When you are looking to buy a new lens...

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When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:24 pm

So I've been thinking about getting a new lens to go with my camera for a while, and I'm looking for some suggestions on what I should get. I've never done anything off the stock lens so I'm not sure what exactly would be a good stepping stone. I'd like to improve my skills and get some zoom shots, but I'm not sure if each lens comes with its own difficulty.

I shoot with a Canon T5i.

Any suggestions for the novice photographer from the seasoned vets?
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby SD80MAC » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:32 pm

Try to find a gently used or refurbished 24-105 L lens. Best all around lens you can get.
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:50 pm

SD80MAC wrote:Try to find a gently used or refurbished 24-105 L lens. Best all around lens you can get.


My girlfriend has more experience in this category then me and she was curious about 75-300 L Lens. What would be your opinion on that? It is also a little more budget friendly which is better for me. I’m not disagreeing with you since I’m not experienced in this, but she is curious on your stance.
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby SD80MAC » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:22 pm

I had the 75-300L and was not satisfied with it. It was not very sharp and it would often ghost the headlights of trains or any other lights in lower light conditions. Traded it in and bought a Sigma 70-200 instead, way better lens!
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby CAT345C » Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:43 pm

The 75-300 wont make you happy. I just bought a new 24-105 and it is awesome. You can find them used on B&H.
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:23 pm

CAT345C wrote:The 75-300 wont make you happy. I just bought a new 24-105 and it is awesome. You can find them used on B&H.


Are they all $400-$500 used? That sure seems pricey for a lens.
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby SD80MAC » Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:22 am

L glass is not cheap. Considering a new one is $1,000, $400-$500 is a good deal on a used one. I believe I paid $450 for my refurbished one, best money I’ve ever spent camera-wise.
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby J T » Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:22 pm

SD80MAC wrote:Try to find a gently used or refurbished 24-105 L lens. Best all around lens you can get.

This is the correct answer. Great zoom range for railroad photography (and for a lot of other photography as well). However, it is also out of the budget for most people who aren't too serious about photography.

However, I usally find myself shooting trains more with my Canon 17-40L. Great lens and definitely worth the price brand new (around $800). It's also super sharp at f8.
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby J T » Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:27 pm

MQT1223 wrote:
Are they all $400-$500 used? That sure seems pricey for a lens.


Most quality Canon lenses brand new are between $800-2000. You get what you pay for. Also, L lenses have a higher used value than a non-L lens (the 75-300 you inquired about).
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby CAT345C » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:02 pm

I was hesitant to spend the money on a good L lens but I am happy that I did. This is the first train I shot with my 24-105L on my first gen 7D in JPEG format. Open the photo in full screen and you will see how crisp and clear the photo is. I did not sharpen it.
ImageWest at Three Lakes by Mike Tabone, on Flickr

This one was taken with my old kit glass 18-55. I neglected and beat the hell out of the 18-55 and 75-300 I got in 2008.
ImageL549 at Sands by Mike Tabone, on Flickr

Try renting a lens from one of the lens places and see what you like.

My next lenses after a computer upgrade will be the Canon 70-200L an the 17-40L JT mentioned. Its made railfanning enjoyable again having nice crisp photos.
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby PatAzo » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:55 pm

I'm going to guess you have something like an 18-55mm that came with your T5i. It's a great range for shooting family events where everyone is close by particularly with the crop factor of an APS-C sensor. I'm going to guess too that for railroad photography you find 55mm a bit short.

Jumping to digital in 2004 I started with an 18-70mm f3.5-4.5 (Nikon F mount) and moved to a 28-70mm f2.8 on APS-C sensors. Both were nice ranges covering 90% of what I wanted to do. At times I wanted something longer and added an 80-200mm f2.8. It's rare I wanted something longer than 200mm. This past winter the good folk at Norman Camera convinced me to buy a Sigma 24-105 f4.0 Art. While I'm not convinced the 24-105 matches the old 28-70 optically, it does good work and I like the 24-105mm range.

Kit lenses are often maligned and while there are better lenses on the market, with good technique the kit lens is generally capable of good work. I've never shot the Canon 75-300mm but did some looking out of curiosity and noticed two things. While 75-300mm doesn't review well, CAT345C has one and has posted some nice stuff to his Flicker page.

I've bought used from MPB http://www.mpb.com Their condition ratings are more straight forward than say KEH. You see photos of the actual items. They have a warranty.

Finding something to get some zoom shots with is a matter of finding the intersection of what you want and what you are willing to spend. Improving your skill though can be done with what you already have.
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Re: When you are looking to buy a new lens...

Unread postby J T » Sun Apr 05, 2020 8:50 pm

CAT345C wrote:I was hesitant to spend the money on a good L lens but I am happy that I did. This is the first train I shot with my 24-105L on my first gen 7D in JPEG format. Open the photo in full screen and you will see how crisp and clear the photo is. I did not sharpen it.

Just curious, why didn't you sharpen it? It definitely needs just a touch of sharpening. :wink:

I have a 24-105 that I used quite a bit for train photos the first few years I had it. Then I dropped it one day, sent it into CPS for repair, and it's never been the same. 90% of the time the darn thing can't capture a sharp image to save its life. Unfortunately I didn't notice this until months after getting it back, and then I never followed up on it. It's been too long now and I'd likely get charged a full repair price if I sent it back in. At this point, I'd just buy another one. I did that with the 17-40. That was my first L lens I bought back in '06. It served me well for a long time, but then started having exposure issues. I could machine gun a shot, and one or two of the frames out of 6 or so would be a different exposure. I think it had something to do with the mount, as I could could replicate the issue if I twisted the lens in one direction or the other. Anyway, instead of sending it to get it fixed, I just bought a new one. And now I'm back to beautifully sharp and well-exposed images with my new (well, it's been two years) 17-40L. :) Now I capture about 95% of my train photos with that lens. Rock solid and very affordable for an L.
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