I was thinking of buying a Canon EOS 70d and when I was shopping around found a bundle offer with many accessories and lenses for what appears to be a fairly cheap price. I don't know anything about lenses though and the lack of reviews makes me suspicious. This particular offer is:

Canon EOS 70D + 7 lenses http://www.amazon.com/75-300mm-55-250mm-Telephoto-Replacement-DavisMAX/dp/B00ESF6QPG/ref=pd_sim_sbs_p_7

I want to increase my options of themes and the way to present them, and probably any lens that offers a new perspective on the subject is good, but probably these are just bad choices compared to other similar lenses, which can offer better quality for a similar price even when bought separately. Are deals like this normally worth it or am I better off building up my own kit more selectively?

closed as off-topic by dpollitt, MikeW, Caleb, Paul Cezanne, Michael C Dec 6 '13 at 9:54

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    That is the longest title description of any product I have ever seen on Amazon. Also - this is a shopping question and thus off topic here. I'm voting this down and voting to close. Why not try the Chat room here instead? – dpollitt Dec 3 '13 at 19:46
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    Why would you want the 18-55 AND the 18-135? Similarly, why would you buy both the 75-300 and the 55-250? The close-up lenses etc. are junk. The batteries are probably not Canon or good third-party batteries and the SD card is also probably no-name. These kinds of deals are common on eBay, and you should stay far away from them. – Chinmay Kanchi Dec 3 '13 at 19:49
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    I have attempted to generalize the question to dealing with the topic of "discount bundles" in general since while any specific example may be off topic, I think that the general marketing approach stays consistent over the years and can be answered in a generally useful way that addresses the original question to satisfaction. – AJ Henderson Dec 3 '13 at 20:16
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    There's way too much overlap in the lenses for it to make much sense. Instead of two or three cheap, slow, and soft kit lenses why not buy one fast and sharp lens in the same range? The 75-300 is useless, The 55-250 is good for what it is (a $200 APS-C telephoto starter lens), etc. The screw on "close up" and "telephoto" filters are useless. The 18-135 is a lens for those who don't want to ever change lenses. For a 7D none of those lenses is really a good fit in my opinion. – Michael C Dec 3 '13 at 21:17
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    Related - photo.stackexchange.com/a/5927/1943 – mattdm Dec 3 '13 at 21:40

Bundles in general are a good deal only if you're not winding up with stuff you wouldn't have bought in the first place. It's rare to find bundles that aren't stuffed with very, very cheap accessories, but if you find one that's really got only items you want and is available at a discount vs. buying items individually, that's great.

In the specific case you referenced, then, I think we can shoot down this bundle pretty quickly just by looking at the included lenses. Given that you're starting with a Canon 70D body, which is a pretty nice place to start, there are a couple of lens-buying strategies that make sense: (1) start with a kit lens until you learn enough about photography to know what lenses you really want, or (2) start buying lenses that you're going to keep for a while. The lenses included in this kit fail both of these strategies:

  • The 18-55 kit lens is a fine kit lens if you're learning. It's well-matched for Canon's entry-level "Rebel" cameras, but it would be a great way for you to learn the ropes, and contrary to some schools of thought, if you're using it to learn, I think there's nothing wrong with a kit lens for that purpose.
  • The Canon 75-300 lens is a poor choice for the 70D -- the 55-250 is generally considered superior to this lens.
  • Hey, look -- they included the 55-250, too! This is a better choice for the 70D, but you're actually quite likely to wind up swapping this out for a higher-quality piece of glass pretty quickly, too. The really baffling question, though, is why they'd include both the 75-300 and the 55-25, since their focal length range significantly overlaps.
  • The 18-135 lens is a decent lens, but it's typically considered a kit lens alternative vs. the 18-55. In other words, when buying a kit, you'd normally expect to find one or the other of these, but probably not both (again, there's a large overlap in range). The 18-135, unlike the 18-55, sometimes finds a long-term home in photographer's kits as a "walkaround" lens since it's got a fairly versatile range.
  • Canon's 50mm f/1.8 is actually a pretty good kit inclusion, as it's inexpensive, fast (optically), sharp (especially stopped down a bit) and light. It's got entry-level build quality, but it's a great way to experience prime lenses.
  • They're counting the 58mm wide-angle and 2x telephoto bits as "lenses", but that's really a bit of a misnomer. Both of these are really bits of optics that work only with one of the other lenses in this kit, and they're not going to perform at the level that a dedicated lens can. It's pretty common to see these counted as "lenses" in kits, which is fairly unfortunate, in my opinion.

Some of the other parts of this particular kit are equally suspect, including the tripod, which looks like a particularly bad choice.

Bottom line: run -- don't walk -- to the next option.

  • someone trying a little warehouse cleaning by throwing unsalable items together in a box? – jwenting Dec 5 '13 at 6:53
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    Maybe. As evidenced by the question, it seems like it ought to be a great deal, based on the sheer volume of stuff. It seems like this sort of bundle is pretty common with Rebels and other entry-level cameras, though - usually, by the time someone knows enough about cameras to want to look at higher-end bodies, they're more likely to choose their lenses more deliberately. I have a feeling they're not moving too many of these bundles. – D. Lambert Dec 5 '13 at 14:26
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    yah, but then they don't have to. By replacing the brand batteries by generics alone they're turning a nifty profit (selling the brand batteries thrown in free by Canon in the box for the $50+ each that they do separate). Seen it before, take an official brand kit, strip the high margin items, throw in some no-brand replacements, add a lot of exclamation marks, and sell it for the same price (or higher) as the official kit, often even in the same box. – jwenting Dec 6 '13 at 6:10

Bundle deals such as this generally pair a camera (which may or may not have a US warranty, though in this case it does appear to be the US version) with a lot of third party accessories. They are generally not a good deal as they often contain very cheap components that are unlikely to be useful. It is slightly cheaper than if you bought the components of it, but many of the components are borderline useless and are just bundled together with it to increase the profit for the vendor per sale.

Other tricks sometimes consist of taking a bundle that includes the lens and camera and selling the camera and lens separately and instead bundling it with cheaper lenses. It is hard to tell from the description exactly what they include, but in general, unless you understand everything in such a bundle and exactly what it is, you should stay away or you are likely to overpay and get a lot of useless stuff.

It is also worth noting that while there are the occasional bundles like this from semi-reputable dealers, for the most part they are not terribly reputable and may or may not actually be authorized retailers which can have an impact on warranty status even if they claim US warranty. Sometimes US warranty is actually a non-manufacturer third party warranty that may be of inferior quality. In general, buyer beware.

  • This seems to be a kit put together by a 3rd party vendor consisting of genuine parts, not cheap knockoffs. And they at least claim to all be US components, so no grey market imports (though some unscrupulous vendors lie about that). In all, looks more like a bait and switch operation, trying to use Amazon's platform as a means to look legit. – jwenting Dec 5 '13 at 6:51
  • @jwenting - yes, in this case they appear to be using non-grey market, but multiple of the accessories do not appear to be Canon parts. The batteries for example are missing the Canon etching on them which is typical of most genuine Canon battery packs. This particular dealer appears to be fairly trust worthy, but the quality of many of the components and feature overlap means they are probably bundling all of their high profit items in to one deal to maximize profit. It wouldn't really be useful unless you needed the overlap for some reason and didn't mind low quality components. – AJ Henderson Dec 5 '13 at 13:53
  • yes, looks almost like they stripped some kits of their lenses and sold the bodies separate, then added those lenses to this kit to get rid of them (maybe also stripped the original body from this kit of its batteries, those things are the highest margin items in any kit). – jwenting Dec 6 '13 at 6:08

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