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I have a Canon EOS 2000D DSLR (crop factor approximately 1.6). As the lenses, I have 18-55 mm IS zoom (f/3.5-5.6) and 50mm non-IS fixed focal length (f/1.8), and have ordered a 55-250 mm IS zoom which hasn't arrived yet.

I'm having a hard time selecting between Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM and Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 non-IS USM lens for the second fixed focal length lens.

The prices of these two lenses are approximately equivalent, yet the prices are so high (at least compared to the 50mm lens -- they are 5-6x as expensive) and the focal lengths are so close together that purchasing both is not an option. The dimensions and weight are so close to each other so that I can't use size and the weight as the deciding factor. Both use USM focus motor so no difference there either.

28mm has a wider aperture (f/1.8) than the 35mm (f/2), relatively speaking, and a 28mm lens is more distinct from 50mm than the 35mm lens. Also, 28mm offers a wider angle of view, which I can always crop to be equivalent to 35mm angle of view.

However, the 35mm lens has image stabilization. I'm not 100% certain that I absolutely need the image stabilization. At least for typical light levels, I often manage without IS on the 50mm lens, and IS on the 35mm would therefore be even less necessary at these light levels.

However, the 35mm lens because of the IS would expand my options towards low-light photography when not using a tripod. I live in a country where the length of daylight is highly variable: in the winter on weekdays, I don't have options for outdoors photography except when it's so dark out that the streetlights are on (my profession is not a photographer, and my working hours are regular). So far, I haven't tested the camera outside when it's dark, because I have had the camera only for little more than a week, and it has been raining often. So I really don't know how much benefit IS would be.

Let's also say that I have absolutely no plans whatsoever to purchase a full frame camera in the future. 28mm would be perhaps a bit too wide-angled in the full frame camera, but I don't use this as the deciding factor as I don't have full frame plans.

How should I choose the next lens for my situation? I already listed some similarities and differences of the lenses, but are there some I failed to list? Which lens overall would be better to complement the 50mm non-IS lens?

Or should I instead invest in a better zoom such as 17-55mm IS f/2.8? It would cost 1.5-1.6x as much as the 28mm or 35mm lens, weigh more and be larger, but would be much more useful in low-light non-tripod outdoor photography than the 50mm non-IS f/1.8 or the 18-55mm IS f/3.5-5.6.

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    Another option might be the sigma 18-35mm f1.8 – lijat Feb 9 at 19:41
  • @lijat Unfortunately, for my weak hands the sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 could be perhaps too heavyweight. But seems like a very interesting lens otherwise, I wasn't aware of it. – juhist Feb 9 at 19:46
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    If you can get away with 2.8, the EF-S 24mm 2.8 STM is a cheap and sharp lens, giving you about the same angle. – Fábio Dias Feb 9 at 22:33
  • What is your primary purpose for the new lens? If its just the wide aperture for now and you will decide on what to use it for later, then you have already answered your own question by suggesting the 17-55mm f/2.8 – Abdul Quraishi Feb 9 at 22:52
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    Lens selection is always highly personal based on intended usage. At this point in your development as a photographer, you don't seem very sure of what your intended usage is. For now, don't buy either lens. Buy a good tripod instead. It makes every single one of your lenses, and every camera you'll ever buy, better. Or buy the very cheap EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM. As long as you don't move to FF, it's a very good value and will let you decide if wide angle primes are good for what you eventually decide to shoot. – Michael C Feb 10 at 0:49
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Choosing between 28mm and 35mm primes is difficult because they're both normal lenses on crop sensor. I enjoy using using 35mm primes a lot, but rarely use my 28mm primes. However, with zoom, I use 28mm quite a bit for close-ups and group shots.

You're pretty much going to have to try both focal lengths to see which one suits you better.

  • Since you already have the 18-55 kit lens, have you tried analyzing your images for focal length and content?

  • You may consider the Yongnuo 35/2 (I haven't tried it). It likely won't be as sharp as Canon, but it would be a reasonable way to see if 35mm suits you.

  • You can try fixing the zoom on your kit lens with tape at each of the focal lengths to see which you like better.

  • You can try some cheap manual focus lenses to get a sense for the different framings the two focal lengths provide.

If you want a "better" zoom, consider something like 24-70/2.8 or 24-105/4. (You'll be ready for full frame, and I like 24-28 at the wide end on crop sensor.)

  • It's actually a good idea to analyze my past images. Around 50mm is one common focal length, which is why I bought the 50mm f/1.8 which is over 9x faster than the kit zoom (the wide aperture means it's able to collect nearly as much light as f/5.6 IS, at a much shallower depth of field). For the cases where 50mm is too long, something between 24-32mm is common. 18-24mm is very rare. Clearly, the non-50mm images are closer to 28mm than they are to 35mm. I also tried today the 50mm f/1.8 lens without IS for low-light photography and it's acceptable. A 28mm should be even more acceptable w/o IS. – juhist Feb 9 at 21:18
  • And a 24-70/2.8 mm at least made by Canon would be (1) too heavy for my weak hands, (2) so expensive that it's outside my budget range. – juhist Feb 9 at 21:22
  • I'm accepting this answer out of all three, as one of the two other answers was mine and the other of the two other answers suggested a service that is probably not available where I live. – juhist Feb 11 at 13:12
  • @juhist I think it's valid to accept no answer. Or if you feel your own really is the best, it's fine to accept your own. – xiota Feb 11 at 13:16
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How should I choose the next lens for my situation?

You've done your background research, but it's all numbers and theory. Now it's time to try them. If you can't borrow them from a friend, try renting — LensRentals is the (well-deserved) behemoth in this space, and they have each of these lenses available for $31 and $48 each for a seven-day rental. I suggest at least seven days with each... put that lens on the camera and use it intensely. If you can't be so intense, make it two weeks. You could either overlap or do one and then the other.

There's really no substitute for this. They're both good lenses — try 'em and pick the one you love most. (Lensrentals even has a program where you can buy the lens you rented with some portion of the rental fee as a credit ­— you might go with renting both and sending back only the one you decide against.)

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Although there are already two answers to the question (1. rent the lenses, 2. analyze past images taken with kit zoom), I'm going to provide a third answer.

The Canon 28mm F/1.8 USM lens has a flickr group: https://www.flickr.com/groups/canonef28mmf18usm/

Also, the Canon 35mm F/2.0 IS USM lens has a flickr group: https://www.flickr.com/groups/canon35mm_is_usm/

So, it's possible to take a look at pictures taken with these two lenses even without renting the lenses. The only caveat of this method is that I have to ensure that all pictures I'm considering are taken with a crop sensor camera.

Lens rentals operates in United States, so I believe I can't rent lenses from them as a non-US person. So, I believe a combination of analyzing my past and future images with kit zoom and looking at flickr pictures others have taken with a crop sensor camera and one of these lenses is my strategy.

I still have to test my existing lenses in many various situations (various focal lengths, tripod vs no tripod, low light vs ample light, indoors vs outdoors, landscape shoots vs isolated object with blurry background, slow or steady subjects vs fast-moving subjects, small subjects and standing nearby vs large subjects and standing far away) to learn what their limitations are. At least I have some low light data and understand the limits of the image stabilization now (I thought the image stabilization would really be at least 3 stops in practice as it's advertised to be 4 stops, but it appears to help only for 2 stops).

My next purchase will be a tripod.

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