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I have a Canon 550D DSLR that I've been using for the past 6 months to learn photogragphy. It has the 18-135mm lens and I also got the 50mm/1.8 lens. As I learn more I now think it's time for me to get more lenses.

I mostly shoot nature and cityscapes. I want a lens that is sharper and faster than the 18 - 135mm and more specialised for the type of photography I like. I was thinking of adding a wide-angle and a telephoto lens to my gear. Any suggestions on which are good Canon (or compatible lenses). I can go as high as $700-$800 (each) but can't really afford the more expensive ones.

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That will get you ONE decent lens, not two. Make your choice :) –  jwenting Mar 30 '11 at 9:56
    
well is meant for each. any suggestions? –  sfactor Mar 30 '11 at 10:07
    
Sigma EX 70-200 f/2.8 and 10-20 f/3.5 come to mind (without checking prices). –  jwenting Mar 30 '11 at 11:15
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This is both subjective and very specific to your situation. There's no right answer, except for for you. –  mattdm Mar 30 '11 at 11:26
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3 Answers 3

I'm in a similar situation, and have decided on the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX. There are a bunch of good EF-S wide-angles available from third-party manufacturers as well as Canon, but the Tokina has been relatively well reviewed. I would strongly consider its several advantages over the Canon 10-22mm recommended by ChrisFletcher:

  1. It goes a little wider, and although it spans a smaller focal range you already have the longer end of that range covered by your 18-135mm.
  2. It has a fixed minimum aperture of F2.8, which is about as fast as it gets for a wide angle. I'm not sure if you wanted a fast wide-angle, or just a fast telephoto but it certainly can't hurt, especially if you like street photography.
  3. Its very sturdily constructed.
  4. It suffers less from vingetting than the Canon, and is reputed to be a little sharper.
  5. It's $200 cheaper!

On the downside:

  1. It lacks a USM, meaning focusing is a little slower and noisier.
  2. It suffers from signficant chromatic aberations, particularly wide open, although this can be easily post-processed away.
  3. Its heavier than the Canon.

In anycase, if you are considering going wide, definitely check out the third-party options, as they may deliver what you need in a cheaper package than the Canon.

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The point of having a fast extreme wide-angle lens is not to be able to shoot wide open (things never get out-of-focus enough at those focal lengths to look deliberate -- any "bokeh" just looks like a focus error). It's all about the viewfinder -- those damned crop-sensor cameras are seriously dark, and that's at high noon on a sunny day. f/2.8 makes framing a lot easier, especially at dawn and dusk, but the shooting aperture should probably be in the f/5.6-11 range almost all of the time. –  user2719 Mar 30 '11 at 23:15

Considering you'll be buying two lenses, one telephoto and one wide angle, I'd recommend:

  1. Sell your 18-135mm lens off.
  2. Get Canon 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 USM IS, its a lot sharper and 15mm is good enough for any casual landscape/cityscape shooter. In addition to a decent wide angle, you get a perfect walk-around lens to put on your camera body for most of the times. Trust me, you wont regret buying this lens. Get the hood and a CPL filter if possible for fabulous landscapes/cityscapes. You should not consider Tokina 11-16mm because that's extreme wide and might not be the best choice for landscapes always.
  3. For telephoto need, you'll need to decide on a focal length first. Telephotos are very specific purpose lens and once you decide to get one, you can check the following lenses: Canon 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM, Canon 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 USM IS and if your budget allows, I highly recommend Canon 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 L USM IS.
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I'm afraid at your budget (even assuming you mean $700-800 each) and your lens type requirements you won't get a lens considerably faster, but I've got some suggestions anyway.

For your wide angle lens I'd suggest the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM, though this isn't any faster than your 18-135 and doesn't have IS, but it will allow you to take a much wider angle photo. I'm afraid having a crop sensor camera such as the 550D hinders you here, but purchasing another camera sounds like this isn't pratical for you.

For your telephoto lens having a crop sensor camera advantages you, so I'd suggest the Canon EF 70-200mm f4L USM, this is faster (especially at the long end) and sharper than your 18-135mm but again doesn't have IS. A cheaper option might be Canon EF-S 55-250 which has more reach and IS but isn't any faster than your current lens and isn't as sharp as the 70-200.

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@chris I've heard good things abt the 15-85mm lens. What are your thoughts on that? Is that sufficiently wide-angle for most cases? –  sfactor Mar 30 '11 at 10:17
    
@sfactor, I've no experience with that lens personally but it's been reviewed well as you say. However if you're considering buying a purely wide angle lens, then I don't think it will be sufficiently wide angle for you. –  ChrisFletcher Mar 30 '11 at 10:48
    
Based on all over dissatisfaction I wouldn't recommend buying EF-S 55-250 lens. It's probably wiser to try and get something from Tamron that would have better quality but acceptable price. –  Robert Koritnik Mar 30 '11 at 14:46
    
@RobertKoritnik I own that lens personally and I've been pretty satisfied for the price. What Tamron lens are you comparing it to? –  ChrisFletcher Mar 30 '11 at 16:06
    
@ChrisFletcher: One of these maybe: 18-270, 70-200 or 70-300. The first one tends to be surprisingly good (I don't own it, but reviewers definitely praise it over the Canon 55-250) despite its 15x zoom level. –  Robert Koritnik Mar 30 '11 at 16:25

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