Walkabout Zoom equal to the quality of the 50mm f1.8

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Hi all
I'm so taken with my little Canon 50mm f1.8 that I'm always really reluctant to get out my canon kit lens, which is spoiling some opportunities as 50mm isn't quite as wide as I thought it would be (I guess 35mm is the natural lens for a cropped sensor).
So...
I'm looking for a walkabout zoom lens for my 400D which will offer equal or greater image quality to the 50mm so that I can leave it on the camera.

I was initially looking at the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 and the Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4.5 Macro but I'm worried that I wont like the colours enough (this is something the reviews rarely go into so I'm a bit unsure as to what the variances are between lenses).

Important things are:
Colour, sharpness, bokeh, CA, wide aperture.

Things I don't mind compromising on:
Build, size/weight, geometric distortions (I think - maybe I don't realise how much this can effect the quality of images), wideangle (i.e. maybe I'd be happy with 24mm as the widest - maybe :))

Pricewise - I just want something as good as the 50mm. If it costs more to get this, I'll wait a while and save up.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks
tt
 

senu

Distinguished Member
While the build quality of the 50mm 1.8 is so so, its image quality is hard to match by any wide angle zooms at the £2-350 mark . It is exceptional VFM.

What you should aspire for is something better much than the kit lens,( not really comparing to the 50)

The Sigmas and Tamron you list fit the bill perfectly. They are both quite well built and barrel distortion below 24mm can be fixed in software

Even the 50mm 1.4 ( which is 3-4 x the cost of the 1.8) isnt 3-4x its quality

The quite costly 17-55 2.8 USM IS is probably good enough to stop you from wanting the fifty as much but it is almost 8x its cost

The 17-85 ( if you can get it for £250) with Canons rebate will give you a fair range but not in the class of the fifty and If you dont need IS , ect the Tamron and Sigma are more of a bargain and are said to get sharper images
I like it but still use the 50mm 1.4 whenever appropriate .. its no match
 

Brammers

Banned
I know you said you wanted something to leave on the camera, but...

Why does it have to be a zoom? If you like the image quality and the speed then why not go with a Sigma 20 1.8 (£200) and a Canon 35 f2 (£162) or Sigma 30 1.4 £229.

You've suddenly got approx the coverage of a 17-50 2.8 zoom all at f1.8 or faster and with image quality that'll blow away the Tamron (compare 2.8 on the Tamron to 2.8 on any of those primes.)

That's my lineup anyway (but in Minolta flavour), and I absolutely love it. I regularly pull out my camera and people ask me why I'm shooting pictures without flash, isn't it too dark?

If you do want high speed zooms then the fastest it gets (bar Olympus! Who have an amazing looking f2 zoom) is f2.8 with Sigma's 18-50, Tamron's 17-50 (supposed to be excellent, my friend swears by his), Tokina's 16-50 or whatever Canon offers.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Fast Primes will always the lenses to own but a walkabout lens for candids and the need to not carry around a bag of lenses does have its place.
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Thanks guys
I'll certainly keep the prime route in mind, but if I can get close in a zoom it will get used far more.

ok - so lets for a second assume that money is no object - is it still difficult to match the 50mm f1.8?
Senu, you mention the Canon 17-55 2.8 USM IS and it is on my list. For some reason I was assuming that the addition of IS was going to mean that the IQ wasn't much better than the Tamron/Sigma. What are your thoughts on this?

If £5-600 will do it for me, at least I know what to aim for and I can decide whether to wait or not.

Thanks again
tt
 

jonnypb

Well-known Member
I'm very happy with my sigma 17-70

Colours are nice, pictures are sharp and it's good value for money and won't break the bank!
 

senu

Distinguished Member
The 17-55 is an L grade fast lens with IS . It is justifiably costlier but I think that you need to look at these Lenses in the proper context.
Sometimes the cost difference doesn't translate to an equivalent difference in quality
I have in a recent post come to the defence of the much maligned 17-85 compared to the 17-55 but the latter costs £2-250 more: Is it worth that more?

Probably.. certainly more on the 30D than maybe the 350D but if money is tight, the Tamron , Sigma will do well... any shortcomings can be overcome by shooting carefully, Using RAW when appropriate and using PS
The big differences are not noticeable in the print sizes that most of our prints end up in

However there is no doubt that Good lenses always seem to hold their value and outlast bodies but VFM is equally Important as even the kit lens is usable until it gets replaced
 

Tobers

Well-known Member
Another vote for the 17-55. Very sharp - I dont use the 50mm very often now I have this lens. It's really really good - you'll be impressed.
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Thanks Tobers
At the moment I'm leaning towards spending more to get a lens I'm satisfied with.
I hear what you're saying re VFM Senu, but I'm seeing it like this - spend £250 and think twice about whether the fifty will be better, or spend £500 and just get on with shooting + it seems there is no better zoom lens on the market.

Of course if I spend £500 on the 17-55, then I've got no money for a longer lens so it all needs some careful consideration.
What I am surprised about is that even with an imaginary unlimited budget, it seems there is no perfect lens.

Thanks for the help guys
 

Tobers

Well-known Member
What I am surprised about is that even with an imaginary unlimited budget, it seems there is no perfect lens.

You've got that right. Dont let it stop you looking & trying to find it though - that's part of the fun.

By the way, the 17-55 will not fit on a 5D or 1D as its EF-S fit not plain EF. If you do go to a 5D, then you'll be looking at a 17-40L or 24-100L probably. More money!! However, you'll probably like the 17-55 so much that you wont bother with a 5D and will go with a 30D (or its successor).

In the meantime, its wierd having a lens worth twice as much as your camera body!
 

Radiohead

Well-known Member
Fast Primes will always the lenses to own but a walkabout lens for candids and the need to not carry around a bag of lenses does have its place.

I'd go one further and say that for most people, most of the time, a constant aperture standard zoom will get more use, more often.

I've got 2 very nice primes but 80% of my weddings are shot with a 24-70 or 70-200 f2.8. It suits the way I shoot more than primes most of the time. The primes have their place.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Regarding the "transferability" of lenses

The XOD series ( 10,20,30D) are a step up from the 350-400 ( X00D seires) and there may be a 40D to tempt you when the 400D starts feeling like it need to go..

The 5D camera costs more than a few 400Ds put together:eek:!!

Anyhow good glass can be sold on with little loss so I wouldn't be put off otherwise there is the 17-40mm L which is not an EF-S but it is an f4... :rolleyes:
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Hi Tobers
Yes, the cropped sensor thing comes up all the time when you're wanting a widish zoom. Who knows what is in my future. I must say it's hard to see myself growing out of the 400D, there seems to be every type of photo style looking excellent on Flickr using it.
After you posted I went off looking at the 17-40L again - it's the f4 which puts me off a bit, otherwise at £400 it's not too bad value.

Then I read Ken Rockwell saying that the kit lens is nearly as good as the 17-55! arghh! :)
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Hi Tobers
...After you posted I went off looking at the 17-40L again - it's the f4 which puts me off a bit, otherwise at £400 it's not too bad value.

It is good but ...: do you really see a 5D coming your way soon ??:D

Then I read Ken Rockwell saying that the kit lens is nearly as good as the 17-55! arghh! :)
I'm sure it was a typo......:rotfl::oops:
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
It is good but ...: do you really see a 5D coming your way soon ??:D
Not within a couple of years I don't think. I like travelling light too. I don't want to feel too encumbered with all the kit.

I'm sure it was a typo......:rotfl::oops:
I can't work out if you're laughing because this is the kind of thing that Ken comes out with all the time, or whether you really think it's a typo.
Either way he says it many times...

This if for the 17-55 IS
Bad News:

1.) Expensive.

2.) Same nominal zoom range and performance as the $100 18-55mm. Sorry, but looking at the images from my 8MP and 10MP bodies I don't see any more sharpness, and I got more consistent autofocus accuracy with the 18-55mm.

3.) Doesn't focus as close as the $100 18-55mm.

3.) Big lens; feels heavy on Digital Rebels.
There's lots more on the review page of both lenses.


Anyway - he makes some good points about cost of lenses versus the cost of a holiday to take some better photos.
 

Radiohead

Well-known Member
Anyway - he makes some good points about cost of lenses versus the cost of a holiday to take some better photos.

It's a shame he doesn't take the advice himself rather than posting over-saturated nonsense.

A deeply average photographer, and someone who writes controversial articles to drive traffic to his site. He's not a pro, contrary to what he likes some to think. Quite how he's got the amount of attention he does is beyond me. Look to the likes of Michael Reichmann and Bob Atkins for genuine Canon reviews with no agenda, and the likes of Thom Hogan and Bjorn Rorslett for Nikon. Rockwell's not even close.

The 17-55/f2.8 IS is a superb lens that will serve you in many situations. The kit lens is average at best and you'll soon run into the limits of it.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
I was laughing..:rotfl:
... there is no way the 17-55 is anything like the kit lens

Even 17-85 is not really in the same league as the 17-55 for out of the camera sharpness and it ( 17-85) is actually rather much better than the kit lens even if you question its VFM

Ill be kind here : Ken ... I think.....has an occasional bad day :confused:,
The day he typed that was one of them

I absolutely promise you :The day you put any of those lenses you are considering on your 400D is the last day you see the kit lens:hiya:
 

Liquid101

Distinguished Member
I'm with Brammers on this one.

After using prime lenses, I just don;t think I can go back to using zoom lenses. OK, they are eaiser on the shoulder and very convenient - and the quality is very nearly as good.

But for me, I just prefer the simplcity of owning some nice primes. OK, I have to fiddle around and change lenses, but hey i'm in no hurry. I can understand why a commercial photographer would need to - espeically at a wedding. But for an average user looking for the best quality, they can't be beaten. I just can't see myself buying a zoom lens again.

As to Ken Rockwell, - well his name will always guarantee to get Radiohead hitting the post button :smashin: I think he must do a regular search of the forum for his name ;)

For the record though - I agree with everything Radiohead says about him - He's an 'A' grade pillock. :)
 

senu

Distinguished Member
...OK, they are eaiser on the shoulder and very convenient - and the quality is very nearly as good..

True
Liquid 101 , with due respect with yours and Brammers Love of Primes:), and your obvious prowess with your kit,

Some of the spontaneity of photography is about composing framing and shooting fairly quickly: many of these fun shots don't get seen beyond our websites and by friends and family but without these wide angle-zoom they may not even have gotten shot

In addition to the fiddling to change lenses ( and increase risk of a dirty sensor) There is a learning curve to find which focal lengths you use the most as well as the cost of these primes.


As time goes on, our favourite wide angle, portrait and zoom prime will find their way into our bags if we hold our DSLRs ( and wives!) long enough but in the early stages ( on holiday and out for a " photography walk) , thinking which lens to use and changing it quickly is far from second nature


PS: I was posting as the OP made the above post:D
 

Brammers

Banned
Interesting - so what are your most frequently used primes?

Sigma 20 1.8
Minolta 35 2
Minolta 50 1.7
Minolta 135 2.8

I'd love to be able to swap the Minolta 135 for the Carl Zeiss version, or maybe even the original Minolta STF. That's ultra exotic though, so probably just the Zeiss.

I'd also like either a Zeiss 84 1.4 or a Minolta 85 1.4. All of those still on the wishlist are really expensive though, £600+ each.

The rest of those came in at £100-200 each, not bad at all :)

I have to agree with senu though, for when all that matters is convenience I've got an 18-125. It covers 4 lenses in 1, but distortions, sharpness, bokeh, speed, vignetting and durability all mean that whenever I've taken a cracking picture with it, I find myself wishing I was back there with the appropriate prime in hand!!!
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
whenever I've taken a cracking picture with it, I find myself wishing I was back there with the appropriate prime in hand!!!

I hear you :)

But I think I know I'm going to be more of a zoom man. I like to avoid faff wherever possible :)

Thank you all for your input in this thread - hope others find it interesting too.

I'm going to weight up the costs and pick either the Canon 17-55 IS or the Tamron 17-50 depending on what answers I get from the bank/wife/etc and my own impatience :)
 

Radiohead

Well-known Member
I can understand why a commercial photographer would need to - espeically at a wedding.

That's about the size of it.


As to Ken Rockwell, - well his name will always guarantee to get Radiohead hitting the post button :smashin: I think he must do a regular search of the forum for his name ;)

For the record though - I agree with everything Radiohead says about him - He's an 'A' grade pillock. :)

:rotfl: :smashin:
 

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