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I recently upgraded from my ancient fellow Canon 550D to Canon 5D Mark iii and I only had 18-55mm kit lens and a 50mm 1.8 lens in my arsenal. I always struggled in low light and capture groups of peoples in a tight space like a room, for obvious reasons. I want to invest in a fast wider angle lens but I am not sure which one, 24-70mm is quite expensive but what about 24-105mm, should I go even further down like 16-17mm or buy an equivalent third party lens? Please suggest.

P.S. I'm interested in portraits, group photos, landscape and night photography (city skyline etc)

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    What do you mean by "fast lens"? The 24-105 is f/4, which in my book at least, does not qualify it for the term fast. But, tbh, I also don't start calling things fast until they're sub f/2.8...so...Also, have you explored lighting or is low available light shooting the only thing you want to accomplish? – Hueco Nov 19 '18 at 22:21
  • Agree, F4 is not fast. Lets put it this way, is 24-70mm enough to take groups photos in a tight space like a room? – Ali Nov 19 '18 at 22:47
  • Does it have to be a zoom? If a fast lens is important, you get much more bang for your money if you look at a fixed focal length lens. I am very happy with my Samyang 24mm/f1.4, It is optically top class and goes in Europe somewhere around 5-600€. – jarnbjo Nov 20 '18 at 12:14
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    I don't see how a fast lens is going to fix the problem anyway. If you are shooting a group in a tight space, you are going to need a deep enough DOF to keep everyone in focus. Since you don't have distance, you will need to use a suitably small aperture to increase the DOF. Then the benefits of the fast lens are gone. You are going to have to either add light or shoot at higher ISO under those conditions. – Robin Nov 20 '18 at 18:49
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    This seems borderline (at least) OT as shopping advice... – FreeMan Nov 20 '18 at 20:54
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Honestly the higher quality Third Party Lenses have really upped their game in terms of quality, focus speed and sharpness. I recently got a Tamron 15-30mm F/2.8 which I have now used to replace my Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8 and it just gives me what I look for. I find generally, when looking for a wide angle, I rarely wish it could go longer, but I always wish it can go wider. The Tamron 15-30mm fit the bill perfectly and really gets some great dramatic shots when used appropriately.

Some samples for you.

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    Upvoted because I am also a happy owner of the Tamron 15-30mm lens, it's a great lens, the YouTuber Christopher frost did an interesting review about this lens here : youtube.com/watch?v=Vpg6keKSRI8 Also Tamron released the G2 version recently (The G2 version has a small filter holder on the back of the lens, which the first version does not have) – Pascal Goldbach Nov 20 '18 at 14:23
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    "when looking for a wide angle, I rarely wish it could go longer, but I always wish it can go wider" - precisely – Ali Nov 24 '18 at 11:29
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I've probably shot more images on full frame cameras with an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS than any other lens. But for what you want to do in low light, it's not the best choice. At f/4, it's just a bit too slow.

I'd suggest a 24mm, 28mm, or 35mm prime lens. While 24mm f/1.4 primes can get expensive because they are such a challenge to design and produce well, there are more than a few affordable 24mm f/2.8, 28mm f/1.8, or 35mm f/2 lenses on the market. Compared to your old crop body, 24mm would give the same field of view (FoV) with the 5D Mark III as 15mm does on your Rebel T2i/550D. 28mm on FF translates to 18mm on the 550D, and 35mm on FF is the same FoV as 22mm on a 1.6X crop body.

Another great option would be the EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L III, but it is even more expensive than the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II. The earlier versions of the 16-35/2.8 L are not near as good optically as the "III", or as the more economical EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS (if one can do without the f/2.8 maximum aperture). For wider landscapes using a FF camera, including cityscapes at night, the 16-35/4 L is a great lens. But I think you'll find it not fast enough for group portraits in low light.

If your budget doesn't allow for the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II and you are dead set on a zoom lens, my advice would be to go with the less expensive Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC. It's sharper than the original EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L (which I still use because it gives me what I need for a 24-70/2.8), but not quite as sharp as the newer "II" introduced in 2012. The Tamron also offers something the Canon does not: Vibration Compensation, which is Tamron's term for 'Image Stabilization'. I've got several friends who have the older version of the Tamron, and they are extremely happy with it. Tamron just released a 'G2' ('Generation Two') update a few months back that adds the ability to update firmware and calibrate AF using the Tamron 'TAP-In' USB dock. it is currently selling for a little more than the older one was before it was replaced, but it is still several hundred dollars cheaper than the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II.

  • So compared to newer F 24-70mm f/2.8 L MKII how would you rate the older version 24-70mm MKI? That easy on pocket and I am a kind of beginner on FF so shouldn't I first go with the older version? – Ali Nov 24 '18 at 11:42
  • @Ali The original EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L is a good lens when properly aligned. Due to its unique design with some of the eccentric adjustments at the front of the lens, it gets knocked out of alignment fairly easily compared to many other lenses. I've been very careful with mine and still use it, always with the hood in place to protect the front barrel from even minor impacts. I'd be very careful buying a used copy of that lens, though. The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC is a bit sharper, has VC (Vibration Compensation), and a used copy of that lens is generally cheaper than the older Canon. – Michael C Nov 24 '18 at 11:58
  • The EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II is a totally different design that does not share the susceptibility to minor impacts with the older model. It's significantly sharper than either the older EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L or the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC or SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC G2 (Generation Two). – Michael C Nov 24 '18 at 12:00
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    P.S. There's no such thing as a "Mark" anything Canon lens. Only camera bodies of the second or seceding generations of a model line include "Mark" in their official moniker. Lenses simply have a "II" or "III" after an otherwise identical name to differentiate them from the original model (which does not carry a "I" in its name). – Michael C Nov 24 '18 at 12:03
  • I also wondered but I saw this video and since than I had been using Mark with lenses as well :P youtube.com/watch?v=YjAZ1cqTiDk - because I consider these photographers more knowledgeable than me – Ali Nov 24 '18 at 12:59
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The existing answers cover lens choice very well so I'm going to answer with a non answer.

P.S. I'm interested in portraits, group photos, landscape and night photography (city skyline etc)

For portraits, lighting is key. Start looking into off camera flash. If using existing light in dim environments (e.g. A bar or club) go with a very fast prime.

For group photos, see above. Double emphasis on the lighting.

For landscape, lens speed isn't important. Invest in a tripod, remote shutter, polarizer, and neutral density filters.

For night city skyline, see above. Tripod, remote shutter, and potentially some filters like a graduated neutral density.

My point in adding this answer is to call attention to the fact that the lens is only part of the equation in taking a photo. As you've upgraded to full frame, your efs lens needs replacing, for sure. But don't assume that just because you replace it with a similar angle of view or wider angle or faster aperture that you'll be set.

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You should examine the focal lengths of your existing images. If you frequently hit 18mm (on crop sensor), you should look into lenses that are 28mm or wider on full frame. Similarly, if you frequently hit 55mm (on crop sensor), you should look into lenses longer than 85mm. Otherwise, 24-70/2.8 should be fine.

  • On full frame, a 24-70/2.8 lens will give the same FOV as a 15-44/2 lens on crop-sensor, so you'll have a bit more room to work with than with the 18-55/3.5-5.6 kit lens. Whether that is enough for you depends on the size of the group and room.

  • The 24-70/2.8 lens will give you an extra 2/3- to 2-stops than the 18-55/3.5-5.6 kit lens. This is potentially the difference between ISO 3200 and ISO 800. A 24-105/4 lens will give only one extra stop at the long end in exchange for additional zoom. Whether the trade off is worthwhile depends on whether you need the additional zoom.

  • Since you've switched to a larger sensor, you should be able to use a 1.6x longer shutter speed to hand-hold the camera than you would have with crop sensor. So if you were able to hand-hold your old camera at 1/120s, you should be able to get away with about 1/75s (or even slower with image stabilization).

    This point doesn't apply if you are using a tripod or if you are trying to prevent blur caused by motion within the scene. For people pictures, the speed you should select depends on the activity. For instance, you should expect to require a faster shutter speed for people playing sports than for someone standing at a podium.

For lenses faster than F2.8, aside from the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art, you'll mainly be considering primes.

  • Photographing people with 1/40 will almost certainly lead to motion blur - I'm not saying that this is bad per se, but if you want little to no motion blur, then > ~1/80s is not an option. – flolilo Nov 19 '18 at 23:25
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    @flolilolilo Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I've shot performers as slow as 1/60 and gotten usable images, although the "keeper rate" does indeed go way down from shooting at shorter exposure times. Even at 1/200, it's still all about timing the shutter to release when motion is minimized. For example, the instant a guitarist's strumming hand stops going down and starts going back up. – Michael C Nov 19 '18 at 23:58
  • @MichaelClark Agreed. What I wanted to say: It is not a no-brainer, as in "I will simply lower the shutter speed, and all will still be just as well!" – flolilo Nov 20 '18 at 0:04
  • I've gotten a good shot of stationary people at 1/15th more than once, but I only had a few decent shots on the roll. (This was in the film era, flash would not have given me the background. It was a slow shutter speed or give up.) – Loren Pechtel Nov 20 '18 at 5:28
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On a full-frame the 24mm is roughly equivalent to a 15mm on an APS-C, still a bit long for interiors. You should aim for 16-17mm at the short end:

  • CANON 16-35mm EF f/4 L IS USM
  • CANON 17-40mm EF f/4 L USM

For a lot of money, there is also a Canon 11-24mm EF f/4 L USM or, less expensive in the same range, the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art.

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    Why do you think that OP needs a lens for interior photography? – jarnbjo Nov 20 '18 at 12:10
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You mention groups, so I wonder if you have thought about whether you want the distortion that wide angle offers, or whether you would prefer a wide shot but without the distortion that can curve lines (and make people look a bit odd, depending where they are in the scene).

I have had an aspherical wide angle that corrects the distortion for fifteen or twenty years and I absolutely love it because it captures a wide shot but does not do funny things to the lines. So, for example, a wide shot of a forest, but the trees don't curve outward in the middle! It is also wonderful for scenes including people. This is the one that I have https://www.imaging-resource.com/lenses/sigma/15-30mm-f3.5-4.5-ex-dg-aspherical/review/

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The Canon 16-35mm seems to fit your purpose but I'm not sure about price. Another really good lens that is not expensive is Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 for Canon

  • The Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 is an APS-C lens and does not project an image circle large enough to cover a FF sensor. The first two versions of the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 are notoriously soft for such an expensive lens. The EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L III is much better optically, but is also much more expensive. – Michael C Nov 24 '18 at 12:08
  • Thanks, Michael. You are right I forgot the OP had a FF. Apologies. – Pharmama Nov 25 '18 at 12:23

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