma instead of 100-400mm. I don't pixel-peep, and it is $1000 cheaper. So... if anyone can say whether it can still be efficient...

Obviously I'd like to keep a full L lens collection, but that's of course a very nice dream, which could be a reality, but a somewhat poorer reality. :D

If you don't pixel peep, then I say definitely get the Sigma version. The Sigma 18-50 2.8 is better than that Tammy as well.

I noticed no 70-200 lenses. Is there a reason for this?
If weddings are in your future, buy fast glass.

24-70 2.8 L
70-200 2.8 IS
a couple fast primes
back-up body

For birds, either the 500 f/4 IS or (what I use) 600 f/4 IS. And get the 1.4 TC

Instead of the 70-200mm, how about the 135mm L? It's got f/2.0... and is about $1400 cheaper.

I thought that the 70-200mm wouldn't really be necessary, as I could use the 100-400mm, and for telephoto purposes.

Does the f/.8 make much of a difference? The only thing that detracts me is the pricing. I know the 135 has an outstanding image quality, but the 70-200mm looks good too.
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Use the 100-400 for weddings? Nope. The 135L is a fantastic lens, and it is a little faster. Not as flexible as a zoom, but a decent choice.

And the 135L is not 1400 bucks cheaper than the 70-200.
Please don't jump to conclusions:

I've said before:
All prices cheapest available in AUD. Prices rounded.
However, you were right in essence: here, the IS f/2.8 70-200mm is $2500 and the 135mm is $1300, so it's really $1200 in difference. But as I said, I rounded.
The 100-400mm would be used for wildlife, mostly. I think that can be switched easily with the 150-500mm or 120-400mm by Sigma; yes, it's better than the Sigmas, but the Sigma's are $700-1000 cheaper. But that's not really important.

Considering the price and image quality of the 135mm, it seems really much better than the 70-200mm. There's no variable range, of course, but the lower aperture... Hmm. The only thing that sways me is the IS, and maybe the zoom could be useful.

Then there's the battle between the 24-70mm and 24-105mm - the IS doesn't freeze motion, but helps in low lighting. Well, would that be mostly for still subjects? I'm not sure whether the f/2.8 makes a world of difference. I'm suspecting it does. A pity Canon hasn't made the 24-70mm IS. I'm still somewhat confused by this, as the price difference is $1000 (here in Australia, like all the other prices, just to further clarify).

I think the 16-35mm and 17-40mm will depend on my final outcome on the other lenses. I think I'd go with the 17-40mm, in the end. But it depends.

I'm not just going to be doing weddings; but of course, that's one of my main reasons.

And another problem is, I'll also be using a tripod, and a flash mostly, too. So...

All in all, I'd love to just get the 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 50mm f/2 and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS, which would cost me still $7000.

In fact, that's higher!

Is that better? Maybe I could sacrifice one stop aperture in wide angle and get the 17-40mm instead. Hmm. I 'already have' a /f2 and f/2.8 lens - well, two of the latter.

It fits nicely.

Is the 70-200mm, at 200mm, adequate for wildlife, though? I don't think so. And the 100-400mm, as grand as it is, hasn't got fantastic reviews when used on a full frame.

It's all very confusing. I'd like to spend less than $8000. So I can pay it back after seven or so weddings.
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Ahhh, I forgot you were doing some currency conversion. My bad.

Which full frame camera are you shooting with? 5D, 5d mkII, or 1Ds? With the 5D mkII, you technically get another stop of ISO, so you could use a one stop slower lens, but what about this: Most lenses, including some of Canon's finest are sharper when stopped down a tad. So now your f/4 lens are at 5.6 or 6.3 and depending on how artsy-fartsy you do some of your wedding shots, it could influence your compostion and product. Such as the sharp shots of brides boquets with a creamy blurred bride in the background. Many things to consider.

If you go zooms and not primes, I think most wedding workhorse zooms include the 24-70 2.8 (there is no substitute for 2.8, not even IS), 70-200 2.8 IS or non-IS. If you are shooting full frame, 24mm should be plenty wide.

And you are correct that the 70-200 is too short for wildlife. However, I think you are wrong if you think you will get a top notch wildlife lens that can somehow be worked into your wedding kit. Although I would like to do an across the Church shot of the brides nose hairs with my 600mm f/4 IS + 1.4 TC. LOL

And if you are seriously thinking about doing weddings, better have at least two camera bodies and at least 2 flashes. A couple of monolights would be great for the group/family shots as well. There is really no way around the price of making a wedding kit. You need quality, reliability and a backup. You will be shooting pictures that people expect great results, creating memories, and there is no chance to reshoot if they turn out like ass. I say either buy what you can as you dable in other types of photography until you have a complete kit, or sell the farm and take the plunge.

No, I'm not looking for a wildlife-wedding lens. No lens fits all, really. There'll always be side effects.

But I'm a bit of a... orderly person, don't like having the 100mm cross over from the 70-200mm and 100-400mm. Meh. I'll have to deal with it. :)

If you go zooms and not primes... Yes, but that's the point I'm really cracking it at... the 135mm vs 70-200mm. A lot say they wished they got the 135mm instead. But... it's just the reach might be useful...
While I'm not a wedding photographer one thing I am finding myself, more and more, is speed is king with the work I do. With that in mind my preference is definatly go for primes for hand held work.

So personally I'd look at a 135mm, 70mm ( approxx - if you were a Pentax shooter it would be with 77mm f1.8 limited) as the two lenses on 2 bodies. This is based on comments made about weddings. So rather than having zoom lenses, I would 'zoom' either by changing body or moving closer/further away. As backup I'd have a 50mm 1.4/1.7 which I'd swap out the 135 when range has dropped ( say indoors ).

Then for wildlife I would have something like a 300mm and a teleconverter or two.
Why not a 70-200 2.8 for the wedding and then a tele converter like a 1.7 or 2x converter, then you get that same long end as the 100-400 and the same speed.
Uh huh...

I'll probably get the 100-400mm later on in life. :p

Anyway, I'm still stuck between the 135 and 70-200mm. Do you need the range, necessarily? The 135mm is cheaper, a bigger maximum aperture and has better image quality. The 70-200mm is more expensive, has worse quality and less maximum aperture but has the reach.

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