Lens Chat

I’m considering a new lens or two and would value some opinions. I have a Canon 600D with stock lens, plus a Canon 70-300mm which is great for sports photography.

This morning I was looking at this -


It certainly has great reviews on Amazon. I like the 11mm and the fact it’s F2.8, but does have limited range. I don’t imagine this would matter though, it’s a Wide Angle lens, surely I don’t need much range?

Then I looked into some other Tokina lenses as many comment on great build quality and I find this lens -


This looks to be a good option for a day to day lens, to replace the stock Canon lens.

Any thoughts?


I’ve got a 550D which has been great.

I’ve found the kit lens to be surprisingly good, and great value for money.

I bought the Canon 15-85mm / F3.5-5.6 from the reviews, expecting it to blow me away. To my surprise it seems to perform very similarly to the 18-55 kit lens, no sharper, similar F ratings - just a bit more range. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Canon-EF-S-15-85-3-5-5-6-Lens/dp/B002NEFLDM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360407006&sr=8-1

I also bought this Tamron 18-200mm / F3.5-6.3, which has handy range - but a bit hard to focus. A combination of no Image Stabilization, and lens characteristics (some lenses don’t seem to work so well “wide open”, so you need to stop them down, which means you need more light or higher ISO / lower quality). - http://www.amazon.com/Tamron-Autofocus-18-200mm-3-5-6-3-Nikon/dp/B0007WK8NA/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

I guess my things are to ideally have Image Stabilization and/or a low F rating. Also, whether you need a lens “that” wide, which may be liable to distortion / fish-eye effect?

Some lenses which my photo friends keep recommending (and I am tempted to buy) are the Canon fixed 50mm, with their F1.8 or F1.4 ratings - which gives you loads of light coming through, and ability to play with depth-of-field and bokeh. Or there are other fixed lenses, like 35mm.

I guess a nice thing to do is to try out some of these lenses yourself first, or even rent them for a day or weekend if you can. Or, buy second hand off Ebay from a reputable seller (and re-sell them if you don’t like).

PS - a great website to check prices is, http://camerapricebuster.co.uk/ - though if I try out cameras and lenses somewhere friendly, I try to buy from that shop

Enjoy :slight_smile:

Most reviewers said the distortion and flare were both surprisingly small considering the lens’ field of view. As I mentioned above, like you say, I like the F2.8 on the WA lens.

I too have wondered about a fixed lens (50mm) with nice open F stop. This is the one, right? Wow, I didn’t realise they’re so cheap.

Hi guys, nice thread.

Zander - odd decision to replace one lens with another almost identical? No surprise there isn’t a massive difference #slapshead haha

Andy - the general rule of thumb would be to aim for a wide an aperture as possible if you have a choice. Photography is about light and the more you can let in the camera the better right?

That’s not to say you’ll use the lens ‘wide open’ at that aperture - often where the lens delivers it’s weakest performance - but consider this every-single-day advantage:

You have two lenses in your bag: a f3.5 - f5.6 zoom covering 18-70mm, and a 50mm f1.4

You are happy with the 50mm focal length for the image in view. The optimal exposure is 1/125th at f5.6

Now, the zoom lens will be shooting very near its wide-open limit (probably actually about f4 mid way through the zoom range) and the other will be 5 stops away from its wide-open, ie weakest, performance point .

Which do you think will deliver a better quality image?

The downside obviously is the lack of zoom range, but as we used to say in the old days, you already have a zoom option built in. Your legs.

Regarding zooms in general - they are a compromise lens. Period. The longer the zoom the bigger the compromise. Trick is finding the balance between flexibility (the only plus point) and the numerous disadvantages : weight, size, optical quality, cost, aperture, focussing speed, build quality etc.

On your camera (being a 1.6x sensor I believe) certainly the first zoom would be the better option of the two shown by some distance. Sure it doesn’t do the full range but you already have the stock lens and another which starts at 70mm.

If you want to flog those lenses and carry only one, then the latter is an option. Otherwise you’re just throwing money away IMO.

A constant 2.8 aperture means it’s pretty bright - certainly for a zoom - and I bet the lens is both smaller and lighter than the bigger range alternative.

I also believe that most photos you take will be either on the wide end or slightly zoomed in, simply because they offer perspectives which the human eye doesn’t - whereas a 50mm (in the old days at least) was as close the eye’s perspective re distance etc as possible to get. So tends to excite the brain less.

Oh, and I’ll also say that I ran a Sigma 17-70mm f2/8-4 zoom for many many years and aside from a slightly noisy zoom I loved it on my 20D. Great focal range, pretty bright, good images and crackin’ macro capability (1:2) which I miss quite a lot.

It doesn’t work at all well with the bigger 1D but then again it’s not meant to. It’s currently being ragged by my brother in law as he learns photography too.

Good points there from Andrew. With lenses there is a simple rule, cheap zooms are usually crap, you can get away with a cheap prime (non zoom) the 50mm f1.8 (usually called a nifty fifty) is a great example of that. It is a cheap plastic housing around a very nice lens. Well worth having in your bag even if it is just to teach you about serious depth of field.

Good lenses cost a lot of money, BUT they hold their value well. They also have more to do with the image quality than the camera body.

I have some lenses you could borrow.

70-200mm L f4 IS (REALLY nice lens - absolute bargain and compares well to the much more expensive f2.8 version.
24-105mm L f4. Almost perfect every day lens
100 f2.8 macro REally good fun for taking closeups of bugs and flowers etc.

I recently sold a Canon 28-135 - that’s a very nice lens for cheapish money (not an L lens but nicer than the kit lenses.

Let me know if you want a loaner…


I’ve got the Sigma 17 - 70 that Andrew spoke of and can recommend it as a good everyday lens, but, I also have a 50mm 1.4 and I love it, the depth of field at wide apertures is tiny and gives lovely bokeh in the backgrounds, fantastic and a real bargain. Also got the 70-200Lf4 which like you I use for sport, and anything moving that is more than about 5m away.

Having invested in an L series lens, the difference is noticeable and worth it, I would now always look for a used L series than a new, cheaper quality lens if my budget supports it. like Simon said, they really hold their value.

Some great info so far. I think I might need to read through a few times to get my head round some of it.

How about filters? Are they still necessary with digital photography, or do you just shoot in RAW and edit in Photoshop?

I’m looking at polorizing filters, some are £14, some are £60. Is there a big difference?

“Filters” covers a lot of things. In film days coloured filters were used to get the right exposure. Today, I wouldn’t bother. However, a polarizer is useful to combat reflections and get nicer skies. ND filters are useful to block out light - this is useful for when you want a long exposure for instance to create blurring of water where there is too much light.

I would steer clear of VERY cheap poloarizers and I also wouldn’t go for a top end brand either - something midrange is usually fine, but wait until you have you lens choices sorted (as the lens/filter thread size can vary).

Good point. I now have my eyes on one of these Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens, which would need a much larger filter.

First of all, don’t even think just buy the 50mm f/1.8, the so called “nifty fifty”. This was my first lens in the digital SLR era and I simply loved it. It really will transform your photography - the first time you take a shot wide open and realise just how thin the depth of field can be, you’ll be hooked. Everyone should have one.

Think carefully before you invest in a wide angle zoom like the 10-22. The vast majority of people I know bought one and then had it sit on a shelf for a good long while - they rarely get actually used. The only folks who really use them are people who photograph rooms, e.g. I have a friend who does a lot of interior design work and for him it’s a dream. I had one for a while, realised it did nothing and sold it. I do have a fun wide-angle lens – it’s the Samyang 14mm f/2.8, and its great for just playing with if you really want wide (the AF doesn’t work with my 60D but at that kind of wide angle MF isn’t an issue).

I spent a long time choosing my “walkabout” lens, and have ended up with the Canon 17-55 EFS f/2.8. It’s simply stunning - about the best I could possibly put on a crop body camera. To upgrade from there, I’d need to change to full frame (and start playing with L lenses). The glass really is very good, I’ve used a number of very good Canon lenses and it’s right up there.

My next purchase is going to be the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L. I’ve rented this lens twice, once on Safari in South Africa, and I absolutely love it. On a crop body it’s getting right up there for range with the long range zooms, but at the same time it’s very versatile, you can quite happily shoot most of a day with it. Beyond that I’ll probably get the 70-200 f/4L - a bargain for what it is, again I’ve had one on loan and its razor sharp, as well as being very light. Of course, if I had infinite amounts of money I’d also add the 70-200 f/2.8L IS version, but at that point I’d probably be moving to full frame anyway :wink:

My advice is see if you can actually play with the lenses you’re considering. I’ve had and sold quite a lot of lenses, and looking back I think if I’d taken the time t really play with some I’d probably not have bought them. If you’d like to come and play with any of mine you’re welcome to.


Hmm, I’m looking 50mm but the 1.4. Is the 1.8 better value at under £100?

Interesting points about the wide angle. I’m thinking when I’m on holiday it would be better for buildings and scenic shots. Do you think not?

I honestly don’t think that the difference between 11 and 17/18 on your crop body camera is going to make much difference for your holiday. For scenic shots definitely not - buildings, maybe if you’re limited in how you can frame the picture (e.g. you need to take a picture of a room from inside the room so there’s a wall behind you) but really the difference isn’t that huge. Plus you’ll be complaining about having to change lenses (trust me). I think you’ll end up not using it.

The 1.8 is perfectly adequate - how much is the 1.4? I’d guess quite a bit more. Bear in mind that the 50mm is actually around 80mm length on your crop body - this isn’t a “normal” lens in the old sense when on your camera. It’s actually closer to a portrait lens. You’ll have a lot of fun with it, but I wouldn’t be investing lots of money in an expensive 50mm.

If you really want to spend a bit more, I’d go for the 28mm 1.8. I had one for a while, and it’s a great lightweight walkabout lens on a crop camera. I only sold it when I got the 17-55 f/2.8 IS - I found I wasn’t using it any more (I actually traded it in to buy the Samyang wide angle). 28mm gives you about 45mm equivalent, so this is probably the closest to the old ‘normal’ lens.

An interesting lens I’m considering buying is the 40mm pancake. Truly lightweight for very portable requirements! :slight_smile:

I was looking at getting a 10-20 sigma lens to put on a Nikon D60. What do you think ?

Damn. Each time I think I know what lens I want… I change my mind!

So, if I forget about wide angle, maybe 50mm is not what it would be on full frame, so I just look for one, decent, every day lens. How about this one, Canon EF-S 18-135mm?

Sure. I had a Sigma 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 OS as a walk around lens for a while. For general daytime photography it was fine. As Andrew said, any zoom is a compromise…here you get a good range light weight lens with image stabilisation for little money. If you get that and the nifty fifty for wide aperture fun, that should keep you going for a while.

these are all very good points, which make lens choice so very hard!

buy a 50mm you wont regret it, i spent the extra £100 on the 1.4 and the DOF is so tiny you have to be so precise and unless that is important to you the 1.8 will be fine and half the price.

if i had a limitless budget my lens choices would be the 24-105f4L the 70-200f2.8lIS and a host of primes including 11mm, 35mm, 50mm 100mm and then some big ones for wild life and sport.

happy hunting, if you want to borrow some you would be more than welcome.


I dont think you posted what you were planning to do with the lens. That is important… what do you want to shoot?

Well, it’s general stuff. I just enjoy taking photo’s of things. I have my zoom lens for sporting events and track days. Then, it’s mainly about holidays, ride outs and things like bike shows or museums.

A few points in favour of wide angle. I took two pictures from my bedroom window of the snow this morning.

These are both at 18mm and are perfect examples of when I want to go wider. Wider and I could have taken just one photo…

Then, looking through some of my albums on Google Plus, I can see the focal length that each shot was taken at.

Ride Outs - 18-22mm for most shots about Ace Cafe or at stop offs. Around 30-55mm of people if they’re riding and I’m roadside.

Museums & Shows - the vast majority are at 18mm and I think I quite often step back to fit more in the frame. Sometimes I’ll use my phone so I can do a panoramic to fit more in.

Family & Friends - Again, most around the 18-22mm area, with a few up in 30mm.

I guess ideally I’d like something that goes from around 14mm to 70mm. Does such a lens exist?

EDIT Maybe this 15-85mm is what I need?

Yes…but not for a crop camera. 14-70 x 1.6 = 22.4-112. Go full frame and buy the 24-105 f/4L IS. It’s the perfect walkabout lens imho, I just can’t justify going full frame at the moment :slight_smile:

Edit: just saw your edit, yup I guess that looks interesting for your needs right now as a general walkabout lens.