Lens selection survey

Fellow photographers: if you had the following collection of SLR bodies and lenses, which piece of glass would you aspire to next?

Bodies:

  • Canon Rebel G film SLR
  • Canon Elan 7N film SLR
  • Canon Rebel XS digital SLR

In practice, I expect to be using the Rebel XS far more than the film bodies, from this point on.

Lenses:

  • Canon 50mm f/1.8
  • Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM II
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Ideally, it should be useful for both full-frame and 1.6x factor, APS-C sized cameras. The APS-C equivalent focal lengths for those lenses are 80mm, 44.8-168mm, and 28.8-88mm. In general, I prefer the wide-angle look to the telephoto look, though I would be interested in anything that significantly expands the potential or usefulness of the SLRs above.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

119 thoughts on “Lens selection survey”

  1. My advice is to forget about new gear for a while.

    Instead, try shooting some subjects you normally wouldn’t.

  2. R.K.,

    That does make sense. In the end, gear is just the means for making photos. It may also make sense to try renting some exotic gear: long professional telephoto lenses, fish-eye lenses, macro lenses, tilt-shift lenses, etc.

    Taking a tilt-shift lens to Toronto or New York could be quite interesting.

    Tristan,

    I wonder how that compares with Canon’s EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5 – 4.5 USM.

    The Tokina 11mm – 16mm F/2.8 is currently $569.95 on Adorama. The Canon is $660.00.

  3. Rockwell says Canon’s lens is better, however, the Tokina has the advantage of being usable on Film bodies as wide as 15mm.

    The tokina is no dog, also, it’s better than Nikon’s 12-24mm.

  4. The non-EF-S status of the Tokina lens is definitely an advantage. I would be surprised if I didn’t have a full-frame dSLR body twenty years from now.

  5. EF-S lenses can only be used with 1.6x factor, APS-C sized cameras. They cannot be used on film bodies, or on bodies with full-frame sensors.

    I hadn’t previously realized that the sensor in the Digital Rebels has 14.8 times as much area as the sensors in the Powershot A510s and A570s. No wonder the low light performance is so much better. A full frame sensor has almost 35 times as much area.

  6. If you like wide angle, consider the Sigma 30mm f/1.4.

    It can be used as a wide-angle prime on a 35mm camera, or as a normal lens on an APS-C camera.

    They are about $400.

  7. The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM would be a big step up from the kit lens, in terms of image quality. That being said, the $900 price tag is pretty significant. It could also only be used with an APS-C body.

  8. Would the 2.8 zoom really be a big step up in image quality? Can you ever seen the sharpness defects from the lens in your photos?

    My new vote is for the 30mm Sigma prime.

  9. Having taken a closer look at the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM lens, it seems that it is only actually usable with APS-C bodies. “Vignetting will occur if the lens is used with digital cameras with image sensors larger than APS-C size or 35mm SLR cameras.”

    That makes it very significantly less appealing, as a $400 investment. I see APS-C primarily as a stopgap until either I am rich enough to buy a full frame camera at current prices or the prices drop.

  10. I suppose it did seem too good to be true.

    Nikon makes a 28mm prime that sells for about 200$ used but its F2.8, I don’t know what the canon range is like.

  11. I have had my eye on that 28mm prime ever since I got my Rebel G.

    It definitely seems more versatile and better value than the Sigma lens. It may be half a stop slower, but it is compatible with a wider range of bodies.

    Amazon.com has it for $412.85.

  12. I use Nikon so I can’t name specific Canon lenses. In my opinion you’re missing anything on the long end. Something like a 70-300 would complete your kit. That’s pretty much my favourite walking-around lens. (I realize I like telephoto more than you do.)

  13. Once in a while, I do wish I had a good telephoto lens. Just yesterday, I had what would probably have been a really nice shot of a squirrel framed, over in the Gatineau Park. Unfortunately, my kit zoom lens couldn’t begin to fill the frame with the creature, and it scampered off when I walked closer.

  14. Canon EF-S 17-55/2.8 IS USM Review

    Why this instead of the kit zoom?

    Your Canon small-sensor digital SLR probably came with a lightweight plastic zoom lens covering roughly the same range as the EF-S 17-55/2.8 IS. Why spend the money and carry the weight of this lens?

    Second is the brighter viewfinder.

    Third is image quality. The EF-S 17-55 will have higher contrast and better sharpness, especially in the corners, than the kit lens. If all of your photography is on bright high-contrast sunny days, you might not need this lens. If you like to take natural-looking photos indoors or near sunset, the 17-55/2.8 IS is a great investment.

  15. There are actually two Canon 28mm prime lenses:

    • EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
    • EF 28mm f/2.8

    Obviously, the first lens is significantly faster. The f/1.8 is US$409.00 from Amazon.com, while the f/2.8 is just US$180.00.

    That said, I expect the f/1.8 is also a lot better constructed and probably has better optical quality.

  16. You should get the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

    Provided you are willing to drop about $1000 on it.

    If you are really committed to small-sensor digital, get the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM for about the same price.

  17. 24mm on a Rebel isn’t that wide.

    Isn’t the lens you already have F4 at 105mm?

  18. I agree that 24mm isn’t really wide enough on an APS-C body. That being said, I don’t see the logic in spending serious money on lenses that can only be used with such bodies.

    My current 28-105 is f/4.5 at 105mm. I expect that the advantages of the L lens are more qualitative than numeric: better glass, nicer bokeh, etc.

  19. Canon EF 24-105/4L IS USM Lens Review

    by Philip Greenspun

    Producing a high quality 4:1 zoom lens is very challenging, but the “L” in “Canon 24-105L” assures you of professional quality images, rugged construction, and substantial weather-proofing. The 24mm wide end is wide enough to be dramatic and the 105mm telephoto end is long enough to provide a significant flattening effect for portraits. With the light weight achieved by designing for an f/4 rather than an f/2.8 aperture, the 24-105/4L is a great travel lens.

  20. “I currently have a cropped sensor DSLR (450D) and have a 17-55mm f/2.8 EF-S Lens which I really like. However, since I expect the FF camera’s will be more affordable in the future I am planning to invest more in EF lenses. To expand my lens collection I wanted to add one wide lens and one zoom lens.

    The zoom lens is easy, I think the 70-200 f/2.8 IS will be a really nice one. However, a wide EF lens is a bit difficult, I see that there is a EF-S 10-22 . . . and when I look at the EF line I only see wide primes . . . which cost a lot more. Anyone have a suggestion for a good wide EF zoom lens ?”

  21. At the moment, my thinking is that the best long-term plan is to widen the range of focal lengths I have available with a couple more zooms. A 70-200mm lens would be useful on both crop sensor and full frame bodies. The wide angle range is trickier. The best choice may be the 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 EF-S lens. It will only work with crop sensor bodies, but it seems to be considered a very good lens and a good match with the crop sensor situation.

    The 10-22mm lens is going for about US$650 on Amazon.

    There are more options for the 70-200mm zoom. There are two f/2.8 lenses and two f/4 lenses. There is a L-series 2.8 with image stabilization (US$1480), an L-series 2.8 with no IS (US$1020), an L-series 4 with IS (US$950), and an L-series 4 without IS ($570). The 2.8 lenses are both heavy and expensive. The 4 with IS may be the best choice, though $380 is a lot to pay for image stabilization…

  22. I hadn’t previously realized that the sensor in the Digital Rebels has 14.8 times as much area as the sensors in the Powershot A510s and A570s. No wonder the low light performance is so much better. A full frame sensor has almost 35 times as much area.

    The Half-Frame Fiasco
    © 2009 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

    Canon 1.6x
    Crop Factor: 1.622x
    Sensor Size: 38% of full frame

  23. These lenses will also work with film, which I expect I will still shoot in my Elan 7N from time to time.

    Neal’s recent photos make me think there might just be something to this expensive ‘L’ glass Canon sells – enough to make me willing to eventually pay more thab $1000 for a 24-105mm lens that largely duplicates the focal length of my existing 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5.

    He is now using a 5D body and the non-IS version of Canon’s 70-200mm.

  24. As for digital being ‘over,’ you should try shooting using off-camera strobes, manual flash power levels, manual aperture, and manual shutter speeds.

    With digital, one glance at the RGB histogram lets you evaluate the exposure.

    With film, you would need to use flash meters and/or calculations, and you wouldn’t be able to spot any errors until the film was developed.

  25. I am more-or-less decided on the 70-200mm with IS.

    Just think, with the non-IS lens, you would need shutter speeds faster than 1/320 to avoid camera shake at full telephoto on my (1.6x) Rebel XS body.

    Supposedly, the IS in the 70-200 is good for three stops, meaning I would only need a shutter speed of 1/40. If I ever get a full-frame body, that would mean the loss of the 1.6 multiplier, and also a sensor with better high ISO performance.

    Henry’s has the lenses for these prices, with taxes:

    Non-IS: $932.24
    IS: $1,672.39

    Lens and Shutter is cheaper (and there is less sales tax in B.C.):

    Non-IS: $895.99
    IS: $1,567.99

    I definitely don’t want to buy it from somewhere in the US, since it is a total mystery how much I would be charged in tax, brokerage fees, and duty. I wonder if I could find somewhere that would give me a discount for paying in cash, or would at least throw in a good filter or two.

  26. The places that give discounts for paying in cash are often doing this so they (illegally) avoid paying tax. I would suspect as well that because a lens sale is well documented on the manufacturer’s side, that you’d have a hard time finding this arrangement for a new lens.

  27. I thought it was to avoid merchant fees from credit card companies.

    No shop I have spoken to has been willing to give a cash discount, so far.

  28. It is legal for firms to give a cash discount, and it makes sense because they don’t have to pay the up to 3% credit card fee. However, it is frowned on by credit card companies for obvious reasons – so firms are discouraged from giving cash discounts or charging fees for the use of credit cards.

    The outcome of this is credit card usage is subsidized indirectly by cash users. If you think that’s unfair, then the law should be changed so that users must pay the 3% themselves directly, i.e. as a fee on their credit card bill. This would of course massively reduce credit card usage, and probably be the end of credit cards’ massive domination as we know it.

    It seems to me that the existence of credit cards at all in their current popularity is simply a mistake caused by the externalization of the costs of credit cards onto those who do not use them.

  29. I think credit cards are mostly a setup where a firm bets it can make you spend recklessly. They give you credit, then hope to profit from interest and fees when you over-use it. It is the people who cannot make full payments monthly who subsidize those who can.

    As a non-reckless user of credit cards, I appreciate the opportunity they provide.

    In any case, it would be nice if I could negotiate some sort of perk for spending $1500+ on a lens. Given how retailers must be suffering during the downturn, you would think it possible to negotiate with an employee who has a stake in the overall profitability of the business.

  30. I guess I mispoke (miswrote?) in this case that a discount would be to avoid tax, although in my experience there are places like that: mom n’ pop restaurants and auto wreckers are two I’ve dealt with where I know there’s some shady business going on.

    Tristan, that’s an interesting way to think of it: cash users subsidizing CC users. I like it.

  31. “It is the people who cannot make full payments monthly who subsidize those who can.”

    You can say this if you want, but you are ignoring the fact that the store needs to include the up to 3% credit card use fee in its normal prices if it doesn’t want to charge a surcharge for credit card users. If half of people use credit cards, that means the cost of credit card transactions are spread evenly over credit card and non credit card users – in other words, prices to cash users are 1.5% higher than they would be, and prices to credit card users are 1.5% lower than they would be.

  32. What about setting up a small business?

    Could you then write off lens purchases as business expenses? Perhaps you could also make prints of your photos for people, sell them personally, and claim the original printing costs as business expenses.

    It seems like you are at the stage where you could be selling at least a few thousand dollars a year worth of work, if you wanted to put in the time and effort.

  33. The business idea is intriguing. I have a show coming up in September that could involve both a fair deal of expenses and a fair amount of revenue. I wonder how long setting up a business would take, how much it would cost, and how much work filing taxes and things would be…

    From the perspective of the store, another thing to consider is whether credit cards actually increase total sales. I think there is a chance that they do, given that they encourage the impulse people have to buy. It may be that the extra profits from those sales are greater than 3% of their value.

  34. I actually went to the Black’s Photography in the Rideau Centre this evening with the intention of buying the lens. When I got there, the young woman working was seriously lacking in knowledge about lenses and entirely disinterested in making any kind of sale or providing any information.

    I would much rather buy from Henry’s, where the staff is knowledgeable and helpful (though aggressive in pushing extended warranties.)

    That said, a pre-sale chat definitely isn’t worth $170 (the difference in price between Henry’s and Black’s).

    On Thursday, when they are open late, I think I will go to Henry’s, explain the situation, and ask them to match the Black’s price. If they won’t do that, I will ask them to match the price with a combination of a discount and a free UV filter (one of the nice Hoya HD ones). If they won’t do either, I will give up and return to Black’s.

    Is there any other negotiating position people would consider? Maybe some free prints? The idea with the filter is that they pay less than the sale price for it, so it is less of a concession for them to give it to me than for them to give me a discount of the same size.

  35. The filter offer seems especially fair: they accept somewhat reduced profits, or you go somewhere cheaper.

  36. I think your plan sounds reasonable. On the other hand, I’d be inclined to buy it as cheaply as you can get it. Most of your questions probably already have answers to them that you can find on a little website called http://www.google.com. While rewarding incompetence isn’t fun, maybe you can find a more engaged salesperson at Black’s than the first one.

    I just receive a polarizing filter from http://www.uxcell.com in China. It was $8USD, it works great, and in the package there was a coupon for $5USD towards a future purchase with no minimum. If you are looking for certain accessories, I recommend them.

  37. It’s not that I need more information about the lens – it’s that I want to buy it from a store that has good staff. I am even willing to pay a bit more, in order to make my preference plain. I am just not willing to pay $170 more.

  38. The people at Henry’s say they will match the Black’s price, with no questions asked.

    It goes to show how much it is sometimes possible to save just by checking prices at a few different places.

  39. I got the lens.

    They aren’t kidding when they say the IS is worth three stops. I took several handheld, unbraced, 320mm shots at 1/45 and they are totally sharp.

    (320mm = 200mm * 1.6 crop factor for the Rebel XS)

  40. Maybe you can explain something I don’t understand: Why are full frame sensors considered to be so desirable in a DSLR? Don’t the crop sensors allow you to get better reach through a telescopic lens? Your comment about the *1.6 crop factor made me wonder.

  41. Two reasons:

    1) Sometimes, you want wide-angle, and EF-S lenses are annoying

    2) Crazy low-light performance. The bigger the sensor, the higher and ISO things still look decent at.

    That being said, I could see nature and sports photographers pulling out cheap crop-sensor bodies sometimes.

  42. For future reference I use this site to check the prices for my digital purchases:

    http://www.photoprice.ca

    Its a great little site that checks online prices and calculates the total price (including shipping, taxes, duties and brokerage to canada if its from a US site). In Cdn$ based on the days exchange rate.

    At least until 2010 when the OVAT kicks in (the onatrio-gst harmonized tax just announced) or the dollar rises again (making the US worth it), the best place to shop online is Alberta or BC as you are not required to pay PST as you are out of province. That’s an automatic 7% savings.

    The one place in particular I have had good dealings with is the Camera Store (http://www.thecamerastore.com – which doesn’t seem to list their zooms on the above site, I think they reorganized their site so the price sites webcrawler no longer finds it.). The store is out of Alberta and they have a $10 flat rate shipping using Xpresspost so the 40lbs in gear I ordered cost $10 to ship and was here in 3 days… not bad.

    The one thing to look out for, mind you I am in the Nikon camp, but I always make sure that the seller is an authorized seller and its not a gray market lens because Nikon is particular about it for their warranty. No idea what Canon’s policy is. Which is another reason why I don’t buy US.

    Of course nothing is like having it in hand to test before hand, and if deciding you like it, walking out with it, but I have found Henry’s, Vistek and Galaxy Camera all along Bank St. all willing to pricematch and negotiate.

  43. With my next expensive lens, I will try to cover the wide angle range, with something like the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM.

    Then, I will have L glass all the way from 24mm to 200mm.

  44. I don’t think you’ll find the 24-70 all that wide at its widest on an APS-C camera. Especially with the crop factor of 1.6 on Canon, it makes it a 39-112 effectively . Still it’s supposed to be a great lens (and a pricey piece of glass!)…

  45. The sensor in my Rebel XS is only a 1.4 crop, and I intend to eventually get a full frame body.

    It seems sensible to buy a quality wide angle zoom suited to full frame bodies, rather than spending almost as much on a good such lens only usable with crop sensor cameras.

  46. Hmmm. I thought all Canon DX cameras were 1.6x crop.

    All of my lens purchases have been FF for that same reason, though I may make an exception for the 11-16 Tokina F2.8, as the price on the 14-24 F2.8 FF Nikkor is rather high.

  47. You’re right. I was getting my sensor crop factors confused with Canon’s available teleconverters.

    The Rebel XS has a CMOS APS-C 22.2 x 14.8 mm (1.6x conversion factor).

  48. Canon also has a few APS-H cameras, with a 1.3X crop factor:

    Canon EOS-1D Mark III, 1D Mark II (and Mark II N), EOS-1D

  49. For wide angle on a 1.6X sensor, the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM seems to be well regarded, though I would hesitate to spend US$729.00 on a lens that can only be used on EF-S bodies.

  50. Go with the Canon – it’s the lowest distortion zoom of its kind available. And that is likely more important than all-out sharpness.

  51. In the long run, covering the 20-ish to 200mm range with good lenses seems like a good idea. Beyond that, it is worth considering a very wide angle zoom (one that works with FF bodies, ideally), a really long zoom like the 100-400, and perhaps some fast primes.

  52. This is another of the government’s three paycheque months, but I don’t quite feel up to dropping $1,499.99 on the Canon EF 24-70MM F2.8L USM lens. While I do eventually plan to buy it, spending more than $1,700 with taxes and a filter just doesn’t seem prudent now – especially after losing nearly $500 on the photo show. Also, I am curious about whether Canon will release an IS version of the L-series 24-70. That would probably add several hundred dollars to the price, but might be worth waiting for, in the long run.

    One lens that would be cheaper and useful would be a prime to serve as a normal lens on an APS-C crop sensor body, and a wide angle on a full-frame body.

    Options include 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm. I am considering the Canon 28mm f/2.8 most seriously right now. It would be $339.99 plus tax. It lacks a USM motor, and probably has a comparable (not excellent) build quality to their 50mm f/1.8.

  53. For the Canon small sensor DSLRs, e.g., the EOS 30D and Digital Rebel XTi, the Canon 35/2 lens is an economical lightweight choice, but sadly it lacks a USM motor. Canon makes a very fine 35/1.4L USM that lets you work in light only half as bright as the 35/2 (the “L” designation means that it is part of Canon’s expensive lineup of lenses and will have superb optical performance and mechanical construction). This lens costs more than $1000, however, and, at 580 grams, is heavy. Generally speaking, “third party” lenses such as those made by Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina, are not worth considering compared to Canon-brand lenses. The remarkably cheap wide-range third-party zooms deliver terrible image quality. The high quality third-party prime lenses or fast zooms aren’t much less expensive than high quality Canon- or Nikon-brand lenses. Sigma’s 30/1.4 digital-only lens is an exception. Because it does not cast an image large enough to cover a 24x36mm film frame, the lens is much lighter (422g) than the Canon 35/1.4 and less than half the price. It has an ultrasonic motor, denoted “HSM” by Sigma, and has delivered superb optical performance in magazine tests.

  54. The Canon 35mm F2.0 AF is $449.99 and would be akin to a 56mm lens on my Rebel XS. By contrast, my 50mm lens is akin to an 80mm prime.

    For $500, I would really want a USM motor in there. The AF motors are noisier, slower, and don’t allow easy manual focus corrections.

  55. Have you considered the 17-40 F4 L zoom? It is USM, and L, although not IS. Still, the highest quality of optics, and under $800 US.

    http://www.adorama.com/CA1740U.html

    Of course, it comes down to how useful you think the focal lengths will be.

    If you want to go for a prime, I think the 28mm F1.8 USM is a better deal than the 35mm F2.0 non-USM. Also, 28mm – both on a crop body (approx 40mm) and a FF body, is in my view a superior focal length.

    http://www.adorama.com/CA2818AFU.html?searchinfo=CA2818AF&item_no=1?searchinfo=CA2818AF&item_no=1

  56. I agree about 28mm being better than 35mm.

    I am surprised the 17-40 isn’t an EF-S lens. Still, I think 24-70 is a much more useful range of focal lengths.

  57. Then again, people really seem to love the 24-70, even without IS. Along with the 70-200, it would give me a very capable range of L-glass, in a set portable enough for travel.

    Maybe a better approach is to sock away $500 or so this month, and keep adding to the pile until it is big enough.

  58. You are probably right about the 24-70 being more useful. 17-24 is quite a specialty range of focal lengths. I’ve hardly ever used my 19-35 zoom. Although, I’ve been quite happy with the results when I do use it. 20mm allows you to fit an awful lot in the frame, which is sometimes interesting (especially if you have foreground and background).

  59. The only real advantage of a 28mm prime would be size and weight, especially if both lenses are f/2.8.

    My sense is that the L-series zooms are comparable to most non-L primes.

    That bolsters the argument for saving for the 24-70.

  60. Candid photography of strangers is a tough thing to get into, especially given how anti-photographer the authorities and general public are nowadays.

  61. A good tool for candid photography would be one of those higher end consumer point and shoots, which have rotatable screens – the better to take photos while you aren’t appearing to take photos with.

  62. Of course, that will only get you in more trouble with any uptight police officers and paranoid parents who realize what you’re doing.

  63. My Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS is the sharpest zoom I’ve ever used. Not only that, but the ergonomics and operation are flawless, so flawless that I can shoot and zoom with only one hand.

    Feel free to read this huge review, but if you’d rather be out shooting and have about a grand to spend on a lens, just go get one of these for yourself. If you’d rather spend less, I cover that at recommendations.

  64. I did end up getting the 24-70 f/2.8.

    Now, I am wondering what should follow it. A 50mm lens is a classic photographic tool, and if I am going for one I will never want to replace, the f/1.2 L version seems the right choice. That said, paying half the cost of a 5D Mark II for a 50mm lens does seem a bit excessive.

    Of course, while digital cameras get totally dated in about 5 years, top quality lenses are a multi-decade investment.

  65. Some other lenses to consider:

    * Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM, $470, the modern photojournalist’s standard lens
    * Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM, $1400, designed for professional photojournalists who need a somewhat wide perspective and who need to work in dim light

    * Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM, $999, superb optical quality, ultrasonic motor

    * Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, $529 (review), goes to 1:1, probably the best macro lens for the full-frame crowd

  66. Here are the three lenses I am most strongly considering now:

    They are all in the same ballpark of cost. The first two options would give me an excellent prime useful for low-light. The 50mm is a touch faster, but the wider perspective on the 35mm would allow longer shutter speeds. The last would widen the range of L-series zooms I have.

  67. Christ those primes are expensive.

    I was just using a Canon 50mm 1.8 (cost $90) on a 1.6crop factor camera. Seemed a bit long. The 35mm might be more suitable for portraits.

  68. I also have a 50mm f/1.8.

    There is an f/1.4 version that costs about $500 and is reportedly also excellent.

    My thinking on the expensive lenses is this: they are lifetime investments, so it is most sensible just to buy the best available lens now, rather than an intermediate lens now and the best one later.

    Also, lenses don’t depreciate much. Ten year old L-series lenses sell for a few hundred less than their new equivalents. With discontinued lenses, sometimes they sell for more.

  69. The 50mm f/1.8 is a fragile thing, driven by a non-USM motor, containing a two fairly small pieces of glass. The front filter size is 52mm. I know they are fragile because I broke one once, with a not-too-hard knock with it inside a plastic bag.

    The 50mm f/1.2 is weather-sealed, far more solidly constructed, contains 8 elements in 6 groups (including ultra low dispersion elements), and has a USM motor. The front filter size is 72mm.

  70. All that said, dollar for dollar the 50mm f/1.8 is probably the best lens Canon makes. It produces great images, and costs very little.

  71. You could also spend $1500+ on a trip to somewhere photogenic (and close enough to allow low-carbon travel).

  72. I wasn’t suggesting that you forgo the more expensive lens for the plastic-y f1.8 50mm, and in fact the small number of aperture blades in that lens are really apparent in some situations. I was just pointing out that that particular focal length is a bit long on a 1.6x camera.

  73. Focal length is a bit of a tricky issue.

    Eventually, I expect to get a full-frame body. Indeed, a 5D Mk II would cost less than two of the lenses above.

    I think the 50mm is more useful on a full-frame body, whereas the 35mm would be useful on both (as a normal lens on my Rebel XS and a fast wide-angle lens on a 5D).

    That said, I think it makes more sense to invest in lenses than in bodies. While a 5D Mk II will be utterly obselete in ten years, the only real threat to these lenses is probably better image stabilization.

    That said, there must be a point at which it makes sense to pause from buying lenses to buy a great body to use them on…

  74. Milan March 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm
    On second thought, here’s what I should really get.

    I’ve heard the pictures from that lens look really muddy.

    It’s hard to predict the future of bodies and whether or not the technology growth in the next 10 years will be as fruitful as the last 10. Processing speed, resolution and the rear display have all improved to the point where they’re now very good. HD video seems to be taking off, maybe touch screens and wifi will also appear. My point though is that it’s probably a better time now to buy an expensive body than it was only a few years ago.

  75. The most appealing thing about the 5D Mk II is the high ISO performance. Technically, it goes up to 25,600 ISO, and the 6,400 ISO output is probably less grainy than 1,600 ISO on my Rebel XS.

    You could do some neat hand-held stuff with that.

  76. At Tristan’s suggestion, I have booked the 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 for the Easter Weekend, which I am spending in Montreal.

    It is quite a good deal, since Vistek doesn’t charge for days when they are closed. As such, I get it from noon Thursday to noon Tuesday for $43.75 plus tax.

  77. As for lens sharpness, the difference between lousy and fancy lenses is usually nothing by F8, and I think always nothing by F11

  78. Certainly not true when it comes to chromatic aberration. Minimizing that, whether in a photographic lens or a refracting telescope, is invariably an expensive business.

  79. Also, no IS which would be useful on a 1200mm lens. I suspect that even on a tripod shake could be an issue.

    As for the emo concerts, most L series lenses (1200mm or otherwise) only come it white, which don’t fit in at emo concerts anyway.

  80. Okay, that’s a surprise, the fact you can order online a cover for a lens of which there are less than 20 of in the world.

  81. There are lots of subtle aspects of lens function beyond aperture, number of blades, etc. Lenses affect contrast, colour rendition, vignetting, etc.

    I have been planning to for a while to do some A-B tests between L-series and non-L-series lenses. It is a matter of lugging my tripod and the lenses to be compared to an appropriate test scene.

    Eventually, I will test the 24-70 against the 28-105 at 28, 50, and 70mm (100, 200, and 400 ISO perhaps – and f/3.5 f/8). I will also test the 28-105 against the 70-200 at 100mm and the 50mm prime against the 24-70.

  82. I tried renting a Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 EF-S lens. Some of the results are already up.

    If I planned to stick with APS-C cameras, this would probably be a lens worth owning.

  83. Canon lenses, in dollars per gram:

    50mm f/1.8: $1.07 / gram
    50mm f/1.4: $1.59 / gram
    50mm f/1.2L: $3.12 / gram

    24-70mm f/2.8L: $2.49 / gram

    70-200mm f/4L IS: $1.78 / gram
    70-200mm f/2.8L IS: $2.10 / gram

    100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L: $2.10 / gram

    28-105mm f/3.5-4.5: $1.04 / gram

    100mm f/2.8L: $1.52 / gram

    Listed L-lenses: $2.16 / gram
    Listed non-L lenses: $1.25 / gram

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