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Looking For the Right Lens

KingNine
Enthusiast

Hello, I am a casual photographer and really just learning this great hobby. I got into it trying to get good pictures of my daughters during their ballet performances. Each step I've taken has got me a little closer to getting good pictures of them but I'm quickly running out of time. My last step was to purchase a T4i. I mainly use the kit lens 18-55 for most of the shots of them and sometimes the 55-250 if I want to get close in. I generally crank up the ISO so I can use a faster shutter speed. I find that ISO 6400 with a shutter speed of 1/400 in general is giving me the best results but not anywhere near perfect. I've pinballed around looking at lenses and my head is swimming and frankly I don't know enough to make a great desicision. The current lens I'm looking at is the Canon EF 24-105 f/4 IS USM. The other two lenses I own both go to 5.6 and I was hoping the fixed f/4 would let in more light letting me reduce the ISO for a less grainy picture. Going back and looking at most of my shots I'm usually in the 30-50mm range but that can change depending on where I get to sit at each show so a zoom lens is mandatory for me. I really want to stay around $500 to $600 if at all possible and think I can get that lens at that price range.

 

My second use for the camera is to film my younger daughter singing at different school or social events with an occasional picture thrown in. Would the above lens work well for that? The current  lens choices I have suck. They are noisy and hunt for focus. I've heard rave reviews of the kit lens 18-135 STM for it's fluidity of movement in almost comeplete silence. I got to play with the lens a few weeks ago at a party when someone asked me to take some pics with their camera. I marveled at the speed and silence of the focus motor. I believe the f stops on it are the exact same as my current lenses though. So If I get it as well I'm guessing I'd be in the same boat as above but with better video. If I do get this STM lens would I get the same quality pics as the kit lens I have now or is it a little better than my current  set up? The person who's camera I borrowed loved it but they aren't a photographer by any means. Any recomendations here are appreciated as well.

Canon 7D Mk II, Sigma 150-600 C, Canon 70-200L 2.8 Mk1, Canon 24-105L Mk1, Canon EF-S 10-18 IS STM, Canon 50 1.8 STM, Canon 24 2.8
37 REPLIES 37


@KingNine wrote:

I was really thinking of the 18-135 STM for video and everyday use and buying some primes for my ballet pics of my daughters. But hearing you mention you hardly use primes an almost use all zooms makes me think that is not a good idea. Hmmmm, Now I'm wondering if I should just go buy a camcorder for the video and put money into a good zoom lens. I've got myself all bumfuzzled now.


It's just one person's point of view.  I primarily (no pun intended) use primes.  I really don't find them as limiting as people make them out to be.  There are times I absolutely need a zoom, there are times that it makes absolutely no difference, and there are times inbetween when I have to work a bit to get what I want with a prime but I can make it work and sometimes it gets me to think outside the box, which I like.  It's going to depend a lot on what you shoot.  But don't cross primes off the list just because someone told you they're not good.

 

If you can afford lenses like the EF 24-70 II and the EF 70-200 II, then it's a much tougher argument for using primes (yet they still have their place, IMHO).  But we're talking about close to $5000 in glass.  Even then, if you need wider than f/2.8, then nothing but a prime is going to work.

 

I don't know what your situation is like in ballet, but I'm going to assume that you're a good amount away from the stage, it's dark, you can't use flash, and you can't move around.  Personally, I would use a prime in that situation.  I want reach, I want a large aperture, and I want a very fast focus.  Depending on my location and how much they're moving around there are times a zoom might be nice, but the three things I mention above are more important to me.   And likely most the action is happening in the same area in the center of the stage.

Thanks for the reply. It eases my mind a lot. Since I can't move around I'm stuck at the mercy of the seat I happen to get and weather the fixed lens will be correct so I'd have to have at least 2 lenses to switch from. Your description is perfect by the way of what I'm dealing with. So from your comments do I understand that the camera is probably going to focus faster with a fixed lens over the zoom lenses?

Canon 7D Mk II, Sigma 150-600 C, Canon 70-200L 2.8 Mk1, Canon 24-105L Mk1, Canon EF-S 10-18 IS STM, Canon 50 1.8 STM, Canon 24 2.8


@KingNine wrote:

Thanks for the reply. It eases my mind a lot. Since I can't move around I'm stuck at the mercy of the seat I happen to get and weather the fixed lens will be correct so I'd have to have at least 2 lenses to switch from. Your description is perfect by the way of what I'm dealing with. So from your comments do I understand that the camera is probably going to focus faster with a fixed lens over the zoom lenses?


Not necessarily.  I probably overstated it a bit in trying to make my point.  But in general primes do usually have pretty snappy AF (specialty lenses like the 50 1.2 notwithstanding).  And usually you can get really superb optics, with wide apertures and good AF, at a much lower price than you would for a zoom at a similar focal range.  Of course, the tradeoff is the lack of zoom.

 

I was just trying to point out that primes are certainly capable of handling the situation you're in, there's just certain things to keep in mind, much as with anything in photography.  Have a look next time you're at a sporting event, most of those huge white things you'll see are all prime lenses.  Of course, they probably all have a second camera strapped to their neck with a 70-200 2.8 II on it.  You can't get everything in photography, always a trade off.

 

"Since I can't move around I'm stuck at the mercy of the seat ..."

 

And herein lies the issue.  Using prime lenses, you adjust to it to be able to use it.  But using a zoom lens, it adjusts to you.

In the olden days we used primes because they were far better than the zooms around but that has since changed.  Add to that fact, the way you display your photos today as opposed to yesterday and a zoom lens is the way to go.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

After speaking with you guys I have some good info I'm armed with now. I think the 18-135 STM lens is now a must for my video capabilities unless I go by a camcorder. From what I understand that lens will still take better pictures than either lens I have now if I choose to take pictures with it. 

 

While I think I might get a "Nifty Fifty" lens to add to my arsenal I'm now looking at the zooms available to me. The lens that is standing out right now is the Tamron Lens mentioned in the first reply. It is the SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di lens. The reviews I've been reading seem to be loving this lens and even found a review or two that said they thought it was actually sharper than the Canon L lens. Not so sure I believe that but, hey, it must be pretty good with all the glowing reviews I've read. The thing it seems to be lacking is image stabilization. I would love to know if any of you have any experiece with this lens and if you think the stabilization is a deal breaker? I believe the Sigma equivilant had stabilization but doesn't seem to have as many rave reviews about it.

Canon 7D Mk II, Sigma 150-600 C, Canon 70-200L 2.8 Mk1, Canon 24-105L Mk1, Canon EF-S 10-18 IS STM, Canon 50 1.8 STM, Canon 24 2.8

I had an older version of that lens & YES it's a very good lens for the money. If you'd like I have a set of full file samples that can be downloaded (one at a time) by using the ACTIONS tab over the photos. Use the right arrow to move through them.

 

http://picasaweb.google.com/116179596240613012497/LensSamples#5276466247922745602

 

They were shot with the original 5D so they include the corner areas your crop body doesn't even use.

 

As a side note I've been a zoom user for a very long time & only added a few fast  primes a couple of years ago. I barely use them but thanks to the 35 f1.4 L I was able to get a shot I'd been planning for 3 years and because there was no way to practice & no second attempt possible I started my shooting at f2.8 but quickly knew the shutter was open way too long. I wound down to what I thought was f1.4 but it turned out to be f1.6 but I did get one decent shot before the front of the train was blocked from view. It took ISO 6400 to get a shutter speed of 1/13 sec & the train is moving but slowly or I would have been wasting my time.

 

INGR5777v4x6.jpg

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

Ok, that's REALLY cool!  LOVE the train shot (but then I'm a bit of a sucker for train shots.)  I'm just impressed that someone fully decorated the train cars for the holidays and ran it on the rails.  

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Canadian Pacific runs 2 trains cross country every year to raise funds / awareness for local food banks. One does Canada & another does a big area of the northern US. It has the decorations & it also has a very loud sound system playing Christmas music. When I decided to try that shot 3 years ago I didn't know how many cars it used, nor how wide the bridge was or even if I could find a clear view of the bridge. Fortunately the weather called for a clear but cold evening & I had time that day to scope out the area & decide on what lens might work. I thought I'd need a long lens & that's all I took but I quickly realized I needed WIDE so that night I only took a 24 & 35 plus the 24-105 thinking maybe the IS might be helpful. The good news is that the train stops about 1/2 mile after crossing the bridge but I only had roughly 10 seconds when all of it was in view & those decorations were a bit overpowering in the dark. My shooting position was an area of frozen swamp that wasn't quite frozen over in the afternoon.

 

Here's a link to the Facebook page on the train.

 

https://www.facebook.com/HolidayTrain/timeline

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

I agree with T Campbell. That is REALLY cool! I love trains and this is just plain cool. Going to look at your sample pics from the lens now. Thanks!!

Canon 7D Mk II, Sigma 150-600 C, Canon 70-200L 2.8 Mk1, Canon 24-105L Mk1, Canon EF-S 10-18 IS STM, Canon 50 1.8 STM, Canon 24 2.8

Here the routes it followed this time & I suspect each year.

 

http://www.cpr.ca/en/community/holiday-train/schedule

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
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