Westminster fountain at sunset

by Jorge Córdoba

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I moved from a point and shoot to a DSLR last year and I love to photograph nature in general. I have a T2i/550D with the 18-55mm kit lens and was wondering if I would benefit from the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 beside the obvious better lens quality since this would be a significiant purchase for me.

Thanks

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Thanks a lot everyone for these fine comments/answers. It's appreciated. –  CSharpRocks Jan 4 '11 at 12:08

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Aside from the better quality of the EF-S 10-22mm lens, it offers a significantly wider angle of view. So much so that at 10mm, there is a fair amount of distortion. An ultra wide angle can be an extremely powerful tool, particularly when you want to get really close to a foreground subject, and still capture great breadth and depth to your scene. The 18mm wide end of your kit lens can't hold a stick to the 10mm wide end of the 10-20mm EF-S.

A simple comparison can be made between these lenses and their EF (full frame) counterparts, as well. Sometimes that can be helpful in making a decision. Since Canon entry-level DSLR's use APS-C 1.6x crop sensors, it is easy to calculate the full-frame equivalents. The 18-55mm EF-S kit lens behaves like a 28-88mm EF lens. The standard EF counterpart would be the superb 24-70mm L series lens. Similarly, the 10-22mm EF-S lens behaves like a 16-35mm EF lens. The direct EF counterpart for that would be the 16-35mm L series lens. Canon's EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM is one of their widest zoom lenses, with the only wider one being the new EF 8-15mm f/4 L USM FishEye lens. That should put the EF-S 10-22mm lens in perspective.

Here are some links to photos that make use of ultra wide angles to get extremely close to their foreground, while still encompassing great scene breadth and depth. I think the last link in this sequence particularly demonstrates the power of wide angle:

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You better expressed what I was trying to ask. Your pictures are simply breathtaking. Thanks a lot. –  CSharpRocks Jan 4 '11 at 12:10
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I wish I could take credit for those photos, however they are not mine. They are just some of my favorite landscape photos on DeviantArt.com that I thought well demonstrated the wide-angle concept. –  jrista Jan 4 '11 at 16:50

It depends on what you mean by nature photography. I prefer a telephoto lens for nature photography, especially for photos of birds and other animals, but it sounds like you are interested in something wide. If you want to stay in the range it covers, the 10-22mm lens will blow the 18-55mm lens out of the water. I personally find wide-angle nature photography to be very pretty and immersive, but tedious/constraining in style.

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The 10-22mm lens is the perfect complimentary to the 18-55mm when it comes to nature and small room photography. The first time you'll look through your viewfinder at 10mm, you will make a WOW! and then you will understand what you have been missing all this time...

I purchased mine after a couple of years where my widest was the 18-55, and effectively not using it since purchasing the 28-135. The weekend after the purchase we were out to the White Mountains, NH for 3 days. Although having a nice arsenal of lenses in my bag, the 10-22 lens remained on my camera for the whole 3 days. I just did not feel the need for changing it on these circumstances. It covered scenic, portraits (to some extent), the visit to Storyland (a theme park in the area), and the best part - we hiked the Flume Gorge trail, which is a trail where most of it is in a tight small canyon. I was able to take great picture due to this lens, which I couldn't with the others.

It is expensive (surely relative to your current equipment), but if you are serious with your hobby and willing to shell the money - I promise you a great experience.

As a comparison -I took these the day I received it in the office. Taken from the same spot in a small room. It shows the difference between the 28-135mm and the 10-22mm:

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agree with what jrista said. the 10-22 is a very interesting lens for some types of nature photography, but a very limiting lens that precludes a lot of potential images. I would not consider it as a primary (or only) lens. I definitely would want something like that in my bag -- but it'd be my third or fourth lens, not my first or second. Coverage of the 20-70 range would be the critical range for much nature photography, unless you want to specialize in animals/birds, and then something like the canon 100-400 would be my starting point. The 10-22 is more of a specialty lens that creates some interesting types of images, but it's not one that I'd ever see as my go-to.

To me, the key ranges for nature photography are 20-70, then 100-200, then 300-400, then 10-20, then 500 and higher (until you run out of money). Below ten you're in fisheye range, you either get a kick out of working with one or not. Somewhere along the way a macro lens or two get added (I use a sigma 180). You'll cover 90% of your needs with 20-150, unless it's running away from you or flying, at which point the 100-400 becomes more important.

Don't forget that for very wide style landscapes you can do a lot with a normal lens and some stitched pano. I was going crazy for a while trying to figure out how George Lepp did some of his landscapes I loved, and when I finally got to talk to him, it turns out they were all done around 70mm vertical and stitched panos. he does a LOT of stitched panos in his work...

I do primarily nature, and a lot of bird photography. I currently carry a 28-300 (which I'm going to upgrade, bought it as a street kit carry around and it's okay, but I really would prefer something wider and not so superzoom, because the superzooms aren't as sharp; nice lens, not killer lens), and my 100-400, which is my go-to. and a Sigma 180 macro, and a 300/F4 with a 1.4x tied to it most of the time. I use the 100-400 handheld, and the 300/1.4x on a tripod. It's sharper, but less flexible. There are times when I'd kill for a 10-20, but I've also found much of the time I can use my standard zoom and do panos... buying a 10-20 is on the list, but not near the top of it.

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Have to agree with Chuqui, the 24-70mm range is a critical nature/landscape photography range. I think the vast bulk of the landscape photographs I like or shoot myself are taken at 24mm (or 90mm for 4x5 photos). For general nature photography, I would agree with his assessment of focal ranges, however for landscape photography in particular, I would say 24-70, 16-35, then telephoto lengths would be my progression. (For APS-C, those would be 16-35, 10-22 adjusting for crop factor.) –  jrista Jan 4 '11 at 18:44

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