I am new to fashion photography. I have Canon 700d (cropped body) with 50mm 1.8 lens. I have few soft boxes and other studio equipment. I want to buy a new lens. From a canon training workshop guy recommended 85mm prime lens or 70 x 200mm lens (considering full frame body). I don’t have a large studio so larger than 65mm can’t work in the studio. Can I buy 18-200mm lens instead of 70-200mm?

Normally i shoot in the studio but i can also shoot outside the studio (open location).

Can you also suggest me focal length range which is suitable for me?

  • It's your call... – Janardan S May 30 '17 at 5:04
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    Do you want cheap or do you want good quality? Particularly with zoom lenses, you can't have both. Make a decision. – Philip Kendall May 30 '17 at 6:22
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    Why does it need to go up to the long end if you can't shoot more than 65mm? Whats wrong with the 50mm? If you want a zoom lens do you have to be able to use it in your studio? – Crazy Dino May 30 '17 at 9:55
  • You are right, @PhilipKendall I should go for the quality. So which lens you recommend other than 50mm? – muhammad usman May 30 '17 at 13:39
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    You seem to be trying to make this into a shopping question, which is off-topic here. Michael has already given you about the only sensible answer we can give: "You have to weigh all of these factors and decide which is more important to you." – Philip Kendall May 30 '17 at 15:33

Any zoom lens with a 7.5X or 10X or greater ratio between the minimum and maximum focal length is going to compromise optical quality in several areas to get to that focal length flexibility. These include overall sharpness, geometric distortion, vignetting, sharpness at certain focal lengths, narrower maximum apertures, etc. While it is true that many of these can be "corrected" in post, doing so comes at a price. This is especially impactful when such correction is applied to an image taken with a lens that has less than stellar overall sharpness to begin with and fairly narrow maximum apertures.

There are affordable prime lenses or zoom lenses with a much smaller ratio between the widest and longest focal lengths that will give much better optical image quality than an "all-in-one" zoom lens. Even a set of 18-55mm and 55-200mm or 55-250mm kit lenses will give better quality at most focal lengths than an 18-200mm or 18-300mm all-in-one.

Lenses for APS-C only cameras such as the Canon EF 17-55mm f/2.8 IS or The Tamron SP 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II are very affordable for the image quality they give. So are prime lenses such as the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX (if you're a Nikon shooter), the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM. The EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is also a significant improvement over the EF 50mm f/1.8 II and shouldn't be overlooked. The EF 85mm f/1.8 is indeed a very good lens for its price as well, but you do need room to use it properly.

In general, lenses within the normal focal length range are the most affordable while also having the potential to produce very good image quality. For the 35mm sized full frame cameras this is around 45mm. The diagonal of a 36x24mm film frame or sensor is roughly 43mm. The registration distance (the distance from the image plane to the lens flange) of the Canon EOS system is 44mm. In the EOS system anything from about 24-28mm up to about 65-70mm is considered normal. Below that is considered wide-angle while past that is considered telephoto territory. Although the sensor diagonal of Canon EOS APS-C cameras is only about 27mm, the registration distance is still 44mm and many of the lower priced lenses designed for FF cameras are also very good on the APS-C cameras.

You have to weigh all of these factors and decide which is more important to you. It basically comes down to the flexibility and convenience of an all-in-one zoom lens versus the better image quality that can be had fairly affordably with a prime lens or limited ratio zoom lens. If you want near-prime optical quality in a zoom lens you need to look at zoom lenses that only have about a 3:1 ratio between the longest and widest focal lengths (e.g. 24-70mm or 70-200mm). You also need to be willing to pay a lot more for them.

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  • Thank you so much for your brief answer @Michael Clark. Considering "limited ratio zoom lens" What are the top 3 options i should consider? – muhammad usman May 30 '17 at 15:19
  • @muhammadusman You can start with the two listed in the answer. Just be aware that at 50mm you won't gain anything over your existing EF 50mm f/1.8 II in terms of optical image quality. The same is true if you spend a lot more for the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II. What you'll gain is flexibility with regard to focal length. With the 24-70 you'll get near consumer grade prime quality all the way from 24-70mm. If you want the absolute best in image quality you need to consider prime lenses such as the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L II or the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art. – Michael C May 30 '17 at 18:33
  • @MichaelClark The 24-70 at 50mm f/2.8 is significantly better in the corners than the nifty fifty at f/2.8, even on crop. – Philip Kendall May 31 '17 at 7:41
  • @PhilipKendall If you are shooting flat test charts it would be. But in fashion photography the edges are rarely in the plane of focus. So for a typical fashion photography environment, one wouldn't gain much of anything moving from the 50mm f/1.8 to the 24-70mm F2.8 II. Also, please don't mistake field curvature for softness. – Michael C May 31 '17 at 7:59

18-200 is good for candid or travel since it's called all-round lenses but when you have to shoot inside studio I prefer wider lenses such as Tamron 17-50 or sigma 17-50 and they have wider and larger aperture , f/2.8. and price is not to bit expensive. And I'm using tamron 17-50 f/2.8 over 3 years

or canon 17-40 L series but more pricey.

18-200 has issue about focal length (FL) between minumum FL and maximum FL cause image blurry even though it has VR or IR.

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    Thank you so much for the answer. Please consider that I can also go out of studio sometimes. – muhammad usman May 30 '17 at 3:23
  • why not 18-135 mm canon? it has wide and zoom FL too. – SilumanSupra May 30 '17 at 6:41
  • How can you say that the 18-200 produces blurry images? Have you used it? How can a mass produced lens have such a major problem? – Janardan S May 30 '17 at 8:23
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    @JanardanS The 18-200 doesn't have awful image quality, but a cheap superzoom lens is never going to have great image quality either - and certainly not if you compare it to a 70-200 L lens. – Philip Kendall May 30 '17 at 9:46
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    Every diffraction limited lens is blurry to one degree or another. Every single one. The question is how blurry does a lens have to be before we call it a blurry lens? Most "superzooms" are blurry by most people's definition, especially at the longer end of the focal length range. – Michael C May 31 '17 at 7:10

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