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FORUMS Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon Lenses 
Thread started 07 Jul 2011 (Thursday) 08:17
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Moving beyond the kit: the EF vs EF-S dilemma

Senior Member
313 posts
Likes: 1
Joined Apr 2011
Jul 07, 2011 08:17 |  #1

Hi there,

I'm relatively new to the dSLR world. I picked up an XSi kit earlier in the year that included the kit lens, 50mm 1.8, and the 55-250. It is an awesome kit to start with and I've gotten great pictures with all of the lenses and learned a lot in the process!

That said, I'm finally getting a feel for what I like and where I'd like to upgrade. Couple that with the fact that I'm heading to Yellowstone for a week next month and I'm really interested in grabbing at least one better lens to bring with me. Here is what is going through my mind right now:

-I like the 55-250 focal length and quality and don't feel I can do better right now with what I am willing to spend
-I'm not a huge fan of the 50mm prime on a crop sensor, I find it to be too tight.
-The kit lens has served me well, but I'd like to replace it either completely or add better lens(es) within its focal length
-I don't have the UWA focal lengths covered right now

So here's the problem I have... while I'm in no rush to upgrade my body any time soon, I do see myself going FF one day. It seems like there's a real "battle" between EF and EF-S lenses when it comes to getting the focal length you want with the sensor size you want. I would ideally like to invest in glass that I can keep over the long term and that can grow with me. I feel like my weak spot right now is in a lens to shoot landscapes, which is going to be key on this trip, and I'm torn with whether I should invest in something like the Tokina 11-16 with the future burden of having to sell it if/when I go FF or if I should just grab a nice EF prime like the 28mm 1.8 and stitch panoramas if I have to? I'm a BIG fan of the 24mm-30mm focal lengths (actual, so would be 15-19ish pre-crop) and would be happy to walk around with a prime in that range if it were available on a crop.

To add insult to injury, I have a good friend who is a pro that is whispering in my ear to not spend so much money on EF-S lenses and to just go for something like the 17-40L for now...

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling overwhelmed and confused by all of these options and their limitations. Can anybody chime in and offer some advice?

Cream of the Crop
10,545 posts
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Joined Nov 2010
Location: Hong Kong
Jul 07, 2011 08:28 |  #2

Get lenses for now and sell them later if you do ever end up going FF. Its better to have the right tools now than limit yourself for the future. E.g. if you get the 17-40, you have at least 10mm less on the long end and your lens is 1 stop slower than the other normal lenses in that range, as well as not being as sharp, so for the whole time you're using your crop body, you will be limiting yourself simply for the sake of not having to upgrade later on. Furthermore, if you get a lens that you like very much that works on both crop and FF, you might find when you upgrade to FF, that you hate the "new" FOV it provides.

Go for the tokina and sell it later on when, if ever, you don't need it anymore. Also, since your 50mm is too long, try the sigma 30 1.4, its simply an amazing lens. Out of all my current lenses, it has to be my favourite, then later on if you do upgrade, you can replace it with the sigma 50mm 1.4, which will give you pretty much the same FOV.

I was in your position when I first got my 450D, I fretted about whether or not I should buy crop only lenses, because I "planned" to upgrade to FF later on. However, I decided that it would be rather stupid to deprive myself of so many great crop lenses because of something that might never even happen, and I'm glad I did get the lenses I did (10-22, 30 1.4, 55-250) because the FF compatible equivalents cost quite a bit more and I would not have been able to afford all of them if any.

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Cream of the Crop
44,648 posts
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Likes: 155
Joined Dec 2010
Jul 07, 2011 08:33 |  #3

reading you post it's clear to me you know what to do - buy what YOU want when you want it. have fun with what you've got, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

Cream of the Crop
10,435 posts
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Joined Oct 2005
Location: Aotearoa/New Zealand
Jul 07, 2011 08:39 |  #4

ktownhero wrote in post #12718261 (external link)
So here's the problem I have... while I'm in no rush to upgrade my body any time soon, I do see myself going FF one day.

Buy the lenses you need for the format you have. At the moment that means you can freely choose any EF or EF-S lens that takes your fancy.

The alternative, to restrict yourself to EF lenses now will mean that some things will be impossible, and some will be more expensive than necessary.

Senior Member
375 posts
Likes: 11
Joined Jul 2005
Location: Sydney, Australia
Jul 07, 2011 08:40 |  #5

For mine: I'd simply buy the EF-S 17-55 f2.8 IS and not sweat that it's "not wide enough". As you pointed out, panorma and stitch is a workable option - and I've found it a very good one for landscape. In fact, I'm often unconvinced that landscape is an especially good use for wide angle lenses, often preferring a stitched panorama from a 35mm or 50mm prime to anything shot wider.

Also, if the $$ stack up for you (they did for me) a 5Dclassic is a wonderful way to complement a (perhaps more modern and purportedly higher-end) APS-C camera. I find having both a real boon, especially with my love of prime lenses, which take on very different character and use when you change formats.


Some digital cameras, some film cameras, some lenses & other kit.
Day-to-day photos on flickr (external link), some older stuff at dA (external link).

79 posts
Joined Nov 2008
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Jul 07, 2011 11:51 |  #6

Like everybody else said, my opinion is to buy for what you have now. You may or may not ever go full frame. If and when you do, there's no guarantee that you will even like the EF lens on a full frame sensor and may have to sell it anyway. Resale value on EF-S lenses appears to be no different than on EF lenses.

Also, with the trouble most people have finding a Tokina 11-16, I don't think selling it will be a burden. ;)

87 posts
Joined Mar 2011
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Jul 07, 2011 11:57 |  #7

I'd pick up a third party 17-50 f/2.8 type of lens. I got a sigma 18-50 2.8 EX a long time ago for my Rebel XT and I stopped buying lenses for 5 years - it was that good!

Senior Member
313 posts
Likes: 1
Joined Apr 2011
Jul 07, 2011 12:30 |  #8

Good advice all around here. I'm sure I would be happy with one of the 17-50 variations as I haven't run into a situation where I necessarily felt like the kit lens wasn't wide enough. I'll remove the issue of EF/EF-S from my brain and just decide where I want to place my money. I can't buy them all right now, but I'd like to get 1 before Yellowstone.

Senior Member
635 posts
Joined Jun 2007
Location: Ohio
Jul 07, 2011 14:02 |  #9

For special events like a Yellowstone trip, don't forget you also have the option to rent lenses that you wouldn't use in your normal shooting.

I agree with the rest - buy for what you need, not for what you might want to do some time in the future. Used lens prices are normally very stable. Decide what you want and look for it used. When your needs change or if you decide to go FF, you should be able to sell for little or no loss.

Canon Gear: 5D3, 6D, 7D, 20D, 16-35 II, 24-105, 70-200 f2.8 IS II, 35L, 50 f1.4, 50 f1.8, 50 f2.5, 85 f1.8, 400 f5.6, 1.4x, 600EX (x2), ST-E3
Sigma 150 Macro, Tokina 10-17 Fish, Einsteins, ABR800

My Flickr Page (external link)

Senior Member
468 posts
Joined Mar 2010
Location: Pembroke Pines, Florida
Jul 07, 2011 14:09 |  #10

I'm going to go against the grain and agree with your friends advice. There are some great EF lenses that you can pick up now that will allow you to grow with them and make the transition to FF in the future. That is what i did and recently upgraded to FF last week and happy i decided to pursue that. The 17-40 is a freat lens. My copy was tack sharp on my XT, and later my 50D. Now that i have a 5DII is serves a different purpose as an UWA.

If you really do plan on going FF (not just think you will) you should buy something long term. I had no doubt my next camera would be FF and never felt limited by buying EF lenses. They are a bit more $ though. If you can swing it, do it...​photos/biggcstylez/ (external link)
Gear: Canon 5D Mark II | 35 f1.4L | Σ 85 f1.4 | 135 f2L | 580EXII | 430EXII x2 |

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Moving beyond the kit: the EF vs EF-S dilemma
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