New to Canon - please help me decide on lenses

Mr_Canuck

EOS RP
Dec 17, 2013
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Just signed on to this forum. You all seem pretty decent and not creepy. I'll keep an eye out though. ;) But I digress.

I expect nothing less than a whole bunch of conflicting opinions on lens selection for me, so thanks in advance... and sorry for being long winded...

Quick background:
I've owned a Sony a700 (crop) then an a850 (full frame) with a bag full of great Minolta primes and a couple zooms over the years. It all got too big and cumbersome. I switched to Pentax for a while. But I simply came to miss "that look" of my full frame images. There also isn't a local camera shop that sells either Sony or Pentax, which is a hassle.

I'm switching to Canon and currently shopping. I like what they have to offer, and my local store carries it.

I'm a serious hobbyist, shoot a bit of everything. Travel, hike, portraits, lots of landscapes and still life, macro (but it's close-ups under available light rather than ring flash illuminated fly eyeballs). I rarely use a flash. Sometimes do a paid gig as part of my graphic design work, and the odd event. We live in the Rocky Mountains.

For me, portability is important. I'm also trying to reduce redundancy in focal lengths, and therefore reduce decisions about what to take along with me.

I have a Sony RX100 for everyday, middle of the road, video, skiing, impromptu snapshots or when I just can't take an SLR. It's been great for what it is.

I'm 100% getting a 6D body. I'm the perfect candidate. I rarely use continuous AF or burst mode. Rarely any sporting events. I'm coming from Pentax, so any AF is fast. Since film days, I habitually centre-spot-focus and pan to my subject. I like the 6D's lightness and relative simplicity. It's grip alone won me over the D600. I tend to be more slow and methodical in my photography. I've tried and really like the 6D. And I've found a 430EX for cheap for the 3-5 times a year I use a flash.

So, on to the all important lenses...

I'm thinking about getting the following:

70-200 f4 IS
-- it seems the best compromise of fast enough, small enough and could handle a 1.4xTC if I got the itch. I thought really hard about the 70-300L but I just think I'll pick up and take the 70-200 more often. I think I've found a great used one for $800 to check out this week. The 2.8's are out of the question simply for their size.

17-40 f4 -- I liked my Minolta 20/2.8 (FF) and my Pentax 15 (crop), but I don't hear great things about the Canon 20. Zeiss prime options are out of my budget. Portability and flexibility are priorities. I'm typically taking landscape or shots outdoors, or if indoors I have time or a tripod. Shooting at f/5.6-11 isn't a problem. The 17-40 seems to fit the bill. Like the 77mm filter. I understand there are some mixed views on the corner quality, so I will try and test a few copies.

Any objections?

With these two lenses, I feel like I'm covering a nice landscape-focussed setup, and the 70-200 could be a nice portrait lens too. And it's all fairly weather sealed for my mostly outdoor shooting.

I don't plan to get a mid-range or walk-around zoom. I had a 28-75/2.8 on my Sony and found I always preferred my fast primes. I have the RX100 for walk around, and honestly it's really good. I am happy enough in the 35-85mm range to just work with primes and move around to adjust framing if I need to.

But now I'm head scratching on which primes. I'd like one or two max. (Done with LBA, and you can hold me to it!)

Ideally, I'd like something (fairly) fast for portraits and something (fairly) macro, but I don't really need 1:1. Is there one that covers both? I am usually satisfied with f2-4 for portraits and low-light and rarely pine for f1.4-8 in any shots. That said, except for the wide angle (like 17-40) I want to be confident in the quality I get out of my lenses wide open.

Considerations...

50 f2.5 Macro -- I'm going to try one for the first time this Friday. My small town store has none. I had a Minolta 50 2.8 macro that I really enjoyed. I like to do hand-held close-ups more than ultra-close macros. The f2.5 can also double as a fairly decent portrait lens. I understand it's pretty ancient and the AF is not USM, but hey, I'm coming from Minolta and Pentax lenses all of which were screw-driven. I found the Canon 50 1.8 to be quiet in comparison.

Tamron 90 VC -- I like that it's a little shorter, smaller and lighter than the 100s/105s, and seems excellent except maybe bokeh not as dreamy as 100L. I can get one for under $600 new. 6-year warranty. Hmm.

Canon 100's -- Not sure where to go with this. The 100L seems great but it'll be well over $1000 in Canada so that breaks the bank (whereas the Tamron is cheaper here, go figure). The non-IS Canon 100 is a consideration but the Tamron seems to appeal more.

Another consideration is to get the zooms now and just wait till 2014 and whatever the new 50mm ends up being. If they came out with a 50mm USM IS f/2 with .5x macro I'd be in heaven. But that won't happen. I hear a new 85 is a possibility too.

(I'm also used to in-camera shake reduction so don't know if I'll miss having IS on a lens. Though I have pretty steady hands.)

40 STM -- This almost takes me back to Pentax. I'm going to pass though as it's redundant with the 17-40, and I'd rather have either macro (even .5) or something faster. It doesn't offer me enough. I'll just pop the RX100 in my pocket.

50 1.8 or 1.4 -- If this was my choice I think I'm happy enough to wait till 2014 and see what might be. Although for 100 bucks the 1.8 might be something to try for now. I think I feel the same about the 85/1.8 and 100/f2. When I start to talk about these ones I start looking over at the Tammy 90. I had a Minolta 100/f2 and it was simply spiffy (and no purple finger or CA to boot). But I think the benefits of the macro and VC/IS outweigh the extra stop.

There. That's it. 8000 words. I'm interested in your reflections on the matter...if you didn't hang up and leave before you got to the end. ???
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Mar 25, 2011
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I'd go for the 24-70mm f/4 IS rather than the 17-40 L. Do you really use wider than 24mm that much? I have a old 17mm f/3.5 Tamron Prime that I picked up used for $150, and its great.
I'd pass on the 50mm semi Macro, the 24-70mm f/4 has close focusing and will likely take the place of the 50mm Macro.
One of the 85mm lenses is good for portraits.
 

Mr_Canuck

EOS RP
Dec 17, 2013
216
0
Mt Spokane Photography said:
I'd go for the 24-70mm f/4 IS rather than the 17-40 L. Do you really use wider than 24mm that much? I have a old 17mm f/3.5 Tamron Prime that I picked up used for $150, and its great.
I'd pass on the 50mm semi Macro, the 24-70mm f/4 has close focusing and will likely take the place of the 50mm Macro.
One of the 85mm lenses is good for portraits.

That's an interesting suggestion. I hadn't looked seriously at the 24-70/f4 because (a) it's price seemed ridiculous, and (b) I hadn't fully understood it's macro capabilities. It's got exactly the kind of close focus ability I'm looking for, and I never light my macro subjects anyway. Thanks for the idea. However, the price remains exceedingly high. If it was closer to the 24-105 kit price, I'd be thinking harder about it.

Would definitely need to look into a cheaper ultra-wide prime though. 24 isn't wide enough for me!
 

Mr_Canuck

EOS RP
Dec 17, 2013
216
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KitsVancouver said:
How important is budget? Do you pixel peep?

Budget is around $2000 for all lenses together. Sort of pixel peep but I'm more about the feeling. Definitely not a techie. Never shot a resolution chart or brick wall and never will.
 

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
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Mt Spokane Photography said:
I'd go for the 24-70mm f/4 IS rather than the 17-40 L. Do you really use wider than 24mm that much?

Absolutely correct, 24mm is already very wide - though I find the rather little difference to 17mm to be important, it allows you to take more creative shots based on focal length while the "standard" range 24-70 could be also called "boring".

Mr_Canuck said:
f2.5 Macro
Forget it, completely outdated, far too little working range on full frame

Mr_Canuck said:
Canon 100's[/b] -- Not sure where to go with this. The 100L seems great but it'll be well over $1000 in Canada so that breaks the bank (whereas the Tamron is cheaper here, go figure). The non-IS Canon 100 is a consideration but the Tamron seems to appeal more.

Still, the 100L would be my advice because it's a stellar dual-use macro/portrait lens, look out for Canon rebate programs. You can also get the very good 100 non-L, but the IS is useful when not shooting near 1:1 and the L has a focus limiter switch which makes the slow af much more useful for portraiture. Last not least, the 100L is the most "fun" lens as you can shoot everything w/o worrying about min. focusing distance.
 

ajfotofilmagem

EOS 5D Mark IV
Aug 23, 2013
2,382
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Bahia Brazil
Welcome to Canon Rumors. The lenses you mentioned, will speak from my experience and tests I've read.
Canon 70-200 f4 IS - A great lens for a great value.
Canon 17-40 f4 - Image quality not very impressive, but is very good using aperture F8 or more closed. Samyang 14mm does a good job, if the manual focus is not a problem for you.
Canon 50 F2.5 Macro - Not really macro, and 40mm STM can be used instead of this.
Tamron 90 VC - Seems like a good value for money, but for macro the 100mm or 105mm actually allow a distance more convenient of object.
Canon 100mm - Both models Macro L, and Macro non-L are great. There is also the great 100mm F2 that is not macro but it's a great portrait lens I also use a lot.
Canon 50 1.8 or 1.4 - I have and prefer the F1.4 model, which is not perfect , but it has great picture when used at F1.8 or more closed, and should always use and carry with the lens hood to protect the mechanism of AF. If the rumors are right, a new Canon 50mm Image Stabilizer should be launched in 2014, with similar quality and price to the great canon 35mm F2 IS.
 

mrzero

EOS RP
Jun 12, 2012
314
1
Chicago
Mr_Canuck said:
Mt Spokane Photography said:
I'd go for the 24-70mm f/4 IS rather than the 17-40 L. Do you really use wider than 24mm that much? I have a old 17mm f/3.5 Tamron Prime that I picked up used for $150, and its great.
I'd pass on the 50mm semi Macro, the 24-70mm f/4 has close focusing and will likely take the place of the 50mm Macro.
One of the 85mm lenses is good for portraits.

That's an interesting suggestion. I hadn't looked seriously at the 24-70/f4 because (a) it's price seemed ridiculous, and (b) I hadn't fully understood it's macro capabilities. It's got exactly the kind of close focus ability I'm looking for, and I never light my macro subjects anyway. Thanks for the idea. However, the price remains exceedingly high. If it was closer to the 24-105 kit price, I'd be thinking harder about it.

Would definitely need to look into a cheaper ultra-wide prime though. 24 isn't wide enough for me!

The 24-70 f4 IS will start being available at a more reasonable price on the resale market in the near future. It is being sold as part of 5DIII kits right now, and ebay has them around $1k resale right now. That's about what you'd end up paying for the 17-40 and the 50 macro anyway.

For your ultrawide, consider the 20mm 2.8 (if you want AF), or the Rokinon 14mm 2.8. I personally love the 20mm, although I haven't given it much use on full frame yet. The Rokinon 14mm gets rave reviews, although some folks have said they needed to exchange a few times until they got a good copy on full frame corners. It will be my next lens purchase, just waiting to make my jump to full frame permanent.
 

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
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Mr_Canuck said:
That's an interesting suggestion. I hadn't looked seriously at the 24-70/f4 because (a) it's price seemed ridiculous, and (b) I hadn't fully understood it's macro capabilities. It's got exactly the kind of close focus ability I'm looking for, and I never light my macro subjects anyway.

This is only part of the problem, even if you don't use flashes your own camera/lens shadow might get in the way if you have too little working distance... no to mention the fact that most animals will scare if you come too close if these are your motives.
 
The 70-200 f4.0 L IS is a great lens, I use mine more that almost any other lens in my kit, save my 50 1.4, it (70-200) is light enough to carry and still has a nice reach, I sold my 70-200 2.8L IS as I was not using it nearly enough, I feel the 70-200 4.0 is sharper if you pixel peep. As for my 17-40 f4.0 wide angle, I have been very pleased with the IQ from, no really soft corners on my copy and the center is plenty sharp. I use the Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro, it is an excellent macro lens that can also be used as a fine portrait lens, I would consider the L version for the IS and may change out in the future but only for the IS and not the IQ, the non L has outstanding IQ.
 

AlanF

Stay at home
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Aug 16, 2012
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Mr_Canuck said:
There. That's it. 8000 words. I'm interested in your reflections on the matter...if you didn't hang up and leave before you got to the end. ???

1,127 words ±100.
 

Mr_Canuck

EOS RP
Dec 17, 2013
216
0
The 24-70 f4 IS will start being available at a more reasonable price on the resale market in the near future. It is being sold as part of 5DIII kits right now, and ebay has them around $1k resale right now. That's about what you'd end up paying for the 17-40 and the 50 macro anyway.

For your ultrawide, consider the 20mm 2.8 (if you want AF), or the Rokinon 14mm 2.8. I personally love the 20mm, although I haven't given it much use on full frame yet. The Rokinon 14mm gets rave reviews, although some folks have said they needed to exchange a few times until they got a good copy on full frame corners. It will be my next lens purchase, just waiting to make my jump to full frame permanent.

I've been reading a little more about the 20 2.8. The venerable K Rockwell seems to think that Canon intentionally adjusted its design to maximize corner focus/clarity for field curvature when shooting in three dimensions (as opposed to test charts). He even gives it an acronym but I haven't read it anywhere else. He's constantly contradicting himself but I don't find he makes stuff up for no good reason. If the Canon 20mm was good in the field for landscapes, cityscapes etc, I'd be seriously interested in it. I just don't hear much from people who actually use it so I appreciate your input. I really liked my Minolta 20mm. Then I might be more amicable to a mid-range zoom like the 24-70. 14mm scares me but 20 I can frame up in my mind.
 

Random Orbits

EOS 5D Mark IV
Mar 14, 2012
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Mr_Canuck said:
I've been reading a little more about the 20 2.8. The venerable K Rockwell seems to think that Canon intentionally adjusted its design to maximize corner focus/clarity for field curvature when shooting in three dimensions (as opposed to test charts). He even gives it an acronym but I haven't read it anywhere else. He's constantly contradicting himself but I don't find he makes stuff up for no good reason. If the Canon 20mm was good in the field for landscapes, cityscapes etc, I'd be seriously interested in it. I just don't hear much from people who actually use it so I appreciate your input. I really liked my Minolta 20mm. Then I might be more amicable to a mid-range zoom like the 24-70. 14mm scares me but 20 I can frame up in my mind.

I've never used the 20 f/2.8, but reading the review at TDP scared me away from it. TDP recommends the 17-40 over the 20 f/2.8.

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-20mm-f-2.8-USM-Lens-Review.aspx

I don't know how representative the review is because the lens is not that common. Most people opt for 17-40 or 16-35 instead. Now, if they gave it the same treatment as the 24 and 28mm f/2.8, then I'd be interested.
 

danski0224

EOS R
Apr 24, 2011
1,104
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I don't think you can beat the Canon 100L macro. It's a great macro lens and many have said it is also a great portrait lens, so 2 birds with 1 stone, and there have been some deals at Amazon recently (at least for USA shoppers).

You mention landscape work, and one typically assumes wide angle. A 24-70 could fit the bill, or the 24-105.

Not too many "cheap" options for wider, especially if you want AF. The Tokina 16-28 comes to mind.

The Canon Price Watch alerts work if you have time.
 

Mr_Canuck

EOS RP
Dec 17, 2013
216
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danski0224 said:
I don't think you can beat the Canon 100L macro. It's a great macro lens and many have said it is also a great portrait lens, so 2 birds with 1 stone, and there have been some deals at Amazon recently (at least for USA shoppers).

You mention landscape work, and one typically assumes wide angle. A 24-70 could fit the bill, or the 24-105.

Not too many "cheap" options for wider, especially if you want AF. The Tokina 16-28 comes to mind.

The Canon Price Watch alerts work if you have time.

I can get the 100L right now for $830 after rebate in Canada which is pretty good. I was looking at the Tamron but now not so much with the Canon price being what it is.

I'm just not super interested in a 24-70/105. :p As I said, I have an RX100 in this range and it covers my walk-around, get whatever shots. I find I'm happier with a prime at around normal range or either side of it. I just take way better pictures that way and I do appreciate the wider apertures.

I'm not getting much feedback on lenses wider than 24.... people have said why don't you just shoot at 24, but fact is I want to shoot wider than that.... jury still out on UWA. I find 14mm (ie. Samyang/Rokinon) just too out there for me. Maybe there's a shortage of good lenses wider than 24 (for less than $2000)? Will nobody speak up for the 17-40? ;) I want to shoot things at around 20mm.
 

Marsu42

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Feb 7, 2012
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Mr_Canuck said:
Will nobody speak up for the 17-40?

There are gazillions of 17-40 vs 16-35 threads on the board, just use the search. Basically both aren't 100% sharp in the corners if that matters to you, the smaller and lighter 77mm 17-40 is even a *bit* soft wide open as it's designed for landscape use while the much more expensive and heavier 82mm 16-35 is the photojournalist's choice. If you want as uwa as a current Canon zoom gets, 16mm is more difference to 17mm than it sounds at first, also look at web reviews of these for samples.
 

Mr_Canuck

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Dec 17, 2013
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Marsu42 said:
Mr_Canuck said:
Will nobody speak up for the 17-40?

There are gazillions of 17-40 vs 16-35 threads on the board, just use the search. Basically both aren't 100% sharp in the corners if that matters to you, the smaller and lighter 77mm 17-40 is even a *bit* soft wide open as it's designed for landscape use while the much more expensive and heavier 82mm 16-35 is the photojournalist's choice. If you want as uwa as a current Canon zoom gets, 16mm is more difference to 17mm than it sounds at first, also look at web reviews of these for samples.

;D I read all zillion of the threads. The 17-40 remains on the radar. But not I'm not in too much of a hurry...
I just bought a refurb 6D and a new 40mm STM for a steal at Adorama. So for the moment it looks like I have a 40 prime to play around with. Blows my previous theories out of the water, but I did try one in store and liked it. A bit slow at 2.8 for a normal prime, but you can't beat the size. I now have the full-frame/pancake setup that all the Pentax shooters long for.
 

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
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Mr_Canuck said:
But not I'm not in too much of a hurry...

Lucky you, that's definitely the best approach and I also came to the conclusion to get gear only when I need it and not because it sounds like a good idea or other people use or recommend it.. and you can get the best deals that way. Reminds me of a neighboring thread where a new dlsr customer frantically tries to decide which lens(es) to get for his new camera and only had given himself some hours to get advice :->
 

danski0224

EOS R
Apr 24, 2011
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Mr_Canuck said:
I'm not getting much feedback on lenses wider than 24.... people have said why don't you just shoot at 24, but fact is I want to shoot wider than that.... jury still out on UWA. I find 14mm (ie. Samyang/Rokinon) just too out there for me. Maybe there's a shortage of good lenses wider than 24 (for less than $2000)? Will nobody speak up for the 17-40? ;) I want to shoot things at around 20mm.

I happen to like the 16-35 II. Very useful. No experience with the 17-40.

I don't spend my time pixel peeping the corners.

I mentioned the Tokina 16-25 because you mentioned a budget that the 16-35II would pretty much take up all by itself.