Best Canon lenses

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by nutmac, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. nutmac macrumors 68040

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    #1
    Many of us want the very best, but we often compromise with what we can afford. But if the money is no object, what would you get? For me, they are....

    Ultra Wide (landscape photography)
    In my opinion, the best overall ultra wide lens is EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM. Fantastic performance with comparatively mild distortion. Great for both indoor and outdoor landscape/architecture photography.

    Wide-Angle Prime (full-body portraits and group shots)
    There is no better wide-angle prime than EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM. Although I personally prefer longer 35mm focal length of EF 35mm f/1.4L USM, the lens is showing some age (e.g., no circular aperture blades, no weather sealing, slower auto focus, older optical elements).

    Standard Zoom (walkaround lens)
    L snobs can cry foul all they want. That won't change the fact that EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is the best standard zoom on the market. Top-notch performance, 3-stop image stabilizer, fast, and surprisingly good build quality (although a notch below that of L-series, and without weather sealing).

    For those with a full-frame body, I would badge the honor to EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

    Portrait Prime
    EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is the finest portrait lens on the market.

    Telephoto Zoom
    EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM may be the best zoom lens Canon has ever made. Sure, if you need the extra stop, f/2.8 is your obvious choice. But from f/4L and on, this lens kicks some serious stuff, optical performance at or near the best of prime lenses.

    Telephoto Prime
    I think the nature of telephoto prime photography requires multiple lenses, depending on focal length requirement. EF 135mm f/2L USM is perhaps the best starting point, going up to EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM then all the way to EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM.

    Macro
    The current king of macro is EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM. New EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM remains to be seen and very well likely take the crown, although some will want 180mm focal length still.

    Tilt-Shift
    TS-E 17mm f/4L or TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II, depending on focal length requirement.
     
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #2
    I'm glad this didn't turn out to be an Ode to the Great Red Stripe, although it comes pretty close. I own only one of these lenses and have one other on preorder, so I don't have much to offer in the way of comment except to say that superlatives are all relative when it comes to lenses: the best lens for a photographer is the one that suits his needs. There are so many excellent lenses on the market that I find it difficult to conceive of them in any kind of strict hierarchy, except when it comes to objective criteria like image quality.
     
  3. clams macrumors member

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    #3
    No standard prime catagory? I'm interested in hearing if you like the 50mm f/1.4 vs 50 f/1.2 more (or 50 f/1.0)
     
  4. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #4
    for a FF sensor, here is what I would have in my bag, one lens from each category..

    16-35II for UWA
    24-70 2.8 for wide
    70-200 2.8 IS for walk around zoom
    100-400 f/4.5-5.6 for zoom
    100mm 2.8L IS macro for portraits
    and I'll throw in a 400mm 4.5L for surf/wildlife photos...
     
  5. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #5
    - landscapes are shot with all focal lengths, not just wide or ultra-wide. I wouldn't even say most are shot with wides. or at least the ones worth hanging on a wall
    - telephotos (60-300mm on 35mm) and super-telephotos (300mm+) have different uses and are different categories
    - it doesn't matter how good a lens might be if you don't like the focal length. I don't care if the 85L were the best lens ever made - I don't like the focal length, so I wouldn't buy it even if I had $2000 sitting under my couch. I don't like the 200mm focal length, either, so I also wouldn't buy the 200/2 if I had $6000 under my couch.

    other than that, the sharpness of the 100L remains to be seen, but the bokeh isn't any better than the 100 macro (according to a test done on POTN). it just gets a fancy stabilizer, a red ring, and double the price tag. and it means there won't be a 100 f/1.4L :(

    I would go with 24-70, 50/1.2, 135/2...and an M9 with a 28 or 35mm f/2 :rolleyes:
     
  6. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #6
    The 135/2 is magic. If I shot Canon, I would make it my business to own it as soon as was feasible.
     
  7. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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  8. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #8
    Have you used these lenses, or are you just going on consensus based on all the reviews out there? I'm just curious, because I've read lots of good things about lots of lenses out there, but I've only been lucky enough to use a few of them for any length of time. Sometimes I've discovered that I didn't like a lens as much as it's reputation, other times just the opposite. Anyway, it's an interesting list...for a Canon list. ;) Got to admit, Toxic's onto something with the Leica glass for street photography (if you can afford it and the M9...:eek:)
     
  9. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #9
    The five grand wonder glass

    The EF 200mm f/2 is absolutely amazing for indoor sports. :shrug:
     
  10. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #10
    Yes, I rarely see UW landscape photos that really work. I think those lenses are best for more confined spaces.

    Um, not to mention an extra aperture blade, weather sealing, better AF, and superior build quality. Those two shots on POTN are hardly definitive, and one of them (at f/2.8) suggests that the extra aperture blade does matter.

    But what really matters to me is the IS. The fact that it is some new, fancy hybrid variety is just icing on the cake. I've been wanting a stabilized prime for my museum work for a long time (the 200mm is too long and far too expensive for my purposes). The IS matters immensely for me. Gaining four stops via stabilization beats high ISO any day (yes, because my subjects are stationary). I no longer envy Nikonians because of their 105mm macro.
     
  11. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #11
    Boring list, all Canon and all except one L lenses. Not only do the lenses not fit together at all, there are plenty of good third-party lenses missing here -- especially if you're working with a crop sensor dslr. And some of which simply have no Canon equivalent.

    For instance, the OP equates UW lenses with landscape lenses. In classical photography, typical focal lengths for landscape were between 24 and 35 mm (on full frame, of course).
     
  12. Razeus macrumors 601

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    #12
    lol. The OP posted what is best to HIS eyes. That's the title of the thread. Feel free to list yours and give the reasons... :cool:
     
  13. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #13
    That depends on what kind of pictures you actually take. Canon's 85 mm f/1.2, for instance, is a heavy lens -- and just for that reason, you may prefer its slower brother which is a lot lighter. Also, for portraits, 85 mm on crop is already very long and you may prefer 50 mm anyway.

    On the other hand, the 24-105 mm f/4 can be too slow (perhaps because you want to have f/2.8 as initial aperture which allows you to separate foreground from the background a lot better).

    It's a cacophony of lenses based on L, mtf charts and whatnot. Instead, you should think of use, total weight and (yes, even though we are not supposed to think about it) budget.
     
  14. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #14
    It's so hard to pick the "best" lenses, since the choice of lens is so context-dependent.

    If we're talking pure IQ, then it's hard to beat the 85 f/1.2L or the 135 f/2L.

    If we're talking best IQ in a zoom, the 70-200 f/4L IS is the winner.

    FWIW, my dream (full-frame) setup would include the following:

    17 f/4L TS-E
    24 f/1.4L II
    50 f/1.2L
    85 f/1.2L II
    90 f/2.8 TS-E
    135 f/2L
    200 f/1.8L (a rare beast, but I'm dreaming here)
    300 f/2.8L

    16-35 f/2.8L II
    24-70 f/2.8L
    70-200 f/4 IS (foresaking 1 stop of speed for unrivaled IQ)

    I think the list of Canon's best glass would have to include everything listed above, with the possible addition of the longer primes, like the 400 f/2.8L IS, the 500 f/4L IS, and the 800 f/5.6L IS.
     
  15. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #15
    I was able to borrow that lens for a few hours and shoot. It's an amazing portrait lens as well!
     
  16. Kronie macrumors 6502a

    Kronie

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    Dec 4, 2008
    #16
    No, MY Canon lenses are the best ones!

    17-40
    85 1.8
    24-105
    70-200 F4 L IS
    100-400

    And my favorite one of all isn't even a Canon!

    Sigma 150 2.8 Macro
     
  17. nutmac thread starter macrumors 68040

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    #17
    I have used most, but not all the lenses on my list. In particularly, I am not heavily into macro, tilt and shift, and telephoto photography so I took the liberty of using consensus from various reviews and comments.

    My original goal was to merely list lenses that I think represent the top of each category (in terms of overall performance). I realize focal length requirement often drives one's purchase and I apologize for generalization of "landscape lens" and so on.

    Anyway, I felt I should exclude those that weren't considered "true greats." Also, I am not overly familiar with 3rd party lenses, although I am aware that a good batch of Sigma's AF 100-300mm f/4 EX HSM APO, AF 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG macro, AF 70mm f/2.8 EX DG macro, etc. can rival the best of Canon.

    I have used the following lenses to date:
    • EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM (tried at the store)
    • EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM (rented)
    • EF 35mm f/1.4L USM (borrowed from friend)
    • EF 50mm f/1.2L USM (tried at the store)
    • EF 50mm f/1.4 USM (own)
    • EF 50mm f/1.8 II (tried on a friend's camera)
    • Sigma AF 50mm f/2.8 EX DG macro (tried at the store)
    • EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM (rented)
    • EF 135mm f/2L USM (rented)
    • EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM (tried on a friend's camera)
    • EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (tried on a friend's camera)
    • EF 17-40mm f/4L USM (own)
    • EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM (borrowed from friend)
    • EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM (borrowed from friend)
    • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II (tried on a friend's camera)
    • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (tried on a friend's camera)
    • EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM (rented)
    • EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (borrowed from friend)
    • EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM (borrowed from friend)
    • EF 70-200mm f/4L USM (sold)
    • EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM (own)
    • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (rented)
    • EF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM (borrowed from friend)
     
  18. akdj macrumors 65816

    akdj

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    #18
    The Best Lens is the One you have on the camera when the shot presents itself;)

    Of my stash, I would have to say the 85L and 70-200/2.8is are my two favorites...>BUT, I spend about 50% of the time with my 24-105 mounted on my FF and my 70-200 on my cropper...lots of flexibility on the trail or during the ceremony!

    I Love my Sigma 50/1.4, phenomenal piece of glass!
    Also, my 28-135 from many moons ago has taken some Great outdoor shots over the years. It was my first decent zoom 7 or 8 years ago now...and I still pop it on once in a while

    J
     
  19. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #19
    Thanks for the detailed answer... :) I'm a lot more clear on where you're coming from now... and basically, I'd have to agree as a former Canon shooter in 35mm that there's some really good glass in your "wish" list.

    Another interesting angle on your original topic would be to also come up with a list for those wanting as close as possible to that same quality or capability, but on a limited budget... perhaps 1/2 the amount... considering older glass (used or previous generation) and third-party options that can make the grade for getting similar results. And stuff you can use now on crop-sensors, with an eye on moving up to FF down the line... this would be an interesting issue to throw into the mix... (yeah, I know... I could just start a new topic, but was only bringing this up as food for thought...:))
     
  20. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #20
    Interesting...

    How about:

    17-40 f/4L
    35 f/2
    50 f/1.4
    85 f/1.8
    70-200 f/4L

    That would be a pretty stellar line-up on a FF camera, I think. Not low-end with respect to price, by any means, but a definite step down in cost (though not necessarily quality, in all cases) vs. the "wish" list of most.
     
  21. PeteB macrumors 6502a

    PeteB

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    #21
    I'd say that the 180mm is an excellent prime, but I don't know of that many dedicated macro photographers that use it (due to the 0.5m minimum focus distance).

    To my mind, the "king" of macro is the MP-E 65 - I've seen some truely astonishing shots taken with it.
     
  22. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #22
    I have been really interested in the EF-S 60mm lately. I am in a dilemma, however. My goal is to have a 5D in my possession within 4-5 months. All the lenses I have now are all crop sensor only; sigma 10-20mm, EF-S 18-55IS and the awesome 55-250mm IS .

    I would really like to get a 5D and then probably get a 24-70 if i can, but within the last 2-3 years, the 24-70 has GONE UP in both new AND resale value by a few hundred!! As far as i know, they haven't revised the optics or anything..

    I have used the 16-35mm MK1, the 24-70, 10-22mm and the 100mm macro.

    My girlfriend and I are planning a trip through a few spots here in Oregon, or to Olympic National Forest, I haven't decided yet. But i WILL be renting the TS-E 17mm :)
     
  23. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #23
    You should be able to sell your EF-S lenses easily, but if your move to full frame is only a few months away, then you probably shouldn't buy any more of them. Just curious: what made you choose the 5D over the 7D? If you change your mind about the 5D, then I highly recommend the 60mm macro. It's an outstanding lens.
     
  24. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #24
    Well, I have an XSI right now, and I actually like this camera. Of course it has its' limitations, but i got a smokin great deal on it.

    The 7D is still an AP-C sensor, whereas the 5D is FF. I think they are putting too many MP on a small sensor. I thought 12MP was good. I would happy with a 1DS, 11.x MP, but it will be slow compared to what the XSi is, ie; start-up time, buffer...but it does have world class focusing, weather sealing, etc...

    The colour renditions on the 5D are phenomenal. Velvia like, imho..
     
  25. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #25
    I know this is the "best Canon lenses" thread, but since we are veering off topic anyway...

    FWIW, a lot of the early reviews of the 7D at higher ISOs (with jpegs, mind you) are describing the results as "film-like".
     

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