Thursday, July 29, 2010

Buy Your First Canon Digital SLR Lens - Which Lens Is Right For You

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L
Once you have decided on the right Canon EOS camera, your decision making process is not over. Which Canon Digital SLR lens should you buy?

It was probably a research and decision process just to settle on the correct Canon EOS camera, right? Before you lies this huge range of lenses. Not only Canon lenses, but those from third party suppliers as well.

Now what, how do you select one?

Maybe you choose to avoid this whole situation and go with the package deal that includes the kit lens. Some online stores even have deals that involve two kit lenses to cover the basic spectrum of focal lengths. Then there would be no choice to make.

But, if you are anything like,similar to most new digital SLR buyers, you will want to get the best lens available. After all, that's where some of the excitement comes from, the assembly of the camera bag and its contents.

Some new digital SLR owners fret over this choice for days, weeks, and months. If you go online to some of the camera forums, you will see how totally involved some photographers are in lens selection. Some people take it too far for it to be fun.

At the end of the day, you want this decision to be the right one. The one that gets just the right lens onto your camera.

Before moving on, let's settle this question, "Why not merely go for the kit lens?" Buying the kit lens was mentioned above, and the answer is a simple one. You could purchase the kit lens and be quite happy with it. Lot's of do that. But it just is not most fantastic lens created for a Canon EOS digital SLR camera. Its aim is to get a lens on that camera so you can get started taking pictures right out of the box. Perhaps you are thinking about what lots of people do. Buy the camera body only, without the kit lens. Then you have the freedom to get a lens of your own choice separate from the kit lens.

As you go through the lens evaluation process, think about a number of questions that will assist you slim down the number of choices.

1. What is your budget?

This may just be the lone question you have to answer. If your money does not allow for any lens wiggle room, you just get the kit lens and start shooting. If that is not the case, and you are in a position to spend some of your budget on a lens or two, you are ready to move ahead with the questions. A limited budget of $500 or less will put you in one area, whereas $1000 will give you much more flexibility in your final decision.

2. What kind of photos will you be taking the majority of the time?

More than likely, you have developed a preference concerning the images that you really like and work well with. Most photographers acquire a favorite style even before they buys to their first digital SLR. For shooting photos of family and friends or vacation, the focal range of 18-70mm (or something within those parameters) will be perfect. But if nature, sports, or portraits are your favorite types of images, the ranges you regard are going to be much different.

3. Is your plan to begin with a number of lenses? Not just one?

Usually buyers of digital SLR cameras have plans for having a variety of lenses. It is the number one or two reason many folks go the DSLR route in the first place (the other reason is simply to get better images with a better camera). If you budget allows for another lens or two, then the first lens choice can focus more on getting the best image in the 17-75mm range. Your second lens should be one of the 70-200mm or 70-300mm lenses.

4. The final question is this: Which Canon EOS camera did you decide on?

Depending on your answer, you may not be able to get some of the Canon or third party lenses simply because they will not work on your camera. If you buy one of the entry to mid level digital SLRs, you can buy almost any Canon EF lens or third party lenses made for Canon. If, on the other hand, you buy a more professional "full frame" camera, you can not get any of the lenses that are designated at EF-S lenses, as they are for only the crop frame models such as the Rebel series.

The decision to move to a DSLR camera is an exciting one, but it is not without its research and challenges. You really need to do your homework before making this buying decision.

Making the wrong lens choice is especially painful if you only have a limited amount of funds for photography equipment.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help you decide which Canon digital SLR lens is right for you.

Go to to continue your quest for the best lens for your Canon EOS camera.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Which 70-200mm Canon Lens - You Can't Miss

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS HSM

With five (count 'em - 5) separate 70-200mm Canon Lenses, how do you choose a winner? Is there a single most fantastic lens in this category?

It's a valid question. As a matter of fact, this question has been bantered about among photographers and online photo forums since the second 70-200mm lens was produced .

Let's get one item out of the way . Every photographer that uses Canon photo equipment needs a 70-200 Canon lens . This should be the second lens you obtain, after you get your basic all purpose . The focal range it covers is in the medium telephoto range, a very important area that you unquestionably want to cover with your lenses .

It has so many uses. You can use it for portraits, street photography, nature shots, some close up work (even though it is not technically a macro lens), and whatever your creative eye can come up with. It is just a great general purpose shooter.

Gattlinburg Church - Canon EOS 30D and
70-200mm f/4.0
Actually portraits is one of the most popular uses. The optimum focal length for portraits is 100mm, which is right in the "sweet spot" for this zoom lens.

Now, back to the question, which one is best...

Still, before getting to that, professionals agree on two benefits that apply to all the lenses mentioned here. The first benefit is superior image quality - they are all virtually the same on that point. And the second is the HSM(hypersonic motor) feature that provides really fast focus speeds.

The 70-200mm lenses from Canon are their "flagship" lenses. They are proud of them, and they should be. They are each fantastic, whether it is the cheapest or the most costly of the category.

See the "L" in the title of each one? L is attached to only the best build quality lenses made by Canon. Every photographer wants at least one L lens.

One more thing, and this should have been mentioned with the benefits of all lenses in this category. The aperture, whether it is 2.8 or 4.0, is constant throughout the entire focal range. With zoom lenses, this is not always the case . This characteristic adds value because you do not sacrifice quality or shutter speed by using the zoom.

There are five lenses to choose from made by Canon. There are also third party manufacturers which are really well made, too. However, for this article, we will focus only on the "home-grown" choices.

Now for the benefits of each offering.

Starting with the least complex, which is also the cheapest:

  1. Canon 70-200mm f/4.0 L HSM - a highly regarded lens, even though it is a fraction of the price of the more advanced choices. It is the lightest but it still turns heads because of the tell-tale light grey color which is typical of all the lenses in this category. Lacking in IS(image stabilization) it is recommended for use with a tripod if the light is not really bright.
  2. Canon 70-200 f/4.0 IS L HSM - add IS (image stabilization) to the mix and you can shoot hand-held images at lower shutter speeds, negating the need for a tripod. The IS feature does add a couple of ounces in weight, but the size is identical to the other f/4.0 lens. Price almost doubles though.
  3. Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L HSM - the larger aperture of 2.8 is a huge plus to some photographers. This alone adds value in terms of being able to shoot at lower light levels with confidence that shutter speeds are fast enough to prevent image blur. The larger aperture adds length and weight to the lens, but it turns out to be about the same price as the previous model.
  4. Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS L HSM - this is the big brother of the group. The most complex lens has the most desired capabilities. Shooting at 2.8 apertures with IS gets you into very low light shooting without the aid of a tripod. This may include night scenes and concerts. It is a heavy lens, and it is the most expensive of the group. However, many photographers are totally convinced it is the only one to have.
  5. There has been an upgrade to the top of the line - Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L HSM II - same fantastic lens with better technology and a slightly higher price tag.

ONE of these lenses in your camera bag is a given. Given the fine quality of each one of these lenses, it boils down to either your desire for the most advanced gear or your pocketbook. The ultimate choice has to be your own.

As you continue your quest for great Canon lenses, make sure to check lots of photography forums, blogs, and information websites. provides a run down of the most sought after lenses for your Canon EOS digital camera.

Sigma Macro Lens - Great Choice For Canon EOS Cameras

Have you given macro photography a shot? It is really rewarding, and it gets your photography juices flowing. To get a great macro image, you need a great macro lens. Sigma Macro lenses are well worth your consideration when going for a new close-up lens.

Something happens when you use a macro lens on your digital SLR camera. Things appear seemingly out of nowhere. Things that you never imagined were in the shot when you were setting it up.

You have to experience this to know the feeling, but when it happens, it's very cool.
This bee was shot with a Sigma 150mm macro lens and Canon EOS digital SLR.

If you are a major camera brand user, such as Nikon or Pentax, you can use a Sigma Macro lens, however, this article is based on using a Canon EOS digital camera system.

Why? Why not just get the Canon macro lens? What's so special about a macro lens anyway? Can't you just use a regular lens?

These questions deserve answers.

First, about macro lenses. These are special lenses dedicated to close up photography. They are created carefully for this purpose. However the pieces of glass are placed inside the lens barrel is just right for getting that macro photo.

This allows the macro lens to take much sharper and clearer photos when placed close to a subject. Even the lenses that are multi-focal lengths and have the word "macro" in the name are not as good as a prime focal length macro lens.

What about a Sigma macro lens vs a Canon macro lens? Many Canon users would not think to go outside the Canon fold to buy any equipment. If you are one of these, you may as well move on. However, there may be a valid reason to think about it... money.

Almost always you will pay less for Sigma Macro lenses for Canon digital SLRs than you would pay for a Canon macro lens. Photo quality is really good with either choice. You may not be able to tell the difference between photos taken with one or the other, in fact, you probably CAN'T tell the difference. You would have to call in the investigation team from NCIS to figure out which is which.

Sigma, being a third party manufacturer of lenses for Canon EOS cameras, has made a commitment to excellence. They recognize that if they don't get the quality right in their macro lenses, they will not get any of the market share. So they did their homework and got it right. Their lenses are well designed and produce great images.
 A Sigma 105mm macro lens is a great Portrait Lens too.

If you decide on Sigma, you will find that there are four dedicated macro lenses to choose from. The focal lengths are 50mm, 70mm, 105mm, and 150mm. The 105mm macro lens is the lens of choice to start with.

There are two great reasons for this, and it is not because the others are not good. First, you get a true macro image at 1:1 (life size). This is why you buy macro. And the second reason is not one you might think of. The 105mm lens is an excellent portrait lens. Yes, facial portraits. Many portrait shooters use a 100mm lens for much of their work, and this one will fill the bill.

Sigma macro ratings are very high. You actually should check ratings before buying any piece of camera equipment. In this case, you will observe that many consider Sigma an equal to Canon in the macro category.

Close up photography is really rewarding. The beauty and intricacies of nature make you realize that there is a Creator, and He did not hold back, even in the most minute details.

Discover the thrill of macro photography with a Sigma Macro lens - you NEED one of these!
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