Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I am going to order the new Canon 6D and therefore, I'll finally be transitioned into the world of FF very soon after using crop since the 400D and 50D.

Here's my gear list at the moment that I'm trying to cut down. 3 zooms + 3 primes = 6 lenses

  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II LD IF
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
  • Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
  • Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro

Firstly, the 10-22 and Tammy 17-50 are going to be sold obviously because it's EF-S mount.

I have so far decided to:

  • Keep the 70-300, 28/1.8, 90 macro
  • Get the Sigma 50/1.4 and sell the Canon nifty 50/1.8
  • Get the 40/2.8 STM pancake for a general walk-around, one lens setup with the 6D
  • Get the 17-40 f/4 L as my wide angle for architectural shots around the city and landscape

Which means the purposed new gear list is: 2 zooms 4 primes = 6 lenses still!

  • Canon 17-40 f/4 L
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
  • Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
  • Canon EF 40mm STM
  • Sigma 50mm f/1.4
  • Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro

I would really appreciate any suggestions on how I could cut down my lens collection.

I am just a hobbyist photographer, I don't do any sports or action photography. I like a wide range of photography including landscape, urbanscape, street/candid, macro, food, travel and family (indoors) photography. I also really like bokeh if that's of any use in deciding which lens is staying/leaving.

Thank you so much in advance for your answers and time.

UPDATE: This isn't a really good question and it all really depends on how I utilise the lenses at different times. I really appreciate the answers so far for this rather silly question though. I think I'll stick with my choices and perhaps sell the 28/1.8 and/or forget about the 40 STM. I'm open to more suggestions if anyone has more ideas. Thanks a million everyone.

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Why are you reducing while everyone else is increasing? You know that you do not have to carry it all at once! The only time I would get rid of something is if I do not use it enough or its quality is too low compared to the level of quality I am currently working with. –  Itai Dec 5 '12 at 23:42
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I'm having a hard time imagining someone else having the same set of lenses to narrow down. Is there a way to phrase this as a more general question? –  mattdm Dec 6 '12 at 4:13
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@mattdm, thanks, yeah that's why I want some suggestions, I can't think either! Anyway, I guess the question could be phrased more like, what is the best glass combination (less than 4) for a FF Canon user. –  Nat Dec 6 '12 at 11:52
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Are you going to totally transition, or keep an old body as a backup? –  Imre Dec 6 '12 at 12:34
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Seems kind of similar to this. If there were a best glass combination for everyone, Canon wouldn't make so many lenses. If you want to be traditional, get a 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm prime, and then for the fourth, throw in either a 24mm or 105mm based on your taste. Or, get the 24-70mm and 70-200mm f/2.8 zooms and either make that your entire kit or thrown in a prime in your favorite focal range. –  mattdm Dec 6 '12 at 15:49

6 Answers 6

You'll probably find that the 28mm/1.8 isn't nearly as useful on a full-frame body as it is on APS-C (where it can play the part of a normal lens, splitting the difference between a 40 and a 50). It's not that you won't find the focal length useful, but that you'll probably find less need for speed at that focal length (which is now a legitimate, if moderate, wide-angle for you). Since you have the focal length covered by the 17-40, you might want to reconsider keeping the 28 since the perspective forcing isn't necessarily a good fit with a shallow depth of field. (It gives you two different "separations" in the same picture—a foreshortening/size separation and in/out-of-focus. I find that is sort of gilding the lily.)

The only other place for a tweak is with the 40 and 50, but they'll serve different purposes. I'm not a big pancake guy unless the body is also especially compact (and the great huge grip on a DSLR means that even the smallest of the mirror breed is a lot too big for me to think, "wow, that's svelte!"), but I guess I can concede that other people would find it attractive for a walkin'-around lens. And if you do video at all, it's a no-brainer. But it can't do what a 50/1.4 can do, so if you're the sort of person who can use the word bokehlicious with a straight face, you'll need that as well.

(Now, if it were actually me, I'd get rid of the 28, and I would skip both the 17-40 and the 40 STM. A 50 is a special-effect wide-angle lens for me on full-frame, and the 90 macro would be my walkin'-around lens. But that's a matter of style, vision and preference, and that's just the way I roll.)

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How can 90mm FF be good as "walkaround" when my walkaround 28mm on aps-c often feels a bit too narrow and that is like 45mm FF, unless you only take pictures of heads and cats when you walk around? –  Michael Nielsen Dec 6 '12 at 17:46
    
I own both the 40mm pancake and the 50mm 1.4. They are certainly different, but if you want to reduce your gear - I would scrap the 40mm idea, as the 50 can take very similar shots and has a wider aperture. –  dpollitt Dec 6 '12 at 18:41
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@MichaelNielsen - I do people, primarily, and landscape details, with enough close-focus work to warrant having a macro mounted full time. On a crop sensor (and with Parkinson's disease making handheld macro nearly impossible—flash or fast shutter fixes shaking in-plane, but it doesn't let me hold focus) I use a nifty fifty, which is a bit on the wide side for me (at about 75mm equiv). Architecture, vehicles and vistas just don't turn my crank, and never have. I've shot 'em for money, but rarely for myself. I actually used a Tamron 90mm macro as my primary lens on 35mm for over a decade. –  user2719 Dec 6 '12 at 19:05
    
Thanks @StanRogers for your answer. –  Nat Dec 6 '12 at 20:31

Typically, a three-lens setup consists of a wide, normal and tele lens. Since your interests are not specifically skewed to any specific focal length range, there's no need to assume otherwise. Unfortunately you haven't revealed much reasoning behind your decisions so far, so the following advice can be taken with a grain of salt.

Needing a 17-40L tells me that 28mm alone would not be wide enough for you, so the zoom should be the lens to do ultra-wide and wide-angle stuff with. 28mm is another wide-angle, so it has to go - no room for two wide-angles in a three-lens kit. For bokeh shots, you'll have to pick your normal lens instead.

Sigma's 50mm f/1.4 is a well regarded lens designed for portraiture on APS-C (although it does cover full frame). You are not using APS-C, so it's unclear why you would want to take the extra cost and weight. The switch to full frame already provides significantly thinner depth of field and better low-light performance. So, I have to agree wih Matt Grum that the current Nifty Fifty would do the job of both normal primes in your proposed 6-lens kit.

In tele department, a compromise has to be made. Which is more important to you, the speed and magnification ratio of your macro prime, or reach of the zoom? Magnification ratio and zoom can be somewhat "faked" by cropping; one of the lenses has to go. Both the 70-300 and 17-40L provide 1:4 magnification, which might be enough for some close-up work. On the other hand, none of the genres you mentioned screams for a 300mm lens.

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thanks so much Imre! Your answer gave me some other view point about glass options. I will definitely consider your options. And regarding why I'm keeping the 28 1.8 is because I shoot indoors often and I don't think the 17-40 is fast enough for that without flash. I'm not using the 28 for bokeh. –  Nat Dec 6 '12 at 20:26

I have a different opinion to Stan regarding the 28mm f/1.8 - I like the wide angle blurred background look, partially because it's pretty much exclusive to full frame (or larger) formats. To get the same angle of view and background defocus with an APS-C camera you would need a 17mm f/1.1 lens. Which doesn't exist, in fact the fastest lens you can get in any comparable focal length is f/2.8, almost three stops slower which will kill the blur in the background.

Personally I would keep the 50 f/1.8, which would make the 40 f/2.8 redundant as it's over a stop slower and in fact is no lighter than the 50 f/1.8. Obviously the 50 f/1.8 makes the Sigma 50 f/1.4 redundant too, so what I'm actually suggesting turns out to be sell the non compatible zooms and keep everything else.

Shoot with that for a while to see if the drawbacks of the 28 f/1.8 and 50 f/1.8 really bother you before spending any more money.

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I'd keep the 28 F1.8, too, as I always think "I wish I had this lens in FF instead of crop" when I have that lens on my crop camera and try to take overview images. And skip 40 2.8, but surely Sigma 50mm 1.4 is superior to 50 F1.8, even to 50 F1.4. I've been reading lots of suggestions to skip the Canon line of 50s and 85s, unless you can afford the L, in favour of Sigma 50mm and 85mm. –  Michael Nielsen Dec 6 '12 at 17:41
    
thanks @matt for your answer. I'll definitely do that and shoot a while before spending more money; which is why I'm asking all of this in the first place! Cheers! –  Nat Dec 6 '12 at 20:30

A few things you need to keep in mind. You don't own the 6D yet, you are basing most of your thoughts off of your current APS-C experience. Maybe the best bet is to wait until you do have the 6D in hand, it will be easier to decide at that point.

I had a very similar setup to you, I was on APS-C and recently purchased the 6D. I had a few EF-S lenses, which I've now sold, and I also was trying to reduce my kit in the process. This is what I ended up with:

  • 17-40mm f/4 L
  • 24-105mm f/4 L
  • 40mm f/2.8 Pancake
  • 50mm f/1.4
  • 135mm f/2 L

I rarely bring BOTH the 40mm and 50mm with. I also rarely bring both the 17-40mm and 24-105mm with. I decide what I am shooting and bring one of each - so I end up with 3 lenses total to bring with on a given day. If it is daylight, no need for the f/1.4 of the 50mm, so I bring the pancake which is smaller and still excellent. If I'm shooting wide landscape, wide indoor, etc - then the 17-40 is great for that. For "general purpose all around" the 24-105 can't be beat. It also makes decent macro in a pinch, as does the 135L that I have. If I were you - I would strongly consider the 24-105mm + 6D kit lens - it is a great value for the kit price, and a very very excellent lens.

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The biggest concern with the "proposed" kit that you mentioned that I have is the lack of a general purpose zoom. I don't think the 40mm pancake is going to cut it. I would look at either the 24-105 kit lens, or one of the 24-70mm lenses. –  dpollitt Dec 6 '12 at 18:49
    
thanks @dpollitt, yes i realised that i didn't have a walk around zoom. thanks for your answer. –  Nat Dec 6 '12 at 20:27
  1. Canon 17-40 F/4 L (Wide Angle lens)
  2. Canon 24-105 F/4 L IS (General workhorse and get it with the kit)
  3. Sigma 50mm F/1.4 EX
  4. Canon 70-200 F/4 L IS (obviously if you can afford the f/2.8 that would be much better, but don't underestimate the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 OS EX, which is a fantastic lens)

Later add the 135 f/2 L if you're shooting portraits...

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I was in a similar situation as you prior coming from Canon 60D to Canon 6D and I know how you feel. As a general photography hobbyist, trying out diff styles, lens, etc...

Previous

  • Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 (my first Kit lens - didn't want to buy the canon kit)

  • Sigma 85mm F1.4 (Love the Bokeh) - Mid Telephoto Zoom, cons: heavy.

  • Sigma 35mm F1.4 (Ultra light weight, walk around lens) no cons for me
  • Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 (Ultra Wide), great for landscape or buildings.

  • Tamron 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD - telephoto zoom, for weddings, concerts, zoo, wild life

Current

  • Tamron 24-70mm F2.8 VC Di VC USD - on my Canon 6D - 80% of the time ;-)

  • Tamron 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD - still need my Zoom

  • Sigma 85mm F1.4 (Simply cant bear to let this one go)

My current collection maybe different from yours, while everyone is different, rather what is your shooting style and interests matter the most. Personally, I feel as a general walk around "kit lens", you cant go wrong on a FULL FRAME camera is with a 24-70mm lens....can cover 80% on most occasion for general travelling / street photography. The other 20% will be more specialize purposes either for Zoom / Macro purposes.

if you want a THREE LENS setup....

My own take is that I will let go the Pancake lens, EF 28mm, EF 40mm....and even the 50mm F1.4 for your case, if you like macro, you will definitely need that in your collection, together with a zoom 70-300mm. that leaves you with 1 more lens .. and that is where the 24-70mm lens comes into the picture...

cheers!

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