So, I went shopping. I 'needed' a decent tripod (look at my night photos to see why). A tripod should also make it easier to photograph model aeroplanes at high speed.
I *wanted* a prime lens. I like the idea of something light, that frames my picture for me (no zooming). The superior image quality is a potential bonus - though of course it is limited by the skill of the photographer!
I'd seen some excellent reviews of the Canon 50mm f/1.8. The 50mm, of course, is essentially 80mm on my small-format SLR. So it's somewhere between a normal and telephoto lens. And the large aperture should make it easier to get good low-light photos. My old lenses will be clamouring for attention now!
Kenneth at Photo Warehouse helped me through my purchases. I was honest about not having much money to spend, and he was genuinely interested in making sure I spent my money wisely. I'm really glad I took the time to go in store instead of just buying stuff off the internet. It also means that you can bring the things straight home, and no paying for shipping and handling!
The tripod I bought cost significantly less than I thought I would need to spend. Plus, Kenneth let me try the lens on my camera before buying it. Really good service.
After I'd been shopping, we went out for lunch at a local café. It was a great opportunity to try out the lens. Incidentally, it seems really weird to NOT be able to zoom!
This is possibly the nicest photo I have ever taken in my whole life. The portrait is crisp (seriously, click on it for a 100% zoom, it's amazing). The bokeh is gorgeous, if slightly pentagonal. **love**
It does birdy portraits too!
And sweet macro shots.
In conclusion: this lens weighs about as much as a cellphone. The fact that it's "plastic fantastic" is irrelevant. It does gorgeous portraits and macro, and I look forward to trying it out in low light. I recommend buying new photo gear in store - you get to try it out, and you might be surprised by the reasonable prices.