Camera lense advice for Canon

amanda14_2006March 10, 2007


We have a Canon Rebel 35MM Slr as well as a Canon Rebel Digital XTI camera. I know the lenses are interchangeable such that we took the 28-80 from the slr and put it on the digital. I want to get a new lense for the digital and I really dont understand anything about lenses. I want to get a better one that can handle longer distances I guess. Any suggestions?


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There are several good telephoto lenses (the kind you want to buy) available for your cameras. Since your current lens can cover distances to 80mm, you should look for one with a focal length of at least that. Bigger numbers indicate the ability to handle longer distances. A 160mm lens will focus to twice the distance your current lens will. A 240mm lens will focus to three times the distance.

However, as this focal length increases, three things will happen to the lens: it will get more expensive; generally larger and heavier; and less able to handle lower levels of light.

Expensive is expensive; there is not much you can do with that besides buy a used lens or a third-party lens (in your case, a lens by anyone other than Canon).

The inability to handle lower levels of light can be compensated for several ways. You could keep the camera lens open longer to admit more light -- but that can cause blurring if you're shooting a moving subject or holding the camera without a tripod. You could use flash, though the flash that comes on the camera likely won't have enough power to light something far away, so you might have to buy a flash unit. You could spend more money :-) and get a telephoto lens that has a wider maximum aperture. These are sometimes dramatically bigger and heavier than less-capable lenses. Or you could buy an "IS" (Image Stabilization) lens; the lens largely eliminating blur caused by handholding. Neat feature; not cheap.

If you choose to buy a used lens, it's best to buy one in person at a place that sells used photographic equipment and will give you at least a little warranty. Bring your digital so you can see some results right away. Since Canon is a popular brand, if you live near an urban area you shouldn't have trouble finding a good lens.

If you buy a third-party lens, stick with better-known brands (Tamron and Tokina come to mind, but try to avoid their very cheapest lenses). A good third-party lens will have a metal lens mount and operate smoothly and quietly. You also will have to make sure it works with your particular Canon camera model. Sometimes third-party lenses don't work well with a given manufacturer's camera, so you may lose some automatic features or exposure information.

That's a lot to digest at once, I'm sure. There also are several Web sites which discuss lenses for Canons -- but be warned that there is just a firehose of information out there because Canon is such a popular brand.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 9:26PM
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Not all lenses are fully compatible. However, digital lenses for the Canon Rebel XT, XTi, 20D, and 30D are interchangeable. Did you buy your XTi with a kit lens? If you didn't, the kit lens is the cheapest digital Canon lens, and is the EFS 18-55mm lens sold with the Rebel XT or XTi. This lens can be used for wide angle photos such as landscapes, as well as portraits, although it's not a high quality lens. The kit lens is a "walk-around or general use lens. A barely used one costs around $45.00 to $65.00 most times, because people want to sell it to upgrade to a better lens. However, for over a year I have been using a kit lens on my Rebel XT, and have taken quite a lot of beautiful photos with it.

The best Canon lenses cost from $1,000 to $6,000 each. Some of the Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, etc., are much cheaper then Canon's, and still offer great image quality. Then there are the cheaper Canon lenses, for your XTi. The lenses usually begin with the letters EFS, followed by the lens size in mm's. Now, Sigma, Tamron, and others offer similarly priced lenses that offer approximately the same quality (or better) than the cheaper Canon lenses. For example, the Sigma 70-300mm F4-6.6 APOI DG Macro is comparable to one of the cheap Canon lenses of the same size, and costs around $300.00.

Now, a Sigma 17-55mm lens costs a little over $400.00, but offer better image quality than the Canon kit lens.

To learn about lenses for your camera, you may want to go to this forum:

Registration is free, and you can ask or learn everything about Canon and other lenses there.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 1:59AM
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