I started out with the 18-55mm IS kit lens on my Canon EOS 550D over a year ago, and added the 55-250mm IS a couple of months back to augment my telephoto reach (based on the recommendations in one of my earlier questions). After shooting almost 5000 photos with the former and 1000+ with the latter, the biggest limitation I find is their low light shooting ability and I've ended up shooting a lot of images at ISO 3200 and\or slow shutter speeds resulting in subject blur. AF performance has also been a bit iffy in these situations. On the subjective front, I've generally preferred to shoot portraits.
To this end I did some analysis on a selected subset of my photos using Exposureplot and exiftool+Excel to quantify my results (also below), and found that 55mm is the most shot focal length followed by 18mm, both of which correspond to the lens range limits (so likely to be skewed). The usual portrait ranges (80-110) also feature reasonably given that the range was added only recently.
I also checked out the Canon lens lineup and have settled on the following shortlist based on my above analysis (given my budget of around $500):
Lens(length+Av) Macro USM IS L-series 50 mm f/1.8 No No No No 35 mm f/2 No No No No 50 mm f/2.5 Yes No No No 28 mm f/2.8 No No No No 24 mm f/2.8 No No No No 50 mm f/1.4 No Yes No No 100 mm f/2.8 Yes No No No 135 mm f/2.8 No No No No 60 mm f/2.8 Yes Yes No No 85 mm f/1.8 No Yes No No 100 mm f/2 No Yes No No 28 mm f/1.8 No Yes No No 100 mm f/2.8 Yes Yes No No
The EFS 17-55mm f2.8 would serve my requirements, but is beyond my budget at present. I do plan to get it eventually. I also doubt that I'll be upgrading to a full frame DSLR, so EF-S lenses are also good for me.
To summarize, I need the following from the next lens:
- Good low light performance
- Suitable for portrait (haven't tried playing around with depth of field much so far, as I end up shooting wide open most of the time anyway)
- Macro ability would be a plus (does it make sense to get a non-macro & a macro for similar focal length?)
- Better AF performance (should be a given for the lenses as they are f2.8 or wider, and many are USM)
- Canon lenses preferred as I'm not sure of the reliability & service\warranty options of 3rd party lenses in India
So, given this scenario, which would be the recommended lens to get?