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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 12 Jan 2010 (Tuesday) 22:59
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Focal Range versus Image Quality

 
Architective
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Jan 12, 2010 22:59 |  #1

So I've searched the forums and the FAQs, but I can't seem to find a direct answer to my question. I have been researching my next lens, and am finding that there are a few lenses with incredible focal range that are around the same price as those with a small range. I guess I'm wondering what I'd be giving up when going to a camera with a longer zoom range over one with a small, defined range. I should add that I'd like to spend $500-700ish.

I own a 50D. I plan to use this lens to shoot composed Architectural shots, primarily exterior, as well as use it in candid family settings also. I have a Tamron 10-24mm that I will use for interiors. I'm currently using the 18-55mm kit lens, but I find that the range is limited if I want to zoom in to highlight a certain detail of a building (detailed connection of an aluminum sunshade, or something of the like). I also have a Tamron 70-300 non IS which I don't care much for (will eventually replace), and a 50mm f/1.8. I tend to shoot wide, so I would like a 17-18mm as my focal beginning. I like to do a lot of night shooting as well, which may be a factor in my choice.

For instance, I've been looking into the Tamron 18-270mm Di II VC f/3.5-6.3. From the reviews I've been reading that the image quality is good despite a bit of chromatic aberration.

Other lenses I'm considering:
Canon 17-85mm
Tamron 17-50 f/2.8
Sigma 18-200mm
Canon 18-200mm
Canon 18-135mm
Canon 15-85mm
I'm open to suggestions.

Does anyone have links to information about focal range versus sacrifices in image quality articles or anything like that? Honestly, I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the different options that I am able to pick from. Any help that members of this learned forum can provide me with would be very appreciated.


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plasticmotif
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Jan 12, 2010 23:04 |  #2

Canon made a 28-300L, but it's rather expensive...and hard to find.

You sound like a shoe-in for the Canon 15-85. It's probably a better optic than anything you listed.


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toxic
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Jan 12, 2010 23:32 |  #3

There are no definites between zoom ratio and image quality. In general, shorter zooms are better since they only have to be good at a few focal lengths - and a 1:1 zoom (a prime lens) are the best optically (per dollar) since they need only be good at one focal length.

But the difference between lenses falls more into the design - how the manufacturer combats barrel/pincushion distortion, flare, chromatic aberration, etc. This usually means more coatings or special glass, which is expensive.




  
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phreeky
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Jan 13, 2010 04:11 |  #4

If you're sitting it on a tripod and stopping down - almost a certainty for the night shots I'm guessing - then you'll find yourself able to use the sweet spot of whatever lens you end up with. It's therefore possible that a super-zoom such as the 18-270 could work for you.

However that may also mean that you have plenty of time to switch lenses too.

How much reach do you want on the long end?




  
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laydros
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Jan 13, 2010 07:43 |  #5

phreeky wrote in post #9383779 (external link)
If you're sitting it on a tripod and stopping down - almost a certainty for the night shots I'm guessing - then you'll find yourself able to use the sweet spot of whatever lens you end up with. It's therefore possible that a super-zoom such as the 18-270 could work for you.

However that may also mean that you have plenty of time to switch lenses too.

How much reach do you want on the long end?

You do trade off range for IQ in most cases. But the super zooms aren't very bad. The Tamron 18-270 is particularly impressive for being very good, but one of the biggest ranges ever made.

But there is a jump in IQ with better lenses. Of the lenses you have listed the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and Canon 15-85 are by far the best. The Tamron gives you a much larger max aperture, and the Canon gives you a very broad range, handles a lot of what we used to need an ultra wide for, and has USM and IS (the Tamron has pretty noisy/slow focusing, and only the newer more expensive one has IS). I'm sure someone will disagree, but in terms of sharpness the Tamron 17-50, Canon 15-85, and Canon 17-55IS seem to be about as sharp as the Canon L lenses, but you trade off build quality, and maybe some contrast or color, but contrast and color can be tweaked in post.

However, I quoted the above because for shooting on a tripod stopped down to the sweet spot of a lens (typically 2-4 stops below max) almost any lens is going to look really good. The only thing I would be concerned about is distortion, but that can usually be fixed in post.


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Lowner
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Jan 13, 2010 10:31 |  #6

With a prime lens design, it is possible to get excellent optical properties. Zooms complicate things, compromises have to be made. The longer the zoom range the worse it gets.

Add in affordability and/or durability it gets even more complicated. Durability is why "L" zooms tend to be conservative and yet expensive.


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Architective
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Jan 13, 2010 11:30 as a reply to  @ Lowner's post |  #7

I like the idea of not having to change lenses so frequently. I will eventually pick up several primes, but for this lens purchase, I think having flexibility is a great thing. And with kids, being able to grab the camera with one lens and go is a good thing. I'll still swap out to my UWA and 50mm for different types of Arch shooting, but I think the wide range will be good for what I want to do.

I think the Tamron 18-270 VC is in the lead for the moment.




  
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Focal Range versus Image Quality
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