New glass or new camera?


TPF Noob!
Jan 11, 2012
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Bergen County, NJ
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Hey all,

I'm an amateur photographer, for hobby at most, but I'm looking to do more with portraiture. Currently using a Rebel T1i with a Tamron 18-270mm lens.

My problem lies in whether or not to get a new lens or get a new camera of the D varieties. Which is best? 60D, 7D, or 5D. I can't consider the 1D since that is way out of my current price range. I've seen short films that were made using a 5D and was very impressed with the crisp visuals, which could potentially cause me to branch out into the video direction, and would therefore need a camera that provides exceptional recording.

Now for the uninformed, like myself, what's the better option? With cutting out the need for video - is a full camera upgrade necessary or is the proper lens selection and overall improving shooting skills the better way to go? Could a D improve the results of the Tamron lens? are they even compatible?

Flickr: KRÆG°NET's Photostream
If the 18-270 is your only lens, I think you would be better off buying lenses first.
Don't buy a photography camera to branch out to video. Don't be like the 'cool kids' please.
The most important question to ask first when choosing new gear is "What does my current gear not do for me". You need to identify what it is that you want from your gear, what kind of situations and shots you want to take and then see how your gear isn't measuring up to your intentions.

Furthermore my typical advise for new gear is to break it into 3 sections (very rough):

Lenses are your key first stage to consider; they not only control how you see the world through the camera, but also directly affect the quality of the light that you have to work with. If you want macro shots you'll need a setup that lets you take them - if you want wide angle you'll need wide angle; if you want a big jump in image quality you'll need good glass first to get that good light.

Then we have lighting, from simple things like reflectors all the way to complex multi strobe affairs. In some fields lighting is the most important aspect (eg studio or product photography) and will trump even good glass for ensuring that you get good results.

Finally we have bodies; the recording block of the light. Clearly not unimportant, but generally considered to be one the latter areas to sink your money into after the first two. Often a new body is aimed at for improved ISO and AF features as well as build quality and other nifty additions.
Note that this advise changes should you be wanting to shoot with a different film/sensor size - if you want 35mm you need a fullframe/35mm body; if you want to shoot medium format you need the medium format body. When the formate change comes up you need to get the body much earlier so that you can then build your working practice and lens setup around that angle of view.

From what you say of your setup I would strongly suggest looking to expand your lens selection to some quality options. The 18-270mm is a superzoom lens and as such makes big drops in optical quality to remain light, cheap and with a long zoom range.
From then on I'd say lighting, you've portraits and food shots in your flickr which would suggest that adding good lighting and lighting control would be a very important move for you.

In the end you've got to make the choice yourself - put your criteria on the table - what you want from the new gear and then you can start to make some choices and get more direct feedback.
Upgrade your glass first. High end cameras will out-resolve cheap glass. You will also see an immediate bump in color, contrast, sharpness and most likeley AF speed and accuracy if you upgrade to top of the line glass. Also your 18-270 lens isn't going to be great because it is trying to be too much ( cover too wide of a range of zoom ). If you bought used lenses, you could probably sell your 18-270 and pick up a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens and Canon 70-200 f/4L lens for around $1000 total. This would cover about the same range and give you much better image quality with your T1i. Nothing will fix poor technique though, so work on that more than anything. Composition and subject matter are not affected by lens and camera choice.
Absolutely get a new lens-if you are looking to spend somewhere around $1,000 you will get way more mileage out of a great lens or 2 than you would out of a new camera. That Tamron 18-270 is a pretty lousy lens, so getting good fast glass will make your Rebel seem almost like a new camera. Plus, good lenses will continue to be useful when you do upgrade your camera.
The 17-50 and 70-200 combo sounds like a good suggestion, or you could get the Canon 17-40 f4 and 70-200 f4 for about $1,600 used, and sell the 18-270. Another great option for you would be the 28mm f1.8, for about $500, or the 28mm f2.8 for about $300 both good fast standard lenses, about a 42mm FOV on your camera.
Tamron 18-270......

suggestion: its gotta' go....
I'll just repeat what's already been said...get better glass.

One suggestion..go with EF series lenses (red dot) rather than EF-S lenses (white dot) if you have any thoughts of one day moving to a xD body one day. I recently bit the bullet and went from EF-S lenses to L's, it was a giant step but well worth it!
Agree with others. I will always spend money on glass before chasing the latest greatest multi-giga-pixel body. High quality professional level lenses make a difference in terms of sharpness, resolution, saturation and contrast.

Best regards,


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