Canon 'L' lens

nikonuser11

Distinguished Member
Still very very new to all this and after purchasing my sigma 17-70 I'm going to be looking for a telephoto lens and/or a prime, I keep hearing about 'L' lenses, are they THAT much better than an ordinary Canon lens? if so whats the main advantage? is it sharpness/clarity?
 

SevloW

Distinguished Member
In a word, Yes. Not only sharper but much better contrast/colour etc, also build quality is excellent. I have the 70-200f4 and I love it.

:smashin:
 

HelloMoto

Active Member
Lenses like the 17-55mm f/2.8 are 'L' lenses in all but name and build quality (e.g. weather sealing). But yes L lenses are usually better in terms of build quality and optics. They are worth it though, hire one and see for yourself.
 

mark800

Distinguished Member

OrbitalPete

Well-known Member
They're great lenses. Wide apertures, good autofocus and quality glass (meaning generally less problems with vignetting, colour abhorations etc).

However, the top end 3rd party lenses are often on a par (and in some cases superior) to the canon equivalents.

Finally, they're expensive. If you have that kind of money to play with, and you think you'll benefit from the specific advantages top end glass gives you, then go for it. however, they are by no means essential; you can take award winning photos with kit lenses on budget bodies; it's just easier with better gear :thumbsup:.
 

nikonuser11

Distinguished Member
Thanks everyone for the answers, I WANT ONE:eek:

Will be trawling the classifieds here at AVF to get a mint second hand one, now just to find the dosh!
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Just a friendly word of caution .This Photgraphy malarkey can get quite expensive, so ask what is it you lack in what you currently have?

If you want to know what you are " missing I would suggset you hire one first.. I do for occasions


They cost a fair bit and as said many decent Pix you can get without them

There is nothing wrong with the Sigma
I had the Canon 17-55 which is L glass ( honestly) and had to sell it now making do with the excellent Tamron which is 1/2 its cost but at least 85-90% its optical quality IMHO
I also had a Canon 17-40 f4L.. very nice lens which got nicked
Be careful about getting a lot of kit without maximising what you have first despite the adage about glass

Making the most of what you have will help you get the best out of even better
 

Peakoverload

Active Member
Thanks everyone for the answers, I WANT ONE:eek:

Will be trawling the classifieds here at AVF to get a mint second hand one, now just to find the dosh!

Umm before you do, ask yourself one question. If 'L' lenses are as great as everyone says they are, why hasn't Nikon gone out of business or at least have a greatly diminished market share?

No I'm not a Nikon user and yes I own 2 'L' lenses but I'd be the first to say that there is an awful lot of delusion going on with many 'L' lens owners (not infering anyone here is doing that) with people wanting to believe that they are so much better than they are after spending all that money on them.

What you are paying for with an 'L' lens is build quality, weather sealing and optics. Generally speaking 'L' lenses are very robust because they are designed to be used by professionals who may well be in situations where they get bashed about.

Now ask yourself this, have I ever broken a lens? If the answer is no then the chances are a 'standard' lens is going to be more than robust enough for you.

Weather sealing is important to a pro because they have to be out taking photos in all kinds of weather. Now ask yourself this question, do I have a camera body that is weather sealed? If the answer is no then there is going to be almost no difference in the weather sealing on your camera regardless of if you have an 'L' lens or a 'standard' lens.

Optics. Now there is no doubting that the quality of the optics in an 'L' lens are very high but not all 'L' lenses are the same. For example the optics in the 17-40 f/4 are definitely poorer than in the 70-200 f/2.8 or f/4, they are still very good but the 70-200 is simply better optically. Now ask yourself this question, have I ever looked at other peoples photos and thought wow that is so sharp and packs so much punch compared to my shots? If the answer is yes then maybe you should look at an 'L' lens but before you do take a look at the lenses that were used in the photos that made you go 'wow'. Simply by the laws of averages, there are far more non 'L' lenses in the world then there are 'L' lenses, I bet you'll find that most of those photos were taken with either a Nikon, Sigma EX, Tamron or standard Canon lens.

Sounds like I'm saying that 'L' lenses aren't worth it? No they are worth it but only if you are actually going to use their added 'features' and performance. If you aren't then honestly take a look at the Sigma EX range, I think you'll be surprised. For example I own the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L USM, Canon 17-40 f/4 L USM, Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6 EX, Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 EX. Now optically the 70-200 is better than all the other lenses but the 24-70 is sooo similar to it at the 70mm end that it's very hard to tell the difference and I often have to check the EXIF to see what lens I used. The 17-40 is good but I think it's actually the worse 'L' lens. That said what is very much in it's favour and it's biggest selling point IMHO is that there is almost zero barrel distortion in real world tests. The Sigma 10-20 by comparrison has horrible barrel distortion but that's because it's almost twice as wide. In terms of colour saturation, again I'd say there was almost nothing to separate them and the Canon only just pips it for sharpness but you've really got to look for it.
 

nikonuser11

Distinguished Member
WOW:eek: some great answers, special thanks to Peakoverload for that detailed answer, really makes me think, I'm probably best sticking with the Sigma 17-70 and a good sigma or Tamron telephoto and better PP than an 'L' lens.

Thats set my mind at rest and my bank balance:thumbsup:
 

HelloMoto

Active Member
Umm before you do, ask yourself one question. If 'L' lenses are as great as everyone says they are, why hasn't Nikon gone out of business or at least have a greatly diminished market share?

No I'm not a Nikon user and yes I own 2 'L' lenses but I'd be the first to say that there is an awful lot of delusion going on with many 'L' lens owners (not infering anyone here is doing that) with people wanting to believe that they are so much better than they are after spending all that money on them.

What you are paying for with an 'L' lens is build quality, weather sealing and optics. Generally speaking 'L' lenses are very robust because they are designed to be used by professionals who may well be in situations where they get bashed about.

Now ask yourself this, have I ever broken a lens? If the answer is no then the chances are a 'standard' lens is going to be more than robust enough for you.

Weather sealing is important to a pro because they have to be out taking photos in all kinds of weather. Now ask yourself this question, do I have a camera body that is weather sealed? If the answer is no then there is going to be almost no difference in the weather sealing on your camera regardless of if you have an 'L' lens or a 'standard' lens.

Optics. Now there is no doubting that the quality of the optics in an 'L' lens are very high but not all 'L' lenses are the same. For example the optics in the 17-40 f/4 are definitely poorer than in the 70-200 f/2.8 or f/4, they are still very good but the 70-200 is simply better optically. Now ask yourself this question, have I ever looked at other peoples photos and thought wow that is so sharp and packs so much punch compared to my shots? If the answer is yes then maybe you should look at an 'L' lens but before you do take a look at the lenses that were used in the photos that made you go 'wow'. Simply by the laws of averages, there are far more non 'L' lenses in the world then there are 'L' lenses, I bet you'll find that most of those photos were taken with either a Nikon, Sigma EX, Tamron or standard Canon lens.

Sounds like I'm saying that 'L' lenses aren't worth it? No they are worth it but only if you are actually going to use their added 'features' and performance. If you aren't then honestly take a look at the Sigma EX range, I think you'll be surprised. For example I own the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L USM, Canon 17-40 f/4 L USM, Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6 EX, Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 EX. Now optically the 70-200 is better than all the other lenses but the 24-70 is sooo similar to it at the 70mm end that it's very hard to tell the difference and I often have to check the EXIF to see what lens I used. The 17-40 is good but I think it's actually the worse 'L' lens. That said what is very much in it's favour and it's biggest selling point IMHO is that there is almost zero barrel distortion in real world tests. The Sigma 10-20 by comparrison has horrible barrel distortion but that's because it's almost twice as wide. In terms of colour saturation, again I'd say there was almost nothing to separate them and the Canon only just pips it for sharpness but you've really got to look for it.

The 70-200 non-IS isn't weather sealed (the IS version is). As for the Sigma 24-70, the Canon 24-70 destroys it (which is the lens you can really compare it to and you'd expect it to for double the price).

With Sigma etc you always risk getting a lemon due to the seemingly poorer quality control. Of course you save money, as you should because they are manufactured cheaper. I'd say don't worry too much about weather sealing and more about putting the best lens you can afford in front of the camera. For me the 70-200 f/4 is great value for an L lens.
 
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shotokan101

Banned
I'd love to see someone post some comparison shots taken with/without the "L" lens of same subject.

JIm
 

senu

Distinguished Member
As I said . If you hired one to use, it wouldnt cost much and you would have "hands on" experience

You may find that images taken with an L and Non L and posted may be similar if taken on the same body by same person and you never know whether taken RAW and how much PP used to enhace ..+ the degrading effect of compressing fr web uploading

One of the tricks of photography in knowing the kit too and getting the best off it

If you use a lens at its " best" focal length and an aperture that will ensure sharpness, and with decent USM in PS you will end up with Pics you like

I have a ( now not used much 17-85mm IS Canon lens) it is not the sharpest knife in the block but..
An old one
2614376862_320c31bfb1.jpg

and one from

3575269955_50b1586611.jpg

the Tamron
 
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SevloW

Distinguished Member
Umm before you do, ask yourself one question. If 'L' lenses are as great as everyone says they are, why hasn't Nikon gone out of business or at least have a greatly diminished market share?

No I'm not a Nikon user and yes I own 2 'L' lenses but I'd be the first to say that there is an awful lot of delusion going on with many 'L' lens owners (not infering anyone here is doing that) with people wanting to believe that they are so much better than they are after spending all that money on them.

What you are paying for with an 'L' lens is build quality, weather sealing and optics. Generally speaking 'L' lenses are very robust because they are designed to be used by professionals who may well be in situations where they get bashed about.

Now ask yourself this, have I ever broken a lens? If the answer is no then the chances are a 'standard' lens is going to be more than robust enough for you.

Weather sealing is important to a pro because they have to be out taking photos in all kinds of weather. Now ask yourself this question, do I have a camera body that is weather sealed? If the answer is no then there is going to be almost no difference in the weather sealing on your camera regardless of if you have an 'L' lens or a 'standard' lens.

Optics. Now there is no doubting that the quality of the optics in an 'L' lens are very high but not all 'L' lenses are the same. For example the optics in the 17-40 f/4 are definitely poorer than in the 70-200 f/2.8 or f/4, they are still very good but the 70-200 is simply better optically. Now ask yourself this question, have I ever looked at other peoples photos and thought wow that is so sharp and packs so much punch compared to my shots? If the answer is yes then maybe you should look at an 'L' lens but before you do take a look at the lenses that were used in the photos that made you go 'wow'. Simply by the laws of averages, there are far more non 'L' lenses in the world then there are 'L' lenses, I bet you'll find that most of those photos were taken with either a Nikon, Sigma EX, Tamron or standard Canon lens.

Sounds like I'm saying that 'L' lenses aren't worth it? No they are worth it but only if you are actually going to use their added 'features' and performance. If you aren't then honestly take a look at the Sigma EX range, I think you'll be surprised. For example I own the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L USM, Canon 17-40 f/4 L USM, Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6 EX, Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 EX. Now optically the 70-200 is better than all the other lenses but the 24-70 is sooo similar to it at the 70mm end that it's very hard to tell the difference and I often have to check the EXIF to see what lens I used. The 17-40 is good but I think it's actually the worse 'L' lens. That said what is very much in it's favour and it's biggest selling point IMHO is that there is almost zero barrel distortion in real world tests. The Sigma 10-20 by comparrison has horrible barrel distortion but that's because it's almost twice as wide. In terms of colour saturation, again I'd say there was almost nothing to separate them and the Canon only just pips it for sharpness but you've really got to look for it.

I agree with you to a certain point. My Sigma 17-70 is sharp but what differs in photos with this and the Canon 70-200L f4 is not only are the photos sharper but the contrast/colour reproduction is far superior. Not forgetting it is very fast focusing.
Most of my other lenses are Sigma - 28mm f1.8, 105mm f2.8 Macro, 150-500 f5-6.3 and they represent excellent value for money. However, I cant justify spending vast amounts of money on L glass (I paid £349 for my 70-200 last year, new).
 

Peakoverload

Active Member

Hmm well you say that and you'd think judging by those results that I couldn't contest it but, well, I can and here's why. In real life where you don't have a subject that ONLY consists of high contrasting fine detail you really don't see that big a difference. Seriously.

Also, take a look at the test results comparing the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L USM with the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 EX DG HSM, now is it me or does that Sigma look to have better results or at the very least, near identical results? What does this mean? That tests like this don't really tell you how a lens behaves in real life. As a matter of fact I tested the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 against the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 and the ONLY reason I went for the Canon over the Sigma was because the saturation was better on the Canon and I was offered a stupidly good deal on it and I do mean stupidly good deal.
 

mark800

Distinguished Member
Sharpness, build quality and weather sealing are not the whole story.

It's also worth pointing out that you generally get much better bokeh (background blur) with L lenses too. For example, lenses like the 135mm f/2 L and the 85mm f/1.2L lenses are reputed to deliver amazing bokeh, which can really add a professional look to an image. Portrait photographers swear by them.
 
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Peakoverload

Active Member
I agree with you to a certain point. My Sigma 17-70 is sharp but what differs in photos with this and the Canon 70-200L f4 is not only are the photos sharper but the contrast/colour reproduction is far superior. Not forgetting it is very fast focusing.
Most of my other lenses are Sigma - 28mm f1.8, 105mm f2.8 Macro, 150-500 f5-6.3 and they represent excellent value for money. However, I cant justify spending vast amounts of money on L glass (I paid £349 for my 70-200 last year, new).

Oh absolutely and I don't in any way disagree that the contrast/saturation on 'L' lenses is very good, indeed as I've just mentioned above, this was the main reason why I went with the Canon 70-200 over the Sigma but don't forget that many cameras allow you to tweak colour etc in camera and if you shoot RAW it's not that big a deal to adjust one or two extra sliders. Yes it's 'nicer' if you don't have to, but is it worth paying 30-50% more for? Each person can only decide that themselves.
 

Peakoverload

Active Member
Sharpness, build quality and weather sealing are not the whole story.

It's also worth pointing out that you generally get much better bokeh (background blur) with L lenses too. For example, lenses like the 135mm f/2 L lens and the 85mm f/1.2L lenses are reputed to deliver amazing bokeh, which can really add a professional look to an image. Portrait photographers swear by them.

Sorry but I disagree. You are lumping ALL 'L' lenses together in one group and lumping ALL other NON 'L' lenses in another group. Is good Bokeh something that ONLY Canon users are bothered about? Do ALL portrait photographers use Canon cameras. Simple fact of the matter is that the bokeh on the Canon 17-40 f/4 L is not as nice as that on the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L. So if not all 'L' lenses produce this 'superb' bokeh is it not reasonable to assume that other non 'L' lenses might produce just as good if not better? Like I said, if 'L' lenses were as good as everyone seems to want to believe they are Nikon would have gone out of business years ago.
 

spanna

Well-known Member
Yes L Lenses are worth the money but some L lenses are much much better than other L Lenses.
Basically you get what you pay for.
The quality from 500f4 and 600f4 L lenses are unmatched. But they costs 4k and 5k.
The cheapest L Lens you can buy is the 17-40mm f4 L for about 500-600 quid. (As far as im aware) This blows my sigma ex dg 28-70mm f2.8 (sigmas L style lens range) away in terms of colour, contrast, sharpness etc. But comparing the quality to the 500f4 L lens , then the 17-40 image is not as sharp, the colours arent as rich. etc etc etc.
So yes L Lenses are superb but in that group it goes from good to completely mindblowing. :smashin:
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Keeping all this in context,
the 70-200mm L is an awesome VFM L lens

And most L lenses are Premium as Canon uses its best glass, and build qulity QC is strict. But they also cost a lot ( and keep thier value well , it must be said)

For a non Pro on a limited budget, are they a want, or a need?

In short is it not possible to get excellent shots unless you have one, regardless of body? Granted as said before, it makes keepers easier to get but you canget keepers on No L glass
Those pixel peeping reviews dont always reflect real life use

I may be wrong but I think they are fine to aspire to ( whilst also keeping an eye on a better body and getting ones skills better) but along the way there are decent lenses a Non Pro can find quite good to use
 

HelloMoto

Active Member
Sorry but I disagree. You are lumping ALL 'L' lenses together in one group and lumping ALL other NON 'L' lenses in another group. Is good Bokeh something that ONLY Canon users are bothered about? Do ALL portrait photographers use Canon cameras. Simple fact of the matter is that the bokeh on the Canon 17-40 f/4 L is not as nice as that on the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L. So if not all 'L' lenses produce this 'superb' bokeh is it not reasonable to assume that other non 'L' lenses might produce just as good if not better? Like I said, if 'L' lenses were as good as everyone seems to want to believe they are Nikon would have gone out of business years ago.

That's like saying if Ferrari were so good there would be no more Lamborghini. The two brands can co-exist and in fact having healthy competition is ideal for both companies and consumers, it forces them to produce better products than if one had a monopoly.

You should have a look at this thread to see what the 17-40 produces:

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM - Canon Digital Photography Forums
 

Peakoverload

Active Member
That's like saying if Ferrari were so good there would be no more Lamborghini. The two brands can co-exist and in fact having healthy competition is ideal for both companies and consumers, it forces them to produce better products than if one had a monopoly.

You should have a look at this thread to see what the 17-40 produces:

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM - Canon Digital Photography Forums

Indeed it is like comparing Ferrari with Lamborghini. So are we saying that all Ferrari's are better than Lamborghini's? All I'm saying is that whilst 'L' lenses are good there is an almost mythology about them that suggests that they are capable of capturing results that no other lens can which is absolute rubbish.

Oh and I'm perfectly aware of what the 17-40 can produce as I owned it for a good few years and to be perfectly honest whilst I do think it's very good I do think that there are other lenses out there that seriously rival it. In the end I sold mine because I was getting results every bit as good with other lenses and also found that it wasn't really wide enough for me.
 

mark800

Distinguished Member
Sorry but I disagree. You are lumping ALL 'L' lenses together in one group and lumping ALL other NON 'L' lenses in another group. Is good Bokeh something that ONLY Canon users are bothered about? Do ALL portrait photographers use Canon cameras. Simple fact of the matter is that the bokeh on the Canon 17-40 f/4 L is not as nice as that on the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L. So if not all 'L' lenses produce this 'superb' bokeh is it not reasonable to assume that other non 'L' lenses might produce just as good if not better? Like I said, if 'L' lenses were as good as everyone seems to want to believe they are Nikon would have gone out of business years ago.

You'll see from my post previously that I'm not lumping all L lenses together. At their very best, L lenses show clear advantages. At their worst, it could be argued that they are weaker than cheaper lenses. I've sold some of my L lenses. Also, I would never sell some of my other L lenses.
 

jradley

Active Member
I'd love to see someone post some comparison shots taken with/without the "L" lens of same subject.

Hmm - interesting idea....

I'm busy tomorrow and the weather is looking rubbish, but if you hold on to Sunday I'll run a test off - it'll be a shoot out between 50/1.4, EF-S 18-55IS and 24-105L. It won't be an especially comprehensive comparison or particularly scientific, but it may give some idea as to how close (or not) they all are.

Cheers,

John
 

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