Buying a new lens for my DSLR camera

So I have successfully negotiated the purchase of a new lens for my DSLR camera (a Canon Rebel XT). Right now I have the following lenses:

-The stock 18-55mm EFS lens that came with the kit
-A 50mm prime
-A 28-105mm lens (my “everyday” lens)

So I want to go to one extreme end of the spectrum with either a macro or a telephoto zoom. And I’m leaning towards the telephoto, since I do a lot of portraits of my daughter and for other subjects I often want to zoom in more than my 28-105mm lets me. The macro would open up a lot of creative opportunities, but I think I’ll get more use out of a zoom.

So I’m thinking of this one. 300mm is plenty enough zoom for me (I’m not going on many safaris) and the image stabelizer is really attractive. I really want an IS lens. The things I’m worried about is slow focus speed and the general slowness of the lens at f/4-5.6. But I don’t think I can have it all without getting really expensive.

I know there are some shutterbugs here on QT3. Any of you want to hazzard some advice?

I use a 70-300mm nikon lens f4/5.6 along with my 28-105mm lens whenever I take out my camera for walks.

It’s a good versatile lens if you’re not doing anything too professional with it. The downside as you say, is the slow shutter speed and focusing. I tried taking pictures of moving animals with it once and it failed miserably. (Though that could also be due to the lack of skill on my part.) It is however value for money as you’ll end up using it for a variety of things that your 105mm just can’t seem to reach.

I don’t know about the canon brand of lens though, since all my stuff is Nikon for now.

If you shoot handheld, then the IS will come in handy on the 70-300. Like all zooms, it suffers from a lot of flare if sunlight hits the lens directly, so use the hood, and if that’s not sufficient, shield it with a hat or somethign.

There are some decent third-party lenses in that range, like the Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG MACRO, which has a convenient macro function (although limited, it only has a 1:2 reproduction ratio) and is much much cheaper (you can get it for ~$200) than Canon glass.

If you must have image stabilization, though, your options are pretty limited, and the lens you’ve mentioned is probably your best bet. Keep in mind that IS doesn’t help you much with moving subjects like your daughter.

You are right that if you want a quick-focusing telephoto zoom faster than f/4, your wallet will get very light very quickly. (And you will need to work out more, because those lenses are HEAVY.) If you need that kind of speed, you might try browsing around in the used market. I can recommend as a good place to start, if only for pricing purposes, although I don’t have any specific recommendations as to lenses because I’m a Nikon guy too.

We have a Nikon D70 for documenting stuff at work and I snagged it a lot for lets say “practice” and training for my work ;) I am using the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18–70mm/3.5–4.5G IF ED that came with the kit and Im pretty happy with it. 18-70mm equates to 27-105mm standard, which is sufficient for almost everything.

If I was you, for portraits and stuff I would basically use a 70-90mm (or a 85mm fixed) with low aperture for a nice “less depth of sharpness” effect at aperture <f2.8 (sorry, my english leaves me without the correct term here, I fear).

The IS will mostly help you on long range shots, but the high aperture will stick you to higher ISO sensitivity levels, which could also add more noise in “photos at dawn” scenarios. Funny that the Canon is the most sold camera out there and here are mostly nikon users.

PS: also check if your filters are matching the front lens adapter!

I have the Rebel XT and the 70-300mm IS lens, and it is awesome. IS makes all the difference. It’s like a third hand steadying the lens when you’re zoomed in on a distant object.

There are 70-200mm L lenses in the same price range. L is professional glass, the best you can get. Though the 70-300 IS is often called the “Hidden L Lens” because it’s almost as good.

Yeah, I read some more reviews elsewhere and some comments on the forums. For a bit I seriously considered the 70-200mm L series lens, but decided that I was more in love with the idea of having a bitch-ass, awesometastic, white L-series lens more than I was with the idea of getting something that would suit my needs and allow me to expand my photography repertoire. I’m thinking that the IS will also result in a larger number of “keeper” pictures, an advantage which outweighs the bump in quality from the L-series lens.

So I think the plan is to get the 70-300mm now and start saving so that I can upgrade my mid-focal length, everyday lens to an L-series next year.

Thanks for the advice, all! I’ll post some pics once I get it and get a chance to play.

When you upgrade, for the money, everyone seems to like the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, but then if you’ve been browsing the dpreview forums, you probably already know that. You might also want to check out the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC, Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF], and the announced but not yet available Tokina 16-50/2.8 DX. These will all get you constant 2.8 for cheaper than the constant 4 Canon lens. (They are digital only, however, unlike the Canon lens, which can be used on full frame bodies.)

Lot of choices these days, which is great.

I know this is a weird bump but I couldn’t find the thread that I was looking for and this one touches on what I need. I have the same camera as Jamie and I have,

-The stock 18-55mm EFS lens that came with the kit

but I was looking for a better every day lens. I guess the 18-55 is ok but I know someone recommended something that was a little better. Does anyone have a link for a good every day lens on amazon? I did a search but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I am not a professional by any stretch but I am looking for the best lens to help me learn with.

50mm f/1.8. It’s $120, it’s super-sharp compared to almost any zoom lens, it’s light, it’s fast (in the sense of being usable in low-light, not in the sense of being fast-focusing), and a prime is excellent for learning with, as it will force you to think more and struggle to get the shots you want (which sounds sort of counter-intuitive but learning to work within constraints does help you learn).

If you want a zoom lens that’s vaguely equivalent to that 18-55mm lens, get the 17-40 f/4 L lens. Excellent construction, fast focusing, and much better optical quality than the 18-55 lens. But it’s kinda heavy and not that great for low light (though not worse than the 18-55).

I’d agree with this. It’s so often recommended that it has it’s own pet neme, the “nifty fifty.” On a crop body it works somewhat well for portraiture, you just get up close and can get some nice upper torso and headshots. It’s fast, so great in low light, step it down and it performs great it in image quality. And being a prime it teaches you to move around to get the shot.

The only other recommendation I’d go for is the 35mm equivalent of the nifty fifty, and that would be if you’re planning on doing a lot of shooting around a city. It lets you get more of a building, or a person in and the aperture will allow you to isolate them.

Nifty fifty for people.
35mm prime for street photography.

Thanks! Now I remember the name of that thing the “nifty fifty”. You guys are awesome I think I will eventually pick up both of them but I am going to start with the nifty fifty.

OK cool I ordered this one which is the nifty fifty

But I am not exactly sure I could find the 35mm one that you were talking about did you have a link to that so I can put that on my wish list for later?

Would be an example. It’s a small fraction slower, and it’s about twice the price of the nifty fifty, but thems the breaks when it comes to lenses. The nifty fifty is pretty much the cheapest lens there is to make and thus buy, so any variation from it comes with a big price increase.

I’m not sure the 50mm is a good replacement for the kit lens - great lens to have but not really a walk-around if you do any landscape stuff at all. The 15-85 is really a direct upgrade to the kit lens in terms of IQ and zoom range. Lots more $ than the 50mm, however.

Probably this.

That’s really expensive. B&H (the most famous and one of the best camera shops in the world) do it for $120 less.

I think the 50mm is great if you’re going to do any low light shooting. I was at the general election count centre a few weeks ago and would have loved to have had one. It’s the best bang for buck you can get and is great as a lens to learn with, purely for composition and movement, but that’s the same with any prime.

The 35mm I’d really only look at if you found you used roughly that focal length a lot. While its image quality and speed in relation to the cost is a great bonus, it doesn’t compare to the nifty fifty. The fifty is so cheap that you really can’t go wrong with it, because you will find yourself using it.

If you get to the point that you realise you have a need for a particular lens with great image quality and speed, you’ve probably gone past the immediate learning stage and will know what particular lens you want. Then you’re buying for a purpose rather than buying a tool to facilitate an improved control with the camera.

The only reason I recommended the 35mm was in direct comparison to the 50mm. The 50mm is the right tool should you be taking a lot of shots of people, so as a family lens. The 35mm is better if you’re using your camera like a tourist, walking around cities. If someone knows they’re going to be taking a lot of landscapes, that they’re going to be taking shots a freelance city journalist would take, or if they’re doing wildlife or sports, they won’t be asking for a learning lens, but for a particular variant of a subset of lenses to get the job done.

Well, on a small frame camera like the Rebel XT, the focal lengths are multiplied because they can only use a portion of the entire lens image. For the XT you multiply by 1.6, so a 35mm is the “normal” lens, not 50mm (35mmx1.4=56mm). The 50mm/1.8 lens becomes a 80mm/1.8, much closer to a portrait lens than a normal lens.

For a tourist lens, most folks traditionally prefer wide-angles in the 20mm to 35mm range. You need a wide angle lens so that you can take pictures of people and still see where they are. For an XT, this means you want a focal length of 20mm or wider (20mmx1.6=32mm).

That’s why I said the 50mm for taking pictures of people (and low light stuff, which for me would mean concert photography and any event indoors.) And the 35mm for street photography, which would be the equivalent of the 50mm most street aficionados with Leica’s would demand. Which would give you a decent head to toe shot from a reasonable distance with some background, which is what I would deem touristy.

If you’re talking about sweeping architectural shots you’re getting into a specific type of shot that I don’t think needs to be catered for unless the person has a particular demand for it. At that point someone will say I need something for X. And if you’re talking about getting a shot with your kids at the front and the Sagrada Familia or Notre Dame entirely in frame I’d say you’re going outside the realm of hobby photography and tourist photography and into holiday snapshots.

For touristy stuff I generally wouldn’t recommend a prime anyway, it’s not versatile enough and to get the image quality and speed of the 35 or 50 you’re talking serious bucks. So I would say just stick with the kit lens unless you definitively want better image quality.

But I do get what you’re saying. The 24mm on a crop would be what most people associate with a non-zoomed or wide-angle photo.

For a nice, casual user walking around lens, I like Canon’s higher end kit lens, the EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM.

Because it is a kit-packed, you can usually find it used (basically new) for around 200+. Definitely not upper-end, but a great value in a walk-around for a casual user.