I am going to buy the Canon EOS 650D camera.

At the moment I can afford one of the following lenses:

  1. Canon Lens EF 50mm 1:1.8 II + 18-135mm lens in future
  2. (Kit) Canon EFS 18-55mm IS II + 55-250 lens in future

My question is what is better for general purpose photos?

Also, is the focal length for the mentioned above lenses the effective (50mm/18-55mm for works the same way as 50mm/18-55mm for full-frame sensor), or factional (50mm/18-55mm works as ~75mm/~30-80mm for full-frame sensor)?


4 Answers 4


The focal length is the actual focal length. So 18mm on that body will be sort of like 27mm on a full frame.

The answer is very personal, and without knowing you, or what types of photography you'll do, very hard to answer.

Personally I don't like the 18-55 + 55-250 combination

  • 18-55 is pretty handy, but having to swap lenses to go beyond 55 is a pain
  • both those lenses are slow, so not great in low light

I like the 50mm f/1.8 and 18-135 better

  • 50 1.8 for low light, or better DOF control and bokeh for portraits
  • 18-135 good travel or walk about lens, don't need to change lenses
  • you'll be missing out on the 135-250 range that the other combination would give you. For me that's only 10% of the shots I take. So depends on how badly you need the 200mm range.

The above is based on focal length and max aperture - I don't know the quality of these lenses - I'll let other speak to that aspect.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So, if I do understand you correctly, 50mm will work as 75mm. It be 1.5x from the "natural" view, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex
    Apr 9, 2013 at 6:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would like to have a bit of freedom on the start. Possibly I am too critical for a zooming range after Nikon P500 \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex
    Apr 9, 2013 at 7:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes it will something like having a 75mm. As Nir points out, indoors it may be a bit long, and the 18-55 and 18-135 may be better choices (or that 40mm). \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Apr 9, 2013 at 10:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, 18mm on that camera will be equivalent to 18mm focal length any other camera. It's the field of view which is different. \$\endgroup\$
    – user3739
    Apr 10, 2013 at 2:53

I have the 50mm f/1.8 and the 18-135

The 50mm f/1.8 has extremely good image quality but it has 2 very serious disadvantages:

  1. The auto-focus is painfully slow, it's so slow you'll have an hard time focusing on running children (at least in indoor lighting).

  2. The 50mm will have the field of view of 80mm on a full frame (1.6 crop factor) that's too long for a general purpose indoor lens.

On the other hand the 18-135 is an excellent family and walk about lens, it doesn't have the optical quality or DOF of the 50mm but it's extremely convenient and good enough optically.

If your primary interest is portraits the 50mm will work great for you.

If your interested in family photos and general purpose photography the 18-55 will be better - but the 18-135 will be even better.

If you want to start with a cheap prime lens maybe you should look at the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake, it's only slightly more expensive than the 50mm, get's great reviews, is closer to "normal" focal length and has the new STM focusing system - I've never used one myself but it seems to address the problems I have with the 50mm.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well it seems to be better, but 40mm Canon lens has 2x cost relating to 50mm \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex
    Apr 9, 2013 at 7:41
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Alex - yes, the list price is 125 vs. 200 USD but $75 is pretty low for a better lens - and, depending on what you are photographing, the difference in usability of the lens can be huge \$\endgroup\$
    – Nir
    Apr 9, 2013 at 8:28

To make the jawdropping pictures with smooth bokeh, and sharp subjects you know a DSLR for, you need the faster aperture lenses, especially on crop camera. So the 50mm 1.8 and 18-135mm set would last you longer. Because the kit lens will feel limiting really fast, and in that focal length range, you'd want an F2.8 lens. You could also look for a used one of those to start with. Tamron's version is known to be really good and not so pricy. Sigma EX is a good candidate, too. I was sillyto spare 150$ to get a 18-50mm F2.8-4, and I wish I waited a month and got the F2.8 fixed instead. IF you go through F3.5-5.6 and then 2.8-4 and finally F2.8 you end up spending too much.

Those focal lengths are factual, so a 50mm lens is 50mm on a medium frame, fullframe, crop and 1/3 inch camera. The FOV changes with sensor size, and for people who are used to 35mm film cameras it is useful to calculate a 35mm eq. so they can use their rules of thumb.


You asked a question which probably lots of people ask themselves when buying their first DSLR.

Kit lens looks like a huge improvement when you switch from a point & shoot camera to an DSLR at least it looked so to me :) This lens has some advantages as well as disadvantages, however every lens has them both. Canon 18-55mm lens is useful in the way that it has different focal lengths, so you can take it with yourself for trips, use it for urban photography and even portraits. But one of the minuses is in the f-stop which changes when you zoom in or out.

Canon 50mm 1.8 II is a great little lens, I have this lens too and I love it, but it also has its limits. If you have limited space, it might not allow you to take a photo you want, because on cropped sensor cameras this lens is around 80mm. However it's a very sharp lens and and lovely bokeh can be created with it.

If you are interested in more detailed information on these two lenses and see photo examples, please check my user reviews for these lenses:

Canon kit lens: http://dinablaszczak.hubpages.com/_stxprf1/hub/CanonEFS1855mmf3556ISuserreviewwithimagegallery

Canon 50mm 1.8 II: http://dinablaszczak.hubpages.com/_stxprf1/hub/Canon50mm18RevieworFactsaboutNiftyFifty

I'm also familiar with Canon 18-135mm lens and I can say that in my opinion this lens is of a sufficient quality if you plan to take photos for your own pleasure, rather than for business, like stock images etc.

Can't say much about Canon 55-250mm as I never owned this lens, only tried it out once in a shop. It has a nice zoom and I guess it would be useful if you wanted to take photos of birds or further away objects.

So my conclusion is that if I had to choose, I would choose option of Canon 50mm 1.8 II + 18-135mm lens :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ A nice answer. The best is that you have an experience with it. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex
    Apr 9, 2013 at 12:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ My daughter has the 50mm F1.4 and the 40mm F2.8 on her T4i. She much prefers the 40mm for indoor shots. As others have said, the 50mm on a APS-C is too long for many indoor shots. While its two stops slower than the 50mm F1.4, that is not as big an issue as we expected (we because I bought both lenses). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 9, 2013 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I get a lot of mileage out of my 55-250mm for birds & other things outside; it all depends on what you're most interested in! For taking pictures of family members & social gatherings, I'd go with the 50 + 18-135 as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael H.
    Apr 9, 2013 at 21:02

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