February 6, 2015 at 10:14AM


Lenses for the Canon T3i ... Help?!

I'm about to purchase a Canon T3i which comes with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DC III Lens, I'm not sure how good that is....but I just want people's opinions for any better lenses out there. I know for a T3i, a 35mm is what you need to get the look of a 50mm .. but my budget is small as you can tell and so I'm not sure where to look for a decent lens.

Also should note, I plan to use this primarily for shooting short films, clips etc... Any ideas?? Still wrapping my head around all of the lens talk lol. I've looked up plenty of shorts shot with a T3i but just uncertain of which lenses compliment it best.

Thanks :)


Assuming youre on a budget (T3i) like me, I would suggest picking up a nifty fifty. They are crazy affordable, especially the f/1.8 (always around $100) and really sharp. Course its a prime so youre stuck at that focal length but that should be ideal if youre planning on using it for shorts. Check it out

February 11, 2015 at 4:32PM


But if youre just picking up your first camera, dont worry about good lenses yet. Learn the camera first. Instead of focusing on what to shoot with, just focus on what you want to shoot in the first place.

Wyatt E Otero

February 11, 2015 at 4:35PM

Terrible idea to get a Canon T3i if you want to film short films, as in 2015 we have so many much much better options! For similar, or even less money.

A few options:
Sony A5100, Nikon D5200, or Panasonic GX7 / G6. Any of these are as good as a Canon 5Dmk3 or better, and way better than a T3i. I myself own a A5100 and D5200

Or for second hand check out the Panasonic GH1 (or for a bit more, GH2) or Sony NEX-5N, which can be found for around US$200ish or even less without much trouble second hand and even these two (GH1&NEX-5N) are much better than a T3i.

I started out on a GH1 myself (and still use it to this day! When I need it for multi cam shoots, such as weddings), a still fantastic camera which goes for next to nothing these days.

Then after that, pick up a few vintage primes to shoot with, I purchased 4 pre-AI Nikkors this week from KEH for only $200. Some very fine lenses, for next to nothing! :-D

You can get "better", but they're a great starting point for your first lens collection. I already have a set of Rokinon Cine DS lenses. But I wanted a second matched set of lenses, so gone for pre-AI Nikkors. Additionally they will give a very different look to my Rokinons, so they'll be an even better for certain projects over the Rokinons where that look is required.

February 12, 2015 at 6:12AM

David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer

An example great starting set up would be a Sony A5100 (I got mine like new for $320, you might need to wait for it to go back on sale though. If you can't wait, get a NEX-5N for US$150ish on eBay) plus a focal reducer (such as the Mitakon or RJ Lens Turbo, they're about a hundred dollars).

Then for lenses, I'll link to a few from KEH as they're easy to reference and find (but you can often find them even cheaper if you really hunt on eBay instead):

First get a generic 28-something zoom lens for next to nothing, so as to have all the basic focal lengths covered in one hit (such as the VIVITAR 28-85MM F/3.5-4.5 for less than twenty bucks):

Then pick up a few fast prices, such as a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 for only $76:

105mm or 135mm f/2.8 is a good second prime to get for *very* cheap:

By this point, you'll have a camera body, a focal reducer, and 3 or 4 lenses. A great starting point, get out there and shoot! But if you get a bit more money, you might look at getting a 20mm prime (a pre-AI 20mm could be got for a couple of hundred), or fast 35mm prime, or an even wider lens of modern origin (such as a Rokinon 16mm or Tokina 11-16mm).

David Peterson

February 12, 2015 at 6:39AM

I would suggest buying body only, and saving up for a better piece of glass. Many filmmakers think they get that "great" camera, then buy a lens, costing them only a Benjamin. Glass is (often) more important than the body. If you're on a tight budget, some of the best manual lenses are Russian Helios M42 mount lenses. They are cheap, and produce great images. Work with those and buy and trade your way up to a Rokinon or even a Canon L Series lens.

February 12, 2015 at 2:34PM

Christian Gentry
Director, Producer

For the lenses if you are short on money then obviously the first would be the cheapest canon lense the 50mm 1.8 (or for half the price but same quality its Chinese replica the yougnuo 50mm 1.8) then if you want decent images, you have to put money in it. The best all in one option for me is the 17-55mm 2.8 it's not cheap but it's really worth. I have film quite a lot with the Canon T3i (or 600d) and as a documentary shooter it's THE lens I use 90% of the time.
There is a crop mode on the T3i so it allow you to have a very useful range of zoom with this lens.
You can achieve very decent result with this combo, especially if you use tragic lantern and a good picture style.

February 15, 2015 at 4:36PM


Oh and if you want to go really really cheap, you can buy the EOS M, which has the same sensor and even a better processor so you get the same quality and it's way cheaper. Then you save money on the lenses to as you can use an adapter to put canon FD lenses on it. That can give you a good choice of prime lenses for a very limited budget.

February 15, 2015 at 4:44PM


I think the T3i is not only a good choice, but an excellent choice, don't let the camera snobs influence you. I have both the T3i and eos-m, if you know how to use them well, no one will be able to tell what camera your video is from. Used T3i can be an absolute bargain.
What camera lens to buy? Kind of like finding a lover or a car, boxers, briefs or bikini, much too personal a choice to leave to other people who have different preferences and types of shooting. Lots of options at a variety of price ranges, then does it fit the work you do? I can off the top of my head recommend lenses, but does it feel good to you? Just about any lens will work well, but ergonomics is the most important thing, how it feels when you focus and set f stop. Get the lens that feels good and fits your shooting.

June 2, 2015 at 12:34PM


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