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by Bart Arondson

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I'm a photography enthusiast, my current equipment are the following:

  • Canon EOS 1000D
  • EF-S 18-55mm (the kit lens)
  • Sigma 55-200mm
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 (the one i enjoy the most)

Now so you can understand my budget, it is in the price range of an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens.

I have grown to believe that any body with a good lens is the best way to get high quality photos (in the right hands of course), and so i have limited my choices to these groups (Although I'm more interested in getting more lenses because i find my camera body is enough for me, but i listed buying a new camera so i hear different suggestions):

  • Just getting the 24-105 L lens on my 1000D
  • 600D body only with couple of lenses (probably some prime and 15-85)
  • No new camera and no L lens, just more lenses for my 1000D

Keep in mind, that most of my photography is around "Nature, Close ups, a bit Street, few Portraits".

So what do you suggest i get?

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4  
I suggest getting the 17-55mm f-2.8 IS :). It is designed for the cameras that you are interested in and or currently have, and it is of most excellent quality. –  dpollitt Feb 25 '12 at 17:52
    
Here is some good reasoning behind the 17-55 over the 24-105 photo.stackexchange.com/a/10696/4892 Basically, it is designed for crop sensor's such as your 1000D. Unless you really never want to shoot from 17-24mm, the 24 is too tight for most people. I would even pair the 17-55 with a 10-22 if you are at all interested in landscapes or architecture. –  dpollitt Feb 25 '12 at 18:30
2  
possible duplicate of After 2 years of amateur photo, buy a new body or a great lens? –  mattdm Feb 25 '12 at 18:49

6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Your choice depends entirely on what you want to shoot and how you want to shoot it. I've seen recommendations that point to a particular lens because it's "designed for the format". Who cares what format it's designed for? Is it designed for your pictures?

You mentioned that the 50mm/1.8 that you own is the lens you enjoy most. Fair enough—I feel pretty much the same about mine (on different cameras, but they're still APS-C). The question to ask, then, is why you enjoy that particular lens so much. Is it because it's fast and lets you blur out the background, or is it because it gives you the perspective and framing you prefer? Or maybe both?

If it's because the lens is just about the right focal length most of the time, then you probably want a versatile lens centered more-or-less around your preferred focal length. Something that gives you a few more options for framing on either side. The 24-105 gives you a range from about twice as wide to twice as long, centered on 50mm, and it's a great lens, particularly for people shooting on an APS-C. Well, except for that whole f/4 maximum aperture thing—if bokeh is important to your images, you won't get a whole lot at the bottom end of the focal length range. (If it were an f/2.8 with the same excellent qualities otherwise, it wouldn't be great, it would be nearly perfect for someone like me.) A little less reachy, but a stop faster, is the non-IS version of the 24-70mm/2.8 (the IS version is probably outside of your budget). You get more bokeh at the lower end of the range, but you get that by restricting the long end of the focal length range. You still get almost half again as much reach as the 50, but that's not quite the same as doubling it, is it?

I, personally, have almost no use for a lens wider than 24mm. Heck, I could go further and say that I have almost no use for a lens as wide as 24mm on an APS-C (let alone on a full-frame camera). I have a perfectly adequate, if cheap, kit lens for the three or four shots a year I might make with a wide-angle lens. I just don't see the world that way, and I wouldn't spend money on a 16- or 17-55mm lens (or anything wider) no matter how well-built or fast it was even if I had unlimited resources. It doesn't matter that it's a "perfect fit for the camera" if it's a poor fit for my photography, does it?

As for the better body, well, the 600D is faster-handling overall. It has better resolution and better low-light performance. But are any of those issues getting in the way at the moment? Are they something you can defer?

Before buying any gear—bodies, lenses, anything at all—you have to ask yourself what you expect to get out of it. What do you want to do that you can't do with what you already have? Or if you can do it already, but with a great deal of awkwardness, what piece of gear will best solve that problem?

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This is good advice. I will say that the average person I run into benefits from having something wider than 24mm on a crop sensor such as the 1000D. Of course exceptions exist, but I wouldn't ever recommend someone rule out under 24mm unless they know better. I would just take a look at your existing image catalog, what range do you shoot the most in? –  dpollitt Feb 27 '12 at 15:05
    
to be honest your answer seems to fit me nicely, because when it comes to the 18-55 i already have i would just go away from the 18 and stay around 24-35 range. I thought about my camera body and although it is limited, it is not limiting me, so i think i would get a lens, and most likely 24-105 –  silenT_Thunder Feb 29 '12 at 4:38
    
@Stan Rogers I'm wondering exactly what 24-70mm f/2.8 with IS you mean. Canon makes no 24-70mm f/2.8 IS lens. You either take the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II (that is non-stabilized), the 24-70mmf/4 IS, or the Tamron Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC. –  Michael Clark Feb 2 at 13:14

You are asking the wrong question - the question you should be asking (yourself, not us) is "what is the picture I'm trying to take but I can't because I'm limited by my gear?"

Once you answer that question you should know what to buy, or at least what to ask here.

Also, don't forget to consider lighting equipment, an external flash (even a cheap Chinese one) will open more new possibilities than a new lens or camera.

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very nicely put! –  AJ Finch Feb 27 '12 at 18:26
    
well, i thought i would get this answer sooner or later, and i think it is a good one, but i wanted some direction i guess. –  silenT_Thunder Feb 29 '12 at 4:35

It depends on your work, your style and your approach

I'm basing my answer on your description of your work as:

"Nature, Close ups, a bit Street, few Portraits"

The 24-105mm L sounds like a great option. It is one of the greats. I have never heard anyone speak ill of it, and many people love it. It's an ideal street lens, and a very capable portrait lens. If you keep the 50mm as well, I don't think you will regret it. (For the record, I use these 2 lenses for 95% of my photography).

Many prefer an L-series 70-200mm for portraits and close-up work, but I can't see that being very "street". I believe that the f/4 version comes in cheaper than the 24-105, so you might want to consider that.

Depending on what you mean by "Close-up", you might find that a close-up lenses that screws on the front of your main lens would work nicely for you in your budget.

I am a staunch proponent of accepting the compromises of cheaper bodies in order to buy better glass. however, not everyone agrees, so it's very much your call.

A couple of clarifications from you would help:
- What sort of nature? Landscapes? Plants? Wildlife? Flowers? Insects? That could cover everything from macro to wide-angle.
- What sort of close-up? do you mean macro work? In the field or in a studio?

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Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer for this question. What you need to look at is what your limiting factor is, what is the element that you see missing on the photos you take? Is it the sharpness of the image? Do you think you need a faster autofocus? Then a high quality lens may be the way to go.

BTW, This question is very similar to this one. I'll extend my answer here.

Do you need higher-res images? Faster shutter speeds or flash sync speed? Do you need better low light response? Then you probably need to look to get a better camera.

Are you happy with the quality of your images but you need to get closer to your subjects (perhaps you'd like to shoot some wildlife pictures) or go wider (landscapes?) then maybe you need a bigger array of lenses to chose from.

You have a camera and lenses, that's all you need to take pictures, to replace or add gear to your collection you need to identify what your needs are and what's the piece of kit that will scratch your itch.

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Thank you, and i realized it is a general question, but i would like so guidance and i edited the question to show that i'm toward buying lenses over a new body –  silenT_Thunder Feb 25 '12 at 18:22

Why not add a bit of versatility in your kit ? You already got the range of 24 to 105 covered and the 24-205 L isn't that fast.

You could add a nice macro lens (the 60mm F2.8 EF-S Macro or the 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro.

Or some good tele zoom or prime, the 70-300 F/4-5.6 L IS USM comes to mind, or even the 100-400 F/4.5-5.6 L IS USM for more range.

An ultra wide angle also offers nice results, the canon 10-22mm F/3.5-4.5 EF-S USM or the very fast Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8.

You can even go wilder, with a fisheye or a tilt-shift lens, or one of those lensbaby lenses who over some great creative possibilities for their price.

With your kit, you seem more concerned about what you can do than the quality of it (which is surely great, but not a reason to go L-grade, which has more to do with construction quality and weather sealing than optical results. Plus, the 1000D lacks the dynamic range, ISO sensitivity, AF & shooting comfort of higher-quality bodies, so no, a good lens just isn't enough).

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You can never go wrong with good glass, that is my first priority. People love that f/1.8 50mm because it is inexpensive, but there is a world of difference (and not just an f/ stop) to the quality of the f/1.4- probably my favorite used lens.

I feel cramped with not having low apertures on those zooms, and frankly prefer prime lenses. You should almost always be able to zoom with your body or crop later.

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