let me start by saying I am venturing further into the photography world and will like to start making money out of my 'expensive' hobby if I can.

As such is the reasoning for my questions. Money is tight but I am of the opinion it's best to buy the best so it lasts. Some notes on my gear, I currently have :

  • The EOS 1000d; I plan to get the 7D next - after my next lens purchase.
  • Canon 50mm f1.8 mark2
  • Canon 70-300 f4-5.6 IS USM
  • Canon 18-55mm (non-IS) Kit Lens
  • Yongnuo YN-565EX Flash Speedlite

I'm finding low light/shaded conditions a bit of a pain - most if not all my photos are blurred unless I let the ISO go higher resulting in noisy images. Of course I can use the excellent flash I have but that is not always possible. (I have to admit the flash stands up to reviews - it's as good if not the same as Canon's flagship flash at roughly a 1/4 of the price. It just lacks the Master trigger function.)

So what do I want to do? I wouldn't mind going a bit wide and actually get the sharp photos I expect. The 18-55 kit is simply not capable. Though I'm not an outdoorsy person and although I love taking pictures of scenery, I don't get much chance to do so. I think here my situation is indoor shots or building shots.

I'm going to be doing some indoor, shaded (in church), shots soon - a christening. I'd like to be able to take the shots, if at all possible, without the flash. It's not going to be night time. Here, the 17-55 2.8 IS USM seems to be the way to go.

On another note, I want to get into Portrait shots - like those you see in shopping centres, where you book in advance to get your kids shot etc. Here I think the 24-105 f4 IS would be great since it will be well lit - mostly with flash.

Yet in either case, either may do... see my confusion.

I'm all for getting another (Wide/Ultra Wide lens) if the suggestion is to go with the 24-105. I would need some suggestions though on that lens.

I think in the short term going forward, it will be more portraits etc in decent light that I will be taking and in 90% of cases I can use the flash if required. I did get to use the 18-55 IS version of the kit for a evening party, with Flash... Most if not all came out perfect yet I know the flash helped a lot. I know that if I used my non-IS kit lens for the same purpose, even with flash, I would not of got the same results.

The 24-70, while attractive it is very costly.

Eventually when I make some money, and maybe a year or so down the line, I will upgrade to a FF camera but will keep my 7D.

I've read many reviews on the 17-55 and the 24-105 and many say the IQ is virtually the same - it's the front element dust issues with the 17-55 that have me concerned (although I stick on a UV filter the day I get a new lens)

I think I have covered everything.


I thought I'd mention - I'm not the steadiest of hands. My breathing is a little erratic so the 'sniper' hold is not something I can accomplish easily - at least not longer than a second or so (I have started to use a 2 sec timer to counter this - so the button press doesn't add to movement). I used to be able to do the 'sniper' for a minimum of 5 seconds but things change. Due to all this I think the IS is a huge help to me but so could the same be said for a wider aperture.

closed as not a real question by dpollitt, John Cavan, Itai, jrista Mar 15 '12 at 17:48

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I think this may be better suited for the chat room. Anthony - feel free to stop in and fire questions off. This is kind of a long winded discussion for a single question here. – dpollitt Mar 13 '12 at 22:43
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    I think you should reconsider if you want this to be a hobby or a job. It's not an easy way to make money, and is getting harder. If you do want to make money, starting by making a big, expensive purchase is running south in a north-facing race. – mattdm Mar 13 '12 at 22:48
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    Shoot with either the 50 or the 18-55 you already have. Use a monopod to steady the camera. Earn some money from the work for a bit, and use that experience to inform your equipment choices (i.e. figure out what specifically you can't do with your current kit and use that to determine and justify your next purchase). – James Youngman Mar 14 '12 at 0:14
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    There is a lot going on in this question, however the way its worded GREATLY narrows its scope and viability here on PhotoSE. I recommend reducing your answer to a few basics: What are your goals (what do you most frequently shoot, what do you next frequently shoot...keep it basic); What is your budget; What are your problems (poor hand-held shot clarity?) – jrista Mar 14 '12 at 12:24
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    Regarding your question. For all you mentioned, you said one thing that really stands out: "I'm finding low light/shaded conditions a bit of a pain - most if not all my photos are blurred unless I let the ISO go higher resulting in noisy images." Here is the SIMPLE FACT: If you get a blurry, unacceptable image at low ISO, but get a noisy, otherwise acceptable image at a higher ISO...why wouldn't you use the higher ISO? Noise is easily mitigated in post, where as blur cannot be fixed in the vast majority of cases. Your fear of higher ISO is your primary limiting factor. – jrista Mar 14 '12 at 12:25

I hate to be a cynic, but if you are good enough to be a professional photographer, you really should have your own opinions on what gear you need. It should match the kinds of photos you take when you are paid.

A professional sports photographer needs different tools than a professional wedding photographer.

If you can't afford the 17-55 F2.8, perhaps you should just takes some gigs that you can do until you can afford it. There is no comparison between it and the kit lenses. The 18-135 is not "very good" its adequate for its price. Most pros would use two lenses to cover that range, something in the 17-55 or 17-70, and a second to cover 70-200.

  • Questions title was changed by someone else... I want to get a lens which is very sharp for portraits... I am fully aware that different lenses are for different purposes but since I don;t have €50k in my back pocket I kind of have to be selective. The 24-105 f4L is meant to be excellent and wicked sharp (I don't have access to compare myself which is why I asked for opinions on the lenses). As above maybe the 17-50 Tamron will do and I could get a 85mm prime for portraits instead. I don't have to make money, it was an idea... – Anthony Mar 15 '12 at 10:23

If I were in your shoes, I would(subjective): Sell/get rid of the kit 18-55mm lens. Purchase a high quality general purpose zoom such as the 17-55mm f/2.8 mentioned or the 24-105mm f/4 L. Which one - depends if you would like to shoot indoors(at f/2.8) or at smaller apertures more often. If you shoot portraits indoors the most, the f/2.8 is a necessity. If you don't do that f/4 will be just fine for occasional portraits - but the added reach of the zoom will come in handy for more situations as a general purpose lens.

If you do a great deal of ultrawide shots or would like to, take a look at the 10-22mm lens and it's similar options(Sigma,etc).

I would down the road after you get a general purpose lens, sell the 70-300 that you have and get one of the 70-200mm lenses such as the f/4 L IS. The 70-300 isn't quite up to par for professional use.

Overall, it sounds like you are trying to focus more on indoor portraits. You need some lenses with wide apertures such as f/2.8 or larger. I would even entertain ideas for primes such as the 85mm f/1.8, 135 f/2.0, or the 50mm f/1.4 as a second lens after upgrading the general purpose.

  • I definitely agree about the primes, but as money is tight I have to be selective on what I get. My budget right now is roughly €1000, such is the 17-55 and 24-105. So i can really only afford to get one "excellent" lens. I don't do wide shots, i'm more of a people person. I get the need for f2.8 'indoors' but like I said 90% of the time I can use a flash. I think if I was to start doing pro portraits services, like those I mentioned, I could certainly make some good money from it... such is the need to get the best lens I can get for that while still being versatile (zoom capable). – Anthony Mar 13 '12 at 22:48
  • Sorry, but you aren't going to make "good money" from "pro portraits, like those in shopping centres"... They don't use or need the best equipment in those formats. They make money by doing volume and having cheap labor. If you are interested in getting into that pick up a part time job not a new lens. Sorry this is tough love and hard to swallow, but it is the truth. – dpollitt Mar 13 '12 at 22:55
  • I think the money aspect of this is going off topic. I don't expect to make €1000s out of this, maybe a couple of hundred per month - if that, it all helps. Like I said it's not a primary income. I get that they make core money from volume etc but this purchase is not primary to that purpose, more so complimentary. I crave image quality - really high quality of any source; I hate static in songs for instance. So this is more so for me, I want my photos great for the gear I have - I know the 1000d lets me down right now but thats why I want to get the 7d. If i could i'd get the 5d m2. – Anthony Mar 13 '12 at 23:03

If I were you, I would go for 17-55, because it's f2.8, unlike 24-105 which is f4. Also get more practice using your Nifty Fyfty, I have this lens and I totally love it. It's great for portraits and for low light.

  • I have to admit I do like the 50mm... but sometimes events happen and you can't pause and rewind... such is the need to have a zoom. I tend to use the 50mm for staged shots as I know how well it comes out. I even use my 70-300 for some portraits and I have to say I am very, very happy with results. I know the DOF is different but for most of the intended shots it worked wonders. I live in the subject world of photos more so than the background etc. – Anthony Mar 13 '12 at 23:19

You've got a competent set of lenses. 18-55mm "kit" lenses, when stopped down adequately, are quite good, and I think you'll be hard-pressed to find a review that says otherwise. When working in good light I'm sure it provides good results.

If you don't like shooting at f8 (or can't), the 50mm is a great choice because you'll get fantastic results at larger apertures. While I've not used either zoom you're considering, I'm betting you won't get significantly better results with the 17-55mm f2.8 (compared to the 50mm shot at f2.8) or the 24-105mm f4 (compared to the 50mm shot at f4). I point this out because your question doesn't make mention of the 50mm except to say you have it, which makes me think you don't use it or don't like the focal length.

Note that the 24-105 and 24-70 are not wide. They're effectively 38+mm at the wide end. For me, at least, that's not wide enough for general use and I'd constantly fight to back up to include more in the frame when indoors. Because of that alone, I'd say the 17-55mm is a better choice.

In regards to making some money on the side from the hobby -- yep, it can be done, and people do it. Frankly, however, I don't think you're ready. If you had a clearer understanding of why you are having problems now you would be able to more easily recognize what equipment will improve things, and I get the feeling that you believe new equipment will easily fix your current problems. (Not to say equipment doesn't fix problems, but you need a grasp of why a problem exists to know what you need to fix it.) A solid understanding of how to use flash, for example, would always improve your shots, regardless of the lens you have. I encourage you to keep learning and experimenting to be able to improve your photos and understanding of photography!


You seem to have a pretty wide variety of needs, but given your desire to do portraits and indoors / low-light shots, optical speed has got to be pretty high on your shopping list. Looking at the lenses you've got, the kit lens has a big bullseye on it, which is why you seen a bunch of recommendations to replace that with something like the 17-55 f/2.8.

While this is a great replacement for your kit lens, I'm not sure it's going to help you much with portraits or even stuff like christenings, where you're going to want a little more reach. If you're serious about that sort of shooting, I'd spend some time shooting with your 50mm f/1.8 and consider whether Canon's 85mm f/1.8 or perhaps another longer prime (100mm f/2?) wouldn't help you more.

For shooting in churches, I think you'd really love to wind up with something like the 70-200 f/2.8 IS, which is going to break your budget, so you've sort of got to figure out how you're going to compromise to get as much of that goodness as you can. The 85 can be had at a decent price, and it'll give you a little more reach than your 50 and a lot more optical speed than you've got in your 70-300 right now.

  • I appreciate you sticking to the point of my question, not concentrating on the profit aspect of things, and giving me actual recommendations based on my question. I agree the 17-55 "may" not have enough reach which is why I was considering the 24-105, I don't particularly need a wide-wide angle lens and I wouldn't regard 38mm a "wide" anyway but it may just do the trick for what I need. I wish I had enough to get the "best" but I have a budget and have to stick to it. The reason I ask here is I can't try them anywhere close to me. How do the non-L primes rate? – Anthony Mar 14 '12 at 18:06
  • I've also read many cases where professionals and semi alike have got rid of their 24-70 f2.8 L and got the 24-105 f4, attesting to the fact that while the f2.8 is better in reality, in their cases it was never often required and the IS of the f4 made up. I know that slow glass will not perform well for moving subjects but then unless it is night time/quite dark it won't matter anyway. "Stick a flash on it". It's the common theme. Many have said I don't grasp the system properly, I do... but I have a budget and a varied requirement. I would love nothing but primes I just can't afford it. – Anthony Mar 14 '12 at 18:20
  • I think the 24-105 would be a great general-purpose lens, but it's going to eat a lot of budget compared to an 85 or 100 prime, and it's only slightly faster (optically) compared to what you've got. If you're struggling in low-light situations, then I'd make sure you're addressing that need. If that's not really the problem, then let's see if we can zero in on what you really need a little better. – D. Lambert Mar 14 '12 at 18:44
  • How about the 17-50 f2.8 (non-VC) Tamron? I hadn't really considered other makes but seemingly this compares quite well, if not the same, to the 17-55 f2.8 IS. (Image quality and sharpness that is). I was concerned with the Tamron brand since they reverse engineer canon lens to make their own. It bit them with the 7D where a lot of their lenses, including this one (or the VC) didn't work properly. I wonder has this been resolved in newer builds? Also, I realize now why people are looking at the profit side, the questions title was changed by someone else! It doesn't reflect my question. – Anthony Mar 15 '12 at 10:15
  • In addition to my last comment I've been going through recent photos I took with the 50mm and 70-300mm - those lenses will do for now. Admittedly the 70-300, at the 70mm end, has me taking superb portraits. I will save for a f2.8, or less, prime but since my intended use will be with flash maybe the 24-105 f4L will be the expected purchase for the offered range. So wide is what I need now and I think it's between the Tamron and the Canon EF-S 17-55. Is it really worth the extra €600 euro? I could get other accessories I need otherwise. What about the C 17-40 f4L or Sigma 17-50 f2.8 OS? – Anthony Mar 15 '12 at 12:30

If you are already selling enough photography that you can afford this type of investment then you should purchase what you need. However, if you do not yet have a clientele then I pause and reconsider as this is something takes does not happen overnight.

Do you have a clear business plan? Will there be a return on the investment? Do you have a portfolio of your work?, etc. It also seems that you have not mastered all technical aspects of photography and post processing yet. Your current gear is good. Maybe you should just use that to get started. I have seen many fantastic photos on photo sites taken with this gear.

  • I love the quality coming from the 50mm (especially stepped down a little or as required) and the 70-300mm is fab and has become my favorite recently (I did want the 70-200 f4 L but couldn't get the extra €500 for it at the time). The kit, well, step it down enough and it becomes sharp but at what cost... the community knows it lacks (unlike the 18-135 kit which is regarded as very good). It's not a business, more like a bit on the side - much like favors you would do for family and friends etc. High Quality Glass is just that, bad quality won't out perform no matter what you do. – Anthony Mar 14 '12 at 18:14

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