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  1. #1
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    Question Fixed or Zoom lens?

    i'm really thinking about getting a seperate lens when i purchase my camera, but i'm unsure about whether fixed or zoom would be best.
    i figured that zoom would be great for versatility. a flower one minute, a volleyball game the next.
    but i researched a few and the aperture's not great for things like sports.
    while the fixed lenses are better in that aspect, i wouldn't want to have 7 different lengths for 7 different occasions.

    any suggestions?
    i'm very very new to this and eager to learn, so please feel free to correct anything i've said.
    help is greatly appreciated, thank you so much in advance
    DSLR Newbie

    Looking into buying a Canon EOS Rebel XSi 12.2 megapixel DSLR with kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6)

    But still doing my homework

  2. #2
    member Kag12's Avatar
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    i am fairly new to this as well, so take this for what its worth.

    fixed focal length lenses are generally better pieces of glass, however, like you mentioned, they are not very versatile.
    my recommendation would be to get a couple of zooms to start off so you can learn (about the camera and what fixed lenses you might need) and then save for a fixed max aperture zoom, something like the 70-200 f/2.8L.
    and then get a few fixed focal aswel, i have heard good things about both of these, the 50mm f/1.4 and the 100mm f/2.8 macro.

    thats my two cents anyway, good luck.
    kyle:thumbsup:

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  3. #3
    Powder River Imaging EOSThree's Avatar
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    You're right, zoom lenses offer more versatility. You get a lot of different focal lengths in one package. A zoom like you describe with a big range usually doesn't have the best image quality in some portion of it's range. In order to make a zoom lens a decent size and weight, the aperture usually isn't that large either. When you do get a large aperture and big range in one package it's usually VERY expensive. The best zooms usually have smaller ranges such as 70-200, or 28-70, or 17-40, etc. trying to pack it all into one lens usually always results in a compromise.

    Primes (fixed) are usually a great value with high image quality, large apertures, and lower costs. A prime will usually have superior image quality to a zoom lens: they only have to do one thing, so it does that one thing easier and better. Primes aren't nearly as versatile and require you to "zoom with your feet" to frame the shot. Plus, you are right, you need to carry a bagful to cover the range of one zoom lens.

    For someone new, I would recommend a couple of zoom lenses to cover a decent range. If you are on a budget then for a Canon the 18-55 IS and 55-250 IS combination is a good low priced set for a new photographer. These two lenses will cover a good range, and allow you to see what different focal lengths look like. They aren't the best lenses, but will get the job done.

    If you budget allows I would look at the 17-40 and 70-400 f/4L combination. Very high quality, excellent image quality, a truly professional kit. These two lenses won't disappoint, but they also will cost about $700-$800 a piece.

    There are many other solutions, too many to list here, third party lenses sometimes offer a better price, but sometimes at another price. Once you get an idea of what focal lengths fit your style you can start honing in on what lens lengths will work for you and start building a collection.
    Rule books are paper they will not cushion a sudden meeting of stone and metal. --Ernie Gann--
    What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. --Oscar Wilde--

  4. #4
    Active Amateur havana_joe's Avatar
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    My two cents here. I have settled into a level of comfort with two lenses- an 18-200 zoom, and a 35 fixed. The 18-200 zoom is great because I increase my odds of getting the shot if I have no control over it, such as if I am "walking around" and stumble upon something I'd like to photograph. I have the versatility of taking both closeup and long distance shots. That being said, the overall quality is good, not great. On the other hand, the 35mm lens takes superb pictures, but I'm limited to the one focal length so if I can't get closer/farther away from the subject, I have no control. It's like one lens is a hammer and the other is a screwdriver- both tools work well, but have different uses. If you are committed to only one lens, get a zoom, as you up the odds of getting a good shot, but if you can afford two, then one zoom and one prime is the way to go. Of course, you can simply get multiple prime lenses, but since you said you don't want to have to manage with many lenses, that may not work for you.
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  5. #5
    Liz
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylormatic
    i'm really thinking about getting a seperate lens when i purchase my camera, but i'm unsure about whether fixed or zoom would be best.
    i figured that zoom would be great for versatility. a flower one minute, a volleyball game the next.
    but i researched a few and the aperture's not great for things like sports.
    while the fixed lenses are better in that aspect, i wouldn't want to have 7 different lengths for 7 different occasions.

    any suggestions?
    i'm very very new to this and eager to learn, so please feel free to correct anything i've said.
    help is greatly appreciated, thank you so much in advance
    Yes, I think one of the best less expensive lenses is the Canon 50mm/f1.8. This lens is $99 just about anywhere. It is good in low light, portraits, street photography - and a good lens to keep along with your other lenses. It is not a perfect lens, not as well built as the more expensive 50mm/f1.4 and other lenses, and it clips highlights at times, but it's a lens you can learn to work with and overcome.

    Here is a link to a 50mm/f1.8 thread here so you can see some samples of what it is capable of.

    In the meantime, because of the cost, maybe you can afford to get another lens, now or save for one - a better zoom for instance.

    50mm/f1.8 thread
    Another 50mm f1.8 Thread

    Specifications, features of the lens - B&H
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...0mm_f_1_8.html

    Liz

  6. #6
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    fwiw, I have just bought the Canon XSi kit with the 18-55mm lens and I also got the 50mm/f1.8 lens, because it was highly recommended by ton of people (for the price/quality aspect).
    I know next to nothing about lenses etc, but even i can tell that pictures I have taken with the prime lens look better (at least to the untrained eye). The zoom with your feet is not a dealbreaker for me, because i have plenty of reason and chance to take pictures of inanimate object as well

    With that said, I will also get the 50-250mm lens because i would like to be able to "reach out' a bit further, since my 3 year-old has the conditioning of a marathon runner and i dont intent to chase her too much

  7. #7
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    wow thanks to everyone for their two cents
    i really appreciate the link as well Liz!
    i was unaware that there was a 50mm for that cheap! i will really look into that, you have my eternal gratitude. lol

    as for all of the other comments, i believe it would be wise to to use a zoom first.
    i suppose i'll learn on the kit lens, find my favorite length, and then purchase a NICE lens
    i might find room in my budget for that 50 though;)
    DSLR Newbie

    Looking into buying a Canon EOS Rebel XSi 12.2 megapixel DSLR with kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6)

    But still doing my homework

  8. #8
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    i may also have to get that 55-250mm as well though to cover more range.
    how much would you say i'd have to cough up for one of those, EOSThree?
    DSLR Newbie

    Looking into buying a Canon EOS Rebel XSi 12.2 megapixel DSLR with kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6)

    But still doing my homework

  9. #9
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    http://www.amazon.com/Canon-55-250mm...7484977&sr=1-1

    also in all honesty, coming from P+S, you will notice a big difference IMO, but if you are truly just an amateur like myself with no intention of getting too serious, I would say that these low-end lenses will be plenty for us, regardless of their shortcomings.

  10. #10
    Powder River Imaging EOSThree's Avatar
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    The 55-250 will set you back about $250. B&H photo video, and Adorama are excellent places to purchase from. They may not have the best prices out there, but they are honest and will not try to bait and switch. And Oh, yeah I agree the nifty fifty is a good start into primes for very little money.
    Rule books are paper they will not cushion a sudden meeting of stone and metal. --Ernie Gann--
    What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. --Oscar Wilde--

  11. #11
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    yeah ronin, i am definately an ametuer and not looking to particularly make a living from this.
    and i'm coming from p&s just hoping to get a better understanding of the art
    its something that relaxes me

    250 is totally in my price range, though, so i will definately look further into these lenses
    DSLR Newbie

    Looking into buying a Canon EOS Rebel XSi 12.2 megapixel DSLR with kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6)

    But still doing my homework

  12. #12
    Snap Happy CaraRose's Avatar
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    Yep, around $250. The 55-250 is a nice lens. Consumer grade, yes, but a nice lens, with really good image stabilization. And it's very light weight.

    The 50mm 1.8 is really superb for the price. Good glass, great bokeh, and really nice and fast for low light situations.
    --Cara

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  13. #13
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    awesome!
    i can't wait to get everything
    DSLR Newbie

    Looking into buying a Canon EOS Rebel XSi 12.2 megapixel DSLR with kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6)

    But still doing my homework

  14. #14
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    Because this isn't in the Canon forum, I'll chime in here and suggest you also look at a Sony. The Minolta 50mm f/1.7 is only about $50 and it's stabilized. - TF
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    $50 where? Cheapest I seem to find it is $125...

    *edit: KEH has them from $100-$125.

    But anyway the point remains that the 50mm f/1.7 is an excellent lens, it is stabilized, and even at $125-$150 its a bargain.

  16. #16
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    You should re-title the thread to replace the word "or" with "and"

    Even the same subject at different times or in different places can be shot "better" with something else. Be open to using anything that your budget will allow.

    My suggestion would be to take it slow. Don't end up with "7 different lengths for 7 different occasions" that you don't like and end up trying to resell for something better later. I'm not saying that about the 50mm f/1.8 in particular - but about lenses in general. Scrutinize what it is that you like to shoot and think about what equipment will help you improve your own shots.
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  17. #17
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    thank you for your reply loupey
    i have definately been thinking about this a LONG time
    and i've come to the conclusion that, in all honesty, i want to do too much!
    haha.
    well too much to sqeeze in to one lens anyway
    i've already got a real passion for shooting sports like volleyball,
    but i know i'd really enjoy experimenting with some macros of flowers and fish and coral and things of that nature.
    so, in short, i'm torn!
    DSLR Newbie

    Looking into buying a Canon EOS Rebel XSi 12.2 megapixel DSLR with kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6)

    But still doing my homework

  18. #18
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: Fixed or Zoom lens?

    Sounds to me that a 70-200 f/4 or f/2.8 with good macro function (1:3 or 1:4) might be the ticket for you. For a tighter budget a 70-300 with a good macro function might also do the trick.

    Tamrons 70-200 f/2.8 has an excellent magnification of 1:3.1, which is much closer than the Canon counterparts can get. Its also a lot cheaper. Good for flower type closeups and sports, a very solid hybrid.

    Anyway that would be my choice for lens in the two shooting scenarios you mentioned. (Macro+sports)

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