Canon 60D: Good lenses for photojournalism, portrait & all walk around uses within a budget

Started Nov 18, 2012 | Questions thread
sleibson Regular Member • Posts: 440
Re: Canon 60D: Good lenses for photojournalism, portrait & all walk around uses within a budget

First, the actual focal length of a lens doesn't change just because it's mounted on an APS-C camera instead of a film or full-frame digital SLR. It's the "effective" focal length that changes because the smaller APS-C sensor doesn't use the entire image circle coming from the lens. Using less of the available image has the effect of "zooming in" on the image, making the lens appear to be longer than it is. In the case of the APS-C cameras, 60% longer. So to find the effective focal length of a lens on an APS-C camera with respect to a 35mm film or full-frame digital camera, you multiply the focal-length number on the lens by 1.6. That's why a 50mm lens, which is a "normal" lens on a 35mm camera, works like an 80mm lens, which is a portrait lens, on an APS-C camera. Lenses are always marked with their real focal lengths, not their effective focal lengths.

Next, none of this means a thing if you aren't already experienced with 35mm film or full-frame digital SLRs. If you don't have expectations for the field of view from a 50mm or a 70mm or a 200mm lens from a film or full-frame camera, then you don't really care what the effective focal length is. You look in the viewfinder or on the LCD and you see what you're going to get. No 1.6 multiplier needed. You will form your own idea of what a 50mm lens does on an APS-C camera.

Next, the 60D has a great zoom focusing aid in the LCD if you have a lot of time. Check into it.

If all you've gotten is 1500 shots from your 18-55 lens, there's a lot of learning left in that lens before you need another one to learn on. Still, gear lust being what it is, you might very well want to buy another lens. Most of us do sooner or later. The Canon 55-250 lens is an inexpensive zoom that's gotten good marks. I picked mine up new in box for $150 on Craigslist. It's a good complement to the lens you already have, but it's not Canon's finest glass. It's just good glass.

You may feel you want to spend more than that, even for learning. Which lens you pick depends on what you want to do. Low light? You need a fast lens. The 50mm 1.4 you mentioned is a fast lens, but it'll be a bit long for some work. Landscapes? The 10-22 Wide Zoom is a really cool lens. Macro work? The 60mm EF-S lens is one of Canon's sharpest.There's a ton of learning packed into each of these lenses. I own all of them and like them.

I used the Canon 17-85 EF-S for seven years and liked it very much as a walkaround lens. I've used it all over the world. However, it's not a well-respected lens and it has troublesome reliability problems as well as optical issues. Neither have troubled me but I do not print big images. The replacement lens, the Canon 15-85 EF-S lens, gets more respect. It is both much wider (3mm at the low end makes a lot of difference) and has longer reach than your 18-55 kit lens. It's also bigger and heavier than your kit lens. I have also used the 18-135 EF-S lens that I got with my 60D. Some say it is better than the 17-85 EF-S. I do not prefer it but perhaps that's just my experience with the older lens showing.

My recommendation is for you to first decide what you want to learn about next and then pick the lens that matches that goal. Cheaper lenses, whether Canon or 3rd-party brands, are cheaper for a reason. Could be build quality, optical quality, reliability, or other. Those are all compromises made by the lens engineers. You need to decide which set of compromises are important to you.

By the way, have you bought a flash? If not, go see the Strobist blog to get ideas on what the addition of flash equipment and flash lighting expertise can do to expand your image-making capabilities.

-- hide signature --

Steve Leibson
Shooting with Canons for 40 years

 sleibson's gear list:sleibson's gear list
Canon PowerShot G12 Canon EOS 20D Canon EOS 60D Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II +10 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow