Which lens should I buy?


TPF Noob!
Apr 10, 2006
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I'm in the market for a 30D and want to buy a real good lens for it. What's a good and fast lens to buy if I'm going to use just 1 lens and learning photography. I'm not a beginner but I still need to learn a lot.

Will buy more lenses as I need but for now I want to do with one good one to learn on.

50mm f1.8 or 50mm f1.4 standard lens. A really fast lens would be the 85mm f1.2. There are "L" zooms which are very sharp, but none are this fast.

In my opinon, master the 50mm f1.8 first (cos it's so cheap), then get a good zoom. If you want to do a lot of manual focussing, get the 1.4, as the manual focus ring on the 1.8 is so crappy it's useless.

Rob said:
There are "L" zooms which are very sharp, but none are this fast.

Both my main lenses are "L" and they're great. I'd say around 75-80% of my photography was done with the Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L USM.

Lovely piece of kit but expensive - expect to pay close to £1000 for it.
I second the advice on the 50mm f1.8. A 50mm "normal" prime is the typical lens recommended to beginning photography students. Its relatively fast; lowlight situations. Its a prime lens that will have better image quality than zooms several times the its cost. Its light and compact; you are more likely to carry it around with you. Its easy to learn. Its CHEAP; no reason not to have it. Many years ago, it taught me how focal lengths do much more to the composition then just bring things closer. It broke the bad behavior of just planting my feet and zooming. It teaches you to move around and experiment.

You did not specify your budget but here in the US, the 50mm f1.8 will cost between $60-$100. If you are fortunate, it will leave you enough in the bank to choose a good zoom as well. I shoot primarily with primes but I make well use of two zooms; 24-105 f4L and my Tamron 35-105 f2.8. My cousin loves his 28-135mm IS lens at less than have the cost of an L.
The kit lens that usually comes with the 20D/30D is the EF-S 18-55. It's cheap and not all that sharp...however it will give you a fairly wide field of view for around $100. If you want to step up to a better 'kit lens'...the EF-S 18-85 IS, is a much better lens. It is built better, has more reach and of course Image Stabilization, which gives you a few extra stops of hand hold-ability. There is even a new EF-S 18-55 F2.8 I haven't heard much about it...except that it's very expensive.

Canon EF-S lenses (as compared to Canon EF) are made to only work on certain Digital SLR models. They are made to just cover the sensor, which is smaller than 35mm film. This makes is easier to get a wide view on cameras like the 30D...because you have to apply the 1.6 crop factor if you are used to a 35mm film SLR. The problem, is that these lenses will only work on a select few camera (20D, 30D, 300D & 350D)...therefore, their value is not as great as a regular EF lens that can be used on Digital, film and full frame digital.

As for what lens you should get...that depends on what you like to shoot. I'm with the others on the 50mm F1.8. It's so cheap, every EOS owner should have one. It's also fast and very sharp.

If money is not an issue, then look for an L zoom or possibly a few prime lenses. As mentioned, the 24-70 F2.8 L is said to be one of the best lenses in the normal range of focal lengths...but it's very expensive.

Maybe just get a kit lens and a 50mm F1.8 and then after shooting for a while, you will have a better idea as to what you should get next.
All good advice here so far... if you are going to start with just one lens i would also say the 50mm 1.8, of course the kit lens will give you something to compare it too so you can see the difference, and it's not that expensive. I just got my 50mm and I really like it. I would miss out on the wide angles though. I got the 17-85 mike is talking about with my 20D. I like the range but i think you might want to listen to these guys, and get the 50mm and then an "L" lens once you get a feel for everything and decide what you would most like to have in your bag...
i'm with doc, but i think the 28 would be a waste as the cropped focal length wouldnt be anything that special when you already have a 50mm.

If i had to choose two others in that range, I'd say sigma's 30/1.4 or 20/1.8 coupled with an 85/1.8 from canon. That would make a good, sharp, fast entry. It would cost a bit more (I think the 30/1.4 and 20/1.8 are 400 USD or so each, and the 85/1.8 is 300-350 USD.), but it would be well worth it to have a slightly more extended range since you'd only be using primes.

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