Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Canon Lenses

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Aug 28, 2005, 8:43 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 22
Default

I would appreciate peoples thoughts or experiences in comparing L quality lenses with less expensive lenses from both Canon and third party suppliers.

I own a 300D with the kit lens along with a Canon 75-300 II and also the 1.8 50mm mk II. I print a few 6x4 and very occasionally A4 sometimes with a little cropping. Most of my pictures are viewed on the screen. I dont have any ambitions to sell or exhibit my pictures in the future. Most of the pictures I take are of my kids but I enjoy photgraphing anything from time to time. Despite not being a serious pro by any means I get enourmous pleasure from taking pictures and viewing them later.

Finally heres my question....Where will I benefit from improving the quality of my lenses. Is the sharpness gain significant enough for small prints and on screen. Does the AF speed make such a massive difference. It is not just the cost of L lenses but they are also often heavier. I am considering a 28-300mm lens and obviously the Canon lens is a serious piece of kit. The Sigma version is clearly not in the same league. Would I notice a massive improvement if I bought the 70-300 DO lens (not an L but it does have the IS) or should I wait for the new 75-300 IS.

I am not looking for a definitive answer here but more peoples experiences or views around this topic. I had a quick search and couldn't find previous posts but Im sure there must be. Any help would be appreciated.


Dinmore is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Aug 28, 2005, 9:09 AM   #2
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 30
Default

I wondered about the same thing, myself. I just bought the 17-85 IS and compared it to my Sigma 18-200throughout the same range. The link to the test photos are a few messages down on this board. The differences are obvious, but mostly upon a side-by-side comparison.

AF is much faster, and more accurate. Both produce pleasing, well exposed photos. Look at them side-by-side and you see a sharper more contrasty picture with the Canon. In particular, blacks are blacker. I'm sure, the "L" lens glass shows the same improvement over the class of lens below it.

I am looking at the 7-200 F4.0 L, a very highly rated lens, and since it is not particularly fast and has no IS, it is one of smaller "white" lenses.

If you are happy with what you get and print now, there may not be a need to upgrade. I was not happy with the focus or sharpness of the Sigma; at least, for professional high qualitty work. As a walkaround, it is a very nice lens.
GovtLawyer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 28, 2005, 9:32 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 544
Default

I own both the EF-S 17-85IS (a non-L class lens) and the EF 70-200 f/4L. This makes a nice all-round combination. I'm very happy with both lenses. There is a difference in color reproduction with the L lens. I even get great pictures using an inexpensive 1.4X TC. Does the L class lens help produce sharper/clearer pictures? Yes. Is it worth the extra money? Depends on your budget and your requirements.


Wildman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 28, 2005, 11:35 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Dallas, Texas USA
Posts: 6,483
Default

You don't see much difference in performance at f11. Ever notice most reviews of consumer lenses says "best performance at f8-f11"? At those apertures a 4x6 print will look pretty much the same with any lens, although I imagine if you were to look at larger prints, say 11x14 or a little bigger, smallerdetail will show better in images taken with the higher spec lens.

It's at the very widest apertures that you will see a marked difference. At f4 the 70-200 f4L lens is as sharp as it is 2 stops down at f8. The 75-300 (any version) is a dog wide open- you need to be at f8-11 to obtain optimum performance. If you never need to shoot at widest apertures and never print bigger than 4x6 or maybe 5x7the consumer zoom may be all you ever need.

The other difference you see in trying both is how flimsy the consumer zooms are in use- something you may nevernotice if you don't play with a higher spec lens. A 70-200 f4L does not extend when zoomed, focusing speed runsrings around a 75-300 (any version), it focuses internally so it doesnt extend when focusing and the front element does not turn, making fitting a polarizer very easy, all of the controls are very smooth in operation- the zoom ring and focusing rings turn without any play or stiffness.

Instead of the 70-300 DO Canon lens, I would suggest the 70-200 f4L plus the 1.4 II tele converter, which would be less money than a 70-300 DO. Yes, no image stabilization, but I believe optically the combination will be sharper across the entire range. I have been tempted in the past to sell my 100-400L and invest in the 70-300 DO lens, but I've seen very few reviews complementary of that lens at 300mm and f5.6 and I use my lens constantly between 300-400m and f5.6 with great results. The very best option in the 75/100-300 zoom range isn't even a Canon lens. The Sigma 100-300 f4 is a very, very good lens.
Greg Chappell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 28, 2005, 12:29 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
BoYFrMSpC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 339
Default

There's a lot of fuss when it comes to the DO lens. A lot of people complain it's not up to the sharpness of an L but it costs as much as one. Later on, Canon may make a huge improvement on their DO tech, but for now I think the 70-200 is the winner (unless if you'd really like a compact lens).

When should you consider a lens? Just as some mentioned above: when you feel restricted from the lenses you currently have. For instance, I almost always shoot with my kit lens wide open. Because of this, the images will definitely not be as sharp as taking a picture at F8. Another thing I'm annoyed with it is the changing aperture throughout the focal length. It's a very decent lens outdoors (when you can stop down) but when it comes to no-flash indoors it really suffers.
BoYFrMSpC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 28, 2005, 10:49 PM   #6
NHL
Senior Member
 
NHL's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: 39.18776, -77.311353333333
Posts: 11,547
Default

Dinmore wrote:
Quote:
I would appreciate peoples thoughts or experiences in comparing L quality lenses with less expensive lenses from both Canon and third party suppliers.
Well I have some input on 3rd party:

1. Comparing an entry level EF 75-300 or a low-end 10:1 Sigma zoom against two specialized lenses costing many times as much are like apples and oranges comparison - Of course the more expensive lenses have to be better!

2. Now folks also tend to forget that third parties also makes high-end professional lenses such as the EX series from Sigma (XR from Tamron etc...) - Theses lenses cost a little more than their low price entry, but are still more affordable than the L. Greg mentioned the Sigma 100-300 f/4 EX which is practically a prime (according to the MTF) which is excellent... IMO theses EX can compete head-on with any Canon (I have a couple of L's myself) - Some of which Canon (nor Nikon) do not make: the full-frame 12-24 super wide zoom and the 120-300 f/2.8 EX are a few examples

Theses were shot wide open with my 120-300 EX @ 300mm and f/2.8, the 1st picture was at 1/60s and the 2nd shot was at 1/125s (check the Exif) in early AM before the sun has risen: http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=11

If anyone has doubt that the Sigma's HSM is not as fast as the Canon USM: http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=11

Also the 70-200 f/4L is a good lens, but can it do this at night: http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=82
... and this isn't even the newer Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 EX DG version :-)
NHL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 2005, 12:45 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
BoYFrMSpC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 339
Default

I like to think of lenses in three groups

Consumers: They have several faults, but they'll get a job done given the light.

High Level: Very good lenses, with one or two faults (And more importantly, small faults).

Exceptional: The only thing you have to complain about these lenses (If you are to complain) are the price and weight.

(Obviously, different people will think different lenses are exceptional or not)

Now I think the High Level and Exceptional lenses are very close optically, it's just that you'd wish that the high one would have a little something extra to give it a WOW impression. My example is the Sigma 24 - 70 f/2.8 . If it had HSM with it, I would have gotten it so quickly... No questions asked.

I would agree that there are times when it does actually appear the lens justifies a big cost (i.e. the sigma 120-300 2.8 ), but a lot of the times... it doesn't feel that way... (i.e. the canon 24-70 2.8 really doesn't seem worth twice as much as the sigma 24-70 from the pictures I've seen)
BoYFrMSpC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 2005, 5:30 AM   #8
NHL
Senior Member
 
NHL's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: 39.18776, -77.311353333333
Posts: 11,547
Default

BoYFrMSpC wrote:
Quote:
I would agree that there are times when it does actually appear the lens justifies a big cost (i.e. the sigma 120-300 2.8 )...
Well one has to remember that this lens has the range of an EF 300 f/2.8L which costs twice as much... So it's actually a considerable saving!

BTW the capability of this lens is also easier to swallow: a 600mm f/5.6 (i.e. with a 2x TC)





-> Ditto with the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 EX :idea:

Some folks would like to compare this lens to the EF 70-200 f/4L because of the almost similar cost (by the time one add tripod, case, or hood etc...) -> but it really competes against the EF 70-200 f/2.8 L (non IS) at a considerable saving: an f/2.8 is twice as fast as an f/4 (4x faster than f/5.6).

The aperture of a lens is a ratio of the focal lenght over its effective opening so in effect that's a lot more glass. This is a physical thing and fast glass with constant aperture are bound to be larger and that's what you're paying for...
Be fair and don't compare Apple vs Oranges

NHL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 2005, 8:19 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
LBoy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 661
Default

To the original question.

"Canon sell a number of lenses in a special series they refer to as L for "luxury." These are their most expensive and highest-quality lenses, and are readily identifiable by the red stripe painted around the end of the barrel.

L series lenses offer higher optical quality than their non-L equivalents, and have an important technical aspect in common. At least one element in every L lens is either made of fluorite crystal rather than glass, is a ground aspheric lens element (not a moulded/replicated aspheric lens as used in less expensive lenses) or is made from ultra-low dispersion glass. Most L series lenses are also sturdily built - many are encased in metal barrels and are weatherproofed - and most are very fast lenses for their focal lengths. Nearly all telephoto L series lenses are also off white rather than black. To reduce expansion due to hot weather.

These lenses are, therefore, marketed as professional camera lenses and are usually priced out of the range of most consumers. They can be used to take great photographs, but the cost, weight and size of these lenses are the trade-offs.

Of course, a lens doesn't have to be an L series lens to take good pictures. Many EOS lenses offer excellent optical quality - they just don't need and thus don't have exotic fluorite lens elements and so on. Many of Canon's prime lenses in the 35mm to 135mm range fit in this category.

Note also that the presence of a red ring around the end of a lens barrel only indicates an L series lens if it's actually made by Canon. Some other makers happily paint red stripes around the end of their lenses too, but this in no way guarantees that the lens meets the quality standard of a Canon L lens."

L quality lenses are fast lenses. This is the aperture or f value. The lower the better. As NHL has mentioned an f2.8 lets in twice as much light as an f4. Do a search on f stop and aperture.

What will it do for your photographs you ask?

On the whole you get more light into the camera. This allows a faster shutter speed in turn allowing more potential to hand hold your camera withless potential for blur. Moving objects can also be frozen more readily if your shutter speed can be increased. (of course all applies only if you are still following the rules). You can also shoot in lower light conditions more readily. Faster lenses mean you have the agility to utilise a more shallow depth of field than a slower lens. In many cases this is essential to "make" your photograph. In other words to isolate the subject from the background and give your photographs that certain wow factor and an attractive bokeh. This for me is the major benefit. However there are other points like total detail resolved, sharpness, minimizing of optical lens aberrations and flare, reeducation of unwanted colour fringing, inclusion of SSC's

There are fast third party lenses for less cost out there, but the combination of: light gathering speed,
USM (focus mechanism),
quality of glass utilised,
inclusion (in some cases) of IS and weather sealing and
the general overall build quality,

in total together make the L series of lenses something special.

But remember, when all is said and done, good photography is good photography. Better equipment will only benefit this condition. Technique and imagination come first.


ps. NHL, I don't know if anyone else is noticing this but when you post larger resolution images it make it really hard to read the thread as you have to scroll to see the end of each line.. You must have a super duper wide angle screen over there :-). Real nice photograph all the same. Would just like to be able to see it all on my screen at once

LBoy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 1, 2005, 3:09 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 192
Default

Dinmore wrote:
Quote:
I would appreciate peoples thoughts or experiences in comparing L quality lenses with less expensive lenses from both Canon and third party suppliers.

I own a 300D with the kit lens along with a Canon 75-300 II and also the 1.8 50mm mk II.
Quote:
Finally heres my question....Where will I benefit from improving the quality of my lenses. Is the sharpness gain significant enough for small prints and on screen.
Compare the 50 1.8 to your kit lens at 50mm, shooting the same subject using a tripod at various apertures, including wide open and around f/8. Pixel peep if you have to, but try to keep the comparison to what your end products are going to be -- I submit there that 4x6 and desktop are not very high resolution tests. A4 is more challenging, especially cropped.

The 50 1.8 is very nice optically. Don't expect a lens to outperform it just because it has a red ring and impressive techno babble. (The 50 2.5 and 1.4 both outperform it in some ways, but that difference is not large.)

I suggest looking at the differences and improvements in the 50 as a rough guide to what you might get with a better lens elsewhere. If you don't see a significant improvement, then consumer lenses are adequate for your application. If you do see a significant improvement, then you have to look further, and then question whether or not the candidate lens is in fact as good of an improvement as the 50 was at its focal length. Sometimes, the answer is "no", but you go after the best that you can afford.

If you need fast lenses, you have to put up with the size and cost. If you want to have high quality lenses at lower size and cost, look to Canon's F/4 L line, among others.
Madwand is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:17 AM.