Canon SLR and Lens Reccommendations

SLR and Lens Reccommendations

Hi:

I have seen a lot of talented photographers on this forum over the years and I thought I would ask for your help. I currently have a Cannon Powershot G2 that I am ready to upgrade. I am most interested in something that will give me kick-A$$ lightning, thunderstorm and weather shots but also be able to shoot general pictures of the family, at parties, etc. I am not looking to spend much more than say $1200-$1500 or so for everything.

So, I was wondering if you can make some reccomendations for the following:

1) What kind of camera should I buy (Cannon EOS 20d, EOS 30d or Digital Rebel XT)?
2) Should I just buy the camera body or a camera that comes with the standard goodies and lens?
3) What lenses should I buy in addition to the camera body itself? I am most concerned with lightning and thunderstorm pics for this one but would also like something to take pics of the family at parties, etc...

Thank you all very much for sharing your expertise and opinions with me. This is a big purchase and I appreciate your time and input.
 
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Hi Howie,

I am not looking to spend much more than say $1200-$1500 or so for everything.

1) What kind of camera should I buy (Cannon EOS 20d, EOS 30d or Digital Rebel XT)?
2) Should I just buy the camera body or a camera that comes with the standard goodies and lens?
3) What lenses should I buy in addition to the camera body itself? I am most concerned with lightning and thunderstorm pics for this one but would also like something to take pics of the family at parties, etc...
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Within your budget of $1500 I guess you can afford the Rebel XT with 2 lenses, or a 20D with one good quality lens, or a 30D with perhaps a average quality lens, or a few prime lenses which are high quality but cheaper. But adding an extra battery, two CF cards, a decent tripod and remote release you will easily go above your budget!

- Rebel XT: Very small. You have to be comfortable holding it. Poor balance with big zoom- or telelenses. Small display, different menu style than 20D/30D.
- 20D/30D: 20D is less expensive and does the same, but has smaller display and no Picture Styles (which don't matter for the end result if you shoot RAW). I believe the 30D (like my 5D) allows to shoot more continuously time exposures, whereas 20D and XT want to do a dark frame for noise subtraction after each shot.

Lenses:
Lots of choice. I would rather go for a quality standard zoom to start with. The ones you can also use on full frame (EF) have generally the best quality, but are probably too expensive. I cannot comment on the EF-S range of lenses. Check user reviews at PhotographyReview.com and the tests at PhotoZone.de. You could take 90% of your weather shots with a wide angle zoom, but for family shots, a normal to tele range is what you want. A bright prime lens (f/2.8 or better, f/<2) in the wide-normal range would be convenient at times, but not many options. I have the Sigma 20mm f/1.8 which would be a convenient wide angle on a 1.6 factor camera. Good close-ups too. Quite expensive though.

I would try going for the 20D with 2 lenses and keep in mind the price of the accessories you need, and otherwise downgrade the camera, or go for one good quality standard zoom lens. I wouldn't choose average quality zooms...

I hope somebody else can suggest which lenses, from experience.

Oscar
 
Rebel XT with 17-55mm Image Stabilisation lens

Seems like your ideal combo! However the lens is expensive! The review of the lens is very positive and IS is certainly a plus if you don't have time to set up the tripod in a hectic chase situation. The lens covers the focal length you will most often need for weather and family.
You could also get an older Digital Rebel (300D). Lenses are most important and don't lose value. The quality difference between all these cameras is quite minimal, the differences are mostly functional/luxury aspects.

Oscar
 
My 2 yen:

Get the 350XT and the kit lens. Save your money for a better lens later, after you have had some time to see what you really need. The kit lens isn't so bad stopped down to f6.3 and higher. People are going to recommend all sorts of lenses, many that are very expensive. But I would just get the kit lens and sort it out for a while, and then decide what features you need in a lens. The choices (as you have probably researched) are mind boggling.

If the XT is too small for your hands, grab the 30D. The image quality from each is nearly identical, but the 30D has slightly better auto focus.

Also check out the requisite software to process the images.

Realize that an SLR is a commitment to many, many hours of learning. It is great fun, and in no time you will be taking great pictures!

Good luck!
 
I'd go with XT. Go to a local store and handhold it... see if it works for you. Actually, the 20D doesn't have to do dark frame substraction... and actually... unless you are doing several minute long shots, I leave longterm noise reduction off.

Just remember this... camera bodies will deappreciate with cost substantially. Glass, on the other hand, holds its value extremely well. Over the long term, glass is a better investment. That's why I usually suggest putting in as much $$ into the glass as into the camera body.

Aaron
 
XT = $580 at bhphotovideo.com
Canon 17-40L = $629 at bhphotovideo.com

I'd go that route. That is all I have other than the 50mm 1.8 lens you can get for $70. The XT price is after a $100 rebate and the lens after a $50 rebate. I wouldn't bother with the kit lens.
 
XT = $580 at bhphotovideo.com
Canon 17-40L = $629 at bhphotovideo.com

I'd go that route. The XT price is after a $100 rebate and the lens after a $50 rebate. I wouldn't bother with the kit lens.
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Howie,

I totally agree with everyone that suggests the XT and a quality lens (preferably a Canon L). In February I purchased the Rebel XT form B&H and a Canon 17-40L lens off of ebay. This was my first digital SLR and I couldn’t be happier. I’m still new to photography but I am quite satisfied with the images I have captured so far. I considered the 5D and 20D but in the end couldn’t justify spending that much money.

Scott Currens
www.violentplains.com
 
Hi Everyone:

This is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. I am reading each and every reccommendation and taking in lots of information. Thank you all and keep the reccommednations coming in if you have one that hasn't been submitted. Thanks again!!
 
I guess I'm down to the final decision process now. If you have any last minutes chime-ins, I'd love to hear them.

I think the Camera I am going with is the Canon EOS 20D

Now...my question is with the lenses. Lens Options:
Canon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM lens for $ 369.99
or
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens for around $600.00

I also plan on purchasing a Lens Hood for $24.00 and;
a Canon Remote Switch with 2.6 foot cord for $70.00
 
I think the 28-200mm lens will disappoint. The 70-300mm IS is likely our next EOS lens purchase to go along with the 17-40mm we have.

I have to agree with Mike, Scott, etc., that you'll use the wide-normal range lens more if you have to pick one.
 
The 28-200mm lens is pretty much crap, the 70-300mm is pretty good, but I'd rather sacrifice length for quality. Look for the 70-200mm L f/4. That lens is lightweight for a telephoto and SHARP. Very good quality.

Reviews from Fred Miranda:
70-200mm F/4 L

28-200mm f/3.5-5.6

70-300mm IS

Where's your wide angle lens? For storm chasing you'll want something with at least 17mm on the wide end.



Aaron
 
The 28-200mm lens is pretty much crap, the 70-300mm is pretty good, but I'd rather sacrifice length for quality. Look for the 70-200mm L f/4. That lens is lightweight for a telephoto and SHARP. Very good quality.

[/b]

I have the 70-200 L f/4 lens, and agree, it is a really nice telephoto for the money. It's rather ugly imo, and the weight balance argues strongly for getting a mount ring for tripod attachment (another ~$120). But, as Aaron mentioned, you'll have a very small field of view with this lens for scenics. Also - if you don't think you'd use a tripod much, you'll likely not like images made with this lens. Get one with IS instead. If you are interested in a lens for storm chase applications, I'd recommend the 17-40 L f/4 rather than a telephoto, which only costs a bit more, but is a great all-purpose scenic lens as Mike mentioned and amply demonstrates. I have this one as well, and in general am very happy with it. If the price difference seems out of your budget, I'd suggest getting the cheaper camera. I agree with those above that In a few years you'll probably want to upgrade the camera, but you'll still be happy with your lenses if you buy quality ones now.

Glen
 
I'd say either the 17-40 f/4 L or the 17-55 f/2.8 IS are the best wide-normal length telephotos for chasing. Of course, the 17-55 is around $1k so that's out of most of our budgets. One other comment. L lenses hold their value extremely well. I sold a 200mm f/2.8 L I bought used for $50 more a few years later ;) I hunted around on ebay,photo.net, and fredmiranda.com for used bargains.

Aaron
 
I'd say either the 17-40 f/4 L or the 17-55 f/2.8 IS are the best wide-normal length telephotos for chasing. Of course, the 17-55 is around $1k so that's out of most of our budgets. One other comment. L lenses hold their value extremely well. I sold a 200mm f/2.8 L I bought used for $50 more a few years later ;) I hunted around on ebay,photo.net, and fredmiranda.com for used bargains.

Aaron
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I've got the Rebel (300D) with the Canon 17-40L f/4 and Canon 70-200L f/4 zoom lenses. I've been very happy with the 70-200 lens, but I'm not totally sold on the sharpness of the 17-40 lens. I've seen lots of other great images attributed to the 17-40L, but I've had some trouble with the images being somewhat soft and unfocused.

Has anyone else had the same problem?

Rich T.
 
My 17-40 is pretty sharp. The problem is distortion at 17mm that "masks" some of the sharpness. (Typical if wide angle lenses)

Aaron
 
06-2-5-5070.jpg


06-2-5-5071.jpg



Full sized crop from top image. That is pretty normal for sharpness on my 17-40L. At full sized I wouldn't expect them much sharper. I guess a night shot like that might not be the best example for sharpness. That said then, that is pretty sharp for dark(tree) and moving objects(stars) at night. Add the normal sharpening in post-processing and it can be very sharp. If shooting in RAW it's a bit different than jpg since it isn't applying any sharpening to the image. It took me a bit to get used to that difference after switching from my Sony F707. That thing had a fair amount of oversharpening.
 
I've seen lots of other great images attributed to the 17-40L, but I've had some trouble with the images being somewhat soft and unfocused.

Has anyone else had the same problem?

Rich T.
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I have, but I think I have more problems with the images being unfocused than soft with this lens. The AF with the XT doesn't seem to be very reliable - and this seems particularly true with the multi-point autofocus with a wide angle lens (I have much more reliable sharp images from the 70-200). Also, in manual focus the 'infinity' focus point on my lens seems to be closer than the indicator would suggest. This has made me wonder if I need to send in the lens for calibration. The 17-40L is also purported to be softer toward the 40 mm end, which I've not rigorously ever examined for myself. But, in general the lens seems to do better with close in focus points, and poor at distant objects with softness. My understanding is that within the 1 yr warranty period the lens can be returned to Canon service for a free calibration (outised of the cost of sening it to them insured). Maybe something worth considering if you think your lens may have quality issues.

Glen
 
The XT's autofocus is not so hot compared to the 20/30D. That combined with a small viewfinder makes AF errors kind of high IMO. It is still a great camera, with IQ the same its big brother the 20/30D.

I have the same problem with the XT and a 24-105L. At close distances it is painfully sharp at all apertures. At farther distances, even crazy hyperfocals like f16-f22 it doesn't like to focus. I will focus on the horizon, and the AF will focus to 3 meters. I have another coworker that has the same problem with the new 17-55 efs, and another friend who has similar issues with the 17-40 as well. It seems to be a class problem, or at least common with XTs. I haven't calibrated mine yet, because I am finally starting to make money with it, but both of the above mentioned folks sent the lens and body to Canon and were very satisfied with the results.

I am saving saving saving for a 1D MkIIn. At the my current pace of savings, I will be able to afford one probably when the 1d mkXXII comes out, but hey, a photographer has to have dreams...
 
I am thinking of getting the Sigma 18-200 67mm lens for my Canon Rebel... does anyone have any experience with this lens? From the reviews I have seen, it seems pretty sharp. There is a Tamron version of it as well, but from what I gather it isn't as good. I want a lens that offers telephoto and wide angle all in one as well as good sharpness.
 
I am thinking of getting the Sigma 18-200 67mm lens for my Canon Rebel... does anyone have any experience with this lens? From the reviews I have seen, it seems pretty sharp. There is a Tamron version of it as well, but from what I gather it isn't as good. I want a lens that offers telephoto and wide angle all in one as well as good sharpness.
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That's kinda like saying you want a car that goes 300mph, gets 60 miles per gallon, and can tow a boat. :) You gotta pick with lenses. There are lenses that go from almost normal to tele that are good for a whole lot of money (Canon 70-200 /4L, Canon 70-200 /2.8L, Sigma 70-200 /2.8EX), there are lenses that go from wide to almost normal that are good for a whole lot of money (Canon 17-40 /4L, Canon 16-35 /2.8L), there are primes that are the best quality of all and are cheaper or much more expensive, depending on how fast and well-built you need them. But there is no one lense that goes from wide to tele and is great in quality. Passable, sure -- but if you're talking about image quality, there's no magic-bullet lense that will do it all and still make good prints at 20x24. If you want 'good' lenses that cover wide to tele, plan to spent at least $1500 for the cheapest zoom solution.

Here's a review of that Sigma lense, BTW:

http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/si..._3563/index.htm

Honestly, if you're going to be doing weather photography, WIDE lenses make much more sense than tele lenses. I almost never use my telephoto lense when shooting weather. For most weather shots, if you're using a tele lense, you're so far away from what's happening that it's probably going to be a pretty bad picture, anyway. 50mm is about as long as I use for most weather photos. Sink your money into a 17-40 /4L -- that's a good weather-shooting lense! It's what most of Hollinghead's stuff is shot with, if that gives you an idea.
 
Thanks Ryan.. yeah you're probably right about the wide angle. The 17-40 does appeal to me as well... I like taking flower pics as well and that review site shows some nice sharp flower images. I guess I don't really need the Sigma 18-200 and it would be nice to do wide angle with shelf clouds, etc. I'm kinda new to this whole digital SLR lens thing, so please bare with me :lol:
 
Thanks Ryan.. yeah you're probably right about the wide angle. The 17-40 does appeal to me as well... I like taking flower pics as well and that review site shows some nice sharp flower images. I guess I don't really need the Sigma 18-200 and it would be nice to do wide angle with shelf clouds, etc. I'm kinda new to this whole digital SLR lens thing, so please bare with me :lol:
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Oh, no prob at all -- all this techno-stuff can be daunting when you first get a camera. I think the 17-40 should be able to take some nice flower pics, too. If you ever want a nice portrait lense for not a lot of money, the Canon 50 /1.8 is great. It's poorly built and fragile as all heck, but it takes great pictures, and is effectively an 80mm lense on a digital body. Personally, I find that telephoto lenses are really only useful if you plan to take photos of sports, portraits, distant events, or mountain landscapes. I think I've only used my telephoto lense twice while storm chasing, and I didn't like any of the pictures I took with it. Your shooting style may be different, though, and you may be able to pull off some awesome telephoto shots. The other question you have to ask it what you're primarily going to use the camera for. If you're going to be taking lotos of photos of your kids playing football or something, then telephoto makes sense over the wide angle. If you're going to mainly shoot weather, wideangle makes sense. If you're never going to enlarge beyond 8x10, then that Sigma 18-200 actually is probably a good buy for you, as you probably won't notice much difference between it and a higher-end lense and it will capture everything, from wide to telephoto.
 
Well now I just don't know what to get. The 17-55 mm just caught my eye and I wonder if it's a better alternative to the 17-40 as far as image quality goes, however the price tag almost makes me want to consider something else ($1500 CDN).

Canon EF-S 17-55 mm F2.8 IS lens specs

Review of 17-55 mm with pics

There is even the Canon 70-200 mm lens that caught my eye. What I really should be doing is checking all these lenses out in person and trying them on my camera. If I don't invest in a telephoto lens, then I'd like to grab one of those tele converters for sunset pics, just something I can use once in a while. But buying a zoom lens and tele converter would probably cost just as much, if not more, as a telephoto lens that does all zoom ranges. I think the reason I am having such a difficult time trying to find a right lens for my camera is because my photos are quite a range of stuff, from my dog to weather and skies to scenic landscapes to flowers to people.

I've got so many question marks over my head it ain't funny lol.

Edit: I think I am gonna check out the Sigma 18-200 instead. Given I take quite a range of photos, that could be the best option for me... buying a full range telephoto could be a cheaper option. I didn't fusy some of the reviews of the Canon zoom lenses, some mentioned vignetting with the 17-55 plus that lens was awfully expensive, before buying a tele converter on top of that.

Sigma 18-200 mm
http://www.dpreview.com/news/0502/05021402sigma18-200dc.asp
 
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