Hi Steve,

As the topic of this email states I am considering of buying some new lenses wich are a substantial upgrade/replacement to the kit lens (EFS 18.55 f3.5-5.6 IS ) that came with my EOS 450D.  I have been doing some research on the internet and I narrowed it down to 3 possible options which I consider buying.  My question to you what do you think about  those lenses.  I am sure they all a good upgrade but which one would be the best.  My interests in photographing are all round and I do prefer to shoot without having to use the flash and even in low light conditions.


As the topic of this email states I am considering of buying some new lenses wich are a substantial upgrade/replacement to the kit lens (EFS 18.55 f3.5-5.6 IS ) that came with my EOS 450D.  I have been doing some research on the internet and I narrowed it down to 3 possible options which I consider buying.  My question to you what do you think about  those lenses.  I am sure they all a good upgrade but which one would be the best.  My interests in photographing are all round and I do prefer to shoot without having to use the flash and even in low light conditions.


These are my three chosen options  :

Canon EF-S 15-85mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM

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

Sigma DC EX 17-50mm F2.8 OS HSM Canon

Secondly what would you suggest to upgrade the EFS 55-250 f4-5.6 IS lens, bought separately with??  Any ideas or suggestions are very much welcome here. So far I am considering the following option :

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Thirdly :  Do you think it is worth the money for buying a good upgrade for the lenses and still use the EOS450D in combination with those lenses.  One shop owner told that I might be better off buying also a newer camera model and look for a kit that comes with one those better lenses.  What do you think about it?

Thanks in advance and looking forward to your reply. Keep up the good work on the site.

Greets Bart B.


Hello Bart B.–

Regarding the lens choices.  You’re telling me two things.

  • a.  You desire low light capability.
  • b.  You might upgrade your body in the future.

With this in mind you need to consider if you want to stay with EF-S lenses (those lenses made specifically for the 1.6x APC-S sensor camera bodies), or if you’ll upgrade in the future to a full frame body.  Full frame bodies are much better in low light and many end up getting there the long way around (buying several crop frame bodies while trying to keep costs down) so you need to consider this very carefully if low light is your goal.   Lenses last  a lifetime if well cared for, so you’ll want to be sure you won’t need to replace them.

If you stay with a APC-S 1.6x crop frame sensor DSLR, I think the 18-55mm F2.8 IS is a good choice.  I haven’t any experience with the Sigma, but I have read some reviews and looked at the MTF tables and I wasn’t impressed.

You might also want to consider a 50mm F1.4 lens.  The difference between F1.4 and F2.8 is huge when you’re talking low light.  Other primes for low light would be the excellent 35mm F1.4L (pricey and big), the lightweight but surprisingly inexpensive and very sharp Sigma 20mm F1.8, and even the 100mm F2 if you need the focal length.  When you’re talking “low light” you want the largest aperture you can afford in terms of dollars, and size/weight.

About your 70-300 choice.  There is one I regularly recommend for those who want a smaller lens and want to keep it small and light. The 70-300mm F4 DO IS.  It’s a bit pricey, but used properly it’s a very effective lens.  As it goes, most people who buy this lens find it produces better and better results as they gain experience using it.  This is because a small light lens of this focal length takes a lot of practice/technique to hold still enough for sharp images.  If you can stand the weight/size, consider the 70-200mm F4L IS.. a superb telephoto. The full size 70-200mm F2.8L IS II is a great lens too, but probably too big and heavy for your uses.

About your camera body. Given the choice, I’ll almost always spend money on lenses first and bodies second.  A good lens will significantly improve the images from ANY body.  With that said, the 450 is a bit dated and you’d see significant gains going to something more modern.  Again, for your uses consider full frame which would be the 5d Mark II or a  good used original 5d.



Hi Steve

Thanks for your opinion and thoughts about the lenses I consider buying. This will help me to make my decision but also raises the question if I need to consider buying a FF Camera in the future. Still not sure about that though... A FF body still is a lot money and I am not sure if I want to invest that when I am a small hobby photographer.

Bart B.


Hi Bart –

A ff body is a lot of money, but so are lenses.. and buying lenses twice at a later date is very common and even more expensive.  Don’t be afraid to buy a good used model either.  The original 5d can be had for about $1000.. and even the professional level 1ds2 for about $1500.  That’s a pro level body, 16mp full frame sensor, pro level autofocus and metering.. a lot of camera for the money.

These are all tough decisions.. I see many make them every week.. and I think it comes down to this:  If you see yourself still enjoying photography five years from now, then consider a FF body and a couple nice lenses.  You’ll get great enjoyment from it.  If photography is a once every few months activity, the maybe look at the new 60d.. it’s a great camera too, but far more affordable.

Take care




I am still not sure if I really want to spent the money on the better lenses for my EOS450D...

I mentioned in the first email that one shop owner told me that the lenses I was talking about, would be a waste of money as the used camera body was not that good enough and it would not be able to bring out the best of the said lenses.

Last night I had a little talk with a friend about my ideas. The said friend here was a pro photographer in the past ( dating the film and not digital period ) and he also mentioned to me that those better lense would not be ideal for the camera.  The lenses would be too good in quality and I would not get that out the camera I have.  In short he called it an overkill and waste of the money. He would advise me to seek out techniques and a better understanding of how to use the equipment that I have at this moment. 

As he mentioned that my motivation in choosing lenses with a smaller Fnumber are a bit wrong too. I am thinking that it would give me an advantage of shooting in low light conditions. He’s answer is that Pro photographers are not considering this but use the ability to better control the DOF and because it gives them a better and nicer blurred background and bringing the subject more out of the background.

My question here is, are my reasons and motivations to upgrade the kit lenses wrong? Am I thinking of getting advantage which and I won’t get with upgrading the lenses I have now?  What is your opinion?

Greets Bart B.


Hi Bart B. –

I’m about ready to take off for a few days so I thought I’d better answer this now before l leave.

Instead of addressing the exact information the others gave you, allow me to talk about the subject in general and then finish with my professional opinion.  The photographers skill is paramount, the most vital part of the system.The three EF-S lenses you were considering are not professional quality lenses.  They’re merely nice lenses for an APC-S body

The better the lens, the better image from ANY camera body.

A given sensor (the image part of the body) has a theoretical limit, and a practical limit concerning image quality.

A given lens also has a theoretical and practical limit.

In the order of importance in achieving a high quality image would be:  subject, light, photographer, lens, body.  Notice the body is last.

It is always preferable to have a better lens than a better body.

Concerning fast (large aperture) lenses.  A faster lens can indeed provide a more shallow DOF.  DOF is mathematically calculated from four variables:  Sensor size, Aperture, Focal length, Focal Distance.  As sensor size/focal length/aperture increases DOF decreases.  The less focal distance, the more shallow the DOF.

A faster lens (large aperture) is ALSO beneficial in low light, but DOF must be considered when using a large aperture even in low light.  In other words:  A larger aperture (say F1.4) will allow you to photograph in lower light, but at the same time it also results in less DOF.

Professional photographers consider BOTH DOF and low light capability.  Remember, photography from a technical standpoint is nothing more than balancing the available variables.  ISO, Shutter speed, aperture, focal length, focal distance.


Now my opinions:

A workshop, online lessons, a good book, are all preferred for improving photography over new or different equipment.  Workshops provide the most gain in the shortest time, and therefore you could argue are the most cost effective.

For your needs you want a FF body.  Until you can budget one,, the body you have is perfectly serviceable.

For your needs large aperture prime lenses would be best.  These can be used on your current body, and can be used more effectively on a future FF body.  They will improve ANY body you use them on if they’re quality lenses.

A quality lens is forever.  Buy the very best lens you can afford every time, make sure it supports the FF format (every non-EFS lens), and you’ll be able to use it the rest of your life and it will still be a valuable item to pass down to your kids.  For instance, I paid nearly $2800 for my Canon 300mm F2.8L IS lens.  People said I was crazy.  I’ve used it heavily for over ten years.  The current used price is approaching $5000.  Not a bad investment.  All my quality lenses have appreciated.   Mediocre consumer lenses will lose their value rapidly.

Bart, it would be nice if you could budget a new body AND new lenses.. but not everyone can do that.  Most must make a choice.  From a standpoint of pure image quality your current body is fine until you upgrade to FF.   From a feature standpoint you ‘might’ be better served with a newer crop frame body, but only you (or your workshop instructor) will be able to know this by helping you achieve your goals.

Once of these days I’m going to buy a roll of film for my great grandmothers Baby Brownie that has no controls other than a shutter button, a plastic lens element (one only), and cost $1 new.  And then scan the resulting negatives to provide a better quality image than most of these online experts have ever seen.  Don’t get me wrong, I love digital cameras.  But film vs. digital is just another variable you balance to get the job done. 

I hope this helps.  Keep asking me questions until you’re satisfied you understand what you need to make your next purchase.



Hi Steve,

I just wanted to thank you for your very quick reply. I am sure it will help and make a decision. I will probably have some more question but I will send them to you later.

Enjoy your few days off and thanks again for your quick reply.

Greets Bart B.

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