0

I'm looking at buying a new 18-55mm lens as the one that came with my 4000D doesn't have image stabilisation, which I really need. It seems like canon have made many EF-S lenses over time that all seem to have the same features.

I won't be recording video on this camera so having silent auto-focus isn't important to me.

  • 2
    Is there a reason you are looking for an 18-55mm lens in particular? Nothing wrong with that, but there are other options in the wide-normal zoom range. – mattdm Mar 18 at 15:30
  • Before you make the decision to purchase, look at my answer that analyzes how well image stabilization works (or doesn't work): photo.stackexchange.com/a/105563/81735 -- you don't get the full advertised stop count! So, unless you really need zoom, having few primes without IS may be a better approach. – juhist Mar 18 at 16:28
  • @mattdm I like the range I get from 18-55. I had a 14-45 on my old camera, it felt too wide. Also, 18-55 lenses are quite cheap. If you have any suggestions, please tell me though :) – UnicornsOnLSD Mar 19 at 16:23
6

The two main choices you'll find from Canon are that you can get an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 with either the newer "STM" (stepper motor) design, or the non-STM version "II" design (which uses micro-motors).

The STM motors are significantly quieter ... but they are also faster to focus. So even if you aren't interested in the "quiet" feature (great for video when you use the internal microphone) ... being "faster" is generally always going to be welcome.

One feature that really sticks out in my mind ... is that the STM version now has "internal focus". On the older non-STM design (the version "II") lens rotates the front of the lens as you focus. If you have a polarizing filter on the lens, this causes the filter to rotate ... and you're always having to re-adjust the filter tuning after each focus. The "STM" version only moves elements internally ... the front element no longer rotates. This means you're not constantly having to adjust the angle of your filter.

Other than that... both lenses claim 4 stops of Image Stabilization. Both lenses have decent optics ... with some optical flaws (chromatic aberration).

The STM version has 7 aperture blades vs. 6 on the older version "II". The number and shape of blades controls the shape of the aperture opening, more blades generally results in a more rounded opening. Two visual effects might be noticed based on aperture blade count and aperture opening shape.

  1. A more well-rounded aperture will tend to have a smoother quality in the out-of-focus background or foreground blur. Also any point-sources of light will tend to create a "disk" or "spot" in the shape of the aperture opening (a more rounded opening results in these spots better resembles circles instead of polygons.) This effect is mostly noticed when using a shallow depth-of-field.
  2. At higher f-stop values, each "point source" of light (e.g. a string of holiday lights ... or distant street-lights and other light sources in late-evening or night-time city-scape photographs) will create "diffraction spikes" that cause each point-source to resemble a spiky star. The number of diffraction spikes is based on the number of aperture blades. Each "blade" edge creates two spikes (opposed at 180°). In lenses with even numbers of blades you'll count the same number of spikes as you have aperture blades (e.g. a 6-blade aperture would have 6 spikes). In lenses with odd numbers of blades (e.g. 5, 7, 9) you see twice as many spikes as the number of blades (a 7-blade aperture creates 14 spikes). This is because the diffraction effect in physics creates TWO spikes off each edge. When you have an even number of blades (e.g. 6) you technically have 12 spikes... but they overlap as 6 "pairs". The brighter the light and the longer the exposure, the stronger the diffraction spike. This effect shows up mostly at higher f-stop values (e.g. f/11, f/16, f/22). The higher the f-stop, the stronger the effect.

Diffraction Spikes seen on the brighter stars in this image captured at f/10

The above image was captured using a lens with 8 aperture blades (you can count 8 diffraction spikes on each of the brightest stars in the image). Some dimmer stars show shorter diffraction spikes. This was capture at f/10. The effect is intensified at higher f-stop values.

For those with deeper pockets... the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. It's main advantage is that it can provide the lower f/2.8 focal ratio at all focal lengths in its range. At the 55mm end... that's two full stops "faster" than the f/3.5-5.6 lenses.

  • There are also some interesting lenses for people with moderately deep pockets: Sigma and Tamron 17-50mm/2.8 and Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.0 – xenoid Mar 18 at 15:51
  • ...17-55mm is not only for those with deeper pockets, but also for those who are stronger and can therefore carry heavy equipment... – juhist Mar 18 at 16:26
  • 1
    @juhist the 17-55 is slightly heavier than a pint of beer. I think most people will be okay with its weight. – Hueco Mar 18 at 17:42
  • Well, if you carry just it, I guess it will be fine, although people don't hold camera in the same way they hold a pint of beer. But the weight adds up: camera, lens, camera battery, flash, AA batteries for flash... – juhist Mar 18 at 17:44
  • 2
    @juhist that's nothing, honestly (~3.3lbs). A gallon is 8.4lbs, a Ruger 10/22 Target is ~5lbs, hell, the average weight of a physics text book is ~4.8lbs. If a consumer SLR + prosumer lens is too much weight, one should be looking into mirrorless or m4/3. The weight only goes up when we look at prosumer and pro bodies and lenses. (A wedding photog's setup of 16-35, 24-70, 70-200, 600ex, 5d, 7d, weighs ~5210g [11.4lbs]) – Hueco Mar 18 at 20:47

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.