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Update from kit lenses on crop sensor

edited December 2014 Posted in » Canon T2i Forum
What is a good first "L" lens to buy when moving up from the 2 normal kit lenses and a 50mm f/1.8 II?

I would like to get an "L" lens, but as they are quite expensive. I only will be able to purchase 1, so I want to make the right choice. I shoot landscapes, sports, portraits and motor sports (zoom is key to most of my shots). I really like the feel of the f/2.8 lenses, but I know the costs rises quickly at that point.

Would the 70-200mm f/4L do the trick, or do I save up for the 70-200mm f/2.8L?
Is there an affordable 300mm option out there that I might have missed?
Maybe I could go with a Sigma or Tamron zoom?

I would prefer not to wait because I feel without "L" glass I am holding myself from some work that I would like lined up this coming year. Thoughts?


  • edited January 2015
    You’ve listed the following things you like to shoot: landscapes, sports, portraits and motor sports.

    As you’re likely aware, there’s no one lens that does it all. If you want an L lens that is potentially suitable for all those situations, then that’s probably the 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, but it is still a slow variable aperture lens. So you won’t be much better off than using your kit lenses.

    Based on what you already have and the things you want to shoot, I would assume that you want to prioritize sports and motor sports in your lens purchase consideration.

    You’ve got landscapes covered by your 18-55mm kit lens since a wide aperture isn’t necessary. You’ve got portraits mostly covered by your 50mm prime.

    So you probably want a fast tele for sports. The 70-200mm is a staple of most enthusiasts and pros. If you can afford it, the f/2.8 is obviously preferred over the f/4. Keep in mind that you’re not paying more for optical quality, you’re paying more for that 1 extra stop of max aperture. The f/4 lens is great. It’s less expensive and lighter, but 1 stop is 1 stop. You have to decide whether that’s ok.

    You can look at it like this:
    “That’s 1 extra stop of aperture! That’s the difference between shooting a murky ISO-3200 and much cleaner ISO-1600!”
    “It’s just a 1-stop difference. I could always just shoot 1/500 rather than 1/1000.”

    Certainly consider getting 3rd party versions from Tamron and Sigma. There are plenty of reviews online that pits them together. From what I’ve seen, the difference isn’t significant. There’s no question that if you want maximum image quality, then the Canon version is the best, but the others aren’t duds at all. In fact, on a crop sensor body like the 550D, you don’t get to enjoy the one aspect of the Canon lens has over the 3rd party ones which is corner and edge sharpness.
  • Well, thank you very much for the reply. I am sorry I did not come back sooner to let you know that all of this information is VERY helpful!
  • Hey @skwty - I second everything @ohyeahar advised. For your interests, the 70-200mm f/2.8 sounds like it would fit the bill.

    One additional thought would be to rent the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 and compare it to the Tamron/Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. As @ohyeahar mentioned, the Tamron/Sigma versions are much cheaper and when compared in similar situations, the image quality isn't much different.

    In my experience, the only area where Tamron/Sigma are at a disadvantage is with focus speed and accuracy. Canon branded lenses tend to focus a bit faster and more accurately, but again, this is a generalized statement and it really depends on the lenses you're comparing.

    Please do let us know what you end up with. Sharing your experiences with the new lens and your T2i would be welcomed by many I'm sure. All the best!
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