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Chako
05-27-2009, 01:06 AM
I can't believe it wouldn't let me post this response to a private message..it being too long. Anyways, here it is for the party concerned.

ON TELEPHOTO LENSES:
Ok. I know from experience that for birds, you really want something in the 500mm range. Actually the more the merrier for wildlife. However, that can quickly be a very expensive affair. On the other hand, if all you have is the smaller kit lens, you probably would be happy with a much cheaper lens that maxes out around 300mm. There are several choices in this range.

1. Stay away from the Canon 75-300. It is long been known that its one of Canon's worst lenses optically. Just a heads up. Even the IS version sucks.
2. The newer Canon 70-300 is much better optically. This is the lens I would be looking out for if you want to stay with a Canon.
3. I own an older Canon 100-300 that I am fairly pleased with. So look into that one also.
4. I also own a Tamron 70-300 for my Pentax. You can get this cheap lens in a Canon mount. Its not a bad lens, but does suffer from purple fringe, or at least my copy does. If you are looking into super cheap, this could be your ticket pricewise. The image quality is good except for where you get a light and dark highlight such as a bird in a tree against a bright blue sky. Where dark meets light, you will get a purple hallo. Easily removed using Photoshop, but a pain if you have to remove it from 100+ photos. If you can live with that...check this lens out.
5. I hear that the Sigma 70-300mm APO version is a good lens. There is an even cheaper version without the APO glass inside. Might want to look at that one also. not as vibrant as the Tamron. Colours tend to be a little more lifeless, but no purple fringe. Once again, and easy fix in Photoshop.

Now for the 500mm lenses that are semi affordable.
1. The Bigma is the one I have. Its a Sigma 50-500mm EX lens. Probably one of the better wildlife lenses that is sort of affordable.
2. Sigma also makes a few cheaper lenses in this range, some even have IS. Inferior optically to the older Bigma, but not by much. An example would be the 100-500mm.
3. Tamron also makes a 200-500mm lens which is very sharp. Unfortunately, they priced it against the Bigma which gives you 50-500mm. You might not be all that surprised at how convenient it is to have such a wide focal range on tap when doing wildlife.
4. Canon makes a 100-400mm L lens, but that is getting up there in price. Something for you to research. Its an older push pull zoom.
5. The higher Canon L series lenses are too expensive to think about. They start at 8k and work their way up from there. L = luxury. It is basically Canon's pro line of top optical glass. You pay a lot more then for a consumer lens. Canon actually has 3 levels of lens. The really cheap kit lenses, the better built and slightly pricier consumer lenses, and the top of the line L lenses.

You will find that Sigma offers the most lenses of the third party manufacturers. They tend to offer unique lenses that the OEMs don't offer. Tamron also makes excellent lenses, but they offer less choice. Tokina is mostly found in the US. I don't think they have a Canadian distributor. Besides, most of their lenses are rebadged Pentax (an awesome thing because Pentax glass are some of the best in the world....just only to be used on Pentax). Tokina allows other people to use Pentax lens optics formulas minus the world famous Pentax lens coating, on a Canon or Nikon. You can now get a 11-17mm fisheye zoom for a non Pentax mount. Problem is, just try to get one in Canada without ordering it online and shipping it to the border. I don't own any Tokina lenses, but I do own quite a bit of Pentax ones.

Image stabilization is a crutch. For years, photographers have been taking sharp photographs without IS. I find IS tends to make photographers lazy. The Bigma I own does not have IS. Proper technique will trump IS any day. With that said, IS is like a free lunch. It is there when and if you need it. It can be very useful in low light situations where you are forced to handhold your lens, as you can get away with a lower shutter speed that wouldn't normally turn out due to the jitters. you will pay extra for IS on a Canon lens. At least, it was like that before Canon introduced a few cheaper lenses with IS to follow the competition. The higher up you go in telephoto country though, the more you will pay. Sigma offers a few cheaper IS lenses, but they call that technology OS for optical stability. As far as I know, Tamron and Tokina don't offer IS lenses unless they just started to recently.

MACRO LENSES:
Macro will open up a new world for you. All you need is one lens that will magnify to 1:1. 1:1 = real size of object occupies same space on photograph. Macro is probably the hardest type of photography to do. You might need more gear to do this properly, such as a flash, a sturdy tripod, focusing rails, etc. But that is only if you really want to get into it. Another thing to remember, if optical range. Macro 50mm is excellent for taking photos of stamps etc. If your interested in insects, then you will need the most working distance, and that means a higher focal length such as a 90mm, 100mm, 150mm and 180mm (most common sizes). The longer the focal length, the longer your working distance, the better you are for capturing skittish bugs, but the heavier and more expensive the lens. Most find the sweet spot to be around 100mm for a good general purpose macro lens.

Now for the lenses...

1. I hear the Canon 100mm macro is a good lens. However, it is an internal focusing lens, and as such, isn't really a 100mm. It is closer to an 85mm. Do some research on this. Internal focusing designs are good because the lens won't attack your close subject, but you do lose optical range.
2. I have a Tamron 90mm macro that is super sharp. It extends when I focus, so that means I get a true 90mm out of it. This lens is a keeper in my opinion. Many believe this lens it one of the best in its class. I tend to believe that myself.
3. Sigma makes a whole range of good macros also. I was tempted to get a 150mm macro, but opted for the smaller and easier to use Tamron 90. Do some research before you think of buying.

NOW FOR FLASH:
You have only two choices. Flashes have to work with the camera, so your choices are limited, especially if you want a dedicated flash..and trust me, you want a dedicated flash to make your life easier.

1. You can stay with Canon. There are only 2 choices. The cheaper Canon 430, or the much more expensive Canon 580. For most the cheaper is all you need. However, it will still run you around 350 dollars for one. The 580 will cost around 600..ouch, but does a lot of things...most of which only a pro photographer working in a studio would want. The one thing that the 580 has that is very useful is more flash power.

2. Sigma offers some flashes that work 100% (I think) with Canon cameras. The thing with Sigma flashes is this. You can get a flash almost equivalent to the much more expensive Canon 580 for a little more then the Canon 430. You can save some dollars, and have most if not all the features that the higher Canon has, plus more flash power then the Canon 430 for a little more money. Just have to watch that the flash works 100% with the camera. I would visit Camera Craft for this item. They can fill you in on the product, as I know they do carry them in stock.

Hope that helps you. Quite a bit to chew on at once. :)

Daiv
05-27-2009, 07:52 AM
Holy crap that's a lot of information!!!!
Thanks!!