In What Order Would You Start Buying Lens, starting fresh... What Lens, first, second, etc.?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Bryan Fenstermacher, Jun 14, 2005.

  1. All,

    I'm going to be jumping into digital photography this week. I'm planning on
    purchasing a Canon 20D camera with the 17-85 f/4-5.6IS USM lens and a Canon
    580EX speedlight. In addition to that gear I would like to experiment with
    prime lenses, and something with a low stop. I was thinking of getting the
    Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens...

    Anyways, I've been thinking I have NO glass now... In what order would you
    acquire a collection of lenses? To keep the holy war down to a low roar,
    what types of lenses would you recommend (maybe not the specific lens, just
    the type) I purchase, and in what order. Also for me, I realistically won't
    have a massive collection of glass, and at least for a while won't be able
    to justify a ton of high dollar glass (although I might spring for the Canon
    70-210 f/2.8 IS lens at some point).

    1. decent walk around lens.
    2. Good prime lens in the 50mm size.
    3. Telephoto Zoom

    Thanks for the advice in advance...

    Bryan Fenstermacher, Jun 14, 2005
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  2. Bryan Fenstermacher

    editor Guest

    I'd look first for a 28-140 (equiv.) or 35-105 (equiv) zoom lens. VERY
    useful - in my experience - especially that 28-140 one. Not too bulky,

    Save on gas! Shop the
    editor, Jun 14, 2005
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  3. I should also add, that my first lens will be a 17-85 lens. Specifically
    the Canon 17-85 f/4-5.6IS USM because it seems to be a decent lens and it's
    cheaper when included with the 20D kit.
    Bryan Fenstermacher, Jun 14, 2005
  4. Here are the first four Canon lenses I got for my 20D.

    50mm F1.4 (not as useful as hoped with the 1.6 sensor)
    85mm F1.8 (very useful)
    17-40 F4.0L (most used lens, I have of these)
    70-200 F4.0L

    then I got a 24-70 F2.3L (most used of all lenses)

    Planning to get a 135mm F2.0L and a 35mm F1.4 (more like a true 50 on
    the 1.6 sensor).


    "I have been a witness, and these pictures are
    my testimony. The events I have recorded should
    not be forgotten and must not be repeated."

    -James Nachtwey-
    John A. Stovall, Jun 14, 2005
  5. You may want to consider the 18-55 kit lens. It is a really far better
    than you should expect for the price. Great day to day lens.

    Do you really need IS on a 17-85 lens?

    Of course the answers to those questions and really based on many many
    factors including how deep your pockets are and what kind of photography you
    do or more important will do.

    I suggest that you start with just one lens, either the IS you suggested
    or the kit lens I suggested is a good start. Then start taking pictures.
    Be sure to take photos of all the things that you figure you will be taking
    in the future. For example, if you take pictures of buildings exterior and
    interior on trips, but won't be going on a trip for a while, take some
    photos around town. Get the feel for where your lens is limiting you from
    what you want to do and then address that with your next purchase(s).

    Good Luck
    Joseph Meehan, Jun 14, 2005
  6. Bryan Fenstermacher

    Cheesehead Guest

    Even though I use Pentax ...
    1. Something in the range of 20mm for walk-around. Maybe a compact
    17-35-range zoom.
    2. For digital, more like 40mm.
    3. 80-200/2.8. Tokina probably the best value, but hefty. Otherwise
    something IS for Canon lovers.

    Cheesehead, Jun 14, 2005
  7. Bryan Fenstermacher

    Cheesehead Guest

    I went to college in Omaha in the 70s with a Fenstermacher gal.

    Cheesehead, Jun 14, 2005
  8. Bryan Fenstermacher

    Celcius Guest

    Hi Bryan!

    I'm not a newbie nor a pro. When I buy the Canon 350D shortly, it will be my
    7th camera in all, my third digital (Canon G1, Pro 1). I figure that the
    17-85mm IS USM should be a great "all around" lens. It offers 28mm which is
    good for wide angle photog. to 130mm, a reasonable 5x. This will allow me to
    take many pics in different situations. I plan to take note of what I'm
    missing and when.

    When I was using my Pro 1 (a 7x -- 28 to 200mm), I found at times that I
    might need a good telephoto. Contrary to general belief, the telephoto is a
    very good lens for portrait photography. It can also be useful to take
    photos of "ordinary life" when on a trip without being hindered. For
    instance, when I was in Turkey and Greece recently, there were many
    interesting situations in public places (markets, vendors, etc.) which I
    didn't have easy access to. My problem is that a good telephoto should offer
    *max opening and a image stabilisation*. These cost a lot.

    At this point in time, I feel I would want a macro lens before I buy a wide
    angle. I used to do Underwater Photography and I loved the "small bugs and
    corals". However, as I said before, it's the use which will determine what I


    Celcius, Jun 14, 2005
  9. Huh, interesting... there aren't a ton of us fenstermacher's around...
    Although, some of the relationships are really distant. Most of my
    Fenstermacher clan is mostly from Indiana and a bit from Ohio and PA...

    I wasn't in college until the 90's... so I'm a young one.

    Bryan Fenstermacher, Jun 14, 2005
  10. I agree. The 18-55 kit lens is pretty good, and IS isn't all that
    necessary on the 17-85. OTOH, I've wished I had the 75-300 IS instead of
    my old 100-300 USM.

    A wide angle lens is also essential, i.e. the 10-22 EF-s, an excellent
    lens, though kind of pricey for non-L build quality.
    Steven M. Scharf, Jun 14, 2005

  11. What you buy and in what order depends very much on what you are shooting.
    I bought what little glass I have in order of need.

    I very quickly grew to dislike the 18-55 that came with my 300D, so.... I
    was in the need of a good walking around lens and bought the 28-135 IS USM.
    This is now my primary lens and I found it has a perfect range for all
    around shots. It's not L glass and the zoom portion is plastic but the lens
    performs well enough. So well in fact that my wife steels it for her film
    photog from time to time; so often anymore that I think I'm going to have to
    buy another one.

    A couple of months later, after being very disappointed with the 70-300 I
    had and not that much more impressed with my wife's EF 75-300, I bought the
    EF 100-400 L IS USM. I needed the zoom range for taking pics of my
    daughters rowing events. I found the range of this lens perfect for getting
    good shots of the girls in the boats as they rowed down river. I can zoom
    in and get just a couple of them in frame or zoom out and catch the entire 8
    in the frame. Very flexible and a good performer. It has a push pull zoom
    but it didn't take long for me to get used to that.

    Now that Crew season is over and my needs are changing once again and I'm
    looking at new glass. Much of what I'm taking now are just family snaps
    indoors so I think my next lens will be the 50 1.4 or 1.8. I'm leaning
    towards the 1.8 first because I don't think I'll use the lens that much and
    the 1.8 is cheap enough to see if my use will increase. If I like the 50mm
    and find enough use for it I'll spring for the 1.4.

    After that I want a good super wide zoom lens preferably L glass. Most
    likely the EF 16-35 f2.8L USM or the 17-40 f4L USM.

    After that I think I'll get the 70-200 f2.8L. It duplicates the range of my
    other lenses but the speed is very desirable and there are time where the
    100-400 is just too big.

    In any event plan to spend lots of money because good glass isn't cheap.

    Robert R Kircher, Jr., Jun 14, 2005
  12. What will you be photographing? Will you need much lens speed or will
    you be able to tripod the camera and take longer exposures? Are your
    priorities versatility like zoom, or can you deal with a half-dozen primes
    and narrow-range zooms?

    Just some questions I'd nail down first, which I'm glad I asked myself
    as I begin planning to purchase more lenses.

    David Geesaman, Jun 14, 2005
  13. Bryan Fenstermacher

    Cheesehead Guest

    I think she may have been from PA.
    (I live in Ohio right now.)

    Cheesehead, Jun 14, 2005
  14. Bryan Fenstermacher

    UC Guest

    Please don't. We don't need another digital asshole...

    Please don't. Get a Leica R9 and several prime lenses.
    It depends on the kind of work you'll be doing...
    UC, Jun 14, 2005
  15. Bryan Fenstermacher

    G.T. Guest

    I've got in order of usage:

    24-135 Tamron (it's my primary lens)
    35 f/2 Canon
    EF-S 10-22 Canon
    50 f/1.8 Canon
    70-200 f/4 Canon
    100 Macro Canon

    I should start using the Macro a lot more and I could probably get rid of
    the 50 f/1.8 except that it doesn't take up much room in my camera bag and
    it's lighter than the 35 f/2 which makes it nicer for mtn biking. I'm
    finding that the 35mm f/2 has better coverage for the trails we ride,

    I'm thinking about picking up an 1.4x extender for the 70-200.

    G.T., Jun 14, 2005
  16. Bryan Fenstermacher

    george Guest

    It ALL depends on what you want to do! For instance, if you want to take
    photos of your prize winning coin collection, you'd be very disappointed
    with a general purpose lens or a 50mm prime or a telephoto. First, think
    about what you'd probably want to photograph the most (most often, that is)
    and buy an appropriate lens for that. Then, what else would you like to do
    and prioritize the list.

    Here are a few SUGGESTED strategies for you (you know where you live so you
    know if some of these aren't possible):
    1) Buy a wide-range, general purpose lens (such as the 18-200) with an eye
    toward using it to figure out where its shortfalls are and plan to dump it
    once you know (or relegate it to a general purpose lens)
    2) Rent the lenses that interest you for a weekend (pros don't usually need
    them on weekends)...if you are in a major metropolitan area this might be a
    choice...maybe you can get the camera store to apply some of your rental
    fees towards future purchases
    3) Make a plan (such as "I really want to do portraits") and use that as
    your starting point

    Good luck
    george, Jun 14, 2005
  17. snipped
    Oh? Pro's don't work on weekend?

    "I have been a witness, and these pictures are
    my testimony. The events I have recorded should
    not be forgotten and must not be repeated."

    -James Nachtwey-
    John A. Stovall, Jun 14, 2005
  18. Bryan Fenstermacher

    Justin Thyme Guest

    I'm a film guy, so divide the figures I mention by 1.6 to get your Canon
    digital equivalent focal lengths.
    28-80 (digital: 18-50) makes a great general purpose lens - wide enough for
    most things at it's wide end, with enough telephoto to be a great portrait
    lens. This is the lens that you would stick on the camera if you want
    versatility without bulk.
    100-300 (digital: 70-200, maybe even go to 300). This is the most zoom you
    can comfortably hand-hold, and while you won't use it nearly as much as the
    28-80 it is handy for those times when you want to get in close for wildlife
    or sports.
    Fast prime in the 70-90 range: (digital: 50/1.4 is great here). Great
    Portrait lens for ambient light.
    24mm or wider prime (digital: 16 or less). Buildings, landscapes etc.
    With all lenses, the faster it is, the more versatile it is, but it is also
    heavier and more expensive.
    Justin Thyme, Jun 14, 2005
  19. Bryan Fenstermacher

    wilt Guest

    17-85 is equivalent to 28-130, so that is a very usable range of
    lengths as a walkaround. In my youth I lived with nothing but 35mm,
    50mm, and 135mm and shot for my high school yearbook and newspaper as
    photo editor. Only thing to improve upon what you have would be having
    A) faster lens for available light shooting without the disturbance or
    alteration of the light in the natural, 'un-flash' environment, and B)
    having one 18-135, equivalent to 28-200 in 35mm land.

    One suggestion some made was the 17-40 f/2.8 as your first lens. While
    that gives you a faster lens as the first, it only covers 28-60mm,
    which is like a slightly wider equivalent of 35-70mm zoom in 35mm land.
    35-70 was on 'OK range' for me as my first purchase after I switched
    to Olympus in my mid 20's. But I found it to be not quite wide enough
    (as my needs for 24mm became stronger), and also not quite long enough.
    So you should consider whether you lean toward wider end of range or
    toward long end of range in most shots you take in your first lens
    choice. I thougt about 17-40, but decided that it would require me to
    change lenses too often, going from the short end of the range to the
    needing a somewhat telephoto.

    I ended up with the 17-85 IS USM and 70-200 f/4 L as my first lenses.
    Here's why...

    The problem with the 1.6 format used by all of the 'affordable' DSLRs
    today is at the wide end of the range. I love 24mm in 35 format, but
    getting equivalent 14-15mm for the 1.6 format is very expensive in
    DSLR land...$500-800 street price whether it is a wide zoom or fixed
    focal length! You can get telephoto at a much lower price, and some
    very exceptional telephotos, as opposed to the lenses being designed
    only to fit 1.5 format (which are useless on any FF camera, such as
    film cameras you might still own, or when FF becomes affordable to
    'Everyman' in the future.

    wilt, Jun 15, 2005
  20. What lenses you should get really depends on what you intend to mostly
    take pictures of: For sports and wildlife, you'll need very long, fast
    lenses; for scenics and travel, wide angles to moderate teles; for
    portraits, medium wide angles to short teles.

    I suggest to begin with you get the 18-55 Canon lens that comes with the
    camera in the kit. Buy no other lenses. Shoot with it and only it for
    about 6 months. By the end of time, you'll have a good idea what
    additional focal lengths you'll need and which order they should be
    Stefan Patric, Jun 15, 2005
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