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Thread: Lens Comparisons for Canon

  1. #1
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Lens Comparisons for Canon

    A friend of mine has just purchased a Canon 50D. I am a Nikon man myself so I know little about this camera and associated lenses. He has one standard lens 28mm to something that came with it. He is looking at purchasing another lens but does not know exactly what.

    We are going on a photographic trip through the Flinders Ranges, Sth Australia next week and he will be able to check out my range of lenses (via my camera) and determine his next purchase.

    He was wondering if anyone has come across comparison data for different Canon lenses compared with third party compatible lenses looking at image quality and price.

    Thanks
    Peter Ryan
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 3rd September 2009 at 06:31 AM. Reason: corrected typo

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    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Whos Len?

    Buy Canon 'L' lens..yah they cost more but they are worth it...Putting anything other on it is a waste of a 50D
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 3rd September 2009 at 06:31 AM. Reason: corrected typo

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    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    I find this site useful for lens comparisons, Peter. Very detailed tests and comments over a wide range, although some of the more specialist lens aren't included. http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/overview#canon_aps

    Your friend probably has a Canon 28-135 IS lens which is sometimes supplied as a 'kit lens' by some of the better sales outlets. For the price, it is a very good general purpose lens with a most useful size range.

    It's true that you can't go wrong with the Canon L series lenses; providing you have some well filled pockets.

    I have had the 28-135 for several years of rough treatment and the barrel is just beginning to get a fraction wobbly although I can't see any deterion in the resulting photos. So I thought I would upgrade to the Canon L 24-105 IS before the UK VAT rates increase soon.

    It arrived today and I have just begun to do some comparison tests against my 28-135. In most cases, I can't see much improvement with sharpness except with the extreme ends of the contrast range. The 28-135 tends to 'blow' highlights and lose details slightly when shooting 'well to the right' while they are still crisp with the 24-105.

    Autofocus is fractionally faster with the 24-105 and it does appear to be a stronger constructed lens.

    All in all, I think I will be happy with this purchase but it does make me realise just how good the 28-135 is for less than half the price.

    Returning to your friend, Peter, my advice would be to couple his existing lens with a Canon 70-300 IS which would give a good range with only 2 competitively priced lenses.

    But if money is of no concern, yes go for the best L glass that you can find.

  4. #4
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Thanks Geoff,

    I appreciate your time and input. I have passed your thoughts on to my friend. I have introduced him to this site but he has not had time to sign up yet. He is in the process of reading and digesting the public information at this stage.

    I am looking forward to the weeks shooting and camping in outback Australia and hopefully we will come back with some great shots.

    Best regards,

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    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Hi Peter,

    I actually typed quite a detailed reply to this last night, but it seems to have disappeared

    Another good source of reviews and feedback for lenses is Fred Miranda's site, although as always, opinions will vary.

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Thanks Colin,

    I had a quick look and I am sure all this will help him.

    Best regards,

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    "L" Glass is great

    Canon "L" Glass is great. I own several. However, the mid-range zoom I prefer for a 1.6x camera is the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS.

    That lens is one of the primary reasons that I never switched to full-frame. Full frame really doesn't have any lens to compare with the 17-55mm. However, you might say that the increased ISO capability of a 5D-II would make the 24-105mm f/4L IS lens the equal to the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS.

    The only down side of the 17-55mm lens is that it is exceptionally expensive and that it doesn't have a red band around the barrel.

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    Re: "L" Glass is great

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Full frame really doesn't have any lens to compare with the 17-55mm.
    EF24-70mm F2.8L USM

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Close but no cigar....

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    EF24-70mm F2.8L USM
    The full frame equipment is an excellent overall choice and the 24-70mm is a superb lens and ends up being a wider but, shorter equivalent on the full frame body to the focal range of the 17-55mm on a 1.6x body (approximately 28-88mm). The present 24-70L doesn't have IS capability but, as I mentioned in an earlier post regarding the 24-105mm f/4L IS lens; the increased ISO capability of a full frame camera like the 5D-II makes up, in part for the slower maximum aperture of the 24-105L and could partially make up for the lack of IS in the 24-70L.

    Actually, since I am not a great fan of UWA shots, I would love to see a 28-84mm f/2.8 IS lens for use on a full frame camera. I would sacrifice the 4mm at the wide side to gain 14mm on the longer side. A lens of this focal length and aperture would be feasible given today's technology which restricts an f/2.8 lens to a 3x zoom ratio. This would be super for my style of shooting since IMO 84-85mm is an ideal focal for portraits and 28mm is wide enough for most of my shooting. However, I suspect that this would not be a great seller although; the approximate 28mm to 80-85mm range was a very popular focal range for earlier zoom lenses.

    The IS assistance of my imaginary lens would place the lens in the realm of a great low light glass; especially with the high ISO capability of a camera like the 5D-II.

    BTW: I shoot with both the 17-55IS and the 24-70L lenses on my 1.6x bodies. I tend to use the 24-70L in my studio while I tend to shoot outdoors with the 24-70L.

    I like my 24-70L as my main studio lens with 1.6x equipment. because:

    1. The extra weight doesn‘t bother me because I am not carrying it around for 8-10 hours. The 24-70L (nicknamed the "brick") is a fairly heavy lens and I also find that I usually needed an extra wider lens for general use. My original setup was three 1.6x cameras with 12-24mm Tokina, 24-70L and 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses. That was a significant load. I have generally supplanted this with two cameras using the 17-55mm and 70-200mm lenses because the equivalent 28mm of the 17-55mm lens is wide enough for most of my uses in general and travel photography.

    2. The 24mm wide side of the 24-70L is not constricting on the 1.6x format since my studio is rather large.

    3. The lack of IS is no problem since I always shoot with studio flash.

    4. I like the 70mm long end is better for head and shoulder portraits than 55mm; even on a 1.6x camera.

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    Although ...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    The full frame equipment is an excellent overall choice and the 24-70mm is a superb lens ...
    I don't disagree with you Personally though the weight of the 24-70 has never bothered me - never seems to make much difference when I've got too many extra kilos around my waist, not to mention a 1Ds3 and several camera bags attached as well.

    Yes, it does stop a little short of the EF-S 17-55 at the long end, but it then dovetails beautifully with the 70-200, and for portraiture nothing (and I mean NOTHING) in that range beats the EF85/1.2L, which I enjoy immensly (sp?)

    On a side note - although I haven't done the maths - I suspect that a 24-70 on a 1DS3 or 5D2 would probably come close to out-resolving an 17-55 on the likes of a 40D if the image were cropped.

    Just my 10c worth

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    Re: Although ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    On a side note - although I haven't done the maths - I suspect that a 24-70 on a 1DS3 or 5D2 would probably come close to out-resolving an 17-55 on the likes of a 40D if the image were cropped. Just my 10c worth
    I agree with you on that one... I am, therefore, happy that Canon has come around with the 7D with its increased cropping ability and also its superior focusing. It will do a lot to legitimize (if that's an understandable term) the 1.6x system. This is going to be a slick sports camera.

    If only Canon had made it into a professional quality 1.6x camera like the 1.3x version of the 1D; I would have been happier.

    Remove the silly built-in flash, the dummy settings ("basic zone settings") and direct printing. I certainly wouldn't miss the video if Canon wanted to delete it.

    Instead:

    Increase the "user defined settings" to six or seven. These "user defined settings' could be set up just like the "basic zone settings" if the photographer desired but, could also be modified in other ways - like the ability to shoot in raw, dial in AEB multi shot selection and other neat things...

    Allow shooting at ISO 25 to negate the requirement for a ND filter when trying for a shutter speed slow enough to blur water

    Increase the AEB (auto exposure bracketing) to five images (better for HDR photography).

    Allow cordless interface with a computer to enable cordless "tethered" shooting

    Enable a built-in infra-red (like the xxxD cameras) or a radio controlled remote cordless release system.

    That would be my ideal camera but, like my ideal 28-84mm f/2.8L IS lens, I know that it will never be produced.

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Thanks for your musings boys.

    This thread started out seeking some assistance for a mate of mine; we were off camping around the Flinders Ranges in South Australia - the driest state in the driest continent. We had a great week including trying to paint the trees surrounding the camp fire at night with flash light while in an inebriated state. The camera and flash were lucky to last that episode.

    The scenery was rugged and amazing and I will post some images in the coming weeks to show you what I mean.

    Thanks for your input. I did pass your thoughts and references to my mate and he is digesting all the information and working on his next purchase.

  13. #13

    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinbythebeach View Post
    Whos Len?

    Buy Canon 'L' lens..yah they cost more but they are worth it...Putting anything other on it is a waste of a 50D
    Some L lenses suck and some non-L lenses rock. It's not possible to generalise like you have.....although is generally true if you only mean Canon's zoom lenses.

    Compare one of the push-pull zoom L lenses to a 50mm and the difference is clear. Talking of 50mm's I prefer the ones that can draw straight(er) lines than the f/1.2L. Sometimes the cheaper lenses are better than the more complex L series.

    There isn't an L version of the MP-E 65mm and that most certainly would not be a waste of a 50D. The 100mm macro is at least as sharp as the 180mm L macro (although the 180 does have nicer bokeh). There's quite a few non-L lenses that are worth having IMHO.

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    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    Some L lenses suck
    Which ones do you have in mind?

  15. #15

    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Which ones do you have in mind?
    The 100-400, 35-350.....the trombone ones mostly. They can't match a non-L fixed focal length lens but apparently they are worth having and anything non-L isn't. I just find that bizzare

    ....and I may have a thing about zoom lenses....nothing but fixed focal length lenses in my bag

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    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    The 100-400, 35-350.....the trombone ones mostly. They can't match a non-L fixed focal length lens
    OK - just for argument sake - which non-L prime lens do you feel is better than an EF100-400 F4.5-5.6L?

  17. #17

    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    OK - just for argument sake - which non-L prime lens do you feel is better than an EF100-400 F4.5-5.6L?
    At 100mm the f/2.8 macro. I've never tried the 100mm f/2 or either of the 135mm lenses. I don't think there is anything longer without going L. My point wasn't don't buy L lenses though - it was that there are non-L lenses that are worth having.

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    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    At 100mm the f/2.8 macro.
    I'll bet you a chocolate fish that if you crop an image taken at 100mm with the f/2.8 macro so that it's the same field of view as that obtained by the EF100-400 F4.5-5.6L at 400mm, the latter will out-resolve the former by a HUGE margin

    I hear what your saying - and I'm certainly not saying that L-Series are the only lenses worth owning - but I think it's also very important to compare apples with apples, thus my case in point in that if you need a focal length of 400mm then the 100mm/2.8 Macro is going to do the job very very badly. Because zooms have to cover a range of focal lengths, design compromises have to be made - but - that's still preferable to one that's not constrained by the same compromises (because it's a prime), but essentially can't do the job at all because it's totally the wrong tool for the job.

    So before one can say "some L-Series lenses suck" I think that one really needs to take a step back and look at that in context; If one only needs one fixed focal length then I'm sure that many non-L primes could often do the job nicely - but if a zoom is required then the primes don't even get out of the starting blocks (and no passing go, and no collecting $200 either).

    In the past I've written about the popular (false) expectation that "because an L-Series lens costs 10 times as much as a non-l-series counterpart" then "it should be optically 10 times as good", but that's stopping well short of reality - comparing apples with apples, I don't think you'll find many non L-Series lenses that are sharper, have better colour, better contrast, better CA control, better weather sealing, faster AF, and more rugged construction than their L-Series counterparts. For what it's worth, I now shoot EXCLUSIVELY with L-Series (too many bad experiences with non-L); for the average enthusiast who seldom prints anything larger than a 6 x 8, most consumer-grade lens are fine - but when your shooting in bad weather - harsh conditions - and having to produce prints that have to cut the mustard when printed 6 feet wide, L-Series generally gives you far fewer headaches (as one would expect considering their cost).

    So if the question was "can some non-L primes produce a sharper image than some L-Series zooms" the answer would be yes (although optimal sharpening is likely to have a FAR greater influence on the result than the optical differences between the two lenses) - but I think that's still a far cry from being able to say that "some L-Series lenses suck", because they're not being compared on a level playing field. Perhaps it's a bit like saying a Formula 1 car sucks because I can beat it across the neighbours paddock in a $500 4 wheel drive.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 25th September 2009 at 12:40 PM.

  19. #19

    Re: Lens Comparisons for Canon

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I'll bet you a chocolate fish that if you crop an image taken at 100mm with the f/2.8 macro so that it's the same field of view as that obtained by the EF100-400 F4.5-5.6L at 400mm, the latter will out-resolve the former by a HUGE margin
    Oh aye, and I agree with your other points too. I think I'd still rather have something like a Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 than that Canon lens though. I've never been a fan of it.

    My favourite lens isn't an L series - the MP-E 65mm 1-5x f/2.8 macro. It's a bit of a pet hate when folk dis it because it is an awesome piece of kit and in a league of it's own for what it does. I really want to try mine on a 7D

  20. #20
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    An additional plus for zooms...

    This is something that is not always mentioned in the on-going tug of war between prime and zoom advocates.

    I carry two zooms 17-55mm IS and 70-200mm f/4L IS on a pair of 1.6x cameras. Since I have a choice of focal lengths at my finger tips which range from an equivalent 28mm to an equivalent 320mm (minus the 55-70mm gap) I seldom have do do much if any cropping.

    I couldn't claim this if I were shooting with a prime or even two primes on two cameras.

    Certainly if you are in a serendipitous position in which your prime focal length is perfect or if you and in the position to zoom one way or another with your feet; you would not need to crop. However, in my experience, the perfect position is often not available and you often need to shoot with a lens wider than you prefer and crop.

    All my zooms; my 17-55mm IS (which is a non-L lens) or my 24-70L or 70-200mm f/4L IS zooms produce excellent image quality. Using any one of those three lenses, I don't feel awed by any prime.

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