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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
need help finding an SLR lens

i am getting a digital SLR. been doing that for a while.

deciding to get one is easy, everything else is difficult.

canon or nikon? i am leaning towards canon but i can switch to whichever lets me find my default lens with a range-performance-price combination that works for me.

i want to have one do-it-all, default, walk-around zoom lens at first and then get more later. i want to keep this lens on by default and later also carry another one just for really wide angle and another one true telefoto.

here is an example of the difficulty. all of the following are canon lenses.

Lens 1: EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS ) this is a lens that comes in the basic kit for the digital rebel xti. i am happy with its price (~$150), but i want longer range, and i am not happy with what i have been reading about its image quality.

Lens 2: EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM) this is a lens that comes with canon's upgraded kit for rebel xti. it has the range i am looking for, and better image quality under many conditions, but it is known to have image problems at lower end of the range (like for example noticeable barrel distortion). it is about $500, which i could accept if it didn't have those problems.

Lens 3: EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM) this one is praised for its image quality across various conditions, but i don't like its range. the price is $1000, which i could accept only if it did it all well and i didn't need another lens, but due to its range it obviously does not.

and so on. get my point?

can anybody suggest a zoom lens for me, with approximately 18-85 range or longer, image quality under most conditions without noticeable artifacts or lack of sharpness, and with a price i can justify ($500 would be for ok for something that meets all these conditions and i could even swallow $1000 if i wouldn't need to think about another lens for about a lifetime or so)?

any help is greatly appreciated.
 

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I have Canon's 24-105 f/4. You hear complaints about it due to slowness (f/4 vs. f/2.8 options), sharpness, whatever, but it works for me. It is hard to beat for range. Could always go the 24-70 f/2.8 route, then add on the 70-200 f/2.8, but that's a big lens.

As much as I want the right lens for the right purpose and will lug many around, this one is on the camera a lot.
 

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If you want a all-around type lens for now Nikon has the 18-200mm VR lens.

Ken Rockwell's review of this all-around lens:
Nikon 18-200mm

Not only can you shoot at 200mm, but you can take macro shots with it too - um but you'll need to get the Canon 500d and add that to the end of the lens.

I have mine and its great, its not a fast lens so indoor lighting it will need a external flash if your takings pics of people. I use a Nikon SB800 external flash which uses 5 AA batteries for fast cycling.
 

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Zeljko

All the lens you mentioned are EF-S - if I were you I wouldn't treat that as anything other than a kit lens for the camera body you buy. Likely the digital SLRs will continue the trend toward full-frame, in which case the EF-S is obsolete. I wouldn't spend more than a couple of hundred bucks on EF-S, whereas there are several very nice EF lens which you should look at, chiefly, teaming the EF-S 18-55mm picked up with the kit with something like the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L in either Non-IS or Image Stabilized forms at $600 and $1,100 respectively. Great "L" series lens that you would keep forever
 

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The reason I lean towards Canon is that the market for used lenses is huge with Canon over Nikon.

My walk around lens is Tamron 28-75

I do have a bunch of Canon "L" lenses but the tamron mostly stays on my 20D.
 

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I have a 40D, and I really like my 17-55mm 2.8F. It's big, but the IS is nice to have even in the short focal range. The picture quality is excellent, and it feels sturdy. I also have the EF-S 60mm macro lens, and the EF 70-200mm IS. I got so used to the IS on my two zoom lenses, that a lot of my macro lens shots come out blurry because of too slow of shutter speed.

Canon just doesn't seem to have the decent quality moderate priced lenses that Nikon has. But, if you step up to the L series lenses, I feel the quality is unmatched. My 70-200mm lens is L, and it feels a lot nicer than the other two. But, all of them have very similar picture quality.

For reviews on canon lenses, I like Canon Digital SLR Camera and Lens Reviews at The-Digital-Picture.com . He does a good job of telling you where a lens excels, and where it lacks. Fred miranda is also a good site that has details on both canon and nikon.

Some of my pictures:
Action: MCC Football, November 2nd
Scenic: IMG_3801.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
this lens alone is making me lean towards the nikon over the canon brand so i can use one lens for most everything.
that lens (nikon's 18-200) surely has a great range, but it gets poor reviews under many conditions. but then again sometimes you can wonder how noticeable those complaints are in real-world situations.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
...Likely the digital SLRs will continue the trend toward full-frame, in which case the EF-S is obsolete...
i am starting to think more along those lines too. the only reason i am attracted to the ef-s is that they start wider (to compensate for the crop factor).

but i am starting to think that 24 may be ok for a general purpose lens for me, even with the factor.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If you want a all-around type lens for now Nikon has the 18-200mm VR lens.

Ken Rockwell's review of this all-around lens:
Nikon 18-200mm
that review does not appear objective enough. he doesn't have a single criticism of the lens, nor does he seem to go into much detail of the performance.
 

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You drive an Elise and you are trying to economize on 35mm glass? Actually, using the lens to pick the camera is the right way to go about it. I keep looking at the Canon 24-70 f2.8 L series lens. EOS (SLR) Camera Systems - Standard Zoom - Standard Zoom Lens - EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM - Canon USA Consumer Products

It's pricey, but I know from experience that the range fits what I shoot (mild wide to portrait) and the f 2.8 at all focal lengths is bright enough. (I tend to shoot available light shots without flash.) It is also a bit heavy from reading the specs. But for a standard carry, one-lens does it all, this would be the one for me. Your mileage may vary.

If you get addicted to good photos the way you are to good cars, Canon L series glass has much to recommend. Like cars, the skills of the operator is what matters most. Followed by the capabilities of the glass, followed by the capabilities of the camera - in that order.
 

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I bought the Nikon D40x with the 18-200 IF VR lens last fall. I am not a photog guy but this lens is really versatile. Mainly use it for kids sports, skiing, hiking, beach, etc. Needs a good flash for indoor low light situations, but it really does replace a bag full of lenses, (at least for a hack like me). Still looks like the price is around $750, I think partly because there is nothing that directly competes with it, but I would gladly pay for it again.

Jim
 

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Nikon D40x + 18-200

I'll go into the Nikon with 18-200 lens camp. In general the Nikon vs Canon debate is a wash. Both make really great cameras. The Nikon stuff tends to be a bit more rugged but is also invariably more expensive. I've got the 18-200 and it is the perfect walk around lens. Gives you reach when you need it, is wide enough for most needs, reasonable good performing lens all around. Not a 70-200 f2.8, but also not $1600 or 3lbs.


Adam
 

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Don't waste your money on EFS lenses. They're not as good and they will never work on a full frame camera (1D, 5D, or any film camera). Lenses should outlast your camera and EFS lenses most likely won't.

The 24-105 is a good lense as is the 70-200 2.8. Depending on if you get it with IS or not, the price varies but both lenses are regarded as the best zooms Canon offers.

Eventually, you'll want some good prime lenses but either one of those would be a really good start. If you get into portraits or weddings, you'll probably want the 85 1.2.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
i am down to three:

EF 24-105mm f4 IS USM
EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM
EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM

they are not in my order of preference because i can't really decide which one i prefer among them. it just seems impossible to find the right compromise for me.

i can't decide whether the low end is more important to me (EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM) or the other end (EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM). and in the case of wanting more zoom, i don't know whether i am wiling to sacrifice the f (EF 24-105mm f4 IS USM).

i compared my point-and-shoot with other lenses in a store today and i see that 24-70 matches it. what i would want is little more added to each side of this, making 17-85 perfect, but i can't find a 17-85 of the quality that i am willing to pay for, that is, of the quality of those listed above.
 

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Those lens are also very different in terms of weight - don't underestimate this if you are planning to carry the camera around! For example, the 24-70 f2.8 is 50% heavier than the 24-105 f4 or 17-55 f2.8.

Anyway, for my 2c, the 24-105 since:

1. I wouldn't blow $1,100 on an EF-S lens with likely future obsolescence
2. the 24-70 F2.8 is one of those world-class lens, but is heavy and unless you are pretty experienced, the narrow depth of field when set to F2.8 would require some skill to use well.
3. the 24-105 zoom (with IS) is probably more useful than the extra stop for everyday use, unless you take a lot of indoor or low-light shots.

Do you want low-light capability (but don't forget the depth of field of F2.8) or do you want zoom? BTW, the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM at $300 would be a knockout low-light indoor lens to complement your walkaround lens ;) or even the EF 50mm f/1.8 at $100 ....... complicated isn't it :D
 

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I haven't had it very long, but I really like my Canon 16-35mm 2.8L. It wasn't cheap though. I'll probably take a couple thousand pics with it this summer. Hopefully I'll still like it.
 
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