I am working with a Canon T2i (yes, I know I'm due for an upgrade, but it's doing well by me for now), and I'm looking for another lens to add to my slowly growing collection. I'm currently working with a Canon 60mm f/2.8 USM macro and (rarely and only when I desperately need to pan back and include the whole scene) the 18-55 kit lens.
I've dabbled a few different kinds of photography, but my current focus is portrait/headshot photography, dance rehearsal and performance photography and the occasional walk around street photography. I am not a professional, but have potential to become so. Because of this my budget is low, and I'm looking for something under $1,000.
I want something very sharp with a lower focal distance than 60mm, because sometimes indoors I can't fit the whole subject in the frame (especially at dance rehearsals). My idea for now was to purchase one 85mm f/1.8 to satisfy my need for an upgraded portrait lens, and one 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens as my very sharp walk around lens. The resolution on my T2i is good enough for cropping, so would that ability compensate for any desire to have a zoom? Or should I go back to my original idea for a lens purchase which was the 24-105mm L series zoom, which gives me the focal length freedom but isn't nearly as sharp?
Any info is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much, everyone!
May 19 13 09:20 pm Link
El Segundo, California, US
Moved to Photography forum.
May 19 13 10:28 pm Link
New York, New York, US
If you want something sharp that is good for all around, I might suggest adding a 35mm prime lens to your collection. Your T2i is technically a camera with a crop sensor (multiply the focal length by 1.6 on that body to get the actual focal length). So for instance a 35mm lens would equivelate to a 56mm lens with the crop factor. A 50mm focal length is technically good for all around shooting if you are not doing this full time. If you got an 85mm lens as you mention, on a crop sensor that would be a 136mm lens. The longer the focal length that you go, the more compression the image experiences..etc. Good glass is also much more worth it than upgrades of the camera body most of the time, and with a 35mm lens with your current camera body, you wouldn't break the bank either.
Also, on the note of zooms, I tend to stay away from them as they can have soft focus issues, barrel distortion..etc. You won't really get worthy zooms until you get into the L glass for Canon which can cost you much more than it is worth if you are not a full time shooter using the lens regularly. good luck
May 19 13 10:58 pm Link
Eugene, Oregon, US
24-105 f4 IS.
A little over $1000 at $1149 at B & H.
I have used this lens working for a famous dance photographer.
He has 4 of them and all are very sharp and fast to focus. He uses it on both his full frame and crop bodies.
My own is the 24-120 f4 in Nikon version which is also very sharp and works well for me on crop bodies.
Sisters, Oregon, US
Don't "foof" your money away on a low budget or off brand lens. Save till you can afford an "L" series lens if you are sticking w/Canon. Your lenses are an investment that will last years and hold value. The 24-70 L lens is a fabulous lens. If you want a prime for the described use, a 35mm L as fast as you can afford should work well and last a very long time -long after you've been through several bodies. You will likely move to full frame in your next body upgrade and you won't have to "upgrade" L lenses.
My 2cents worth.
Sisters, Oregon, US
Beverly Hills, California, US
don't let the equipment nazi's beat you up over the T2i, I got a lot of shit about how entry level it is. when I compared it to a 7D a lot of 7D owners had a fit over it. The truth is the 7D and the T2i have similar guts, though the Af is supposedly better on the 7D... possibly. I have 2 7D's now because of the feature set and WFT available. complicated as hell to configure, and the instructions from Canon are cryptic as well. I shoot pageants, like you I have trouble getting the stage all in, with all the know it alls dispensing advice about FF vs cropped, and how the crop gives you more reach, its bull. I have a 24-70mm 2.8 L. it's closer to a 35mm in FOV, not enough to get all the stage in. unless I walk back a few rows in the auditorium. NOT always possible. There are EF-s lenses built for the cropped sensors that will do a decent job, I dunno if you are planning to upgrade later on. those lens choices you suggested won't give you much FOV if you are too close. I would suggest the 24-70mm V1 it might just be a tad over your budget, but it's the most useful range.
I still shoot with my T2i why? because of weight. all that crap in the bag adds up fast, especially that 70-200mm 2.8L IS II, and other stuff, you'd have to be the HULK to lug it around. When you get old and your hands get crampy from a heavy ass camera, its stops being fun. Spend the money on some good lenses.
May 19 13 11:07 pm Link
Thank you for mentioning the cropped sensor! Sensor size is something I learned about recently, which is odd to me that somehow I'd never heard of it before now. But I'm glad I did before purchasing the 85mm and suddenly being able to view molecules when I only expected a moderately tight frame.
May 19 13 11:37 pm Link
Palmerston North, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand
One trick is to see if you can rent lenses from somewhere locally - then you can go into the place and try them out and rent one for a day if you think it's the one you want. Then you can hammer it on subjects and lighting conditions you will use it for and see if it is suitable before you slap down too much on a lens.
I use primes generally for MM stuff, but the lens I leave on my main camera when I put it away is an 18-200mm because of its flexibility.
May 19 13 11:50 pm Link
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Kelsey Bullock Retouch wrote:
I think this lens if you have limited funds is a good deal & will work well for portraits when used in the right conditions ie: lighting & camera settings.
May 19 13 11:56 pm Link
Eugene, Oregon, US
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?at … 4261208183 has 1357 reviews of this lens and is rated with 5 stars.
May 20 13 01:01 am Link
Klamath Falls, Oregon, US
I would suggest the 24-105 L. It will give you a wider angle and a good reach with the crop sensor. It is very sharp and the IS will make a difference with camera shake
May 20 13 01:24 am Link
Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom
Keep the camera you already have.
Get the Canon 85/1.8 - perfect for headshots.
Find a copy of the old model Canon 35mm/2.0 - you'll probably have to buy used, but it should be under $200 - filter size is 52mm. Brilliant little walk-around lens on either a crop frame or full frame camera. prints well up to A2 (17"x22"). Both my kids have this lens (on a 20d and a 30D). I'm using a 35/1.4L on a 5D3 body - but I'll happily borrow a 35/2.0 from them when I want a small light lens.
May 20 13 02:06 am Link
Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
canon EF 17-40 L lens i have one on a crop camera and love it sharp as[ Arthur st john shoots with one on a crop frame] and i also have the 60mm efs lens and love it it sharp as too
May 20 13 02:25 am Link
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
I own a 24-70 2.8L and 24-105 4.0L IS and while both lens were out of action getting fixed I had event shoots that week and I ended buying a $650 Sigma 17-50mm 2.8 EX DC OS HSM to use with a 60D for that meantime (Sigma are confusing with their naming system). The lens was sharp and performed surprisingly well -far better then what I was expecting - Its my first time buy a third party lens and definately won't be the last.
The 60D is my secondary camera and I use a Canon 1Dsmk3 as my primary. This lens will only work on crop cameras and has approx 27mm-80mm range which falls on the standard zoom range. Shooting wide open at f2.8 paired with image stabilizer (OS) gives good usability for event work and half the price of Canons competitor.
On a price over performance comparison its hard to beat.
May 20 13 03:27 am Link
Morisset, New South Wales, Australia
Some like zooms, some like primes.
I think the 50 f/1.4 or 85 1.8 are good lenses at reasonable price, but so are half a dozen other lenses people have mentioned.
May 20 13 03:48 am Link
Albertville, Rhône-Alpes, France
IMHO, the best bang for the buck in this focal length is a used 28-70 2.8L. You can get them for about $700-800.
http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Revi … eview.aspx
May 20 13 04:39 am Link
Miami Beach, Florida, US
Tami Donaldson, catalog image shot with the EF 85 f1.8 on a cropped sensor Canon camera.
Seismic Images wrote:
I quite agree. The EF 50 f1.4 and the EF 85 f1.8 are brilliant lenses, and are particularly effective as a pair if you are shooting with one of the cropped sensor Canons such as my EOS 7D. The 85 f1.8 also gets a lot of use on my full frame Canon 5D Mark II.
May 20 13 04:49 am Link
Charlotte, North Carolina, US
Kelsey Bullock Retouch wrote:
First things first, forget about a budget when it comes to a lens. Save up for a bit longer if it's more expensive than what you currently have. With that said, pick the lens that will do the job you need to get done. What size is that? What aperture is that? Only you can answer that, nobody here can really. I bet there is a photographer here on MM that has had a great experience and another with a horrible experience with every single lens out there. I don't know what you primarily do as far as photography, so I can't speak as to which particular lens you should get. But you know what you do, you know what kind of speed you need, and you know better than everybody. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that whoever responds here with a particular lens is trying to help you out.
May 20 13 06:01 am Link
Lexington, Kentucky, US
I don't shoot canon but I would suggest primes as much as you can until you need a zoom. It's been my experience that zooms tend to need services for recalibrating much sooner than a prime. When it comes to third party lens ill agree that most are junk but there are some nice little gems out there. The Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art is one that has proven to be just as good or maybe a little better than any other 35mm 1.4 on the market. At the $900 price tag it pushes past all the rest with the performance to back up your choice.
May 20 13 06:29 am Link
Bath, England, United Kingdom
On a crop sensor camera like the T2i the EF 24-105 f/4L is a great general purpose lens.
May 20 13 06:55 am Link
I don't shoot Canon so my advice will be more general (but I think it applies none-the-less).
Your thread header was prime vs. zoom. The answer is...it depends upon what type of shooting you want to do.
1. If you're going to do a lot of candid street photography or sports or wildlife than you've gotta get a zoom. You can't tell the Blue Heron to stand still so you can get 30 feet closer. Or freeze the play so you can run to the endzone and shoot the catch. Weddings and photojournalism: you get two bodies (with a different lens on each).
2. Although zooms are popular for bokeh with portraits and boudoir, you can also achieve that result with a wider aperture on a prime. My personal experience is: I tend to put a prime on my body and stick with it. If I want to get closer or further away, I either use my feet or I crop post-production. It's really hard to beat the inherent sharpness of a good prime lens. So for a range of photography (including product photography) you'll benefit from a prime.
3. The advice not to skimp on your glass is something you can take to the bank. Don't be ashamed of the body you're using or apologize for it. Quality glass trumps body almost every time when it comes to importance is shaping the shot or producing a quality result. Buy the best lens you can afford.
May 20 13 01:13 pm Link
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Definitely agree. Here's a good youtube video on the subject.
May 20 13 03:25 pm Link
New York, New York, US
OP: if you want to test lenses before purchasing, check out lensrentals.com. I can tell you from my personal experience that I prefer primes to zooms for sharpness and clarity. I also enjoy them because they make me focus more on composition and making the image vs. zooming in from a million yards away to get the shot. This comes in handy when you want say an 85mm shot to be an 85mm shot when you upgrade to full frame, or a 50mm shot to be a 50mm shot..etc.
May 20 13 03:31 pm Link
These are some really amazing responses, everyone. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me out! I'm going to venture out to Samy's tomorrow to test some out for myself, so hopefully that will help me decide along with your tips!
May 20 13 08:42 pm Link
Don't waste your money on lenses. Spend your money on more lighting equipment and books.
I got caught in the same trap as you early on with the whole sharpness craze and prime lens non sense.
I now use a simple but very effective kit of two cheap zoom lenses which are the canon 18-55 IS & 55-250 IS.
I could not tell the difference image quality wise between the 85 1.8 and my kit lenses even after using exclusively the 85 1.8 paired with an 18-55 for 3 months on a crop body.
Having an effective focal range of 28mm to 400mm gives you way more versatile than any of these over priced prime lenses and your photos won't end up having the same perspective to them which primes are known for thanks to their fixed focal length.
May 20 13 11:04 pm Link
Beverly Hills, California, US
I guess all the owners of high grade lenses are all shmucks and delude themselves into thinking L glass is better. Whatever
May 20 13 11:25 pm Link
Las Vegas, Nevada, US
Personal suggestion for $1,000 lens budget and a T2i (the camera I used until very recently)
Tamron 17-50/2.8 - $300, sell your 18-55 IS for $100ish, for a total cost of $200
they cover the same range and the tamron kicks the shit out of
the kit 18-55
50mm 1.4 - $250 - great for portraits on a crop camera, though your 60 fits this range
so it's either keep the 60, or sell the 60, get this, and add $100 to your
100/2 - $300
70-200/4L non IS - $500
If you don't need macro of the 60mm... Sell it, and use the 50/1.4 instead. If you do, don't get the 50, and get the other 3 lenses. All in all, four very solid lenses, within your budget.
May 20 13 11:37 pm Link
Beckley, West Virginia, US
Technical capabilities of lenses aside, I personally like to work with only prime lenses. I think I pay more attention to the subject and what I'm doing with prime lenses. It is nice to keep a zoom lens around though for when you're not sure exactly what you'll be doing though.
May 21 13 12:08 am Link
I too have an extensive collection of photography and art books. But if you learn best by books (as opposed to mentoring or workshops or video), there's always the library. If the public library doesn't have a good selection (and inter-library loan isn't an option) than walk in to the nearest University library (especially if they've got a visual arts program). You won't be able to check anything out but you can pull it off the stacks and read it.
May 21 13 07:47 am Link
the lonely photographer wrote:
No the L glass is better as in it's faster and offers higher quality but they can actually afford it.
May 21 13 11:26 am Link
This is a portrait based website, forum, and discussion. The OP never mentioned that he's going to need fast lenses to shoot sport venues.
May 21 13 11:35 am Link
Some really interesting discussion going on here!
OP here (and I'm a lady, by the way!)
Just checked out several different lenses at Samy's. Actually ended coming home with a 40mm f/2.8 pancake because it was on sale from $199 down to $150, and since I was considering getting it before I took it as a sign that I was meant to purchase it now! Really versatile, good DOF and super sharp, just so y'all know! I'm planning on doing a few self portraits tonight to get a good feel of its portrait capabilities!
I think I've decided on the 24-105mm L f/4. The f/4 doesn't really bother me and is enough to create a nice smooth blur. Seems sharp enough, though I didn't get to test in the most ideal light conditions of the shop.
I also tried the ABSOLUTELY STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS 85mm f/1.2 ii. The most beautiful lens I've ever seen in my life. Pictures don't do it justice, and its shots are absolutely spectacular. Most definitely going on my long term wish list. If you can afford the $2,000(?) it costs and you're into portraiture, you have to get it. Plus your subjects will love looking into that stunning orb of glass at the front.
There was also a Tamron kit lens of a standard vocal length (17-55 or something like that) that was pretty good that I tried. Pictures were sharp, but the autofocus sound was irritating.
Hope this helps anybody else looking for lenses!
May 21 13 08:05 pm Link
People can have differences of opinion on things. I happen to disagree with you. But you're being just a little bit snarky in your disagreement with me.
May 22 13 02:08 pm Link
Las Vegas, Nevada, US
Kelsey Bullock Retouch wrote:
Sinc you're in L.A...and have the advantage of Samys Camera (damn I miss them)...rent the 100 f2. You'll love what it can do and it's VERY affordable
May 22 13 03:10 pm Link