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I came into a Canon Rebel T7 with the 18-55mm kit lens without image stabilization.

Many of the photos I take are indoors with low light (museums, indoor architecture) and often with my earlier cheap point and shoot camera I got acceptable results around 1/8 second. But photos at 1/8 second with this camera are blurred from camera motion.

Canon won't take a return or replacement so I will have to get another lens. I guess I would have a choice between the IS II and the IS STM. The latter has a preferable focus mechanism (quiet, since I will also take some video) but I think the former is preferable since it is a somewhat faster lens, at least at the wider aperture which should be important for low light.

Is there any advice on this?

  • There's also the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM as well as the EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM. The former is roughly the same size as the previous non-STM models, the latter is more compact. – Michael C Feb 9 at 4:36
  • Thanks, I was not aware there was a f/3.5-5.6 version, I don't know how I missed it. I guess that would be the most preferable. I don't think I would want the f/4-5.6 since I want the most possible elbow room (at a cheap price) for shooting in indoor light (and this gives me a little more at least at the shorter focal length which is what I need). As a novice -- only had this non P&S camera, my understanding is USM will be noisy with focus in video, but is it that noisy? The older IS II (USM) seems preferable (more cheaply available) still to the STM. – Benson Bear Feb 9 at 4:48
  • A note about the IS II. You said "IS II (USM)". The IS II is not an USM lens! It is a micromotor lens. The micromotor is extremely slow to focus and very noisy, not suitable for video. USM is faster and more silent, but you don't want to use it for video either. Video requires either STM or nano-USM. – juhist Feb 9 at 8:09
  • There's very little to no practical difference between f/3.5 and f/4. It's only 1/3 stop. – Michael C Feb 9 at 12:06
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    Hueco: Thanks, yes, I think what is useful about that thread is the observation that one is ill advised to get another lens that is just somewhat better on paper than current. I think (on a budget) I will have to forego more lenses and see how much I can do with the non IS one, like looking for more light, pushing the ISO more, etc. I'm just somewhat upset can't take the photos I used to be able to so easily. – Benson Bear Feb 10 at 0:52
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I am going to break stride and suggest you shoot indoor architecture from a tripod. Shoot at f8 and don't worry about the shake or ISO because you are on a tripod. You will want to pick up a radio trigger, too. The Yungnuo is cheap and it works. As far as IS lenses are concerned, The Tamron 17-50 f2.8 is decent, but I think you should skip the IS and get a used Tokina 12-24 f4. It's a good lens for indoor spaces. Using a super wide will open up many possibilities for you. Be prepared to do some perspective correction on some shots.

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If I was you I would get a 17-55 f2.8 IS USM, its a really good lens for APS-C and you could get it used for 300-400 USD.

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  • A warning about 17-55 f2.8 IS USM lens. Some lenses have a tendency to miss focus often. If you get a used lens, chances are the seller already knows it misses focus often and is the reason it's being sold so cheaply. – juhist Feb 9 at 7:38
  • Thanks, but that is way beyond my budget and probably also my ability to appreciate. A standard IS kit lens is plenty good enough for me (about 80 USDfor the IS II used or grey market new I think which is all my budget allows) but it has to be IS, I know from experience (with the I think similar quality cheap 55-250 IS) and tests reported online that the IS makes a huge difference even to a novice.. – Benson Bear Feb 9 at 7:40
  • A second warning about 17-55 f2.8 IS USM lens. Its USM autofocus is not suitable for video, which the OP wanted to do. – juhist Feb 9 at 7:48
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My primary recommendation would be 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS nano USM lens.

The reason is that most crop zoom lenses are really poor in sharpness, this one is a bit less poor than others. But only by a bit. (The 17-55mm f/2.8 would be a bit less poor in sharpness if you nail focus and won't fully zoom in to >50mm, but read on for its focus problems.)

Also, the image stabilized cheap 18-55mm lenses actually don't have a particularly good image stabilizer. According to my tests, you can't get the marketed 4 stops of improvement with these cheap lenses. A bit more expensive lens and the image stabilizer is a lot better.

Furthermore, the 18-55mm lenses have a poor and noisy autofocus system. Unless you get STM, which is less noisy but it's still somewhat slower than optimal. The nano USM is extremely fast (in fact, instantaneous) and silent. It's good for both still photos and for video.

I got a used 18-135mm IS nano USM one for around ~300 EUR. For the price, you get a lot of zoom range. A 18-55mm lens would mean that if you want a more telephoto lens, you have to purchase another lens. A 18-135mm lens can serve as a telephoto as well.

I won't recommend the 17-55mm f/2.8 USM lens. Some units have a problem that they miss focus often. Get a used one, and chances of the unit having the problem are bigger. Also the third-party (Sigma, Tamron?) 17-50mm f/2.8 zoom lenses have focusing problems as well.

Furthermore, the non-nano USM in 17-55mm f/2.8 lens is not really suitable for video.

Review of the 18-135 nano USM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF9FETYfvP8

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  • I'm afraid my budget limitations limit me to a choice between the two listed in my question or the IS STM f3.5-5.6 mentioned by Michael C, in ballpark of 90USD (120CDN). The tests for this latter at imaging-resource.com seem very impressive at 55mm and 1.5 stops at 18mm I think could often make the difference between an acceptable photo and an unacceptable one (plus I probably will get more because can't hold camera as still as those testers). – Benson Bear Feb 9 at 8:05
  • @Benson Well, in that case do get an STM model. It won't be as good as the nano USM, but you can use it for video, and if the slow focusing speed won't annoy you, for still photos as well. The non-STM models are not suitable for video. – juhist Feb 9 at 8:07
  • thanks, it looks like I had that backwards. usm is too noisy for video, or doesn't track as smoothly in real time? I have the cheap 55-250 stm and I feel it focuses fast enough in the limited experience I have with it so far btw. It is also night and day difference in low light with IS off vs IS on. From horrible to acceptable, and I assume the IS tech is similar to the 18-55 (although more evident at the longer focal lengths) – Benson Bear Feb 9 at 8:20
  • @Benson Two comments: (1) there are micromotor, STM, USM and nano-USM focusing systems. Only STM and nano-USM are suitable for video. (2) I have tested the 18-55 IS II image stabilizer, and it is nowhere near comparable to the 55-250 STM image stabilizer! See photo.stackexchange.com/questions/74876/… – juhist Feb 9 at 8:25
  • thanks. yes i see the USM is only listed (at wikipedia) on an older lens, without IS. The link is meant to be about the focusing systems, not your test of the IS right, I don't see it there? But the other test of the IS seems to indicate that while it might not compare to the IS on the longer lens it is still pretty good. – Benson Bear Feb 9 at 8:44

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