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Which Canon lens to use with T2i for documentary film?

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Dale Thompson
Which Canon lens to use with T2i for documentary film?
on Mar 1, 2010 at 4:10:06 pm

I'm currently filming a documentary film and was looking at getting the new Canon T2i as a secondary camera (my main camera is a Panasonic HVX200). I wanted to use the camera for filming in tight shots of faces, hands, etc. as well as interior car shots and exterior shots (to be used with a Steadicam Merlin).

I know the kit lenses with the new T2i are basic but I wanted to get a lens that will be good in low-light situations and perhaps provide a bit more DOF too.

I was looking at getting one of the two following lenses:

1). Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

2). Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 MACRO

I'm sitting on the fence on this two though. I know the Canon 17-55mm is a really good lens but it's also $1300 Cdn. The Sigma is much more of a basic lens but it's 1/3 of the price of the Canon too.

My budget is a little tight right now but I also want to make the right (and educated) choice for a lens.

If I'm using the Canon 17-55mm on a secondary camera, is this just overkill or would the Sigma suffice? I know the Canon is probably the superior lens but at the same time, is it too much of a lens if I'm only using it for faces, hands and exterior shots? With the except of some Merlin work, most of the shots will be used with the T2i on a tripod as well.

Any tips or advice greatly appreciated.


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Mason Jones
Re: Which Canon lens to use with T2i for documentary film?
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:42:54 pm


I'm buying a T2i for shooting docs also. The disadvantages I see for the Sigma are it's not a constant 2.8 and no IS. No IS probably isn't a big deal on a shorter lens like that. But in low light it will be a bummer not having 2.8 through the whole range.

I just ordered a Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 lens for $150 and have seen others for under $300US. That's not as wide as 17 but it's a constant 2.8. My rationale was that when I spend the money on a Canon lens I'll spend it on a longer lens like the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 where the IS will be a big advantage. Not sure when I'll have the money for one of those!

I'll let you know how the $150 Sigma works out.

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Thomas Sudbury
Re: Which Canon lens to use with T2i for documentary film?
on Apr 30, 2010 at 3:39:59 am

Hey man! I am getting into this too! One thing to consider is if you are going to zoom or not with it? You need to have a zoom lens that has NO CHANGE IN F STOP in order to do it without it looking weird, which means your 2.8 would do better.
I bought a 50mm prime which has a amazingly low focal length and it works great! the lower the number the better the picture in dark places. you should also invest in an external mic which the T21 compensates for, to get the microphone away from the camera body, ideally as a lapel. I have filmed a couple musicals with this camera and some plays with great results. The documentary is going along great as well. The camera lenses give a polished look to it and although I am only processing to DVD (I know its kinda a waste with the 1280) it still turns out great results!
God Bless, Thomas

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