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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

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

OK let's give this s go.

If you are shooting a f5.6 at ISO 6400 and you decide to get an f4 lens, you will be able to shoot the same scene at ISO 3200. That lens is one stop faster.  Not a big deal.   But, on-the-other hand if you got a f2.8 lens you are talking another stop off.  The ISO would now be 1600.  Pretty good, I'd say.

 

Unfortunaltely an f2.8 lens isn't going to be cheap. Sigma has a 17-50mm f2.8 and even better a 18-35mm f1.8.  The f1.8 will allow you to drop more than another stop off your ISO to around 640.  Generally speaking the lower the ISO, the less noise in the photo and the better it will look.  But these are a little short of the mm (focal length) you say you need.

 

Any of these lenses, and the outstanding EF 24-105mm f4 will make way better pictures than your current kit lenses do. Tamron also has some choices in this area, too.

 

The ideal choice would be a 24-70mm f2.8 but they are going to be way more expensive.  The Sigma being the cheapest in this bunch, again.  The Canon EF 24-70 f2.8 L IS being the best lens there is, period, and a price tag to prove it.

 

The EF-S 18-135mm is a better lens than what you have but is not going to help the ISO problem.  You need, one, more light on the subject or, two, a faster lens.

 

Another idea!

If you can live with a fixed focal lemgth, or prime, lens, you could get the EF 50mm f1.8 or better yet the EF 50mm f1.4.. Now were're taling. f1.4 is four stops faster and your ISO would drop to 400.  Around $110 bucks and $350 respectively.  Sound good?

There are some more prime lens choices for you.  Get on the Canon web site and gaze at the primes and see if one or two might just fill the bill.  The primes also have the advantage of being outstandingly sharp.  Light years ahead of your kit lenses.

Sigma has some great primes, too.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

Good advice above. You could also add the Canon 85 f1.8 to your kit ALONG with the 50 f1.4 to have a little more reach when needed without spending too much money.

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

Thanks for those replies. I'm going to check into what you suggested and see what I thnk and where that takes me. It sounds like even the 18-135 will give me better pics than I have now and I didn't think these were too bad. I can't wait to see the differences in the good lenses. I guess I'll end up selling my 18-55 and keeping the 55-250 untill I can get something better that can reach that far.

 

Unless the canon f4 lens with the USM will work for vide as good as the 18-135 STM I'll probably get the STM for video and figure out what lense I'll get for these dark ballet theater shots. One stop might not be much but It has to be better than what I have now. I will say I am amazed at the quality of shots the T4i can muster at high ISO  settings. 

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 am a stills photographer not a videogrpher so I can't even make a comment on it.  But remember the f-stop is the key here and not just a different lens.

Even a better lens, or best lens, that is as slow or slower than what you have will not help.

 

In the olden days we used to think the cut off was f4.  F4 was a middle area.  It was just f4, but anything slower, larger number, was considered a slow lens.  Anything below, smaller number, was considered a fast lens.  In your case I would suggest you stick to f2.8 or larger, smaller number.  Also, IMHO, I would look for a constant aperture f2.8 lens or faster.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

Lol, If you ever video anything with those stock lenses the focus is very slow and the sound is so loud the video becomes almost unusable. The STM motor is whisper silent so I think I'll pick that up regardless of the lens I get for the low light photography. I was just commenting that I was glad you said it would most likely take better pics than I'm getting now if I were to use it for pics. I do understand it wouldn't help my current situation for pics much if any.

 

I'm very interested in the Sigma lens you suggested (17-50mm f2.8) as well as the original lens I mentioned (Canon EF 24-105 f/4 IS USM). I know the Canon is only one stop faster than I have now but I get scared of 3rd party lenses and wonder if there is any trade off in quality that I'd wish I bought the canon f4 over the sigma in the long run. They both sit in the money range I'm looking to spend unless I find the miracle Canon 2.8 lens under a grand somewhere. 

 

I do love the idea of the great fixed lenses for those prices but if I have to sit  in a location where I need a focal distance other than the lens I purchased I think I'd be very sad. I guess I could buy a bunch of them like a 30, 40 and 50 and switch as needed. Would be a little bit a PIA but as you mentioned I should get stunning photos from them. That would leave my future 18-135 STM lens as a good walkaround lens.

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

There is one part of all of this that you have not mentioned, Photoshop or some other good post editor.   Great photos are only half made by the camera/lens combo.

 

Another thing back in the day, all video cameras had fixed lenses soem had three or four mounted on a turret that revolved in front of the caamera.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!


@ebiggs1 wrote:

Another thing back in the day, all video cameras had fixed lenses soem had three or four mounted on a turret that revolved in front of the caamera.


I remember that, now that you bring it up. I guess that arrangement must have been the immediate precursor of the zoom lens. Do you know whether any still cameras worked that way? My vague recollection is that there may have been one or two, though I'm pretty sure I never actually saw one.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

Bob from Boston,

 

Back in the day, I had almost no, zero, nada, zooms.  Everything was a fixed, prime lens. Zooms were so bad nobody wanted or used them. Fast foward to today, I have a whole slew of zooms and they are very, very good.  Funny sometimes how things change.  Unless I am playing around I almost never use a prime anymore.  Although I have a few that are truly outstanding.

I absolutely love the EF 50mm f1.2 L.  By far my most favorite prime lens of all time, past or present.

 

I have no idea if anybody still uses the old turret style cameras or not.  The evolution in video zoom lens' is extraordinary.  But they have an extraordinary price tag as well.  Some of the Canon lenses used for sports have a zoom ratio of 70:1.  I have heard of a lens' that has a 200:1 zoom factor.  But some even use the old school dolly to zoom (which is not really zooming).

 

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

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.

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
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