Caption: Inquisitive elephant (Loxodonta africana) ambles up to our game drive vehicle, Okavango Delta area, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi); Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6; Focal Length: 24mm; Shutter speed: 1/160; Aperture: f5; ISO: 200.
Additional Info: The above picture was taken with Canon’s very basic kit lens, the EF-S 18-55mm (non IS version), at a focal length of 24mm. This equates to 38.4mm on a full-frame digital when taking into account the 1.6x crop factor of the Canon EOS 400D.
Althought 38mm can be classified as wide angle, it’s at the limit and some would say it’s more “standard” than wide angle. Nevertheless, at that focal length the elephant nearly filled the frame (vertical), which does illustrate how close it was to our game drive vehicle.
But our safari guide, Grant Truthe of Okavango Voyagers, could tell the elephant was very relaxed. Grant, one of Botswana’s Wilmot family, was born in the country and has spent much of his life in the bush, so you simply put your trust in guys like this and enjoy the experience.
The kit lens I used for the photo has since been replaced with an image-stabilized version, the EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS that, despite its flmsy build and plastic EF-S mount, is not a bad walkaround or standard zoom and offers excellent value for the low price.
However, if you’re wanting either superior image quality or ultra wide capabilities in a wide angle zoom lens to use on a Canon digital SLR with APS-C format sensor (the Digital Rebels/300D to 500D and 20D to 50D models), there are two EF-S lenses that fit the bill:
* Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
* Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
The 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is a standard zoom offering a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. This, together with outstanding image quality and image stabilization, make it a favorite of photographers who need to shoot in low light. The equivalent focal length on a Digital Rebel is approximately 27-88mm.
The EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM stands out because it offers true ultra wide angle capability for users of Canon Rebel and 20D-50D bodies, something that was previously lacking. On these cameras its equivalent focal length is 16-35mm, which surely makes it wide enough for most users, while adding a new world of creative possibilities.
To find out more about these standout lenses, see Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM user reports and Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM user reports.