questionscanon dslr lens recommendations?


The 100mm 2.8 is a beautiful lens. I don't have it yet, but it's on my list.

A great lens to start out with is the "Nifty Fifty". That's the nickname of the 50mm f1.8. It is the single best quality-to-dollar ratio you'll find in a lens. The glass is really good, providing very sharp images & the 1.8 allows for nice bokeh. Sure, it's not as nice as the 1.2 L USM, but the 1.8 costs nearly 15 TIMES less than the 1.2 (about 6%-7% of the price).

If you keep an eye out, you can snag it for about $80. The cheapest I currently can find it from a trustworthy store is for $92 at Abes of Maine:

It's currently selling for $99.95 at Amazon, but was down to $89.99 back on Jan 16. The cheapest it's been in the last 6 months on Amazon is $94.90, so that Abe's price isn't bad.

Before making any more recommendations, I have a few questions:

What lens(es) do you have now?
What will you be shooting primarily?
What is your budget?


(I ran out of editing time....)

I just looked at the Abes page again - I misread the shipping thing and it's actually ~$98.80 shipped. (Shipping is only free if you buy a package deal).

Oh, and welcome to the time- and money-sink that is photography! Enjoy!


Although I've largely switched to Nikon in the past few years, I still do shoot regularly with my old 20D, and I've a few friends who have Rebels that I've used... That being the case, while I'm slightly behind on the Canon lens scene, I'll second @anotherhiggins' vote with confidence. And another welcome, in case you weren't feeling welcomed enough, to the digital photography spending club! :D


@anotherhiggins: Thanks for responding, I currently only have one lens, the 18-55 IS the T2i came with. But I am definitely going to buy a 100mm 2.8 macro within the month. And the 50mm 1.8 now.

I mostly enjoy doing macro shots and landscapes (which my friend's 17-40mm f/4L Wide Angle Lens might do well), but I definitely want to get into portraits (both people and pets). Bokeh is important to me, so that's one reason why I would like the 100mm macro. My budget is somewhat limited at the moment (poor college student), but I should hopefully be able to buy the lenses I want after graduation (Mechanical Engineering).

Thanks for the warm welcome guys, I used to be quite involved with 35mm photography, but developing film just got too expensive. (Only a handful of my photos meet my high standards...)

Also, I have another friend who shoots Nikon DSLR, so we can trade for awhile if we'd like.


My wife got a T2i in July, and wants this lens for Christmas. It apparently is great for indoor shoots and such.

She recently bought a telephoto lens for the landscape and mountain pictures, we live in Colorado.

My step brother recommends a polarizing filter to gain better color and such, especially for outdoors, it will make a huge difference.

Hope that helps, enjoy the hobby!


Right now I have the nifty fifty, the 17-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, and the 70-200mm f/4L. My next dream lens is the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS, because I crave indoor shots without flash. The nifty fifty goes a long way towards that but it just isn't wide enough for living-room scale shots. Not to mention that at 50mm f/2.8 the depth of field is only like 2 inches at portrait-scale distances. Combined with slow focusing it's not ideal for candids.


I'm working remote today and waiting for a large file to upload to our servers... So I'm bored.

You may already know this, but your camera has an APS-C sensor/1.6x crop factor. (more info if needed:

Basically it means that your sensor is smaller than a 35mm film frame, so it looks at a smaller portion of the FOV. The upshot is that you can multiply any lens size by 1.6 to figure the 35mm equivalent. That 50mm on your DSLR would give the same results as an 80mm lens on a 35mm SLR.

Con: Harder to get wide angle shots
Pro: Free zoom range!
Pro: You can use cheaper lenses with less noticeable sacrifice

That last one is because cheap lenses usually have the most abortion around the edges of the lens - but your sensor doesn't see the edges of the lens.

Having said that, be aware that the 55-250mm listed above is gray market, which basically just means it comes without a warranty.

The upload's done - gotta run.


the current iteration (mk II) of the 50mm prime stinks. plastic body, plastic mount.. Over time the resin weakens, and you'll start noticing dust in between the glass.

Instead, look for the mk I version - used obviously, they don't make it any more, but a much better lens, and will run about the same, to a little more ( i got mine on ebay for 140 without shopping around too much, after my mk II lasted only about a year of frequent, but adult cared usage)

the 50 prime is a GREAT all purpose lens... i find myself using it very very often, more than my telephotos. it has amazing low light capability at 1.8 - a 1.4 or 1.4 would be nice, but almost never needed at the enthusiast level, and the price difference is hard to swallow.


@goatcrapp: I have the 1.4, and to be honest, I liked my Mk2 1.8 better for a great many things. The 1.4 is ghostly soft wide open (in a most peculiar and decidedly fuzzy way), and doesn't get decently sharp until about F/4.

As for lens suggestions:

A macro is a great choice. The Canon Macro is great for both short telephoto and macro work. Other options are the Sigma 105, and the Tamron 90 -- both of which are excellent macro lenses, but suffer slightly (ONLY slightly) in focusing speed for short telephoto work.

The 50 1.8 is a wondrously fun lens for portraiture and night shots and the like. It's cheaply made, yes. But it's also cheap. I found one for about $70 used.

There are a LOT of lenses I could recommend, but over time, you'll begin to recognise what your particular needs might be. I use a lot of primes for creative and portrait work, and I use zooms somewhat more sparingly, but they can come very much in handy.



Also, may I make a couple of sourcing recommendations:
Fred Miranda's buy/sell board has a lot of photographers who sell their gear used. As they're photographers, they tend to take pretty good care of their equipment, and will often be very descriptive in any wear or issues with their gear when selling. They also tend to know the worth and things sell for a lot less money than many an eBay auction.

Also, for Canon only gear: (check the 'Buy' forum)
Also photographers. Strictly Canon and Canon-related gear as opposed to FM above which is other as well.

USED GEAR IS GOOD. Just remember that mantra. Lenses hold their value a LOT longer than bodies. Your lenses will be your main investment, and used lenses (of which my gear is mostly comprised) are less expensive by far than new, and you can get samples of the shots with the lens to see how it compares to other copies of the lens.


I agree with many above get a nifty fifty first! You can't beat the optics of that lens for the price. It's quite a sharp lens from F2.8 on.(pretty soft at F1.8 but still useful for indoor portrait shoots. From what you have said, you sound like you are going the prime lens route- good for you! If you find that you like the nifty fifty and would like to upgrade to a faster and sharper lens skip the Canon 50mm 1.4 (reliability problems) and spend a few extra $ and get the Sigma 50mm 1.4. I recently did just that and it is a fantastic lens! Very sharp!


You might also want to look at the Canon 85mm f/1.8. Very nice, fast and sharp sharp lens at $376 or the Canon 35mm F/2 for $294.


Wow, thanks for all the responses everyone. I just came back from my local camera shop and picked up a Nifty Fifty. I found out that they often get in used (but excellent condition) 100mm macro lenses, and they sell them for less than Ebay's used prices. So I'm going to have them call me when one comes in. I am so excited to get back into SLR photography, and finally make the transition into the Digital world...


I have one of the original rebel XTs and I pair it with one of these:

I never take that lens off the camera. It isn't so good for macro, nor does it have swanky bokeh, but for fast portraits of my kids doing crazy things, or for capturing people from across a banquet hall without them knowing -- it's an awesome lens. I paid the full $650 but with the current rebate at Amazon it's under $500, and an AWESOME lens for an everyday shooter. With the VC you hardly ever need to rely on having a tripod unless you're all the way out.

If you want bokeh and close up macro, start with the nifty fifty and once you're used to it step up to one of these bad boys:


I'm a photographer my self and I own the 50mm f/2.8. This thing is amazing and just gobbles up light. The bokeh is amazing too. The next lense on my wishlist though is the 70-200mm f/2.8. I hear it's a great all around lens. . . If you have $2000 to drop. :)


@wesleyvb: I, too, covet the 70-200 L F2.8 IS.

But a more attainable goal is the 70-200 L F4 (non-IS). That is still a great lens, and F4 at 200mm (320mm 35mm equivalent) is still pretty freaking good. And it's "only" ~$600.

Plus you still get to have one of those beautiful white L lenses. drool


I have the 100 mm 2.8 Macro L series lens, and it is awesome. Consider getting 2x telliconverter as well to go with it to extend the possible uses of the lens.


@bippythebeardless: could you add a link to the one you bought? I'm not quite sure what a teleconverter is (or even what it does). Thanks!


@seanbon008: A teleconverter is basically a device that multiplies your focal length (by a factor of 1.4 or 2x depending on which kind of teleconverter you get). It's essentially a lens or series of lenses that magnifies the image coming out of your lens. It goes in between your lens and your camera body (attaches to your body just like any normal lens would, and then your lens attaches to it).

Depending on the kind you get, they can be good or bad. Obviously, since you're adding glass in the middle and mucking with the image coming out of the lens, you can expect some degradation in quality. Just how MUCH depends on how well the teleconverter is made. Usually 2x teleconverters will be worse in quality than 1.4x because there's more magnification going on. Canon makes good ones for Canon. But Tokina and Tamron also make less expensive and VERY good ones for Canon. I generally use Tamron and Tokina ones with my Canon gear.