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Author Topic: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body  (Read 3425 times)

ssv310

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Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« on: January 08, 2011, 05:21:52 pm »

Hello!
I would like to hear some advices on what lens to choose for a Canon body.
Let me start from describing what I have now and what are my typical subjects/requirements.

Right now I have a Sony R1 camera which is used as an all-around camera and for landscapes and travel photos. It has a fixed lens with focal lengths equivalent to 24-120mm on a full-frame body. I find that I don't need a wider angle, and that I'm not a fan of apertures wider than 4. The longer focal lengths are used quite rarely, mostly for close-ups.
Also, I have an old Canon 10D camera with a Canon 100/2.8 macro lens, for subjects like insects.
Mostly, I shoot outdoors, often during hiking or backpacking, sometimes the conditions can be quite dusty.

The reasons I want to upgrade the kit are: 1) The total kit is too heavy, eliminating one of two bodies would be nice. 2) My Sony is aging, I seem to struggle more and more with high-contrast scenes, probably because of dust getting sucked inside the lens. Shadows are kind of 'whitened'. 3) New sensors seem to have less noise in shadows.
I thought of replacing the Sony with a Canon 550D (Rebel T2i) plus an all-around lens.

There are 2 lenses I am considering, Canon EF-S 15-85 IS and Canon EF 17-40L. The first one covers all the focal lengths I would ever need and has IS. The second is a bit lighter, but is supposed to have better resistance from dust. Also, the second lens can be used on the old 10D body which can not take EF-S lenses.
As I person who now uses a 6MP body (Canon 10D), I think I can crop from a 18MP sensor if the reach of 17-40 would not be enough. I think that having good shadow detail is more important for me than resolution, this is why I hesitate to purchase the 15-85.

Well, I'm sorry for making you read so much. :)
Can anybody comment on these two lenses? May be I'm missing something important.

P.S. Repair services are expensive and not very reliable in my country, cleaning the inside of a lens can cost as much as half of a new one.
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marcmccalmont

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2011, 06:33:16 pm »

Although I have a lot of Canon lenses and am partial to Canon I just ordered a pentax K5 and their 18-135mm it's sensor is better than the Canons and the combo is relatively small and light.
Marc 
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Marc McCalmont

thierrylegros396

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2011, 04:22:51 am »

Although I have a lot of Canon lenses and am partial to Canon I just ordered a pentax K5 and their 18-135mm it's sensor is better than the Canons and the combo is relatively small and light.
Marc 

Hi Marc,

I'm waiting with big interrest, because it's exactly what I wanna buy ;) ;) ;)

Keep us informed of the results, please !!!
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Jon Meddings

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2011, 09:36:23 am »

Not sure I have the answer but a few comments anyhow.  If you are committed to that camera then you are stuck with the 1.6 crop factor and it sounds like you prefer shooting at the wider focal lengths. My inclination has always been to avoid the EF-S lenses as if you ever move to a full frame sensor (and this might be preferable for the wider side of things) then you lose the lenses - and glass "is forever". The flip side is that the EF lenses are more expensive and heavier and so this is a decision you need to make.

So if I wanted an EF lens setup to cover this focal range you might have trouble finding just one. However, you do have the 100 f/2.8 which is a very nice little lens and would give you the longer end of things. The lenses I'd consider would be the 17-40 f/4 you've mentioned but I'd also consider the 24-70 f/2.8 (brighter, although heavier, and a bit longer) or the 28-135.

I personally love the 24-70 for the type of shooting you describe but I do it on a full frame body where 24 mm is often quite nice - it might not be wide enough on a cropped sensor.
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2011, 01:53:35 pm »

My first Canon was the 10D and the lens I used (and loved) for 95% of everything was the 17-40 f/4L. Mine is very sharp, and the absence of Image Stabilization never seemed to matter, with careful hand-holding. I have since moved up to a full-frame 5D, and my current "walk-about" lens is the 24-105 f/4L IS. Most of what I do is at the shorter focal lengths, but I really like IS for the longer images.

Although the 17-40 looks heavy (it's wide, but short), it never seemed too heavy, even carrying it great distances. So on a 1.6 crop factor camera I think it is a fine choice.

Eric

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BillZ

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2011, 09:22:27 am »

 A few years back I purchased the Canon 40d with the EF-S 17-85mm IS as the kit lens. I'm sure that it is similar to the newer EF-S 15-85mm IS in at least size and weight. On that note it is a fairly light combination to carry around. In terms of the build quality and optical properties, it doesn't even come close to an L series lens. I'm sure that canon has improved the optics somewhat on this newer version but I doubt that it comes close to L glass.
 That being said, If you would continue to use the EF-S 15-85mm IS on a lower resolution camera such as the 10d the results I think would be fine. However if you put it on the Rebel T2i the outcome may not be as good. I also shoot with a Canon 50d, on which I usually keep a EF 70-200mm L. When I put that EF-S 17-85mm on the 50d the results are not that pleasing. The extra resolution picks up on everything that is bad about the lens. I have however been able to print some excellent large photos taken with the EF-S 17-85mm IS when on the 40d.


Bill
 
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JohnKoerner

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2011, 07:36:26 pm »

A few years back I purchased the Canon 40d with the EF-S 17-85mm IS as the kit lens. I'm sure that it is similar to the newer EF-S 15-85mm IS in at least size and weight. On that note it is a fairly light combination to carry around. In terms of the build quality and optical properties, it doesn't even come close to an L series lens. I'm sure that canon has improved the optics somewhat on this newer version but I doubt that it comes close to L glass.
 That being said, If you would continue to use the EF-S 15-85mm IS on a lower resolution camera such as the 10d the results I think would be fine. However if you put it on the Rebel T2i the outcome may not be as good. I also shoot with a Canon 50d, on which I usually keep a EF 70-200mm L. When I put that EF-S 17-85mm on the 50d the results are not that pleasing. The extra resolution picks up on everything that is bad about the lens. I have however been able to print some excellent large photos taken with the EF-S 17-85mm IS when on the 40d.
Bill



You are confusing the dismal quality of the 17-85 f/4-5.6 lens with the superb quality of the newer 15-85 f/3.5-5.6. I agree that the 17-85 is a junker, but the 15-85 is a fine lens which offers superb resolution on the 7D.

Along with the 17-55  f/2.8 (not to be confused with the 17-85 f/4.5-5.6 junker),  the 15-85 is the highest-quality EF-S zoom lens, with the broadest range of possibility, in this class. Both the 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 and the 17-55 f/2.8 EF-S lenses boast many decidedly "L" qualities: review & comparison.

To the original poster, I purchased the 15-85 over a year ago, but (while an excellent and versatile lens) it suffered from a very pronounced lens creep ... which finally pi$$ed me off enough to sell it. I personally now have decided to work with prime lenses only, and I also refuse to use any lens that isn’t f/2.8 or faster. But that’s just me.

To address your specific question, the 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 is as good or better than the 17-40 f/4.0L, but keep in mind that your f/stop changes as you zoom in with the 15-85, which I regard as an intolerable annoyance, while the 17-40 stays true at f/4.0. Even better than the 17-40 f/4.0L, however, is the 17-55 f/2.8—which offers every bit the resolution quality, even more focal range, as well as a faster f/2.8 aperture.

Thus while the 17-55 f/2.8 is neither as wide, nor as long, as the 15-85, it boasts a huge advantage in that it remains at f/2.8 throughout its focal range—and is broader and faster than the 17-40—which, to me makes it a far preferable choice over either one of them.

Thus, if I ever do get another ES-S zoom again, it will be the 17-55 f/2.8 even though it is considerably more expensive.

Jack


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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2011, 07:42:14 pm »

Jack,

How is the weight of the 15-85 f/2.8 compared with the 17-40 f/4L? Depending on the OP's needs, that could be an important consideration.

Eric
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Semillon

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2011, 08:03:09 pm »

Recently purchased the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 for my wife and the image quality it produces when paired with the 550d body is quite astounding, I would strongly recommend this as a great general use lens.

Of course if you plan to buy a full frame body down the line, then you would be better off sticking with the EF mount.
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JohnKoerner

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2011, 10:14:20 am »

Jack,
How is the weight of the 15-85 f/2.8 compared with the 17-40 f/4L? Depending on the OP's needs, that could be an important consideration.
Eric


Well, honestly, I don't think the weight difference should be great enough to make any adult man (or even a woman) complain about. I mean, what are we talking about in weight here: 17.5 oz versus 20 oz versus 22.6 oz (between the 17-40, the 15-85, and the 17-55 respectively)? I honestly can't imagine any healthy adult quibbling over a 2.5 to 5 oz difference in weight between lenses.

What I can imagine is a healthy adult complaining about not wanting to pay the extra ~$300 to get the 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, so maybe the 17-40 f/4.0L makes sense in that that way. There is only a 2.5 oz difference between the 17-40 and the 15-85, but (as someone who owned the latter) the deal-breaker for me was the shifting f/stop from f/3.5-5.6 as well as the lens creep. Therefore, even though its image quality was excellent, I just would never buy such a lens again. Thus between these two I would probably choose the 17-40 due to its aperture of 4.0 remaining constant if that's where you needed to be.

However, between the 17-40 and the 17-55, the choice is more of a toss-up. The 17-40 f/4.0 is a nicer-built (and nicer-looking) lens than the 17-55 f/2.8, and it is 5 oz lighter. However, it is not as fast (nor is it as optically-good) as the 17-55 ... but it is a very good lens and it is $300 cheaper. Therefore, to my way of thinking, the weight should not be the deciding factor to anyone but some sort of extremely-weak or extremely-handicapped person. What should be the deciding factor is the faster nature, the superior resolution, and the broader focal range of the 17-55 f/2.8 ... and whether these advantages are something the OP believes are WORTH the $300 extra in price ... for a lens that is optically-superior and broader in capability ... yet not built nearly as well as the 17-40 f/4.0 (and for which, unlike the 17-40, you also have to pay extra for the hood with the 17-55).

Jack




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« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 10:17:58 am by John Koerner »
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stever

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Re: Choosing am all-around lens for a Canon body
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2011, 10:17:52 am »

the 17-85 didn't have adequate IQ for my 20D and will seriously limit the latest generation which need really good lenses to realize their potential.  the 17-40, 17-55, and 16-85 are the best choices but all suffer from asymetry and soft (sometimes extremely soft) edges at larger apertures and shorter focal lengths.  even after a warranty trip to Canon, my 17-40 needs f8 up to 28mm for decent edges.  the 17-40 has better build quality, Lenrentals.com found the 17-55 to have lower reliability than average (may have improved), don't know much about the 16-85.  

the problem with the 17-40 is limited range, so it depends on what you're shooting priorities are.  if you really want wide angle on a crop frame camera, the only sort of reasonable choices are the 10-22 and Tokina 11-16, neither cheap.  is you want a normal to sort tele, 24-105 is good (but has the same kind of asymetry and IQ problems as all of Canon zooms except the 70-200s) - the 28-135 is about the same level as the 17-85, and the 24-70 is an extremely large and heavy lens to put on a plastic crop-frame camera.

only good primes like the 50 1.4 (as long as you stop it down to at least f2.8) and the 100 macro come close to realizing the potential of the 18mpix crop frame cameras.
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