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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 84
Registered: ‎07-21-2013

help picking a lens for what i will use it for

[ Edited ]

I'm an amature photographer. i have a T1i that needs to be replaced (likely with either the 70D or the 7D)... and with it I want a lens that will fit my needs... i've read and read about various lenses at different price points and all have their purposes but i can't seem to figure out which would be the best fit for my purpose.

 

Hoping i can get some advice/recommendations for a lens to use when photographing the following:

1) indoor with low light (and limited to only using a 430EX II flash on the camera, no reflectors, or other sources of light other than what ever is overhead - ie typical home lighting)

2) subject 75% of the time is a child that won't stay still Smiley Happy, the other 25% of the time it's friends and family at someones home or at a venue (again low light)

3) subject is usually 10-15 feet away from me and i want to be able to get a full shot (head to toe) and also zoom in to only get a head shot.

4) i love bokeh Smiley Wink

 

I want sharp images with saturated colors (when they exist in the picture Smiley Wink  ). The lens can't be too heavy (i tried holding a 17-55mm and was on the high end of what i can carry -probably don't want to go much more than that for weight).

 

Any and all suggestions welcome!

 

 

____________________
Body: Canon 6D, Canon T1i, Canon Elan II,
Glass: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, Canon 70-200 f/4 IS II, Canon 16-35 f/4, Canon 100 f/2.8 macro.
Flash: Canon Speedlite 430ex ii
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: help picking a lens for what i will use it for

[ Edited ]

There isn’t a single solution given those constraints.  Especially with the weight restriction.  The weight of the 17-55 is fairly representative of most quality lenses with a decent size aperture (for the low level light you mention).  If you want more reach than that (given the distances you mention you do) then it’s going to get even heavier.

 

Here’s how I look at your requirements, not in order:

 

3) based on these distances, and assuming you’re taking pics of children, you’re roughly in the 50 – 250 mm range.

 

2) Generally speaking, you’re talking two different lenses.  For the child you probably want a zoom somewhere around the focal lengths mentioned above.  That could be used for friends, but low light adds complication:

 

1) Indoor with low light is tough.  It’s something just about everyone would like their cameras to do better, and people spend a lot of money to do so.  Fast primes are the best way to go for that, fast primes on full frame is even better.  Getting a reasonably fast zoom is going to be expensive and heavy.  I would consider getting a decent zoom for the kid, and a cheap 50mm 1.8 for low light with friends.

 

4) Bokeh in general means wide apertures.  Though a zoom with a decent aperture like 2.8 can produce very nice bokeh.  Again, expensive and heavy. 

 

And for the camera, that’s complicated.  The 70D does offer slightly improved low light performance, but not  remarkably so.  Any of the others from that series (e.g. 60D) or Rebel line are going to give you pretty similar results to your current camera.  The 7D is a great camera, but it’s geared towards sports enthusiasts.   Don’t let people on the internet convince you that it’s necessary to capture a fast moving child.  Yes the AF is great, the low light performance is ok for a crop sensor, and I would almost recommend it given the recent low pricing…  but it is a much heavier camera than what you have now.  If you have a weight limit then stick to the Rebels and use your weight allowance for good glass.

 

So as to which lens, it’s really complicated to just pick one.  What kind of budget?  Maybe just a 55-250 and a decent prime for low light?  Or step up to a 70-200 f/4 (no IS) and a nifty fifty?  Or maybe you’d be happy with one of those superzooms like the 18-200?

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,343
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: help picking a lens for what i will use it for

Skirball has really covered most of it but you did say you have a 430 EX flash so there could be a single lens compromise in any of the better 18-200 to 18-270 versions of superzoom without getting too heavy. Fast lenses (large aperture lenses) are big & heavy by design, and if it's a zoom it's heavier yet. My daughter has my original 20D & Sigma 18-200 & has been able to get loads of great indoor photos of my grandson since birth 5 years ago & he's very busy.

 

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
VIP
Posts: 11,531
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: help picking a lens for what i will use it for

The standard Canon T5i with the kit lens, 18-55mm STM will do all you want.Smiley Happy

It is fast to start-up and shoot. Has an articulated touch-screen. Compact and light. Great and very silent video with autofocus when used with that STM lenses. 4fps shooting. Good image detail at high ISO. Pretty fast autofocus.

 

If weight is an issue, you don't want a 7D with its magnesium body.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,816
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: help picking a lens for what i will use it for

As far as color saturation... color is something that's always best adjusted on your computer where you can see and control it.  The camera just needs to distinguish between the different color values (which it can) and the computer can manipulate the balance and saturation of it.  Many software apps even have presets or let you make your own presets for color.

 

As for your last comment that you love "bokeh".  Bokeh refers to the quality of the out-of-focus blur.  Ignoring the word bokeh for the moment, the factors that contribute to out of focus blur intensity are:  

 

a)  focal ratio (lower is better)

b)  focal length (longer is better)

c)  focused distance to subject (nearer is better)

 

By "better" I mean these will provide stronger out of focus blur.

 

I'll pick on two of my lenses... I have a 135mm f/2L.  With it's low focal ratio and long focal length, the ability to generate out of focus blur is enormous.  The amount of 'cream' in those images will give you diabetes for just looking at them.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have a 14mm f/2.8L.  Even wide-open, I can manually set the focus on that camera to about 3' and the whole world appears to be roughly in focus (it's not really in perfect focus, but the amount of background blur for those out-of-focus areas is extremely small.)

 

Bokeh adds one last element to the mix... which is the QUALITY of the blur.  Some lenses can create a lot of "blur" - but it doesn't loook very good.  The 50mm f/1.8 has a "nervous" or "jittery" quality to it's "bokeh" (poor quality) even though the in-focus areas actually resolve very nice levels of detail (it's actually sharp glass).  The blame, in the case of this lens, goes mostly to it's 5-blade aperture which makes obvious pentagonal out-of-focus spots.  As those pentagons overlap points in your background, you get a combination of intense and weak areas giving a somewhat "blotchy" look rather than nice smooth blur that a circular aperture would have created.

 

Lenses that will do a great job with bokeh might include the 50mm f/1.4 or the 85mm f/1.8 -- but before you race out and buy one, keep reading.

 

In point #3 you said you want to be able to get a full head-to-toe shot for a subject 10-15 feet away.  So let's just use the 10' distance as an example and we'll use the 50mm lens because it's wider than 85mm.

 

By calculating the measured field of view using a 50mm at a distance of 10', the field measures 3' x 4'6".  That's ok for a small child, but not for an adult.  If you were to use a wider lens... say 35mm focal length at 10', now the field of view measures nearly 6-1/2' x 4-1/3'.   That seems like it would be enough for most people, but keep in mind that on a full length shot you do want some margin of space between the limits of your subjects' body and the edge of the image so that it'll look nice when framed.

 

As you get to shorter focal lengths (wider angles of view), the ability to generate strong out-of-focus blur diminishes and to retain it, your focused distance to the subject needs to become nearer and nearer.   If your subject is very near with a wide-angle lens you'll start to notice a distorted look.  

 

The super-zooms (e.g. 18-200, 18-270, etc.) have mostly ONE thing going for them:  convenience     

The image quality of less ambitious zooms (and certainly of primes) will beat the image quality of a super-zoom.  Also, these long lenses don't have particularly attractive focal ratios for someone who likes 'bokeh' and as the lenses don't typically collect a great deal of light, you're now needing to either crank up the ISO or use longer shutter exposures to compensate and there goes your #1 and #2 needs on your list.

 

I never recommend super-zooms and whenever someone expresses an interest in them, I am quick to point out of the trade-offs.  There is a _reason_ why it's possible to change lenses on your camera.  If it were possible to just stick on one lens and do everything, then Canon wouldn't make 75+ lenses for it.

 

Super zooms sacrifice virtually every quality of optics there is in exchange for just one advantage... the convenience of not having to swap lenses.  The esssence of your needs (the list of 4 items) is all about having a lens (or lenses) with very specific qualities.  A super-zoom would be a very poor choice given your list -- they are one of the last lenses in the world you want to use for items #1 and #2 and #4.  But they'd do #3 -- absolutely no better than the lens you already own today, but they'd do it.

 

The 17-55mm f/2.8 isn't heavy because Canon was bad at reducing weight... it's heavy because it's a low-focal ratio zoom.  ALL low-focal ratio zooms are "heavy" relative to other zooms with similar ranges.  Thats because in order to collect more light (the point of that low focal ratio), the lens needs to be physically larger (it needs a bigger opening).  That necessitates that all of the elements inside the lens have a larger physical diameter and they also they get thicker and that means heavier.  And if that isn't already enough... the larger elements usually create a strong dispersion effect (dispersion is bad... it creates chromatic aberration or "color fringing" where the different wavelengths of light do not actually focus at the same distance and that causes soft, fuzzy, low-contrast images) and to counter this, they have to insert even more elements making the lens even heavier still.  Basically you buy an f/2.8 zoom because you do not want to compromise on the quality of the zoom and you're willing to lug a little more weight around in exchange for that advantage.    You will never find a "light" f/2.8 zoom that produces a decent image quality.  The very qualities necessary to make it good also make it heavy.

 

So this leaves you with a choice:

 

a)  Change your requirements and declare that you're willing to accept the weight of an f/2.8 zoom.

b)  Get a moderate normal focal length prime lens with a low-ish focal ratio and be willing to "zoom with your feet". 

 

I probably wouldn't want full length shots *and* bokeh.  If you want a strong out of focus blur then you achieve that by taking a half-length shot of your subject (so they can be closer and thus the background is even blurrier).   

 

I'd look at a 50mm f/1.4 (again... you're going to have to modifiy how you think about framing your subjects) -or- look at a 35mm f/2 (out of focus blur wont be quite as strong but it will have more of a "normal" angle of view rather than a mildly tight angle of view that the 50 provides.)

 

Go visit pixel-peeper.com.  They index photos (I think from Flickr) based on the camera body and lens used to create the image.  E.g. you can tell it that you want to see samples of photos taken with a Canon 35mm f/2 lens and it'll give you pages and pages of them.   It's a way to get an idea for what a lens can do.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 84
Registered: ‎07-21-2013

Re: help picking a lens for what i will use it for

Thank you everyone for the information! Greatly appreciate it!

 

I should have mentioned the lenses i have in my original post - thought i had but didn't ;(

 

I have a nifty fifty - a 50mm f/1.8 and really like it - wish it were a f1/4 but when i bought it a few yrs back I didn't know enough about lenses to justify the extra cost.   I plan to replace it in the future to get a nicer, softer blur - but it's a decent lens so i can hold off Smiley Wink

 

I also have a:

Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6 - a bit soft all around and struggles in low light

Canon 18-55mm IS f/3.5-5.6 kit lens

Canon 28-90f/4-5.6 non IS kit lens from an older film camera (Elan II) - haven't used in years...

430EX II flash

Elan II Camera body - upgraded from an A1 yrs ago (wish i had kept the A1 for nostalgia)

 

My weight limit is due to neck and shoulder problems i have - i can't have a lot of weight hanging around my neck for very long with out causing pain.  I use the strap that came with the camera but have recently seen side straps that my help so going to look into them further. Or find a way to hold the camera that doesn't put pressure on my neck...

 

And yes i'm primarily taking pictures of children (my 5 yr old and want both head shots and in the frame from head to toe) and then of family friends while sitting (so really only from elbows and up).... and yes i can always use my feet to help 'zoom'  Smiley Wink  i'm learning that Smiley Wink  Learning a lot lately from reading posts and articles online as well as watching various videos.

 

As far as equipment goes I think my T1i has treated me well over the last 3 yrs Smiley Wink  but it doesn't do well in low light (max ISO of 3200 but has noise at 800+) thus the reason i'm looking at a new body.  Thanks for mentioning that the 7D is heavier - i knew it was not plastic like this one but completely missed the obvious fact that metal=more weight!  Smiley Happy And thank you for explaining why f/2.8s are heavy Smiley Wink 

 

Before reading the last few replies i was considering a 24-70mm f2.8L or a 70-200mm f/2.8 or f/4 (IS or non IS - not sure which- but both the IS or NON IS is HEAVY) - i was told that most lenses are not great (tack sharp) at their largest aperture thus why i was looking at the f/2.8s... but that is going to add weight... so need to rethink and consider all that you have shared... all Canon lenses and cameras are on sale until end of month at Henry's (one of the few camera stores locally) so i hope to make a decision by end of week.... I don't really have $2K to spend on a lens but worried that if i get a thrid party lens (a Sigma equivalent that is half the price) i will regret it...i was also looking at the 17-55mm Sigma or 17-55mm Canon - to use as a replacement to the kit lens but that brings me back to the suggestions of using primes vs zooms.... also a good point but carrying a bag around with muliple lenses is also creating a weight issue for me so thus why i was looking for one lens that does all i want - but that's not reasable based on what you have all shared...

 

My want for a large aperture is for 2 reasons, 1) more light, and 2) the bokeh - yes i can create more bokeh by getting closer but with a moving child that doesn't like to be photographed that is very difficult to do... and i don't really want kiddy poses that most kids do when the realize they are being photographed....(trying to unteach that now) - thus i need to be 10-15 feet away to take the shots i want.... and since most shots are taken indoors in a causal setting i really can't set up lights or use reflectors ;(  thus the desire to have a lens that allows more light it.... but yes that means a heavier lens ;( 

 

Lots for me to think about this week!!  Thanks again for all your input! I really appreciate it! and if you have anything else to share or feel i'm missing something in my considerations please let me know Smiley Wink

____________________
Body: Canon 6D, Canon T1i, Canon Elan II,
Glass: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, Canon 70-200 f/4 IS II, Canon 16-35 f/4, Canon 100 f/2.8 macro.
Flash: Canon Speedlite 430ex ii
VIP
Posts: 11,531
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: help picking a lens for what i will use it for

With the limitations you have stated there isn't much that will do a great deal better than the equipment you have already. Large aperture and low cost and low weight don't happen together!

A single camera and lens combo will rarely do everything a photographer wants.

 

Still the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR, or T51 (a little heavier), will make a pretty big difference using the lenses you already have. Plus meets both requirement of low weight and low cost.

 

Sometimes folks get the impression that f2.8 is a lot faster than f3.5, or f4, since the numbers are far apart. But actually f3.5 is less than a full stop and f4 is just one stop faster!

 

So my suggestion remains a Canon SL-1 or T5i.

You existing Canon 18-55mm IS f/3.5-5.6 kit lens and 50mm f1.8

430 EX II flash

 

A Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens, again meeting the low cost and low weight requirements, might be a nice addition. It will be an improvement over your Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6.

Good luck

 

 

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 84
Registered: ‎07-21-2013

Re: help picking a lens for what i will use it for

[ Edited ]

Thanks ebiggs1 - I'll check out that lens and also the T5i...  The T5i is about $750 and the 7D is $1200 and based on what i've read is pretty comparible.

 

The only thing i'm not clear on is that i believe the T5i only has an EF mount (ie not an EF + EF-S) and if EF-S allows for backwards compatibility then i can't use any EF-S lenses - i have one - the kit lens (18-55mm) .... am i understanding that correctly?  I'm assuming the Sigma (70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG) i have will work with the T5i but not sure now?? And the lens you are recommeding is an EF-S lens : Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II).... maybe the specs i'm reading aren't acurate... maybe the T5i does have an EF + EF-S mount????

 

I'm willing to pay more to get something that is worth it - ie i don't want to cheap out now and then in a year wish i had spent the extra money - dont' get me wrong, i'm not saying that money is not an issue - it is but i'd rather spend more on the right thing.  so if that means a $2K lens then i'm willing to save up and get it vs regret a $500 purchase this year that i want to replace next year. But at the same time i don't want to waste money - that is why i'm posting here vs just taking the word of a salesperson who wants a bigger sale Smiley Wink

 

I've looked up the lens you recommend - i think - the closest i can find is the CANON EF-S 55-250MM 4-5.6 IS (no II??) and 55 vs 50? is this the right lense?  http://www.henrys.com/23938-CANON-EF-S-55-250MM-4-5-6-IS-LENS.aspx

____________________
Body: Canon 6D, Canon T1i, Canon Elan II,
Glass: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, Canon 70-200 f/4 IS II, Canon 16-35 f/4, Canon 100 f/2.8 macro.
Flash: Canon Speedlite 430ex ii
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: help picking a lens for what i will use it for

[ Edited ]

Both the T5i and 7D are EF-S mounts.  They will accept EF-S and EF lenses.

 

The 7D has fantastic auto-focus capabilities; that’s the primary difference between that and the Rebel line.  Image quality is a little better, but not markedly.  It's a great camera, but the internet makes it sound like you can't get clean pictures of anything that moves with a Rebel.  That’s nonsense.  For professionals where the keeper rate has financial consequences, I understand the need.  For casual shooters, missing a shot here or there really isn’t that big a deal.

 

All that said, I think it’s foolish to upgrade from a T1i to another Rebel model.  Put your money into lenses if you really feel the need to buy something.

 

 

To see if you can get a refurbished T4i from Canon.  Comes with a year warranty.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: help picking a lens for what i will use it for

[ Edited ]

@Maria wrote:

I've looked up the lens you recommend - i think - the closest i can find is the CANON EF-S 55-250MM 4-5.6 IS (no II??) and 55 vs 50? is this the right lense?  http://www.henrys.com/23938-CANON-EF-S-55-250MM-4-5-6-IS-LENS.aspx


The new 55-250 was just released.  Sure it may be better, but people around here were recommending it long before it was even released or real-world reviewed, so take it with a grain of salt.  People get excited about new stuff. 

 

That link above is the old one, and I wouldn't buy it at that price since the new one is just a bit more:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Canon-EF-S-55-250mm-F4-5-6-Cameras/dp/B00EFILVQU

 

Personally though, I'd buy the old one since the prices are plummeting now that a new version is out.  I don't shoot video, so STM doesn't mean much to me.  Here's $180 with some add-on kit:

 

http://www.amazon.com/55-250mm-4-0-5-6-Telephoto-Digital-Accessory/dp/B00DLD0BKW/ref=sr_1_3?s=electr...

 

Give it another few weeks it'll probably cost under $150.

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