Lynxboi
Topic Author
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:32 am

Canon Lenses: USM Vs. Is?

Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:06 pm

Hello folks,

This is my first post here and I'm after a bit of advice and help. I've always had an interest in aircraft since I can remember but it's only now that I want to get into the photography side, my main hobby is bus photography but I wish to expand out into aviation.

I recently bought a Canon EOS 500D (Rebel T1i for some) and I'm looking at buying a telephoto zoom lens; my budget is around £200-300 (US $300-470). Are there any recommendations from other forum users and photographers?

I've seen various Canon lenses available, some with the IS feature and some with USM, plus those with both oh and those without either. I understand both these features and what part they 'play' but do people generally have preference over one or the other when buying lenses for use in aviation photography? I guess I'm just interested in hearing what others have to say about these features and their usefulness.

Any help, advice or recommendations would be fantastic.

Thanks in advance.

Regards, Adam.
 
ANITIX87
Posts: 2952
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 4:52 am

RE: Canon Lenses: USM Vs. Is?

Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:29 pm

USM - ultra-sonic motor. Helps with faster focusing
IS - image stabilization. Helps keep images sharp at long focal length or long shutter speeds.

They are not at all the same thing, so, ideally, you want a lens with both. If, for budget reasons, you can only afford a lens that has one of them, go with USM for aviation. With a Canon, you can boost ISO a bit to get a shorter shutter speed and then you don't really need IS, especially if you have steady hands.

TIS
www.stellaryear.com: Canon EOS 50D, Canon EOS 5DMkII, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Canon 24-70 2.8L II, Canon 100mm 2.8L, Canon 100-4
 
JakTrax
Posts: 4635
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:30 am

RE: Canon Lenses: USM Vs. Is?

Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:07 pm

I'm a Canon guy and have lived without IS for over five years - and my images have never really suffered as a result. I have used IS lenses and while it's certainly a useful feature it's far from essential. Same goes for USM motors too, although they are useful for fast-action, panning, etc. Lenses without USM are of course more prone to 'hunting' and can on occasion leave you with blurry images when they can't quite keep up. If you do airshow stuff USM is definitely a big benefit.

As for your budget, there are only three lenses I'd recommend (and one of those is slightly over)...


Canon EF75-300 f/4-5.6 USM III (around £220)

Pros
Reasonable build quality for the price (metal mount, glass front element)
Pretty sharp up to about 210mm

Cons
Very soft above about 230mm


Canon EF70-300 f/4-5.6 IS USM (around £350)

Pros
Metal mount, glass elements (including 1x UD element)
Sharp up to about 250mm
IS

Cons
Relatively poor build quality for the price (although it is made from very durable plastic)
Poor low-light performance


Canon EF55-250 f/4-5.6 IS (around £200)

Pros
Very good value
Pretty sharp throughout the range
IS

Cons
Very flimsy build quality
No USM


There is a selection of wide-angle to telephoto lenses (e.g. 18-200) also available but with that sort of focal length range they don't deliver the best quality.

If you can stretch to around £450 the EF70-200 f/4 L USM is the one to go for.

Karl
 
Lynxboi
Topic Author
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:32 am

RE: Canon Lenses: USM Vs. Is?

Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:24 pm

Many thanks for the replies, especially Karl with the recommendations.

I'll have a scout round for the EF70-200 lens; any retailers you can recommend here in the UK?

I'm going to have to wait until pay day anyway as Jacob's (photography shop) charged me twice for the camera without realising!! So I'm having a bit of trouble sorting this out as neither they or my bank are accepting full responsibility - but that's another matter.

Also, thanks for the info about USM and IS, it cleared things up though have to ask, what is 'hunting' that you refer to?

Regards, Adam.
 
JakTrax
Posts: 4635
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:30 am

RE: Canon Lenses: USM Vs. Is?

Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:00 pm

Adam,

www.warehouseexpress.com are very reputable. They aren't the cheapest but they are very reasonable and guarantee sealed UK stock (not imports) - any problems and their customer service team is spot-on.

If you can stretch to the 70-200 f/4 L USM I'd definitely go for that. It's sharp throughout its range, built like a tank and will produce better images at 200mm with a subsequent crop than the 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS USM will at 300mm. That's not to say, however, that the 70-300 is a bad lens. I borrowed a mate's for a day last year and apart from the low-light issues it was great. Remember, the price you pay for a lens will always reflect the image quality you're going to get out of it.

'Hunting' is a term used when the AF can't quite lock on a subject and zooms through its focus range a few times before it's successful. A USM motor significantly reduces this risk and the more advanced ring-type version (fitted to the 70-200) I've never actually known hunt.

Karl

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