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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Nature & Landscapes Talk 
Thread started 20 Feb 2013 (Wednesday) 11:52
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Lens / Camera upgrade recommendations

 
ian73
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Feb 20, 2013 11:52 |  #1

Hey all,

I've been shooting landscapes for a while using a T2i. I've had some shots that I've been quite happy with but I keep coming back to the same limitations with this camera/lenses I have. While I've gotten pretty high rates of keepers of in focus shots and so on, I still find myself disappointed with otherwise great (IMHO of course) shots because of

- red/grn color noise even at low iso's
- moderate luminance noise at mid iso's (800+)
- softness on small details at long zooms

The noise I can fix in Lightroom/ACR/Photosho​p in most cases, but the softness is frustrating since I mostly aim for 36x24" or larger prints and it becomes more obvious than on the screen.

I'm pretty sure the focus is as good as I can get - I manually focus, usually taking some shots using liveview some with the view finder, and I'm pretty sure my shots are right in the middle . I also pay attention to the hyperfocal distance and set my aperture so at the distances I'm working, the scene should be 'in focus' (although I realise this doesn't necessarily mean optimally sharp at all depths )

I'm thinking the softness is down to the quality of my lenses and the resolving power. I presume that moving up to L glass would help with this kind of definition.

So first, I'm wondering if this is a sensible conclusion, or am I missing something else?

For various reasons, I need to be selective on what I can upgrade short term. I can't afford to do both cam + L lenses right away, so I'm torn between upgrading camera to address the noise, and upgrade lense to fix the sharpness/definition.

Currently I have the T2i and mostly use 18-55 (EF-S), 10-20 sigma (EF-s), 70-300mm EF , 28-135mm EF lenses.

I'm thinking my choices (financially) are to consider
- Upgrade a cam to either 5dmk2 (ditching the 10-20/18-55 for now as they're ef-s)
- Upgrade to 7D or 60D ( and keep my current lenses)
- Keep the T2i and get one L glass; probably the 70-200 F/2.8 or F/4

What would people suggest would be the best bang for a buck to upgrade to?

The new glass seems the most likely to improve my image quality short term. The F/4 seems like it would be okay for what I shoot. I do quite a bit of low light shots but usually on tripod so the speed isn't that important for me but f/2.8 would open some more night sky opportunities. I did read though that at least one version of the F/4 had some issues, but that may have been the older non IS/USM version?

And also, is the color noise I'm seeing on a t2i typical? As I understand it the 7d/60D have almost identical sensors/front end so I wouldn't expect to see much of an improvement here. (It's tempting to stay with APS-c body for the crop factor but no point changing out the t2i if the noise stays the same)

And yes, I'm considering renting to try out and see for myself, but since I need to keep the costs down I'd like to narrow down the choices a bit first.

Suggestions anyone?

Ian


Ian
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Sirrith
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Feb 20, 2013 17:30 |  #2

I haven't heard of colour noise at low ISO being a problem. Are you underexposing and pushing in post? That introduces noise very quickly. Can you post sample photos of the problems you are having?
Although I would normally say upgrade your glass first as your lenses are average at best, you don't seem to have much lens-related issues (aside from the 70-300 being a bit soft). You'll see no improvement upgrading to another crop body since your camera shares the same sensor as the rest of Canon's APS-C bodies, as you have rightly surmised. A 5DII will definitely help on the noise side, but will you miss your 10-20? Also, have you considered a 6D? The noise performance is amazing on that body, and IMO there is no reason to get a 5DII over the 6D other than price (buying the 5DII used).

A side note, I've been browsing through your site, and I really like your work!


-Tom
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ian73
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Feb 20, 2013 17:41 |  #3

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the reply; it's possible it may be my monitor showing up the red/green, but when I zoom in at 1:1 or tighter in LR I see a red/green noise. Upping the color noise filtering in LR usually get's rid of it. And yes, since I've been noticing it I have started exposing 'further to the right' and scaling back to help limit it - I just miss that right end of the dynamic range from time to time.

I'll see if I can find some examples (will be later this week I suspect).

As to the 10-20; I would certainly miss it moving to a FF; but since price is an issue right now, I'd be willing to trade off selling the 10-20 to go FF and then replace it later with a better quality lens. (Although I do think I am leaning towards just better glass on my crop for now and picking glass that'll still be good for when I do ultimately move to FF).

As to 5DII over 6D; you nailed it. All down to price and trying to get the best IQ I can at a low entry cost for the moment. the 5DII has some limitations I know as is - but I think would still be a worthy leap for me from the t2i in general.

As to lens, I have an option on a 24-105 F/4L IS USM for a good price. I'd been thinking 24-70 or 70-200 but that 24-105L is quite a sweet sounding option; the bokeh on it looked kinda harsh though. Probably still better than I get on my current lenses though. Any thoughts on that particular glass?

Thanks for the comment on my work - I appreciate you taking the time to look :)


Ian
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Landscapes, Wilderness and Wildlife Photography

  
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Sirrith
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Feb 20, 2013 17:53 |  #4

I've only had the 24-105 for a short time, so I don't really know how I'll like it in the long run but so far I think its a keeper. If it is a UA date code however, be prepared to have to send it in to Canon for a fix to the IS system (read my last post in the 24-105 sample images thread for more info). On the other hand, if you are going to be getting a 70-200, you could consider going for the 17-40 instead of a 24-105, which would leave you with a gap from 40-70mm, but would be the perfect replacement for your 10-20. I don't really see any need for the 24-70 for your photography; it isn't exactly a wildlife lens, and you mostly do landscapes where f2.8 just isn't necessary, and when stopped down to f8-11, there isn't going to be much difference in IQ. The 24-70 Mk II does have noticeably better IQ than the 24-105, but I'm guessing you are not going to even consider that one due to the price tag (and I don't blame you, I think it is crazy expensive).

If you're getting a good deal on the 24-105, go for it! You can always sell it off if you don't like it.


-Tom
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weeatmice
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Feb 20, 2013 17:53 |  #5

There arent many lens options that would work on a full frame and still provide UW coverage on a crop, if you're looking for a wide lens-now option that will work on full frame. There is the 14mm samyang, all manual, bad distortion, very good resolution, cheap (I havent used one). Not sure if it can take filters though, which may matter(?)

Study photozone (external link) if you're looking for detailed info on lens resolution characteristics.

If landscapes are your first priority, I think you'll enjoy a full frame camera perhaps with a 17-40L. Not quite as wide as the 10-22 on a crop but they're close.

Great work on your site!


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ian73
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Feb 20, 2013 18:09 |  #6

Great feedback guys, thanks!

I was surprised when I first used that 10-20 sigma. It was amazing quality from what I'd seen on my other lenses and I shot practically everything with it for a while; now I seem to be back to using my 70-300mm again. I'd love to get a good wide and a good mid-long range zoom but I'm probably going to be limited to one good L glass for this year.

My thinking was a 24-70 or 24-105 would give me a range of landscape and even the occasional portrait option with my crop, and I have the 70-300 for the real long zooms when I need it. Long term that'd get replaced - (I'm actually tossing up between 70-200 and a good TC or a 100-400 f/4 .. but that's another problem).

*ponder* I might jump on this 24-105 given the comments and the nice deal on offer. As you say, lenses hold value nicely so it wouldn't be too bad to give it a whirl and see.

And thanks weeatmice. :) Awesome name

And great shots on your sites too; I shall have a good look through when I get home tonight but some amazing shots, and I'm somewhat envious of your travels Sirrith!


Ian
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Sirrith
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Feb 20, 2013 20:20 |  #7

Let us know what you decide. And thanks Ian, I am lucky enough to have family both in Europe and Asia which gives me a couple of good bases for travel. Though time and money are issues.


-Tom
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ian73
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Feb 21, 2013 20:38 |  #8

Well the lure of the 24-105L became too great, and I yielded. That thread of images taken with the lens was quite inspiring, although I noted your experiences and issues with your copy. This lens has been in use a while and seems to be ok so I'll take my chances.

I'm planning to swap it for my 28-135 for the time being. (love the lens, I had Canon tweak it for critical focus but I'm looking forward to using the 24-105L. I'm going to try a few shots with both in identical settings before I give up the 28-135 just to get a comparison between the two. I'm hoping it'll help me get a feel for when my shots are limited by ME and when they could be improved by the glass.

I'll keep the FF body, 17-40L and either a 70-200 or 100-400 on the radar for when I win the lottery. :)


Ian
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JustinPoe
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Feb 22, 2013 08:49 as a reply to  @ ian73's post |  #9

Ian,

I just upgraded from my T2i about a year ago to a 5DIII + 17-40L. One thing you might've missed, is the Canon 10-22mm. I know this doesn't help you in your pursuit of FF, however, it really is a fantastic lens, much sharper than the Sigma (from what I've heard). I'll be honest, I've never used the Sigma, I just haven't heard many great things about their 10-20. If you can get your hands on the Canon, I think you should and try it out.

Also, I think you'll be happy with the 24-105L. It is a really decent lens.

My suggestion for you to work towards?
T2i + Canon 10-22mm + 24-105L + 70-200L f/4

This gives you a very good set of lenses to work with, covering different focal lengths, the two L lenses can be used with your future FF purchase and the Canon 10-22mm has very good resale value.

Honestly? With the exception of your new 24-105L, the lenses that you have aren't that great (optically) but you are doing your best with them and not making excuses, I think that's awesome. However, we all reach a point where our equipment starts to limit what we can do and I think you're reaching that point with your current lens line-up.

Here are a few shots I've taken with my 10-22 + Rebel over the years. They're not the greatest, but that's mostly because of me, not any of my equipment.

Rebel XTi + Canon 10-22mm

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Rebel XTi + Canon 10-22mm
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Rebel XTi + Canon 10-22mm
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Rebel T2i + Canon 10-22mm
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Rebel T2i + Canon 10-22mm
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Rebel T2i + Canon 10-22mm
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ian73
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Feb 22, 2013 10:30 |  #10

Those are some great shots Justin. Thank you for sharing! My T2i will thank you for helping grant it's reprieve in it's execution :)

I appreciate the suggestion on the lenses. I agree with you on the optical quality of what I have today. I think I've managed to progress from the 'oh my god this lens is so cheap I'm never using it again' through 'oh , ok, I know what I'm doing - that's not a bad lens after all' and have finally reached 'ok, I nailed everything I could on that shot and it'd be so much nicer if only ...' .

I think the shoot that pushed me over the edge was doing a skyline shot of San Fran at night using the 70-300. I could see when I zoomed in that the building edges were nice and sharp and focused, but the detail in the skyscraper windows was blurred even after applying unsharp mask etc. That's the kind of details I'm looking to clean up on, and I am hopeful that the L glass will help me address that. (If not just the L glass then with a FF with better bit depth / less noise so I don't have to soften things to remove iso noise etc)

I'll use the 24-105L for a while and get to see how that works and improve my shooting, but then I'm not sure on whether to go 70-200 or 100-400. The 16-40L is also quite tempting for after I go ff and need to replace my wide angle. I'll probably hold off on the 10-22 for now, although I agree it'd probably improve upon my sigma 10-20 -

Thanks for the feedback. This is a great site - lots of good ideas and helpful people :)


Ian
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ejenner
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Feb 22, 2013 23:59 as a reply to  @ ian73's post |  #11

Well, small images will look essentially the same on the T2i and 5DII, but I will say I can relate to your issues with the t2i. You are not dreaming and the 5DII will be better although certainly not perfect. However, having said that, I went the route Justin recommends and I think it worked for me.

Upgrading to another crop won't help IMO.

As for glass, honestly I found the 18-55 IS quite decent. The reason I preferred the 17-40 or 10-22 was more to do with flare, not having a rotating front element and full time manual focus than pure sharpness. They are better all round though. I went mostly glass first, then camera and for me I think it was the right way to go.

I think you have good reasons for upgrading both glass and body long term. The canon 10-22 is great though (notice I still have mine even though I haven't used it for more than a year).


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Feb 25, 2013 22:05 as a reply to  @ ejenner's post |  #12

The Canon 10-22mm is a great lens. See review --

http://www.the-digital-picture.com …-4.5-USM-Lens-Review.aspx (external link)




  
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ian73
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Mar 01, 2013 08:57 |  #13

My 24-105L arrived last night and I love it already :) Looking forward to giving it a work out this weekend.

Thinking about what to do next. I almost picked up a 5d mk2 but decided to wait a bit and use the glass on the t2i for a while.

That said, I like what Justin had as a suggestion. Think I might wait on the 10-22mm though it's interesting what you have to say about the quality/flare etc vs the sigma. Shall have to think about that some more. If I remember though it's an ef-s so wouldn't come with me to a Full frame some day so I think I'll hold off for now and use my sigma 10-20 for the moment.

So I'm thinking about the long focal length end of my lenses.

The 70-200 get's a lot of votes for quality and flexibility, but I can't help but think that the overlap with 24-105L is a lost opportunity. (although it would make for a good all in one lens to limit what I carry).

The 100-400 also seems to have some limitations.

Would it be a fair interpretation from above that most of you would go for the 70-200 vs the 100-400?

I see a deal going for a 70-200 f4 (non IS) . ( I can't stretch to the f/2.8 + IS yet) - any comments on this lens for image quality? I'll probably miss the IS when it comes to shooting some pet/dog photography occasionally, but mostly I'll be on a tripod so I don't think going from my 70-300 IS USM to a 70-200 F/'4 would realisitically give me any concerns other than the lost long range.

*ponder*


Ian
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Phrasikleia
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Mar 01, 2013 09:13 |  #14

ian73 wrote in post #15664428 (external link)
Would it be a fair interpretation from above that most of you would go for the 70-200 vs the 100-400?

For landscapes? Yes. And f/4 over f/2.8. The space and weight savings can be critical for long hikes, which are far more common for landscape photographers than situations that require fast apertures.


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JustinPoe
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Mar 01, 2013 09:24 |  #15

ian73 wrote in post #15664428 (external link)
Would it be a fair interpretation from above that most of you would go for the 70-200 vs the 100-400?

Absolutely. I work with the 17-40L, 24-105L, and 70-200L. There is a little overlap at each, but I couldn't replace one with the other.
I think you'll be really, really impressed with the 70-200L f/4 if you can pick one up.


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