Recommend new lenses for me to get


finclk

New Member
May 3, 2007
9
0
0
36
#1
Dear all,

I've just got my hands on a Canon 550D given to me by my sister. Previously was using a Pentax K90D from 3yrs ago and I must say, technology has improved so much since then.

Anyway, the 550D that i have comes with a kit lens 18-55. I'm looking to get 1 to 2 lenses for more shooting options.

Here's what i'll be taking alot of:
1) Fishes in aquarium. I have a few tanks and love to take photos of my fishes in them but i find the picture quality is not too good enough. Maybe skill not there yet or i might hv to get an external flash as it's generally quite hard to use flash on aquarium glass from the standard camera flash.

I heard some pple recommending to get a prime lense which takes great pictures in low light conditions. Any recommendations?

2) I like to be able to increase the zoom capabilities of my shots. Will be going S.Africa on Safaris in few months time so I would like to be able to take more close up shots of animals. Any recommendations of lenses that i could be looking at?

One thing i realised is some of the lenses can be alot of difference in price for canon just because of some additional specs like USM or there's an 'L' behind the lenses name. What do these mean? Are they necessary for me?

Budget, I'm ok to spend couple of hundred dollars per lense.

I would consider myself an amateur overall. Only recently returned to DSLR proper shooting again in recent weeks so i do know how to tweak settings like aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc. Just hoping to hv someone point me in the right direction.

Thx
 

Rashkae

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
19,105
12
0
#2
1) Fishes in aquarium. I have a few tanks and love to take photos of my fishes in them but i find the picture quality is not too good enough. Maybe skill not there yet or i might hv to get an external flash as it's generally quite hard to use flash on aquarium glass from the standard camera flash.
Use some bright LED lights illuminating from the top. A flash might terrify and stress your fish. You can use your kit lens.


2) I like to be able to increase the zoom capabilities of my shots. Will be going S.Africa on Safaris in few months time so I would like to be able to take more close up shots of animals. Any recommendations of lenses that i could be looking at?
You should be looking at a 100-400mm lens range. You can rent instead of buying.

One thing i realised is some of the lenses can be alot of difference in price for canon just because of some additional specs like USM or there's an 'L' behind the lenses name. What do these mean? Are they necessary for me?
Go to the Canon website and read, or search on Google. These are easily found.
 

rhino123

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 1, 2006
5,243
15
38
NA
#3
Dear all,

I've just got my hands on a Canon 550D given to me by my sister. Previously was using a Pentax K90D from 3yrs ago and I must say, technology has improved so much since then.

Anyway, the 550D that i have comes with a kit lens 18-55. I'm looking to get 1 to 2 lenses for more shooting options.

Here's what i'll be taking alot of:
1) Fishes in aquarium. I have a few tanks and love to take photos of my fishes in them but i find the picture quality is not too good enough. Maybe skill not there yet or i might hv to get an external flash as it's generally quite hard to use flash on aquarium glass from the standard camera flash.

I heard some pple recommending to get a prime lense which takes great pictures in low light conditions. Any recommendations?

2) I like to be able to increase the zoom capabilities of my shots. Will be going S.Africa on Safaris in few months time so I would like to be able to take more close up shots of animals. Any recommendations of lenses that i could be looking at?

One thing i realised is some of the lenses can be alot of difference in price for canon just because of some additional specs like USM or there's an 'L' behind the lenses name. What do these mean? Are they necessary for me?

Budget, I'm ok to spend couple of hundred dollars per lense.

I would consider myself an amateur overall. Only recently returned to DSLR proper shooting again in recent weeks so i do know how to tweak settings like aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc. Just hoping to hv someone point me in the right direction.

Thx

1) Taking fishes in your aquarium, you can still use your kit lens, not a problem. Try not to use direct flash though, for your glass will reflect light.

2) For normal zooming in on object in a distance a 55-250mm lens is good enough, but it is not weather seal and in harsh condition, it might have some problem. If you want to take animals from afar you might need a 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L lens to give you good reaches, but still not the best. Wildlife photographers would have recommend the 500mmL lens and above.

As for USM, it means ultrasonic motor, most of the lens in Canon's arsenal with this would normally focus quietly, quickly and accurately (if you get a good copy).

L lens is Canon's professional grade lenses and came at a premium price.
 

2ichigo2

New Member
Jul 18, 2007
444
0
0
In the East
#4
1) For fishes... you will need a CPL filter to cut away the reflection from the glass tank.
If you need a close-up shot, then a macro lens.

As for prime lens, low budget can try out 50mm f1.8 first which cost less than S$200.
For a better quality in terms of build and picture, then get 50mm f1.4.

2) Cheaper lens will be 70-300mm + a monopod...

$$ expensive = better build lenses = better focusing motor e.g. USM, more lens elements
The normal grade lens has a silver ring at the front (just look at your kit lens).
The "mid" grade lens comes with gold ring while high grade lens is a red ring.
For those high grade lens, canon indicates them as L lens which cost a bomb.

From the Canon's Lens Work III Book - "L" is for "Luxury".
 

finclk

New Member
May 3, 2007
9
0
0
36
#5
hi guys.. thanks alot.. i just learnt quite abit from few of your posts..

The difference in premium lenses, is it mainly the materials used to build the lense?

thx.
 

rhino123

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 1, 2006
5,243
15
38
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#6
hi guys.. thanks alot.. i just learnt quite abit from few of your posts..

The difference in premium lenses, is it mainly the materials used to build the lense?

thx.
materials are one of them... if you notice, most L lens are of metal construction, and many of them are weather sealed.

Other than that (an abstract from wikipedia)

1) Tough build, made to withstand trials in the field (some incorporating dust and moisture resistant rubber seals).
2) At least one fluorite or ultra-low dispersion glass element, combined with super-low dispersion glass and ground aspherical elements.
3) Non-rotating front elements, which are optimal for some filters (e.g. circular polarizers). - (alot of non L lens are also featuring this.)
4) Relatively large apertures compared to other Canon lenses in the same focal lengths. - (not necessary true anymore - look at EF17-55mm)
5) Ring-type USM (ultrasonic motor) and full-time manual focusing. - (some of the non-L lens had this too)
6) Three additional data communication pins on Canon Extender EF compatible lenses, compared to the standard EF mount.

And many had argued that L lens are supposedly sharper, with better af accuracy as compared to non-L lens of similar focal lengths in Canon's arsenal.

That said, I would highly recommend a 100-400mm L lens if you predict that you would be going into some harsh environment for taking photos of wildlife... and do get yourself a monopod or/and a tripod with good ballhead or gimbal head for your camera.
 

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coolthought

Senior Member
Jun 23, 2008
2,310
1
0
#7
Dear all,

I've just got my hands on a Canon 550D given to me by my sister. Previously was using a Pentax K90D from 3yrs ago and I must say, technology has improved so much since then.

Anyway, the 550D that i have comes with a kit lens 18-55. I'm looking to get 1 to 2 lenses for more shooting options.

Here's what i'll be taking alot of:
1) Fishes in aquarium. I have a few tanks and love to take photos of my fishes in them but i find the picture quality is not too good enough. Maybe skill not there yet or i might hv to get an external flash as it's generally quite hard to use flash on aquarium glass from the standard camera flash.

I heard some pple recommending to get a prime lense which takes great pictures in low light conditions. Any recommendations?

2) I like to be able to increase the zoom capabilities of my shots. Will be going S.Africa on Safaris in few months time so I would like to be able to take more close up shots of animals. Any recommendations of lenses that i could be looking at?

One thing i realised is some of the lenses can be alot of difference in price for canon just because of some additional specs like USM or there's an 'L' behind the lenses name. What do these mean? Are they necessary for me?

Budget, I'm ok to spend couple of hundred dollars per lense.

I would consider myself an amateur overall. Only recently returned to DSLR proper shooting again in recent weeks so i do know how to tweak settings like aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc. Just hoping to hv someone point me in the right direction.

Thx
one of the reason why many recommended to get external light source, to increase your shutterspeed. The fish will hardly stay still for you to shoot. How fast, this you have to experiment a bit... another thing to overcome is the reflective surface of the aquarium glass.

if you are looking for more budget lens that perform well for your s.africa safari trip, check out the sigma 50-500 os and sigma 150-500 os.
 

Last edited:

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,954
90
48
#8
1) Fishes in aquarium. I have a few tanks and love to take photos of my fishes in them but i find the picture quality is not too good enough. Maybe skill not there yet or i might hv to get an external flash as it's generally quite hard to use flash on aquarium glass from the standard camera flash.
>> Kit lens is fine, but you need good lighting. Placing the flash off camera and out of the FOV of the photo should yield pleasant results (and prevent the flash showing up in the picture). Stick the lens right up to the glass.


I heard some pple recommending to get a prime lense which takes great pictures in low light conditions. Any recommendations?
>> Most prime lenses are quite fast (aperture wise), though sometimes a zoom with f2.8 max aperture is good enough as well.
DOF decreases with a larger aperture too, so its not a free lunch.
For Canon, probably the 35/1.8; 50/1.8; 84/1.8, all depending on what focal length you want to use.
Some folks do pretty well w/o prime lenses, so it depends on preference and needs too.


2) I like to be able to increase the zoom capabilities of my shots. Will be going S.Africa on Safaris in few months time so I would like to be able to take more close up shots of animals. Any recommendations of lenses that i could be looking at?
>> On a budget, a lens like a 55-300 or 70-300 should suffice in bright day conditions.
If you want better, then a 100-300 or 120-400, 50-500 or 150-500 (Canon or Sigma)
No point mentioning fast long primes like 300/2.8 or 500/4.5 (too expensive based on your budget and quite specialized)
There are many safaris with different rules. Some are private and have higher animal densities and more relaxed rules regarding going off track or getting near animals. State ones have 'state' rules of course, so engagement distance depends on these factors as well (and luck plays a large part too)




BTW, if you still have a couple of those Pentax lenses, they are usable on a Pentax DSLR (so don't throw them away...yet) :)
 

Valkarian

New Member
Nov 28, 2011
276
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0
27
Singapore, Singapore, Singapor
#9
- Hmm... Two choices for shooting into any glass / reflective surface:
1. Dont shoot your flash straight at the surface. bounce it or find another way into the tank, or just create a night light setting
2. CPL filters arent mirculous, but they'll surely help reduce the amout of reflection you get out of a glass panel

Primes easily have large apertures (low f number) and thus can shoot at higher shutter speeds and lower iso.
however if you have a tripod and are willing to do long exposure shots, most low light settings will be ok for stationary stuff
else, most primes help, or some with 2.8 might be sufficient.

- wildlife photography will require at least some 200~300mm of zoom. i'd suggest something along the lines of 70-200 if you dont need too close,
anything up to 300 or 400 for a good close up shot. These can easily run up your budget simply because of the zoom. Also, Wildlife rarely gives you the chance to set up
a tripod, so try thinking of the weight and size that you will be carrying around. also, african and s. american wildlife might do some high speed runs, which would bring a need for a nice and big aperture to capture some motion stills.

- as many have mentioned, USM is ultrasonic motor. L stand for luxury series, of CANON, denoted by superior build and the usual red ring around the focal area.
my 70-200 f2.8 is a code UU, and still shoots like it was only about a year old. the metal workhorse build is a serious weight factor, along with it's non retractable size.

- the biggest problem here, i see, would be your price range. with a couple hundred dollars, you wont be going anywhere near the L range.
Look at EF 70-300 f4.5-5.6 IS USM, or EF-S 50-250 f4-5.6 IS? Both have some IS to help a little handholding, and both are a upper range zoom lens.
 

ahboy168

Senior Member
Mar 30, 2009
982
0
16
East
#10
Why not shoot your fish within their home?
I assume u got a 4ft tank ...
Buy a zip bag, maybe two to be safe.
Get a small prime uwa lens.
For crop, sigma 8-15 ?
 

rhino123

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 1, 2006
5,243
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#11
Why not shoot your fish within their home?
I assume u got a 4ft tank ...
Buy a zip bag, maybe two to be safe.
Get a small prime uwa lens.
For crop, sigma 8-15 ?
That is a pretty dangerous venture. A small leak, and you will see your camera drowning.
 

Schmike

New Member
Dec 22, 2007
791
1
0
#13
1)
How big is the tank and fish?

Generally for fish photography, you will need external flash (Speedlite 430 EXII for Canon) placed above the tank with either a TTL cable or wireless transmitter (ST-E2 for Canon). Better to have at least 2 flash above the tank for bigger fishes or even 3 flash for some cases. You will also need a macro lens for details on the fish. Safer to use at least F8 to F10 and 1/200 or faster shutter speed for the shots. Do take note of bubbles from air stones and rainbars, etc... you may need to switch off the air pump or filters while you take pictures of the fishes. Most of my fish shots are taken with either EF 100mm f2.8L IS USM Macro or EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens.

2)
Take a look at this link on gears for African safari:
Gearing Up For An African Safari: Digital Photography Review
 

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spgohjc

New Member
Dec 21, 2007
27
0
0
#14
finclk said:
Dear all,


Here's what i'll be taking alot of:
1) Fishes in aquarium. I have a few tanks and love to take photos of my fishes in them but i find the picture quality is not too good enough. Maybe skill not there yet or i might hv to get an external flash as it's generally quite hard to use flash on aquarium glass from the standard camera flash.

I heard some pple recommending to get a prime lense which takes great pictures in low light conditions. Any recommendations?

Thx
Tip:
Clean up your fish tank throughly especially brush the side walls before even taking out your camera.
 

#15
1) For fishes... you will need a CPL filter to cut away the reflection from the glass tank.
If you need a close-up shot, then a macro lens.

As for prime lens, low budget can try out 50mm f1.8 first which cost less than S$200.
For a better quality in terms of build and picture, then get 50mm f1.4.

2) Cheaper lens will be 70-300mm + a monopod...

$$ expensive = better build lenses = better focusing motor e.g. USM, more lens elements
The normal grade lens has a silver ring at the front (just look at your kit lens).
The "mid" grade lens comes with gold ring while high grade lens is a red ring.
For those high grade lens, canon indicates them as L lens which cost a bomb.

From the Canon's Lens Work III Book - "L" is for "Luxury".
gold ring cost as much as red ring bro...
EFS 17-55 cost 1.5k
 

takafan

Senior Member
Nov 26, 2008
1,000
6
38
Bedok
#16
rvf79 said:
gold ring cost as much as red ring bro...
EFS 17-55 cost 1.5k
There are far more red rings that exceed this price dude. Not for gold.
 

takafan

Senior Member
Nov 26, 2008
1,000
6
38
Bedok
#18
But the gold ring pricing are ard the red ring pricing. :)
My point is, the Number of red ring lens far more exceed the number of gold rings, and therefore the price as a whole far exceed just that few gold rings.
 

Dec 29, 2010
475
0
16
28
North-East
#19
Hello TS

I'll try to give you what I learnt so far on aquarium photography

1) Use a good filter to get all the small particles out of the water
2) As mentioned: clean the glass surface to ensure no smudging or marks which you don't want to appear on your photo.
3) Flash or not, it depends on the fish, how it reacts to the flash. Different fishes react differently to flash. Some or ok some jump with every flash.
4) Possibility of shooting in the dark would be more desirable to reduce reflections.

I use an external slave flash placed on top of the tank to shoot the fishes. Sometimes 2 externals are needed to make it easier to shoot where the tank is bigger (6 feet). Smaller tanks like a 4 feet and below I would think 1 external flash would suffice. Using a lightsphere here would help immensely as it would diffuse the light to bounce around the tank to give you an even exposure on the top and on the belly of the fish. Not using a diffuser would cast a shadow over various parts of the fish like so....

Without lightsphere (notice the shadow below the eyes and belly is a little darker)


With lightsphere


Shooting with a slave on top of the tank, you won't need a CPL filter as the light coming out from the tank is much brigther then the light from the surrounding, enabling you to shoot in the day.

Primes are good to shoot in low light but with all animals, it is very difficult to get the fish to pose for you thus shooting wide open at say F1.4 would cause some parts to be soft. But it depends on what you are looking for while shooting fishes. If detail is what you aim for, to have every scale and wrinkle visible, then shooting with primes are difficult.

* Patience is key, waiting for the fish to swim perfectly into the pose you want can take a long time depending on how easily you and the fish "understand" each other
** do note there are some tank surfaces/glass that causes a distortion with photo taking. Just change the tank if need be.
 

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Schmike

New Member
Dec 22, 2007
791
1
0
#20
Reflection can still be seen in the 2nd shot. :)

Lots of light must be present in the tank for such shots. That's why it's recommended to use at least 2 flash. Positioning of the flash is also very important to prevent any shadow. Sometimes I will use the diffuser on the flash itself, but most of the time that is not used.

Sample shot with my 100mm with 2 flash on my 1ft photography tank:

Brachyplatystoma vaillantii by Edwin Tan (Schmike), on Flickr

Sample shot with 18-55mm with 3 flash above my 6ft tank:

Carettochelys insculpta by Edwin Tan (Schmike), on Flickr

Sample shot with only 2 flash:

Carettochelys insculpta by Edwin Tan (Schmike), on Flickr
 

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