Thanks a lot for the suggestions you guys. I'll try to answer as many of the questions as I can:
t60p wrote in post #6510350
My biggest complaint about the 70-200 f/4 was the lack of an image stabilizer, otherwise it is a great lens. If you plan to take photos early in the morning, late evening, or in less than ideal light, then you would greatly appreciate the IS in the zoom.
So, I think you should simply consider the XSI w/kit lens and the 70-200 f/4 IS.
If you are not set on getting the 70-200, then you might want to consider the XSI kit and the 135 f/2.
I have actually considered that also, but decided against it. While IS is obviously a nice factor, I live in sunny California so light isn't usually too much of an issue. I think I would rather spend $350 on a 50mm 1.4 then $400 more on the 70-300 IS.
nordstern1 wrote in post #6510827
since you said you wont be using the 100 macro for insects, i suggest you check out the 60 macro instead. its cheaper, smaller, lighter & as sharp as the 100. you dont need the longer working distance of the 100. youre goin to save a few bucks from this swap.
how about...XSi + 18-55 IS + 55-250 IS + 60 macro + sigma 30 1.4?
extension tubes are also a good option to cut down costs. you might be able to squeeze in the 70-200 f4 L in your budget.
hmmm...XSi + 18-55 IS + 70-200 f4 L + 50 f1.8 + kenko extension tubes?
Sorry I think you may have misunderstood me. I won't be using the 100 macro for insects with a tripod. While insects aren't my priority, it would be nice to be able to capture them. I just didn't expect to have time to set up a tripod while doing so.
I actually had considered the 60 macro but decided against it since the prices were so similar and the 60 is EF-S which isn't ideal if I ever upgrade my body in the future.
I do think I would like the XSi, 18-55 IS, 70-200 f4L, 50 f1.8, extension tube route and I'm thinking that might be my best bet. As several people have illustrated with sample photos, macro work would still be possible and if I decide that it's something I will get heavily involved with, I could probably scrap together the money to buy the 100mm macro in the upcoming months.
dithiolium wrote in post #6511041
It nice to have a plan for which lenses to get. I suggest you don't get them all in one shot, needs will change over time and you end up buying/selling too often.
People I know buy standard lens and a 70-300 telephoto lens initially, only to underutilise the tele, what a waste of $$.
Is the $1500 budget one time only? or is it $1500 now then $1000 annually? Think about it, you won't only spend $1500 on this hobby, it will get out of hand easily. So now you can plan your lens purchases over time.
I always found myself zooming a lot on P&S's so I feel like I would appreciate the reach. The $1500 is pretty much one time only. After this I could probably buy one more lens under $500 or $600 in a few months, but that will probably be it for a while.
Leonard Wong wrote in post #6512366
Also, what made you decide the 70-200 F4 over the 55-250 IS? 70-200 is almost double the weight of the 55-250 (400g vs. 700g). Of course the build quality and optics are better.
Mostly for the reasons you stated: build quality and optics. The image quality is significantly better and I know that somewhere down the road I will probably want to upgrade to the 70-200 anyway, so why not buy it right away? The 70-200 is much more of a "forever" lens than the 55-250. Plus there is the factor that the 55-250 is an EF-S lens, which could be prove problematic if I ever upgrade my body (which definitely won't be anytime soon). I'd just rather spend $600 now than $275 now and $600 later.
Now just to make my job even more difficult, I have been thinking about XSi + 70-200 + 28-135. I have heard that the 28-135 is an excellent starter/walk around lens. It may not be wide enough for some situations so I guess I could still get the kit lens.
Anyway.. further complicating things for the win!