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Thread: Question on Canon Lenses

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    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Default Question on Canon Lenses

    We won the Denali lottery and are headed in next week for that trip. I currently have a Canon Digital Rebel XT which I love. I am still shooting the package 18-55 lens with it though and would like to get something with more range - probably up to 300 - for this trip. I am planning on taking a trip over to Kitz camera or another camera store in town, but figured I'd get some opinions from folks here who are not actually trying to sell me the more expensive lens.

    Does anyone have any experience with the Quanta Ray lenses for these? I think there is one that will get out to 300 for about $150, whereas the Canon model is about $279. Is Canon's name lens that much better? I imagine I'll get answers of "buy the best you can afford" - which makes sense, but is the Canon lens really any better? Are there other options out there? I did notice on the Ritz website there is a Canon lens that appears to be identical, except one is "USM" and one is "EF" - with about a $80 difference. I don't know what these even mean, but am curious to know your thoughts. (Note - I think the Quanta Ray lens that was $150 is also an "EF" version, not a "USM".)

    Thanks in advance.
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    I am pretty green in this area but I have been using a 70-300mm Tamron lens that I used with my canon elan IIe way back when. This is with the 1st generation rebel digital camera. I have been very happy with the picture quality. I believe the Tamrons are cheaper than the canon lenses and have decent quality glass. I believe the USM on the canon lenses means made in the USA not overseas. The EF means electro focus...I think. If you are going to buy locally stop by Stewarts downtown. They know their stuff.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    USM is Canon's designation for an UltraSonic Motor for focusing. In this case it's not worth it because it is Canon's micro motor USM, and not their ring type USM. With ring USM you get faster focusing and Full Time Manual (FTM) focusing which is a worthwhile addition. These little micro motor USM's are only marginally faster than the DC motors, and the only real feature they provide is added quietness. Although I suppose if you got it real close you could torment your dog with it. The usual difference in price is about $30-40 for MM USM and DC focus motors, but I don't think it's worth even that much.

    BTW, the Quantaray lenses are usually either a rebranded Sigma or Tamron, (sometimes others) -- most likely Sigma in this case. If you go to B&H Photo's website and compare legitimate discount prices you will find that the Canon 75-300, Sigma 70-300 and Tamron 70-300 are usually within $20-30 of each other. A reliable store should have the camera maker's lens marked up a little, but not that much. One nice feature of both the Sigma and Tamron is that when set at the 300mm position they can focus to 1/2 life size -- a pretty impressive semi-macro mode. Canon claims their's is a macro too, but it can't even get close to the others. The optical quality as a macro lens is marginal, but it can be nice to have.

    Optically these are all about even -- not so great. Not bad, ok up to about 200mm but soft at the long end. They sharpen up a little from stopping down to f/8-11, but not that much. Sigma has an APO version of the same lens that is sharper and worth the extra $50-100 in my opinion. In the past Ritz has sold that one as well, but their price wasn't good. Canon's 70-300 USM IS (not 75-300 USM IS) is considerably sharper, and has a great Image Stabilization feature, but will cost you over $500.

    Have a great time in Denali.

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    I should add that in the past Sigma earned a poor reputation with Canon EF mount lenses, because they have had operational issues with newer Canon camera bodies. They work fine with the Canon body of the era that they are sold with, but as users upgraded to newer cameras the older Sigmas wouldn't work with them. You just get error messages. Sigma has been very good about "re-chipping" older lenses for free as long as they were a current production lens, but have not been able to do so for lenses that have been superseded by a newer version. I have been burned on this issue myself.

    It has been believed that this is only a past issue, and since all new Sigma lenses use reprogrammable chips they would just need to be re-flashed to get them to work right with newer Canon cameras. Also, failure reports on internet camera forums seemed to have ended for a while. The problem is the issue has recently cropped up again with lenses only a few years old when matched to the latest Canon camera, and Sigma was not able to fix them. It doesn't happen often, but...

    If the Quantaray is indeed a Sigma in disguise, it might be an issue at some future time.

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    I think Jim answered most of the questions. I just want to clarify sensor size. In the Canon line, EF merely stands for "Electronic Focus" as apposed to some older model lenses (15-20 years ago). Also, standard "EF" lenses can work on Full frame camera models. Your Rebel XT has the 1.6x sensor (film) and Canon makes some "EF-S" model lenses for these, but the EF line works as well, but the EF-S lense WON'T work on the full frame digital cameras.

    What you DO want if possible is a lens with image stabilization. Canon classifies this as "IS" ....I forget what Tamron and Sigma call it, but Nikon calls it "VR" - vibration reduction.


    All that to say, I have a Canon 50-250mm EF-S USM IS lens I picked up with my XSI for $299. I want to upgrade to a faster L glass, and I'd be willing to sell it for $220 here in Anchorage. There's nothing wrong with it, and it has a protection plan and all the original box and paperwork. I bought it from Ritz in the Dimond Mall...

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    And I'll add that the EF-S 50-250 USM IS lens is probably Canon's best buy in a telephoto lens. Optically it is nearly as good as the 70-300 USM IS, but about half the price, and includes a good Image Stabilization system. If JMG doesn't pick this one up, somebody should.

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    I'll take it if JMG doesn't want it
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskanSD View Post
    I think Jim answered most of the questions. I just want to clarify sensor size. In the Canon line, EF merely stands for "Electronic Focus" as apposed to some older model lenses (15-20 years ago). Also, standard "EF" lenses can work on Full frame camera models. Your Rebel XT has the 1.6x sensor (film) and Canon makes some "EF-S" model lenses for these, but the EF line works as well, but the EF-S lense WON'T work on the full frame digital cameras.

    What you DO want if possible is a lens with image stabilization. Canon classifies this as "IS" ....I forget what Tamron and Sigma call it, but Nikon calls it "VR" - vibration reduction.


    All that to say, I have a Canon 50-250mm EF-S USM IS lens I picked up with my XSI for $299. I want to upgrade to a faster L glass, and I'd be willing to sell it for $220 here in Anchorage. There's nothing wrong with it, and it has a protection plan and all the original box and paperwork. I bought it from Ritz in the Dimond Mall...
    Sent you a PM.
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

  9. #9

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    The grizzly bear photo in Haines (another post) was taken with a sigma 18-200mm lense with OS (Optical stabilization). Last year, I used a Tamron 70-300mm without OS, IS or VC (Vibration compensation, Tamron), and I had to buy a tripod to get any decent photos. Even then they seemed to be on the blurred side.

    The main thing to purchase is the IS (Canon), OS (Sigma), or VC (Tamron), or be prepared to take every shot with a tripod and don't touch it.

    Anyway, hope this helps...

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