Old 11-27-2008, 07:25 PM   #1
Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
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Default Sometimes Cheap Glass...Isn't?

I've been lurking in the forums reading all the interesting discussions when someone brings up buying a new body how many people tell them to focus on getting new, better glass if they have a decent body. I'm starting to look into getting a new body since my XT is getting close if not surpassed 300K clicks (yeah, I know!)... Other than my Sigma 17-70 which was a 'gift' I have never bought any new glass, mostly because I've been happy with my el cheapo Canon 75-300.
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This brings up my question, is cheap glass always so cheap or can a $175 lens produce high quality images if it is made right?

BTW, I'm leaning towards the 40D come the new year since they had to change the compatible card AND battery in the XSi.
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Old 11-27-2008, 08:25 PM   #2
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http://www.fredmiranda.com

http://www.the-digital-picture.com

Two great sites if you want to research glass.

For me, yes, it is possible to get perfectly good shots via cheaper glass (it was only a year ago that I upgraded to "L glass"). But the better glass makes it a whole lot easier (plus the physical quality is excellent - with metal bodies and fully sealed from the elements, they're built to last). The difference in quality was quite noticeable - all my shots are razor sharp all the time now (using autofocus), the focus is accurate and lightning fast, and the color and contrast are noticeably better. If I had to go back in time, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.

If your camera is on it's last legs and about to die, however, then the choice is pretty obvious - good glass isn't work much to you if you can't shoot anything with it! And with brand new 40Ds getting down into the $800s in terms of price, it would be a pretty good buy.
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Old 11-27-2008, 09:14 PM   #3
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Get a good body and good glass. Why choose one or the other?
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Old 11-27-2008, 09:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
Get a good body and good glass. Why choose one or the other?
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Old 11-27-2008, 09:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
BTW, I'm leaning towards the 40D come the new year since they had to change the compatible card AND battery in the XSi.
Andrew,

I looked at the DP Reviews on the 40D and XSi. Your comment about "cheap glass" is definitely an appropriate concern in this case, and, sure enough, DPR comments that with the Rebel XSi, you need to be using truly good glass to get the most out of the sensor.

Because the 40D has less pixels, it is likely less demanding of the lens placed on it, and therefore would probably suit your needs better, not to mention the memory card and battery issues that you mentioned, along with the build quality and handling, etc.

If you're interested, I did find that through Jan. 17th, Amazon is running a special for $50 off a 40D body:

http://www.amazon.com/Canon-40D-10-1...7826395&sr=8-1

Additional info here:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos450d/
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos40d/

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Old 11-27-2008, 10:42 PM   #6
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Most any lens can make a pic good at 1024x683. How does it look when printed at 16x20?
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Old 11-28-2008, 01:06 AM   #7
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I just bought a XSi and its perfect, I havnt had a single problem with it, I am still using the Kit lens and takes good pictures, sadly since I got it we have only had a couple days of clear weather, I have only been out once and I only seen one train, but I have the pic in my RP photos just search Michael Link, it is my latest photo. It is a improvement on my old camera. But I have always heard, cheap tripod, cheap body, but never cheap glass...maybe its true, maybe not. But I have also seen good shots with point and shoot. That is what I used before. But I tell you its alot harder then with my new XSi. Mike
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Old 11-28-2008, 01:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Link
But I have always heard, cheap tripod, cheap body, but never cheap glass...maybe its true, maybe not. But I have also seen good shots with point and shoot. That is what I used before. But I tell you its alot harder then with my new XSi. Mike
It's been said here before that a cheap body no longer applies. With an SLR, film choice is highly critical. For example, a cheap body with decent glass could make a nice photo with K64, but ISO400 print film... nope. With a DSLR, the body comes preloaded with the film, so to speak, and you can't just buy a quality film for it. The choice of body is critical.

P&S can take niceshots, to be true, but you loose flexibility and quality. Those National Geographic photographers don't go into the field armed with P&S cameras for a reason.
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Old 11-28-2008, 02:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
It's been said here before that a cheap body no longer applies. With an SLR, film choice is highly critical. For example, a cheap body with decent glass could make a nice photo with K64, but ISO400 print film... nope. With a DSLR, the body comes preloaded with the film, so to speak, and you can't just buy a quality film for it. The choice of body is critical.

P&S can take niceshots, to be true, but you loose flexibility and quality. Those National Geographic photographers don't go into the field armed with P&S cameras for a reason.
And they likely arn't using 10 or 12 mp Canons either. Just like any thing that requires equipment, you have to match the equipment to your needs. If all you desire are good webshots, then a $200 P&S will do great. I have a 40D. It is all the camera I need for my type of use.

My wife took this with her Sony P&S......................
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Old 11-28-2008, 02:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
It's been said here before that a cheap body no longer applies. With an SLR, film choice is highly critical. For example, a cheap body with decent glass could make a nice photo with K64, but ISO400 print film... nope. With a DSLR, the body comes preloaded with the film, so to speak, and you can't just buy a quality film for it. The choice of body is critical.
I've said the same thing here before, but no one seemed to listen to me (surprised?). The body is very important and should not be skimped on, especially if you want to stray from the base ISO.
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Old 11-28-2008, 02:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
I've said the same thing here before, but no one seemed to listen to me (surprised?)

Who says you're the authority around here? Be surprised.
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Old 11-28-2008, 03:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Who says you're the authority around here? Be surprised.
I never said anything about authority.
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Old 11-28-2008, 03:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
The body is very important and should not be skimped on, especially if you want to stray from the base ISO.
Agreed. A cheaper (ex: XT) body isn't going to be that different when it comes to shooting at ISO 100 on a bright, sunny day. But the difference between that and a nicer body in low light at a high ISO, especially with a faster moving subject, is going to make a HUGE difference. That's why probably next year I'll dump (sell to family) my XT and pick up either a 20D, 30D or a 40D.
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Old 11-28-2008, 04:25 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
I've said the same thing here before, but no one seemed to listen to me (surprised?). The body is very important and should not be skimped on, especially if you want to stray from the base ISO.
I pretty sure it was you, Mike. I tried looking for the post but, well, short attention spa....

Anyways, probably the best arguement to spend good money on a good DSLR body I've heard. Couldn't have hit the nail on the head better if you were a hammer.
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Old 11-28-2008, 06:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
This brings up my question, is cheap glass always so cheap or can a $175 lens produce high quality images if it is made right?
Well, I shoot Nikon but with a D80 body and a cheap Quantaray $150 70-300 I seem to produce quality images, outside of chromatic aberration, and it being so light I cant hold it still at all, it is not a bad lens. Although the Nikon 70-300 VR ($469 on B&H $659 at Ritz)is currently on its way to my door step from B&H.

Heres a couple from the Ritz lens.

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Old 11-28-2008, 06:07 PM   #16
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The focus on glass, no on the body is more prevalent when someone comes on saying they have $600 to spend and think the best way of spending it is getting an XSi with a kit lens, which is a terrible way to spend that money.

Look at it this way... if you're going to spend X dollars / year on equipment, you'll be better off in the long run getting better glass now and upgrading the body later. If you dump all of your budget into a body now, a couple of years from now you'll have an out of date camera body and a set of cheap lenses. If you focus on getting better lenses now, a few years from now when your budget can afford another upgrade, you can get a camera body that's more capable than anything currently on the market today... and you'll have good lenses to use with it to boot.

Mike raises a good point about ISO - that's certainly a reason to spend more money on a body, however, 95% of the time most people don't need anything faster than ISO 200 for train photography.
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Old 11-28-2008, 06:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ottergoose
Mike raises a good point about ISO - that's certainly a reason to spend more money on a body, however, 95% of the time most people don't need anything faster than ISO 200 for train photography.
That's probably true as long as the sun is out. When the sun isn't shining, ISO 200 usually isn't enough.

It doesn't matter how good your lenses are, if you're photos are full of noise and other undesirables the photo is worthless.
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Old 11-29-2008, 01:01 PM   #18
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But at the same time you can be shooting with the best SLR body money can buy (1DsMkIII , D3) and wind up with soft pictures that you can't enlarge past 1024p if you shoot through shitty glass.
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Old 11-29-2008, 02:16 PM   #19
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I was shooting with the Digital Rebel till this year and bought a 40D. It is a huge difference over the Rebel.

As for the lens part, I would love to buy a Canon 24-70 "L" and a 70-200 "L" but do not have the $$$ for them. I did a lot of web browsing, mostly POTN and Dpreview to find a good alternative and read that a lot of people were very satisfied with the Tamron lenses as a cheaper alternative to the "L" lenses and they produce a great picture.
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Old 11-29-2008, 05:46 PM   #20
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Ritz lens and promaster and others are made for then by the lowist bidder, maybe Tamron, Sigma, or Tokena. Some are better some not so good. Cheep is just that, wont last as long and maybe softer too.
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Old 11-29-2008, 05:54 PM   #21
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And if the sun isn't shining, the photos are only for your collection and not for Railpictures.net.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
That's probably true as long as the sun is out. When the sun isn't shining, ISO 200 usually isn't enough.
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Old 11-29-2008, 06:02 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by WKUrailfan
But at the same time you can be shooting with the best SLR body money can buy (1DsMkIII , D3) and wind up with soft pictures that you can't enlarge past 1024p if you shoot through shitty glass.
That will only happen if you have no idea what you're doing. Every lens has a sweet spot, usually f/8, and as long as you stay there or close to it you will get acceptable results. Railroad photography isn't very demanding of glass because with most shots you don't need or want anything bigger than f/5.6. If you go larger than that too much of the photo will be blurry. If you were shooting at larger apertures, top level glass would be essential, but you're not. The main difference in pro glass is sharpness (not so much around f/8 however), color, bokeh, contrast, etc. All the advantages of pro glass are very useful and I highly recommend getting it if you can, but if you're shooting with an inadequate body you won't be getting the IQ you should be.

Don't spend all your money on a body, and don't spend all your money on glass either. Find a happy medium and upgrade as you go along.

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Old 11-30-2008, 12:48 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milwman
Ritz lens and promaster and others are made for then by the lowist bidder, maybe Tamron, Sigma, or Tokena. Some are better some not so good. Cheep is just that, wont last as long and maybe softer too.
What is considered cheap?
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:22 AM   #24
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Andrew,

You can count me in the majority of those who recommend glass over body. No one ever challenged this assertion back in the days of film, where the camera simply served as a light-proof box. Nowadays, it's possible to improve your output with a better camera body. Still, the role of lenses in crafting colorful, contrasty, and sharp images can't be overlooked.

I made the decision when I started with Canon's EOS system that, as soon as I had the money, I was going to get the best lenses I could afford. I had two mediocre starter lenses that got me through the first two years of high school, but it has been "L" glass ever since. I'm very happy with that decision. Sure, it was awkward wielding a 70-200mm on a plastic rebel, but it produced a lot of sharp images.

That said, it's possible to find inexpensive, sharp lenses like Canon 50mm f/1.8. However, most "cheapo" lenses don't deliver the sharpness and color of the more expensive lenses. The high-end lenses also tend to withstand wear and tear better than their cheaper counterparts.

Brad Morocco borrowed my lenses this summer, and quickly replaced his 75-300mm with a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. Andrew, if our paths cross some time next year, you are welcome to try my lenses too. Real-world testing, with results that you can personally evaluate, will do for more towards producing an answer to your questions than any number of forum opinions. I think, however, that you will end up wanting a 70-200mm for yourself too.
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:56 AM   #25
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Andrew, if our paths cross some time next year, you are welcome to try my lenses too.
You should let him borrow your body with it set to RAW while you're at it.
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