EOS prime lens choice

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Dick Derfy, Aug 1, 2003.

  1. Dick Derfy

    Dick Derfy Guest

    I am looking to carry a single prime lens with a Rebel 2000 on a
    vacation across Europe. No flames, please. I know I should be carrying
    some L series zooms, but I can not afford it nor can I carry too much.

    Which lens has the best optics among these:

    1. Canon 50mm/1.8 II ($69.95)
    2. Canon EF 35mm f/2 ($224.95)
    3. Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 ($164.95)
    4. Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 ($279.95)

    or should I go for one of these zooms:

    5. Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM ($369.95)
    6. Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM ($309.95)
    7. Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM II ($219.95)

    I will NOT be carrying a tripod with me, so does it even sense to buy
    a zoom?

    I want SHARP pictures. I tend to want wide over tele. I would not want
    to miss city scenes. I hear great rants about the cheap 50mm/1.8 but I
    don't think it is wide enough. I will also be using the lens for some
    people shots. Is the 24mm or 28mm too wide for a general purpose lens
    to bring on a long vacation?

    I will also be bringing an Oly Stylus Epic point and shoot camera as a
    backup. I want to take an SLR so I can use a UV filter, lens hood,
    external flash and bracket.

    Are the above prime lenses substantially better optically than the
    above zooms?

    As for film, I will be using a combination of Fuji Velvia 100F slide
    film and Kodak High Definition 200 (Royal Gold) in the Rebel, and
    Supra 400 in the point and shoot.
    Dick Derfy, Aug 1, 2003
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  2. Dick Derfy

    Lourens Smak Guest

    I carried just a 28mm F2.8 on quite a few trips... I think you either
    need the 35mm or the 28mm; the others are fine lenses but less suitable
    as a single lens, in my view.

    Lourens Smak, Aug 1, 2003
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  3. Dick Derfy

    Guest Guest

    Here's my recommendation

    1. if $$$ is a concern, get the 28-105mm zoom. It is a decent quality
    zoom. Latest grey version from B&H is made in Taiwan.

    2. if $$$ is less of a concern, get the 24-85mm zoom, or 28-135 IS.
    The 24-85mm is about the same as the 28-105mm optically, but you
    get the wider view. It is also slightly better built, made in
    japan. the 28-135mm IS is a wonderful lens, but at a higher price
    point. It is also a bit heavy on the rebel 2000. may be a bit
    overkill IMHO.

    3. if you are comfortable with a prime lens (ie, you've used it and
    knows what you are doing), then go for the 35mm prime. I find 28mm
    to be a bit too wide and tends to require some attention to produce
    nice pictures. 35mm may sound 'not wide enough', but in reality it
    is a better all around lens than the 28mm or the 50mm.

    For a trip across Europe, I do believe you do want the convenience of
    a zoom, unless you are really comfortable with primes. When I started
    out in photography, I had with me only the 50mm. And I hated it for no
    reason other than I can't zoom! :)

    So when I finally got the $$$, I bought the 28-105mm (I have Nikon
    stuff). It served me well and produced wonderful results.

    Now that I am really serious about photography, I find myself tend to
    use the primes more. But if I can only pack one lens on a trip, it
    will be the 28-105mm. The Nikon 28-105mm is better than the Canon
    28-105mm optically (less distortion), but the Canon one is not bad at

    Oh, which ever you get, do get the Lens hood and maybe a Hoya
    multi-coated UV filter as well.

    Guest, Aug 1, 2003
  4. Dick Derfy

    Alan Browne Guest

    For a vacation I would go with the 35 or the 50. Nothing to do with
    "best optics", they're all good lenses.
    Out of that bunch, the 50 is rated as "sharpest" by photodo ... but not
    enough that it really matters.
    As you intend to use relatively slow films, then the 50mm f/1.8 or 35
    f/2 are the best way to go.
    I would be tempted for a vacation to take the 28-105 ... it isn't as
    sharp as the primes, but very good nonetheless and quite versatile.
    IMO, yes, 35 at the widest if you're only bringing one lens, 50 for "as
    I saw it" perspective. 24 and 28 will really not be kind for people
    shots. The 50 is pretty good for this, the 35 will be acceptable (mind
    you we're not talking portraits...)
    "Substantially" is a loaded word. The 50 or 35 primes will give you
    sharper images for a lot less size and weight (and $'s too, in the 50mm
    case). The weighted photodo rating of the 28-105 is 3.3 (on 5) v. 4.2
    for the 50mm. (the weighted ratings should be taken with a hefty chunk
    of salt, but the spread in points does say something).
    For the Velvia, I would tend to want the prime lenses v. the zooms.

    Alan Browne, Aug 1, 2003
  5. Dick Derfy

    Photo1v01 Guest

    EF 24x85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
    Photo1v01, Aug 1, 2003
  6. Dick Derfy

    Canonman Guest

    If you can "bend" a little, I would suggest the 50mm f.1.8 for those times
    when you need low light, and either the 24-85 EF or the 28-105 EF. I have
    the current model with the "ring" USM and it's marvelous. Finally, I
    wouldn't overlook the 28-135 IS USM. Photographers who use it say they use
    it for 85% or more of their shooting. It is big and may overpower a Rebel
    Ti, but, get the Canon BP-220 for the camera and you can power your camera
    with AA alkalines, ni-cads or lithiums; have a nice vertical shutter release
    and, gain a counter weight for a bigger lenss like the 28-135. Bon Voyage
    and safe traveling.
    Canonman, Aug 1, 2003
  7. Dick Derfy

    Jim Townsend Guest

    I haven't tried them all.. (I doubt many have :)

    The el-cheapo 50mm f/1.8 is pretty impressive. I've got one... I picked one
    up just to see what the hubub was about. The construction is CHEAP but the
    images are sharp. (I just used this lens today as a matter of fact).
    I also have the EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM II.. (It was my first EOS lens).
    It's great for the price.. I use it quite a bit without a tripod. (In bright
    light of course).

    Perhaps get the 50mm 1.8 and the EF 28-105mm.. They'd be a great non 'L'
    budget pair.
    Jim Townsend, Aug 1, 2003
  8. Dick Derfy

    Dave Guest

    It's not on your list, but the 50mm 1.4 ($280) may be a good choice. I
    don't understand why people on a limited budget buy cheap zoom lenses. We
    all grow, and you want something that you will continue to value as you
    develop as a photographer. If you buy a cheap zoom, and if you develop your
    skills, you may soon want to toss it out to get something better. It makes
    more sense to buy tools once, of good quality, rather than equipment that
    will limit your growth. The 1.4 will be an asset even if you later decide to
    ditch your day-job and do photography full time. If you want to include
    people in your shots, the wide angle lenses don't work so well, sometimes
    giving unflattering facial distortion. Most of us on holiday try to include
    too much in the shot, then wonder why the pics seem to undervalue the
    feeling we had at the time. Better to have a more narrow perspective and
    discriminate as to what to include. Take a few shots of the scene rather
    than trying to include everything in one frame.

    Regardless of what you choose, get a circular polarizing filter, even
    before a UV filter.

    Good luck.

    Dave, Aug 2, 2003
  9. Dick Derfy

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: EOS prime lens choice
    I and anybody else would have to be a mind reader to know what you would prefer
    and what would be best for which subects w/o knowing the specific subjects in
    question. The most we could give you is a few guesses and apply as applicable.

    Most Canon primes (that i've sued) are excellent and should be better at or
    near wide open aperture than the zooms w/ superior contrast and (sometimes,
    most times) less flare.

    A 24mm lens would be perfectly suited for me, but perhaps not for you as I tend
    more towards a wide angle vision and 28mm feels borderline cramped to me.
    However, that's my style/vision/subject matter/preference - yours may be
    different (or the same) as/from mine.

    Why not rent/borrow a zoom w/ the full focal length you'd be interested in
    shooting w/ and make notes as to which shots/frames were shot w/ which focal
    lengths w/i the zoom. This will give you far better information than me or
    anybody else suggesting any particular focal lengths to you.

    If you want sharpness carry primes (or very low ratio zooms), if you want
    convenience, carry zooms. If you want both, carry both (whether at the same
    time or at different times). There is no law that says you can't own a 24-85
    zoom plus a 24, a 50 and an 85 or 100mm lens at the same time. My friend used
    to carry a high quality/low light/light weight fast aperure prime system as
    well as a zoom system (in his case, mostly L zooms) for times when he needed
    convenience (though w/ L lens zooms you get two out of three/four, high quality
    and high(ly) convenience(t) but not low weight and low price, even used the L
    glass is somewhat expensive). Perhaps a good pieceof advice would be to get the
    zoom in the range your most comfortable with in wide angle to tele focal
    extremes plus add a lens that you'll find most useful in the primes (ie. if you
    do a lot of architecture or group shots or landscapes choose a 24mm prime, if
    you just need a fast sharp "happy snaps" lens choose a 28mm or a 35mm, if you
    need a low light lens and prefer the cropping of a normal lens get a fast 50mm
    (I too give a thumbs up to the faster 50/1.4, it might be worth the extra money
    _if_ it suits your vision/style of photography/subject matter), if you mainly
    love to do macro or head shots get an 85/100/135mm lens. All of the primes you
    mentioned should be sharp enpough for your needs (I have seen results from the
    50/1.8 and the 24mm f/2.8). One zoom and one (or more) primes won't break your
    bank (unless its a very small bank/wallet you have ;-)).

    In either instance, since you don't want to carry around a tripod which would
    make all of your lenses much sharper than when handheld, perhaps you should
    look into a beean bag, gun stock/chest pod or some other steadying device. In a
    pinch you can use flash to give you extra sharpness and if you want to make the
    flash subtle/non-obtrusive just dial it down about a stop and a half or two w/
    flash compensation or by some other means.

    I would also use the 400 color neg film in the Rebel SLR when you use a zoom w/
    it (unless you are in bright daylight/sunlight that can support a lower speed
    film like the 100F slide film). If you only blow up to 4x6" or 8x12" maximum
    you should be able to get decent quality off of a faster 400 or 800 speed color
    neg film and a zoom and get enough sharpness if you stop down to around the
    mid-apertures or slightly smaller (f/8 or f/11) w/ the zooms.

    For quality/sharpness I'd use the Velvia 100F w/ a prime (on a tripod or some
    other support).

    Have a happy vacation and get many great shots :).

    And, remember, beyond a certain minimum level of quality its the person's
    vision behind the camera (and the shot itself) that matters most.



    Check out my photos at "LEWISVISION":


    Remove "nospam" to reply
    Lewis Lang, Aug 2, 2003
  10. Dick Derfy

    JIM Guest


    'One' "prime" lens will be frustrating, not to mention needing to work on
    picking up speed with your feet....A wide, wider than 35, angle lens demands
    greater attention to things like people pics and if the lens is less than
    expensive you will need to also watch compositions that include straight
    lines. You will still need to watch all that with the 24-85 because it
    exhibits barrel and pincushion distortion at both extremes.

    My point in recommending this lens is that it will allow you to include
    entire rooms, from around 12'x12', when anything longer will not. You can
    usually move in closer, but backing up is often impossible and it does
    decent work at the 85 end for portraits. As for sharp, I doubt you will be
    disappointed as long as you do the work on your end - shoot at f5.6 or f8
    whenever possible - buy the hood that goes with the lens, not one of those
    bundled rubber thingys (the plastic threads will eventually become useless
    to attach the thing with anyway) - you will get flare without one - use at
    least a monopod and/or keep the shutter speed up.

    Shoot'em up, prime or zoom, Agfa, Fuji, Kodak and all the rest will love you
    for it!!

    JIM, Aug 2, 2003
  11. I second this!

    It looks like you are prepared to spend a few hundred dollars for a lens.
    If so, pass on the 50mm f1.8 and get the f1.4; it really is worth the
    money. BTW, see if you can get hold of a Hamas genuine tire-rubber lens
    hood. It'll offer even more protection than a metal/plastic hood and is
    retractable as well. The idea of using the circular polarizer as a front
    element protector makes much sense, I think (thanks, Dave!). Put the hood
    in front of the polarizer; you don't need to see a mark to tell it's
    orientation, and grabbing the hood to adjust it will keep your fingers off
    the glass.....

    With that lens, you'll do photography and save your snapshootery for the

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, Aug 2, 2003
  12. Dick Derfy

    Dave Guest

    Dave, Aug 2, 2003
  13. Dick Derfy

    Alan Browne Guest

    So your advice is to spend 4 X as much money (v. the f/1.8) for 2/3 of a
    stop of light and end up with a bigger/heavier lens (that is only
    marginlly sharper) and an additional loss-liability on a vacation?
    He is not becoming a pro-photog, he is going on vacation. An f/1.4 50mm
    is a lovely jewel for the case, but frankly they don't see that much action.
    Horsefeathers. People look fine as an element in a 35mm shot, this is
    not portraits, it is people as part of an environment ...
    A circ-pol is a nuissance to lug around on vacation. The poster is
    obviously seeking simplicity and compactness in his kit.
    Alan Browne, Aug 2, 2003
  14. Dick Derfy

    Alan Browne Guest

    Indeed. Not really worth the $'s for marginal differences on vacation,
    is it?
    Alan Browne, Aug 2, 2003
  15. Dick Derfy

    Dave Guest

    Well I guess that would be a value judgment, as to whether the extra
    couple of hundred dollars is worth it. The discussion on the link provided
    comes out in favour of the 1.4, as it should, for the price difference. To
    me, for a travel camera, durability would be an important feature. The
    superior light fall-off, bokeh, flare, and marginally better colors would
    be a bonus. The extra light would be negligible.

    Regarding the issue of 'how wide', that obviously is also a value
    judgment. It took me years to learn how to shoot a wide angle lens with
    satisfying results. That skill takes time to acquire, and in the meantime
    you come out with disappointing photos. Certainly beginners have trouble
    getting close enough to the foreground subject to make the shot interesting.
    I think a 50mm may be easier to use, since the perspective is so much closer
    to that of normal sight. If your main interest is in the foreground, and if
    you don't plan to take a lot of portraits, then wider might be better. I
    also agree that you can take a good portrait with a wide angle lens, but it
    takes more skill and effort.

    I am surprised to hear you don't recommend a polarizing filter. I for
    one would not take an SLR on holiday without a polarizing filter, since
    landscape images are so much better, with brighter colors, and more balanced
    sky. I guess it depends on what you want to shoot, since family snaps and
    indoor shots don't require one. For me the extra bulk of a polarizer is
    worth it, definitely way more useful than a UV filter. If weight and bulk is
    so much of a factor then I leave my SLR at home in favour of my
    point-and-shoot Olympus.

    Dave, Aug 2, 2003
  16. Dick Derfy

    Dave Guest

    These are valid points, Alan. I know photographers like that, too, who
    can get decent pics from a disposable camera. In some ways these guys piss
    me off, thumbing their noses at 'value' *grin*. In other ways, it is
    liberating that the big differences are between the ears, not what you
    happen to have paid for. ;>). There is no doubt that average equipment is
    far superior to an average photographer's skill.

    I came by a story on the 'net a few years ago. A photographer was giving
    a slide show, and one of the audience members later commented that he must
    have had really expensive equipment to get such excellent shots. Later he
    was invited to dinner to that friend's house. After dinner he remarked that
    the cook must have 'really expensive pots', to cook such a good dinner.

    Dave, Aug 3, 2003
  17. No question at all. Spend the extra money on a GOOD tripod.

    Paul Repacholi 1 Crescent Rd.,
    +61 (08) 9257-1001 Kalamunda.
    West Australia 6076
    comp.os.vms,- The Older, Grumpier Slashdot
    Raw, Cooked or Well-done, it's all half baked.
    EPIC, The Architecture of the future, always has been, always will be.
    Paul Repacholi, Aug 4, 2003
  18. Dick Derfy

    Alan Browne Guest

    That is one of the best talent/equipment analogies I've seen in a while!

    Alan Browne, Aug 5, 2003
  19. I use the combination of the EF 50/1.8 and the EF 28/2.8 for almost
    95% of my photography. That combination is just slightly more
    expensive than the 28-105. If your taking an Olympus Stylus Epic then
    I can think of no real reason to duplicate the 35mm focal length.

    Oh yeah, have fun!

    street shooter, Aug 5, 2003
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