I don't like the new lens designs

Ruined

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Aug 22, 2013
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Is it just me, or is what is going on with lenses these days a bit strange?

It seems to me we have lens manufacturers in a sharpness arms race (probably driven by Sony), where we are getting large, heavy, overcorrected and clinical lenses with zero flaws or softness. To the extent, where Canon releases a special version of their 85mm 1.2 with a defocus coating to smooth things out a bit since they corrected out most of the SA from the old 85 1.2 design in the base version. And now it seems soft focus and other filters that add aberrations are very much back in style because many of these new lens designs are found to look too clinical if you just shoot them naked.

Isn't a bit strange to spend double the price for a larger, heavier, hypercorrected lens and then spend even more on filters (or a special coating) to reintroduce the corrected flaws so the rendering is more forgiving or appealing?

Just a thought, anyone else noticing this trend?
 
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unfocused

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Not sure how much of a trend it is or how new. Canon has had an EF 135mm soft focus lens for many years which I never saw the point of either.

I'd admit though that some of these new lenses seem like overkill. But then again, I've always thought Bokeh was overrated. It's just not my style of photography.

And, of course it's a bit ironic that while lenses get sharper and sharper, almost all pictures these days live on the internet, or more accurately, on cellphones, where everything looks sharp.

I do think there is a certain amount of "because we can" among lens designers, coupled with buyers whose lens collections are more about ego than photography. Just look at some of the ridiculously long lists of lenses and bodies that some folks on this forum append to their signatures.

On the other hand, I do appreciate the many options we have these days. Those with money to waste (in my opinion) can buy a $3,000 85 mm lens, but I can also buy my wife an 800mm lens for under $1,000. As long as Canon keeps making lenses I want, I can feel smug about not buying the lenses that I think are stupid, knowing full well that others might think my lens choices are equally stupid.

Keep in mind, it's not a zero sum game. When Canon makes a lens that seems silly to us, they are earning profits and making design improvements that benefit the lenses we want.
 
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Ruined

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Aug 22, 2013
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Not sure how much of a trend it is or how new. Canon has had an EF 135mm soft focus lens for many years which I never saw the point of either.

I'd admit though that some of these new lenses seem like overkill. But then again, I've always thought Bokeh was overrated. It's just not my style of photography.

And, of course it's a bit ironic that while lenses get sharper and sharper, almost all pictures these days live on the internet, or more accurately, on cellphones, where everything looks sharp.

I do think there is a certain amount of "because we can" among lens designers, coupled with buyers whose lens collections are more about ego than photography. Just look at some of the ridiculously long lists of lenses and bodies that some folks on this forum append to their signatures.

On the other hand, I do appreciate the many options we have these days. Those with money to waste (in my opinion) can buy a $3,000 85 mm lens, but I can also buy my wife an 800mm lens for under $1,000. As long as Canon keeps making lenses I want, I can feel smug about not buying the lenses that I think are stupid, knowing full well that others might think my lens choices are equally stupid.

Keep in mind, it's not a zero sum game. When Canon makes a lens that seems silly to us, they are earning profits and making design improvements that benefit the lenses we want.
I have a lot of the same thoughts I just didn't want to make my OP huge. I feel exactly the same way, that sharpness is really the only image quality aspect smartphones do well. And people view on images on smartphones. So why focus on sharpness as the primary differentiator for an expensive lens?

I look at the entire 2021 canon lineup from bodies to lenses and to me, this looks like an attempt to embarrass Sony and convert the market Sony created to Canon. That's probably a smart business move, I just don't like it from an artistic standpoint
 
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privatebydesign

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I've been saying the same thing here for a while, with differing levels of pushback. The size and price of lenses nowadays for questionable 'image quality improvements' has far surpassed the level of common sense or general need. But as soon as you say that some dish!t pipes up that they need f1.2 instead of f1.4, or they need 50lppmm 'more' because their 'sensor can out resolve their current lens', which just shows they have no understanding of how system resolution works.

The only group of posters that I see that genuinely do need 'more' are the wildlife people, particularly birders, that have small subjects often at some distance so they do regularly push the boundaries of resolution and pixel density. For most of the rest of us thinking we 'need' this bigger, heavier, faster, more exotic glass is just a crutch to support our own photographic inadequacies.
 
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Ruined

EOS R
Aug 22, 2013
930
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I've been saying the same thing here for a while, with differing levels of pushback. The size and price of lenses nowadays for questionable 'image quality improvements' has far surpassed the level of common sense or general need. But as soon as you say that some dish!t pipes up that they need f1.2 instead of f1.4, or they need 50lppmm 'more' because their 'sensor can out resolve their current lens', which just shows they have no understanding of how system resolution works.

The only group of posters that I see that genuinely do need 'more' are the wildlife people, particularly birders, that have small subjects often at some distance so thy do regularly push the boundaries of resolution and pixel density. For most of the rest of us thinking we 'need' this bigger, heavier, faster, more exotic glass is just a crutch to support our own photographic inadequacies.
On the plus side I was able to pick up two brand new "outdated" 5DsR bodies for $1499/ea to replace my 6D which I thought was a simply incredible deal given the typical Canon pricing. Even during clearance thats usually only 6D territory!
 
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privatebydesign

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On the plus side I was able to pick up two brand new "outdated" 5DsR bodies for $1499/ea to replace my 6D which I thought was a simply incredible deal given the typical Canon pricing. Even during clearance thats usually only 6D territory!
Exactly, the EF gear is becoming an amazing bargain for people not distracted by the new shiny stuff.

Very lightly used 1DX III's are changing hands at $5,000 and 1DX II's are just a touch over $2,000! The 100-400 II can be found, with a bit of searching, for $1,000-$1,200 which I think is an insane bargain, but a new EF 35 f1.4L is $1,799, how much will the RF version be, $500, $700 more?
 
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Del Paso

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Aug 9, 2018
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I've been saying the same thing here for a while, with differing levels of pushback. The size and price of lenses nowadays for questionable 'image quality improvements' has far surpassed the level of common sense or general need. But as soon as you say that some dish!t pipes up that they need f1.2 instead of f1.4, or they need 50lppmm 'more' because their 'sensor can out resolve their current lens', which just shows they have no understanding of how system resolution works.

The only group of posters that I see that genuinely do need 'more' are the wildlife people, particularly birders, that have small subjects often at some distance so they do regularly push the boundaries of resolution and pixel density. For most of the rest of us thinking we 'need' this bigger, heavier, faster, more exotic glass is just a crutch to support our own photographic inadequacies.
I couldn't agree more !
 

Bdbtoys

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Are you sure that those buying these lenses are really applying softening techniques? Outside of DOF, I do not add softening to my images.

Also, the 85/1.2DS is not to soften the overall image... it was to soften the bokeh balls at the expense of about 1 less stop of light. There were discussions on this and most liked one or the other.

Last, if someone was going to modify an image as you described... wouldn't it be easier (give better results) starting from a sharp picture (as the reverse would be harder)?

Do I 'need' these fancy lenses... not really. Do I 'want' them... yes. Could I get use out of them... yes. If I'm going to pay for a lens, why not get the best that pairs with the camera?
 
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AlanF

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Aug 16, 2012
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I've been saying the same thing here for a while, with differing levels of pushback. The size and price of lenses nowadays for questionable 'image quality improvements' has far surpassed the level of common sense or general need. But as soon as you say that some dish!t pipes up that they need f1.2 instead of f1.4, or they need 50lppmm 'more' because their 'sensor can out resolve their current lens', which just shows they have no understanding of how system resolution works.

The only group of posters that I see that genuinely do need 'more' are the wildlife people, particularly birders, that have small subjects often at some distance so they do regularly push the boundaries of resolution and pixel density. For most of the rest of us thinking we 'need' this bigger, heavier, faster, more exotic glass is just a crutch to support our own photographic inadequacies.
Leaving aside your "opinionations";), you are right for us birders, and we are being well served by the manufacturers giving us more mm and more Mpx as well incredible AF.
 

Ruined

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Aug 22, 2013
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Are you sure that those buying these lenses are really applying softening techniques? Outside of DOF, I do not add softening to my images.

Looking around social media I haven't seen the demand for soft filters and filters that introduce aberrations as strong as it is now in a very long time, and I am hypothesizing that this may be due to the overly "clinical" overcorrected nature of lenses released in the past couple of years.

Also, the 85/1.2DS is not to soften the overall image... it was to soften the bokeh balls at the expense of about 1 less stop of light. There were discussions on this and most liked one or the other...

Do I 'need' these fancy lenses... not really. Do I 'want' them... yes. Could I get use out of them... yes. If I'm going to pay for a lens, why not get the best that pairs with the camera?

The RF 50mm f/1.2 & RF 85mm f/1.2 are great examples actually. Both of them mounted on mirrorless are much larger and more cumbersome than their EF counterparts mounted on a DSLR.

While these are the only options available for RF @ 1.2 without using an adapter, I personally don't feel they are better than the the f/1.2 EF lenses they replaced in overall image rendering. Sharper? Yes. Less artifacts? Yes. More visually appealing? No. The RF 85mm f/1.2 they corrected so much of the aberrations that some of the creaminess of the bokeh was lost (likely due to overzealous spherical aberration correction, resulting in more neutral bokeh); Canon realized this and likely did not want to have an RF lens with harsher bokeh than the EF lens it replaced, so they also released the overkill DS version - and that one I don't like either as the bokeh looks unnatural, more like a smartphone "portrait filter" than something that was taken with a professional camera. While if I were picking one of the two RF lenses I would definitely pick the non-DS, I would pick the EF over both of them despite it being less sharp with a lot more LOCA.

In photography there are always tradeoffs and making one thing "better" often makes another thing "worse." I just think this race for sharpness and complete artifact-free perfection has left lenses that are devoid of unique rendering capabilities and are emphasizing the wrong thing since even a cheap smartphone can take sharp pictures... which is probably why people are adding artifacts back in using filters to make their photos look more unique and different than a smartphone picture.

Last, if someone was going to modify an image as you described... wouldn't it be easier (give better results) starting from a sharp picture (as the reverse would be harder)?
I'd rather have the lens give me the image I find the most visually appealing in the first place, even if it is not the sharpest and not 100% corrected of all aberrations.
 
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becceric

Making clumsy photographic mistakes since 1980
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After having a majority of mediocre lenses over the years, I love the results from my current group of L lenses. While having a nice balance of various optical qualities is necessary, sharpness is a treat. None of the people seeing the photos have questioned any visible signs of chromatic aberration, vignetting, barrel distortion, etc. They’ve always appreciated sharpness though.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

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I've been buying the consumer grade RF lenses. The only RF "L" lens I will own is the 100L Macro where I really do like to have a perfect image. Of course, I still have 4 EF L lenses but I see no need to upgrade them, in fact, I may sell them and wind down my photography a step. My hands are getting weaker and hand holding a large telephoto is more and more difficult.


Obviously, a lot of the producing exotic new lenses is marketing and profit. Canon makes no pretense about that. Their financial reports mention that RF lenses are very profitable. A high MP body can get a very good image from a consumer grade lens.
I have a old EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro laying around. My R5 really made it come back to life. I was surprised at how good the images looked. Some of it may be the more accurate autofocus.

My feeling is that getting a good mirrorless body is a one time exception to the old rule of getting glass first. It makes your existing glass look better.
 

Ruined

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Aug 22, 2013
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After having a majority of mediocre lenses over the years, I love the results from my current group of L lenses. While having a nice balance of various optical qualities is necessary, sharpness is a treat. None of the people seeing the photos have questioned any visible signs of chromatic aberration, vignetting, barrel distortion, etc. They’ve always appreciated sharpness though.
In my experience, capturing the moment is the most important thing to people over any one technical quality. But if some combination of technical qualities somehow enhances capturing the moment, people tend to like that. A lot of people actually *don't* appreciate razor sharpness because it highlights skin defects, makeup application, hairs, pimples, wrinkles, etc.
 

privatebydesign

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I wonder if I’ll even be able to give my 1D X away (even after I get the presumably-failed PCB replaced).
I’d keep it for a ‘spare’ and sentimental value. Though depending on shutter count and condition you might get $1,000-1,200?
 

Bdbtoys

R5
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Jul 16, 2020
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Looking around social media I haven't seen the demand for soft filters and filters that introduce aberrations as strong as it is now in a very long time, and I am hypothesizing that this may be due to the overly "clinical" overcorrected nature of lenses released in the past couple of years.

The RF 50mm f/1.2 & RF 85mm f/1.2 are great examples actually. Both of them mounted on mirrorless are much larger and more cumbersome than their EF counterparts mounted on a DSLR.

While these are the only options available for RF @ 1.2 without using an adapter, I personally don't feel they are better than the the f/1.2 EF lenses they replaced in overall image rendering. Sharper? Yes. Less artifacts? Yes. More visually appealing? No. The RF 85mm f/1.2 they corrected so much of the aberrations that some of the creaminess of the bokeh was lost (likely due to overzealous spherical aberration correction, resulting in more neutral bokeh); Canon realized this and likely did not want to have an RF lens with harsher bokeh than the EF lens it replaced, so they also released the overkill DS version - and that one I don't like either as the bokeh looks unnatural, more like a smartphone "portrait filter" than something that was taken with a professional camera. While if I were picking one of the two RF lenses I would definitely pick the non-DS, I would pick the EF over both of them despite it being less sharp with a lot more LOCA.

In photography there are always tradeoffs and making one thing "better" often makes another thing "worse." I just think this race for sharpness and complete artifact-free perfection has left lenses that are devoid of unique rendering capabilities and are emphasizing the wrong thing since even a cheap smartphone can take sharp pictures... which is probably why people are adding artifacts back in using filters to make their photos look more unique and different than a smartphone picture.

I'd rather have the lens give me the image I find the most visually appealing in the first place, even if it is not the sharpest and not 100% corrected of all aberrations.

For the record... I like the 85 non-DS over the DS. I commented about the DS because it sounded like you implied a general smoothing effect, when it's really more smoothing of the bokeh.

However this is all opinion in what people prefer. If you don't like the new lenses, that's great... however, I do.

But it sounded like you were implying that people are getting these lenses just to smooth filter over them. So now I'm curious... how many here with the RF L's are actually doing that? (Not counting artsy effects that they would put over a picture from any lens).
 

becceric

Making clumsy photographic mistakes since 1980
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Oct 30, 2016
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In my experience, capturing the moment is the most important thing to people over any one technical quality. But if some combination of technical qualities somehow enhances capturing the moment, people tend to like that. A lot of people actually *don't* appreciate razor sharpness because it highlights skin defects, makeup application, hairs, pimples, wrinkles, etc.
Oh, I fully understand that. Luckily, I never photograph people. Granted I really don’t care for the increased sharpness of the porcupine photos I’ve taken.
 

unfocused

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Exactly, the EF gear is becoming an amazing bargain for people not distracted by the new shiny stuff.

Very lightly used 1DX III's are changing hands at $5,000 and 1DX II's are just a touch over $2,000! The 100-400 II can be found, with a bit of searching, for $1,000-$1,200 which I think is an insane bargain, but a new EF 35 f1.4L is $1,799, how much will the RF version be, $500, $700 more?
As someone who is easily distracted by the new shiny stuff you've hit on the dilemma I'm facing after about a week with the R5. It seems to do everything my 1DxIII does and more, and I find myself contemplating whether or not to go all in when the R3 comes out and sell the 1Dx III.

I don't regret buying the 1DxIII because it got me through this last sports year and really is superior to the 1DxII. But, I can tell from the R5 that an R3 is likely to be even better and it would allow me to have just one mount for everything.

I'm currently preparing to sell my 5DIV and 7DII, although it's tough to part with them for sentimental reasons and because I know I'll only get a fraction of their value. Part of me says to keep them, given how little they will sell for, but honestly, having them sit on a shelf gathering dust doesn't make any financial sense either.

As far as lenses go, though, once I finally secure a 100-500, I'm not really tempted by any of the other RF lenses as I already have the RF 24-105. Add in the EF 70-200 and those three are the lenses I use 99% of the time. As long as the RF 70-200 commands nearly $1,000 over the EF version, I'm not tempted. For the remaining 1%, I have plenty of EF lenses that work just fine with adapters and I'm not seeing much that makes me say I have to have the RF version of an EF lens I seldom use.