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Upgrade to 550d kit lens? Any ideas

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Initial post: 20 Aug 2012 13:49:17 BDT
I have the regular lens that comes with the 550d
Im looking for an upgrade, a lens that produces better photos
get mixed reviews regarding 2.8 tamron 17-50
soes anyone have any ideas - im looking for a general lens for travel photography

Posted on 20 Aug 2012 13:59:56 BDT
'a general lens for travel photography' - the Tamron would be a poor choice, as it is very limited at the telephoto end, and surely, very close to the 'regular lens' that you got with the 550d?

If you are looking for ONE lens, as a Nikon user, I would plump for the 18-200mm which is a 'go anywhere' lens, it goes wide enough for most purposes, but gives a decent telephoto where you cannot approach your subject any closer, and for isolating detail images, eg street signs, features high up on buildings, birds (to some extent anyway) and so on.

I am sure Canon do an equivalent for you, but the price is very high on the Nikon, so expect the same.

If you are prepared to carry two lenses, instead of just one 'general lens' I would advise to stick with your existing canon lens (is it 18 - 55mm?) and supplement it with a much cheaper medium tele-zoom in the 55-200mm range.

Hope that helps,


In reply to an earlier post on 20 Aug 2012 15:50:45 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Aug 2012 15:54:02 BDT
Hi PM,
I have a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 on my Sony and find it very good. I have shots at f2.8 which are very detailed. There do seem to be reports of variable quality though - so maybe I have a good one. This zoom range covers about 95% of my shots so I am more than happy.
A lot depends on what subjects you take, I guess.
I'm not sure I'd go for an 18-200 - it seems like a jack of all trades master of none solution to me. These extended range zooms do mean you don't have to change lenses - something dear to Ross's heart since he had a ton of dirt on his sensor. That's also very handy if you plan to take lots of pics on the beach - or in other dusty environments. For one thing the focusing can be slow due to the serpentine mechanisms needed for a triple extension barrel. For another the maximum aperture is not that great.
My advice for what it's worth is have a little think about what shots you take and which you feel you've missed through not having enough zoom range and then have a read of this:
Personally I think a lot of people end up with long zooms which they don't really need. I had an 18 - 250 and gave it to my son because the 17-50 was better and I seldom used the telephoto range. My son likes it because it's as good as his kit lens and saves him changing. I'd rather have the bigger aperture so I can get things out of focus. If I go to a sports event I stick my 55-200 on and probably keep it on most of the day. I also have a 70-300 but I've never felt the need to use a 450mm lens (35mm equivalent). For ultimate quality a prime is best of course - e.g. 50mm f1.8 or f1.4.
I have bought all my lenses secondhand, by the way, and have had no problems with any of them. My best bargain was the Tanron 55-200 for 47 which performs much better than the price suggests. Frankly, I went a bit mad and bought about 10 lenses, most of which I've never used beyond trying them out; or have passed on to my lads. On the other hand they were all bargains - and I could always sell them again.

Posted on 20 Aug 2012 23:41:09 BDT
Hi P Mullins,

You did say you were after ONE lens for travel photography - if that remains your criteria, the lens I suggested, expensive as it may be, is probably the one you'll find best. Of course, if you decide you can, after all, travel with two or three lenses, that is a completely different situation. Let us know.



In reply to an earlier post on 21 Aug 2012 00:16:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Aug 2012 00:24:16 BDT
Hi Ross,
The Canon 18-200 is less than 400 btw so maybe this explains the comment in the link I sent: "There's no USM focusing and the quality is not as good as zooms with shorter ranges". Perhaps it's not up to the Nikon offering?

Posted on 21 Aug 2012 08:04:41 BDT
P Mullins seems to want to carry one lens to 'cover all' while travelling.

The Canon 18-200 I noticed on Amazon seems to have the USM - are you talking about a different product?

See Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Aug 2012 13:25:15 BDT
Lancellot says:
Tamron also makes a good 18-200

Posted on 21 Aug 2012 15:59:32 BDT
yes, I guess Tamron and Sigma do - it's an understandably popular range for a 'one lens fits all' solution for travelling as light as possible.

P Mullins should, if possible, try out all three and then decide if this is the one for him.

I run three lenses, a 55-105, a 70-300 and a 10-20 and don't mind carrying them, even while travelling.

The dust issue I had with my camera seems to have gone away, I was away in Malta and must have changed lenses over 15 times in all, without getting any dust on the sensor. My problem (when the camera was virtually new) must have been a one-off, hopefully.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2012 09:53:16 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Aug 2012 09:53:57 BDT
Hi Ross
P mullins has written that he wants to "upgrade". He does not use the expression 'cover all' and neither of those words appears in his post. He writes that he wants a general lens for travel photography but does not say that this must be his only lens. - Just saying.

Posted on 22 Aug 2012 11:11:30 BDT
Can I put a word in for the Sigma 18 - 125 ? I find it very good on a 60D, and reasonably priced at around 260 . They also do a 18m- 250 which is well reviewed, but of course dearer.

Posted on 22 Aug 2012 11:23:04 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 22 Aug 2012 11:23:35 BDT]

Posted on 22 Aug 2012 18:27:09 BDT
Hi G Austin
P Mullins did say 'im looking for a general lens for travel photography'

I interpreted that to mean he wants to travel light, and go with just one lens.

Maybe I am wrong, who knows!

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2012 18:51:56 BDT
Hi Ross,
Surely you are never wrong?:-)

Posted on 22 Aug 2012 20:04:29 BDT
Until P Mullins graces us with his prescence and indicates otherwise, I'll maintain my definition of 'a' travel lens as one which offers a wider zoom range than usual - eg 18-200mm on a DX.

What is your idea of a travel lens then?

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2012 21:02:16 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2012 01:05:12 BDT
Hi Ross,
I'm not disagreeing per se, but your needs when travelling may well be different from mine or anyone else's. PM wants an upgrade on his kit lens (see title of thread) - which I take to mean better quality glass. Buying a mediocre lens just because it has a big zoom range doesn't sound like an upgrade. I'd sooner miss a few shots but get good IQ on the ones I do take rather than just get a load of OK-ish pics. It's more important to me that I can play with focus and shoot available light at dawn and dusk without having to push the ISO too far.
PM says he wants "a general lens for travel photography". That isn't necessarily your definition of a travel lens. In fact it could mean any lens. Personally I take the same lens, or couple of lenses, I use generally when I travel.
Where I disagree is where you continually paraphrase what he said to justify your choice. He may well agree with you and forsake better quality for a lens with more reach. If so that's fine but it should be his decision not as a result of your evangelical zeal.
What lenses did you take to Malta - bearing in mind you changed them frequently?

Posted on 22 Aug 2012 23:34:54 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Aug 2012 23:40:41 BDT
G Austin

Instead of having a go at me, why don't you advise P Mullins of which lens he should buy, I am waiting to hear exactly which one you are going to suggest.

PS, P Mullins! please look at this webcast, approx 4 mins into it, there's a very detailed explanation of the 18 - 200 mm lens, well worth a look.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Aug 2012 00:58:36 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Aug 2012 01:16:20 BDT
Hi Ross,
I don't believe it is right to try to pressurise anyone into buying a particular lens. I have given my advice. Please bear in mind that I own the lens PM mentions as a possible upgrade and also own an 18-250mm.
I believe people want ideas not to have their minds made up for them.
I watched your Nikon ad. Thing is the guy doing the sales pitch has tons of equipment but most of us have to buy more wisely; not just for a holiday but for when we return. I still go with the title of the thread and suggest upgrading not just getting a so so superzoom because some guy says it's perfect blah blah.
What lenses did you take to Malta by the way?

Posted on 23 Aug 2012 01:28:21 BDT
J. DEAN says:
If your just looking to save space go for an ef-s fitting lens, they tend to be a little shorter than their counterpart.
Try if your really in doubt , its a good lens comparison site with a price slider and all.

Posted on 23 Aug 2012 07:52:11 BDT
G Austin

This is getting silly! I was NOT making up P Mullins' mind, I was making a great suggestion for a travel lens. What lens you have, or what I have, is irellevant.

The 'guy' doing the 'sales pitch' was actually Scott Kelby (no surprise you don't know who he is) on the D-Town website. There were a whole series of programmes there, preceding and following the episode I posted, giving beginners advice on lens choices.

When I travel, Malta or anywhere else, I take ALL of my lenses as I have a decent Lowepro bag which I take in the cabin with me. When at the destination hotel, I put All of my lenses, and camera, into the room safe, and then, when making journeys around the destination, think about what I want to shoot, and which lens or lenses I may need on THAT day. The others stay in the room safe.

The 18-200 Nikon (and the USM version of the Canon) are NOT 'so-so' lenses if used on a decent body with high resolution and low noise, at sensible ISO settings.

P Mullins did not ask which lens would be needed for twilight, night time, or pre dawn shooting, so I am baffled why you suggest lenses better suited for that? And even if he followed your advice, most of the time he would need a decent (ie moderately heavy) tripod in order to stabilize his kit to get sharp images. What use is an f 1.8 lens if you have to shoot at 1/8 sec!

I ask again, which general purpose lens do you suggest P Mullins investigate further? The Tamron he was thinking of duplicates the Canon lens (for focal length) anyway, so that has to be a no-no for his first additional lens purchase, especially for general travel use where, presumably, a little extra telephoto power would be useful.

Finally, I did, if you look again, suggest he carry two lenses, and add a 55-200mm to his existing Canon 18-55. This won't add much weight to his kit, or cost as much as the 18-200, so he needs to get down to the camera shop to try some of these options out before going any further.

A pleasure as ever.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Aug 2012 09:41:17 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Aug 2012 09:46:14 BDT
Hi Ross,
The lens is everything - you can't polish a turd lens with a good body. It's not so long ago that your beloved Nikon's entry level camera was 6mp and people got good shots out of them - especially with good glass.
None of your suggestions will upgrade his kit lens.

Posted on 23 Aug 2012 15:09:03 BDT
STILL you do not state WHICH lens P Mullins should consider

That IS the question posed, are you ever going to attempt an answer?

Posted on 23 Aug 2012 15:28:51 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Aug 2012 16:06:26 BDT
You just don't get it do you. PM actually said -"Im looking for an upgrade, a lens that produces better photos. soes anyone got any ideas". How is that asking anyone to nominate one lens to cover all eventualities you big silly.
You have done your best to persuade him to buy one lens, on the basis of your love of all things Nikon, but admit you travel with several.
Now run along.

Posted on 23 Aug 2012 16:05:14 BDT
So, that's a no then, you don't have any ideas?

P Mullins, I withdraw my suggestion, you shouldn't consider the 18-200 because G Austin's 18-250 (completely different animal) was rubbish, no better than a kit lens. Ask the oracle what he thinks of whatever you come up with, I'm sure he won't sit on the fence and tell you what he thinks, but to be on the safe side, do as you have done and read lots of reviews too.

I'm leaving it there - my apologies for suggesting what many consider to be a great lens, but please, ignore it!


In reply to an earlier post on 23 Aug 2012 16:16:49 BDT
You big baby - now you've thrown teddy out of the pram.
Do you have experience of the Canon 18-200 lens? No you don't, any more than I have.
I didn't say my 18-250 lens was rubbish just not an upgrade - you can check out my review.
I see no reason to comment further till PM comes back with a response. This exchange with you is just an unnecessary distraction for all concerned IMHO. You love an argument though:-)

Posted on 23 Aug 2012 16:19:26 BDT
As you've asked me directly, no, I don't use Canon as well you know, silly boy!

However, P Mullins 'might' like to take a look at this, especially the sample images, and judge for himself, untainted by our little pique :)
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