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Should I buy a camera with kit lens, or body plus lens separately?

My wife and I are amateur photographers and we are upgrading from a Canon 20D. We will be using the camera for a variety of subjects. She likes to do portrait work with the kids and I like to shoot Motorsports. We both use the camera when we are on vacation and like to shoot everything from landscapes to close ups of interesting things.

It looks like I can get the Canon T2i with either an 18-55 or an 18-135 kit lens.

I think I'd like to end up with a 50mm 1.8, a 10-22 EF-S, and a 70-200 F4 L.

The 18-55 is small and light and I'm wondering if I should go ahead and get it for a walk-around zoom lens. It only costs $100 in the price of the kit.

The 18-135 seems like it might be a bit bulky to use as a walk-around lens, and adds $300 to the price of the body. It is worth considering?

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marked as duplicate by chills42 May 31 '12 at 18:01

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Update: Thanks everyone for the great advice! At this point I'm leaning toward buying the body only and using the money saved to pay for a 50mm 1.8 lens. I've been studying the new 15-85 EF-S very closely and although it's not inexpensive it sounds like the perfect walk around lens for us. –  Avalanchis Aug 10 '10 at 17:00
    
if you upgrade form 20d, do you own any lens already? –  kristof Mar 28 '11 at 8:51
    
We had the non-IS version of the 18-55 that came with the 20D, but we sold it along with the 20D. We ended up buying the kit lens with the T2i, and also the 50mm 1.8, which for the price is a great lens. Still need to decide on a zoom, but the 70-200 F4 L is still my leading candidate. –  Avalanchis Apr 28 '11 at 21:27
    
See also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1436/… –  mattdm May 27 '11 at 15:05
    
I bought the 550D (I think that's the T2i?) initially with the 18-55. It's okay. I have since upgraded to the 15-85 which is much nicer and has a far more useful focal length range. –  Damian Powell May 31 '12 at 19:45

11 Answers 11

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Option 1
Get the T2i and a 50 1.8. You'll never even use that kit lens if you had the 50mm, so skip it. The Rebel kit lenses are good enough to document a crime, but you're not going to mount yours unless you absolutely have to and even then, you'll be trying your hardest to use the 50mm. I don't understand why Best Buy and these big box stores don't carry the 50 1.8. I'd even go as far as saying Canon should offer a Rebel + 50 1.8 kit, although a good 35 1.8, like what Nikon offers, would be even better.

Option 2
Get the T2i, 28-135 and a 50 1.8, The 28-135 is the 50D and 7D's kit lens. It's really not a bad lens at all. Pretty sharp. Color and contrast is "okay." These are around $400 new, but there are tons of practically brand new ones online from people who are dumping their 50D/7D kit lens. It's a useful focal length range, too.

Either way, I like your plan; the 10-22, 50 1.8 and 70-200 f/4L. That's a really good setup for the money.

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I bought it with the 18-55 kit lens. I wish I had gone for the 28-135... –  Carles Oct 1 '10 at 19:30
2  
Exactly why I salute Pentax for bringing back the prime kit lens: bundling the 35mm f2.4 with their new cameras. So much better, and I hope other manufacturers follow suit. –  Eruditass Oct 25 '10 at 16:21

What do you want to do with it? You might want to edit the question to add that info. You mention "walk around", a kit zoom might be good for "tourist" types of applications where you photograph things in the daytime, and the zoom helps compose your shot.

But kit lenses usually aren't very fast, and you may find that starting with one good prime lens with a nice low aperture (50mm 1.8 sounds good) will give you room to grow.

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Edited to explain use scenarios. Thanks! –  Avalanchis Aug 9 '10 at 21:14

If you don't mind the added price tag, then the 18-135 could act as a handy walk-about lens for casual shooting. Kit lenses are usually not the best of the line, but for casual stuff, I doubt most people would really notice and Canon generally has good glass.

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1  
I've got the 18-135 on my T2i and I'm happy. The IS is quite good too. –  Ron Warholic Oct 21 '10 at 4:36

18-55mm IS kit lens is not that bad. Not very durable but sharp and its quiet stabilizer makes it ok for video as well.

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The sigma 30mm F1.4 is an excellent normal lens for the T2i - not perfect, but close. There's some chromatic aberration. But for a solid carry-around for the canon 1.6x factor, I haven't found a better normal prime at reasonable prices. See here for some examples with the T2i:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=sigma+30mm&w=56656528%40N00&ss=2&ct=0&mt=all&adv=1&s=int

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+1, same for the Sigma. It's great to have a prime so close to normal for APS-C (27mm) at that price. My first lens. –  Berzemus Mar 28 '11 at 15:02

It's a bit unclear what lenses you have already with your 20D.

I would consider the 18-135 which will tide you over as a general purpose lens, until you are able to pick up lenses in your dedicated range (10-22,50,70-200).

Wide angle shots make for fun portraits of little-ones (don't use it on your wife!), and the range gives you something to get up close for a nice and tight head shot.

For motorsports, I'd imagine you'd want as much reach as you can get.

Since you already know what focal lengths you'd like to use, I suggest the 18-135 kit lens, and eventually replacing it with the lenses as you have the finances to do so.

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We have an 18-55 non-IS kit lens with the 20D which we are selling to finance part of the new camera. Thanks! –  Avalanchis Aug 10 '10 at 2:56

RE: She likes to do portrait work with the kids and I like to shoot Motorsports.

I have the 450D and almost always use the 60mm USM macro for portraits (lots of baby shots). I prefer its results to the 50mm 1.8 (which I also have). I think it is a fantastic lens that produces amazing pictures at a great price. The kit lens I have has not been on my camera for a very long time.

I would totally skip the kit lenses and instead go for the 17-55 USM instead of the kit 18-55. Or just stick with another wider prime and the cheap 50mm prime.

The thing is, you can never go back and shoot those old shots again with more detail.

As to the 70-200 F4 L, its meant to be a great lens for sports photography.

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Also another thing I would consider is just getting a second hand body like the 50d, and spending more money on the lenses. –  Sam Saffron Aug 10 '10 at 11:36
    
I like the idea of being able to shoot HD video with the Rebel, and 50d bodies don't appear to be selling for much less than the new Rebel bodies. I'll definitely add the 60mm to the research list, thanks! –  Avalanchis Aug 10 '10 at 12:09
    
+1 for mentioning the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. That is one amazing piece of glass!! I owned one for about 2 years before I found myself using primes more and more. The 17-55 is far far FAR better than the standard 18-55 kit, and with almost the same zoom range. But faster, better DoF, IS, and FAR superior image quality! :) –  Mike May 31 '12 at 11:43

I personally think that for the price 18-55IS lens is a good lens and it is good to have that range covered. The kit lens would work fine as a walk-around and would be great for you to learn what focal range works for you best. Is not going to work for motor sports of course and if you are on a budget you can try ef-s 55-250IS. Sometimes their are sold in kit with 18-55is and 55-250is. Both of those lenses are good in focal their range for the price if you are on budget

The 50mm 1.8 is a must if your wife is into portrait. It is excellent starting point on the crop bodies, and I am sure your wife will be happy with the results, shallow depth of field and low light capabilities.

So it sum up I would recommend getting 18-55is, 55-250IS kit plus 50 1.8 lens

Those are recommendation assuming that you are on the budget and want to start shooting straight away all the subjects that you are interested in (instead of waiting till you save money for a better lens)

Later on if decide to upgrade in any of those focal range, you should not have problems selling any of those lenses and you should not lose any money really as their are usually cheaper in kit than when sold separately.

Here are some reviews of the lenses I mentioned

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You mentioned that you currently have a 20D. Both the 20D and the 550D T2i both use Canon's standard EF mount. The 550D also supports EF-S (short-back) lenses, but it is still compatible with standard EF lenses as well. Any lens you currently own for your 20D should still work with a new Canon body. As such, I would recommend skipping the kit lens and use what you currently have until you can afford to buy something better that fits the kind of photography you wish to do.

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Our 20D came with the non-IS 18-55 EF-S lens, and it's getting bundled with it when we sell it. Thanks! –  Avalanchis Aug 10 '10 at 2:53

Another option (I know, like you need another option) -- the secondhand market for Canon lenses is really very strong. There's a decent chance that you could unload one of those lenses for as much money as they add to your bundle. This would let you try one for next to nothing. The 18-55 is supposed to be a decent value for the money, and not bad optically, but I think it feels pretty cheap. I've heard better things about the 18-135 lens, and it's selling for right around $300 used, so it's close to free to try it.

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I'm pretty sure there is no lens on the planet with the price/performance ratio of that kit lens. They can also be had for less than $80, almost brand new on ebay. For a general walk around lens, vacation (where pictures are not the focus), pictures of friends/family, parties, etc, it is fantastic. It weighs virtually nothing, and the pictures are plenty sharp.

That said, it has a horrible time isolating anything well due to the wide focal length and large max aperture, and it does not do well in low light.

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