After quite a time I have made my mind to buy a DSLR and I am thinking for Canon 550D. Though question is long I could not find way to shorten this.

As a starter I would like to stick and learn with the basic lens which comes which is 18-55 IS. However my confusion is mounting especially looking at the range of the lenses.

Though photography is my hobby but I would like to take it real seriously. Not sure if I will choose/happen to make money with hobby [till now] (to buy or afford big heavy equipment)

So to upgrade the to new lens in future follwoing thoughts are bouncing in my head after some investigation ...

Canon 55-250 IS :

Why : Comparitively less expensive and can fullfill my requirement to reach distance so that I won't be upset not being able to shoot object at distance.

Questions: will be be able to deliver nice clean shopts (Like pro) ? Or its just toy to satisfy amature photographers need to do some wildlife and birds photography ?

Canon 70 - 300 :

Why : Little upgrade which can get me power to reach some more distace ... hopefully not too expensive.

Question : Same as above + which one has the better results and reliable ?

Other options I was thinking was to buy EF lenses timely one by one ....so that in case I upgrade to full frame they can be useful. I heard that they have real good picture quality and they truly worth their value. Is that true? In that case

Canon 20 - 70 MM IS USM :

Why: Good expensive ... I thought it would satisfy my need of general lens and still produce excellent results.

Quesion : Is my expectation from this lens correct ?

Then I will think to buy zoom lens for wildlife,

Canon 100-400 4.5 IS USM:

Why: I heard it's a good lens and can be handy in wild life

Question : Does this really stand for providing good quality images ? Or it's just big bucks one has to pay for not really good results?

I am also interested to try Macro photography. So thinking to buy one macro lense in future though I heard Close-up kits could be handly inexpensive but macro lens does really makes the difference so

Canon 100 2.8 IS USM:

Why: I donts want 68 mm lens in this family as it looks too short and don't want 180 mm lens looks too expensive. So this deal appears to be a win-win situation.

Question: is my understanding corrent ? or it's just Close UP kit could make all different with any of above mentioned Zoom lenses and no need for special Macro lens ?

Now the following lens really got my eyes wide open. But just that is too expensive. Canon 70-200 2.8 IS USM:

Why: I would like to experience the magic of 2.8 on 200mm. I think this could produce exceptional results in wild and fashion. It could be a nice friend with the above mentioned Canon 20-70.

Question: Is it worth spending on this lens ? Or 100-400 will prove better and sufficient than this ?

So as per all above talk I could have following sets

1) Economic as amateur:

18-55 IS + 55-250 mm OR

18-55 IS + 70-300 mm

2) Expensive investment done for long term good results and returns 18-55 IS + 55-250 mm Then buy

20-70 2.8 IS USM Then buy

100-400 4.5 IS USM OR 70-200 2.8 IS USM

3) Expensive investment done for long term good results and returns

18-55 IS + 55-250 mm Then buy

20-70 2.8 IS USM Then buy

100-400 4.5 IS USM OR 70-200 2.8 IS USM Then buy

100 2.8 IS USM Macro

I have not given thougths on other lenses available in market as some said Tamron 18 - 290 is solution to all problems. Or some say Sigma too is good. Not sure of it either ?

Please have your opinion and let me know your thoughts and comments on how should I proceed.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Anil, I don't think Canon has an EF 20-70mm IS USM lens. Do you mean EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM? If not, could you provide a link? \$\endgroup\$
    – ysap
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 23:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ysap you are right its 24-70 USM. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anil Namde
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 8:29

6 Answers 6


Well my suggestion is this - don't plan your lens purchases too far out in the future, especially if you don't have any idea of what you'll like to be shooting. There's many a photographer in the world who will never want or need a 100-400mm 4.5. Or you may find yourself wanting something wider and get an ultrawide (which doesn't appear on your list).

If it were me, considering you're still new, I'd get a 18-55mm, a 70-300mm, and a 50mm f/1.8 (which doesn't make your list). This is probably a bit contrary to some common advice of 'buy the absolute best lenses you can to start out' - but, to me, this is only really sound advice if you know what lenses you want! This suggested setup gives you the focal lengths to play with and figure out which one you actually want before you lay out the dough for something like a 70-200mm f/2.8 (the lens many of us drool over). It also doesn't break the bank, as far as lenses go.

The 50mm f/1.8 (a 'nifty fifty') is an important lens to learn with. Prime lenses (ones that don't zoom) help you think more about composition because you have to physically move your feet. The fast aperture of f/1.8 lets you do more in available light and can give you a short depth of field, creating subject isolation (subject in focus, background blurred out). It's a lens to help hone your creative skills on.

When you go to upgrade, you'll know what focal range you find yourself using.

  • Do you find yourself hovering in the "normal" range? Then go for the 24-70mm f/2.8.
  • Do you find yourself going after wildlife and wanting something longer? Try the 100-400mm or a the 70-200 f/2.8 with a teleconverter.
  • Do you find yourself constantly at the wide end of your 18-55mm? Then go for the ultrawide.
  • Are most of your shots portraits? Try the 70-200mm f/2.8.
  • Wishing you could get super close up to those flower and bees? Try a 100mm macro.

Right now you could plan to spend quite a bit of money on a lens that you may never use. Learn a bit and then figure out which lens suits the kind of photographer you are.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The 50mm f/1.8 is great for beginners (like me). I'm truly enjoying it precisely for the reason that @rfusca stated, and it is very affordable. Really recommended. \$\endgroup\$
    – Francesco
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 14:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I cant tell you how much relaxed i am feeling as i was bogged with so many thoughts and looking for suggestions to make sure that i dont choose the wrong items... Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anil Namde
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 8:30

I prefer to look at lens purchases as a journey rather than a point decision, and unlike some journeys, you can choose your path one step at a time.

If you're starting with the 18-55 lens, there are a number of reasons you'd look to add or upgrade lenses. The two most biggest reasons to buy additional lenses are to gain focal length range or to improve the quality of a focal length you've already got. If you're starting with the 18-55 lens, the 55-250 is an example of the former, and the 50mm f/1.8 is an example of the latter. Additional attributes such as faster lenses (larger apertures), better-quality glass, better-quality construction, weather sealing, better focus motors, and features like IS and USM can contribute to the "improved quality" you'll see in upgraded lenses.

There are a number of factors that suggest that you'll want to purchase lenses at least somewhat incrementally. Some of these are based on my personal experience, and hopefully you'll be able to recognize some of these factors in your own situation.

  • The more you shoot, the more you'll learn about the way you want to shoot and the things you're looking for in a lens. This suggests that spending at least a little time with each lens you buy will help you make your next lens purchase more wisely.

  • Lenses hold their value fairly well, so it's fairly economical to purchase a lens with the intent of upgrading at a later point. This mitigates the first point to some extent, because mistakes cost less, but they're still not free! I prefer to think that this point encourages you to get the best lens you can afford right now and go out and shoot pictures so that you'll gain the experience you'll need to make even better purchases in the future.

I started with a Canon 30D body, the 50mm f/1.8 II and the 55-250 lens. I still have the 50, but I traded the 55-250 (plus a few bucks) for the 70-300 and I upgraded the 30D to a 40D plus 17-85 IS USM. Based on my experience, the 18-55 plus either the 55-250 or 70-300 would be a great place for you to start. Neither of these lenses is going to satisfy you if you truly end up wanting pro quality, but both will let you produce good images while you hone your skills, and in the end, your skills are going to impact your performance at least as much as your equipment. If you can still afford the 50mm f/1.8, get that, too. It's a great way to add some low-light ability to your kit, and a super-economical way to experience primes.


Such a long question deserves a short answer ;)

Start with one good quality lens. Just one. Among those you mentioned that would be the 24-70mm F/2.8 but I would suggested the 17-55mm F/2.8 instead which gives a wide-angle on your 550D, unless of-course you already know wide-angle is not your thing. The the love of photography and your images, skip the kit.

Shoot as much as you can. Shoot every subject with your lens. You will get awesome image quality. Then, start noting the limits and ask yourself: How often did you wish to go wider? Longer? Focus closer? Set a brighter aperture? That will point to your next lens.


If you decide going on the "low-cost first and then we'll see" path, then I'd recommend choosing the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens over the much more expensive 70-300.

  • \$\begingroup\$ right i would sure go for 75-300 as 70-300 is expensive and much over budgert... it still has to modesl one with USM and one without which one i should choose ? I hope its results are good. Thanx for correction. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anil Namde
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 8:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Anil, the optics of the two are supposedly the same. The USM version should be slightly faster in focusing. \$\endgroup\$
    – ysap
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 12:19

If the 70-200 is too expensive for you, either go for the Sigma 70-200 which is very good indeed or for the 100-400 (which a lot of Canon lovers I know adore).


Whatever you get, make sure one of them is the 70-200 f4 L lens. This is one of the hidden treasures and ultimate bargain in the Canon line. Its not a f2.8, but where you typically need such a zoom, f4 is perfectly fine. And skip the IS, to save tons of money. This lens is light, incredibly sharp, and as it internally focuses, compact.

Any of my camera gear is in a state for for sale or looking for a new purchase, EXCEPT for my 70-200 f4 L. They will pry that one from my cold, dead hands.


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