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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 07 Dec 2013 (Saturday) 01:30
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Recommendations for first prime lens?

Cream of the Crop
10,254 posts
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Joined Aug 2007
Location: San Jose, California
Dec 08, 2013 12:19 |  #31

You mention wanting to take close-up images of flowers and such.... And maybe wanting to do some portraits in the future.

A macro lens can do both. The larger the aperture, the better. That's what allows low light shooting and makes for a strongly blurred background (for the portraits... in macro shots it's hard not to get a strongly blurred background, depth of field is so shallow).

I have two suggestions:

Canon EF-S 60/2.8 USM Macro lens. This would be my choice if macro/close-up shooting were a heavy priority over portraiture. USM focus might be quick enough for some sports, too, though most macro lenses aren't all that quick focusing.

Tamron SP 60/2.0 Macro lens. I have this lens and bought it specifically to have a compact lens that serves multiple purposes... macro/close-up and portraiture. The f2 aperture is a full stop larger than the Canon offers, which can be helpful for portraits in particular. Is is not as fast focusing and lacks some features such as USM and Focus Limiter that some macro lenses have to help speed up focusing, so is not very usable for sports or any sort of action shooting. However I have other lenses that work well for those purposes. This lenses replaces a macro lens, 50/1.4 and 85/1.8 in my camera bag. In other words, it lightens my load by serving in place of three other lenses.

The 50/1.8 is the cheapest lens Canon makes. It's pretty good optically. It's build quality sucks and it's AF is terrible (noisy, slow and inconsistent). But, hey, for so little money it's a lens a lot of people end up with as a first prime. Personally I prefer (and have) the much better performing 50/1.4, but it has it's limitations, too. Neither of these are true close-up/macro lenses... though they can be forced to focus much closer by adding macro extension tubes. Even so, they are not "flat field" designs, the way most true macro lenses are, so you will see softness in the corners and vignetting at some apertures, when forcing them to focus closer than they are designed to shoot. Still, for many flowers, for example, they can be close enough focusing. And both these 50mm make for pretty darned good portrait lenses, when used on a crop sensor cameras (such as yours, and some of mine).

There is also a Canon 50/2.5 Compact Macro. However it only goes to 1:2 magnification on it's own, needs a separately sold adapter to achieve 1:1 mag (which both the 60mm mentioned above can do on their own). That ends up costing more than one of the 60mm lenses. It also is not a USM lens, so is slower focusing (not much different than the Tamron SP). And, personally I prefer a little longer macro focal length, to have a bit more working distance from many subjects.

Before you buy, continue to use your zoom/kit lens to experiment a bit, as you have been doing. You can set it to any of the suggest focal lengths, tape the zoom ring in place to prevent it from moving, and get some idea how any particular focal length will work for you. It's also pretty darned close focusing. Can be made even closer focusing by adding macro extension rings, too.

Alan Myers (external link) "Walk softly and carry a big lens."
5DII, 7DII(x2), 7D(x2) & other cameras. 10-22mm, Tokina 12-24/4, 20/2.8, TS 24/3.5L, 24-70/2.8L, 28/1.8, 28-135 IS (x2), TS 45/2.8, 50/1.4, Tamron 60/2.0, 70-200/4L IS, 70-200/2.8 IS, 85/1.8, Tamron 90/2.5 Macro, 100/2.8 USM, 100-400L II, 135/2L, 180/3.5L, 300/4L IS (x2), 300/2.8L IS, 500/4L IS, EF 1.4X II, EF 2X II. Flashes, studio strobes & various access. - FLICKR (external link) - ZENFOLIO (external link)

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Dec 08, 2013 12:38 |  #32

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art or Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art.

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Senior Member
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Joined Jun 2013
Location: England
Dec 08, 2013 15:31 |  #33

cala83 wrote in post #16510916 (external link)
I went back and looked the pictures I have taken so far and I do stay around the 35 mm - 50 mm range (for focal lengths)

How about an EF 40 f/2.8 STM

You can buy them at good prices.

I have one and like it.
Being a "pancake" lens it's also very discrete on the camera.

There was a recent thread about the merits/pros/cons of the EF50 f1.8 "nifty-fifty" vs the EF40 f/2.8 "pancake".
Here it is... …/showthread.php​?t=1328773

Fuji XE1 ~ XF18 ~ XF27 ~ XF60 ~ XC50-230

Cream of the Crop
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Location: Aotearoa/New Zealand
Dec 08, 2013 16:13 |  #34

I'd also encourage you to consider the EF-S 60/2.8 macro. It is super-sharp, gives 1:1 macro reproduction, and doubles as a medium length portrait lens on APS-C, its relatively minor limitations for this being slightly slow focus, and f/2.8 maximum aperture, making those one-eyelash-in-focus portraits currently in vogue hard to achieve.

I'm not sure if it was answered, but 85 mm will generally be too long on APS-C for full body portraiture, unless you have a great deal of room to work in.

Senior Member
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Dec 08, 2013 16:55 |  #35

PH68 wrote in post #16511510 (external link)
Being a "pancake" lens it's also very discrete on the camera.

So discrete it almost looks like one forgot to put a lens on the body :lol:

EOS 5Dmk3 X2, 60D, EF24-70mm f2.8L mk2, EF70-200mm f2.8L IS mk2, EF85mm f1.8, EF50mm f1.4, EF50mm f1.8 mk1(350D with 18-55mm Sh"kit" lens).
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OOOHHH! Pretty Moth!
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Dec 09, 2013 06:47 |  #36

cala83 wrote in post #16509743 (external link)
5) Qlayer2, that flash might be a little out of my price range (maybe for my birthday?). Are there cheaper options? So far what I have been doing so far with my flash (just the one that comes on the camera) is bouncing light of it using a piece of cardboard or a reflective paper. It has made the lighting less harsh when I use my flash although from what I read, having an external flash is better?

Thank you again everyone for being so helpful!

There are other options you can use- I know from experience I picked up a cheaper option from Amazon (a polaroid PL108-AF), which was an upgrade from the built in flash, and had basic tilt capabilities. I then upgraded to the canon and use the polaroid as a second flash. Others have used Yongnuo speedlights with varying degrees of success- check the flash and lighting forum for reviews and recommendations.

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Dec 09, 2013 20:47 |  #37

cala83 wrote in post #16508044 (external link)
I bought a Canon Rebel T5i with the EF-S 18-135 mm IS STM kit lens as my first DSLR and have really been enjoying it so far. However, I've decided that it is time to spread my wings and look into getting a prime lens. From what I have read, the images you get from prime lenses are much sharper than the standard kit lens (even though the kit lens I got appears to be a really good lens in itself).

After doing my own research, I've narrowed it down to either: a) EF 50 mm f1.8, b) EF 28 mm f1.8, or c) EF 35 mm f/2 and I am having trouble deciding between the 3. Which do you think would be a good first prime lens?

From what I have read, the 50 mm f1.8 is highly regarded (though cheaply made) and the cheapest of the options. However on my camera the images might be a bit too zoomed in and I might be better off getting one of the other two. What would you recommend.

Thank you in advance for any advice you can provide!

Depends what you are going to use it for. On a crop body a 30 mm or 35 mm is an excellent general purpose focal length, not too wide and not too long.

Canon 7D2, 60D, T3i, T2i, Sigma 18-35 f/1.8, 30 f/1.4. Canon EF 70-200 L f/4 IS, EF 35 f/2 IS, EFs 10-18 STM, EFs 15-85, EFs 18-200, EF 50 f/1.8 STM, Tamron 18-270 PZD, B+W MRC CPL, Canon 320EX, Vanguard Alta Pro 254CT & SBH 250 head. RODE Stereo Videomic Pro, DXO PhotoLab Elite, ON1

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Recommendations for first prime lens?
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