I own a Canon Rebel T1i with a EFS 18-55mm image-stabilizer lens. Since I want to learn more about photography, my husband purchased for me a EF 50mm and a EF 75-300mm zoom.

I am wondering if these lenses are a good choice. The 50 mm seems a overkill since I have the 18-55mm, and I've heard the 75-300mm is not the best option.

Can you please advise? I will not be doing professional photography; I will be taking photos of my baby, traveling sites, nature, etc.


6 Answers 6


I think you've got a pretty nice setup now. The 18-55 is good for landscapes (wide-angle), the 50mm is perfect for portraits of your baby and the telephoto is great for pictures of your baby in the park walking on the beach etc as well as other close up shots where a telephoto is needed. If you find you enjoy taking macro shots (flowers, insects, etc) you can pick up a macro lens but you can take really nice photos of flowers and such even with the 50mm and the telephoto. Get a tripod and a few filters and you can experiment with long exposure and HDR or just take group pictures with yourself in it...

You can get much better quality professional glass (for a lot more $) but there is no need unless you are not satisfied with the image quality you are getting.

  • The 50/1.8 is more than three full f-stops faster than your 18-55 (which at 55mm is an f/5.6 lens), which means it can gather 8 times more light than the 18-55 will. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-number
  • Having the faster aperture also allows for more creativity with a narrower depth of field
  • It's the ideal focal-length on an EF-S camera for portraits (80mm is the traditional "portrait lens" length; it's considered the most flattering, perspective-wise.)
  • There are fewer elements (pieces of glass) which sometimes makes for a sharper image
  • It has very little barrel distortion
  • It's a very inexpensive lens, making it excellent value

The 50/1.8 is what you toss on your camera when you're at someone's backyard BBQ in the late afternoon, for example. In order to get the utility of the 50/1.8 in a zoom, you have to spend nearly $1500 for the 17-55 2.8/IS (which is an amazing lens, and it should be, for the price. It's also big and heavy.)

There's more than one 75-300 (and a few similar lenses), and it comes in both image-stabilized and non-image-stabilized versions. However, unless you plan on making enormous prints, nobody (including you) is going to be able to tell the difference between any of Canon's modern telephoto zooms, so image quality shouldn't be a great concern or cause much buyer's regret. If you plan on using the telephoto lens in bright conditions, don't lust much after the image-stabilized version; just make sure you're using a fast enough shutter speed. Exposure time should be 1/(focal length) or faster; experiment, as some people have steadier hands than others.

I would recommend purchasing a small tripod such as one of the Gorillapods, a circular-polarizing filter for the 18-55 to start with, etc.


I think the 50mm is a GREAT choice for you. It will allow you much more creativity with its large aperture, than the kit lens ever will. Seriously, ditch the kit lens and keep the 50 on there all the time.

As for the 75-300, I regret, I owned this lens (the non-IS version). I found it to be terrible. You may have gotten the IS version, which may well be better, but the non IS one is an awful lens. I would consider returning it.

I'm not sure what you mean by "travelling sites" but for nature do you mean landscapes, or up-close flowers and insects? If landscapes - you may wish to go for a wide-angle. I hear great things about the EF-S 10-22. For the up-close you may wish to go for a Macro lens. The EF-S 60mm f/2.8 or the EF 100mm f/2L IS USM is an excellent choice. (There is also a cheaper non-IS version of the 100mm a f/2.8 version).

Hope that helps?

  • Thank you so much. It did help.WHen taking pictures of far views, mountains, etc..which one would you suggest?
    – Ana rogers
    Jan 10, 2012 at 1:14
  • 1
    You can go for either a wide angle prime lens such as a 24mm, or the 10-22 is fantastic too, though this can't ever be used on a full-frame camera should you decide to upgrade at any point in the future. There is also the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 which is highly regarded, though I have no personal experience of it. It is also for crop sensor only but I hear great things about it...
    – Mike
    Jan 10, 2012 at 8:29
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    I agree with Mike about the 75-300. It's one of the few Canon lenses I've really not liked at all.
    – Steve Ross
    Jan 23, 2012 at 6:35

The 50mm 1.8 (aka nifty fifty) is a superb lens for the money. Sure it is inexpensive so is made of cheaper materials that make it feel a little bit toy-like but the sharpness and quality of the photographs it can produce are very good, especially when compared to the kit 18-55 kit lens.

The 50mm 1.8 is a prime lens and generally speaking the quality of images produced by prime lenses is higher than that of zoom lenses, especially at the lower price point. The 50mm 1.8 will be far superior to the 50mm focal range of the 18-55 kit lens.

I spent about a year shooting with the nifty fifty almost exclusively and I think it is a really valuable tool with regard to improving your photography. I would recommend this approach to anyone interested in improving their technique.

I would agree with the comment posted in this thread that the 1.4 version is a better lens but it is also approximately three times the price and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the 1.8, especially if you are just starting out. The wide aperture will give you far more creative control and you will be extremely pleased with the results. It's a lot of fun.

I owned a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM a few years ago which was a very reasonable lens for the price. Unfortunately from everything I have heard the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is generally considered to be a very poor lens, although I should make it clear that I have not used one personally.


My only suggestion would be to pick up the 50mm 1.4 USM instead of the 1.8 if you have the budget for it. It has much faster AF that is quiet and the lens doesn't feel like it will break off into pieces in your hand. The 1.4 also has simliar image quality to the pro 50mm 1.2

  • The newer EF 50mm f/1.8 STM addresses most of the disadvantages of the EF 50mm f/1.8 II.
    – Michael C
    Dec 9, 2015 at 22:55

Both of those lenses are good, low-cost "training wheels" companions to the EF-S 18-55, and are, in fact, the lenses I got when I bought my Canon XT/350D back in 2006, but today, there are two choices that might be better.

EF 50mm f/1.8 II pros and cons

This is an amazing bargain and is easily the best value-for-price lens Canon makes, but that's partly because its pricetag is so very very low. It is an all-plastic lens, with a plastic mount bayonet, a fiddly manual focus ring, no distance scale, and iffy autofocus performance in low light. And the main reason you want it is the f/1.8 max. aperture. Compared to the 18-55 @55mm, the difference between a max. aperture of f/1.8 and f/5.6 is that you can get 3.3 stops, or 10x the amount of light from that aperture setting. That means to get the same exposure, you could use an iso setting that's 1/10th of what you'd have to use with the 18-55 kit, or a shutter speed that's 10x faster.

However, the EF 50/1.8 II is a film-era design from 1990. There are three newer choices that have a few extra things going for them:

  • EF 50mm f/1.8 STM — Released in 2015, this lens is a basic update to the EF 50mm f/1.8 II in every way. It has a metal barrel and mount plate, it has a much nicer manual focus ring, and includes a step motor (STM), which is good for smooth and silent autofocus. The optics are relatively similar to the 50/1.8 II's, but the overall build quality and usability are nicer, and the cost isn't much higher.

  • EF 40mm f/2.8 STM — Released in 2012, this "pancake" lens is very thin and discreet, and again has all metal construction. It's slower than the 50/1.8, but is closer to the "normal" field of view on a crop body, if still slightly telephoto with a 64mm equivalency. This makes it more useful as a general walkaround lens than the 50mm lens would be.

  • EF-S 23mm f/2.8 STM — Released in 2014, this pancake lens is designed for crop bodies, and yields a 35mm equivalency, for a wider-than-normal field of view. It's short enough to do closeup near-macros, wide enough for landscapes, but still long enough to do some portrait shooting. If you want a good street shooting or walkaround lens, this could be a good choice.

EF-S 55-250 IS

The EF 75-300 III is a very low cost lens. Its design goes back to the '80s. You can get nice sharp images out of it, but it's more limited than other lenses in that capability. You have to stop it down past f/8 for better performance. You have to keep the shutter speed above 1/300s (or higher) to mitigate camera shake blur when shooting @300mm. It's a little softer at the extreme ends of the zoom range. A lot of lenses have similar issues, but the usability of this lens can be limited.

For about $100 more, the EF-S 55-250 IS is a digital-era design, and is stabilized. Its performance wide open at 250mm is better than the 75-300 @300mm wide open, and can even rival the 70-300 IS USM (non-L)'s. The only ways in which the 75-300III beats this lens is on price, and if you also have to use the lens on a full-frame/film camera.

  • The introduction of the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM which fixes many of the shortcomings of its predecessor (Manual focus ring usability, focus speed, metal bayonet connection) at pretty much the same price as the older EF 50mm f/1.8 II probably makes it a better choice than the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM.
    – Michael C
    Dec 9, 2015 at 22:54
  • @MichaelClark well, it wasn't around when I originally wrote this. :) Have updated to throw the 50/1.8 STM and EF-S 24/2.8 STM pancake into the pile as well.
    – inkista
    Dec 10, 2015 at 0:22

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