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Mediterranean_Honeymooner

Inexpensive telephoto lens for Canon? Polarizing filter for Alaska?

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Please help.  I am a complete amateur, but I would like to take nice photos on our upcoming Alaska cruise.  I am looking for an inexpensive telephoto lens for photographing wildlife/nature. We are going on a whale watching excursion and will also be viewing glaciers and distant animals on shore.  I have a Canon (either T3 or T3i, not sure and I can’t get to the box right now because the kids are napping).  I am not able to handle a lot of complex manual settings.  So what would you recommend?  I have looked at a 75-300 and a 55-250, but I’m not which of those or if something completely different is best?  I want to get one that will give a lot of zoom (some things may be quite far away), good image quality, and stay under $200 if possible.  Also, should I get a polarizing filter?  I have read that they are helpful, but then I was reading that you have to wait until after it focuses to put it on because of movement.  That may work for mountains, but not for moving objects like whales.

 

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Mediterranean_Honeymooner

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You may want to consider renting a long lens, instead of purchasing a lens.

 

another alternative is purchasing used instead of new. 

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1 minute ago, Mediterranean_Honeymooner said:

 

How does one go about either of these?

 

There are a few online vendors - Lensrentals.com is a site recommended over on dpreview.com. For used, keh.com is fequenly mentioned. If you have a local camera store, they may have some used equipment. Any EF or EF-S lens should fit your camera body. It’s a very common lens mount, and a check on B&H photo shows a Tameron 70-300 lens for $129.00

 

This lens does not have image stabilization - for EF mount lenses that is usually found on the next price tier upwards. This should not matter unless you are trying for a long handheld exposure.

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7 minutes ago, TheOldBear said:

 

There are a few online vendors - Lensrentals.com is a site recommended over on dpreview.com. For used, keh.com is fequenly mentioned. If you have a local camera store, they may have some used equipment. Any EF or EF-S lens should fit your camera body. It’s a very common lens mount, and a check on B&H photo shows a Tameron 70-300 lens for $129.00

 

This lens does not have image stabilization - for EF mount lenses that is usually found on the next price tier upwards. This should not matter unless you are trying for a long handheld exposure.

 

So this 70-300 would be a better choice?  Do you not recommend either of the other two?  Do you have any other suggestions to look for used?

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17 minutes ago, Mediterranean_Honeymooner said:

 

So this 70-300 would be a better choice?  Do you not recommend either of the other two?  Do you have any other suggestions to look for used?

 

Its a reasonable, consumer grade lens from a well known retailer. Consider it a benchmark price for comparison. I have a similar grade lens for my Olympus (and some old Canon lenses in FD and EF mounts around somewhere). 

 

 

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13 minutes ago, TheOldBear said:

 

Its a reasonable, consumer grade lens from a well known retailer. Consider it a benchmark price for comparison. I have a similar grade lens for my Olympus (and some old Canon lenses in FD and EF mounts around somewhere). 

 

 

 

Great.  Any advice on whether I should purchase a polarizing lens?

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For Alaska I’d regard a polorizer as pretty much essential.

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But then if you are experienced it may be a waste of money.

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I have the Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS (image stabilizer) , but II (non STM model). It's crop equivalent is 88-400mm which is pretty far (Canon t3 and t3i have a 1.6x crop). This lens is very sharp for it's images. if considering a Canon EF-S 55-250mm do not get the the STM version because the t3/t3i won't be able to fully utilize the STM function. Note that the lens doesn't have a super fast autofocus. 

 

I don't use it often now because I have since upgrade to a professional series lens.

 

 

 

Edited by Gizmo88

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1 minute ago, Gizmo88 said:

I have the Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS (image stabilizer) , but II (non STM model). It's crop equivalent is 88-400mm which is pretty far (Canon t3 and t3i have a 1.6x crop). This lens is very sharp for it's images. if considering a Canon EF-S 55-250mm do not get the the STM version because the t3/t3i won't be able to fully utilize the STM function. Note that the lens doesn't have a super fast autofocus. 

 

 

 

 

Okay.  This is good to know.  I was leaning towards the STM because I thought I read it was “better” in some way.  But not worth it for my camera?

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18 minutes ago, Mediterranean_Honeymooner said:

 

Okay.  This is good to know.  I was leaning towards the STM because I thought I read it was “better” in some way.  But not worth it for my camera?

It won't be worth it due to the camera being old (when it actually got released) and may not being able to support it's focusing system. An STM (stepper motor focus-by-wire) system isn't the best for image sharpness because in autofocus estimates distance for sharpness instead mechanically doing it an getting a maximized distance for sharpness.

Edited by Gizmo88

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18 hours ago, Mediterranean_Honeymooner said:

 

Great.  Any advice on whether I should purchase a polarizing lens?

 

18 hours ago, GUT2407 said:

For Alaska I’d regard a polorizer as pretty much essential.

 

Polarising filters can help make ‘better’ pictures. They can also help make awful ones.

 

For landscapes, removing unwanted reflections, etc., they can serve a very good purpose.

 

However, you don’t just screw them on the lens and forget them. Typically, they require adjustment for each shot. Also, they can have an impact on your light metering,

 

If you go that way, make sure you do a bit of practise at home som you know how it will work for you.

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On 2/23/2019 at 12:28 PM, Mediterranean_Honeymooner said:

I have looked at a 75-300 and a 55-250, but I’m not which of those or if something completely different is best?  I want to get one that will give a lot of zoom (some things may be quite far away), good image quality, and stay under $200 if possible.

With all due respect, a budget of $200 won't go far enough to make it a worthwhile purchase for Alaska. Rent the 70-300 L-series (the white one) or maybe the 100-400 Mark II for about that $200 and be much happier. If you feel the urge to buy, skip the 75-300; you won't be happy. Be sure that any telephoto you buy has Image Stabilization - you really won't enjoy Alaska if you're stuck having to maintain significantly higher shutter speeds to avoid camera shake.

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I have used Lensrental a few times and it is a great way to go.  They'll even rent you the correct size polarizing filter to go with whatever lens you end up with.

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10 hours ago, Re-tired said:

I have used Lensrental a few times and it is a great way to go.  They'll even rent you the correct size polarizing filter to go with whatever lens you end up with.

Same here. Every Alaska cruise we've done has been made better with a sizeable rental from them. Lately I really just rent the 600mm, but I've been all over the map with them. We've tried lenses that we later bought, we've tried lenses that we realized we'd never buy, we've rented stuff we had no hope of affording (to purchase) yet, etc.

 

My tips: have your rental arrive at least a day before you need to have it, so if there's a shipping issue or a (very rare) equipment problem, they have time to overnight you a replacement thingy or you have margin for the shipment to arrive. Be aware that LR does sometimes (if stock permits) ship your order a day early (at no extra cost to you), so if you're not certain that you'd be at the listed shipping address for both of those days, I highly encourage you to have your order shipped to your nearest "FedEx Office" location (LR knows how to do this quite well). You then show up at FedEx Office with ID in hand, sign for your package, and walk out with a smile, rather than fuming at home that you missed the delivery (it's absolutely positively always "Signature Required" so they absolutely will not leave it on your doorstep). Heck, by doing it this way, I've had the pleasure of picking up my order as early as 8:30am and 12:00noon at the latest; the drivers start their route rather close to my nearby 'Office and they want to empty out their truck as early as possible.

 

I'll also point out that their sister site, lensauthority.com, is a fantastic place to buy used lenses. They have better repair/calibration capabilities onsite than some of the major lens manufacturers; they've done consulting work for at least one major brand but can't disclose which one due to NDA. They also have a fantastic system called "It's a keeper", so if you've rented a lens and decide you love it, you can buy it and keep it. Their online system will give you a no-haggle price on the spot; there's no need to send that lens back to them and wait for a different copy to come to you.

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