I wish to buy a second lens. which one should I buy?

I was thinking to buy a canon 50mm f1.8 as suggested by many youtube videos but then I thought why not take a zoom lens (a sigma 17-50mm f2.8?) by adding some more money.

what do you guys recommend?

I know its a prime vs zoom question but suggestions would be helpful in deciding.

More Info: I don't need a lens for a professional use at this stage. I like shooting landscapes, sometimes I shoot indoor parties for friends and family (as a volunteer). I travel sometimes so family pictures/landscapes/both

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    Why do you want to buy a lens? What current shortcoming do you see it fulfilling? What do you want to use the lens for? Without knowing these things we can't give a valid recommendation, since the more appropriate choice will depend on the situation. – Gene Jun 5 '18 at 22:07
  • @Gene I don't need a lens for a professional use at this stage. I like shooting landscapes, sometimes I shoot indoor parties for friends and family (as a volunteer). I travel sometimes so family pictures/landscapes/both – Sameer Jun 5 '18 at 22:25
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    Let me rephrase: what about your current lens do you feel limiting that you want to get a second lens to address? For that matter, what is your current lens? – Gene Jun 5 '18 at 22:30
  • well I have the standard kit lens canon 18-55mm. Its decent, but i would like to have more crisp images, sometimes better bookeh effects, etc – Sameer Jun 5 '18 at 22:32
  • Since you're talking about the SIgma 17-50/2.8 and the 18-55mm kit lens may we assume you are using an APS-C camera? – Michael C Jun 6 '18 at 2:30

Here's the thing about comparing two very different lenses like a 50mm f/1.8 prime and a 17-50mm f/2.8 zoom:

They're made for two different purposes.

Yes, there is a bit of overlap at 50mm and apertures f/2.8 and narrower (higher f-number). But the reason for buying a 50mm f/1.8 over a zoom that includes 50mm is to get the larger aperture and the better image quality that a prime usually gives over a zoom. (I'm sure there are examples somewhere of a very expensive, wide aperture zoom with a fairly limited zoom range that does better than a really cheap prime in the same focal length range, but that's a rare exception. Even $2,000+ zooms with 3X focal length ranges usually fall just a bit short of the same image quality or, in some cases, equal a prime priced at $300-500 for the same mount and sensor size.)

Looking at the broader picture, zooms are made to be more flexible at the expense of image quality. Primes are made to be better optically at the expense of flexibility.

What you need to ask yourself (instead of a bunch of strangers on the internet that have no idea what you want to do with another lens beyond what you already have) is, "Which do I need more, the focal length range of a 17-50mm zoom with an f/2.8 constant aperture and slightly better image quality than what my 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens is currently giving me OR the wider aperture and moderately better image quality of a 50mm f/1.8 prime?"

Keep in mind the following:

  • 50mm is pretty tight on an APS-C camera. To take photos of groups of people, you'll need to back up more than many indoor homes or apartments will allow. For an APS-C camera, a single prime like a 35mm f/2, or even a 28mm f/2.8 'pancake' may be a better choice for many photographers.
  • Getting a lens that gives better image quality does not guarantee you'll take better quality images. Image quality is about how well the hardware performs. Quality images are about how well the photographer sees and controls light, how well the photographer composes, and how well the photographer exposes and post processes images. A better lens won't instantly make you a better photographer.
  • The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 is in the same "class" as the Tamron SP 17-50mm f/2.8 and the Canon EF 17-55mm f/2.8. In my experience the Canon is clearly the better optical performer. The Tamron also seems to edge out the Sigma a little bit. (Full disclosure: I've owned the non-VR version of the Tamron SP 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II since late 2008. I still occasionally use it when I need a 'normal' zoom on an APS-C body, but I generally now use FF bodies for all but some telephoto work.)
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  • Thanks :) I will think about it. I am aware that a better lens would not automatically make the picture better, I would have to work with it to do that. May be spending on a 50mm initially and see if thats what I want be a good solution! another thing ! Yongnuo or Canon (for the 35mm or 50mm) -- I have a crop sensor – Sameer Jun 8 '18 at 2:00
  • I've not used Yongnuo lenses. Based on my experience with Yongnuo flashes, I'd say buy them only if you can consider them priced low enough to be disposable. – Michael C Jun 8 '18 at 2:07

Wide angle lenses are often favored for landscape and indoors, because it's typically difficult to "zoom out" with your feet in both cases. The f/1.8 would definitely have an advantage if your indoor parties are dimly lit and people are moving around, but besides that the OS on the Sigma can make up for the narrower aperture in many situations. In isolation, I would recommend the 17-50 2.8 over the 50 1.8 for your stated use cases.

One wrinkle is that you already have a lens that covers almost that exact focal range, albeit with a narrower aperture and no stabilization. Basically you will be replacing your current lens, rather than augmenting it. The primary advantage of the 50mm 1.8 over either your current lens or the Sigma is that you can get narrower DOF (and the attendant nicer bokeh) and a sharper image (the Sigma should improve on both counts over your kit lens too, just not as much as the 50.)

Then of course there's the cost difference. The relative value you place on all that - and therefore which lens is more suitable - I'll let you decide, but hopefully that gives you better view of the pros/cons.

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  • The various versions of the "standard" 18-55mm lens for Canon APS-C cameras has had IS for about a decade. – Michael C Jun 6 '18 at 2:29

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