I know it's not f2.8, but consider getting the EF-S 10-22 f3.5-4.5. When dealing with wide angle, losing one stop is not a huge deal. A used or refurbished version should be less than your budget.
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It never ceases to amaze me how wife’s on this forum aren’t capable of picking there own cameras.
Go on take her to a camera shop and let her decide. Who’s the camera really for?
Anyways, your wave shots are all learning experiance, as are all shots. The more you shoot the more you will learn to see the scene as your camera will. You are not bad, I feel bad offering advice, as if you are BAD. you are doing great, and we all will have our own tastes in what a great shot should be. If you are happy with a shot, thats what counts
Thanks all for your input. I still haven't decided on which to get yet.
My budget is around $600.
Yes, her main usage will be for easy carry-around (specially vacations, and weekend outings). I want to get her something simple and not too complicated, but yet something she can grow upon. iPhone 5's and the 'simplier' versions of P&S will not due, as I wanted a little more but perhaps something just below a Rebel lineup or similar.
Thank you, but you may get in trouble pricing me so openly... I am a "black sheep" around here, I dare to criticize canon
And to top it of (God have mercy) I hate HDR!!!
If you really want a better dynamic range consider Nikon cameras. Some have 3 stops more DR than your T2i. But graduated ND filters can also be used as mentioned to work with the limitations of your camera.
Cokin holder, graduated ND, 3 stops, hard transition. Do it now, believe me later.
For family pictures, 5D2 or 6D(if you're willing to wait) might be enough. That way, you can afford a more flexible lens (24-105 or 24-70 mark 1) and a flash with some diffuser. I think having better lenses is the better way of doing it. You won't be getting your nice DOF with just 40mm. 40mm for an FF is too short to get some DOF.
Note: You can also retain your T2i or upgrade to 7D/60D and get a 50mm F1.4 or 85 F1.8 or their faster versions to get that nicer DOF than your present equipment.