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Author Topic: Which L Lens to start with?  (Read 16864 times)


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2013, 01:20:10 AM »
My vote would be EF-s 17-55 f2.8 (if you go full frame later you can sell it without much lost, if any) And 70-300L or the 100-400. I love the 70-200 F2.8 mkII but the price is hard to get pass for your first L lens. I would rather have you good L lens than one Great one.

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2013, 01:20:10 AM »


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2013, 01:30:50 AM »
It's not a telephoto, so forgive me if this is off-topic, but I'm often really excited about images from my 40mm pancake lens. It's a huge step up in clarity and sharpness from the lens you have, and it doesn't cost much at all. Also consider picking up a nifty fifty (50mm f/1.8) to see if wide apertures do anything for you. It feels good to know for sure why you want a particular lens before buying it.

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2013, 02:49:44 AM »
Oo shiny upgrades!
What is it that you want your new lens to do? Better low-light shooting? More shallow DoF? More focal length? Less focal length?

1. Landscape = good tripod and a stopped down lens. @ f/11 most lenses are pretty good. Of course the 10-22 is great, you might want to think about that lens, but personally I seldom use ultra wide angle for lanscapes.
  travel = your 18-200 AND a low light lens like the 28 /1.8, 30 /1.4, 35 /1.4 for nightshots on the go. the 10-22 can give cool images in narrow places.

2. Nature, animal, birds (not macro) = as long a lens as you can get. You can never have too much focal length for birds. 100-400 may be a good choise. The 400 /5.6 lacks IS but has a little bit more contrast. Sigma 120-300 /2.8 Sport is a favourite, but expensive and heavy. 70-200 /2.8 II and a extenders is another way to go. Long lenses are either expensive or not very good. And you really should only buy the good lenses. Do it right the first time or regret it and buy the good lens later (and waste money).

3. People (not portrait) = your 18-200. Personaly I prefer primes for shooting people but that´s just me. If you don´t want the short DoF of fast lenses, then there is not much need to get something new. perhaps you would feel different about portraits with a nice portrait lens as the 85 /1.8 or 50 /1.4 and go that way with your people photography?

It´s not easy to choose, that´s why I need a larger camera backpack nowadays...
Good luck!


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2013, 03:45:41 AM »
perhaps a basic 24-105L? maybe coupled with a 70-300L or 100-400L?
Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 60D; EF-S 10-22; EF 70-200 f/4L IS; EF 24-70 f/2.8L II; 580EX II.  Soon to add: 50 1.2L, 135 f/2L, 8-15L


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2013, 04:28:28 AM »
My first question would be do you shoot in raw and do you have Lightroom ?

If you don't, try this first, including buying a book on Lightroom...   Next up, check at what focal lengths you shoot at most, this is easy in Lightroom...    I'd first consider a better APS-C lens, i had the 15-85mm, but the 17-55mm might work for you, my photos kinda looked a bit better, next up I'd consider a low f stop prime, I got the 50mm f1.4 new and a secondhand 135mm f2.0 L prime, my photos started to buzz with these.  I added the 10-22mm which was fun to use and gave me some great images...   I also got into using ND grads, polarising filters and black glass.

My story drifts from here, as I took the plunge with a 6D when it was launched, bought a 16-35mm soon after, then a 24-70 f2.8 II soon after that....  I sold my 450D which ended up costing me £50 per year of use, bargain !  Sold my 15-85mm which had cost me about £60 per year of use....  Still need to get shut of the 10-22mm and although I'm pondering swapping my 70-300 non L for something better, I'm still getting good images from it, just annoyed with the buzzy AF it has and slight loss of image quality beyond 200mm (pixel creeping necessary to see)

Moral for me is don't jump in at first, learn what you need through Lightroom, play with light using filters and once you get to know your photos, use that knowledge to improve your kit sensibly.
Regards, Haydn

:: View my photostream on Flickr, Canon EOS 6D, EOS M,  16-35mm II, 24-70mm II, 70-300mm L, 135mm f2.0 L, 35mm f2.0 IS, M18-55, M55-200, M22mm, Lensbaby (lots), EOS M adaptor, Cosina CT1G film SLR & 50mm f2.0 lens


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2013, 05:50:34 AM »
If you are looking for IQ and versatility, then the 70-200 2.8 ii is the lens that will have you seeing a difference compared to your current lenses.

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2013, 07:43:26 AM »
To start: most used 24-70/II.
Then, close second 70-200/2.8 II.
Primes: 35L and 135L.
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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2013, 07:43:26 AM »


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2013, 07:46:22 AM »
I third or fourth the 70-300L ($1300) as the the lens that might cover a lot what your looking for.

However, I would seriously consider the 70-200L F/4 ($550) for the price if you dont need IS or the wider aperture. Its defintely going to be sharper the 18-200 and not that much less then the 2.8 II.

When and if the newer 100-400L gets replaced expect it do be at least $2500.. The current version is great and I got mine like new on CL for $900 so there are deals to be found on this lens currently.

5DIII | EOS M | 24-105 F/4L | 100-400 F/4.5-5.6L | 70-200 F/4L | 85 F/1.8 | 50 F/1.4 | 580EXII | 22 F/2 M / 18-55 M | Sigma 105mm OS Macro


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2013, 07:51:16 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...

Don't know if you helped the OP's but you sure made me think
I'm gonna print this out!

Thank you for taking the time


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2013, 07:53:53 AM »
My first L lens was (and still is) 100mm L IS - it's a great lens and I have to say it was my first prime too. I have to say, that having fixed focal length made me think more about composition then using zoom where it was very comfortable to just zoom in to "get closer" or zoom out to "fit everything in". It is also very very very sharp lens and  it's very easy to get used to it.

So my advice? If you want L, then buy L, invest in some nice prime to start (100/135mm?), but first rent some of them, test them and then get most of the one you chose  ;)
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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2013, 08:17:21 AM »
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.

You will see the difference when the L quality lens goes on shooting when your ef-s breaks down :->

But the 17-40L isn't made for crop, I use it anyway and it's "good enough" at closed aperture f8 and "good" at f16, but this is a ff lens. It's is an unfortunate fact that Canon doesn't build ef-s L quality with sealing, but there you are. For the price, the 17-40L is good at what it is supposed to do: landscape with minimal flare, round bokeh lights, nice sunstars and a gel filter holder at the back.

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?

Also note the size and weight of this thing, you should really consider that if you're an amateur and want to carry it around and/or shoot a prolonged time.

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.   

Converters are just a fix for temporary use - the 70-300L (I have it) works fine with the Kenko, or with the Canon but the latter only @300mm. Just like any zooms in the medium price range the sharpness degrades with a tc- so the general advice always is: Don't chose these lenses because you intend to use them with a tc, reserve that to the 300L-600L :-p

My advice is also the 70-300L, good quality, excellent IS, ok sharpness unless you want 100% crop sharpness like usually only primes deliver, still a strong background blur depending on subject distance. Anything Canon releases next in the tele range will be a *lot* more expensive than this, it's an excellent first choice and a good iq-size-weight-price package.


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2013, 09:15:07 AM »
24mm 1.4


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2013, 10:51:17 AM »
I would get a telezoom. The standard and wide angle zooms make little sense on a crop body, and the 35 L is outperformed by the Sigma.
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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2013, 10:51:17 AM »


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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2013, 11:18:37 AM »
I (appear to) do the same type of photography and have gone through quite a repertoire of lenses until I've finally settled on those I current own. So my recommendation would be (first) the EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM, for wildlife; and then (second) the EF 24mm f/2.8 USM IS, which gives roughly 35~40mm equivalent on APS-C, for general travel.
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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2013, 11:53:52 AM »
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)


Any thoughts, experiences and/or advice are welcome and sought.           

Based on these varied shooting requirements and your crop sensor cameras, I recommend a set of 3 or 4 mid level, fast primes versus a single L lens.

Perhaps something like
20mm 2.8 USM
50mm 1.4 USM
85mm 1.8 USM
100mm 2.0 USM

If you want a single lens I don't think you can go wrong with the 70-200 2.8 IS mkII. But consider primes also.

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Re: Which L Lens to start with?
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2013, 11:53:52 AM »