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Author Topic: Which L Lens to start with?  (Read 8969 times)

magnum

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Which L Lens to start with?
« on: August 25, 2013, 09:37:22 PM »
I have a Canon 7D and my wife has a 600D. We have on both the EF-S 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS lenses and find these pretty satisfactory general walk around lens (with the obvious compromise for the large focal length range).

I have been thinking of late of getting our first "L" lens. As enthusiast rather than professional photographers without a endless budget and the price of these lenses, we really don't want to waste money getting the wrong lens.

Our interests in photography are (not in any particular order):
1. Landscape and travel
2. Nature, animal, birds (not macro)
3. People (not portrait)

With this in mind I recently hired a EF 17-40mm f4.0L USM (as a potential landscape lens) but was underwhelmed when I compared it side-by-side with our 18-200mm using equivalent focal lengths and exposures. I was expecting this L lens (Canon's cheapest and most popular, so I read) to stand head and shoulders above the 18-200mm in image quality, color saturation, brightness, etc. But my (admittedly) amateur eye could not see the difference.

So my thinking now is towards the opposite (focal length) end and I am thinking of a telephoto zoom. I like the focal length available on 100-400mm L lens but as the rumors are that this is likely to be updated soon, I don't want to buy old technology for my first L lens. I also hear good reports about the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens but the maximum focal length is a bit shy of what I would/might want for a serious nature lens.

Any thoughts, experiences and/or advice are welcome and sought.             
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 09:42:17 PM by magnum »
Canon EOS 7D, 600D (T3i) both with EF-S 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS. Canon EF-S 10-22mm 3.5-4.5 USM

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Which L Lens to start with?
« on: August 25, 2013, 09:37:22 PM »

Aaron78

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2013, 09:40:36 PM »
My first L lens was the 70-200 2.8 II, and it remains my most used lens.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2013, 09:44:04 PM »
The L lenses like the 17-40mm L will be much better on FF.
 
I'd suggest the 15-85mm or the 17-55mm for your crop camera, they are a much better match to the APS-C sensor.  If you don't mind changing lenses, a combination of the 10-22mm EF-s and the 24-105mmL would work.
 
The 18-135mm STM is also said to be pretty good.

ajfotofilmagem

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2013, 09:53:16 PM »
For visible improvement in picture quality, not all L lenses are wonderful. Canon 15-85mm or 17-55mm can really expand your way of photographing. I do not see much advantage in STM 18-135 though.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2013, 09:57:06 PM »
Consider the 70-300L.  Excellent IQ, useful range on crop and FF, great travel lens.
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magnum

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2013, 10:06:26 PM »
Aaron, I hear really good reports on the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens. Of course, it is one of Canon's most expensive zoom L's. I take this is due to the fast (f2.8) characteristics combined with the L quality?

Neuro, it is the Canon EF 70-300mm F4-5.6L IS USM to which you are referring? I hear good things about this too. But one downside is that it doesn't taken the Canon converters.     
Canon EOS 7D, 600D (T3i) both with EF-S 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS. Canon EF-S 10-22mm 3.5-4.5 USM

jdramirez

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2013, 10:33:10 PM »
 the 17-40  really needs to be stopped down a good bit before it starts to shine.   landscape and bidding are usually two different lenses entirely.   if you are looking for some remarkable improvement and you have two grand to spare,  I'd suggest maybe a 35mm  sigma which it's a very useful focal length for people,  and a 400mm  L f5.6.   two very different lenses for  two very different subjects.

 maybe you have a bit more cash,  throw in a 10-22 or a tokina  11-16.
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100 f/2.8L->85mm f/1.8 USM->135L -> 8mm ->100L

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2013, 10:33:10 PM »

batotman

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2013, 10:46:31 PM »
You're probably not going to see a massive difference or at least enough to satisfy you. If it were me I'd look at a prime like a 35/2 or 50/1.4 for some creative options or the 40/2.8 for street photography.

takesome1

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2013, 10:49:03 PM »
Magnum,

You learned a valuable lesson from the 17-40,  while the price of L lenses is 3 times that of non L lenses the improvement in IQ is fractional.

I would go with the 70-200mm F/2.8 as well.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2013, 11:08:43 PM »
Aaron, I hear really good reports on the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens. Of course, it is one of Canon's most expensive zoom L's. I take this is due to the fast (f2.8) characteristics combined with the L quality?

Neuro, it is the Canon EF 70-300mm F4-5.6L IS USM to which you are referring? I hear good things about this too. But one downside is that it doesn't taken the Canon converters.   

Yes, that's the lens to which I was referring.  I have both the 70-200/2.8L IS II and the 70-300L. Personally, I found the 70-200 range a bit awkward on APS-C - too long indoors, not long enough outdoors.  I didn't use it much on my 7D, but after getting a FF camera it became my second most-used lens.
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7Dneilan

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2013, 11:22:11 PM »
Hi there,

As a keen amateur, I have just taken the plunge and ordered a 70-200 f2.8 - I am beside myself with excitement! I've had a play with the 70-200 f4 and loved the versatility, so I am really looking forward to the wider aperture. If focal length is a concern, an extender will help you out.

You would not regret it and as long as you treat it nice, it will hold a great deal of its value for potential resale, should you decide to upgrade to a longer lens.

Good luck!
7D, 24-105 f4L, 70-200 f2.8L IS II, 580EX II

crasher8

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2013, 11:44:42 PM »
wider L zooms aren't so great on crops imho and offer not usually desirable focal lengths but YMMV. I say look into the medium telephoto primes. 100L Macro, 135 f/2. Now those are lenses that shine on all bodies.

Cory

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2013, 12:02:32 AM »
Sigma 30 1.4 Art and
Canon 100-400
70D, 10-18, 35 2.0 IS, 70-300L, 100 2.0 & 200 2.8II
EOS M/22 2.0
430EXII

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2013, 12:02:32 AM »

ONeill

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2013, 12:50:33 AM »
You've reached the stage where you recognize that you can improve your photography, and you're wondering how to go about it. This is an exciting place to be, but also one fraught with confusion. The mistake that a lot of new SLR photographers make is to think that an ultra-sharp lens will, somehow, magically improve their photography and make their pictures look 'professional'. Actually, this is the wrong way to approach things. May I suggest that what you should do right now is think about how you can change your approach to how you take pictures? How can you make your pictures different from the crowd? Can you look at things in a different way? As a so-called professional, this is the question that I ask myself every day on the drive in to work.

L lenses won't inherently give you this - what they will give you is a robust and reliable tool that you can use every day without having to worry about it and that you can realistically expect will still be earning you money in three years time. Most of all, what you're going to get from an L lens is robustness, reliability, solidity and a tool that will do the job in adverse conditions, amidst a scrum of other photographers when, quite frankly, all you want to do is go home. Sharpness and color rendition comes a long second to all this. An L lens is just a working tool. Yes, generally, they will be slightly better than consumer lenses in sharpness terms (though not always), but there is a limit to this. It's not that L lenses are bad, more that these days, consumer lenses are really good, and good value to boot. Just not reliable or tough enough for day-in, day-out professional use. That's what you're paying for. Believe me, I'm much more concerned that my lens/camera will stand up to a bash against a wall than how sharp the lens is. When I want to make a memorable photograph, sharpness is a very minor consideration. Composition, perspective, content and subject interest and dynamics are what I'm looking for. I take accurate focus and an acceptably sharp result for granted, and even focus is a tool in itself. And you're probably going to be looking at most of your pics on a computer screen at best. Come on, guys, how many of you regularly print photos to 20x30?

So you want to spend some money. That's fine. First of all, go and get yourself a copy of Adobe Lightroom and learn how to use it. This will make more difference to your photographs than any lens ever will. Check out Lyndadotcom - it's a great educational resource. Learn how to use your camera in aperture priority mode and in full manual. Then, as JDRamirez suggests, get yourself a good prime lens and a polarizing filter. The new Sigma 35mm is a very good place to start. If I only had one lens, it would be a 35 prime (and my second would be a 135L). This will teach you to make yourself think before you release the shutter. It'll stop you being lazy and make you more aware than you believed possible of what's in front of you. Put your zoom lens away for a month or two and dream up some projects with specific themes that you'll use your new lens exclusively for. Rust. Specific colors. Water. Close up. Monochrome. Motion blur - whatever - anything that your imagination can come up with, but be strict with your self and don't goof off, because at the end of the day, the only person you'll be fooling will be yourself. Walk out of the door with a purpose and don't get side-tracked. Down the line, you can pick up a 300L f/4 or 400L f/5.6 or similar for your wildlife, etc. Same theory as the 35. For travel, you've already got a great lens. Personally, I'm not a great fan of ultra-wides (e.g. 10-22) until you've got a lot more mileage under your belt. They're novelty lenses in most people's hands, although that particular lens is very good on a crop camera. Whilst the 70-200 f/2.8 v2 is a magical lens on full frame, somehow, as someone else mentioned, it doesn't really gel on a crop body. Furthermore, you've already covered its range. If you really have to get a zoom, the 70-300L will work better for you.

Not sure that this is what you wanted to hear, but I remember when I had the same questions as you (back in 1978). I wish I knew then what I know now...

scottkinfw

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2013, 01:05:50 AM »
The 70-200 2.8 II is is awesome.  Of course it is big, heavy, and white (attention grabber, if that matters).  It takes wonderfully crisp photos, have one, love it.  I had the 17-40, didn't like it- gave it away free to a friend.
On the closer in range, I love the 24-70 2.8 II It has been putting out the sharpest pics of all of my lenses lately.  It is small, black, easy to carry, and is great.  You obviously don't get reach, but wow, what an image.

I also have the 24-105 with is, and this also has been a wonderful lens for me.  It is slower at f4, but has is.  I have read that a lot of people complain of bad copies, but I guess I got lucky.

You only mentioned zooms, so that is all I will comment on.  One thing to consider is that the 70-200 works very nicely with a tc for increased reach!

Neuro swears by his 70-300L with variable f stop.  Lighter than the 70-200 2.8 and has excellent iq and better range.  Of course you may want to look into some older lenses like the 400 f5.6 or the 300 f4 is, as cheaper prime alternatives.

Don't forget to consider refurbs from Canon too

[quote

 author=magnum link=topic=16624.msg306256#msg306256 date=1377481042]
I have a Canon 7D and my wife has a 600D. We have on both the EF-S 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS lenses and find these pretty satisfactory general walk around lens (with the obvious compromise for the large focal length range).

I have been thinking of late of getting our first "L" lens. As enthusiast rather than professional photographers without a endless budget and the price of these lenses, we really don't want to waste money getting the wrong lens.

Our interests in photography are (not in any particular order):
1. Landscape and travel
2. Nature, animal, birds (not macro)
3. People (not portrait)

With this in mind I recently hired a EF 17-40mm f4.0L USM (as a potential landscape lens) but was underwhelmed when I compared it side-by-side with our 18-200mm using equivalent focal lengths and exposures. I was expecting this L lens (Canon's cheapest and most popular, so I read) to stand head and shoulders above the 18-200mm in image quality, color saturation, brightness, etc. But my (admittedly) amateur eye could not see the difference.

So my thinking now is towards the opposite (focal length) end and I am thinking of a telephoto zoom. I like the focal length available on 100-400mm L lens but as the rumors are that this is likely to be updated soon, I don't want to buy old technology for my first L lens. I also hear good reports about the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens but the maximum focal length is a bit shy of what I would/might want for a serious nature lens.

Any thoughts, experiences and/or advice are welcome and sought.           
[/quote]
sek Cameras: 5D III, 5D II, EOS M  Lenses:  24-70 2.8 II IS, 24-105 f4L, 70-200 f4L IS, 70-200 f2.8L IS II, EF 300 f4L IS, EF 400 5.6L, 300 2.8 IS II, Samyang 14 mm 2.8 Flashes: 580 EX II600EX-RT X 2, ST-E3-RT
Plus lots of stuff that just didn't work for me

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2013, 01:05:50 AM »