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Author Topic: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories  (Read 1701 times)

TroopersSon

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First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« on: April 03, 2014, 01:26:37 PM »
Hi Guys,

I'm looking to pick some of your expertise with regards to what lenses and/or accessories you would recommend for a new SLR user. I recently bought a 700D, partly in anticipation of my trip to Iceland later on this month. At the moment I just have the standard 18-55mm IS Lens that came with the camera, and am looking for some tips on what can help me take some great photos while I'm away.

I've been recommended getting a UV filter and a gradient filter - although I am unsure what benefits these would bring and how the quality of the third party filters that seem to litter amazon/ebay stands up? As far as I understand it they would help 'sharpen' the image and dampen any glare (something I imagine there will be a fair amount of in Iceland).

Is there anything you would consider a vital accessory that is easy to get to grips with as a novice?

Many thanks  :)

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First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« on: April 03, 2014, 01:26:37 PM »

Don Haines

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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 01:58:35 PM »
Hi Guys,

I'm looking to pick some of your expertise with regards to what lenses and/or accessories you would recommend for a new SLR user. I recently bought a 700D, partly in anticipation of my trip to Iceland later on this month. At the moment I just have the standard 18-55mm IS Lens that came with the camera, and am looking for some tips on what can help me take some great photos while I'm away.

I've been recommended getting a UV filter and a gradient filter - although I am unsure what benefits these would bring and how the quality of the third party filters that seem to litter amazon/ebay stands up? As far as I understand it they would help 'sharpen' the image and dampen any glare (something I imagine there will be a fair amount of in Iceland).

Is there anything you would consider a vital accessory that is easy to get to grips with as a novice?

Many thanks  :)

The need for UV filters went away with film... In digital, the camera is not sensitive to UV so they have no use other than to provide protection for the lens element.

Since you will be shooting outdoors and there will be skies and water involved, I would look at a polarizing filter.... and stay away from the cheap ones....

Also, do you shoot in RAW? Shooting in RAW and post-processing with software like Lightroom will have more impact on your protography than any camera or lens will.

If you are hunting for a new lens, the 70-200F4 can be had for a reasonable price (twice that for the IS version) and is a VERY nice lens to use and will expand the range of your camera. Watch out for the superzooms (18-200 and more) as the image quality really suffers.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 02:01:31 PM by Don Haines »
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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 02:30:43 PM »
I've seen many beautiful night scene images from Iceland…and there's no way to get those without a decent tripod.
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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2014, 02:51:32 PM »
Yes, the above poster mentioned probably the most important thing: tripod.  It'll let you have more time to compose a scene and to really think about it, especially if it's in an awkward position, like down low, where it may be uncomfortable to compose for any more than a few seconds.  It also lets you use live view to get critical focus easily.  Make sure you get a tripod that has separate legs that are not connected; they are much more versatile and easier to set up.

Besides that, in order to prepare for your trip, more than anything, I would study the work of photographers you like, and determine what about their pictures makes you like them so much.  Then you try and do those same things.  Go and start practicing, as much as you can, right NOW.  Learn as much as you can before your trip.  For many of us, these kinds of trips are once in a lifetime trips.  You don't want to come back with absolute dog S___ pictures after having spent thousands of dollars to travel to an amazing place like Iceland. 

What's your budget like?  You may want to think about picking up an additional lens, perhaps an ultra-wide like the Sigma 10-20mm or Canon 10-22mm for a few hundred bucks.  They certainly have a unique look to the pictures they produce, but just make sure to really be aware of, and include an interesting foreground.

I'd also buy a remote shutter release, which will allow you to not have to touch the camera right before a picture, which can then include vibration in the image, especially in low light or slow shutter speeds.  Something like this is effective and cheap: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/765666-REG/Vello_RS_C2II_RS_C2II_Wired_Remote_Switch.html

I'd definitely buy a circular polarizer.  Be careful when you use it at a wide angle, it can make the color of the sky really uneven which you then have to fix afterwards in your photo editing program, and can be rather difficult sometimes too.  I'd also buy a neutral density filter, always handy to have on hand to slow down your shutter speed (waterfalls, ocean water, cloud movement, etc).  I wouldn't spend money on a graduated neutral density filter, as you can do that in your photo editing program.  But make sure to bracket your exposures, or take multiple exposures, so that you have good lighting in both the ground and shadows, as well as the sky.

And finally: stay warm!  Nothing makes me want to go back to find a warm place than being cold.  If I'm properly dressed, I can photograph all day in -20°F weather.  If I'm only wearing a tshirt and it's 55° out, I pack up my stuff and leave, or go find a sweater.

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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2014, 04:59:24 PM »
I would buy a 77mm circular polarizer and step rings to fit the lens you have now and the nice wide lens you could rent for your trip.  Also take a decent tripod and enough cards that you can shoot either raw alone if you're comfortable with that or raw+jpeg.

Jim
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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2014, 11:43:47 PM »
Hi Guys,

I'm looking to pick some of your expertise with regards to what lenses and/or accessories you would recommend for a new SLR user. I recently bought a 700D, partly in anticipation of my trip to Iceland later on this month. At the moment I just have the standard 18-55mm IS Lens that came with the camera, and am looking for some tips on what can help me take some great photos while I'm away.

I've been recommended getting a UV filter and a gradient filter - although I am unsure what benefits these would bring and how the quality of the third party filters that seem to litter amazon/ebay stands up? As far as I understand it they would help 'sharpen' the image and dampen any glare (something I imagine there will be a fair amount of in Iceland).

Is there anything you would consider a vital accessory that is easy to get to grips with as a novice?

Many thanks  :)

The 18-55mm lens is neither very wide nor a telephoto, so you might want to supplement it or replace it with a lens like the 15-85mm.  Then, one of the 70-200 or 70-300 L lenses would give you a lot of coverage.
 
Don't be afraid to buy Canon Refurbished lenses, you save money and get a 1 year warranty.
 
As far as filters go, they do not sharpen images, they degrade images.  The best ones like B&W, Heliopan have little noticible degradation, while the cheap ones on Amazon can have a big impact, and are wasted money.
 
UV filters are a sucker bet, you do not need UV filters.  Some buy them as lens protection.
 
Graduated filters can be used to darken a bright sky, they should be considered as a advanced tool, you may not be able to take advantage unless you are doing manual exposures.
 
Certainly a good tripod.  The problem is that a good one can cost you a bundle, and a cheap one is trouble. 
 
Certainly a remote release, this is one area where the cheap Amazon ones may save you money.
 
A Good Flash.  There are some reasonably priced Flash units that are compatible with Canon DSLR's.
 
Are you wanting to do video?  For bright outdoor video, ND filters are needed to reduce the light.  You do not have the capability of using high shutter speeds to reduce light, and if you want a shallow deoth of field, ND's are a must.  A ND filter is merely a light reducing filter, but cheap ones are not going to do a good job.
 
Probably the most important thing is to buy a few needed accessories and a lens or two, and learn how to use the camera to capture great photos.  Having the best gear in the world does not mean great photos, the photographer still is the one who makes or breaks a photo, so don't go overboard on accessories.
 
Learn to use RAW and do your processing with the Free DPP software that came with your camera.  I use lightroom and photoshop, but there are many good software photo editors and a lot of bad ones.
 
When you use jpeg, you may get many good photos, but taking a raw image gives you the ability to process the image as you saw it, not as the camera software guessed at it.  Sometimes capturing both raw and jpeg allows you to immediately upload the jpeg image or e-mail it to friends, and then manually process the best images later to keep or make prints.
 
 

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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2014, 12:41:12 AM »
Look at the 28 mm 1.8. Light weight, great for low light, and very natural field of view at 45mm equivalent.
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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2014, 12:41:12 AM »

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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2014, 07:55:36 AM »
For your trip, make sure that you get a bulb/rocket blower and a lens pen.  The lens pen is invaluable and easy to keep on you should you get dust or water on your lens out in the field. 

I would also recommend a battery grip.  This does 2 things - doubles your battery life and could make the 700d more comfortable to hand hold for extended periods of time.  I have larger hands and found that my pinkie finger could not grip the rebel as the camera was not long enough to fit my hand. Other than canon brand I have used Vello and found that they work as advertised.

If you choose to get a tripod, as recommended above, I would include a hotshoe mount bubble level.  They are cheap and will help prevent uneven horizon lines.

+1 on the remote shutter release.  They are inexpensive and can be wired or wireless.

Get a comfortable camera bag for your stuff.

If you think you will be carrying your camera around your neck, you also may want to look for a padded camera strap.   There are tons of options here and per this forum, black rapid solutions seem to be popular.

Get a couple (2-3) memory cards.

Not necessary, but a small flash with a clip on diffuser could come in handy.  I've used the 270ex for a long time, and though it does not have all of the bells and whistles of canons other flash units, it's small, portable, not expensive, and the version ii model can be triggered off camera by your 700d I believe.  There are also lots of 3rd party options with yongnou being very popular.

As for lenses, it all depends on your budget of course.   I would recommend the following:

Efs 17-55
Efs 10-22
70-200l 2.8 or f4
Efs 60 macro

Of course this is a recommendation only and I have experience with the choices.  You can find these on canons reburb page for a considerable cost savings as well. There are good 3rd party options also.   +1 on avoiding super zooms for the time being.

Filters - b+w filters and protectors with the multi coating.

At least 2 batteries.

Hmm, am I forgetting any thing?  :)

Enjoy your trip!


« Last Edit: April 06, 2014, 08:57:04 AM by wsmith96 »
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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2014, 09:35:02 AM »
Welcome fellow newbie! You came for the Canon Gear, but you'll stay for the people.

First and foremost there are two items that you need more than anything else - the aforementioned Tripod & Camera bag.

I bought the Dolica AX730P105 73-Inch Proline Tripod and Pan Head with the scratch I had. So far I haven't had any problems with it and to this date I swear by it. You MUST have a good tripod if you're going to take long exposures.

Canon 2400 SLR Gadget Bag for EOS SLR Cameras I must admit that this is the best camera bag I've bought! But it's also the only one I've ever bought. ANY camera bag is better than none. I store everything thing in this bag, including my battery chargers, memory cards and business cards from local photography/print shops.

I also have to +1 on the memory cards, Everyone here says you need at least 2 - I say that to play it safe you need FOUR when you're going on a long trip.

I know this sound counter intuitive and might be regarded as blasphemy by other CR members and for what it’s worth I’m really new to the DSLR realm but I would buy only the two essentials (Tripod and Camera bag) and hold off on buying lenses for a little while like I am, now. I bought the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II Telephoto Zoom with my T3i and I’m starting to wish that I held off a little while longer after doing some research.

Keep a diary of the photos you’re taking and the kind of photos you want to take, participate in this forum and ask intelligent questions while mastering what you already have before you buy anything else.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2014, 09:45:44 AM by EricFiskCGD »
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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2014, 10:19:50 AM »
Tripod (considering you are shooting aspc and will want night shots)
Bag (comfortable and carry on)
Memory cards (with practice you'll know you needs: ie for me it's roughly 4gb per day in average)
Batteries (at least one)
Battery grip (if your hands feel confortable on it, with the added bonus of the battery life)

That's the very core IMHO. Filters (specially polarizing) come next. That will be necessary for your trip f you want to go beyond snapshots.

As to the inevitable lenses.
1- Try the old method of "locking" a zoom into one focal lenght for a day and see if you like it. That may give you a taste for primes. Some are cheap and efficient (shorty forty comes in mind, 85 1.8, sigma 35 to some extend depending on your definition of Cheap)
2- Depending on your taste of photography and your finances, determine if you will upgrade your body in the not so distant future. If so, skip the mid range and aim straight for L glass. Glass before body is the name of the game.

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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2014, 12:59:33 PM »
Good suggestions above.  Start with the practical and just keep shooting as much as you can right now.  Lens cleaner -- easy way is to use a little blower to remove dust, then use a Zeiss wet wipe and a microfiber cloth to dry. 

UV or clear filters can be used for protection, but a cheap filter will reduce the quality of your images.  A good filter can cost almost as much as some inexpensive lenses, so some people only buy the expensive protection filters for their more expensive lenses.  A circular polarizer is a good idea for outdoor shots and to reduce reflections (glass, water, etc).  If you are going to spend good money on a quality CP filter, it is best to buy a large one and then buy "step-up" rings to fit it to the filter diameter of your smaller lenses.  Neutral density filters (solid or gradient) reduce the amount of light that enters your lens, allowing you to use a wider aperture for shallower depth of field or a slower shutter speed.  CP and ND filters take practice.

It is hard to suggest a bag when you don't know what type of gear you'll be bringing, but for the camera and 18-55, a Zing wrap works really well until you do.  You can throw the combo into a backpack or something until you know where you're going in terms of extra lenses, etc. 

A good neck strap is also well worth the money, consider straps (Optech, Tamrac) that have quick releases so you can remove the strap when packing or shooting on the tripod. 

A tripod is also good in general (for travelling, that is your call).  Get a fluid-head if you want to shoot smooth panning (i.e. videos), or get a ball-head if you are basically looking for stills.  In terms of quick-release tripod heads and camera plates, everything is brand specific except for those that refer to "Arca Swiss."  AS is a brand but also a type of dovetail that is basically public domain and so lots of manufacturers use it.  Also something that you can find lower-cost options on Amazon.  Some tripods come with heads, some are just legs and you buy the head separately.

A remote release is a good idea.  The wired ones are best, but the wireless remotes can be used for selfies.  (I have a Canon brand wireless and a generic wired remote with a built-in intervalometer...)

As for lenses, lots of people here will spend your money very quickly.  If you are new to photography, you can do a lot with the modern "kit" lenses (18-55, 55-250, 18-135).  Plus they are lightweight and easy to carry around.  The best camera is the one you have with you -- and use.  There are some inexpensive lenses that are a lot of fun, especially the 50mm 1.8 and the 40mm 2.8.  The 50 is a little older and a little bit longer, but it lets in more light and creates a shallower "depth of field," meaning more blurry out-of-focus backgrounds (often called "bokeh").  The 40 is newer, smaller, quieter, focuses a little more closely, and has a slightly wider field of view.  The 28mm 1.8 or 35mm 2.0 (not the IS version) can be had used for a little bit more than that, and they make a good "normal" lens with a wide aperture like the nifty 50.  It is hard to find an ultra-wide lens for APS-C (or "crop") sensors, but the 10-22 is well liked and can be found somewhat inexpensively used.  These can make for nice landscape photos, but you can do those with the 18mm end of your zoom, too.  If you are into taking pictures of flowers, bugs, etc, consider a macro lens (50mm 2.5, 60mm 2.8, 100mm 2.8 ).  Look at completed listings on eBay to get a good idea of used prices.  The third party manufacturers make a lot of lenses, too, but I don't have much experience with that.  If you are just starting out, consider a standard zoom (your 18-55), a telephoto zoom (55-250 or 70-300), and a fast "normal" lens (28/35 on crop). 

You have a pop-up flash on your Rebel, and that will work for "fill flash."  Consider buying a "Gary Fong Puffer" for your pop-up.  It is a lightweight and easy way to soften the light and avoid the "deer in the headlights" look.  The next step up is something like the 430EXII which has a swivel and lets you bounce the light around a modify it. 
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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2014, 09:34:25 PM »
If so, skip the mid range and aim straight for L glass. Glass before body is the name of the game.

Newbie Question: How can we tell if the lens we're interested in buying has "L Glass?" Is there an "L" in the product name or something?
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Jim Saunders

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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2014, 09:41:50 PM »
If so, skip the mid range and aim straight for L glass. Glass before body is the name of the game.

Newbie Question: How can we tell if the lens we're interested in buying has "L Glass?" Is there an "L" in the product name or something?

A red or (much less commonly) green ring around the end of the lens, or an L following the advertised aperture.  There are similar lenses which have L (Luxury) and non-L focal ranges, the 100mm f/2.8 macros and some of the 70-300 or so zooms.  If you can get L lenses in good shape second-hand they usually hold their value well enough after that, that owning them is basically a long-term rental.

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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2014, 09:41:50 PM »

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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2014, 10:08:11 PM »
Thanks, Jim - I learned something new tonight!
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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2014, 11:43:09 PM »
Yes, the above poster mentioned probably the most important thing: tripod.  It'll let you have more time to compose a scene and to really think about it, especially if it's in an awkward position, like down low, where it may be uncomfortable to compose for any more than a few seconds.  It also lets you use live view to get critical focus easily.  Make sure you get a tripod that has separate legs that are not connected; they are much more versatile and easier to set up.

Besides that, in order to prepare for your trip, more than anything, I would study the work of photographers you like, and determine what about their pictures makes you like them so much.  Then you try and do those same things.  Go and start practicing, as much as you can, right NOW.  Learn as much as you can before your trip.  For many of us, these kinds of trips are once in a lifetime trips.  You don't want to come back with absolute dog S___ pictures after having spent thousands of dollars to travel to an amazing place like Iceland. 

What's your budget like?  You may want to think about picking up an additional lens, perhaps an ultra-wide like the Sigma 10-20mm or Canon 10-22mm for a few hundred bucks.  They certainly have a unique look to the pictures they produce, but just make sure to really be aware of, and include an interesting foreground.

I'd also buy a remote shutter release, which will allow you to not have to touch the camera right before a picture, which can then include vibration in the image, especially in low light or slow shutter speeds.  Something like this is effective and cheap: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/765666-REG/Vello_RS_C2II_RS_C2II_Wired_Remote_Switch.html

I'd definitely buy a circular polarizer.  Be careful when you use it at a wide angle, it can make the color of the sky really uneven which you then have to fix afterwards in your photo editing program, and can be rather difficult sometimes too.  I'd also buy a neutral density filter, always handy to have on hand to slow down your shutter speed (waterfalls, ocean water, cloud movement, etc).  I wouldn't spend money on a graduated neutral density filter, as you can do that in your photo editing program.  But make sure to bracket your exposures, or take multiple exposures, so that you have good lighting in both the ground and shadows, as well as the sky.

And finally: stay warm!  Nothing makes me want to go back to find a warm place than being cold.  If I'm properly dressed, I can photograph all day in -20°F weather.  If I'm only wearing a tshirt and it's 55° out, I pack up my stuff and leave, or go find a sweater.


For me, when I started out a few years ago, I was overwhelmed with all the options and possibilities.  To a degree, I still am.  And looking at these posts, it's probably still overwhelming.  (BTW, excellent advice, folks!)  One thing you may want to consider when deciding on lenses is renting one or more that suits your interests.  The best thing about renting is that you can use high-quality glass for a mere pittance of the cost of buying the lens outright.  The worst thing about renting is that the lens is a rental, and not all people care for rental equipment like it was their own.  I have had good success renting lenses, so if you can find a reputable dealer, you should be OK.

Cold weather drains batteries, so I'd pack a couple of extra ones if you're going to be out for an extended period of time.  Also, the circular polarizer (NOT the cheap kind) is your friend, but you have to learn how to effectively use it.  I agree with the other posters - get out there and practice.  Learn your equipment so you spend more time shooting than fiddling.

Good luck and have fun!

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Re: First time SLR user looking for advice on lenses/accessories
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2014, 11:43:09 PM »