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Good Lens for Canon 550D

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Ben EdwardsGood Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:11:42 am

Hi,

I am getting a Canon 550D and found a second hand 17-85mm Canon EFS lens to use with it. It seems the zoom ring goes through the whole range in around 1/4 of a tern which is great for stills but for video I would of thought this would make smooth zooming difficult?

I was also thinking the 18-135 may be a better lens for video but wondered if smooth zooming would be more difficult with this lens for the reason I mention?

I was also wondering if EF or EF-S lenses were better for video (i.e. are the focus rings the same size)?

I will be using the camera for documented so wide angle is more important than a large zoom.

Regards,
Ben


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Bill DoyleRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 12:36:29 pm

Ben,

Most of the lenses for what are essentially still cameras are designed with a short throw on the zoom and focus for the sake of speed. In addition, the lenses do not allow for the "closeup focus and then pull out to what you need" as they do on video cameras, so you will have to make some adjustments there.

That said, the most critical feature on zoom lenses for video is a constant aperture– otherwise you will see the image jump from one f-stop to the other; it is not smooth.

In general, the EF-S lenses will be less expensive, but they also lock you into a camera with a crop sensor, like the t2i/550D, 7D and 1D. I would strongly suggest you take a look at Phillip Bloom's recent article on lenses for some excellent suggestions. (http://philipbloom.net/2010/08/20/which-lenses-to-buy/)

Bill


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Ben EdwardsRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 12:49:20 pm

Bill,

Thanks, I had a look through the article, very interesting. I am a Documentary Film maker so I really need a general purpose zoom. The two entry level chooses seems to be the 17-85 and 18-135. What I don't quite understand is as video is only using a fraction of the resolution why is lens sharpness so important. I have heard the 18-135 is not as good for stills but is the same the case for video?

Regards,
Ben


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Bill DoyleRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 12:58:39 pm

Ben,

I agree with you. As Phillip point out, some of the newer lenses are in fact too sharp for today's cameras in video mode due to the moire that can be evident if you're not careful.

I also forgot to mention in my previous post that in addition to constant aperture you should get a lens with image stabilization unless it's an ultra-wide model like the Tokina 11-16mm.

Bill


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Ben EdwardsRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 2:12:01 pm

Thanks. Is there anywhere with info on which canon fit lenses have constant aperture. I have done quite a bit of googeling but have not found much.

I guess I am looking for a general purpose (i.e. minimum of 20-85) zoom.

Ben


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Steve CrowRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 4:38:07 pm

Hi Ben,

If in the lens description it only lists one aperture (as opposed to a range) then you can be confident that you are looking at a constant aperture lens.

Here's an example: "Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens" versus "Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom"


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Bill DoyleRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 5:58:39 pm

Ben,

You may have to check the individual zooms. I use a Tokina 11-16 which has a 2.8, the EF-S 17-55 (also 2.8) and an L-series 70-200 (f/4). If your work is outside or under controlled lighting, don't waste the money on a 2.8 lens. For interviews, I use the 70-200, general purpose is the 17-55 and my landscape or interior rooms is the 11-16. Remember also that the T2i and 7D have the 1.6x crop factor, so you have to multiply to get the equivalent focal length of a 35mm or full-frame sensor digital.

Bill


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Neil WeaverRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 7:53:23 pm

I've got a 550D and have an EF 50mm that goes up to f1.4. It's amazing under low light conditions but it is tighter than a nat's chuff - equivalent to something like 80mm on a 5DmkII.

I recently bought an EFS 17-85 that's f4-5.6 to give me a bit more width and although it's not a fixed aperture, I don't tend to zoom that much in shot anyway as I find them a bit 'home video'.

Do I wish I'd saved up a bit more and gone for a 7D or a 5DmkII? Not really. I just don't envisage using it as any more than a B-cam - great for the artsy stuff, not so good for the bread and butter - especially as the money I'd have to spend on peripherals, (follow focus, stabilising rig etc), mean I might as well buy a Letus 35mm adaptor for my EX3. Besides, it looks like there are some very interesting next-gen camcorders coming out soon anyway...



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Richard CooperRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 8:14:37 pm

Hi Ben,

I am afraid that there are no lenses that will give you that "smooth video zoom" I believe you are looking for. (by this I assume you want to do slow pushes or pulls typical of a standard "video lens") These cameras are not the best choice if you need run and gun and / or "smooth zoom" capabilities. It really is a completely different style of shooting. If I understand your needs correctly, this camera may not be the best choice.

If I have misunderstood your needs I apologize.

Also consider that you will need an external monitor, or at the very least a good viewfinder line the Zfinder Pro to see what you are doing as well as a follow focus and rail system of some kind so you can keep your focus.

Hope this helps, Good Luck

Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska
http://www.frostlineproductions.com


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Ben EdwardsRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:16:08 pm

Richard,

Yes I appreciate this. I think it will be used to make interviews look good. Not an on the hoof thing although if the light is good (i.e. outside in the sun) there may be enough depth of field but I suppose the shallow depth of field goes out of the window. It will be used to complement the Z1. This will however have to be done carefully so the video and film styles cut together but it should be fun.

Ben


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Ben EdwardsRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:10:20 pm

Neil,

Thanks, that very encouraging. I have just picked up a Sigma Canon Fit 28-70mm AF F2.8 for £122 on ebay, it says its new. Not an IS lens but on a tripod should be good for interviews etc. Sounds like you are aproching it from the same direction as me. I have a Z1 and wanted to dip my toe into the DSLR thing.

Ben


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John FreyRe: Good Lens for Canon 550D
by on Aug 24, 2010 at 11:23:05 pm

If you have not already ordered the Canon, take a look at the Panasonic GH1. I recently purchased two of them. My company works on a wide variety of projects. These cameras are much more video friendly than the Canons, and accept a wide variety of lenses. The standard 'kit' lens with auto focus and image stabilizer is actually pretty acceptable at 14-140. The articulating LCD, electronic viewfinder and small size are a plus. There is now a very cool firmware 'hack' that is being implemented by many, many users with excellent results. This update enables you to vastly increase the data rate of the camera in 1080 24p, 720p 60fps, AVCHD, Motion JPEG, etc. Google it and you will find the download page and instructions and a huge fan base on both DVX User and Vimeo on the web. Camera prices have recently dropped to $999.00, and the Sigma lens you ordered should work nicely with an available adapter to micro 4/3. Good Luck!

John D. Frey
25 Year owner/operator of two California-based production studios.

Digital West Video Productions of San Luis Obispo and Inland Images of Lake Elsinore


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