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I need help on deciding on two good quality lenses. I currently use a Canon 600d body and I would like a lens that will also fit a 5D as I intend to upgrade in the future. Firstly I would like a minimum zoom of 300mm and for my second lens something thats good for portraits and landscape. I have a budget of 1k each lens. Thank you for any help.

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closed as off-topic by mattdm, Paul Cezanne, dpollitt, Itai, jwenting Jul 29 '13 at 5:05

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking product or service recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve." – mattdm, Paul Cezanne, dpollitt, Itai, jwenting
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

You'll struggle getting an answer for this recommendation as the 600D is a crop sensor and the 5D is ff. This makes it hard to give an answer for a portrait/landscape lens as there are too many options. Maybe ask something like "What should I look for when buying" or if you have a specific lens in mind, ask about that and what features it could provide vs another lens. – James Jul 28 '13 at 9:23
The problem is that what makes a good landscape/portrait lens on an APS-C body and what makes a good landscape/portrait lens on a full frame camera are two different answers. – Michael Clark Jul 28 '13 at 23:50
@MichaelClark - The 17-40mm L will do both, on both formats, at good quality. So would the 16-35mm L, especially for portraits. But as you can see based on my answer below, I would still prefer the 17-55 for APS-C only and forget the part about the 5D, that is a waste of a lens purchase in my opinion. – dpollitt Jul 29 '13 at 0:53
I own the 17-40 and use it for WA on my FF bodies but IMO it is too short for a general purpose lens on FF bodies. There are several APS-C only 17-50/55 lenses that have better IQ than the 17-40, including the EF-S 17-55, available for use on the 600D. For a FF body my favorite landscape/portrait/GP lens is the EF 24-105mm f/4 IS. You give up one stop to the f/2.8 lenses, but the larger pixels of most FF sensors allow higher ISO. And compared to the 17-40 you gain IS which allows slower Tv of static or posed subjects. – Michael Clark Jul 29 '13 at 1:37

Buy for your current body not the body that you may upgrade to in the future.

The best general purpose zoom lens for Canon APS-C is the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. It is right around $1000 USD or so, maybe slightly more.

As for a high quality 300mm+ lens, most of the options start at $1300 or so. I can't recommend any lens for under $1000 in that range. You could do the 70-200mm f/4 plus the 1.4x TC for about $1,000 and still get very good quality.

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I'm with dpollit on this one. None of the sub $1000 300mm telephotos are what I consider high quality. I can get better results using the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II and cropping than with the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS and similar lenses. – Michael Clark Jul 29 '13 at 1:45

Two lenses with a budget of $1000 per lens; instead, let's talk about a budget of $2000 for both lenses. And they have to work with your 600D now, but be something you will continue to use when you upgrade to a full frame.

That's a lot of challenges. Honestly, you won't get there for $2000. But you can get close.

What I would do in this case:

Canon 24-104 F4L IS USM (currently $750ish on Amazon, but it usually sells for more.) Canon 100-400 ($1500 on Amazon).

So, about $2300. A bit over your budget. Assuming the price of the 24-105 goes back up to about where it normally is (around $1000) you can expect to pay $2500, give or take taxes. you can find these lenses on the used market at some discount, but I warn folks to test the 100-400's on the used market carefully to make sure they're properly sharp.

The 24-105 is a good lens on both crop sensor and full frame. It's not a great landscape lens, but it's a good one. On a crop sensor you'll struggle to get wide enough for some shots. It's better on a full frame for landscapes. this will be a good street lens and a nice portrait lens. it's not as sharp as the top end 24-70, but it's more flexible in street shooting and because it's F4, it's less expensive. it's still a fairly large and hefty lens, but it's well built (yes, I own it and really like it).

The 100-400 is what I recommend to anyone as their entry into the 300mm and longer lenses. It's value is hard to match. It gives you the range of coverage that a 70-200 would, so you don't need that lens, but still takes you out into the 300-400mm range as well. It's pretty sharp, has IS, decent AF, and it's a workhorse. I used it as my main wildlife lens for years until upgrading to a more expensive setup.

What this combo won't get you:

It won't get you into your budget, but it comes fairly close. My argument would be that you could use different lenses to save some money, but you'd ultimately regret those choices. These are both lenses you could well own for a decade and not feel a need to replace them. It's a good investment.

It won't get you the really wide angle landscape work. On a crop sensor, to do that you really need to get down into the 12-15mm range. To get down there costs money. My alternative: shoot stitched panoramas. The look isnt' the same, but honestly, I prefer the panorama look. Most of the time. And learning to take panoramas is cheaper than buying somsething like a sigma 10-20. When you upgrade to a full frame, 24mm will do well for a lot more of the landscape work, but I think photographers always feel a need to go wider...

This set is not light. these are both fairly hefty lenses. Welcome the world of 300mm and up.

to me, this is the best pair of lenses to get as close to what you want without significantly sacrificing either functionality or quality. Both of these lenses are a couple of steps beyond "good enough" and are good values and investments as lenses you'll have around for a while. Neither lens is the ultimate in their class, but neither is their price.

If it were me, I'd buy these lenses. In fact, when it was me, I did. And I don't regret either.

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