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Best lens for a T3

tlan73
Apprentice

I bought a T3 a few years ago.  It has served it's purpose for basic pictures but I want to buy a better lense that will work for action shots, outdoors and low light settings.  I realize I might have to buy more than one lense but I am starting to get into photography more and my budget is very tight right now.  

9 REPLIES 9

Skirball
Authority

"Best Lens" and "Budget very tight" don't mix.  Period.  If you give us a budget we can offer recommendations.  I would also check out the Canon refurbished lenses to save a bit.

 

There is no best lens, even if you narrow it down to 'best lens for action shots'.  However, most of us will agree the 70-200 f/2.8 II is a top contender.  But I'm guessing $2000+ isn't in your budget.  The 70-200 f/4 without IS is a fraction of the cost and remarkably good if you don't need f/2.8 and IS, which you frequently don't (IS) if you're shooting action (read: fast shutter speeds).  But will you need f/2.8?  Probably at some time, but is it worth the cost difference to you?  We can't answer that.  Do you have the 55-250 kit lens?  It's certainly not the best lens, but it's a nice little zoom until you can afford something better.

 

Low light is probably the second most expensive category, right after telephotos for action photography.  Most get prime lenses (no zoom) because they can let a lot of light in and are very sharp.  But you need several since they don't zoom.  Probably the majority of everyone's first prime is the nifty fifty - the 50mm 1.8.  It's cheap, both in cost and quality.  But it can take some fine photos.  Most the people here are serious into photography and have long since upgraded to a 50mm 1.4 or 1.2.  So we'd say the $100 on the 1.8 could be better spent on a better lens.  But the 1.8 has it's purpose, and if you're on a tight budget at least it'd give you a low light lens.

 

Outdoor is far to wide a category to give a recommendation.  Do you mean landscape?

Sorry I could be more specific.  I am new to this 🙂  I guess I am a bargain shopper and always try to find the best for less!  $2000 is not in the budget but is something I can always save for.  

 

I did receive the 55-250 kit lens and I do agree that it's not the best.  I see that you did give me a few options that I will check out for the action and low light.  

 

As far as the outdoors yes I mean landscape pictures.  

 

 

There's a Tamron 70-200 f2.8 that is probably more than enough for your needs. Built like a tank too. The latest version has Vibration Control and can be found for $1,499 ($1,399 after $100 mail in rebate).

Yes, I own this lens and recommend it.


@tlan73 wrote:

Sorry I could be more specific.  I am new to this 🙂  I guess I am a bargain shopper and always try to find the best for less!  $2000 is not in the budget but is something I can always save for.  

 

I did receive the 55-250 kit lens and I do agree that it's not the best.  I see that you did give me a few options that I will check out for the action and low light.  

 

As far as the outdoors yes I mean landscape pictures.  

 

 


I assumed as much.  But I figured I might as well beat others to the punch.  This website has a tendency to recommend top of the line professional gear to pretty much anyone who comes looking for information.  As I said, if you give us a budget then we could provide a better recommendation.  But there's not much you can do with it comes to telephoto lenses.  Plain and simple, good telephotos cost a lot of money.  I don't know that there is much out there, in your budget, that will be a sizable performance upgrade from the 55-250.

 

I would look into the 50mm 1.8 for low light.  It's not without it's quirks, but I used mine plenty, all around this planet, before upgrading to a better one.  It might not be the best built lens, but it's one of the best values that Canon makes.

 

Landscape can be shot with any kind of lens, but the two most popular are ultrawides and general wide to normal perspective lenses.  Ultrawides are a lot of fun, but people tend to overuse them and have a whole bunch of travel pics of severely distored wide angles.  I would recommend getting a good all around lens (assuming you're using the 18-55 kit lens) before getting an ultrawide.  There are a lot of options out there, from Canon 15-85 or the stellar 17-55 2.8, or options from Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, etc.  This is where I'd put my money if I was to get an upgrade.  And save $100 for the 50mm 1.8.  So again, what's your budget?

 

If you really want an ultrawide, Canon recently released a new one that looks great, and is only $300.  It's a EF-S 10-18.

The "best buy" in all of Canon lenses is the 24-105mm f4 L IS.   It is full blown professional IQ and build.  It can be had 'used' for $500 to $600 bucks.  And there are 1000's of them out there.  It is not a great improvement in the ability of what you have but it starts you onto the right road if you want the best glass you can buy.  This lens will stay with you if you decide to later buy a better camera. What ever it may be.  EF-S lenses may not!

 

 IMHO, a person that wants to start building a better lens inventory should shy away from the 50mm f1.8.  Why waste the money if it is hard to come by in the first place. Another place to look is Pawn Shops.  Most will let you try the lens out first. 

And they will have the 50mm f1.8 for very cheap.

 

The Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 mentioned above is a fantastic lens and it have a very much more reasonable price.  It is not a Canon "L" level lens, however, but for approx. a grand less a very good buy.  I have two of them.  They are that good.  They are not "all around" lenses, though.

 

A large percentage of the third party lenses fall into the same catagory as the EF 50mm f1.8.  Pretty cheap in both IQ and construction.  Try before you buy.

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

The point of a camera having a "removeable" lens is that no single lens is ever "best"... but you can swap in the lens which is most opimal for the situation at-hand.

 

I have an EF 135mm f/2L USM --  a fantastic lens, great for low-light and subjects at a moderate distance.  It's also one of the least expensive of the L series lenses (the L series lenses are Canon's top-end glass).   But as this is a prime (non-zoom) lens, it doesn't have the versatility if your subject shooting distance and framing need to keep changing... which is why just about everyone makes a 70-200mm zoom.  Further, most manufacturers make that 70-200mm zoom in a version that can provide f/2.8 at any focal length in the range.

 

By using the lower focal ratio versions of the lens, the lens gathers more light while the shutter is open.  The f-stop (focal ratio) is the ratio of the focal length divided by the diameter of the lens (clear aperture).  The bigger that diameter, the more light it collects.  The ratios happen to use even powers of the square root of 2.  f/5.6, for example, is √2^5, f/4 is √2^4.  f/2.8 is √2^3, f/2 is √2^2, and so on.  Notice how each square root of 2 is being raised to one power less each time we move down to a lower stop.  The reason the square root of 2 is the all-important base value is because each time you change the diameter of a circle by a factor of the square root of 2 (approximately 1.4) you will either DOUBLE or HALVE the area of that circle (depending on whether you are making the circle larger or smaller of course). 

 

This means an f/4 lens litterally is collecting twice as much light as an f/5.6 lens (allowing you to either reduce the ISO or halve the amount of time that the shutter needs to remain open to capture the same exposure.)  An f/2.8 lens is double the f/4 lens... or four times the f/5.6 lens.  An f/2 lens is double again (or 8 times more light than the f/5.6 lens).   A couple of stops makes a huge difference.

 

But there are two trade-offs... as the aperture increases in size, you also make the "depth of field" (the range of distances at which subjects nearer or farther than your intended focus distance will also appear to be in reasonable/acceptable focus.  This means if you need subjects both near and far to be focused nicely then a low focal ratio is working against you (but these are laws of physics so we just have to put up with them. )

 

The second trade-off is physical and economic.  When you increase the diameter of the glass so that you can collect more light, the glass also gets thicker and thus heavier.  But also, the dispersion increases as well.  Dispersion is the property that causes light to split into it's different wavelengths (like the rainbow that you get when you shine a "white" light through a prism.)  This causes the images to go soft (especially near the edges).  When you zoom in to the corners to inspect the image, you may notice that edges of objects have a "purple fringe" on one edge and a "red fringe" on the opposite edge.  That's the light starting to split into a rainbow spectrum due to dispersion (the name for this is "chromatic aberration").   It turns out you can correct for this -- not perfectly, but mostly.  To do this, you'd need to add more corrective elements of different shapes to reverse the dispersion problem.  Different materials can be used to make the "glass" and some recipies with exotic substances (translation:  expensive) will greatly improve the situation.  Canon sometimes uses fluorite.  Fluorite is a crystal that has low-dipsersion properties.  It occurs in nature but only in small sizes and always cloudy/impure (not suitable for making a lens).  So they "grow" their own fluorite crystals in a kiln.  But to "grow" these crystals without impurities means it has to be grown slowly... it can take months to grow the crystals to a point where they are large enough to be ground into lenses.  
This means you are using more expensive glass which is harder to produce and it also means you are adding even more glass (more weight) and of course this drives up the cost of the lens even further.

 

This is why you tend to not find lenses which are versatile, good in low light (low focal ratio), with high image quality, AND inexpensive.  What you need to do to the lens to make it good in low light and still maintain a high image quality definitely drives up the price tag.

 

You can find budget lenses but you always have to ask... what compromises are being made in order to keep the costs low?  

 

Lenses are always a game of trade-offs.  There's a continuum of price ranges, capabilities, and qualities.  The good stuff is also the expensive stuff.    If it were possible to make a "good", "cheap", "low-light" zoom... then we'd all own it and manufacturers wouldn't even bother to make the expensive versions because there would be no market for it.

 

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

"Lenses are always a game of trade-offs"

 

How true!  In photography, as many other ventures, there is no free lunch.  You give to get.

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


@TCampbell wrote:

The point of a camera having a "removeable" lens is that no single lens is ever "best"... but you can swap in the lens which is most opimal for the situation at-hand.

 

I have an EF 135mm f/2L USM --  a fantastic lens, great for low-light and subjects at a moderate distance.  It's also one of the least expensive of the L series lenses (the L series lenses are Canon's top-end glass).   But as this is a prime (non-zoom) lens, it doesn't have the versatility if your subject shooting distance and framing need to keep changing... which is why just about everyone makes a 70-200mm zoom.  Further, most manufacturers make that 70-200mm zoom in a version that can provide f/2.8 at any focal length in the range. ...

 


Very commendable. But the anomaly is that Canon and Nikon make the 70-200 primarily for the full-frame market, whilst their imitators generally sell to users of crop-frame cameras. And the corresponding zoom range for a crop-frame camera is more like 50-150. But when somebody tries to sell a decent 50-150 (over the years, Sigma is probably the best example), it seemingly always flops. Go figure.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

Bob from Boston,

I believe this is a multi-fold condition. For one it is the gross misuse and misunderstanding of the numbers.  Everything is geared towards full frame and the old 35mm standard. The 70-200mm got embedded in peoples minds.

 

Another factor is when you are going tele big is better.  And much bigger is much better.  Wide is just wide.  Pretty boring.

Evidenced by the fact Canon offers a 75-300mm as a kit lens with it's Rebels.

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