Picking a first lens


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Jan 22, 2012
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I appreciate anyone who takes the time to skim this long text and give their opinion, Thanks!

Im new here and fairly new to photography too. Im somewhat young (16) and have started competing in some photo events for my high school and got a bit into it! I have a canon 600d (t3i) and the standard kit lens. I have pieced together a portofolio and have taken an array of lovely pictures, however I desire to broaden my horizons and the different things i can do with photogrpahy. I have decided to get my first (real) lens! I want something a little more quality and a couple more options. Working on a 600d i have a APS-C crop sensor so i have been taking that into consideration. I have done a few weeks of research and earning money. I want a lens with a larger zoom range, but not with terrible quality. I also wanted a bit more of a quality image lens, so i decided i want to spend a decent amount of money on it but i also dont want to throw in a fortune(not that i can). So i decided to choose a tamron lens. The two i have narrowed down to are the Tamorn 28mm-75mm f/2.8 and the Tamron 18mm-270mm f/3.5-6.3. I have researched the crap out of both these lenses and i was hoping you guys could help me, a beginner, sum it all up.

I lean twoards the 28-75 because Ive learned the smaller zoom length gives the picture a better quality. Also the smaller appeture is HUGE in my opinion. I really enjoy a nice bokah in the backround. another great thing about the appeture is that its constant through out the entire zoom range so i can use the f/2.8 at 28 all the way to 75 which is very appealing. Esspecially because i also enjoy filming. Ive also heard its a faster lens, which i really desire. I really want a fast lens. I heard it has very little, if any, chromatic abberation and vinnietting. Ive also picked up it works better on crop sensors than full frame(although not made for it). And lastly its about $100 cheaper. Only problem is that i think that the zoom length is just not enough. I want to be able to get really close to my subjects. At lesat 140mm or so. but 75mm is just way too short

On the other hand i love the 18-270. The zoom range is so much better and offers so much more that that feature in itself makes me crave it. the sample picture ive seen of upclose wildlife(my favorite to photograph) among other asspects of photography make me go crazy! The bad thing about it is that is a bit more expensive, I heard it has small chromatic abberation and vinnieting, though only at the extremes of the zoom(18 and 270), and the appeture is larger. The thing about the 270 is that it is made specifically for crop sensor camera and everywhere i look i only get positive feedback. They say its a great "all in one" lens that you wont have to take off your camera. I both like that statement and dislike it. I like it because i wont be able to afford a million lenses and ill probably only have a zoom lens and a prime lens, for portraits(canon 50mm 1.4 or something). I dislike it because there is no such thing as the perfect lens. And therefore the image quality wont be as good. However you can fix that in photo shop.

Anyways i really do apologize for the long paragraphs, I am just really at a loss for this lens! And i do take it as a large ordeal because i probably wont be getting another for a while or who knows. Anyways thanks for any feedback!

Forget about the 18-270 its a dog... especially the tamron version hell even the nikon version isnt that great (probably same for canon) also its tough but forget about the 24-70 too. get something in the range of 18-55 f2.8 for your crop sensor. here is why:
on a crop sensor 50-70mm is a VERY VERY VERY minute diffrence BUT 18-24 is HUGE. you will seriously miss the wide end. for the 18-270, i am pretty sure the tele end f point is around 6.3 ( i might be wrong) but anything past 5.6 the camera has a hard time focusing in anything but bright outdoors, so lets take into consideration that this lens sucks at the tele end and the fact that ur camera will have a hard time autofocusing at that end... result is a blurry image.

If i were you, i would save as much money as possible and while waiting i would get a 50 1.8 and keep on with the 18-55 kit lens. Those 2 are all you will need for the majority of your stuff. Also get a flash, not sure if the 600d has wireless capability but if it does get something that does as well and work with off camera flash, it will take you MUCH further than a 24-70 2.8 it will also teach you more.

If i had the choice between the 24-70 and a 50 1.4 or even a 1.8 i would take the 50 every time. The choice would be a bit tougher if it was a 17-55 2.8 vs 50 1.8.

I know saving money is tough and those are some expensive lenses, i am 23 and i have a hard time spending money on new gear. Its good for you to take your hobby up at a younger age, you will definitely learn more as you get older.

Like i said forget about the 18-270 for sure, you will benefit sooo much more from the 50 1.8, you mentioned you shoot in a highschool and that lens is great for indoors and will give you better background separation than both of those lenses, is cheaper, and will teach you a whole lot more.

if you have the money get a 50 1.8 and a used mid level flash with wireless capability.
The choice would be a bit tougher if it was a 17-55 2.8 vs 50 1.8.

The thing i dont like about the 17-55 is that its almost the exact same zoom as the kit, and ive found shooting outdoors and almost all of my subjects that its just not enough. I have a difficult time getting the close enough distance to my subject that i want and even when adjusting in the environment it just ends up being so difficult. The thing i do admire is the lovely constant 2.8 and I have heard that its definatly ones of the sharpest lenses for any version weather it be tamron or canon or nikon ect. Also it seems to be the standard for most advanced ametures and a array of professionals.

Thank you for the imput though it does make me stop and think. One thing I have learned is that, really, most of this is all personal preference that revolves around our own personal shooting and wants in a lens.

if you have the money get a 50 1.8 and a used mid level flash with wireless capability.

Thats really funny because I have heard some amazing things about that lens and that was the lens that i was planning to get after my zoom lens. Everyone says its the greatest must have lens. For any manufacturer. I will get it at some point. The canon 50mm 1.8 is really cheap at $100 but eveyone says its perfect. Though i did want to save up a bit of money in order to get its bigger brother the 1.4 USM for $350.

Anyways thanks!
I have a number of lenses but the two that stay on my camera probably 90% of the time are my 17-70mm Sigma and my 70-300mm Nikon lenses. In fact the 70-300 probably gets more use than all of my other lenses. I shoot a lot of wildlife and motorsports and that lens works quite well for that.

Mine is a f/5.6-6.3 and I disagree with the post that stated the autofocus will hunt in anything but bright daylight. I've had very good luck with this one focusing pretty well in most conditions. Any autofocus lens will hunt from time to time though since it isn't always the light itself causing the problem but lack of contrast in the subject. Also, mine is a Nikon lens and not a Canon so I don't have any experience with the differences between them.
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 is the lens I would suggest; yes, it duplicates the 18-55 FL range pretty closely, but is a better lens, and has a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. 28-75 x 1.6 FOV.... is equal to 44.8 to 120mm angles of view on full-frame...that's a semi-wide to short telephoto, so that means the lens is useless whenever wide angle is needed...however, **if** those angles of view are good for you, then I can understand buying the 28-75 Tamron; it is a "cult classic" 3rd party zoom lens that has high quality at moderate price.

Tamron also made a pretty danged good 24-135mm zoom lens that I have seen much very good work done with. A number of photo friendsof mine had the 24-135 Tamron a few years back, and it is one of the best walkabout type zooms. Really, far better performance from it than one might expect. I am not sure if it is still in their lineup or not.
The 28-75mm tamron is an excellent lens, especially on full frame bodies. On a crop body id opt for the 17-50mm instead.

Definately go for the constant wide aperture lenses over the slower variable aperture ones.
If your in need of a lense with alot of reach go for a 70-200 2.8. Its a great portrait lense because it gives you some distance between you and your
subject. I like shooting portraits with some foreground and background in the mix. I shoot using Nikon and im sure that Canon puts out a very similar
lense. You said you were ok spending some money, so I would definetly go with first party lenses. Their simply BETTER. Zoom lenses aren't as good
as primes as far as sharpness because there more moving parts and its hard enough making a lense with no distortion, chromatic aberation and so on.
Sure you'll spend a good penny for one ($1500-$2100) but with lenses you trully get what you pay for.
i dont see a 16yr old saving up 1500-2100 so easy... maybe get a sigma 70-200 2.8? u can find them used or about $600 all day long.

Like i said before and others have said, a 17-55 2.8 would be great but i am not sure which one to recommend for canon.

My first kit was simply a 35 1.8, 18-55kit and 55-200 kit that was it and it was really great. I would get what ever the equivalent is for canon 55-200, if you don't have enough reach.

also i still advise against the 6.3f aperture, especially for something like a 55-200. For Nikon you can pick up a used 55-200 with image stabilization for $120. i hope its the same for canon. Unless you are buying a pro lens like a constant aperture 2.8 zoom or 1.4 prime maybe a macro, i would not opt for off brand lens. the nikon 18-55 and 55-200 are pretty tack sharp, if its the same for canon forget other offerings and get a canon 55-200. If its only about a hundred or so get yourself a 50 1.8 as well lol. Everyone needs at least 1 super sharp prime.

I did some research found you the perfect lens options, they are used from keh, and I can easily recommend their bgn grade.
along with

17-50 2.8 tamron, iam looking for something similar for nikon but nothing available used

both come out to the same price.

Dont be afraid to buy used, keh is GREAT for used lenses, i even buy my new lenses from them. They also have a 30day return policy and will pay for the shipping back to them if your are unsatisfied.
Word of advice, listen to these guys. I didn't join this forum immediately after getting into photography and made several crappy purchases when it came to lenses. Get the 2.8 zoom or just don't bother. I bought a 70-300mm VR on sale, great price, decent performer but I was always wishing that it could be stopped down further. I wish they would make a 3.5 constant aperture zooms.
One of the lenses you are considering is the 18-270. Huge zoom range, probably not a great performer but will give you 18-270 which covers it all. My suggestion of the 55-250 lens is like the sister lens to your 18-55 kit lens. It has similar speed and will match it well. With these 2 lenses you will have 18-250 and everything in between. Buying a faster lens that covers the range of your kit lens doesn't make a lot of sense to me. It isn't like in the old days when I started and we shot kodachrome 25. That's ISO 25!!! You can shoot with ease today at 800-1600 so lens speed isn't as big of a deal, at least not to me.
Here's how I would decide:

1) Can you take all the pix you need/want to take with the zoom range of your kit lens? It sounds like not. So if you buy that nice f/2.8 zoom that has the same range as your kit lens, you'll still be missing those shots that call for telephoto.

2) The other one duplicates not only your kit lens, but also a telephoto zoom. The super-nice thing about it is that you will ALWAYS have the right lens on your camera for the situation at hand. However, your optical quality will go down a bit, at all magnifications.

so here's option 3, which gives you the most versatility for your money:

3) Get a telephoto zoom lens, just the basic one that is like a 80-200mm in 35 mm. This will extend your reach. Suddenly, you can shoot school sports. You can shoot candids from long distances and your subjects will not even know it, oftentimes. You can do basic wildlife with it, when you're not shooting at school. You can zoom in to single out details on far away things. Then, you should still have enough money left to get a decent flash. Get one that puts the flash element at least 3" away from the lens, and hopefully, one with bounce. This will improve your indoor photos DRAMATICALLY, compared to the built-in flash, and it will work with both lenses. Not only that, but it will dramatically extend the battery life of your camera, since the flash will be using its own batts. You will spend less time editing out red-eye, and the lighting for indoor flash pix will be a bit more flattering. (massively more flattering if you have a bounce flash and a white ceiling to work with)

The 50mm f/1.8 is not something you'll have to save up for quite as long. It is more of a specialty lens. It will be a portrait lens; a short telephoto. Same focal length as your kit lens, but faster. As cool as it is to have one, it doesn't extend your abilities as much as a telephoto zoom or a proper flash.
Thanks alot for the help guys. Its really made me think.

I guess with my thought process i was really just looking for a lens i could just leave on my body. Im going to be making a trip up to orgeon and washington from my california home (both frantic with wildlife and pastoral scenes) and I guess i kinda just had that aspect of shooting in mind. Being able to go out and get everything from a great landscape to an up close shot! And tats where the 18 270 came in. But now i realize the lower quality really wont be worth the price. Alot of you guys have recommended to 17 55 which ive taken more consideration. The thing is though that a few people brought up is that it is the same length as my kit lens, and the reason im look for another lens is the broden my perspective. The 18 55 isnt enough to shoot what i want to shoot. Therefore, while being a great lens with lots of praise, it really isnt the logical choice, especially for my budget ($500 or so. but i could save a little more or whatever).

The thing that was brought up that gave me a little ah-a moment was the idea of getting a telephoto zoom which is really the most logical choice. I will look into that. And then also see about the cheap super sharp prime, 50mm 1.8. The only thing about 55-250 is that it doesnt cover the wide angle, but the thing is that subjects that i will be shooting at a wide angle wont be moving or an imediate picture and therefore, changing lenses wont be a big problem.

So in the end ill probably look at a telephoto zoom and a prime lens
The thing I am worried about on the 55-250 is that because its a cheaper end lens that it wont be as good a quality lens. It does have vibration reduction but it doesnt have USM. I just have this mentality that If im buying a lens i want it to be worth the while because i wont be getting one for a while. And i feel like it needs a ultra sonic motor and IS or VB or some type of stablization. Or maybe thats just something i should get over
The vacation, all-in-one, wide focal range lens such as the one you mentioned are good for what they gear for. Convenience and space saving. Like you and your family go to Disneyland or Six flags theme parks during the day, carry 2 bodies, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lenses, flashes tripod is not a good option. I'd rather take a all in one lens with one fast prime (50mm or 85mm)

If I want to travel light, I just pack one body, one tamron 17-50mm, one prime (i.e. 50mm, 85mm or 100mm) and one flash. But of course, you should have your own preference and that could be different from me and other forum members. If I were you, I will first determine what focal length or range I really need most of the time. I have lens with focal length as wide as 14mm and go all the way to 300mm. However, most of my photos were taken between 17mm to 85mm. (100mm when I shoot macro stuff). By the way, I am using a cropped sensor body.

So, If I do not have a single lens and need to buy 2 lenses with a budget of $500, I will go after a used Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (around $300 - $350 used) and a 50mm f/1.8 prime (around $100 new or $80 used).

That will cover most of my shooting (again, your mileage may vary) need. And the next one will be a 70-200mm f/4 lens (used around $450 - $500) that cover the telephoto range.

You mentioned want to be able to get close to the subject, how often you need to do so? If it happened all the time, you need to start looking into a telephoto lens.

For telephoto zoom, there are

Canon EF-S 55-250mm
Canon EF 70-300mm IS
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4
Tamron 70-300mm VC

And of course the more expensive
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 (non IS or the 2 IS lenses)

For budget telephoto zoom, the 70-200mm f/4L and the Tamron 70-300mm VC got my vote.

Take a look at the lens reviews at technical review sites such as photozone.de and slrgear.com

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