Starting Out



Having completed an enormous amount of research on cameras, came down to Canon (the Canon felt so much better in the hand than the smaller Nikon bodies). Have decided on full frame and prepared to wait for the 5D mk3. While I will pay more for this privilege, I think the wait will be well worth it.
Subject matters will be diverse but predominately landscape, wildlife and anything of interest in various situations.
Lenses. The best advice given by a pro was to invest in glass. A point well backed up my forums etc. In light of this I am looking at purchasing the 70-200 F2.8L II IS and will wait for the replacement of the 24-70 2.8L (ideally, I would like this with the Mk3). I believe these two lenses provide me with the best versatility in these ranges. Wide angle is my sticking point. I could go with either the 16-35 F2.8L II or the 17-40 F4.0L II but am considering as an alternative adding both the 14mm F2.8L II & TSE 17mm F4.0L Tiltshift. The former to provide the ultra wide and the later for its versatility. Appreciate that this later option costs more and the Tiltshift means manual focus but I am prepared to be patient in need. I know I am probably going overboard here bit I would also like a prime for low light & night shots without using a flash which could also double as a portrait lens. Sorry about the long post but I wanted to give as much info as I could to enable informed suggestions.


"No good photo goes unnoticed!"
Feb 3, 2011
Good info. Nice setup you're aiming for. All L...
All I can say is that the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM II is a brilliant piece of glass. I use it with the 7D I got a while back and I love it.
I think you made the right decision (even though I am partial) :D , the Nikons felt odd in my hands. Couldn't quite "get it right". There are some features in the Nikons that are better than the Canon, but I've found I don't really miss those. Like more than 3 shot bracketing etc. the internetz is full of vs lists.

I'm going to stay with my 7D for a while still as it has excellent speed, and that's the one thing I need more than anything. I take a lot of shots of my dogs playing around and they tend to move.... fast... ;D

Good choice and welcome to the camp!


Feb 22, 2011
I enjoyed reading your plans! Good and solid decision making and a solid budget! But we live only once...
To your lens plans: 70-200 2.8 II is a no-brainer.
Are you sure about the 14? I know Australia is wide but is it really so wide (I live there too) I can imagine playing around with extra-extra-compositions but IMO it is difficult to fill in so much scenery with enough quality to look at THE WHOLE frame later. 14 is a tremendous "brush" but IMO more for real-estate agents of the higher category - extreme angles sell better there.
You are ready to sacrifice AF in wide angle - I agree completely - my suggestion is - skip the zoom too and try a prime like my ZE 21/2.8 or a 18 or a 35/whatever there are two now. A 21/2.8 and the 70-200 will make your (and hopefully mine) 5DIII shine. I wouldn't bother with zoom wide angles (Only one Nikkor competes there but we are now on the other side of the river).
Cheers Mate 8),
PS. Look into a 50 prime too (probably doesn't need AF either ;) as you have the 70-200 USM already.


Oct 16, 2010
Hi Dymonds. The 85mm f1.2 might be the answer for you. I don't own one, so can't speak from personal experience. But it fits the bill for low light, night shots and portraits. It gets good reviews and is on my "one day...." list.

I agree with the above post. A 14mm lens is difficult to master. You've really got to get into the middle of the action or have a prominent subject to make it work. But its an exceptional lens. A lens around the 20mm mark might be a better starting point. But its a hard call - you will always find situations when you will want a wider lens.

If people are going to be in the photo, I find 24mm a good compromise. Using a wider lens, people are either too small or you have to get too close and they look distorted. (although, the distorted look is fun occasionally).

Also, if wildlife photography is in your future, a wide angle lens can play an integral role. But the problem with shooting wildlife with a 14mm is that you have to get up REALLY close. It's usually not that easy! Most wildlife photographers usually carry a wide angle zoom. The 16-35 being the obvious choice.

Also, if wildlife is on the cards, depending on your budget, there's no point in covering every mm. You might want to skip the 24-70mm and maybe investigate a 400mm+ lens (or maybe a 300mm with a teleconverter).

If it was me and I was starting again from scratch, I'd just start off with a wide angle lens, a fast prime (either 50mm or 85mm) and the 70-200 and see where my interests take me. You can always buy more gear later.

Aug 31, 2010
Madrid, Spain
* on the wide end, consider the tokina 16-28 f/2.8

* primes offer much more than faster apertures:
- they are usually sharper, maybe just a bit if you're comparing non-L primes with some of the best L zooms
- but the main thing (at least for me) is that if you don't make a very bad choice of prime, they offer much, much, much nicer bokeh (though I think the 70-200 f/2.8L is one of the zooms with the nicest bokeh)

so I'd say: add a few non-L primes to that list (on full frame, I'd go for 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, and 85mm f/1.8)

whenever I have the time to go around changing lenses, nothing is shot with a zoom

edit: some people sharing similar opinions to mine:


Rather than waiting around for all of this new gear to arrive that doesn't even exist yet and who knows when it ever will, personally I would just buy the existing iterations of these things used now. Then when the new stuff does finally arrive and it's actually available, sell the older used stuff for the same price you paid for it and upgrade.

As far as a 14mm on full frame, Thom Hogan has a great shot illustrating the proper use of a 14mm lens. It's for putting yourself right in the middle of something and exaggerating perspective exactly as done here.

He rotates the picture at the top of his site every week or so, so the "biking" shot will probably be gone a few days from now.


Aug 26, 2010
S P said:
Rather than waiting around for all of this new gear to arrive that doesn't even exist yet and who knows when it ever will, personally I would just buy the existing iterations of these things used now. Then when the new stuff does finally arrive and it's actually available, sell the older used stuff for the same price you paid for it and upgrade.

As far as a 14mm on full frame, Thom Hogan has a great shot illustrating the proper use of a 14mm lens. It's for putting yourself right in the middle of something and exaggerating perspective exactly as done here.
As for buying now, I agree completely. Because of the situation in Japan, there's no telling when the 5D Mark III might arrive (the 1Ds Mark IV was seemingly 'overdue' even before the earthquake hit). That being said, I saw the original 5D and decided to wait (it didn't have live view). I finally got the 5D Mark II six months after it was released, so it took 3.5 years for me to get it!

I also agree with S P regarding the 14mm. I own the original version of the 14mm f/2.8L, and it's best for getting in close:

Ken Rockwell has a nice article on using ultra-wide lenses -- get in close and distort the perspective -- and a review of the 14mm f/2.8L II. (Yes, I know his name is poison to many, however I do like some of his 'technical' articles and reviews.)


I found a couple of my favorite 14mm shots.

Nikon F100 (film, full-frame), Fuji Reala 100, probably f/4 based on the amount of vignetting

Nikon D200 (APS-C, 21mm equiv)

On the first shot the camera was obstructing my daughter's path, was just inches from her fingers, and I had to yank the camera out of the way at the last second. On the second shot I was almost right on top of this Taiwanese poppy flower or whatever it is, at or near close focus.

A 14mm prime is a highly special purpose lens best used for things like this. They'll get shots that no other ultra-wide lens will get because of the 20cm close focus (from the film/sensor plane, not from the front of the lens!), which I see the Canon 14mm will do as well. Every millimeter of focal length at the wide end can make a huge difference in the perspective that a lens can give you, and the same is true for the minimum focus. There's a big difference between 20cm close focus and 25cm which is as close as most ultra-wide zooms will get you. I joked that the 14mm lens was also an ultra-wide macro lens, LOL.

Anyways, an ultra-wide zoom like the 17-40L or the 16-35/2.8L is a far more versatile type of lens and probably the better buy. You'd only want to buy a 14mm f/2.8 if you know you need wider than a 16-35, and you know you need to get closer and you want to do that often. I loved that Nikkor 14mm, but after awhile it just sat so eventually I sold it. Today on Canon I do what I need to with my 17-40L and it works pretty well, although when you really want to get wide and close it doesn't have the "magic" that a 14mm prime does.

No matter what anybody says, KR's site does have a ton of useful information on it. I've read that ultra-wide article and it's definitely handy and has been a big help. I've seen lots of very poorly shot 14mm photos posted on the Internet. ;)


I've got a feeling I'm gonna get bad karma, but.

Yes the smaller body nikons do feel weird, but if the d800 comes out around the same time than the 5dIII you could consider it since they also have a great 70-200 (not as good as canon's) and a 24-70 (better) and the 14-24 wich is probably the best wide-angle zoom there is right now... And if nikon doesn't upgrade the mp too much you'd probably have better noise performance (altought you might need the resolution). And the 1.4 primes are on par with canon's.

Don't get me wrong, I have a 7d and I love it and it feels better than nikon's aps-c (even the d300s), but at the full frame level I think the decision is pretty tough.


Apr 21, 2011
I would recomend you to use the TS-e 17 as ultra wide angel. Only disadvantage is, that it needs some tim for handling. if you shift it to the corners and stich the pictures you get a 11mm on FF. Alternatively you could think about the sigma 12-24.

The 24mm 1.4 or 35 1.4 is also a great lens i like a lot for indoor events (i have the 24 on aps-c maybe on FF a 35 is better usable.


Jan 18, 2011
Auckland, New Zealand
I own the 16-35 F2.8 II and it is wide even on my 500D, It will be really wide on a full frame. You have you be careful with such wide lenses and shooting people, you will get some wicked distortions of peoples heads.

I've attached a image of the Auckland Museum I took with my 16-35, I'm sure the entire building would of easily fit if it was on a full frame. (Notice how small the people are sitting on the stairs).

I shot this probably from 25-50 meters away. It is handheld shot, 16mm (26 equiv) @ F2.8 and shutter of 1/20s.

I also have 24-105 F4 which is a nice lens, I generally use it as my general purpose lens and never use it when I'm doing jobs. Its a good lens but the 24-70 lets in a stop more light which maybe more useful for you.



Cannon Man

Sounds excellent! cameras are worth the investment! as for glass i would recommend a ts-e24mm and 70-200mm 2.8 IS II !! on top of those a 24-70mm will be useful too but i would not wait for the 24-70 mkII.. there is no knowing when it comes.. it could be 3 years who knows?? and the same for 5D Mark III.. the 5D Mark II is a really good camera! it does not feel dated at all so i dont think canon is in a hurry..

I am kind of going through something similar.. i am waiting for the 1Ds Mark IV same as you are waiting for the new 5D..
I had a need for a second camera and i just could not wait for the 1DsIV to come out so i bought another 1D Mark IV and i will sell the other one when the new 1Ds comes out.. that is how i solved the problem..


Been away, so just getting back to this now. Thanks all for the advice, links and photos. Shop assistants can be such "Sales" people :) and while some have a background and sound experience in photography, I have found that most tend to direct you towards certain products. At this stage I will continue to wait for the 5D MkIII as I am of the view that it will be a substantial step up on everything Canon has at the moment so I am really hanging out for it. Have to admit, if I were to buy a body now, it would probably be the 1D IV to get the frame speed, ISO, durability etc (I could go on & on) as I would eventually like to own to bodies (1 x FF & 1 Crop). I really like the idea of a 1.3 crop and at current prices, this makes the 1D IV very attractive. The only thing putting me off is the size & weight, albeit I have seen many an armature walking the streets with them. Understand also that if I go this route, then this will also impact on my choice of lenses (especially the prime/s)
Lenses: Understand that zooms are so much more versatile but I am also looking forward (agree that the 70-200 MkII IS is a no brainer, even at the price). Would be looking at one teleconverter to extend it's reach.
Take all comments on board and now accept that the 14mm is not right for me (at least not now).
The Tilt Shift lens is one that I just have to have. Really just a matter if timing (given price) and whether it's the 17mm or 24mm.
As for primes, with all that I have read, I am now thinking a 35mm (albeit another lens which is currently being upgraded). Either Canon or Zeiss but that's a whole lot of more research.
As for a zoom (L) in the wide and mid range, perhaps my question here is more directed at aperture speed (ie f2.8 v 4.0). Appreciate there are many variables here (weight, price being the obvious).
Apologies for the long commentary but there is a lot to cover (and I still have to sort out the accessories). One thing I have not mentioned as yet is that my first really big project will be a 6 week holiday covering Rome, east coast of USA, West coast of Canada and Alaska. Hence why I am considering zooms at all lengths and a body which will take a bit of biff.


"No good photo goes unnoticed!"
Feb 3, 2011
To complement your future 5dIII body you might want to get the 7D for it's speed and durability. Had mine for a few months now and wouldn't change it for the world. (I still might get the mkIII when it appears but the 7D will stay). :D
The 7D has a nice side effect when using the 70-200mm mk II that its reach is nicely extended by the crop factor and if you add a 2x teleconverter to it you're looking at 640mm of Telephoto goodness... :)