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Looking for lens advice

Wide angle or telephoto based on above thread?

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TPF Noob!
Jan 4, 2016
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I was given a canon DSLR camera with an 18-55 kit lens for Christmas and I'm looking for a new lens to test the waters of photography and really try out my new camera. I'm torn between a telephoto zoom and a wide angle lens, and am looking to spend under $500.00. I live in a rural sub arctic climate with beautiful frozen tundras, an abundance of wildlife, gleaming northern lights and some of the brightest stars you'll ever see. My experience with photography is about a week old, all of my current knowledge on the topic is from Google and YouTube, I'd appreciate any advice on equipment and lenses.
It really depends upon what you want to do.
You mention wildlife and northern lights. Two images that normally use different types of lenses. So there is no one answer for you unless you get a "do all" lens which are not as high quality as more specialized lenses.

You already have an 18-55, 18 being considered Wide Angle. So maybe something more Telephoto for you to play with ?
I would not buy any lens until you have mastered your 18-55 :)
A 55-250 STM can be had for under $200. That would give you some reach for the animals. It's a sharp telephoto for little money. Just make sure it's the STM.
Thanks for the advice, I'm leaning towards the telephoto. Here are some of the pictures from my Facebook which I've taken this year so you can get an idea of my interests, note that most of these were taken with my iPhone so quality is pretty poor.
I would not buy any lens until you have mastered your 18-55 :)
I understand the sentiment, but I also believe that the "perfect can be the enemy of the good". For example, how does one define "mastery of the 18-55"? Many lovely shots may be missed in that time frame.

I would say the OP needs both lenses eventually. If you want to shoot more wildlife, get the tele; if you want to shoot landscape and astronomy, go wide.

Having said that, you DO need to master the basics, if you haven't yet. Don't disagree with that sentiment at all.
Yeah that's what I meant - master the camera with the 18-55.

Who knows what style this OP will like - whether the prefer sweeping landscapes, macro shots, or zoomed shots of fitties on the beach.

It does look from the sample images that besides the fox face, they'd prefer a wide angle.
I would tend to agree with Jamie (BrightByNature). Just continue to use the 18-55 and really get to know it and how to use it. During that time continue to save money to put with the $500. There will come a point where you will just know that you need another lens to do what you want to do. At this time, I would suggest going with some really good glass (Most of which costs $1,000+).

But if you are dead set on getting another lens, I would suggest the 50mm f/1.8. These are cheap (about $100) and are really good lenses to learn with. Most of them will produce sharp images and will require you to think about composition and how to fill the frame by walking closer or further away.

Enjoy the process.
First, since you appear to like shooting wildlife, a 200mm zoom is going to be the entry level for that (and most will be shooting 400mm or higher, especially for birds).

Second, I actually think you should invest your money in three other things BEFORE you buy another lens. Get yourself a good tripod. That will allow you to shoot effective sunsets and sunrises with low light. You can also use it to shoot in low light when shooting something static (like a building or interior) when you don't have fast glass. Get yourself a circular polarizer that fits your kit lens (which is fine for shooting sunrises and sunsets and landscapes). It will reduce reflection/glare and give your sky more pop/blue. Third, think about a graduated neutral density filter (ideal for shooting sunrises and sunsets). You can buy all 3 items for probably $300 USD, maybe $250 (assuming new, not used, and assuming you don't buy a cheap-a** tripod or plastic filters that are a waste of your money). You'll find those things to be invaluable when shooting landscapes, scenery, buildings, and urban settings.
I would also suggest the 50mm 1.8 STM or if you want local focal lengths the 55-250 STM refurbished
I'm going to agree with mastering the lens you have first. And by master, what I mean, is put it to the test, learn how to adjust it, how to take good pictures with it, learn it's shortcomings and it's strengths.

I got a camera with 1 lens to start. I learned how to adjust the settings, playing with one at a time to really understand what change I was making. I tried it in different settings, bright sunshine, low light, etc. As I went along, I first realized I needed a decent flash and some filters for specific situations. I bought a speedlight, a ND filter and a circular polarizing filter. I knew I was ready for a new lens when I figured out what I was struggling with with the lens I had.

I took me about 6 months of playing with it daily, then learning the flash, to figure out where my gaps were. For me, it was low light indoor situations with my kids. So I went with a 50mm next. My next lens ended up being an 85 mm just because I loved the 50mm so much and I was blessed to have a MIL who was gifting me the 70-200 telephoto lens. Your needs will probably be different than mine. But working with what you have first, will help you know what you're missing. Once you know what is frustrating you about the lens you have, it's shortcomings, then you come back here and ask a different question about what lens will fill the gap you've discovered you have.

Just my 2 cents as a fellow newbie. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with new lens and not know when or how to use all your lens well. I'm up to 5 lens now and while there are a couple I'd like to have for fun, I can do everything I do now with these lenses. Every time I get a new lens, I use it exclusively for a while until I learn it- the settings, the focus, the shortcomings, the awesomeness it produces - varies with each lens. I am getting so much better at knowing what lens to put in my day bag. Often I only carry 1 because I know what I'm going to be doing. For a weekend trip I'll sometimes take 2.

As you get out and use your equipment, you'll figure out what works. I just got a new camera bag based on what was and wasn't working for me in the field. Those are the types of things that just come with practice.

Congrats on your new camera.
I will add in something a little different to all the good advice so far. Since you shoot Canon you have the option of adapting some old film lenses to your camera. With the purchase of a simple Contax/Yashica to Canon EOS adapter you can mount up old Contax Ziess or Yashica ML lenses to your body at a fraction of the price of their modern equivalents. Try KEH.com, they have a good selection of old film lenses as well as used EF lenses for your camera. Great return policy as well.

You can also adapt old Nikon and M42 screwmount lenses to your Canon with different adapters. These lenses work great for landscapes, portraits and macro since you don't need auto focus for those types of shots. Simply mount the lens and put your camera in aperture priority or full manual and you are ready to go. Please view my a7 folder below for some example of old lenses on a digital camera. Its all I shoot with actually.

I never learned too much on my kit lens.

Honestly it was a good lens for me at the time quality wise; it could do stuff but what it could do was not what I wanted it to do. I learned and found the drive to learn far more when i got my 70-300mm.

Gear is a funny thing; you can master a lot with what you've got, but at the same time there has to be room to grow otherwise it stifles and that room to grow has to be in the direction you want. If you want more telephoto shots and you've not got a telephoto then all your kit lens will produce will annoy you even when it works right.

That aside you show interest in both telephoto and wide angle - landscapes and wildlife. Two opposing ends of the spectrum lens wise (typically - you can find tame foxes that come close just like you can find landscapes with a long telephoto).
Considering your budget you've more chance of getting a good wide angle lens than a good telephoto - telephoto gets expensive very quickly. That would suggest that a good wide angle might be your better option - however at the same time correctly used, your kit lens already does a decent wide angle and should do it pretty darn well these days (esp as zooms are strongest at their shorter focal lengths and when one factors in that landscapes are often taken at smaller, sharper apertures).

A 200mm lens - eh - it "can" do wildlife but you've got to be good - darn good at getting close. Most of the time something like a good 70-200mm is a nice catch all lens in that it will do landscapes and natural studies (and most forms of photography) however wildlife generally starts at 300mm and quickly you will find a benefit with longer lenses.

A lot depends on how fixed that $500 is. If you can save for longer and get a meaningful increase in a good time frame I'd say save - if its all you've got for ages and ages I'd say get something good like a 70-300mm.
My advice is to give it some time, that way you can develop your skill and knowledge with photography before investing in it too much. Get the hang of photography by using your kit lens, and if you're still into it a few months down the road, then look into a new lens. You'd be surprised at what you can capture with the most basic camera and lens. It's the light and the knowledge of using a camera that equate to good image making; learn what it takes to make a good image, and then take the next step.

Something affordable that will be a good investment for you though would be a tripod, especially if you're shooting landscapes and the Northern Lights.
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You already HAVE a wide-angle option in the 18-55 zoom, so I vote for a telephoto zoom. Telephoto use is fairly easy to learn, much more so that wide-angle work is. So...I vote for the longer lens first.

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