Lens advice (I'm sure you get this all the time)

mrnomas

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New to the forum and basically a noob in photography. The background of my question is this - I write for a living but upon occasion I have to take pictures. My entire experience with cameras has been point and click up until a year or so ago when I decided to upgrade to a Canon XT (which I decided on after searching this forum and reading a bunch). It came with the stock 18-55mm EF-S Lens which I've been fine with. Over the last year I've found the zoom to be less than adequate. Here's what I use the camera for:
  • In home and external shots of stationary gear (to go with my reviews) - usually from close range
  • Pictures of gear at tradeshows (sometimes from a distance but mostly close up)
  • Wide shots of people (again at tradeshows and other work functions)
  • Closeups and action shots of my kids and family (sometimes from a distance)
To say that I know nothing about lenses is really an understatement. I don't even understand the extent of my lack of knowledge. I just know that my accountant (aka the missus) has informed me that if I "need" anything work related, I should buy it now. I've decided I "need" a lens and I'm hoping that you could help me decide which would be the best. I've included everything I think would be relevant above other than price (I can probably spend in the multiples of hundreds but not the multiple of thousands) . If I've left anything out, feel free to ask.
 
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mrnomas

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I forgot to mention that there are times I'm taking pictures in very low light (during presentations and the like) if that makes a difference for the lens recommendation. I suppose I could pick up a lens and a flash. Just a thought.
 

Big Mike

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Welcome to the forum.

Can you tell us what you find inadequate about that lens?
Do you want a different focal length, or more range...wider or longer?
Do you want to be able to get sharper shots (less blur) in low light, without using flash?
Do you simply want better quality...sharper more colorful shots?
 

photogincollege

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If you decide to go with a nice zoom route, tamron makes a really nice i believe its 70-300 2.8 that can be had for around 500. Im not sure exactly someone else can clarify this.
 
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mrnomas

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Thanks Mike for the welcome - as to your questions:

Can you tell us what you find inadequate about that lens?

Mostly the fact that I need to be pretty close to something in order to get a close up.

Do you want a different focal length, or more range...wider or longer?

Longer is definitely more important to me than wider.

Do you want to be able to get sharper shots (less blur) in low light, without using flash?

The low light stuff is mostly for work and ends up on the web so I'm not so worried about this. My personal pics are mostly taken in decent light so it isn't as much of a deal. It'd be nice to have a lens that performed better in low light but I feel like that should be pretty low down on my list (if that makes any sense).

Do you simply want better quality...sharper more colorful shots?

These seem like the same thing to me but you separated them out so they must be different. I guess if I had to sum up what I'm looking for I'd say it was more versatility. Right now it seems like I'm fighting with my lens more than I'd like. At tradeshows I'm running from a well lit display to a dimmed demo room and everything in between. It'd be great if I could snap a closeup shot of something without having to elbow my way up to within a couple of feet of it.

Maybe I should have started a thread entitled "If you had to have one lens and zoom was very important to you, which would it be?" Thanks all for your patience.
 

photogincollege

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well the nice thing about the tamron mentioned is its got a good zoom, its 2.8 so its gonna be good in low light, and its really sharp. It is made out of plastic im pretty sure so is build quality is super important then it might not be the best, but for 500 bucks you cant go wrong.
 
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mrnomas

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well the nice thing about the tamron mentioned is its got a good zoom, its 2.8 so its gonna be good in low light, and its really sharp. It is made out of plastic im pretty sure so is build quality is super important then it might not be the best, but for 500 bucks you cant go wrong.

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into that one.
 

DSLR noob

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well the nice thing about the tamron mentioned is its got a good zoom, its 2.8 so its gonna be good in low light, and its really sharp. It is made out of plastic im pretty sure so is build quality is super important then it might not be the best, but for 500 bucks you cant go wrong.

or if you want quality over the 2.8 aperture getthe Canon 70-200 F/4 L. What the Tamron lacks in build, the Canon has, the Canon is also L glass so it is super sharp, however your max aperture falls to f/4(constant through the range so it's still better aperture fully zoomed in than your kit lens except it zooms in 4 times as far).
 

photogincollege

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hmm now that i look at it the tamron might be 3.5-5.6, and actually i didnt realize the 70-200 f4 l was that cheap, thats a great price for an L lens, that would probably be your best bet.
 
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mrnomas

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or if you want quality over the 2.8 aperture getthe Canon 70-200 F/4 L. What the Tamron lacks in build, the Canon has, the Canon is also L glass so it is super sharp, however your max aperture falls to f/4(constant through the range so it's still better aperture fully zoomed in than your kit lens except it zooms in 4 times as far).

Is this the one you're referring to or this one? Am I right to think that they are basically the same except the second lens has image stabilization? It doesn't seem like that should be important to me for most of the work I do. Am I way off base here?
 

photogincollege

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well if you have the extra cash the IS is nice especially because that lens is going to be decently heavy, and because your going to be shooting in some low light the is would help with handholding slower shutter speeds, do you have a good tripod or monopod or will you be doing all handheld shooting? And yes your right they are the same lens except for the is.
 
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mrnomas

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At the tradeshows I do all hand held. At home I use a tripod. You make a good point about the slower shutter speeds. I often have to find something at the shows to prop the camera on so I can get a clear picture of the labels on the gear. I'll have to run it past the boss. Thanks for the suggestions.
 

soylentgreen

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Is this the one you're referring to or this one? Am I right to think that they are basically the same except the second lens has image stabilization? It doesn't seem like that should be important to me for most of the work I do. Am I way off base here?

That really depends on your shooting style. At 200mm you should get great performance without IS. Low-light will be dodgy at f/4. Just me mindful of the shutterspeed. Jack up the ISO if need be. Good news is they do make a 70-200 f/2.8 version. Pricey though, but stellar lenses. can always add a 1.4x Teleconverter to increase range to 280mm. My TC is practically welded to my 70-200 f/2.8 IS. Anything more than 200mm i would advise getting IS especially hand-held shots. There is also the EF 70-300 DO lens that does not get a lot of love if you need more reach. Great lens though. I prefer it over the regular 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS.
 

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well if you have the extra cash the IS is nice especially because that lens is going to be decently heavy, and because your going to be shooting in some low light the is would help with handholding slower shutter speeds, do you have a good tripod or monopod or will you be doing all handheld shooting? And yes your right they are the same lens except for the is.
It's actually not that heavy and it is quite long giving uor more lens to comfortably rest on your hand with the elbow on your chest for stability, but F/4 may require an ISO of 400 or 800 on a cloudy day or near dusk. It's the lens I'm saving for and it is a VERY good choice if your kit is lacking.
 

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