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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Canon 30D - which lens?
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08/08/2006 09:22:22 AM · #1
Its been quite a few years since I purchased my old olympus prosumer DSLR and I am looking at a new one. I got a Canon GL2 digital camcorder a couple years ago and its a great peice of hardware so I have been leaning toward a new canon DSLR.

Im currently just a hobbyist but I do have aspirations of making some money with the camera. Aside from the normal family, friends and vacation photos I hope to do a lot of lightbox/tent pics of products for web use. Im currently leaning toward the EOS-30D and due to the cost of the camera I am going to be limited to a single lense for a while. With the above in mind what lens would be recommended? Im leaning toward the EF-S 17-85MM f4-5.6 IS. Anyone have any recomendations, comments etc?

Any input appreciated. Thanks in advance.
08/08/2006 09:31:10 AM · #2
That lens sounds good to me. Then once you've used it for a while, you'll know exactly what it's lacking so you can get another one. If you need more reach or more close-focusing. If you need more stops of light coming through or if you need wider anle, etc.
08/08/2006 09:39:11 AM · #3
I have a copy of the 28-135 IS USM, which I find is quite a competent walkabout lens, and does the job for me. If you're into wide landscapes and need something wider than the 18mm kit lens, then you might need to look elsewhere, but otherwise I would highly recommend it.
08/08/2006 09:40:38 AM · #4
Yeah no problem man...

Trying to figure out why you might be interested in the 30D specifically for your needs...

If it were me, I'd probably be shooting for a D70 or something with bigger pixels that does really well with really narrow apertures... Maybe even an old 1D or D2H if you could find one for a good price...

Of course I do tend to split hairs a bit...

I can't think of a single reason why the things you mentioned would indicate any reason to look beyond a 350XT though. Light tent stuff uses constant lighting and doesn't need a really heavy setup with pro flash gear or anything...

The IS lens would be somewhat redundant... It's not even all that sharp.

If you find that you run out of room for focusing on the light tent stuff, I would look into extension tubes... A short one would probably work very well with a newer Canon system and a decent lens.

So here are some suggestions:

Canon 350XT
Some good table lamps with identical color corrected fluorescent bulbs all matched.

WITH
Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 (EDITED)
A very sharp lens with a decent range for family time, but tends to get a bit slow at the long end... I'm personally going to go with something with a bit of a smaller range, but there ARE reasons that you might want to go with this one for your light tent work as well...

OR

Tamron 28-75 f/2.8

It's all about how wide you want to go. If you don't usually go as wide as 17mm, then the Tammy would be a better move.

OR

Tamron 24-135 f/3.5-5.6.

It's also not as wide, but it's very sharp and is also handles very well.

Any of those lenses can be used as a "poor man's macro" which should work well for product photography.

Message edited by author 2006-08-08 11:57:37.
08/08/2006 09:43:12 AM · #5
I am seriously looking into the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM. Its pricey but can be had for about a grand. But its also fast, with that 2.8 constant through out the focal length of the zoom. Its got the image quality of an L series Canon lens, which if you are a Canon fan then you know thats thier top of the line series. And to top it all off its got image stabalization which allows you to make hand held shots at 3 stops below where you would without IS.
08/08/2006 09:51:47 AM · #6
Certainly thought provoking... I too was mulling that one over...

I would guess that the OP probably wouldn't have much of a budget after that though... Even if he went back as far as a 300D...

To be honest though, I can't think of any reason why even a 300D wouldn't suit his purposes though, so it might even be worth a bit of consideration...

I understand that the jump in optical quality from the 17-85 to the 17-55 is quite significant...

Another thing to remember is that fall is quickly approaching and it's getting around time for new stuff to be released... The 350XT is due too.

Might be worth it to hold on for a month or two...
08/08/2006 09:58:42 AM · #7
Originally posted by eschelar:


To be honest though, I can't think of any reason why even a 300D wouldn't suit his purposes though, so it might even be worth a bit of consideration...


Maybe he knows that if he gets a 300d then in 2 months he'll want a 30d...so now he has to sell his 300d for less than he payed for it and lose more money than he has to. If you're shopping for a car for the first time, sure a 1995 Ford Escort would get it done but a 2005 Subaru WRX STI might fit your needs a little bit better.
08/08/2006 10:02:37 AM · #8
How about the idea of a lower cost versatile zoom (even something like a 28-200) together with a 50mm f1.8 prime - this way you cover a good range but can pull top quality, dof control and lowlight performance out of the bag without an increase in your budget.
08/08/2006 10:09:51 AM · #9
Its been my experience that I use a telephoto zoom lens in the range of 17-80mm for probably 75%+ of my shooting. Only rarely or for specialized shooting would I use a fixed length like the 50mm, although I have a friend who has the 50mm 1.8 and its a fantastic lens, great for portrait work. I personally feel that you shouldnt skimp on the lens that you will probably be using to do most of your shooting with. Splurge on that lens, and then go the discount route for the other lenses you might use occationally.
08/08/2006 10:15:20 AM · #10
I think product photography calls for a prime. They're sharper ... usually MUCH sharper than any zoom you'll buy (including pro grade zooms in most cases).

50mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4

Other than that, why not stick with the kit lens and see which end of the focal length spectrum you'll use most.
08/08/2006 10:15:38 AM · #11
Originally posted by deapee:

Originally posted by eschelar:


To be honest though, I can't think of any reason why even a 300D wouldn't suit his purposes though, so it might even be worth a bit of consideration...


Maybe he knows that if he gets a 300d then in 2 months he'll want a 30d...so now he has to sell his 300d for less than he payed for it and lose more money than he has to. If you're shopping for a car for the first time, sure a 1995 Ford Escort would get it done but a 2005 Subaru WRX STI might fit your needs a little bit better.


My comment on the 300D not having any reason not to suit his needs stems from the original post where he talked about his needs. He mentions an expensive camera body with a single rather mediocre lens.

If someone said that they needed a car to take their kids to school every day and take occasional short road trips with the family, would you recommend that they spend 35000 or whatever a Subaru WRX costs these days or 3500 to get an older Ford.... Oh wait, scratch that, Toyota?

Don't forget, Canon cameras are quite a bit more reliable than any Ford on the road...

FWIW, the coin flips both ways.

However, you should be able to get a 300D for around $300-350 (or better yet, a second hand D70 in the same price range), and if he needed to sell it in a week, he might lose 0-100 bucks... If he wanted to sell it in six months, he might lose 50-125 bucks... it's still a very decent camera.

Try that with a 30D. I lost a hundred bucks in the first week I owned it and I knew it. I paid nearly 1300 USD for mine, but if I were to sell it now, I'd probably get 1050 or something (it's still mint though of course)...

In six months time, the price will probably drop to near 850 or so for second hand for that 30D...

One thing I like about the 300D is that it puts out very sharp images straight from the camera... The pixels are a bit larger so the anti-aliasing filter is actually a bit weaker and results from the camera are often sharper.

Hence, it would be good as a first cam.

Photozone.de had some interesting results...

The 17-70 is listed as being nearly as sharp as a prime lens. I've heard that the Tamron 28-75 can also hold up pretty well. I'm sure that any of those lenses could be called sufficiently sharp for any kind of product photography that was done with 8 or less megapixels.

I've used the 50 for product stuff and it wasn't all that bad, but the single focal length did feel a tiny bit limiting at times.

Message edited by author 2006-08-08 10:19:14.
08/08/2006 10:41:28 AM · #12
Great input gang, keep it coming.

I certainly realize that from my brief overview that I could "get by" with less of a camera than the 30D but as deapee eluded to I am looking to get something that I can grow with and dont forsee having to sell it any time soon so taking a bath on resale isnt really a big concern.

I often find myself in the northwoods of minnesota (my best friend lives in Ely) where a zoom would be nice or in a boat grabing a pic of a recent catch. Thats one reason I was leaning toward a zoom lens.

The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens is quite a bit cheaper than the EF-S 17-85MM f4-5.6 IS perhaps going that route and getting a 50mm f/2.5 EF Macro prime for lightbox work would be the way to go and in the end about the same price.

Is the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 even worth spending money on?

Originally posted by eschelar:

Don't forget, Canon cameras are quite a bit more reliable than any Ford on the road...


Thats good to know since im a die hard ford fan and have 2 fords that have been trouble free.....except for problems I caused myself. One of my fords happens to produce over 620rwhp can run a 10 second quarter mile, take freeway cloverleafs at 75mph, has a top speed over 200mph, gets 25mpg on the freeway and still has air conditioning and cruise control.

Message edited by author 2006-08-08 10:42:35.
08/08/2006 10:52:45 AM · #13
Originally posted by Kaveran:

Is the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 even worth spending money on?

Is it the world's greatest lens? No, not even close. That said, I use mine quite a bit, on the wide end. If you are looking to do some wide angle photography, it's the cheapest way to start. Anything much wider starts getting pricy fast. It takes good images and while it's not "L", it's not awful, either.

As a first lens, it's good for a little while. If you're looking for a good walkaround, you'll outgrow this quickly. For the product shots you're thinking of, again, it will work okay, but you'll outgrow it fast.

If you real interest lies in products and some zoom range, and you're not concerned with the wide angle, bypass it for something else.
08/08/2006 11:05:14 AM · #14
Can recommend the 17-50 f/2.8 Tamron, great lens at a reasonable price. Replaced the kit lens on my 20D and the Tamron hasn't left the body since, fast and great range for most of what I do. Would not swap it for 28-75 as I have more use for 17mm than 75mm. Good luck and have fun.
08/08/2006 11:14:07 AM · #15
I will second that. I've got a kit lens in my bag right now waiting for me to fork out for something a bit nicer...

It could be worth it... Maybe...

I would personally probably skip the 50mm macro f/2.5... Not saying that it would specifically be a bad way to go though. The 60mm f/2.8 wouldn't be a bad choice either.

Get the f/1.8. It's great for on the boat or anything else fairly close (I don't like it for longer distance stuff personally). I was able to get good results with it doing some product photography, but couldn't get all that close. Again, a short extension tube would have fixed that...

You probably won't need that unless you are going smaller than dinner plate size. Still plenty of other options there...

As I am a 30D user and am someone who walked the same road with the same hopes for my camera, I do understand why you would want the 30D. It's totally sweet for starters...

However, do be aware that the primary differences between it and the 350XT are in the autofocus, frame rate and spot metering... In other words, not a lot...

Unless those are specifically applicable to your shooting needs, you might be able to change the shift in your expenditures a bit and still get a really good set of features in the meantime... The next couple of years bode to be very interesting...

My reason for suggesting a camera such as the 300D are linked to the resale value, but not so much 'taking a bath' as it is about spending the money in the right place at the right time...

I just feel that you would be happy with the 300D for a good while and you wouldn't lose much even after a year of ownership... It's doubtful that the 300D will dip much below 300 or 250 USD. That's film camera territory ;)...

Because it's already gone through the bulk of it's devaluing, you stand to lose very little if you choose to use it as a stepping stone... That frees up your cash to start with the better lenses now.

And that will do you much better in the long run...

Here's a theoretical example.

300D + 70-200 f/2.8L = $300 + $1100 = $1400

One year later resale value = $250 + $1050 = $1300

30D + Sigma 70-300 APO = $1200 + $200 = $1400

One year later resale value = $800 + $150 = $950...

Now what you are saying is that of COURSE you are prepared to take that 350 dollar bath on the resale value.

What I am saying is that this was not my point.

My point was that for the same approx 1400 bucks, you could shoot with a good body and a wicked awesome lens or you could shoot with a great body and a decent, passable lens... Which of these would be better for dabbling in pro work?

I'd take the 300D plus 70-200 f/2.8L every time and I think that most actual pros would make the same decision.

The 300D is a disposable stop-gap measure to allow you to get started making images with wicked glass. Even if you throw it away, you still only stand to lose 300 bucks... Oh, right, that's the same amount that you would lose in the interim on the resale value on the 30D... so the camera itself becomes irrelevant...

Feel free to do the experiment on your own paper using the 17-55 f/2.8 IS vs the significantly inferior 17-85mm f/4.5-5.6 IS..

The optical quality of that lens is OK, and it's a bit better than the kit lens, but not by a lot. You are mostly paying for the IS, which is mostly negated by the two stops of light lost by the slow aperture.

It's all about what your 1500 bucks or whatever your budget is (I suspect that your budget is closer to 1700 though) will get you now and what it will do for you later.
08/08/2006 11:19:43 AM · #16
I had the same problem deciding wich lens to buy and I ended up buying the Sigma 17-70, after a couple of months with my 30D and Sigma 1770, I find this combination to be great for most uses. This lens is quite sharp, focuses very fast, feels right in the hand, and feels wide enough for most uses.

If I were you I would again choose the sigma 1770 because it really is a great inexpensive lens. Did I forget to say that the macro in this lens is quite good? That is something I have found very useful.

Here are a couple of links where you can find more info. The first one compares de Sigma 1770 vs Canon 1785 IS USM. As you can see price difference can be something important enough to choose the Sigma.

Sigma 1770 vs Canon 1785

Discussion and review of Sigma 1770

I hope this helps you

You could always check this to see wich photos have been taken with that lens on DPC
08/08/2006 11:55:02 AM · #17
Originally posted by eschelar:

I would personally probably skip the 50mm macro f/2.5... Not saying that it would specifically be a bad way to go though. The 60mm f/2.8 wouldn't be a bad choice either.


I was kind of eyeballing the the 6mm f/2.8 also.......ahh, so many decisions :)

Originally posted by eschelar:


It's all about what your 1500 bucks or whatever your budget is (I suspect that your budget is closer to 1700 though) will get you now and what it will do for you later.


I dont really have a set budget just a ballpark of where I would like to be so a couple hundred bucks one way or the other isnt gonna kill me...hehe but the wife might :)

Thanks one and all for your input.

08/08/2006 12:00:54 PM · #18
What kind of product photography?

Patrinus. Thanks for that great link!

I couldn't recall the 'macro' ratio for that one, but after seeing that it's 1:2, I'm glad I put it in the first position.

Looks like a heck of a lens!

As an aside, I will also mention that most of the range of the 17-85 (or the 17-55) is generally considered pretty wide for IS... I'm not sure I agree with that, but it certainly would come in handy considering the 17-85 is f/5.6 zoomed in...

Not trying to be elitist at all but... yick!
08/08/2006 12:25:52 PM · #19
I'm not sure what length lens you need for small product shots, but if I had to go with one lens and money was limited I would go for prime, probably the 35mm f/2.0. I'm sure that's not the current thinking on a flexible lens, but there is a lot of amazing photography that has been done with fixed focal length lens. The 35mm f/2.0 is very sharp and faster than ANY zoom.
08/08/2006 01:08:44 PM · #20
One tip, if you do decide to get the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, I would look for it first on Ebay, there are tons of them on there, and they go really cheap. I have seen them for less than 10 dollars on ebay for a used one, and thats one listed in like new condition.
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