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Prodigy9
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I need help with a Canon EF/EF-S Lens Purchase...

Mar 16, 2012 8:24 AM

Hi all...

 

I don't know where else to post this question since this isn't really a Photography forum but rather a Lr4 forum.  But I'm still very new to Digital SLR camera's and need some help.

 

I currently have a Canon T3 w/ the 18-55 Kit lens.  I'd like to take photos of Landscapes, mountains and waterfalls, etc...  But at the same time I need the ability to take photos up to or around 6" away from objects.  All the different numbers on the lenses are confusing the heck out of me and I was wondering if there would be any advice anyone could give me on a good Canon lens or two which will get me where I want to be.  I want to take close-ups and distant/wide shots.  Lenses certainly aren't cheap so I want to make the right decision.

 

I just recently purchased a book by David Busch on the T3 and it's capabilities but I still have a way to go before I finish the book. 

 

Can anyone offer some advice or insight into the importance of using the right lens or even a recommendation of a Canon lens?

 

Thanks!

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 9:14 AM   in reply to Prodigy9

    If you want to go cheap, buy the Kenko extension tube set, and use them on your 18-55.  This will perform surprisingly well.

     

    If you want to go expensive, buy the Canon 100L macro.

     

    There are intermediates between these two.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 10:45 AM   in reply to Prodigy9

    The 50/1.8 won't get you any more macro performance than the kit lens.

     

    Realize that extension tubes have no glass in them at all, and no electronics either.  They're basically just spacers with contacts to connect the electronics through them.  I've had two sets of Kenkos for years without any issues at all, having used them on lenses from the 35/2 (tiny like the 50/1.8) up through the 70-200/2.8L IS and 100-400L.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 10:48 AM   in reply to Prodigy9

    I have Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens and it suits best for the portrait. The portraits with the lens are just the best! If you want to spend more money, you can take the f/1.4 version which is 3times expensive than f/1.8 (not big difference in quality for me).

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 12:05 PM   in reply to Lee Jay

    As Lee Jay pointed out there is no glass in an extension tube to degrade the image quality, but you do lose effective lens F stop. Your 18-55mm F 3.5 - 5.6 lens will become ~F10 - 16 when using all three of the Kenko extension tubes, making it impossible to use your camera's autofocus system and difficult to even focus your lens manually.

     

    If your objective is to add capability for macro photography, then your best bet is to buy a macro lens. Canon's 60mm F2.8 EF-S macro or Sigma's F2.8 50mm EX DG macro lenses are good choices for your Canon T3 body. These are both far better choices than the Canon 50mm F1.8 EF lens, which has less close-up capability than your current 18-55mm lens (.15x versus .34x magnification). You could purchase the Canon 50mm F1.8 EF lens and Kenko Extension tubes for $300 total cost, but you will give up the convenience of infinity to 1:1 magnification autofocus capability provided by either of these two macro lenses. Both the Canon 60mm (~$430) and Sigma 50mm ($370) lenses provide very good image quality wide open at F2.8, also making them very good for portrait photography with their 96mm and 80mm effective focal lengths on your 1.6 crop factor T3 body. I own a Sigma 50mm EX DG lens and have used it on both my Canon T3i (1.6 crop) and 5D MKII (full frame) bodies with excellent results. The Canon 60mm EF-S lens has slightly better optical performance since it is designed specifically for Canon's 1.6 crop camera bodies like the T3. If you have no intention of ever moving up to a full-frame camera body such as the 5D, then I recommend the Canon 60mm for achieving your close-focus performance. Otherwise I suggest going with the Sigma 50mm EX DG macro lens.

     

    Since you have posted this in the LR forums, I'm going to make another suggestion using LR's tools that will cost you nothing. Take some of your 18-55mm close-up shots and simply try using the Crop tool to achieve higher magnification. You may find your T3's 12Mp image files can tolerate a lot of cropping and still have sufficient image size for your target usage.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 3:00 PM   in reply to Prodigy9

    Hi Prodigy,

     

    Shooting landscapes as well as macro will not be possible with the same lens.

     

    Landscapes usually are shot with wide-angle lenses, focal length ca. 10-24mm.

    Macro (i.e. Close-up details) usually 85-105mm.

     

    These focal lengths have another side effect: wide angle includes much more and gives the feeling of depth.

    Long focal lengths (high mm figures) give a compression of depth, that means things far away from you seem to get condensed to one plane. It is much more easy to exclude background detail with such a lens, especially if you open aperture pretty much (low f-stop numbers).

     

    Sigma does excellent lenses, both for nikon and canon, so I would not stick to OEM as a principle. Especially if you are on a rather tight budget, Sigma will give you good bang for the buck. I love their macro 105mm.

     

    Generally a piece of advice, if you are a bit patient and want to minimize your spending over the range of a decade: buy the best glass you can afford. You will use it with several camera bodies as it lasts much longer in perfect quality if you handle them diligently. So saving some more months for a more expensive lens before a purchase can save you a lot in the long run.

    Finish your reading first before you decide.

    Maybe you also want to include further thoughts of http://craftandvision.com/.

    This is very interesting and should give you some perspective on the relative importance of gear.

     

    Have fun, Cornelia

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 3:12 PM   in reply to Cornelia-I

    Cornelia-I wrote:

     

    These focal lengths have another side effect: wide angle includes much more and gives the feeling of depth.

    Long focal lengths (high mm figures) give a compression of depth, that means things far away from you seem to get condensed to one plane.

     

    Focal length doesn't do that, location does.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 3:27 PM   in reply to Lee Jay

    Technically 100% correct, but not useful to the OP.

     

    If he is in a given location and has two lenses to choose from, compression or depth impression is what drives his decision which lens to mount.

    Or which to buy first.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 3:58 PM   in reply to Lee Jay

    Lee Jay wrote:

     

    Cornelia-I wrote:

     

    These focal lengths have another side effect: wide angle includes much more and gives the feeling of depth.

    Long focal lengths (high mm figures) give a compression of depth, that means things far away from you seem to get condensed to one plane.

     

    Focal length doesn't do that, location does.

    You're both correct! Here's a good example of what Cornelia-I was talking about:

     

    http://www.photozone.de/focal-length-and-perspective

     

    What Lee Jay meant by "location" is that a wide angle lens forces you to get closer to your foreground subject to fill the frame, and a telephoto focal length lens does the opposite (you need to get further away). This difference in distance of the camera from the primary subject (i.e. camera "location") is what changes the perspective and "look" of the picture. It is also the primary reason why most professional photographers use wide angle and telephoto focal length lenses–not simply to get more in the picture (wide angle lens) or get closer to the subject (telephoto lens). The affect can be quite dramatic when using extremely short (i.e. wide-angle) focal length lenses:

     

    http://www.digital-photography-school.com/17-stunning-wide-angle-image s

     

    There are three primary focal length categories:

     

    Normal (50mm on 35mm full-frame format, 30mm on 1.6 crop body)

     

    Wide (35mm and shorter on 35mm full-frame format, 22mm on 1.6 crop body)

     

    Telephoto (85mm and longer on 35mm full-frame format, 53mm on 1.6 crop body)

     

    For close-up macro photography focal length plays less of a role on perspective due to the extremely small depth of field. A longer focal length macro lens (100mm and 180mm) is desirable primarily to increase the distance between the camera/lens and subject, which can be less than 2" for some 50mm macro lens...not too good for getting intimate with insects!

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 5:48 PM   in reply to Prodigy9

    Canon filters are low-end filter good for protection, but they can mess up your images in certain harsh lighting conditions because they aren't multi-coated.  I use them when protection is more important than quality, and I use the lens bare with a rigid hood when quality is most important.  If you want front-element protection all the time, a good multi-coated filter is good.

     

    I think you can do many reasonable macro shots with your 18-55 with an extension tube.  I have done many with a 15-85 or a 17-85 and a tube.  Of course, a dedicated macro lens is better - at ten times the cost.  I also prefer longer focal lengths, but I prefer focal lengths longer than any regular macro lens (200-400mm) so I end up with tubes anyway.  I think they are worth you having as a starter, especially when some can be had this cheap:

     

    http://www.adorama.com/MCAETEOS.html

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 6:46 PM   in reply to Prodigy9

    You can shoot landscapes with just about any lens.  I'd stick with the kit lens for now - you can learn a lot from that.  Many people don't realize that you don't need an ultra-wide to shoot landscapes.  In fact, you can shoot landscapes with a long telephoto.

     

    Not mine, but you can see what I mean:

     

    1120mm-equivalent:

    http://www.pbase.com/liquidstone/image/59456593

    http://www.pbase.com/liquidstone/image/98978232

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2012 8:14 PM   in reply to Prodigy9

    The moon is illuminated by the sun.  Many people expose the moon as though it's dark-as-night because you usually shoot it at night.  That gives you a white blown-out blob.  Shoot it more like it's a regular daytime scene (it's a little darker due to its very low albedo, but it's still lit by the sun) and you'll be happier.

     

    This one is from me, shot at 1/20th, f/16 and ISO 200.

     

    http://photos.imageevent.com/sipphoto/samplepictures/T2i__3574%20edite d.jpg

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2012 4:32 AM   in reply to Lee Jay

    Lee Jay wrote:

     

    1) Canon filters are low-end filter good for protection, but they can mess up your images in certain harsh lighting conditions because they aren't multi-coated.  I use them when protection is more important than quality, and I use the lens bare with a rigid hood when quality is most important.  If you want front-element protection all the time, a good multi-coated filter is good.

     

    2) I think you can do many reasonable macro shots with your 18-55 with an extension tube.  I have done many with a 15-85 or a 17-85 and a tube.  Of course, a dedicated macro lens is better - at ten times the cost.  I also prefer longer focal lengths, but I prefer focal lengths longer than any regular macro lens (200-400mm) so I end up with tubes anyway.  I think they are worth you having as a starter, especially when some can be had this cheap:

     

    http://www.adorama.com/MCAETEOS.html

    1) A good multicoated UV filter for your 18-55mm (58mm) will cost at least $25 to $50. Anything less will comprimise the quality of your picture. I used the same Canon UV filter on my first DSLR (Canon 300D) to shoot Zion and Bryce Canyon. Virtually every single picture suffered contrast loss, which fortunately was recoverable with Lightroom. Iris flare from single coated or non-coated filters is not so easily fixed, which is why you want to use the very best multicoated filters and/or lens hood:

     

    http://www.discoverdigitalphotography.com/tag/iris-flare/

     

    My recommendation for your fairly inexpensive 18-55mm lens is to use no filter and a cheap lens hood for protection:

     

    http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-08-HD-EW-60c-Bayonet-Lens-Canon/dp/B002 K3Z3DO/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

     

    The above hood is too small (including the more expensive Canon EW-60C OEM hood!) to provide much protection against flare, but it will provide some front lens element protection.

     

    2) The Pro Optic extension tube set Lee Jay linked to is NOT EF-S lens compatible, and it also appears the build quality is marginal. Considering the $179 price of the better Kenko extension tube set and limitations of using ANY extension tubes with a small aperature (F3.5-5.6) zoom lens, I don't recommend this option. Sure it will work, but may prove very time-consuming and frustating adding and removing combinations of extension tubes to get the close-up magnification results you are looking for. In addition, you are inviting ingress of dust everytime you remove the lens from a DSLR camera body, necessitaing dust spot removal from every picture, and then sensor cleaning, which is even more time consuming.

     

    You pays your money and takes your choice.....just my 2 cents worth!

     
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  • HarrieB
    342 posts
    Nov 11, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2012 8:24 AM   in reply to Prodigy9

    Prodigy9, I would like to add anothert macro option. As said by others, a dedicated macro lens is far preferable above other options. Not yet mentioned is the somewhat older Canon EF 50/2.5 Macro. It may be your least costly option, think about less than 300 US$.

    It does not go to 1:1 (which meands you vcan shoot a sunbect at the same size the subject has, like insects) but "only" to 1:2. You could (later) buy the metching extension tube that wil get you to 1:1.

    The 50/2.5 is not very fast in autofocusing, but at close range few lenses are. The optical quality however is great.

     
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  • HarrieB
    342 posts
    Nov 11, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2012 9:17 AM   in reply to Prodigy9

    The 50/2.5 is fully compatible with the T3. It is a full frame design lens so it can also be used on full frame capturing Canons. The 50-250 and 70-300 will give you much more tele-capacity (ideal for distant objects) but are not more suitable for close-ups then your 18-55.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2012 11:05 AM   in reply to Prodigy9

    The Canon 50mm F2.5 EF macro is a very old lens design from about 1987, but is also the sharpest 50mm lens that Canon makes with exception of the $1,500 50mm F1.2 L series lens. If needing to stay under $300 it is a good macro close-up lens choice. It actually provides .8x magnification on a 1.6 crop camera (1.6 x .5x), so you're not losing much close-up capability over the more expensive Canon 60mm macro lens' (1.0x). The 50/60mm lens focal length does "duplicate" what you already have with your 18-55mm lens, but the F2.5 versus F5.6 maximum aperture will allow you to shoot in much lower light levels and with very good image sharpness wide open (i.e. F2.5). Concerning your question on lenses suitable for "motion" I have no idea where you read that and what they meant. IS (image stabilization) lenses are designed to allow you to "handhold" at lower shutter speeds without blurring the image, but will not necessarily help with subject motion. For moving subjects you should turn off IS and use the fastest possible shutter speed (high ISO setting and wide aperture). IS for macro photography is generally not too helpful and only the new Canon 100mm F2.8L IS macro has it.

     

    All things considered you may be better served by first purchasing a telephoto zoom, which will allow you to truly "zoom" in on subjects.......not just make tiny subjects bigger. As I already suggested you can do the latter by "cropping your 12mp T3 close-up images in LR. Up to 2X crop should still allow sufficient image quality for enlargements and will give you .68x magnification with your 18-55mm at 55mm (2 x .34x at closest focus).

     

    Prodigy9 wrote:

     

    Also, I found these two lenses and I'm looking for an opinion...

     

    The EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 & the EF 75-300 f/4.0-5.6

     

    Would either of these lenses benefit me?

    These are both low-cost Canon telephoto zooms, with the EF-S 55-250mm being the better choice for your T3. To clear up any confusion the 'EF' (Electronic Focus) lens mount was introduced by Canon in 1987 for film cameras, followed in 2003 with the EF-S lens mount designed specifically for the new 1.6 crop factor APS-C sensor DSLR bodies. The 'S' stands for "Short Back Focus" of the Canon APS-C sensor camera body, which allows the rear lens elements to extend further into the mirror chamber. This is why EF-S lenses can ONLY be used with crop-sensor bodies, but the EF lenses can be used on both crop-sensor and full-frame sensor bodies. This also means EF-S lenses are less expensive to design, since they image on a smaller sensor area. Here's a good website for reviews and test report information on Canon, Nikon, Sigma, and other lenses:

     

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/

     

    ..and a great tool for comparing performance of two different lens:

     

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Comparison-Tools.aspx

     

    To give you an idea of what differences to expect in lens performance, take a look at the entry-level Canon 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS (~$240) compared to the L series Canon 70-200mm F4 IS lens (~$1,250):

     

    Digital SLR and Lens Image Quality Comparison

    (Place your cursor over the little white arrow to review the two images. You can also change the Fstop to see improvement from "stopping down" the lens.)

     

    Keep in mind these are 100% image crops. If you were to compare 8" x 12" photo enlargements taken with both of these lenses on your T3 the differences would be much more subtle! I hope this helps to clear up some of your questions. The web has a wealth of free video tutorials and other educational material that are very helpful for both beginners and pros.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2012 12:44 PM   in reply to Prodigy9

    The Canon EF 28-135 3.5-5.6 Lens may be a good fit, it does have macro cabalitity, the price is not terribly expensive. You can find a refurb at Adorama for $309, as I reply, or $469 new

    Here is a review by Ken Rockwell

     

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/lenses/28-135mm.htm

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 18, 2012 10:44 AM   in reply to Prodigy9

    To see "detail" in small objects like flowers you need to shoot much closer (within inches) to achieve higher magnification. I have the same 18-55mm IS kit lens you have and checked the maximum magnification possible, which is at the longest 55mm zoom setting. I was able to focus down to an image size of 1.5" x 2.25", which is about .63x magnification factor for full-frame 35mm 24mm x 36mm (95" x 1.4"). The Canon EF 50mm F2.5 on your T3 has a .5 x 1.6 = .8x magnification factor, so you're pretty close to this already with the 18-55mm's capability. The major difference is that the EF 50mm macro lens is designed to achieve higher sharpness at close distances, and will produce higher quality images of small objects like flowers. That said you may be very pleased with the results from your 18-55mm, once you get the hang of using it for macro work.

     

    Regardless of the lens used the biggest difficulty with macro photography is framing, focusing on your subject, and keeping the camera "still." Even slight movement will cause the focus to shift at these close distances, due to very small depth of field (i.e. plane of sharp focus). Here are some things you can do that will help:

     

    1) Use a tripod to help you compose the subject in your picture.

     

    2) Set the camera to 'Av' mode and F stop of at least 8. You can go as high as F16 to increase depth of field. This will cause the camera to use a very slow shutter speed, which also requires using a tripod. In a pinch you can use your Canon T3 up to ISO 3200 with some Lightroom Noise Reduction post-processing to shoot "hand-held."  Use the camera's image review screen at full magnification setting to check for sharpness while "in the field."

     

    3) Set your lens to manual focus (M) and use 'Live View' mode on your T3 with the x10 magnification setting (read your T3 manual).

     

    4) Focus on the central "area of interest." You can use your T3's 'Depth of Field Preview Button' to get an idea of what is inside the "depth of focus."

     

    And don't forget Lightroom can work wonders on cleaning up and enhancing "less than pefect" images to make them look stellar! Happy shooting and LRing!

     
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